When I was 18, I was a former Jew turned atheist. And yet, becoming a member of the Bahá’í Faith that year was the single most important turning point in my entire life. Though I was raised in a Jewish family, we were not very religious. We did observe basic customs such as the Passover Seder, Chanaukah and of course at the age of 13 I had my Bar Mitzvah ceremony. It didn’t mean anything to me, so at that young age I turned away from religion entirely and became an insistent atheist. I actively opposed religion. But then, in 1973, while attending my first year at the University of Virginia, I encountered the Bahá’í Faith.
At UVA, my then study partner, Mary, introduced me to the Baha'i Faith. Although I initially tried to oppose it she was exceptionally articulate and thoughtful in her response to my attack. Every time the subject of religion came up, instead of arguing, she responded with thoughtful care and asked me to rethink many questions from a new perspective.
I found talking with Mary to be quite an eye-opening experience and never felt like she was trying to convert me. Even with my opposition, our conversations never felt like a debate. Instead, it seemed as if we were walking a path of discovery together. Before long, and to make a long story short, in 1973, I had converted myself, so I joined the Faith.
One of the most important things the Faith has given me is a deep, and profound love of ALL of the great religious Founders of the past. Still in my twenties, I was lucky enough one day to get a short, private interview with one of the most distinguished Bahá’ís in the world at the time, and, after listening to me for a few moments, he pointedly told me, “Ed, you must learn to love your heritage.”
I viewed this advice as sort of marching orders and ran with this guidance. I studied my own heritage and then continued with the other major religions. Something quite extraordinary happened. Not only did I develop a tremendous love for the great Founders of my own heritage, Abraham and Moses, I also developed a an equally deep love and admiration for all of the other Founders of the world’s major religions – Krishna, Zoroaster, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, the Báb, and Bahá’u’lláh, the latter Two being the 19th Century Founders of the Bahá’í Faith.
I graduated college with a double major in Psychology and Religious Studies. I got a master’s degree in education, in Curriculum and Instruction, and did further graduate work in the field of education, in Instructional Design. I continued to study and over time, I developed some expertise specifically in the Abrahamic lineage – Abraham, Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, the Báb, and Bahá’u’lláh.
I learned these Founders were really Divine Educators and that They were connected to one another in amazing and significant ways. I learned They loved one another and praised one another. I learned that They considered Themselves to have all been sent into the world by the same God, the one Creator of the universe.
The differences, disunity and strife among the religions have been caused by the prejudices and misunderstandings among the followers, not by the Founders Themselves. As the years went by, I pursued my career and established my family. Life was going well and in 2007, I felt a strong calling to write about ALL of the great Messengers of God. (In Bahá’í, we also refer to them as Divine Educators or Manifestations of God.) In order to keep the scope of this work manageable, I did limit this series to the Abrahamic Founders mentioned above. It is the joy and passion of my life to teach about all of the Divine Educators, and also to bring forward the knowledge of God’s latest Manifestations.
After much effort, I ended up with a series of books, which I call the Divine Curriculum series.
My approach in this series is not apologetic, neither is it polemic. That is, I am not advocating for the superiority of any one Teacher over the others. Far from it, engaging with equal enthusiasm, the reader will not find any partisanship for one Manifestation of God over and above all the Others. I will not claim that this Figure is more holy, better than, or superior to any of the Others.
Needless to say, this is an attitude that some readers will find truly refreshing, and others will find it disturbing. To those in the latter group, I can only ask that you read my work first, and then decide about the evidence for yourself.
My approach is source-based, that is, I rely on the Scriptures themselves and refer to reputable historical sources in order to relate the story of each of the Figures, to explain Their teachings, to discuss Their missions, and to assess Their achievement and contributions to humanity and civilization. I rely faithfully upon the principle of studying events and situations in their proper historical context. And I present only that which exists in evidence, doing very little speculation. I refer to the theologians as little as possible in order to avoid the trappings of man-made superstitions and hierarchy enforced dogmas.
Finally, my examination of the lives of the Founders of the world’s religions is detailed and it is friendly. Given questions of uncertainty, I look for positive ways to understand what happened in the past. I’m not looking to criticize, not looking to spin a story in the worst way possible. I am willing to rise to the defense of any of the Divine Educators if an aspect of Their lives has been misunderstood.
That said, along the way, numerous thorny questions do arise. In those instances, our stance is that of a seeker after truth; we will look at the evidence and fearlessly draw whatever conclusions are objectively indicated by the data. This should give the reader as even-handed and friendly a presentation as possible.
I hope you enjoy your journey into The Divine Curriculum.
All the best,