Book of Ezra Length

Living in the Bible Belt, sometimes the only association people have with my name is the book in the Bible. Which is fine. I mean who would honestly recognize…

  • Ezra Klein
  • Ezra Koenig
  • Ezra Miller
  • Ezra Cornell
  • Ezra Pound
  • Ezra Taft Benson

before the book?

Recently I did get a rather weird question.

Ezra is the shortest book, right?

Uh. What? Apparently someone counted the words in each KJV book and placed Ezra at 30th out of 66 with an unimpressive 7K words. (10 chapters, 280 verses)

3 John has 1 chapter, 14 verses, and 294 words. It has fewer words than my rounding 7,440 to 7K above.

Five Years On

About five years ago earlier this month, I went on Bahá’í pilgrimage to Haifa.

It is funny how in that post I wrote about the experience my expectation of some significant change. Even that post stated, “Something like serving at the Bahá’í World Center would be the kind of change I foresee,” which clearly states where my head was looking at the time. I think at the time I was terrified of where things were headed at work and very much tempted to flee a sinking ship. Many of our top talent at the time were. Anyway, I did apply for a job, but after the interview felt a crushing feeling it was not the right move for me so I withdrew. I am at a loss to figure out what changed.

Did not enter a relationship.

At the same employer. New job.

If anything, then the one big change is drifting from faith.

I still think about the statement I was told by some strangers that I ought to be an educator instead of wasting my potential working in IT.

Evidence

Evidence is often portrayed as the collection of facts who neatly prove a conclusion. Just follow the arrows. Several things of late hurt my brain as others second guess and respond to the sad truth evidence rarely is so neat.

    1. Kendrick Johnson was found dead in a school gym. The local sheriff processed the scene. The Georgia Bureau of Investigations did an autopsy. The ruling was humans are not designed to be upside down so while trapped in an wrestling mat for a long period of time, the brain suffocated as oxygenated blood could not reach it. The family did not buy the result. Trayvon Martin was at the time still a hot topic. The family exhumed the body and got a second autopsy who said he was murdered. CNN got the surveillance footage with gaps. This situation is insanely mess with no where along the line there being all the evidence there ought. Because this is real life not a crime drama, I guess.
    2. The Varieties of Scientific Experience: A Personal View of the Search for God by Carl Sagan talks about various situations such as the search for alien life as allusions for how the lack of evidence is hard. So we keep looking. He also seemed pretty skeptical of the existence of God. As a self-described person who follows the evidence, this should not be too surprising. Because it really means no evidence really will be good enough.

Facts are facts until they are disputed. Not so much the what as the meaning. (Though sometimes the what in order to change the meaning into a desired one.) One person’s rock solid data point is another’s fuzzy meaningless drivel.

Any time we look at facts or data, our experience also looks at them. They shape the meaning for us. These leaps of intuition are our experience drawing inferences. Sometimes for the good. Sometimes for the bad. Only later do we really discover.

The scientist in me never likes my first answer. I want to prove it wrong. And the second, third, and nth. I want the correct answer and spend as much time as it takes to get there.

The pragmatist in me realizes sometimes I do not have time for the correct answer. Sometimes my best guess will have to do. This disappoints me every time, but I try not to let it get to me.

TED Talk: Religion, evolution, and the ecstasy of self-transcendence

Another Tuesday, another Jonathon Haidt video.

Locked cooperation can lead to success over free-riders. I am curious what is the next big thing where cooperation will overcome something deemed insurmountable.

If the video below does not load, then try Jonathan Haidt: Religion, evolution, and the ecstasy of self-transcendence.

TED Talk: Equal Parts Science and Magic

The unity of science and religion is an important concept in the Baha’i Faith. They are two sides of the same coin. One side looks ahead with faith. One side looks backwards without faith. One is impatient while the other is deliberately slow. Where the two agree is the sweet spot of true knowledge. There is a stage in the scientific method full of looking forward with faith: Ask a question.

Asking a question is the. most. important step. Everything depends upon it. Not asking the right question ensures nothing will be tried. And humanity suffers. Unless someone else gathers up the faith to do so.

Also, I am apparently a fan of spoken word artists. There is something about the cadence and flow that I like.

If the above video does not work, then try Equal Parts Science and Magic.

Happy Ayyam-i-ha

Baha’is around the world are celebrating the intercalendary days starting today. Our calendar of 19 months with 19 days leave a 4-5 day gap.  Rather than make some months longer than others, we have a period to fill the gap.

Tim & Deb's family Ayyam-i-Ha 007
Tim & Deb's family Ayyam-i-Ha 007

Following Ayyam-i-ha, Baha’is will observe the Fast. We will abstain from eating and drinking between sunrise and sunset for 19 days. Then it will be our new year, Naw-Ruz.

When I attended mass as a Catholic, Christmas and Easter where the big observances where there was standing room only. Naw-Ruz is the equivalent in the Baha’i Faith (here anyway). Not so much that this is the only event which brings out certain Baha’is, but that we as a community reach out to our non-Baha’i friends to invite them to Naw-Ruz.

