Yeah, yeah I know. In the last post I promised to talk about changes I might include going forward with Project Conversion, but I thought you folks would be interested in the events of last evening. They were special because for the last month, my Mentor and I have met every Tuesday evening for what the Baha’is call a Study Circle.
A Study Circle is a time where folks of the Baha’is faith (and even other faiths!) get together and study scripture. Prayers are recited, songs might be sung, there’s food, maybe tea…it’s just a relaxed way to study and consult one another regarding God and the teachings of His Manifestations (messengers to mankind, such as Krishna, Jesus, and most central to Baha’is, Baha’u'llah).
The only difference with our Study Circle is that my Mentor is–as far as we know–the only Baha’i around. So every Tuesday it’s just been the two of us. More like a Study Line I suppose.
We use the Ruhi Institute workbooks–the standard for most Study Circles–to learn about the faith. The last third of book one is particularly intense compared to the rest of the book, so much of the 3 1/2 hours I was there last night was spent by my Mentor’s valiant attempt to field my bombardment of questions and ceaseless curiosity. She also served her signature blend of English and orange peel teas…something I’ve come to look forward to upon every visit. And because my Mentor has insisted upon giving me as much instruction as possible during our time together, she gave me even more books to take home! She certainly has earned the title of Mentor. Thank you, Dr. McCormick.
I bring all of this up because I want you to understand that studying the scriptures and performing the rituals of a particular faith is only half the journey. Religions involve people, and despite the rules and regulations of a faith, each person brings a particular and unique nuance to the faith. I could not appreciate what it is to be a Hindu or Baha’i had it not been for the intense interaction with the people of the faith. Religion is indeed a relationship with the divine, but also with its people. I will certainly miss this interaction next month for Zoroastrianism, as the number of believers is few and my Mentor is in Chicago. March indeed, will be a bitter test, and through that test I’ll come to know exactly how those who belong to a scattered and shrinking diaspora live.