Community and administration

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

No one expects the inquisitorial system

"The administrative bodies of the Bahá'í Faith at all levels use a distinctive method of non-adversarial decision-making, known as consultation." Consultation

Apparently, the phrase more commonly used by the rest of the world for non-adversarial judicial decision-making  is "inquisitorial system":

"Inquisitorial System
This article is about the inquisitorial system for organizing court proceedings. This is not to be confused with the system of religious courts established by the Roman Catholic Church for the prosecution of heresy. For this see: Inquisition."
Wiki: Inquisitorial System

The Wiki article goes on to say:

"An inquisitorial system is a legal system where the court or a part of the court is actively involved in determining the facts of the case, as opposed to an adversarial system where the role of the court is solely that of an impartial referee between parties."

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Baha'i call to lead is surprise, "not a burden"


S. Valerie Dana of Highlands Ranch will serve as one of nine national leaders, working to ensure that local Baha'i communities are thriving across the U.S.

Surprise! You are one of the nine national leaders of your church!

You didn't choose to be a candidate. No one nominated you. There was no campaign — just a secret ballot and the announcement last month at the 101st annual Baha'i National Convention in Wilmette, Ill.

The Baha'i faithful choose leaders from among themselves according to their tradition, which dispenses with the clerical class.

So forgive Highlands Ranch businesswoman S. Valerie Dana if she sounds a little stunned at being named to the one-year post.

"I was totally surprised when I was elected," Dana said. "I did not imagine that I would be given this responsibility. I was feeling overwhelmed at first."

The founder of the faith, Baha'u'llah, taught that clerics weren't necessary in an age of universal education. He determined this in 1844 in Iran, then known as Persia.

{josquote}Surprise! You are one of the nine national leaders of your church!{/josquote}

National leader is a big job — a big unpaid job.

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The Power of Spirit: How Organizations Transform

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Just as consciousness evolves in individuals, so too does it evolve in organizations. As Spirit forms and transforms in people, they become strong, focused, and vibrantand wonderful things can happen. But when the spirit is down, nothing else seems to make a difference -- because not too much happens. Many of us today find ourselves trapped in just such organizations. The spirit in our workplace, to say nothing of our own spirit, is getting a little tattered, showing the early stages of what Harrison Owen calls "Soul Pollution." Those in the advanced stages may find themselves plagued by exhaustion, high levels of stress, and the abuse of just about anything in sight, including spouses, substances, and fellow workers. So what is the secret to transforming organizations? The answer, says Owen, is simple: we must consciously be what we already are -- natural, open, self-organizing systems.

{josquote}Many of us today find ourselves trapped in just such organizations. The spirit in our workplace, to say nothing of our own spirit, is getting a little tattered...{/josquote}

In "The Power of Spirit", Owen examines the world of Spirit/Consciousness in organizations and offers help to those who find themselves dreading another day on the job in an organization seemingly bent on its own destruction, as well as the destruction of its members. He draws from what we are now learning about self-organizing systems to provides a practical application to the world of organizations, revealing the ways in which Spirit shows up in new, emergent organizational forms.

Leadership and Followership

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This past weekend I attended an unconference, Leadership in a Self-Organizing World, at the Sleeping Lady Resort in Leavensworth, Washinton.

I need to bring back, and pull out, the benefits from attending this conference to my co-workers, my community, and to myself. But the meal was so rich and intense, I am just wanting to take a big nap after the feast. But I also know I must share this feast, and keep sharing it, or it will not feed anyone.

There is lots to share. I took photographs incessantly while I was there. I invite you to take a peek. The one included in the post was part of a plenary session. I hope it conveys some of the spirit of our passion, playfulness, and reach.

The conference was organized using Open Space Technology, or OST. If you’re not familiar with it, OST is a meeting methodology that is more oriented around interactivity and participation, and which is sometimes called an unconference. There’s an interesting and compelling CNN article about it. Or you can read my own earlier article about it. It has been a passion for me, and something I see has the potential for saving the world. I initiated a wonderful unconference last month, the second annual Missoula BarCamp. We worked on the question of how technology and the arts can help make the world better through Missoula’s vibrant non-profit culture. The participants can’t wait for the next one.

{josquote}In the Baha’i faith, the founder said that the sign of the maturity of mankind was when no one wanted to bear the burden of kingship.{/josquote}

What was compelling at Leadership in a Self-Organizing World? I find it so hard to fit my experience into words, but perhaps telling the stories of the leaders I discovered at the conference will help guide the way. Harrison Owen, the person who discovered Open Space and wrote the book about it, delivered two talks which I videotaped and I will post online. He made clear that the world is already self-organizing. There is only the illusion of control. He also drove home that the power of Open Space is addressing the point where our old answers fail us, and we reach for new ones. It’s a vital question for this current time, where structures are falling away so quickly. He referenced the work of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross who described the phases someone goes through when they learn they have a fatal disease. These are phases people go through in any change. We deny, we grieve, we get angry, we get depressed. And eventually we accept.

In the Baha’i faith, the founder said that the sign of the maturity of mankind was when no one wanted to bear the burden of kingship. When we realize that the universe is self-organizing is perhaps the only point where a leader can truly be a leader. Just as Jesus taught that those who would be first among us would serve everyone else, and as he sacrificed his life to promote that message, maybe that’s the real lesson of being a good leader - learning to follow spirit.

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Thanks to George Dannells for the alert

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Baha'i rift: Baha'is upset with Orthodox Baha'i Faith

Mainstream group doesn't want the name Baha'i [used] by any other group

Every religion has been riven by struggles over authority and authenticity.

Buddhism began when a maverick Hindu prince inspired disciples to embrace asceticism. Judaism has sprouted branches from ultra-orthodox to ultra-liberal, even Jews for Jesus. Christianity went through numerous profound splits, including the Protestant Reformation sparked in the 16th Century by Martin Luther in Germany and the 19th Century Mormon movement led by Joseph Smith in the U.S.

Now the Baha'i Faith, the organization representing the most recent sect to spring from Islam, is struggling to defend its identity in federal court in Chicago, where North American Baha'is have been based ever since believers came to the U.S. about 90 years ago. They contend that a tiny band of believers known as the Orthodox Baha'i Faith can't call themselves Baha'i or use one of its key symbols without violating trademark law or a previous court ruling more than 40 years ago.

{josquote}Why the mainstream denomination waited four decades to enforce the court ruling is a mystery. Baha'i leaders declined interview requests.{/josquote}

In the hands of the federal 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, the case could set a precedent for settling religious schisms, doctrinal disputes and claims to truth.

"The word Baha'i carries with it implications for a certain sets of beliefs -- and we have to protect that," said Robert Stockman, a practicing Baha'i and religious studies instructor at DePaul University.

Adherents of the Orthodox Baha'i Faith believe the international community has strayed from the religion's original teachings. That deviation, they say, threatens to interfere with God's plan for the world.

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Comments on the story at The Iranian