Thursday, June 12, 2008

Mixed Bag

About Many Things

By John Taylor; 2008 June 12, 08 Nur, 165 BE




Family pictures

Reader feedback

Seven New Deadlies

Writer's Deadlines

A Baha'i Perspective (Radio Show)

Light Bodies

New Tablet

Poetry Diversion

More Tolstoy



Family pictures


My wife Marie on her Czech blog recently posted some photographs of Grampa's birthday celebration and the fireworks display we had afterwards for Victoria Day.





Reader feedback


A reader by the name of Anne commented on the Badi' post "Science Questions and Review,"


"I enjoyed reading this. I've been following the New Atheist discussions on scientific education vs. intelligent design and was very refreshed to see someone writing about choosing books and DVD's on evolution and choosing spiritual and religious children's books in the same article."


Thank you for the kind words, but I am afraid that the bar has not been set very high in this respect among my fellow believers in God. They consider it a pious act to take away from God the credit for discovering evolution and giving it to Darwin.




Revision of the Seven Deadlies


The seven deadly sins are a valued resource for thriller screenwriters who want to run their serial killer bad guy through a sequence of otherwise unexplainable atrocities. One such flick,

‘S7even,” named its crazy "John Taylor." Which makes me want to institute an eighth sin just for hacks who drag a sacred name through the dirt.


Other people are talking about tweaking them too, including the Pope himself, apparently. There has been much publicity about the Catholic Church's proposed additional set of seven deadly sins, a sort of Seven Deadlies 2.0. They call them "social sins," and they include environmental pollution, genetic manipulation, obscene wealth, infliction of poverty, drug trafficking, morally debatable experiments, and violation of the fundamental rights of human nature. Read more at:




From an interview: Gary Taubes on writer's deadlines


Taubes: Even when I was writing magazine articles, if I was in danger of missing a deadline, which was often the case, I would ask my editors, Do you want it on time, or do you want it right?


Seth Roberts: There was a managing editor at The New Yorker, one of the first, whose motto was, "Do not get it right, get it written."


Taubes: When I was a young journalist working for Discover, which was owned by Time, Inc., the philosophy was that one of the worst things anybody could do was over-report a story. Just get the facts and get it out. Except science does not work like that. Science, you have got to get it right, and that takes time, and you cannot do it on deadline.




A Baha'i Perspective


Those like me who enjoy listening to podcasts may be interested to hear this rebroadcast of the radio show, "A Baha'i Perspective," produced by Warren Odess-Gillett.




Light Bodies


The other day we discussed a children's book written in the voice of a boy who was killed by a truck when he was about ten year old. He called the body we inhabit in the next world a "light body." Coincidentally, this morning I came across the following reference that seems to back him up on that appellation. Baha'u'llah seems to be addressing the Female embodiment of the Spirit who visited Him in the Siyyih Chal and gave Him His marching orders,


"Say: Step out of Thy holy chamber, O Maid of Heaven, inmate of the Exalted Paradise! Drape thyself in whatever manner pleaseth Thee in the silken Vesture of Immortality, and put on, in the name of the All-Glorious, the broidered Robe of Light." (Baha'u'llah, Gleanings, 282-283)

Louise Dixon Boyle and Maria Montessori




New Tablet of the Master


The latest Journal of Baha'i Studies features a previously unpublished Tablet of Abdu'l-Baha that I would like to share with Badi' Blog readers today. It occurs in an article by one of the mavens at the research department at the World Centre, Janet Khan, called "Louise Dixon Boyle and Maria Montessori" (16.1/4.2006, pp. 76-77) This Tablet was written but evidently never got to its intended recipient, a Baha'i named Louise Boyle who was expecting a visit from the great educational reformer in Washington. It is dated 31 October, 1914.



"Thy letter hath been received. Thou hast written that Dr.  Montessori is coming to the U.S. to promote the system which she hath devised for the education of children. Every concept needeth to be supported by a force. Today the penetrating power in the world of existence is confirmation from the Abha Kingdom. Any system that is confirmed by that [power] is definitely effective in the realm of existence and will be realized.


