yesterday i went to the interfaith student group i joined.
i really really really like it! i am excited for next weeks meeting.
each week we have a dinner, discuss inter faith topics, share things from our own religious back grounds, maybe have a game. frequently we will have guest speakers.
the man who runs it i really like. he is the sort of guy i would like to emulate. so far myself feeling very similar to him in many ways, and he has yet to do or say anything i have not liked. perhaps he can become a mentor to me.
he has that some people develop as they age? fit, gray haired, but very light looking, as if their bright spirit is shining through. you know how by the time people reach their fifties or so their countenances often become physically set in their faces. and his is set very warm, inviting, wise and understanding.
he is a quaker, and a teacher of world religions.
after the meeting something interesting happened. he pulled me aside and said i have a very bright spirit. to big to be contained by mormonism or any system and that i would go on to create my own system or movement.
funny. i don't entirely know what he means by that, but it felt good to hear.
i am looking forward to getting to know him better and perhaps having him as a sort of mentor.

and on Wednesday i am going in with some other boy to officially form a falun gong student group.



i can imagine it must be difficult for the star trek creators to think of different ways for aliens to look. after all, there are only so many ways one can make someone have a weird forehead, since apparently intelligent species that evolve light years away generally only differ in how their foreheads are shaped. either smooth, smooth with tattoos. or bumpy. bumpy seems the most common. although i can't imagine what evolutionary purpose bumps on a forehead might have, numerous species across the universe have evolved a variety of bumpy forehead designs.
recently i have been watching the last season of star trek the next generation online. which i believe is the best one. the show only got better with time. it never 'jumped the shark'.
however, in one of the later episodes the creators seemed to perhaps have exhausted their creativity in trying to imagine different forehead designs. in their need to choose something they apparently decided to just put a vagina on the forehead. (i used my new knowledge and love of screen shots to capture these imagines. for mac users: apple button + shift + 4)

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something i am grateful about.

Recently i watched a documentary about Gordon b. Hinckley. while watching it i felt such an overwhelming gratitude to no longer be apart of the church.

It is not that i do not like gordon hinckley, i like him a lot. But the documentary involved much footage of other church leaders and church leadership in general.
I felt so grateful to no longer feel these men had any authority over me. Men who otherwise would not necessarily be men i look up to, and yet were meant to be my spiritual gurus. Some of these men, in fact many, would actually be men who have a world view i see as incorrect. Generally very conservative and dogmatic. Many come from the business world. not an element of society i would normally look towards for guidance.
not that i think any of these men have malicious or bad intentions, but not men i would otherwise look to for guidance on how to live or about god or spirituality.
and yet, when a part of the church, not only are these men, men you might look to for guidance on how to live, but it becomes a sin to not follow their instruction. i believe this created a certain amount of cognitive dissonance in myself, and perhaps others like me. my mind became partitioned, on one hand i felt compelled to follow these men's instruction, on the other hand i recognized they were not men i felt much connection to, or much in common with.

this feeling of not having much in common with these men also created in me a sense of alienation. because i felt so different than those i was supposed to follow, i felt... out of place.

occasionally i will still attend a church meeting and like to keep up on church news, and some times browse around the church website. when i hear statements from leaders that are either only mildly interesting, or perhaps i disagree with the statements all together, it feels so great to feel no compulsion to try and compel myself to somehow believe or a agree with what is being said.
and watching how the members take so seriously what they are hearing, turning off the critical aspect of their minds is a bit disconcerting. i wonder if this creates a certain amount of cognitive dissonance in the average member. on one hand they live in a culture where any sort of unquestioned authority is seen as bad, yet they are a part of a culture of unquestioned authority. although i realize there can be a certain amount of comfort for people to no have to figure certain things out. things that may be very difficult to figure out. it can be nice to place that moral responsibility on someone else. and if they are wrong? god won't judge you for it because you were just being obedient.
obedience. such a virtue in mormonism. but is that what god really wants? automatans? that is something i like about the Baha'is. the independent investigation of truth is very important to them. blind obedience is shunned.
although i am actually glad i was raised in the church, i truly feel so grateful to be apart of it. never have i been happier. i am able to feel happy most all of the time, whereas in mormonism it was a bit more of an emotional roller. perhaps i will write more on that later.

