Several people have asked the Cormorant Baker why a whole bunch of names have been removed from the Kalimat Petition, leaving the terse message, line voided.
The Baker can now reveal that he has been in discussions with Faith C. Lensing, a spokesperson for the Baha’i World Centre. She pointed out to him that a number of the non-Baha’is who had signed the petition were shortly to be declared by the Universal House of Justice to be Baha’is.
Somehow, Faith convinced the Cormorant Baker that the problem was his fault, and that he would have to rectify it.
So, if you’re not a Baha’i and if you haven’t already received an email like this…
NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF THE BAHA'IS OF YOUR COUNTRY
EMAIL MESSAGE (CONFIRMATORY COPY TO FOLLOW)
28 March 2006
Dear Mr Baker,
The Universal House of Justice has advised us of its conclusion that, on the basis of an established pattern of statements by you and behaviour and attitude on your part over the past two or three years, you can properly be considered as meeting the requirements of membership in the Baha'i community. Accordingly, we have added your name to our membership rolls and have informed the Baha'i institutions concerned.
NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY
OF THE BAHA'IS OF YOUR COUNTRY
…then please consider adding your name to the petition to make up for those whose names have been removed.
Here’s the background information on the petition.
Here’s my second podcast. It’s my attempt to summarise, understand, and perhaps resolve, the Kalimat situation.
Following on from the truly epoch-making publication, Messages from the Universal House of Justice, 1963-1986 and the vista-expanding work A Wider Horizon: Selected Messages of the Universal House of Justice 1983-1992, a new compilation of messages from the Supreme Body has just been announced.
The new book, They Triumphed over Diversity – Selected Messages of the Universal House of Justice, 1995-2005, mainly deals with a campaign of internal opposition to the Teachings carried on through the use of the Internet, and shows how the Universal House of Justice has systematically addressed the problem.
“As a number of the friends are aware, a campaign of internal opposition to the Teachings is currently being carried on through the use of the Internet, a communications system that now reaches virtually every part of the world. Differing from attacks familiar in the past, it seeks to recast the entire Faith into a socio-political ideology alien to Baha’u’llah’s intent. In the place of the institutional authority established by His Covenant, it promotes a kind of interpretive authority which those behind it attribute to the views of persons technically trained in Middle East studies.”
(Issues Related to the Study of the Baha’i Faith – 7 April 1999)
The book is being simultaneously published by Pablum Publications and Alikat Press. It will be released on 1 April 2006.
Kalimat Press is an independent Baha’i publishing house and has been supporting authors by helping them get their works published for more than twenty years. As you may have heard, it has just been muzzled by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States, which has asked US Baha’i organisations to stop carrying Kalimat Press books. If this is news to you, I suggest you read Karen Bacquet’s recent blog entry on the subject.
There are two categories of book that Kalimat Press handles. The ones it publishes, and the ones it doesn’t publish:
- The books published by Kalimat Press all go through Baha’i review
- The books that Kalimat handles, but doesn’t publish, are all exempt from review.
So Kalimat Press has done nothing wrong, and the US NSA certainly doesn’t need to ban all Kalimat’s output (if that’s what, “all national and local Baha’i agencies [are to] cease to distribute books and other items marketed by this publisher” means). After all, if any of the books that Kalimat actually publishes “contain matter inimical to the best interests of our Faith” then the US NSA needs to go after its own Office of Research and Review for failing to “ensure that basic standards of accuracy, dignity, and timeliness are met in the presentation of the Baha’i Faith to the public”. It’s the body that reviewed and passed the manuscripts that Kalimat published.
And if any of the books that Kalimat handles, but doesn’t publish, are a problem, the US NSA could ask Kalimat to cease marketing anything other than those it publishes, or it could ask assemblies to stop distributing books from Kalimat other than those Kalimat publishes.
On the face of it, The US NSA’s decision is arbitrary and intended as a punishment. What’s more, the US NSA may have informed the US Baha’i community about Kalimat, through The American Baha’i, Online Edition, even before Tony heard the news. Its terse letter to him was dated 29 December 2005.
Also, for comparison, check out Karen Bacquet’s blog entry on what happened recently to the guy who revived the children’s magazine Varqa.