Baha'i studies

The Forerunners

A collective of writers, artists and philosophers formed a utopian community in Havelock North in the early 1900s, under the firm hand of English missionary Dr Robert Felkin. He even had a temple built under his house for worshippers. A new exhibition revisits the collective which was called the Forerunners.


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Church and State: A Postmodern Theology, Book One

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About (from This is a political theology for the Bahá'í Faith, but it is also a philosophy for living in our globalized, post-modern society. The author investigates the Bahá'í teachings concerning the separation of "Church" and State.

Government, religion, commerce, art, education, and science are increasingly independent, have different social functions, relate differently to one another, and have different meanings for us today. This functional differentiation also drives the pluralism, relativism, and global scope of our post-modern society. In a society such as ours, in which religious ritual is the mirror of individual distinctiveness, not of collective identity, in which permanent pluralism means that no one religion can provide common norms and values, and in which the values of one sphere of life are not transferred to other spheres, religion must find a new role in society.

The twentieth century has taught us that economic affairs cannot be governed by political ideologies, that science must be free of doctrine, that the dignity and autonomy of the individual must be respected, and that church and state must be separated.

This is a political theology for the Bahá'í Faith, but it is also a philosophy for living in our globalized, post-modern society. The author investigates the Bahá'í teachings concerning the separation of "Church" and State. This is an exhaustive review of Bahá'í literature on the subject, but the book also inquires into the scriptures of both Christianity and Islam to find that the separations of state from religion is a universal ideal.

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The New Arabs: How the Wired and Global Youth of the Middle East Is Transforming It

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Young people and their smartphones overthrow dictatorships in this rousing study of the Arab Spring. University of Michigan historian Cole (Engaging the Muslim World) follows the revolutions in Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya from their roots in dissident organizing though the mass protests of 2011, the collapse of repressive regimes, and ensuing political turmoil. He focuses on the leadership of the “millennial” generation of young, urban, secular activists, their horizons broadened by the Internet and satellite TV, their “interactive networks and horizontal organizations” empowered by blogs and YouTube videos that spread ideas and rallied demonstrators. Cole’s exhilarating journalistic narrative of their exploits is enlivened by interviews with participants and his own colorful firsthand accounts of upheavals. His emphasis on youth and technology is sometimes overdone; revolution was for young firebrands as much in 1848 as in 2011, and old-fashioned factors—allegiances of soldiers, the humble paper pamphlet—play as important a role as youthful élan and social media. However, Cole’s deep, nuanced exploration of political and social currents underneath the uprisings shines; he shows Westerners who think the Arab world is divided between corrupt despots and Islamist zealots just how strong and pervasive the tendencies towards liberalism and democracy are.

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When Religion Itself Becomes Evil

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The well-known religious scholar and chair of the department of religion at Wake Forest University, Charles Kimball, published a landmark book a few years ago, called When Religion Becomes Evil. Dr. Kimball doesn’t dislike faith, and he is no atheist – in fact, he’s an ordained Baptist minister – but the book describes what he sees, after a lifetime of research, as the five warning signs of corruption in religion:When Religion Becomes Evil.

  • Claims to absolute truth,
  • Requirements for blind obedience,
  • Establishing the “ideal” time,
  • The end justifies any means,
  • Declaring holy war.

In the following five articles in this series on the harm that religion can cause, we’ll explore those warning signs and investigate what the new Baha’i teachings say about each one.

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