Talk on Human Rights - Payam Akhavan
Co-hosted by the Ottawa Baha'i Community, the Phillipe Kirsch Institute, and Centre for International Policy Studies, this talk featured Mr. Payam Akhavan, a professor of law at McGill University, and focused on human rights in our modern world.
Weekly interfaith devotional gatherings on the U of O campus gather together Baha'is and their friends to pray and discuss the Writings of the worlds Religions in an open and consultative environment. Each week a theme is chosen, but all are welcome to share their own prayers and Scripture. Themes have included: peace, unity, family and children, service to humanity.
Monthly information sessions on the Baha'i Faith are open to all and are primarily for those who want to know more about the Faith, its history and its teachings. A recent campaign at the U of O campus saw an intensive period of 5 days of firesides where several individuals engaged in conversations. The dicussions at the firesides held so far were very elevated and focussed on: the nature of God and the soul, the purpose of religion, the Baha'i concept of progressive revelation, and social issues (equality of women and men, violence, human rights, service, marriage and family life).
For a 5 day period during the fireside campaign at U of O, information booths in the University Center were setup to inform people about the Baha'i Faith, and particularily the community building initiatives Baha'is around the world are engaged in. Dozens of elevated and not-so-elevated conversations took place and we hope it assisted those who wanted to know more about the Faith on their spiritual or intellectual journeys.
Every 2 weeks members of the graduate student body of the Department of Chemical Engineering at U of O get together for a coffee house and discussion group. Each student shares responsibility to plan the theme of the group for that week, and everyone is welcome to bring material to share. Themes so far included: Consultation, equailty of men and women, gossip and backbiting. Monthly potlucks and community activities have begun as a result of the desire of the students to engage with each other in ever more meaningful ways.
We hope to include service projects in some way to this pattern of community life.
(Curiosity, Respect And Engagement)
Initiated by The Navigators, a Christian club near Carleton's campus, the event brought together people and clubs from various religious and non-religious groups to take part in a panel on the nature of morality, evil, and God. After the panel, breakout groups were formed and the discussion branched to many thought proviking topics. CABS members were particularilly engaged in these discussion topics: introducing the Baha'i Faith; the connection between intention and action, and how something intended to be good could be interpreted as evil; the concept of a universal morality...is there one moral code everyone should follow, or are we all equaly "right" in following "our own morality"?; the purpose of religion, and why God sent Messengers and Prophets; and finally the concept of "unity", how it should be applied, and what is necessary to implement it.
This initial collaboration was wonderful and led to continued discussions on how we can more meaningfully engage in interfaith dialogue and service.
A Baha'i Ask Me Anything (AMA) session was hosted on Reddit, where Baha'i users were available to answer any question from anybody on their Faith. Comments ranged from which Baha'i Writings to read, to the Baha'i view of other religions, clergy, and sexuality. Of course, a few trolls were present doing what they do best. A review of the day was published by The Huffington Post and can be read here.
The format seemed to provide a welcome atmosphere for anyone to stop by and ask any question they had on the Baha'i Faith. Although this type of Q and A may not be conducive to a deep conversation, CABS may bring it to life in the form of multiple booths on campus in the near future.
This year CABS has decided to focus more on the social wellbeing of its members. In the past, we have focussed almost exclusively on community building, academic research, public discourse, and interfaith relations. This year we have begun monthly social gatherings for Baha'i students/faculty and their friends. One of our outings was to watch a screening of Rosewater at the the Bytowne theatre. The film was about Maziar Bahari, the director of an upcoming film To Light A Candle, which highlights the persecution of Baha'is in Iran. Other support systems like study groups etc. are bieng formed to foster mutal support and cooperation.