Showing posts from 2009

A Burning in the Belly

I don't know how to completely express what I'm feeling right now, but it's been steadily increasing every day. This...whatever it is...began with that night I happened to be on Twitter, and the protests over the Iran elections broke out. I found myself up until 2 am, reading tweets and passing them on. That's when I first noticed the fire in my solar plexus. The image of myself that I received is of one of those old fashioned train engines that had been left broken down and rusting in a rail yard, forgotten and considered useless. Then a group of history buffs and train enthusiasts decide that the old girl still has a lot more use left in her, so they repair and clean her up, load up the water and coal and start her up. She's slow moving at first; it's been a long time since she's moved even an inch. Her entire body feels stiff and cranky. But she chugs along, enjoying the ride and seeing how much the landscape around her has changed since she was out o…

"Interesting" comments

The Sacramento Baha'i Examiner (that's me, by the way) received the following comments as feedback to a recent post about the persecution of Baha'is in Iran:

"The Bahai are a cult, like the branch dravidians or scientologist. The only discrimination they suffer is the scorn of the masses. During the revolution more than 30000 people died, and a few hundred were Bahais, it's not a beyond reasonable percentage given the turmoil of the day. As far as university discrimination and illegality of Bahai land ownership, this is complete disinformation. The only land Bahai's can not buy is land for cult practices and indoctrination of youth. Honestly, it is in the best interests of society that the government should eradicate this harmful cult, god willing, when the corrupt mullahs are removed a new secular government can also take more forceful corrective actions against this blight of a cult."

I've heard the "scorn of the masses" type comment befor…

A dream of Iran...

I had a dream last week about Iran and the United States, and it scared me out of a deep sleep. I purposely wiped my mind clean of the dream's details. I am powerless over the events in this country and in Iran; I can only do what I can to make myself be in the service of God and humanity a little bit more each day. For now, that involves working my recovery program so I'm not zoned out on food, making as much of my daily life as possible be acts of prayer, and to make sure that people are aware of the situations that befall us on this Earth because we are not looking for spiritual solutions to our problems. That's all I can do. I'm just, as a friend has said so often, "another bozo on the bus."

But God obviously wants me to participate in this business of being a world citizen. While I was working on this post, I've been checking my Twitter stream. After clicking on a link to a story, I read this blog post from The Daily Dish:
"My next door neighbor…


Cornel West, Eddie Glaude, and six degrees...

I'm working on a story about the legacy of racism and the dawning of hope and healing in this country for the Religion and Spirituality section (Sacramento Edition) of the online newspaper, I attended a screening of the documentary "Stand", produced and directed by Tavis Smiley, and featuring Dr. Cornel West, and several other admirable men. To summarize the plot, Tavis made a road trip documentary because he wanted to find some answers to the question, "What happened to Dr. Martin Luther King's dream?" I'm not sure if there are any answers, but certainly more provocative questions are raised during the 90 minute film. But the story for me was personal, a literal six-degree-of-separation type of thing.

Dr. Cornel West, the esteemed Princeton professor, author and lecturer, was born on June 2, 1953 in Tulsa, Oklahoma. I know that because Tavis Smiley announced it during the screening. So Brotha West is a Gemini. Just had to throw that in, …

A letter from Senator Diane Feinstein

Senator Diane Feinstein with 60 Minutes' Lesley Stahl.

I received a letter from Senator Diane Feinstein about the persecution of Baha'is in Iran. Here's what she said:

Dear Ms. Shortt:

Thank you for writing to express your concerns about the persecution of the Baha'i people in Iran. I appreciate you sharing your thoughts on this topic with me and welcome the opportunity to respond.

As you may know, the Iranian Government has recently stated its intention to try seven leading members of the Baha'i community in Iran who are accused of spying for Israel, insulting religious sanctities, and propaganda against the Islamic Republic. If convicted, these individuals could receive the death penalty.

Like you, I am concerned about the safety and welfare of these individuals. During my tenure in the Senate I have often expressed my support for the rights of the Baha'i community to practice their faith freely without fear of persecution. As a strong supporter of human rights, I…

The blacker the berry....

I missed this program, which aired tonight. I read about it on Twitter, and by the time I saw the conversation, the show had already aired. But I don't think I can get TVOne through Comcast anyway.

