Art and Literature

Entries about creativity in all its forms, plus original creative material.

Church and State: A postmodern political theology

{amazon id='9080746029'}

This is a political theology for the Bahá´í Faith, but it is also a philosophy for living in our globalising, postmodern society. The functional differentiation of society means that government, religion, commerce, art, education and science are increasingly independent, have different social functions, relate differently to one another, and that their lived meanings for us are different. Functional differentiation also drives the pluralism and relativism, global scope and individualisation that characterise postmodern society.

In a society in which religious ritual is the mirror of individual distinctiveness, not of collective identity, in which permanent pluralism means n that no one religion can provide common norms and values, and no ideology should try, and in which the norms of one sphere of life are not transferred to other spheres, religion must find a new understanding of itself, and a new job description for its role in society. The 20th century has taught us that economic affairs cannot be governed by political ideologies, that science must be free of doctrine and political agendas, that church and state must be separated. But it has not provided us with a new world view that explains the postmodern world that we actually experience.

This book draws on the Bahai scriptures, and the Bible and Quran, to show that the differentiation and globalisation of postmodern society are signs that the Kingdom of God is growing in the world.

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Church and State: Foreword and Introduction (PDF, 204KB)

This is presented on the web because a phrase on the first page of the Foreword has been misrepresented through selective quotation, and I would like readers to see what was actually said and judge for themselves what was intended.

The many dimensions of Tierney Sutton

OPEN MIND: 'The tradition of jazz is improvising with others, and that has to include embracing new influences,' says jazz singer Tierney Sutton.

Jazz vocalist continues to stretch, mine her craft.

For Tierney Sutton, real jazz doesn't mean singing tunes the way iconic vocalists laid them down a half-century ago.

"The tradition of jazz is improvising with others, and that has to include embracing new influences," said the Grammy nominee, on the eve of two nights of gigs in Costa Mesa. "It's not the same over and over. You're supposed to take it somewhere, and where you take it should sound like you."

Sutton and her longtime band mates do just that. Their adventurous streak keeps things fresh for themselves and for the fellow jazz musicians who routinely show up in the audience. But they stop short of sonic abstraction, rarely straying far from an infectious swing and lyricism that regularly seduces the ears of more casual listeners.

The quartet embraces both jazz's sophistication and its accessibility. And while there are plenty of others who balance preciously between the two, Sutton and company have established a musical home where they find ever more freedom to roam.

Naturally, it all starts with the leader.

{josquote}Sutton is a member of the Baha'i faith and has said a short prayer before each performance since she began as a solo act.{/josquote}

Sutton, 44, is increasingly mentioned among the top tier of female jazz singers alive. Her pluck, emotional and textural range, and stylistic assuredness reveal the layers of an individual and an artist. And like jazz giants who have walked before her, she continues to dig deeper.

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Divinitee - Bahá'í Inspired Stuff

Divinitee is about giving YOU the chance to express what YOU believe.

Divinitee uses the concept of expression and promotion through clothing to help you make a difference. All of the designs are inspired by the Baha’i Faith and its principles. Divinitee embraces contemporary styles and strives to provide you with a fresh way of letting people know what you're about.

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Iran's Unlikely TV Hit

Show Sympathetic to Plight Of Jews During the Holocaust Draws Millions Each Week

Every Monday night at 10 o'clock, Iranians by the millions tune into Channel One to watch the most expensive show ever aired on the Islamic republic's state-owned television. Its elaborate 1940s costumes and European locations are a far cry from the typical Iranian TV fare of scarf-clad women and gray-suited men.

But the most surprising thing about the wildly popular show is that it is a heart-wrenching tale of European Jews during World War II.

The hour-long drama, "Zero Degree Turn," centers on a love story between an Iranian-Palestinian Muslim man and a French Jewish woman. Over the course of the 22 episodes, the hero saves his love from Nazi detention camps, and Iranian diplomats in France forge passports for the woman and her family to sneak on to airplanes carrying Iranian Jews to their homeland.

On the surface, the message of the lavish, state-funded production appears sharply at odds with that sent out by Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, who has repeatedly called the Holocaust a myth.

In fact, the government's spending on the show underscores the subtle and often sophisticated way in which the Iranian state uses its TV empire to send out political messages. The aim of the show, according to many inside and outside the country, is to draw a clear distinction between the government's views about Judaism -- which is accepted across Iranian society -- and its stance on Israel -- which the leadership denounces every chance it gets.

{josquote}Iranians have always differentiated between ordinary Jews and a minority of Zionists{/josquote}

"Iranians have always differentiated between ordinary Jews and a minority of Zionists," says Hassan Fatthi, the show's writer and director. "The murder of innocent Jews during World War II is just as despicable, sad and shocking as the killing of innocent Palestinian women and children by racist Zionist soldiers," he says.


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Not Less Than Everything

The Story of Brother John

ON SEPTEMBER 20, 2004, The John Templeton Foundation announced the winners of its "Power Of Purpose" essay contest.

The Templeton Foundation's prizes have been called the "Nobel Prize for Religious Research"—not to indicate any formal connection to the Nobel Foundation, but to suggest a comparable level of prestige in a different field. (For instance, Mother Teresa received a Templeton Prize for Progress in Religion six years before she received her Nobel Peace Prize.)

So when the Foundation announced a contest for the most inspiring essay on life's purpose, with all the prestige of the Templeton name and a half a million dollars in cash awards, they attracted a lot of attention. 7,351 essays were submitted from 97 countries. The blue-ribbon panel of judges (including Purpose-Driven Life author Rick Warren) would judge the essays on their merits alone, without knowing who the authors were: professional writers, religious leaders, and complete unknowns were all on a level playing field.

When the winners were announced, the Templeton Foundation took out full-pages ads in major newspapers and magazines to announce ten winners of $10,000 each; four winners of $25,000 each; four winners of $50,000 each; and one Grand Prize Winner of $100,000. The Grand Prize Winner was a man who had never written a book, never published an article in a major journal, never sought or found national fame of any kind: a man who had spent his life searching for answers to the spiritual questions that had plagued him since his youth. The man's name was Augie Turak. The essay was entitled "Brother John."

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