Baha'i studies

Notes on a post-secular society


Jürgen Habermas

Both religious and secular mentalities must be open to a complementary learning process if we are to balance shared citizenship and cultural difference.

A "post-secular" society must at some point have been in a "secular" state. The controversial term can therefore only be applied to the affluent societies of Europe or countries such as Canada, Australia and New Zealand, where people's religious ties have steadily or rather quite dramatically lapsed in the post-War period. These regions have witnessed a spreading awareness that their citizens are living in a secularized society. In terms of sociological indicators, the religious behavior and convictions of the local populations have by no means changed to such an extent as to justify labeling these societies "post-secular". Here, trends towards de-institutionalized and new spiritual forms of religiosity have not offset the tangible losses by the major religious communities.

Reconsidering the sociological debate on secularization

Nevertheless, global changes and the visible conflicts that flare up in connection with religious issues give us reason to doubt whether the relevance of religion has waned. An ever smaller number of sociologists now support the hypothesis, and it went unopposed for a long time, that there is close linkage between the modernization of society and the secularization of the population. The hypothesis rests on three initially plausible considerations.

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Article recommended by David, of Correlating

Twenty-One Percent?

A while back I wrote a bit about the Pew Forum on Religion and Public Life survey that found a remarkable amount of religious switching among Americans. The results of another part of the survey was released today. The highlights

Seventy percent of religious adherents in the United States believe multiple religions can lead a person to salvation, while 68 percent say there is more than one way to interpret the teachings of their religion.
{josquote}Part of the way this happens, though, is through the dilution of beliefs.{/josquote}

The vast majority of Americans believe in God - 92% to be exact (including, bizarrely enough, 21% of people who self-identify as atheists). Most don't think their way is the only one. For me these kinds of things are mixed bags. I think it's great that people are so open to the religions of others and are increasingly less likely to think God won't punish people with differing beliefs. Part of the way this happens, though, is through the dilution of beliefs. For me this all points to the really difficult problem of how to maintain religious integrity in a way that, at the same time, allows for a growing religious inclusiveness.

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Kalim: Software for searching the Baha'i writings

Top nine reasons to try Kalim

  1. You don't have to know how to spell 'Huquq'u'llah', pick it off the suggested words list.
  2. Kalim knows about variant spellings and derived words: enter 'labor' and also get 'labour', enter 'catch' and also get 'caught'
  3. Text is marked with the correct author, not by book, but by sentence, phrase and word.
  4. It has a canonical reference scheme of the Baha'i Writings, just like the Bible or Qur'an.
  5. Hyper-linked cross-references: you can jump from the citation to the primary source, and from the primary source to all its citations.
  6. Knowledge about the texts can be used and added to. For example, for each use of the word 'just', does it mean 'a moment ago' or 'with justice'.
  7. With one click you can limit the search to texts for the devotional part of Feast.
  8. You can adjust the fonts to your screen and eye-sight.
  9. It has links to the web: Dictionary.com, Wikipedia, Google Books, etc.

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Online Journal of Baha'i Studies

Lisa Schaffer-Harris

The Online Journal of Baha’i Studies launched on December 28, 2007. Openly accessed and peer reviewed, it is also international in scope and accessibility. A natural evolution for the electronic age is to have online journals so that scholars whose subject matter is the Baha’i and Babi revelations have a place publish their works in a more accessible form.

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Online Journal of Baha'i Studies Launched

The Association for Bahá’í Studies New Zealand has launched its open access, internationally oriented, peer reviewed electronic periodical OJBS: Online Journal of Bahá’í Studies. The initial issue of the journal has contributions from scholars, new and established, professional academics and independent scholars alike from around the world. The journal seeks to publish both peer reviewed and essay material, translations, quantitative and qualitative research, research notes and bibliographic materials based on a broad range of topics under the rubric Baha’i Studies.

The journal has released the complete 2007 volume and will begin shortly to progressively publish the 2008 articles with the final volume wrap up in November of 2008. The editors have also released a Call for Papers for either a special issue or a special section of the 2008 volume dedicated to “Reflections on a ‘Culture of Learning’: Studies in a paradigm shift in Baha’i Community Life”.

The journal aims to publish in as a broad a range of topics as possible. This includes traditional studies of history, philology, scripture and theology as well as new human and social sciences, cultural studies trans and interdisciplinary studies. The journal competes with a number of other sister journals but hopes to develop an edge by establishing a rapid publication turn around for its authors.

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