The comment that Michael Eric Dyson's brother made was profound: "It takes a keen eye to look beneath the rocky soil and rough exterior of a person to see the beauty of the person within." And this man is serving life in prison! Breaks my heart that some of the best minds have been locked up. I'm not saying that some shouldn't have gone to jail, or they should be let free "because the man did them wrong." I have no details about this particular brother's case. But I do know that he obviously has a sharp mind, and he can articulate his thoughts with such succinct brilliance that it is a shame of our society will not be able to benefit from his capabilities. But who knows--if it is His Will, God will use him to contribute in whatever way emerges fro…

An Open Letter from a Loving Daughter

At right: Fariba Kamalabadi (Taefi)

Angela's aside: We are often so besieged by news stories from all the various of media available to us that we forget that there are flesh and blood human beings involved in those reports. Their story is often trivialized by a 30 second summary of events during a newscast, or it is overly-dramatized by those wretched (my opinion) "reality" shows.

This letter touched me because it is the heartfelt words of a young lady who is going through an all too familiar tragedy in Iran--family members being taken away to face a very precarious future at the hands of a cruel and unrepentant fundamentalist theocracy. These are her words,and they are her truth, not the dispassionate reading of a carefully moussed and made up newsreader, or the overly-wrought railings of a Nancy Grace-sque reality show host. It is simply the words of a girl who misses her mother. No more embellishment is needed. But they deserve a global audience so that other people …

Writing, writing, writing

Florence Holway

I'm starting to calm down and settle into my new job as part of's Religion and Spirituality group of writers,also known as the Religion and Spirituality channel. I was hired as the Sacramento Baha'i Examiner, which put me in a panic at first. (I'd rather not get into the "why" of it. Let it suffice to say that "fear, doubt and insecurity" clamped a major choke hold on my brain.) But I wrote an introduction to the Baha'i Faith, which my channel director liked in spite of initial formatting problems, and article number 2 is now up. It's called A moment from a film: Rape In A Small Town . Please check it out, and if at all possible, submit to Reddit, Digg, or any other bookmarking or "social media network" you happen to use. I would greatly appreciate it!

The latest slavery story to break my heart comes via Twitter @justiceandcare: Child Slavery on Lake Volta. The worldwide slave trade WILL BE an ongoing is…

What the Baha'i Faith says about modern slavery

Someone re-tweeted a link to this video on Twitter, and I decided to include it in this post. My thanks to the person who originally posted it and the one who sent it out on Twitter. I wouldn't have known about this song otherwise. I know very little about the group Radiohead except that my kids like their music. But I like this song. The situation with slavery in this age is one that REALLY makes me want to go HULK SMASH crazy. But even though part of me says yeah, I would feel better if I could destroy all of those slavery operations all over the world, I know that it's silly, a primordial impulse based on my very strong emotions concerning the issue. It's definitely not the answer. However, I believe that these instructions, even though it will take a very long time for humanity to realize, accept and implement them, ARE the answer:

No Industrial Slavery

In the Book of Aqdas Bahá'u'lláh forbids slavery, and
Abdu'l-Bahá has explained that not only chattel slaver…

About slavery....

Slavery is not something that's "over there"...if you know what you to look for, you can find it right in your own backyard. This map shows instances of forced labor close to where I live in Northern California. It's all over the United States.

While reading some the latest tweets on Twitter this morning, I decided to check out @Not_For_Sale's profile and web site Not for Sale: End Human Trafficking. I have been fuming about the continued existence of that deplorable condition, slavery ever since. Let's face it, we ALL contribute to it. Think about how we are able to buy clothing or food for relatively low prices. (Yes, I know prices have been rising, but we don't pay anything near what other people in this world pay for food, clothing and other essentials.) I don't know what the specific answer is to this problem in terms of what has been done so far--political sanctions? Yeah, that worked SO WELL against Cuba, Iran, Sudan and other countries whose…

Out for a couple of days....

Life just keeps chuggin' along, taking me with it. Half of me is very amused, the other is very humbled. It's a vague description of where I am right now, but the best I can do.

Physical changes--still working a recovery program one day at a time, not perfectly, but hanging in there...weight loss still happening, but at a slower rate. That's o.k. I've discovered that I'm unbelievably resistant to any type of change, even good ones. ESPECIALLY good ones. But with the good comes the bad...a little over four weeks ago I had a horrible toothache one day after my 51st birthday...turns out that I need not one, but two root canals. The first one will be done on Monday, May 4. I'm trying not to think about it. The dentist gave me antibiotics and painkillers in the meantime, so that calmed down long enough for me to develop another hernia rupture.

