Posted by Sen on February 27, 2011
A Bahai friend asked about Abdu’l-Baha’s reference to America as a “democracy,” in the talk he gave to the Orient-Occident-Unity Conference in Washington on 20 April 1912. In the course of researching it, I found a short prayer by Abdu’l-Baha for East-West unity, which I have translated, and also discovered that a much loved and quoted reference to the future of America, known as the “prayer for America,” is not authentic.
The context of this query was a discussion of whether the United States is a republic, or a democracy. The question appears to depend largely on definitions: if a republic is a state with an elected head of state and a government answerable to the people, and a democracy is a state with a government chosen in free and fair elections, with freedom of speech and protection of individual and minority rights under the rule of law, the United States would appear to aspire to be a democratic republic, at the intersection of these two terms.
Be that as it may, I was asked about the term “American democracy” in the talk Abdu’l-Baha gave at the Orient-Occident-Unity Conference. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings, Political science | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Bahai Faith, bahai theology, pilgrim's notes, political theology, Shoghi Effendi, Star of the West, بهائی, بهائیت, شوقی افندی, عبدالبهاء | 8 Comments »
Posted by Sen on October 27, 2010
Towards the end of his life, Baha’u’llah wrote a number of works that included numbered lists of his teachings. Abdu’l-Baha also wrote several letters that include such numbered lists of essential teachings. Not surprisingly, Abdu’l-Baha sometimes adopted the same format when speaking to gatherings, however the records of these in English are often unreliable. One of these talks – one for which there are authenticated Persian notes (here), not just notes taken in English, caught my attention because it includes “the separation of religion and politics” as a key principle and also refers to this as “not entering into politics” — a formulation that will be more familiar to Bahais. An earlier report of this talk is published in Abdu’l-Baha in London (which incidentally shows that not all talks in that book cannot be authenticated). Naturally that report, based on an interpreter’s words, is more compact than the Persian version which I have translated. Its list of principles differs, Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings, Church and State, Political science, Theology | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, bahai theology, Church and State, political theology, Religion and Politics, بهائی, بهائیت, عبدالبهاء | 56 Comments »
Posted by Sen on April 4, 2010
This is in response to ‘Pluralist Society is an Unethical Rabble’ on another Bahai blog on WordPress, Owen’s Meanderings. Owen says he is
“increasingly reminded of that famous biblical story about Sodom and Gommorroh,” … the men and women who sit in government seats must take their share of the blame for the inequities within a nation. However increasingly I have realized that the person living in my street is likely to be twice a corrupt as a politician. … There seems to be very few people who have self-regulating ethical decision-making process. .. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Church and State, Community, Ethics and Morality, Individualism, Political science | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Bahai Faith, multiculturalism, pluralism, pluralist society, political theology, postmodernism, بهائی, بهائیت | 21 Comments »
Posted by Sen on January 1, 2010
A Pilgrim’s note
On Planet Bahai (a very good Bahai discussion forum), I had been arguing that Baha’u’llah’s World Order and the Bahai Administrative Order are two different things, to which the moderator Dale replied,
There is a pilgrim’s note, I forget the origin of it, in which Shoghi Effendi one day asked where authority resides after Baha’u’llah’s ascension….
“‘Abdu’l-Baha,” replied the person to whom he was talking.
“And where,” he then asked, “does authority reside after the Master’s passing?”
“The Guardian,” the other person replied.
“No,” he said. “It resides with the World Order of Baha’u’llah.”
Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Church and State | Tagged: Bahai Administrative Order, Bahai World Order, Church and State, Emeric Sala, new world order, Organic unity, pilgrim's notes, political theology, Religion and Politics, Shoghi Effendi, بهائی, بهائیت, شوقی افندی | 2 Comments »
Posted by Sen on November 25, 2009
An awkward question
Anna’s come a long way – to national television, in fact. She’s being interviewed on her favourite subject: the Bahai Faith. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Bahai Writings, Church and State, Defence of the Faith | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Anna's presentation, Bahai Faith, bahai theology, Church and State, kingship, NWO, political theology, Shoghi Effendi, بهائی, بهائیت, شوقی افندی | 4 Comments »
Posted by Sen on December 10, 2008
In thinking about the future of the world, and of the Bahai community, and in speaking about them, we need to distinguish between the two uses of ‘commonwealth’ : the commonwealth of nations and the Bahai Commonwealth. If we do not, governments are likely to be misled and alarmed, thinking that there is something political or governmental about this ‘Bahai Commonwealth’ Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Church and State | Tagged: Abdu'l-Baha, Baha'u'llah, Bahai, Bahai Commonwealth, federalism, Organic unity, political theology, Shoghi Effendi, world government, World Order of Baha'u'llah, بهائی, شوقی افندی | 7 Comments »
Posted by Sen on October 1, 2008
On my web site, I’ve put up my part of two discussion threads about theology, and how the Bahai community can face the fact that some people know more than others, on particular topics, but without replicating the structures of past religions in which greater knowledge often translates into greater authority. Read the rest of this entry »
Posted in Church and State, Community, Theology | Tagged: Bahai, bahai theology, Church and State, disenrollment, political theology, postmodern theology, reason and revelation, Theology, unenrollement, بهائیت | Leave a Comment »