Community and administration

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

Learning the lingo

Uncharacteristically for me, I faithfully read from beginning to end the paper by Paul Lample, "Learning and the Evolution of the Baha'i Community", which formed the basis of his plenary talk at the recent North American Baha'i Studies Conference. In the past, I have ignored the writings of administrators about their theories for growing the community. But recently I have had reason to take an interest in it and began with this paper because it promised to explain the jargon that Baha'is use these days. After I was disenrolled in March 2000, I lost touch due to the many changes the community underwent since then. In my day, it was just local assemblies, national assemblies, and their officers and committees. Now, it appears that local assemblies are no longer flavour of the month and a new set of institutions are the focus of attention. I decided it was time to get my head around this fascinating new landscape.

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Baha'i sect targets national solidarity, says official

The Baha’i religious sect of Vietnam always considers the upholding of great national solidarity as its greatest goal, said chairman of the Baha’i Religious Spiritual Council Nguyen Thuc.

Thuc made the statement while meeting with Tran Dinh Phung, member of the Vietnam Fatherland Front (VFF) Central Committee’s standing board, in Hanoi on September 11.

Baha’i followers have lived under the motto of ‘good life and fine religion’ and strictly abided by the Ordinance on Belief and Religion, he said.

{josquote}The Baha’i religious sect of Vietnam always considers the upholding of great national solidarity as its greatest goal{/josquote}

For his part, Mr Phung congratulated the Baha’i Vietnam sect on its successful first congress held in Ho Chi Minh City last March, and praised the Baha’i followers’ contributions to the country’s development.

Religious followers nationwide, including the Baha’i believers, have played an active role in major campaigns launched by the Party, State and VFF, said the official.

Mr Phung said he hoped that the Baha’i Vietnam sect as well as other religions will encourage their followers to contribute further to the country’s socio-economic development, and keep vigilant over hostile forces’ schemes to undermine the great national unity bloc and religious solidarity.

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Baha'is in the streets of Hatfield

I’ve been hoping to find time to share some stories and thoughts about my experience last weekend on the streets of Hatfield talking to people about the Baha’i Faith.

Unfortunately time has shot past and I’ve been tied up with meetings or urgent things to do and unable to make time to write here. What’s more, times in the coming days when I’d hope to write some posts have now been lost to more meetings!

Intense experiences

{josquote}It takes me a lot of spiritual preparation to step so far outside my comfort zone - and even then I found knocking on doors and inviting people to take a bit of time to learn about my Faith really quite stressful.{/josquote}

Anyway, I will say that the weekend’s experiences were intense: lots of prayer, study, consultation, and then talking to all sorts of people, some receptive to hearing new things, others not. There were times of elation and times of desperation, especially towards the end of a long day on the stump and facing a street of obdurate doors.

There were also some very tender moments. One Gujurati family (all Hindus), whom we would never had met had we not knocked on their door and asked if they would like to learn about the Bahá’í Faith, were open-hearted and welcoming. We met them on Friday, and returned (at their invitation) on Saturday to continue our conversation. Language was a difficulty. Their English needs working on. I am completely ignorant of Gujurati and Hindi. And yet we managed to communicate

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The Bahai Writings on 'Church and State'

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Postings on: the Bahai Writings and 'Church + State' relationships

Voluntary Theocracy (PDF)
Do the Bahai writings really teach the separation of religion and politics, or do they allow the Houses of Justice to become governments, or legislatures, if the existing governments ask them to do so very nicely? Is a voluntary theocracy OK? How reliable are George Latimer's notes on the topic? How do the legislature, executive and judiciary, the guardianship, the elected arm and the appointed arm of the Administrative Order fit together?
Posted on Tarjuman, 26 March 2007

Postings related to Bahai Administration...

Spiritual Assembly to House of Justice (PDF)
Does it make a difference that the local House of Justice is called, for the present, a Spiritual Assembly? Will its functions change when its name is changed to House of Justice?
Posted on Tarikh, 19 October 2007

Priests or religious institutions (PDF)
The Bahai Writings are quite emphatic that the 'ulama and clergy should not interfere in politics. Does this apply to the House of Justice as well? Is it priests who should not do politics, or is it religious institutions in general? Does the Bahai Faith preach one rule that Christianity and Islam should follow, and have another rule in mind for itself, ultimately?
Posted on Tarikh, 21 August 2007

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Guidelines For Baha'is Serving on Institutions

Silence is golden. Duct tape is silver.

If you’ve ever served on an LSA or other Baha’i institution, these guidelines may be familiar to you:

  1. Insist on doing everything through “channels.” Never permit short-cuts to be taken in order to expedite decisions.
  2. Make “speeches.” Talk as frequently as possible and at great length. Illustrate your “points” by long anecdotes and accounts of per­sonal experiences. Never hesitate to make a few appropriate “patriotic” comments.
  3. When possible, refer all matters to committees, for “further study and considera­tion.” Attempt to make the committees as large as possible — never less than five.
  4. Bring up irrelevant issues as frequently as possible.
  5. {josquote}Guess what? [These guidelines] come from...{/josquote}
  6. Haggle over precise wordings of com­munications, minutes, resolutions.
  7. Refer back to matters decided upon at the last meeting and attempt to re-open the question of the advisability of that decision....

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