Community and administration

Entries about Baha'i community life, about Baha'i administration, and about how the two intersect.

Can China Innovate Without Dissent?

ITHACA, N.Y. — Will China achieve technological dominance over the United States, surpassing us in scientific and engineering innovation?

A lot of people seem to think so. China’s recent landing of an unmanned spacecraft on the Moon, its advances in renewable energies and high-speed rail, its increasing number of patent filings and its vast spending on research and development have contributed to a perception — held across much of the world, according to a Pew Research Center poll conducted last summer — that China is poised to overtake America as the world’s leading power, if it hasn’t already done so.

Concern that China — home of landmark innovations like printing and gunpowder — might reclaim its legacy as a land of invention is voiced at even the highest levels of the American government. In 2011, Steven Chu, the energy secretary at the time and a Nobel-winning physicist, remarked on China’s dominance in the production of low-cost solar-energy cells, urging, “We really can and should take back this technology lead.”

{josquote}Almost all the paradigm-shifting innovations over the past few hundred years ... have emerged in countries with relatively high levels of political and intellectual liberty.{/josquote}

Americans shouldn’t be so worried. Yes, China has demonstrated skill in moving to higher-value manufacturing, and excelled at improving existing technologies, while producing them more cheaply. But it has not excelled in true innovation. (The first modern solar cell was invented in the United States.)

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Done Made My Vow to the Lord

The Universal House of Justice in 2012 described the Bahá'í Black Men's Gathering as "a vibrant and spirited enterprise, which has assisted contingents of African American men to deal with certain obstacles confronting them, to foster a sense of fellowship and kindle their faith and commitment to Bahá'u'lláh, and to encourage them to find an effective part to play within the recent series of Plans."

Done Made My Vow to the Lord shines a light on the accumulated knowledge and experience that continues to flow out from this Gathering.

Done Made My Vow to the Lord: The Bahá'í Black Men's Gathering 1987-2011 is an inspiring video production that features reminiscences of the annual conclaves that over the years drew in large numbers of believers from the far corners of the nation, supporting each other in the process of overcoming the grievous and slow-healing wounds of several hundred years of oppression. It follows some of those men's many services and global travels to spread the unify­ing teachings of Bahá'u'lláh.

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Compare this to what the House was saying in 2011 when it closed down the Black Men's Gathering.

Dr. Albert Lincoln steps down as Secretary-General of the Baha'i International Community

Joshua LincolnAlbert Lincoln

Bahai World News Service, September 30, 2013 [Updated Sept. 31]

The Bahai International Community, or BIC, is an international non-governmental organization representing the members of the Bahai Faith to the world. It could be called the external affairs organisation for the Bahais around the world. One of its most important branches is the United Nations Office. Dr. Albert Lincoln, a former lawyer, has been its Secretary-General since 1994, representing the Baha’i community in international fora and interactions with Government representatives, diplomats, high officials and leaders of thought from many parts of the world. On September 30, the Bahai International Community announced that he is to step down. He is succeeded as Secretary-General by Joshua Lincoln who has a Ph.D. in international relations and has worked for the United Nations.

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The Guardian and the Governor

{josquote}It matters because the real question is, can Bahais be trusted in public life?{/josquote}

Someone asked a question in the comments to this blog, which is so important I have decided to answer in a new posting. He asks whether a government leader [in Israel] who enrolled in the Bahai community would have had temporal authority over the Guardian, had the line of guardians continued, or would the governor have had to defer to the authority of the Guardian, as the head of the Bahai community?

The first part of the answer is, that a Bahai in a position of temporal authority can never be faced with that dilemma, since the scope of deliberations throughout the Bahai administration (the Administrative Order) is limited to spiritual matters (which includes administering the practical affairs of the Bahai community, which is a vehicle for the spirit). Abdu’l-Baha writes:

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