i had written this on sept eleventh two thousand seven

i would advise everyone to not look at or even go near a calender today. but if you must, please to not stare at the date!!!!

beyond the grave

I have recently become again interested in near death type experiences and similar books where people claim to have contact with the other side. (mostly i was looking for books at the library that would be uplifting and provide a pleasant escape, while I am still transitioning to living away from Utah, plus i have so much free time since school does not begin until the 24th. These books have provided exactly what I was craving. so has star trek, the next generation. there are so many episodes of it online. i have been watching an average of three per day!)
I have read a few near death books before, and recently finished one, and another book on pre-birth experiences, which was very interesting. The woman who wrote the pre-birth book, i suspect was Mormon. She never said it directly but a few things in the book caused me to suspect.(you know how there is certain mormon language, plus the notion of pre-existence is a mormon concept) The book was very interesting. It was a collection of accounts people have had with people before they are born. Often it may be a mother who has decided to have no more children, then has a dream or vision of her yet unborn child asking her to allow his or her birth.

currently i am reading a very interesting serious of books. they are called 'seth books'.
the books, i believe there are ten in the serious, are transcripts of a dialogue that occurred between a married couple and a spirit named Seth around the 1960s.
they first began messing around with a ouiji board and eventually began regularly contacting a man named frank watts, who later asked to be called seth. they began recording their conversations with him. after a while, the wife noticed she was receiving the answers the board would spell out in her mind before the board would spell them. eventally, they stop using the board and the wife is able to act as a medium for seth to communicate.
what is interesting about the information they receive is how closely it seems to conform with the information my old love Emmanuel Swedenborg received. as well as what is seen and learned by the people who have near death experiences.
all of these, Emanuel Swedenborg, The Seth volumes, the accounts of near death experiences, and those of pre-birth experiences all seem to witness of the same things, which to me, gives the impression of truthfulness.
i have found it interesting, how much each of these descriptions of the divine confirm the doctrines taught by the Baha'is. and to a lesser degree, some of what was taught by Joseph Smith, however it contradicts Mormon doctrine in someways.
One very common thing either asked by the experiencers is about the role of religion. the answer is always the same, most all religion is good. (though not necessarily of equal goodness) different religions speak to people on different levels. there is no on true group. but that religion can have negative effects when it causes people to close themselves to outside truths or groups of people.

also, everyone experiences that the after life appears to come in infinite levels of degrees that correspond and that progression can take place after one has died. a doctrine taught by both Baha'i and Mormonism.

another thing i have found interesting in reading these books is no one EVER meets god. or Jesus. people often meet a being they think might be Jesus, because he is so kind and loving. but never is it confirmed to them.


i think the thing that is so great about pizza is it's delicious taste.