Photo: Tim & Deb’s family Ayyam-i-Ha 007 by Baha’i Views / Flitzy Phoebie on Flickr

For 9/11

This seemed appropropriate to re-post today, the tenth anniversary of the event which inspired its need. The problems we are to overcome seem more prevalent and prominent today.

This statement was issued by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States in December 2001 as a response to the terror attacks of September 11, 2001. It first appeared as a full-page statement in The New York Times on December 21, 2001 and was subsequently reprinted in dozens of other newspapers around the country.

At this time of world turmoil, the United States Baha’i community offers a perspective on the destiny of America as the promoter of world peace.

More than a hundred years ago, Baha’u’llah, the founder of the Baha’i Faith, addressing heads of state, proclaimed that the age of maturity for the entire human race had come. The unity of humankind was now to be established as the foundation of the great peace that would mark the highest stage in humanity’s spiritual and social evolution. Revolutionary and world-shaking changes were therefore inevitable.

The Baha’i writings state:

“The world is moving on. Its events are unfolding ominously and with bewildering rapidity. The whirlwind of its passions is swift and alarmingly violent. The New World is insensibly drawn into its vortex….Dangers, undreamt of and unpredictable, threaten it both from within and from without. Its governments and peoples are being gradually enmeshed in the coils of the world’s recurrent crises and fierce controversies….The world is contracting into a neighborhood. America, willingly or unwillingly, must face and grapple with this new situation. For purposes of national security, let alone any humanitarian motive, she must assume the obligations imposed by this newly created neighborhood. Paradoxical as it may seem, her only hope of extricating herself from the perils gathering around her is to become entangled in that very web of international association which the Hand of an inscrutable Providence is weaving.”

The American nation, Baha’is believe, will evolve through tests and trials to become a land of spiritual distinction and leadership, a champion of justice and unity among all peoples and nations, and a powerful servant of the cause of everlasting peace. This is the peace promised by God in the sacred texts of the world’s religions.

Establishing peace is not simply a matter of signing treaties and protocols; it is a complex task requiring a new level of commitment to resolving issues not customarily associated with the pursuit of peace.

Universal acceptance of the spiritual principle of the oneness of humankind is essential to any successful attempt to establish world peace.

Racism, one of the most baneful and persistent evils, is a major barrier to peace.
The emancipation of women, the achievement of full equality of the sexes, is one of the most important, though less acknowledged, prerequisites of peace.

The inordinate disparity between rich and poor keeps the world in a state of instability, preventing the achievement of peace.

Unbridled nationalism, as distinguished from a sane and legitimate patriotism, must give way to a wider loyalty, to the love of humanity as a whole.

Religious strife, the cause of innumerable wars and conflicts throughout history, is a major obstacle to progress. The challenge facing the world’s religious leaders is to contemplate, with hearts filled with compassion and the desire for truth, the plight of humanity, and to ask themselves whether they cannot, in humility before their God, submerge their theological differences in a great spirit of mutual forbearance that will enable them to work together for the advancement of human understanding and peace.

Baha’is pray, “May this American Democracy be the first nation to establish the foundation of international agreement. May it be the first nation to proclaim the unity of mankind. May it be the first to unfurl the standard of the Most Great Peace.”

During this hour of crisis, we affirm our abiding faith in the destiny of America. We know that the road to its destiny is long, thorny and tortuous, but we are confident that America will emerge from her trials undivided and undefeatable.

The source of the above text of The Destiny of America and the Promise of World Peace.

Happy New Year

Naw Rúz 2007
Naw-Rúz in Athens. GA 2007

Today is Naw-Rúz, New Year’s Day on the Bahá’í calendar. For the nineteen days prior, we have been fasting between sunrise and sunset. So parties are pretty common to celebrate surviving this trial. My first Baha’i experience here in Athens was a Naw-Rúz party.

A coworker said with all the stuff my group is doing I looked not bothered. Little did he know I was also fasting. Maybe that is a sign fasting is not as hard on me as it feels?

The photo is one I took at our 2007 Naw-Rúz party. The Unitarian Universalist Fellowship were invited to participate. They brought drums.

The Bahá’í Fast

From Shoghi Effendi in Directives of the Guardian:

The fasting period, which lasts nineteen days starting as a rule from the second of March every year and ending on the twentieth of the same month, involves complete abstention from food and drink from sunrise till sunset. It is essentially a period of meditation and prayer, of spiritual recuperation, during which the believer must strive to make the necessary readjustments in his inner life, and to refresh and reinvigorate the spiritual forces latent in his soul. Its significance and purpose are, therefore, fundamentally spiritual in character. Fasting is symbolic, and a reminder of abstinence from selfish and carnal desires.

Let’s hope I can attain some much needed spiritual recuperation. I am hoping to be more diligent about using the extra time to use for more meditation and prayer.

Some friends participate in a photo project called Nineteen Days in honor of the Fast.