Ruhi

Keep Calm and Ruhi On – Thoughts on the Frontiers of Learning Video

Keep Calm and Ruhi On

Last year the ITC sent a team around to world to document the success of four Baha’i communities in implementing the core activities. This film was released during the international Baha’i convention and has become a central focus of attention and conversation for Baha’is around the world. A reader of this blog, Rowland, mentioned the video recently in the post about the election of the UHJ. In case you haven’t yet, I invite you to watch the video. I wanted to briefly share my thoughts on it and what it means from a broader perspective about the Baha’i worldwide community.

At first glance the video is quite uplifting because it showcases examples of community development where Baha’is have had a meaningful and positive impact. For example, in India we are shown how the institute process has lead some villagers to soften their deep-seated male chauvinism and to question the cultural norm of ‘castes’. It seems all very wonderful! Apparently the Baha’i community has discovered community development. More than that, it comes across as if the Baha’is have invented community development.

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5 things to do while you’re waiting for the 95 youth conferences

{josquote}5. Pray, meditate, and conquer yourself{/josquote}

So, you’ve heard the news. In a letter dated 8 February 2013, the Universal House of Justice announced the convocation of 95 youth conferences across the globe. And whether you live in Kinshasa or Kiribati, in Auckland or Atlanta, in Chisinau or Cochabamba, you’re hyped. The excitement is coursing through your veins like a fever, and the only prescription is for summer to come as quickly as possible.

But why wait? You can start preparing right now for your local youth conference, whether it’s in July, October or any time in between. Here are five little tips—call them humble suggestions—that can help you pass the time constructively until the time for your local youth conference rolls around.

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Meaningful and Distinctive Conversations

{josquote}Whether the first contact with such newly found friends elicits an invitation for them to enroll in the Bahá’í community or to participate in one of its activities is not an overwhelming concern.{/josquote}

Over the past few decades, The Universal House of Justice (the elected international body which guides the work of the global Bahá’í community) has outlined a vision of action for Bahá’ís that includes a number of separate but interrelated “core” activities: the gathering together of friends for the purpose of sharing prayers and reading writings of various religious traditions, the intentional study of the sacred writings of the Bahá’í Faith, programs for the spiritual education of children, and groups designed to allow pre-youth to explore themes of spiritual import and engage in service activities together.

Given the importance of these core activities to the overall efforts of the Bahá’í community, it seems prudent to discuss a concept that The Universal House of Justice describes as one of the primary impetuses behind all of these activities: engaging in “meaningful and distinctive conversations” with our friends, acquaintances, colleagues, and co-workers.

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A Baha'i Problem? Entry by Troops, Expansion, and the Administration

After I began to participate in the Bahá’í community and look more into the day-to-day, administrative aspects of the faith, I discovered the doctrine of Entry by Troops. Entry by troops is the belief that at some point in the future, around the same time as Earth-shaking events that will force the restructuring of society, numerous people will discover and convert to the Bahá’í Faith. “Troops” in this sense does not imply a military force, but “people of a great number.” Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and Shoghi Effendi all testify to the belief in Entry by Troops.

But as I sit here reading, I can’t help but think that very few of us can envision what ‘Entry by Troops’ will look like. Moreover, I personally think that certain groups within the Faith have made it a point to emphasize ‘Entry by Troops’ to the detriment of long-term, quality expansion.

{josquote}Because we are largely made up of “theological” converts, we naturally assume that everyone else will convert for similar reasons.{/josquote}

I don’t think it’s much of a surprise to Bahá’ís or non-Bahá’ís that the Faith, at least in the United States, is not growing at the rate we want it to. I know numerous people who want a religion that believes in gender and racial equality; that has a logical response to the existence of other religions; and that promotes a harmony in society that opposes war, promotes science, and respects individuality. I sometimes even find myself getting deeply frustrated that so many of these people ignore or brush off the Bahá’í Faith. If ‘Entry by Troops’ is a genuine reality, why is it that so many people who are already Bahá’í in attitude refuse to be Bahá’í in practice?

The problem is that religious conversion is a social process.

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A Baha'i Problem? Entry by Troops, Expansion, and the Administration

After I began to participate in the Bahá’í community and look more into the day-to-day, administrative aspects of the faith, I discovered the doctrine of Entry by Troops. Entry by troops is the belief that at some point in the future, around the same time as Earth-shaking events that will force the restructuring of society, numerous people will discover and convert to the Bahá’í Faith. “Troops” in this sense does not imply a military force, but “people of a great number.” Bahá’u’lláh, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, and Shoghi Effendi all testify to the belief in Entry by Troops.

But as I sit here reading, I can’t help but think that very few of us can envision what ‘Entry by Troops’ will look like. Moreover, I personally think that certain groups within the Faith have made it a point to emphasize ‘Entry by Troops’ to the detriment of long-term, quality expansion.

{josquote}Because we are largely made up of “theological” converts, we naturally assume that everyone else will convert for similar reasons.{/josquote}

I don’t think it’s much of a surprise to Bahá’ís or non-Bahá’ís that the Faith, at least in the United States, is not growing at the rate we want it to. I know numerous people who want a religion that believes in gender and racial equality; that has a logical response to the existence of other religions; and that promotes a harmony in society that opposes war, promotes science, and respects individuality. I sometimes even find myself getting deeply frustrated that so many of these people ignore or brush off the Bahá’í Faith. If ‘Entry by Troops’ is a genuine reality, why is it that so many people who are already Bahá’í in attitude refuse to be Bahá’í in practice?

The problem is that religious conversion is a social process.

Full story...