Bacquet in Nova Religio

The May 2006 edition of Nova Religio has an article by Karen Bacquet titled When Principle and Authority Collide: Baha’i Responses to the Exclusion of Women from the Universal House of Justice.

Nova Religio is a prestigious academic publication from the University of California. It it published four times a year and presents examinations of alternative religious movements.

Karen’s essay, as the title suggests, explores how Baha’is deal with the collision of the principle of the equality of men and women and the present day exclusion of women from membership in the UHJ.

This is a worthy topic because to outsiders it is glaringly obvious and simply unexplainable. Baha’is on the other hand tend to usually consider it a taboo topic and at best brush it aside with an empty and hastily composed platitude. Which is probably why it has been an unexplored area in Baha’i theology. And why it took an unenrolled Baha’i to take the first steps in opening a dialogue on this topic.

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Am I the only one who thinks it odd that some of the most interesting contemporary research being done in Baha’i theology is by persons who are unenrolled Baha’is? or Baha’is that are pushed out as a result of their research?

You can purchase Karen’s article for $12 from Nova Religio online.

Update on Kalimat Petition

As I mentioned before, there is a petition appealing the boycott of Kalimat Press by the US NSA. If you haven’t yet, please take a moment to read the petition and it’s background information to familiarize yourself with the whole situation. I encourage you to sign it. And then to show your support, buy one of the many excellent titles they offer.

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But I’m not writing this merely to repeat what I’ve already mentioned before. I wanted to address the reaction of some Baha’is to the petition. Many have a knee jerk response running along the lines of “petitioning is not Baha’i-like”.

As Dilbert quipped, when did ignorance become a point of view?

In fact, Baha’i history is replete with instances of petitioning and petitions. To give you some idea of what I mean, I’ll provide three specific examples:

The Baha’i temple at Wilmette was built as a result of petitioning by the Baha’is of North America. They had heard a lot of good things coming out of Ishqabad and their temple and had a bad case of temple envy. Abdu’l-Baha received the petitions, acquiesced and came to lay the cornerstone.

The Kitab-i-Aqdas was written after a small group of Baha’is repeatedly petitioned (harassed would be a more accurate albeit non-politically correct adjective) Baha’u’llah for a book of laws. Baha’u’llah had not written any rules until then but acquiesced after the intense and repeated petitions.

In the late 80’s, at the US national convention a petition was distributed to the delegates which asked the UHJ to apply the law of Huquq’u’llah to all believers (then it only applied to non-Western Baha’is).

As you can see, petitions are allowed and have been used quite a bit. They have a long and glorious history with the first petitions being presented to Baha’u’llah Himself. I’m sure that if you do a little bit of digging on your own, you’ll find more examples. Hopefully, the above puts aside the fallacious belief that the Kalimat petition or petitions in general are somehow ‘not kosher’ in the Baha’i Faith.

Which brings us to the recent events surrounding the Kalimat petition. Apparently it was presented at the recently held US national convention by a delegate. Or atleast, an attempt was made to do so on the floor. But it was quickly snuffed out by Henderson. No consultation or dialogue was allowed on the matter. And the petition was not allowed to be distributed either.

So it seems that its not petitions per se that are anathema but petitions which originate from outside the AO from the grass roots. Those that were there for the Huquq petition, remember seeing, as if by magic, copies of the petition come out of nowhere and with them hundreds of pens with which they were expected to sign it.