All posts by James

The Spiritual Foundations of Bahá’í Marriage

Marriage, from a Bahá’í perspective, is both spiritual and physical in nature. The following article looks at the foundations of a strong spiritual union, and begins this exploration by examining what the Bahá’í Faith teaches us about love. While the following article quotes extensively from the authoritative Writings of the Bahá’í Faith it is, ultimately, a personal understanding of these texts and is not, in itself, authoritative.

Continue reading The Spiritual Foundations of Bahá’í Marriage

Mac Freeware Essentials

Having used Windows computers much more than Macs there are certain applications I have come to rely upon which are available for free. The higher availability of great free applications has always been an advantage that Windows has over Mac OS, but there are now many great apps available for Mac OS, some of the ones I feel are particularly useful are listed below:

Continue reading Mac Freeware Essentials

Bahá’í Jewellers Online

There are three main Bahá’í-related items that might be sought from a jeweller, they are “Ringstone Symbol” rings (or pendants), prayer beads and possibly burial rings. I have recently been thinking of replacing my Ringstone Symbol ring, which I lost when it flew into the English Channel with an oyster that I threw back into the sea from Brighton Beach many years back. This prompted me to look at Bahá’í jewellers on-line and so, in addition to a little extra information about the three items I have just mentioned, the results of my search are below.

Continue reading Bahá’í Jewellers Online

Mobile Phone Recycling

Last year I traded in three old mobile phones that had been sitting in a drawer “as spares”. Television advertisements kept telling me that I could help save the planet by recycling my old phones, and earn a fortune in the process, so I visited the website of one of the most frequent advertisers and, carrying out the simple instructions, I swapped my phones for a grand total of £15.00, not quite the fortune the adverts had implied, but at least the drawer is less cluttered. Continue reading Mobile Phone Recycling

Facebook’s New Messaging Service

Mark Zuckerberg introduces the new messaging concept
Mark Zuckerberg introduces the new messaging concept

[Facebook’s messaging service no longer offers the same capabilities that it did when the following was written…]

Earlier today, at a press conference in San Fransisco, Mark Zuckerberg and his team announced the latest big feature on offer from Facebook, a new messaging service that integrates with email. Facebook users will be able exchange messages with people who are not on Facebook with an @facebook.com email address which comes directly to their Facebook inbox, but this is not intended to simply be a new email platform.

 

Mark Zuckerberg started by referring to a conversation he had had with some high school students in which he was told that email is too slow, on questioning this and thinking more about why they felt this to be the case he decided that it was the process of writing the email address, the subject and the usual formalities of a letter that made email feel slow compared to other messaging systems, such as SMS text messaging and Facebook.

 

Currently about 350 million people use the messaging features of Facebook, sending over 4 billion messages to each other each day. In allowing Facebook users to integrate their communication with non-Facebook users by using email, they wanted a seamless messaging service that converges messaging between SMS, email and Instant messaging.

 

The new system will not be based upon subject lines, rather each group or person will have one conversation history, similar to Instant Messaging.

Facebook’s new system combats email overload with a “social inbox”, the settings for which allow users to choose which messages come through to it in typical Facebook style, allow messages from friends, or friends of friends etc – adding specific senders to the filters where they are not on Facebook. Meanwhile other messages all go through to a separate inbox that can be checked as desired. The plan is that contacts can easily be moved between the social inbox and the “other” folder. A separate spam folder is also to be offered. Facebook will also allow users to choose settings that will simply allow or disallow senders from messaging them at all.

 

As for the email address itself, on June 13th Facebook made it possible for their users to choose a username on the system that would be used as part of the profile address, my profile address for example is http://www.facebook.com/james.herbert. Now, once activated (the service is optional), this same username can used as part of a standard email address, giving me james.herbert@facebook.com. A degree of email integration was quietly launched a short while back with the new improved Facebook Groups feature, allowing group administrators to choose an @groups.facebook.com address with which they could post content directly to the groups wall by email.

 

The announcement stated that the new service will start to be rolled out slowly as of today using an invite system, it is expected to take a few months to roll out completely across Facebook.

In the Early Hours of 29th May

St Marys Lighthouse, sunrise, May 29th 2010

In the early hours of 29th May, 1892, Baha’u’llah, the prophet founder of the Bahá’í Faith, passed away. At 3am each year (4am with clocks adjusted for British summer time) Bahá’ís around the globe commemorate this event. In North-East England we have a tradition of doing so near St Mary’s Lighthouse along the coastline at Whitley Bay. This allows us, weather permitting, to witness the sun rising over the North Sea  shortly after our programme of commemoration.  Continue reading In the Early Hours of 29th May

Google Earth Locations 3D

Back in 2006 I posted this article giving the locations of various Baha’i sites for anybody wanting to zoom in on them in Google Maps or Google Earth. Back then a couple of the buildings were obscured by clouds, those clouds are now gone and, if you have 3D Buildings turned on, you can now fly around 3D models of the exteriors to most of the buildings.

The Shrine of Baha’u’llah: 32°56’36.86″N, 35° 5’30.38″E
The Shrine of The Bab: 32°48’52.49″N, 34°59’13.91″E
Bahai House of Worship in Wilmette on Google EarthBaha’i House of Worship, America:
42°04’27.92″N, 87°41’03.71″W
Baha’i House of Worship, Australia:
33°41’07.52″S, 151°15’31.32″E
Baha’i House of Worship, Germany:
50°06’47.23″N, 8°23’47.93″E
Baha’i House of Worship, India:
28°33’12.11″N, 77°15’30.97″E
Baha’i House of Worship, Panama:
9° 3′ 34.90″ N 79° 31′ 13.75″ W
Baha’i House of Worship, Uganda:
0°21’51.96″N, 32°35’19.06″E
Baha’i House of Worship, W. Samoa:
13° 54′ 9.37″ S 171° 46′ 34.45″ W
The Guardian’s Resting Place (not 3D): 51°37’21.85″N, 0°08’35.57″W

Above is the Baha’i House of Worship in Illinois, USA, below is the House of Worship in New Delhi, India. You can appear to fly inside the buildings using Google Earth but the interior has not been recreated.

