I am an active member of the Baha’i Faith, an organization that is currently unable to grow, at least where I live, in Norway. My simplified analysis of the situation, is that becoming a Baha’i is too big a step, for the majority of the population. People need an opportunity to take a smaller step, first. Then, at some point in the future, measured in years or generations, they (or their descendants) will be able to make another smaller step, and become Baha’is.

This is precisely what I had to do. I had grown up in a trinitarian family in the 1950s. It was a time heavily influenced by President Dwight D. Eisenhower, which mandated church attendance. Despite hours of Sunday School, I found it impossible to understand many concepts that many Christians find fundamental. The first of these was the trinity. Yes, I can accept that there is a God. Yes, I can accept that a person called Jesus lived, and promoted a better way of life, including treating people in the same way you want to be treated. I regarded him as a prophet.

My second problem is Jesus dying for my sins. I commit my own sins and will have to bear responsibility for them myself. Like the majority, I would prefer forgiveness or grace, but it is not up to me to decide if I am worthy of it. Saying that Jesus dying on the cross, resulting in the forgiveness of others’ mistakes is too easy. It just encourages selfishness, and yet more irresponsible action.

A third problematic area has to do with the relationship between creator (normally referred to as God) and his creation (which includes us humans). I have no problems with people being indirectly created (yes, that is why we have sex!) fully accepting evolution. I have no problems with Big Bang, placing this incarnation of the universe at about 13.8 billion years of age.

One of the real challenges that I have has to do with miracles. If one accepts that there is divine intervention at the micro-level, then humans do not need to do anything about, say, the increased carbonization of the atmosphere, and its effects on climate. God will simply come along one day, and fix it for us. At the same time God could replenish the oil reserves in Saudi Arabia, so everyone can continue to drive fossil-fuelers into eternity, while the Saudi Arabians make even more money. A belief in divine intervention has enormous implications for life on this planet.

On the more personal level, a true believer in miracles has no need to change behaviour. One does not have to quit smoking, because God will not allow cellular mutants to cause lung cancer. One does not have to be particularly careful in a workshop, because God will regrow missing limbs.  One does not have to reduce plastic consumption, because God will clean rivers and seas, and make everything perfect again.

Perhaps what I find most astonishing about some tribes of trinitarians, is their ambivalence. They may visit their local doctor, have blood samples taken and checked, and then use science based medications to ameliorate a medical problem. That seems sensible, and I do the same thing. Yet, these same people are unable to visit their local climatologist, have air and other environmental samples taken and checked, and then then use science based corrections to ameliorate a climate problem affecting the entire world.

The interior of the Unitarian Church, Vancouver. (Photo: Rob Atkins 2017 Vancouver Heritage Foundation)

My initial response to these trinitarian problems, was to search for a solution more in keeping with my beliefs and principles. I found Unitarianism to be palatable for me. This was not because of the popularity of Unitarianism. Today, in Canada, there are only 3 804 members, in 46 congregations. To say that 1 in 10 000 Canadians is a Unitarian, is an exaggeration.

Once I became a Unitarian, and accepted Jesus as a prophet, I was then able to accept other prophets, including those of the old testament, and Islam. Thus, when I became introduced to the Baha’i Faith, I could accept it on its own merits. It fit into my accepted pattern.

The Baha’i Faith is almost eight times larger than Unitarianism. The Canadian Encyclopedia writes; “As of 2015, there were an estimated 30,000 Baha’is in Canada, a number that includes French- and English-speaking members of the faith living in 1,200 communities. An estimated 18 per cent of the Baha’i community in Canada are Inuit or First Nations people, while recent immigrants make up 30 per cent.”




Every Soul …

Every soul needs a fortress to protect it against the onslaught of the modern world. Life isn’t for weaklings. Living demands effort. Surprisingly, the Baha’i Faith does not promote work, or even careers, as this fortress. Rather it comes from marriage. A true marriage is not just confined to this world, but lasts almost perpetually.

“The true marriage of Bahá’ís is this, that husband and wife should be united both physically and spiritually, that they may ever improve the spiritual life of each other, and may enjoy everlasting unity throughout all the worlds of God.”

Bahá’u’lláh described marriage as a “fortress for well-being.”

I don’t think Bahá’u’lláh was just talking about passionate nights. Living with someone 24/7 requires more than just sex to sustain a relationship. Living together may be a normal state, it might even promote health and longevity, and result in greater happiness, but these positive elements will only develop if there is friendship, at the heart of the relationship.

They “must, however, exercise the utmost care to become thoroughly acquainted with the character of the other, that the binding covenant between them may be a tie that will endure forever. Their purpose must be this: to become loving companions and comrades and at one with each other for time and eternity…”

Soon my beloved and I will have been married for 40 years. I would like to be able to say that we have learned to live together in perfect harmony, and to work together as a team. But that isn’t always true. Disagreements can arise. Frequently, we have separate areas of expertise. I will never have the culinary skills, nor the interest in textiles that my beloved has. Then again, she is less interested in woodworking and fixing computers. Hopefully, our interests and abilities complement each other.

“The love between husband and wife should not be purely physical, nay rather it must be spiritual and heavenly. These two souls should be considered as one soul. How difficult it would be to divide a single soul!”

Children seem to be an essential part of marriage, despite the world heading to a state of overpopulation and global warming. When those children arrive, they have to be raised. This can strain a relationship, because most people are come unprepared for parenthood. Children don’t always follow the book, with respect to their behaviour. Sometimes, differences can arise between parents, because they see things from different perspectives. Yet somehow, with a little prayer and reflection we muddle through, and children develop into adults.

“The foundation of the Kingdom of God is based upon harmony and love, oneness, relationship and union, not upon differences, especially between husband and wife.”

There is a life after children. There is even life after retirement. Yet, I am eternally grateful that I have my beloved to share my life with me.

“The Lord, peerless is He, hath made woman and man to abide with each other in the closest companionship, and to be even as a single soul. They are two helpmates, two intimate friends, who should be concerned about the welfare of each other. If they live thus, they will pass through this world with perfect contentment, bliss, and peace of heart, and become the object of divine grace and favour in the Kingdom of heaven.”