To be informed of upcoming screening dates of the film Uncommon Sense: The Life and Work of Laurie Baker in your city and country, and to get notifications when the film and upcoming Baker book are available for purchase please provide your email address. You will be added to the Baker Mailing List. To request a screening email lauriebakerfilm[at)gmail(d0t)com


"I have always been fascinated by what is called religion". I was born into a family with regular and strict ideas about religion. As a growing child I was taught to say my prayers at certain times everyday. As a family we always went to church services. Both my father's parents and my mother's parents had been very active, in their religious life, from daily family prayers to church going, all of these exercises were at regular specific times of the day. The only excuse received for not complying with these strict timetables was illness. One typical example was that we children were not allowed to play any games on Sundays. My eldest brother was a rebel, and in his late teens (he was ten years older than me), shocked our parents and friends and relations by going swimming or playing tennis, or even playing chess on Sundays. As I grew, I developed an admiration for him, for his courage to do what he thought was right or good and not to do things which he thought were bad, or stupid or meaningless. Naturally all this shocked my parents.


I liked and enjoyed going to church regularly, I liked the music and singing. I liked the readings from the Old Testament and the New Testament. If I ever questioned any of these I was told not to be naughty, or I wouldn't go to heaven. I liked some of these sermons on Sundays specially if the preacher of the day was a missionary, and he told of events and stories about work, among 'the natives' who were 'heathens' and who worshiped idols and false gods. It was from these noble men and women who left home, family and wealth that I first heard about caste systems and temple girls and worshiping idols and cremating bodies. Cremation only started in England, when I was a college student, and to my surprise and amazement, my father when he died at the age of 90 years had left instructions, that after his death he should be cremated!


Of course when I grew up and started to work and live in the different parts of the world, I could see for myself how people all over the world had their own brands of religion. Interestingly, though the outward trappings of religion varied very greatly from place to place, behind it all, there was obviously a hidden understanding that there is some power or force that guided people, both individually and collectively in the way of living and in their understanding of what is good and is bad. There is also a general idea, that there is some sort of future existence, after we leave this world. Some people believe that this super-power called God can be directly communed with, while others believe contacts come through some special leader, a person who gets called a prophet or a saviour. Usually such a messenger becomes the center of a sect and his message and life story are passed down through generations and generations of followers and believers. So having been brought up in the Christian religion I tend to follow the teachings of my religious founder Jesus. I have no regrets about trying to live my life, according to Jesus teachings, but often, in China and in India, I have known people who have followed their founder of their particular religious branch from the written 'scriptures' of various religions, often the same truth or way is expressed by their founder, which tends to lead to the idea, that there is one God, the overall creator.


As a child and onwards, the mathematical side of a heaven and after life always puzzled me; most religions also have this idea of a heaven for good people and a hell for bad or naughty people. When I began to be interested in statistics and population sizes, I was a bit worried about the problem of overcrowding of both heaven and hell! Of course, many people with the same questions in their minds devised the idea that in hell, you got cooked by eternal fire etc. Then of course, several religions have the idea of reincarnation. This time round on earth you may be a man or a woman, but according to your conduct, next time round you may be a giraffe or a beetle. So throughout my eighty five years and at quite an early age, I was more and more convinced that Jesus' main teachings were good not only to believe in, but in trying to practice them, and they were the only way to find a meaning in life, and an acceptable way of living. As a child, the man next-door use to beat his wife and my parents used to go and pacify the couple. I could see that being hurt made people bitter and sad and miserable, or turned them into users of violence.


In my teens I came in contact with Quakers (members of the Society of Friends) and was much attracted to their interpretation of Christian religious beliefs and principles. I joined their society and benefited greatly in being able to accept many of Jesus' teachings. A year or so after I qualified as an architect, the second great world war started. I was determined that violence was no way of settling international or any other disagreements. Knowing the damage and the hurt and suffering war creates; I immediately joined the Friends Ambulance Unit and had training in dealing with causalities in a big London hospital. Later, as the war spread round the world, I went with other Quakers to India and China to deal with civilian casualties, This in turn led me to take over an abandoned leprosy colony in China, not as war victims, but as human victims. The unfortunate people who had developed the dreaded disease of leprosy were complete outcastes from all normal society. Later, after the war, I returned to India as an architect to a society that ran over 90 leprosy homes all over India. I only mention this brief personal history, as an example that without making a fuss about developing a belief in Christian principles, and having thought things out, and seen for myself the evils and foolishness of wars, I practiced what I believed in by following Jesus' teachings in my own way, whenever a way opened up.


On looking back now, I'd say, that this was what religion meant to one. I am glad I followed up my convictions as they came, as it were, to a cross road in the course of my life. I had to decide which road of three in front of me, I knew which one to choose and follow. To me, this is what religion has meant. I have no objection, whether for me or for others, in worshiping along with others, or belonging to a particular sect, or attending a particular branch of worshiping, or saying a set of prayers etc. but I think of religion more as a personal way of being and behavior, rather than performing certain rituals on certain days etc. Furthermore, in the quite wide range of countries, and parts of the world, I have lived in, I have seen as a born Christian, many people of other religions who have also seen as I do, the stupidity and foolishness and wickedness of hurting others, and the evils and hardships that communities based on wealth or education, which actually develop and cause poverty or pain or deprivation to others of the good things of the world. I can recall several occasions when I had found myself thinking about some Hindu or Muslim friends, "He is a better Christian than I am!". In my 80 years, I have become increasingly convinced that violence in any form is bad and is never a way of solving differences between people of different nationalities or religions,

In fact I am inclined to conclude that to love other people, no matter what their race or religion, and to avoid all forms of violence is what religion is.