Bahai House of Worship, Lotus Temple, New Delhi on Google Earth

2 hours and 11 minutes

23rd May is the anniversary of the event that marks the starting year of the Baha’i Calendar, the Declaration of The Báb, the moment that the fore-runner of Bahá’ú’llah first revealed His station to somebody. It took place approximately 2 hours and 11 minutes after sunset on 22nd May 1844. As with many episodes from the history of the Bahá’i and Bábí faiths, the story of the events leading up to that moment makes good reading. I will not say much more here, rather I shall link to this much fuller article I posted here some years back

I always like to pause and savour the moment, or reflect, on anniversaries -including those from other Faiths and significant past events – when I am aware of them. I find it particularly potent to do so when these events have a time associated with them. Interestingly, while with most events in the world we take the anniversary as being the time that corresponds to when it happened in the place that it happened, Bahá’í anniversaries tend to be remembered at the local time that matches what the local time was in the place it happened. The result of this is that, rather than everyone in the world marking the moment at the same time, there is a 24 hour wave of events and inidividual remembrance that circles the planet with the sun (or with the time zones).

While it may have been about 2 hours and 11 minutes after sunset that The Báb declared Himself to be a Prophet, the whole day is considered to be the anniversary (the Bahá’í day being from sunrise to sunset) and so many Bahá’í communities hold their celebration at a time that isn’t so late at night. As Newcastle community has a Bahá’í Centre adjoined to residential property we have to hold our event early the following evening (so ours is at 6:30 tonight).

Link: The Declaration of The Báb

Iranian Bahá’í Leaders Enter Third Year in Prison

On 14 May, the Iranian Baha'i leaders enter their third year of imprisonment without having been convicted of any crime. They are, top from left, Behrouz Tavakkoli, Fariba Kamalabadi, Vahid Tizfahm, and Mahvash Sabet; bottom from left, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Saeid Rezaie, and Afif Naeimi.
(BWNS) On 14 May, the Iranian Bahai leaders enter their third year of imprisonment without having been convicted of any crime. They are, top from left, Behrouz Tavakkoli, Fariba Kamalabadi, Vahid Tizfahm, and Mahvash Sabet; bottom from left, Jamaloddin Khanjani, Saeid Rezaie, and Afif Naeimi.

Tomorrow night the Bahá’í community of Newcastle-upon-Tyne will be having a special prayer meeting for the Bahá’ís in Iran, as the seven sacrificial souls pictured above enter their third year in prison and the Iranian Bahá’í community as a whole face continued persecution.

Referred to as leaders for ease of reference, the prisoners served as an informal body called the Yaran, or “Friends,” and attended to the spiritual and social needs of the Baha’is in Iran. The  seven have been held in Tehran’s Evin prison since they were arrested in 2008 – Mrs. Sabet on 5th March and the remainder of them on 14th May.



The Bahá’í World News Service reported on 10th May that:

As seven Baha’i leaders in Iran enter their third year of imprisonment, new details about the harsh conditions of their incarceration have emerged, prompting renewed calls for their immediate release…
 
“These innocent Baha’is have now been locked up for two full years in Tehran’s notorious Evin prison, under conditions which clearly violate international standards,” said Bani Dugal, the principal representative of the Baha’i International Community to the United Nations. “We call on the Iranian authorities to release them now, and ask the international community to join us in this plea. The dictates of justice demand no less.”
 

“No court hearing was held until 12 January this year when they appeared in Branch 28 of the Revolutionary Court. Charges including espionage, propaganda activities and “corruption on earth” were all denied. Further appearances took place on 7 February and 12 April.

“In the three trial sessions that have so far taken place, no evidence has been provided whatsoever of wrongdoing – making it all the more obvious that the prisoners are being held only because of their religious belief,” said Ms. Dugal.

“If their freedom is not immediately granted, at the very least they should be released on bail. Steps should be taken to ensure that their trial is expedited and conducted fairly, in accordance with international standards,” she said.

 

Severe prison conditions

Friday marks the second anniversary of the group’s imprisonment, and details continue to emerge about the severe conditions under which they are being held. It is known, for example, that the two women and five men are confined to two cells which are so small that they restrict adequate movement or rest.

“They have neither beds nor bedding,” said Ms. Dugal.


United4Iran, a human rights network, asked sympathizers around the world to replicate the dimensions of the cells in Evin prison and photograph themselves confined to the space.

The place has a rancid smell, and they are permitted to have fresh air for only two hours each week. They have a light that if turned off during the day makes it impossible for them to see anything.

“Contact with their loved ones is restricted to one 10-minute telephone call a week, or visits which are mostly conducted through a glass barrier,” Ms. Dugal said.

“Such inhumane conditions show no regard for the principles outlined in international agreements for the treatment of prisoners, which provide that no one may be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment,” she said.

“The prisoners’ own requests for modest improvements to their conditions remain unaddressed, and as a consequence their health is suffering.

“These people are innocent, and there is no reason they should be made to suffer like this,” she said.

According to the journalist Roxana Saberi – who shared a cell for three weeks with two of the Baha’i prisoners – the women are confined in a small space. “They roll up a blanket to use as a pillow,” she said. “The floor is cement and covered with only a thin, brown carpet, and prisoners often get backaches and bruises from sleeping on it. … When I was with them, we were allowed into a walled-in cement yard four days a week for 20 to 30 minutes.”