"Also, the human world will not turn into a celestial paradise by the promotion of one thing. The education of children is but one matter. Any useful matter which is the cause of advancement of the world of humanity is like one element. A single element cannot confer life. But once the elements come together, creation taketh place. Thus, Baha'u'llah's Cause and His heavenly Teachings bring together all the perfections which include the education of children; unity of humankind; harmony between religion, science, and reason; equality among all human beings; the breathings of the holy spirit; oneness of women and men; elimination of religious prejudice; heavenly manners; fragrances of the Merciful; universal peace. Thus the Cause of Baha'u'llah combineth all the perfections.


"Those who desire the advancement of the world of humanity in every respect must turn to the Abha Kingdom that the divine power may assist and the pervasive power of the Word of God may turn the nether world into the mirror of the celestial realm. Therefore thou shouldst exert thine utmost to revive Dr. Montessori with the divine spirit and so implant the Teachings of Baha'u'llah in her heart that it may become a clear mirror reflecting the rays of the sun of truth, enabling her to carry out this system of educating the children. If this happeneth, be assured that the Holy Spirit will assist and reinforce her from the realm beyond and, as it is her highest wish, her system will be materialized in the world of existence. Convey to her my greetings and tell her:


"`O doctor! Let thy aim be exalted and thy goal lofty that thou mayest be the cause of spiritual and material progress in the human world. This is My advice. Shouldst thou arise to carry it out, thou wilt immediately feel a new spirit and a new power within thyself.'


"Upon thee and upon her be the Abha glory.




A Diversion into Poetry


I do not often indulge in poetry on this blog, lucky for you, but when a decade ago I visited a certain attraction in Hamilton, our small kids in tow, I was inspired to write the following:




Ode to the Hamilton Museum of Steam and Technology


Oh, voyagers and techies come and see

Hamilton's pride, the

Museum of Steam and Technology

Pump house once it was for a waterworks,


In the storied 19th Century,

Pride of Hamilton, showpiece of high technology,

Built to remove epidemic disease,

Inhabited, once, by minion oilers

Wearing paper hats,

Sliding like ghosts in a rainforest of dripping oil,

Who squirted in more oil,

Where they saw a need.


Yes, owee, the Hamilton Museum of Steam and Technology.


Seek not plastic parts here,

Or labels saying, "Made in China,"

If do you will be disappointed.

Say not that I did not warn you.

In poetry, even.

Oak floor, brass fittings,

Proudly fit for visiting dignitaries and royalty,

And now for you, and me.

At ten bucks a pop,


Come ye millions, and tour the Museum,

of Steam,

and Technology.



Pride vs. the Conviction of the Great Majority


More from a new translation of Tolstoy's Confession


I thought that this narrow circle of learned, wealthy, and idle people to which I belonged comprised the sum of mankind and that the millions who had lived and continued to live outside of this circle were animals, not people. (p. 56)


How strange and utterly incredible it seems to me now that in my reasoning I could have overlooked the life of humanity all around me, that I could have fallen into such a ridiculous state of error as to think that my life and the life of a Solomon or a Schopenhauer was the true, normal life, while the lives of millions of others were not worthy of consideration; but however strange it may seem to me now, such was the case at that time.


Led astray by intellectual pride, I thought there could be no doubt that along with Solomon and Schopenhauer, I had posed the question so precisely, so truthfully, that there were no two ways about it; I thought there could be no doubt that all these millions were among those who had never penetrated the depths of the question.


As I searched for the meaning of my life it never once occurred to me to ask, "What sort of meaning do the millions in the world who have lived and who now live ascribe to their lives?" (56)


For a long time I lived in this state of madness which, if not in word then in deed, is especially pronounced among the most liberal and most learned of men.


I do not know whether it was due to the strange sort of instinctive love I had for the working people that I was compelled to understand them and to see that they are not as stupid as we think; or whether it was my sincere conviction that I knew nothing better to do than to hang myself that led me to realize this: if I wanted to live and to understand the meaning of life, I had to seek this meaning not among those who have lost it and want to destroy themselves but among the millions of people, living and dead, who created life and took upon themselves the burden of their lives as well as our own. (56-57)


From: Tolstoy, Confession, Translated by David Patterson, Norton, New York, 1996

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