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Michael Day is the author of Journey to a Mountain, Coronation on Carmel and Sacred Stairway (pending), a trilogy that tells the story of the Shrine of the Bab. He was a journalist for daily newspapers in Australia and New Zealand. Then, from 2003-2006, he was the editor of the Baha’i World News Service at the Baha’i World Centre. Now based in Brisbane, he researches and writes Baha'i history. He is also a foreign affairs adviser.

What Kind of Temple Is This?

Walking into the Baha’i House of Worship in Sydney can be puzzling for a first-time visitor.

The Temple, which celebrates its 50th anniversary from September 18 to 25, has elements of similarity to the places of worship of other faiths. Yet, it is clearly different from them. If you were to ask a newcomer to describe the building, the answer might well be this: “With its dome, it almost looks like it could be Christian. The design also reminds me somewhat of a mosque. Once inside, I find the balconies reminiscent of those in a synagogue.”

Then the visitor would start to identify the differences. For a Hindu, a Buddhist or a Catholic, it might seem strange that there are no statues. There are also differences in the kind of services held there. There is no sermon or commentary. No musical instruments accompany the voices raised in prayerful song.

There is a good reason for all of this.

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What Makes a Person Great: A Tribute to Dr. Peter Khan

Dr. Peter Khan 1936 - 2011

When a person of the caliber of Dr Peter Khan passes away, it is not only a time to grieve but also a time to reflect on what makes a person “great”.

In this context we are not using the word “great” as often applied to a sporting star, musician or actor. In such cases, the assessment is usually based on a limited range of unusually developed attributes. Nor are we talking about the merely famous. Journalists, friends and family know that these folk often have feet of clay.

To be a truly great person, in my opinion, requires a much wider range of qualities, always including those of personal integrity or “goodness”. Such people might include Mahatma Gandhi, Nelson Mandela, Eleanor Roosevelt and the Dalai Lama.

To call someone “great” should not, however, imply a spiritual judgement. That is not ours to make – nobody has any idea of a person’s spiritual potential or the extent to which they have fulfilled it. However,  the general consensus among those who heard, met or worked with Dr Khan is that he was, unquestionably, a great man who lived an inspiring life.

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