Sen McGlinn's blog

                                  Reflections on the Bahai teachings


These are published works that are still for sale. There’s a more complete list of publications including journal articles and reviews on the “about Sen” page.

Principles for Progress
Essays on Religion and Modernity by `Abdu’l-Baha, translated with an introduction and notes by Sen McGlinn. Leiden University Press , 2018.

The works in this volume are three of Abdu’l-Baha’s socio-political essays: The Secret of Divine Civilization, Selections from A Traveller´s Narrative and The Art of Governance. There is about 80 pages of introduction outlining the historical setting and the authors and actors that Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha knew. There are also translator’s notes on various textual issues, where a short footnote would not suffice, and an index.

In the case of A Traveller´s Narrative, this is the first translation to be based on Abdu´l-Baha´s corrected text, published in Bombay, rather than the earlier version given to E.G. Browne. Differences between these, and some other parallel texts, have been footnoted. The work has also been redated, Browne having been mislead by an internal reference which did not mean what he thought it meant.

A Traveller´s Narrative has suffered from being evaluated as a source on Babi-Bahai history. In that respect, it is far from the best source available. I have treated it rather as an introductory book on the Bahai Faith, written by an authoritative and early author. Its structure, dealing first with history and then with teachings, is similar to Esslemont’s Baha’u’llah and the New Era. My theory is that it was probably written in the weeks just before Browne visited Akka, with the intention of giving it to him and asking him to publish it.

As for The Art of Governance, this is the first hard copy translation, and the first bilingual version, although an earlier version of my translation was published online in the H-Bahai series Translations of Shaykhi, Babi and Baha’i Texts, vol. 7, no. 1 (March, 2003), and translations by Dreyfus and Cole have been circulated.

The Secret of Divine Civilization is available in a translation by Marzieh Gail, which is good but suffers somewhat from her lack of familiarity with the actual and proposed reforms in Iran that Abdu’l-Baha writes about, from the relatively limited research tools available to a translator of her time, and from her not knowing about most of the sections that Shoghi Effendi had translated. The title, incidentally, was given to the work by Shoghi Effendi, whose partial translation is masterly.

Church and State, a postmodern political theology (2005)
is available from Amazon and Kalimat

Church and State is a political theology for the Baha’i Faith, but it is also a philosophy for living in our globalized, post-modern society. The author investigates the Baha’i teachings concerning the separation of “Church” and State. church-and-state
Government, religion, commerce, art, education, and science are increasingly independent, have different social functions, relate differently to one another, and have different meanings for us today. This functional differentiation also drives the pluralism, relativism, and global scope of our post-modern society. In a society such as ours, in which religious ritual is the mirror of individual distinctiveness, not of collective identity, in which permanent pluralism means that no one religion can provide common norms and values, and in which the values of one sphere of life are not transferred to other spheres, religion must find a new role in society.
The twentieth century has taught us that economic affairs cannot be governed by political ideologies, that science must be free of doctrine, that the dignity and autonomy of the individual must be respected, and that church and state must be separated.
This is an exhaustive review of Baha’i literature on the subject, but the book also inquires into the scriptures of both Christianity and Islam to find that the separations of state from religion is a universal ideal. 441 pp.

With A.A. Seyed-Gohrab:

The True Dream: Indictment of the Shiite clerics of Isfahan, an English translation with facing Persian text. Routledge, 2017.

The True Dream is a Persian satirical drama set in Isfahan in the lead up to Iran’s Constitutional Revolution of 1905-11. Although its three authors hail from the clerical class, they criticize the arrogance, corruption and secularity of the Iranian ruling dynasty and clergy, taking Isfahan as their example. The work blends fact and fiction by summoning the prominent men of the city to account for themselves on the Day of Judgement. God speaks offstage, delivering withering judgements of their behaviour. The dream of the authors is a vision of an Iran governed by law, where justice prevails and the clergy are honestly religious.

One Word – Yak Kaleme: a 19th-century Persian treatise by Mirza Yusof Khan Mustashar ad-Dowla Tabrizi, introducing Western codified law (bilingual edition with a historical introduction) Leiden University Press, 2010.

The Treasury of Tabriz: The Great Il-Khanid Compendium (edited, with A.A. Seyed-Ghorab):
A Treasury from Tabriz is a massive manuscript from 14th century Persia. It is almost perfectly preserved, and contains 209 works on a wide range of subjects, in Persian and Arabic. This collection of essays contains fourteen articles, each dealing with one aspect of this manuscript, explaining its importance in the cultural and literary milieu of the fourteenth century Islamic world.
It is available from Rozenberg Publishers and Amazon

Gog and Magog: The Clans of Chaos in World Literature

Gog and Magog originate in the Bible and Quran, where they feature as savage tribes, threatening a settled people. The figures are constantly reinterpreted, as the figures of the enemies of order change: for the Persians of Ferdowsi’s time they are Turks, for contemporary Israelis they are Arabs, while Arabs may identify any figure of power who presages the end of the world with Gog and Magog.
The articles deal with Gog and Magog in Indonesia, the Persian-speaking and Arabic-speaking worlds, and in the West, in both classical and contemporary cultures. The book is available as an open access PDF and from Rozenberg Publishers

Soundings: Essays in Bahá´í Theology

Writing history in a secular age by Karen Austin
Father, Son and Holy Spirit in Christianity, Islam, & the Bahá´í Faith by Bronwyn Elsmore
Introduction to the Bible in modern research by Sen McGlinn
Anti-positivism, teaching and the Bahá´í Faith by Alison Marshall
Religious belief and the mutability of scientific theory by William Michael
Is the Bahá´í Faith a world religion? by Moojan Momen

Available from Open Circle Publishing (which is just another name for me)


‘A Theology of the State from the Bahá´í Teachings’ (reprint from the Journal of Church and State, 1999), online at Research Gate

New Vessels (Poem with drawings by Sonja van Kerkhoff, self-published in 1987), available from Open Circle Publishing
The text without the drawings is available as a pdf.

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