Newsletter

“Generations of the Half-Light”

Jul 29, 2020

Image: A colorized photograph of the Mansion of Bahjí in Acre, Israel.

Course: A Short Introduction to Bahá’í History (2020)
Faculty: Peter Smith, Moojan Momen

I was aware of the history of the Faith in a general way, but the depth of the information presented in the course readings has given me a much more comprehensive appreciation for it, and it is fascinating. This course helped me to better understand the violent reaction to the Faith from a cultural and social perspective – and gave me better perspectives on today’s conflicts and upheavals. It also helped me understand my own history.

My parents declared in the late 1950’s and many of the Bahá’í’s I grew up with were relatively new to the Faith – first generation Bahá’ís. My daughter and I have talked about how their own earlier beliefs shaped their understanding of the Faith. My mother, for example, grew up in a strict Lutheran environment. My father grew up in a devout Catholic family and attended the local Catholic schools. He was interested in more mystic questions while my mom was more pragmatic.

I’ve learned how these “half light” believers brought a mix of old and new ideas – until Shoghi Effendi moved people to consider themselves Bahá’ís and “…not to subscribe to the ‘obsolescent observances and doctrines’ of other religions.”

For me, there was no other reference than a common knowledge of Christianity and biblical Judaism. Most of my understanding of other religions (including awareness of them) is relational to the Bahá’í Faith. I see the likeness, the patterns, and the thread that is progressive revelation. Once in a while, I’ve learned that something I thought was from the Faith isn’t in the scriptures, but is some carry-over belief from my elders. Searching sent me back to the books. The Wilmette Institute course on Bahá’í history is a remarkable opportunity to place my life in context, and insightful on many levels.

Contributors

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Bobbie Lee Kolehouse

A recently retired healthcare professional of more than 26 years, Bobbie Lee Kolehouse developed rural health education programs, implemented preventive screening programs and managed grants. She now has time to focus on her writing and art. She has a B.A. in Communication with a M.A. in Intercultural Communication, is a lifelong Bahá’í, a mother and grandmother, and lives in the beautiful Wisconsin countryside with her Cocker Spaniels.

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