Saturday, December 29, 2012
Hello and Happy Saturday!
I wish to thank Mina for her wonderful interview. A unique and interesting read that I very much enjoyed and I thank you for sharing with us Mina!
Today we have a new interview so please welcome Margaret Bremner. Margaret is a Baha'i and I know you will enjoy her interview as well!
Here Is Margaret Bremner's Introduction:
Margaret Bremner is married with three children, and a temporary dog. She is an artist, illustrator and Certified Zentangle Teacher. After her faith, her family, and her art, nothing is of much import - but those few things encompass a great deal. May peace prevail on earth.
1) What religion do you practise?
I have been a member of the Baha'i Faith for almost 40 years.
2) Are you a convert/revert or were you raised within this religion? If you converted, what did you need to do to convert? And what did you practice prior to converting?
I was raised in a Protestant Christian household and became a Baha'i when I was 19. I had always been uncomfortable with the prickliness (or worse) between faith groups, and even among sects of the same faith. I felt they were all really parts of some greater whole. I did not need to give up my belief in Jesus in order to be a Baha'i. In fact, I could not be a Baha'i if I didn't believe in Jesus! (and Muhammad, and Moses, and...)
To become a member of the Baha'i community one must accept Baha'u'llah as God's messenger to this current age. The registration process is a simple one of providing contact information, often on an 'enrollment card'.
3) Within your religion are there degrees of observance (ie. Orthodox,conservative, moderate, liberal)? What are the defining differences between the degrees of observance?
No, there are no sects or divisions. Baha'is participate in community life according to their time and interest, so you could certainly say that levels of participation vary.
4)What is the Afterlife within your religion? For example: what happens when a person dies? Are there places for reward/punishment? (such as a Heaven/Hell concept)
Baha'is believe that life goes on after this one. The soul continues its journey without the physical body and we believe that this progress of the soul continues in further stages of existence, each stage being an opportunity to learn and develop.
5) In your opinion, does everyone make it into heaven/paradise? If they do not, why?
Each person's soul continues its journey following the death of the physical body. For Baha'is, heaven/paradise is nearness to God, and - conversely - hell is distance from God. We are all at some point on that continuum, constantly making the choice of which direction to move.
6) What makes your religion a good fit for you?
I had always felt that there was one God, so there was one religion, right? The divisions we've promoted and accepted were not created by God, they come from our own ignorance and silliness. Things change in the world (we are progressing, after all) and we need updated guidance to accomodate developments in social structures, scientific knowledge, contemporary questions, etc.. So it makes sense to me that from time to time God sends a messenger with teachings more socially appropriate to a particular time and place. When I encountered the Baha'i Faith it became evident that there was a huge group of other people with the same understanding. Woohoo!
7) What are your holy days and what do you do to celebrate them?
There are 11 holy days in the Baha'i calendar. Nine of these are days on which work should be suspended if at all possible. We comemmorate such things as the birth and the death of Baha'u'llah (the founder of the Baha'i Faith) and the day on which He made the formal, public declaration of His station and mission. The Baha'i new year is celebrated on the first day of spring (March 21).
8) Do you consider people of other faiths to be your friends?
9) Would you ever join people of another faith to celebrate one of their holy days? Please explain why?
Most definitely. I have done so. Friendship and fellowship are essential to understanding, combatting prejudice, and eventually unity.
10) What are your thoughts on the burka, and Shariah Law?
Nowhere in the Qu'ran does is say that women must wear a burka, niqab, hijab, or whatever. What it does say is that people should dress modestly. Many in the current western world could take that advice more to heart.
Laws which were useful and appropriate in a nomadic, desert culture are very likely not so in other situations.
11) Are women allowed to hold religious office (priest, minister, rabbi, iman etc) in your religion and how do you feel about it?
The Baha'i Faith has no clergy, but the administrative system has both elected and appointed positions. Women are eligible in both spheres.
12) Does your place of worship segregate? If yes, how does this make you feel?
No. An essential teaching of the Baha'i Faith is unity and we work to embody this. There is no segregation along lines of gender, race, age, income level, etc..
13) How much does your religion affect your daily life and how much thought do you give it when making a decision? Does it affect in any way your decision on abortion, gay marriage, etc?
It is always in the background of my brain. We have a practice of daily prayer so spirituality is constantly present. The Baha'is have a community meeting every 19 days; being a different schedule from the generally followed calendar it's another reminder. I believe that the teachings of the Baha'i Faith offer truth, so, of course, if I have a question about an issue I'll find out what the Baha'i teachings say about it.
14) How would you react/feel if your child wished to marry outside your religion?
If my child's choice of a mate is a good, moral, upstanding individual, who accepts the importance of my child's faith to my child, I'm just fine with it.
15) In your opinion, if someone is not of your faith, will they go to hell?
Baha'is don't subscribe to the Christian concept of Hell. Our souls advance or regress depending on our decisions and actions. I'm sure there are people of other faiths who are better people than I am.
16) Who do you think is not a practicing ----- in your religion and why? ie who in the public domain claims to speak for your religion? Do you agree with them or not?
I want to back the truck up a ways in order to answer this question, and start by saying that there are many holy books in the Baha'i Faith. The most sacred one is the Kitab-i-Aqdas (literally "most holy book"). The opening paragraphs of that book state that a person's first duty is to recognize God's messenger for their time and place, and the second duty is to obey the laws and guidance prescribed by that messenger. We believe Baha'u'llah to be that messenger for this time. So, to me, someone who has accepted Baha'u'llah's station as God's messenger to this age, but who is not making an effort to obey the laws He has brought, is less of a practising Baha'i than those who are making more effort. Of course, none of us is perfect. I like the idea of being a PRACTISING whatever. We need to keep practising until we get it right! :D
17) Have you ever been the target of a hate crime? Please explain.
19) Do you ever feel like your religion devalues you?
20) Does your religion give you peace of mind?
In many ways, yes, but it's not a situation of "I've joined this, now everything is hunky-dory." It's more a case of, "I've joined this, now I have guidance I trust so I know what to do. It will take effort from everyone, including me, to make it all hunky-dory." It gives me peace of mind because I know I can be part of the solution, not part of the problem.
20) Do you believe in reincarnation? Why or why not?
No. This physical existence is but one of many stages in the development of the soul. We progress to the extent that we progress, and then move on.