Baha'i, how you doing? | Bleader

Monday, April 23, 2012

Baha'i, how you doing?

Posted By on 04.23.12 at 06:57 AM

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Yes, this is in the suburbs.
  • Purpy Pupple/Wikimedia Commons
  • Yes, this is in the suburbs.
To kick off Suburbia Week, my intention was to write some sort of definitive history behind my favorite suburban landmark, the Baha'i House of Worship in Wilmette. Except a quick search of the Reader archives lead me to discover that Harold Henderson already wrote it, 25 years ago. I urge you to read Henderson’s article, which provides a fascinating architectural analysis of the structure.

When Henderson wrote his article in 1987, the temple was undergoing rehabilitation and restoration. Whether that process was postponed or not is still unclear, but as the Sun-Times reported this weekend, a $20 million restoration process, which writer Neil Steinberg says took ten years, was just completed. Having visited the site many times in the last decade, the construction was obtrusive and seemingly inexorable—it’s nice to hear that it’s finally over.

It turns out the restoration was undertaken in advance of the 100th anniversary celebration of the laying of the building’s cornerstone. On Saturday, an event will be held at Chicago Theatre that is free and open to the public, and there will be three hour-long devotional programs on Sunday in honor of the centenary. You can find more information on that here.

As for the Baha’i faith, despite having the religion explained to me many times—it’s only polite and respectful to hear members of the congregation explain the religion to you if you want to see the inside of the building—I’m still a little unclear on its finer details. However, the religion’s basic philosophy has always seemed to rest on inclusion, equality, and peace. With all the talk we hear in the media and from our government about the dangers of Iran, it’s important to remember that the Baha’i faith originated there, and in fact accounts for the largest religious minority in that country. Without it, we wouldn’t have such a beautiful architectural wonder, perched on the precipice of the north suburban lakefront, just a short drive up Sheridan Road.

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