Yeah, this happened to me around the same time last year! And I was admitted to the hospital from ER, whisked into surgery w…

Another letter of support for the Friends in Iran

Angela's note: Having trouble with my writing muse these days--a lot of it is probably my bad attitude toward my recovery program (hit more than a few snags), a really bad infection in the roots of two teeth, and seasonal allergies. But I'm also trying, like a salmon swimming upstream to the spawning grounds,to get OUT of myself and remember that there is a huge world outside my door, and many people in it have much more daunting problems than I do. Case in point--the Baha'is living/trapped in Iran with a government that is determined to eradicate or force some of them to recant their faith. I'm not faced with those kinds of tests, and I need to acknowledge this. There is much I have in my life to be grateful for.)

Baha’is Need Justice! (Part 1)
April 8, 2009

By Majid Nafisi

Editor’s Note: Nafisi is a well-known Iranian poet and writer. Recently he was asked to sign the famous letter “We are Ashamed”, but he refused. However, he has written the following brilliant essa…

SOUL PANCAKE: Rainn Wilson on Oprah's radio show!

First of all, I'm feeling MUCH better right now! All praise to God, the Most High! Prayer DOES change things! Anyway, I watched and listened to Ms. Winfrey interview Rainn Wilson, who, if you don't know, plays "Dwight" on The Office. Now, I have to be honest--I've never watched a full episode of The Office. I'm usually not at home when it's on. But I've seen segments of episodes, and those little bits were definitely funny, even though I know very little about the characters! That's some comedic genius right there; much love to the writers, directors, producers and actors for getting this woman to laugh at a five minute bit!

So, why was Rainn Wilson appearing on Oprah's Sirius/XM syndicated radio show? Well, the main reason was to talk about his web site, Soul Pancake, which you can check out here:
SoulPancake And what, you might ask, is SoulPancake? Actually, it's not something I can easily describe. It's best left to the expert on th…

Reprint "We are Ashamed"

I re-read this incredible document this morning to remind myself that there are is a much Higher Calling than my self-centered problems. Sure, these problems need to be faced, but I cannot solve them by myself. I need God to work through me, to assist me under all conditions and circumstances. How easily I forget! And when I forget, I isolate myself from my brethren, and from the Cause of God in this day. This is NOT serving God and humanity, which is why my Baha'i brothers and sisters in Iran have suffered innumerable persecutions in the past and right now as I type these words. They have remained steadfast in a land where they are denied employment, education, and access to the basic needs to sustain life. Their property and earnings have been seized, and God only knows how they manage to get through each day. They are ridiculed both publicly and privately, abused physically and emotionally. And falsely imprisoned, as the seven Friends are right now.

I am reminded of their pl…

Senator Barbara Boxer's reply to my letter

I definitely didn't expect a reply from Ms. Boxer, but I'm grateful for the acknowledgment from my Congressional representative. Of course, I know SHE didn't actually write the email, but what's important is that her office is aware of the situation, and the Iranian government knows that the United States government is well aware of its activities. I'm continuing to pray for our Friends in that damnable prison, and whatever happens will all be for the Glory of the Cause of God in this Blessed Day.

Dear Ms. Shortt:

Thank you for contacting me regarding the treatment of the Bahá'í community in Iran. I appreciate the opportunity to respond to your views on this troubling situation.

I share your concern regarding the systematic discrimination faced by the Bahá'í and other religious minorities in Iran. For decades, the government of Iran has repressed and persecuted members of the Bahá'í faith in violation of the International Covenants on Human Rights.


Happy Ayyám-i-Há!

(This was originally posted on my Facebook page by the lovely and very gracious Erica Toussaint, who is a member of the National Spiritual Assembly of the United States. Some of this I knew. And the most significant facts about Ayyám-i-Há (otherwise known as Intercalary, or between the calendar days), mainly, the mystical meaning of the term and how significant it is, I did NOT know. I am deeply appreciative to Karla Jamir for writing this article, and to Erica Toussaint for posting it so that more people understand the Divine Origin of Ayyám-i-Há.

Here in Northern California, we tend to celebrate the days of Ha' as a time for making gifts (I'm very much challenged in the crafts department, so I don't do that), giving and receiving of gifts (I do buy some for the children), and partying. My community hosts the area's big Ayyám-i-Há party at the local park and recreation center, and lots of people come to eat, play games, talk, laugh, listen and dance to music. Yours …