The Million+ Book Project

books.pngThe Million Book Project, an international venture led by Carnegie Mellon University in the United States, Zhejiang University in China, the Indian Institute of Science in India and the Library at Alexandria in Egypt, has completed the digitization of more than 1.5 million books, which are now available online.

You can access them through this portal.

A search for Baha’i related books brings up a small but interesting list which includes several books by the Hand of the Cause of God, Mason Remey as well as several books in Arabic and Persian.

I’m not a scholar so I don’t know if these titles were already available to researchers but at least now they are online and accessible to all equally.

Compared to the vast number of volumes now available online, the collection of Baha’i writings and documents is miniscule. I can’t wonder why the Afnan Library, for example, can not be similarly digitized and made available online?

Sure, we have the Baha’i Reference Library, but it is a fraction of the documents and writings being held at the World Center and elsewhere. These writings are the heritage of humanity and with today’s technology, there is no reason why they can not be made more widely available.

Not only would this spur on further scholarship from within and outside the Baha’i community, it would assuredly help spread the message of the Baha’i Faith.

Maxwell Baha’i School Closes

BREAKING NEWS

14 November 2007

Students, Staff, Parents and Supporters of Maxwell International School

Dear Friends,
Following extensive consultation and after sharing its concerns with the Universal House of Justice, the National Spiritual Assembly has taken the very difficult decision to close the Maxwell International School at the end of the current academic year.

When Maxwell opened 19 years ago, it was with the clear expectation that the school would quickly become self-sustaining and would not draw on the general funds of the Baha’i Faith. Sadly, this has not been the case, in spite of dedicated efforts by so many, and current projections indicate that the financial challenge facing the school will worsen. It was in light of these financial realities that the National Assembly made the decision, with heavy heart, to close the school.

In recognition of the sadness the school’s closing will bring to the family of students, parents and staff at Maxwell, the Assembly has asked two of its members to meet with the Maxwell school community to answer questions and to discuss the decision.

The National Spiritual Assembly deeply appreciates the sacrifice, commitment and vision that have built an excellent school whose achievements will be remembered for generations to come. May this assurance sustain all of Maxwell’s steadfast supporters and allow this year, with its high and united spirit, to fulfill its brilliant promise.

With loving greetings,
NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF THE BAHA’IS OF CANADA
Karen McKye,
Secretary

cc: National Spiritual Assembly (9)

*********
16 November 2007 / 13 Power 164

Dear Baha’i Friends,
Three members of the National Spiritual Assembly have just met with staff, students and supporters of Maxwell International School to convey the attached message which we now hasten to share with you.

As the letter states, the National Assembly has made this decision about Maxwell’s future with heavy heart and asks that you remember Maxwell’s wonderful school community in your prayers.

With loving Baha’i greetings,
Karen McKye, Secretary

Enclosure
cc:
Board of Trustees of Huququ’llah in Canada
Counsellors S. Birkland, A. Boyles, D. Scott
National Spiritual Assembly (9)
All Regional Baha’i Councils
All Auxiliary Board members
All National Committees and Agencies

Document:
Letter From National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Canada conveying news of closure of Maxwell International Baha’i School (PDF)

*********

maxwell-bahai-school

Sigh.

It was only 3 years ago (almost to the day) that I heard the news that Landegg Academy in Switzerland was being closed. For obvious reasons it has no functioning website now. You may view their site in a limited fashion through Archive.org’s cache. Many Baha’is had high hopes for it to grow and develop into a prestigious Baha’i University.

In the end, the foundation which held all the assets of the Academy went into bankruptcy, all the real estate and its collateral were confiscated by the holder of the mortgage (Union Bank of Switzerland) and auctioned off. The foundation which provided the legal structure for Landegg Academy was liquidated and wound up sometime in the spring of 2005.

The reason? It could not create a self-sustaining organization. The same fate is destined for Maxwell International Baha’i School.

The school was started about 20 years ago and named after the parents of May Maxwell, otherwise known as R??h?yyih Kh??num (wife of Shoghi Effendi, the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith). Just recently, the school decided to drop the “Baha’i” from its name and become simply Maxwell International School. The NSA didn’t outlined exactly when the school would be closed but it is safe to assume that this is the last scholastic year.

I can’t help but think that this is exacerbated by the deepening crisis in the Canadian Baha’i funds. Maxwell has had ample time to get on its feet. That they haven’t fully is the real reason why they will be closing. Yet I can’t help but think that if the NSA could afford it, they would continue to subsidize it as they had since its inception. That they simply can’t afford to, even though now we have a much larger Baha’i community in Canada than 20 years ago is telling.

Of course, we shouldn’t pick on Canada. The Baha’is of the United States have their own problems in this area. According to the US NSA, the budgetary shortfall was 50% (last time I checked).

This is yet another wake up call. The dwindling amount of funds is a HUGE blinking red light. It is the most indirect, yet unmistakable way of measuring the health of a Baha’i community. Don’t get me wrong. Life is not about money. And the Baha’i Faith isn’t about money, nor should it be. It is simply that when people feel engaged, inspired, moved, transformed, their whole life… including the financial portion is touched. And they naturally, happily choose to support their community through all methods (including cash).