in most cities i have been, the downtown is a mix of two different types of people and establishments. first: big corporate type businesses like office buildings, banks headquarters etc and the businesses that cater to the business folk, like fancy restaurants and cafes. these are the adults and business people
then there are the small time places like coffee shops, cafes record stores, thrift stores used book stores etc. generally with a counter culture feel. these are the kids.
both these two distinct world's interacting side by side.
but downtown Olympia is almost exclusively the second type of people and businesses. there may be a couple banks downtown, and i can't think of any offices or any place where a business person might be.
because of this, when you walk downtown, which is fairly active throughout the day and evening, all you see and interact with are young hip people. everyone working at every place is a young hip person. since all the businesses are independent and generally cater to the counter culture kids the employees tend to be extra counter culture versus the regular person on the street.
it is an interesting sensation. it makes the city feel as if it is run entirely by kids. i have never been in such an environment before.
i guess college campuses are primarily kids, but they don't have the feeling of being run by the kids.
i find myself being surprised to kind of miss the corporate element downtown.
with all the news about that football player killing dogs and setting up dog fights i am pretty surprised to have not heard or read any news person comment about how what vick had done is no worse than what is done by the meat industry every second of every day. and things done in the name of science. like slowly heating up dogs until they die to study the effects of heat on an animal. (it kills them).
i don't know much about the dog fighting industry, but i imagine they even keep their animals in more comfortable living environments than the american meat industry. only because it is difficult to imagine an environment worse than what animals raised to be eaten live in. and since they are dealing with far less animals there would be little need to keep the animals in such tiny quarters. so perhaps the dog hand on the meat industry, which is supported by most people.
oh, i just saw max wrote an entry about this topic.

world order

At the u of u library i checked out some old collections of the American Baha'i periodical called 'World Order' (which i think is kind of funny because of it's similarity to 'new world order' which conservatives fear so much and is not entirely unlike what baha'i actually teach).
I was able to get one collection from the 1930's and one from the 1960's.
What i was most struck by in looking through these is how very similar everything written is to things currently put out by Baha'i's, which i think says a lot to their credit. One, about how radical their teachings were for their time, and two, how little their teachings are a reflection of culture and society, unlike many other religions.
With the exception of a few cultural references and dates, i think if i were to read one of these articles not being aware of when they were written i would assume they are written today.
my natural instinct is to compare everything i read about or by any religion with Mormonism since it is what i am most familiar with.
Meghan bought a copy of a Mormon booklet about morality from... i think the sixties. reading it is often laugh out loud funny because of how outdated it is. Many parts extremely sexist and naive, both scientifically and philosophically. That is just forty years ago. Anyone who has looked through church publications from early church history or even early to mid nineteen hundreds realizes how radically different are the ways and types of issues discussed, and occasionally even the doctrines themselves have changed. if one studies these changes of emphasis and doctrine it is easy to see how clearly they follow changes in time and culture.
Jan Shipps, prominent scholar on Mormonism said that if one were to attend Mormon church one hundred years ago it would be unrecognizable in contrast with modern Mormonism. In just one hundred years.
i think this also speaks a lot for Mormonism. how can one be expected to put their entire trust in an institution that is not consistent? will kids who get a hold of church publications forty years from now laugh out loud when they read them because of how surprising it is people once held certain views?
so i really appreciated seeing how consistent the Bahai's have been throughout their history. It allows me to feel comfortable trusting that the things they say have an objective truth and are not subject to change with times.
and it is not as if current Bahai's are so similar with past Baha'is because they are backward and not up to date culturally, stubbornly holding onto old belief systems, but rather that past Bahai's were so ahead of their times. In era's of deep racial prejudice and intolerance of all types their message has always been one of unity and tolerance.
As late as "1949, while criticizing the legislative efforts in Arizona to 'guarantee rights of Negroes,' LDS presidency counselor David O. McKay said, 'The South knows how to handle them and they do not have any trouble, and the colored people are better off down there--[but] in California they are becoming very progressive and insolent in many cases.' Likewise, in 1950 Counselor Clark wrote: 'Race tolerance: the trend is just terrible'"!
(i am using mormonism specifically but i am sure much of what i am saying could apply to much of Christianity generally)

Meanwhile by this time the Baha'i's, had already been teaching racial and gender equality for over one hundred years. Even encouraging interracial marriage rather than saying it deserved to be punished by death, as was the case during Brigham Young's presidency and was still discouraged up until the seventies.'
Of course now president Hinckley makes statements about how anyone who is disparaging of other races is not a disciple of Christ, and while it is wonderful such things are being taught, I figure, aren't i much better off going with the group that did not take until it was nearly a complete social taboo to criticize other races to come to such a position, but had been teaching such things since it's inception?