Saturday, November 26, 2016

A Deeper Basis to Invitation

Our National Spiritual Assembly sent out a letter the other day with a question: What can we do to prepare our contacts to receive an invitation to the bi-centenary of the birth of Baha'u'llah next year?

What an interesting question.

I mean, it may just be me, but when I think of a holy day, I imagine looking at the calendar and saying, "Oh, there's a holy day next week." Then I would begin to freak out and slap together a quick program, usually with a few readings and a couple of stories. Maybe there would be a talk. (One year we actually had three separate programs. We began with prayers that included lots of live singing, and then divided the room into three. One part was for food and conversation; another part was a public talk; the third part was a crafts section around the theme of the holy day. It was great.)

Oh, and then I imagine calling up a friend and the conversation would go something like this. "Hey Joe." "Hey Mead." "Uhm, we're celebrating a Baha'i Holy day on Thursday. You wanna come?" "Sure. I guess so."

And that's that.

But preparing my friends? That's an intriguing thought.

A friend and I were chatting about this the other day and we had some interesting thoughts on this.

"Ruhi Book 4", we began. "After all, it's the story of the Twin Manifestations."

Well, it is and it isn't.

We initially thought that it would be good to bring our friends through Ruhi Book 4, The Twin Manifestations, but then quickly realized that this wasn't the purpose of the book. It's actually designed to help Baha'is tell the story of the Twin Manifestations to their friends. So rather than trying to get our friends to take the book, we should take it and perhaps tell these wonderful stories over the next year.

This got us looking at the book again, and that was when we noticed something else of interest: Unit 1. You see, as I'm sure you know, dear Reader, Units 2 and 3 are the stories of the Bab and Baha'u'llah, but Unit 1 is something totally different. It's about the importance of this Day.

Then, as we looked at this, we realized that the other two units are about a lot more than just the stories. The whole book is structured around the idea of crisis and victory, and this carries through all three units, helping us recognize the pattern that is so much there in all of history.

Now, when looking at the question, "What can we do to help prepare our friends to receive an invitation to the bi-centenary of the birth of Baha'u'llah" a whole new concept begins to arise.

And this gets to the heart of what prompted me to write all this.

Do you think it is any mere coincidence that we are seeing a significant rise in prejudice and fanaticism at this time?

When we look at recent history, that of the 20th century, we can trace this pattern so clearly. The century began with the amazing victory of "civilization" having spread all over the world, but one of the inherent problems with it was the spread of the colonialist attitude. However, there was also the tremendous victory of the various peace treaties between the countries that ensured peace between the nations. These peace treaties, however, were convoluted and weak, leading us straight into World War 1. What a crisis. And from that crisis came the Treaty of Versailles and the League of Nations. What a victory. However, this treaty was incredibly unjust towards Germany, and the League had no way to enforce its decisions. World War 2. Crisis.

From this global conflagration we saw the emergence of the United Nations. Another incredible victory. But it was tainted by the permanent members of the Security Council, a principal that says in effect "All nations are equal, but some are more equal than others." Through the various political intrigues between these five nations, there were many good decisions that got vetoed. Crisis.

This is where we are today. Basically.

So let's look at these members: China, France, Great Britain, Russia and the United States.

At the time of the formation of the Security Council, having permanent members with the right to veto any decision may have seemed like a good idea, but I suspect we're beyond that now. Of course, this is just my own personal opinion, and nothing official, but it's like a parent imposing rules on a child. There just comes a time when the parent no longer has that right.

And when I look at what is happening around the world today, with human rights abuses on the rise in some countries and prejudicial attacks rising in others, it seems to me that these five countries no longer have any possible claim to moral superiority to justify them being in this position over others.

I think we need to talk about this. With our friends.

And we need to look at what is happening in the world, the concerns that our friends rightly have, and help them see how to place this all into the context of crisis and victory. We know we are in the middle of a crisis. We also know that there is a glorious victory just ahead. We can see it.

We also know that this vision given to us was given to us by Baha'u'llah, whose 200th birthday is coming upon us very soon. We need to help spread the word about this vision, and about this Person. And as we do, we will be in a far better position to invite our friends and contacts to a celebration of His birth. And they will be far more open to receive it.

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