The fast ebbing flow of funds is yet another symptom that the community is not going in the right path. Instead of blaming the members of the community and flagellating them to eke out more money, this should be taken for what it is: a non-verbal and collective message.

dry-river

What do you think? Is this a message? or are people just not “spiritual” enough to donate sacrificially? or can we blame the economy perhaps?

Two Openings in Universal House of Justice

Breaking News !!

Hartmut Grossmann and Glenford E. Mitchell have relinquished their membership with the approval of the Universal House of Justice.

They have been members of the UHJ since 2003 and 1982 respectively. According to the Constitution of the UHJ (Section V. 2.) there are three ways in which a vacancy can occur:

a) Should any member of the Universal House of Justice commit a sin injurious to the common weal, he may be dismissed from membership by the Universal House of Justice.

b) The Universal House of Justice may at its discretion declare a vacancy with respect to any member who in its judgement is unable to fulfil the functions of membership.

c) A member may relinquish his membership on the Universal House of Justice only with the approval of the Universal House of Justice.

However, there will be no by-election called since both will continue to serve until Ridvan 2008. It seems this announcement is to inform the NSA voters that Grossmann and Mitchell will be retiring and therefore should not be elected (again).

So who will be the new members of the House? God only knows but I’m willing to bet that it will be two men from the International Teaching Center.

That’s what we’ve had since 1983. Before that year the members of the UHJ were picked from the pool of National Spiritual Assembly membership. For more information, see the links below. Mitchell is the current officeholder that has served the longest among his current peers. He was the last member of a National Spiritual Assembly (United States) to be elected to the UHJ.

Anyone care to place a bet? My rusty coin is on Gustavo Correa and Stephen Hall. Why? Elementary my dear Watson.

Related:

The Song Remains the Same

The Circle is Complete

Baha’i Administrative Bureaucracy

Finding Hidden Purposes in Obedience

Here is an interesting post made by fellow Baha’i blogger, Neghan. For some reason he decided to erase his writing after publishing it on the web.

Similar to the previous occasion where a fellow blogger decided to self-censor themselves, I’ve plucked the content from Google Cache and present it here for your reading pleasure. I’m not sure why Neghan decided to remove this because to me it doesn’t cross any lines, nor does it reveal anything which others have not already expressed.

Of particular interest is this excerpt:

Until we realize that what worked in 1950’s and 1960’s Latin American countries, in homogeneous and often poorly educated communities with a completely different concept of time and with very different learning styles is not the best solution for bringing in the masses everywhere (especially in the West). Mix in the overzealous (bordering on fundamentalist) zeal encouraged in the training programs that appears to clash with much of Baha’i culture and alienates many of the existing Baha’is and you’ve got a real mess. I’m not sure how long it may take for the issues here to be realized, but we as Baha’is should be supportive and let things play out as they will. Perhaps one day we will be open to ideas about adapting content and delivery to different audiences, having a more customer-centered approach in our community relations, and more effectively and strategically using technology, messaging, and marketing tools to communicate, train, and empower believers to change the world.

You need not look far for my own take on Ruhi.

So it is published again in the interest of sharing and encouraging dialogue (with minimal changes to correct spelling & grammar). I hope that Neghan does not take offense since none is intended.

Enjoy

[START DOCUMENT]

Finding Hidden Purpose in Obedience
November 5, 2007 on 12:56 pm | In Community Life | No Comments

Finding Hidden Purposes in Obedience

It has been a while since I posted anything so here is something extra spicy for you all to chew on.

I read an article in the latest issue of the American Baha’i newspaper and it got me to thinking. In the article, written by the eminent John Hatcher, we are reminded that receiving mandates from the Universal House of Justice is essentially as if we are receiving mandates from God. Therefore, the article tells us essentially to do our Ruhi study classes, and whatever else the House asks of us, in a spirit of loving obedience. I really liked the article; I just have a bit of a twisted spin on it. Let me explain.

God works in mysterious ways — we mortals have a bad track record in figuring out His methods

If we look at religious history, and we look at those who were divinely guided and the choices they had to make, we see that infallibility is often not understood by the people of the time. Think about Abraham who was told to sacrifice His son. Abraham did not understand why He was being asked to do this. Clearly, infanticide was not going to be good for growth in the community. But this was a task that God asked Him to do, so He was willing to do it, and this taught us all a lesson about true obedience. Think about Noah who was told to sacrifice everything and get branded a fool by his people to build an ark. Think about how then he was promised by God when the Flood would arrive. The day came and the flood didn’t happen. Did Noah freak out and abandon God? No, he kept his faith and admitted that He did not understand. Sometimes the reasons for certain decisions won’t become clear until 5, 10, 50, or 100 years from now. Sometimes certain infallible decisions of divinely guided people (and today Institutions) may not lead to the results we expect in the way we want. In fact, sometimes those results may even be the opposite of what we expect, but they may have some bigger lesson to teach us in the process that turns out to be critical to achieving the ultimate ends we desire.

