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James Howden

James Howden is an educator, writer and coach who lives in Ottawa, Canada with his wife and the youngest of his four sons. He has been searching for the Baha’i way since his teens. You can read more on his blog: www.JamesHowden.com.

Going Green and Going to War

I am a peaceful man, but I have always wanted to be on the “front lines” of life. I liked when the choir sang “Onward Christian Soldiers” when I was a kid, and as a young man I began learning to take my marching orders from Abdu’l-Baha, trying to be one of the “souls” in a “heavenly army” whose mission was to bring light and justice to a darkening world.

I love this part of an address by the American President, Theodore Roosevelt:

It is not the critic who counts…The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause… (From a speech titled “Citizenship in a Republic”, given at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910)

My wife, the warrior woman that I am trying to keep up with, has taught me much about another battle that Baha’is are learning how to engage in: the crisis we’ve created for the world’s ecology, and the search for sustainable ways to live with and within it.  Continue reading

150 Years of Ridvan and Counting: Celebrating Like a Baha’i

“Going anywhere special for The Festival this year?”

“Usually we spend Paradise at home, but this year we’re going on a 12-day luxury cruise to Baghdad.”

“Really? Oh, I’m jealous. My husband just can’t miss the Ridvan golf junket in Las Vegas, so it’s going to be more reading and pomegranate tea by the pool for me…”

No, I haven’t heard many conversations like this at devotionals or reflection meetings, either! (And aren’t we lucky? Our Holy Days still focus on the holy part.) Still, it is the Most Great Festival, and who knows what it will be in futures that more or less distantly shine in our imaginations? As with the 19 Day Feast, so with Ridvan: we have only the barest notion of how to celebrate them. As with everything, we’re learning, and nothing stops our education more quickly than the thought that we know how to celebrate our festivals and nineteen-day spiritual gatherings. They will be “unimaginably glorious”, as the Guardian might have said, but for now we do the best we can. Continue reading