Tag Archives: editorial

Newsweek again: Let’s Talk about God editorial

Hi Lisa!

Hi Lisa!


So I received my latest issue of Newsweek–June 8th–today in the mail. The Take, a regular editorial by Lisa Miller Newsweek’s religion editor, featured a book with an interesting title, “The Evolution of God” by Robert Wright.

Miller’s article was well-written, and I’m dying to read Wright’s book when it’s released next week. Wright’s book has a premise–that the idea of God has evolved through history–that resonates strongly with me and correlates closely with a Baha’i perspective.

However, reading the user comments was an eye opener. A lot of really angry people. Of course, I had to put in my $.02:
Debate

“Posted By: alyosha19 @ 06/04/2009 12:00:29 AM
It’s interesting how many of the themes discussed on the comments seem to cover similar refrains: that traditional, organized religion has caused many problems in the world and that atheists seem flabbergasted at why people believe in religion at all.

To the first point, I agree. Religious leaders can be very intolerant and have caused many unspeakable, horrible and criminal things to happen. If a religion’s efforts is not uniting people and bringing them together, then it’s not doing it’s job. A wise Persian man, Abdu’l-Baha, put it more eloquently: “Religion should unite all hearts and cause wars and disputes to vanish from the face of the earth, give birth to spirituality, and bring life and light to each heart. If religion becomes a cause of dislike, hatred and division, it were better to be without it, and to withdraw from such a religion would be a truly religious act.”

To the second point, I would like to offer some advice to those people who don’t believe in God and are proud of it: you kind of come across as insulting and unlikeable. I totally understand your grievances and I’m with you most of the way, but if you want to enlighten people with your reason–and you make great points–then can you at least try to win us over with some honey? Say something nice occasionally. That’s smart marketing.

Lastly, I noticed on the comments a lot of misunderstandings about religion, namely that religion is frozen in the past, observing literal interpretations of the Old Testament, etc. Yes, some practitioners do this–and they are wrong. Actually most people’s understanding about the psychology of relgion is wrong. Closer scrutiny of newer religious traditions–namely, the Baha’i Faith–may bring you a different insight:

–That science and religion are in harmony. Scientific discoveries expand our consciousness and propel humanity forward; (true) religion–aiming to promote the betterment of all humanity (e.g. medical breakthroughs)–keeps science grounded so that it doesn’t veer off into materialism or other bad things (e.g. eugenics).

–That the most important action you can do is to independently investigate the truth yourself. So don’t be a Christian, Muslim, Jew, atheist, etc. just because your parents, teachers, favorite bloggers tell you to. Do your homework–and no copying!

–That there is only ONE religion in the world, with many different chapters that you have heard of: Judaism, Hinduism, Islam, Christianity, etc. Religion is not static–it evolves, just as humanity’s collective consciousness does, and this is what Robert Wright alludes to in his book, The Evolution of God.

Yes, I’m a Baha’i. I try not to push people–that’s not cool. But since hardly anyone knows about my beliefs–and since it is relevant to the discourse of society–I want to share some basics it so that people have a wider array of choices before coming to any conclusions about religion.”

This blog cannot stop reading the mainstream press–when will it ever learn?

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NY Times Article: Iran, the Jews and Germany (& the Baha’is)

ny-times-2009-03-01Dear Friends,
 
Roger Cohen, one of the most influential columnists at the NY Times, has been writing about Iran in over 7 op-ed pieces lately.
 
One of his latest articles, “What Iran’s Jews Say,” describes the relative civility of the government towards the Jews, as an effort to lessen the demonization of the Iranian government as portrayed by Western media.  Although the intention is worthy–we all should be striving for unity and consultation among nations–he is seemingly unaware of how bad things are for the Baha’is in Iran.  He mentions the Baha’is in passing, but doesn’t seeminglly equate ill treatment of the Baha’is as the same as of the Jews or other groups.
 
Please recommend this comment in response to Mr. Cohen’s recent article, “Iran, the Jews, and Germany” by registering at the NYtimes.com and clicking on “Recommend”:
 
 
Text of Comment:
 
“Roger, tucked away in your earlier op-ed, “What Iran’s Jews Say”, is the single sentence: “Among minorities, the Baha’i — seven of whom were arrested recently on charges of spying for Israel — have suffered brutally harsh treatment.” Throughout your series of seven op-eds from Tehran, you failed to tell us anything more about the persecution of the Baha’i in Iran, or, whether you asked to meet with these seven persons.

Concerning the seven, a 22 February 2009 VOA editorial “reflecting the views of the United States Government” (http://www.voanews.com/uspolicy/2009-02-23-voa5.cfm) states:

“More than 9 months have passed since 7 leaders of the Baha’i community in Iran were arrested and sent to prison with no access to legal counsel. Now the Iranian government has announced the 7 have been charged with espionage. The move is the latest in decades of repressive measures against the Baha’is, the largest non-Islamic religious minority group in Iran. Those measures include barring Baha’is from attending public universities or working in public agencies, destroying or closing Baha’i places of worship, bulldozing Baha’i cemeteries, legally confiscating Baha’i property, and killing Baha’is with impunity.”

In your current op-ed, you write: “I was based in Berlin for three years; Germany’s confrontation with the Holocaust inhabited me.” Roger, doesn’t the above remind you of something that occurred in Nazi Germany some 70 years ago?

For your information, tens of thousands of Baha’is have been slaughtered in Iran from the time this religion emerged in the mid-nineteenth century. The most recent murder occurred in July 1998, when Rúhullah Rawhani, a Baha’i businessman and father of four, was executed in Mashad without sentencing and without any semblance of due process.

In “What Iran’s Jews Say”, you stated: “Iranian civility toward Jews tells us more about Iran — its sophistication and culture — than all the inflammatory rhetoric.” I suggest you examine Iranian “civility” toward its gentle Baha’i minority before pronouncing judgment whether Iran is a totalitarian regime. More to the point, go back and try writing an op-ed “What Iran’s Baha’is Say”. I am confident “the consistent warmth” (your description) with which you were received in Iran by this savage theocracy will dissipate with the speed of a uranium enriching centrifuge.”

— JG, Caesarea