Example from the Old World

Let me give you an example. Beware, I’m now going to go into some politics here on the DailyBaha’i blog. This is just my individual interpretation of events going on in the world around us and it is no reflection on any kind of official Baha’i interpretation of events. These are just my musings. Here goes: I understand that the Lesser Peace (the political peace of the world where nations essentially band together to outlaw war) is prophesied to happen in the ?near’ future. I also understand that America is prophesied to lead the world to this new reality. For that to happen, America needs to realize that it is incapable of running the world with bullying tactics and of always getting its way with brute force. For this realization to happen, certain groups in America who have visions of American Global Dominance (or Pax Americana) which is a vision of our country being ordained (by God or something) to rule over the world as a benevolent master, need to be discredited. These ultra nationalists have at last had their chance to run the affairs of this country the way they have always wanted. They have had their cowboy president who uses force first and asks questions later. These America-First folks may not ever change their views themselves, but their views have been largely discredited in this country. Now that they have been discredited, they will have less influence and be less of a hindrance in the path to the Lesser Peace. Had they not been discredited, they may have used their powerful lobbying organizations, thinktanks, and media outlets to block any attempts to create a Peaceful New World Order. And yes, I know how it makes them go into a wild frenzy when I use that last term…New World Order.

Ruhi as a Cleansing Force

This brings us back to the Baha’i Faith. Perhaps the current initiatives will play out as we hope, and study circles will lead to ?A’ clusters which will lead to intensive programs of growth which will lead to entry by troops and on and on. Or, perhaps the current initiatives will not work out the way we believe they will? Perhaps we have some key lessons to learn yet as a community? Perhaps the current process will, as some suspect, lead to great tests for believers who have any kind of relevant experience and who may see this massive endeavor as flawed if it expects to immediately increase the ranks of the believers. In fact, some even think it might lead to less active and less enthusiastic Baha’is, in the West in particular. But perhaps this needs to happen? Perhaps Ruhi is a cleansing of the ranks of the Baha’is of those who are not willing to suck up their ego and do things their experience and intellect tells them will not work? What greater test than this could a professional with years of experience and insight have?

Perhaps building the Ark is more about clearing the forest then building a ship

Perhaps Ruhi is a cleansing force sent to clear out our communities and institutions of past initiatives and efforts? If this is true, then I see three possible effects of this process.

(1.) A certain well-meaning ?school of thought’ about how to bring in the masses that is the driving force behind the Ruhi training program will need to be exhausted. Unfortunately, I fear that until these ideas have been tried and tried again, without achieving the desired results, we won’t be able to change the way we do things. I’m not trying to sound cynical here, but I feel that we are putting too much emphasis on past experiences that occurred in very different circumstances and not learning from what is available in today’s world. Therefore we need to support these efforts so that we can learn to break from the past and get to the next level. Until we realize that what worked in 1950’s and 1960’s Latin American countries, in homogeneous and often poorly educated communities with a completely different concept of time and with very different learning styles is not the best solution for bringing in the masses everywhere (especially in the West). Mix in the overzealous (bordering on fundamentalist) zeal encouraged in the training programs that appears to clash with much of Baha’i culture and alienates many of the existing Baha’is and you’ve got a real mess. I’m not sure how long it may take for the issues here to be realized, but we as Baha’is should be supportive and let things play out as they will. Perhaps one day we will be open to ideas about adapting content and delivery to different audiences, having a more customer-centered approach in our community relations, and more effectively and strategically using technology, messaging, and marketing tools to communicate, train, and empower believers to change the world.

(2.) The second effect may be that our communities are being cleansed of all the old institutions (such as National Teaching Committee in the United States which was recently disbanded), so that we can focus more on Ruhi classes and the Institute Process. This cleansing is wiping away all the old ways of doing things and opening the way for new solutions in the future. We may continue to gut programs and offices that do not appear to help ?the focus’ until all that is left is a bare bones operation. At that point we may be ready for creative, dramatic, and critical changes to the way we do things that can then get this show on the road and start effective and sustainable growth.

(3.) Finally, those of us with logic- and evidence-based educational backgrounds, real-world organization building experience, open-minded and creative approaches to spiritual development, and individualistic thinking tendencies will continue to be severely tested by the current Plans of our communities. Those of us who cannot learn to be obedient when every fiber of our experience tells us that this won’t work and may actually be accomplishing the opposite effects in the community (in the near term), will likely flush ourselves into inactivity, or even out of the community. But those of us who can see the bigger picture and humble ourselves and admit that there may be things going on that we just don’t understand at this time may find that our obedience muscles stronger than ever and ready for any new tests that life will throw at us. This may in turn create a smaller but more effective core of believers ready to implement the dramatic and powerful campaigns that may be introduced in the future.

The Whirlwind Doesn’t Have to Explain Itself to Little Old Me

This is just one scenario. I don’t know what will happen. Perhaps I am wrong and things will not play out like this? I hope I am wrong, because the scenario painted above is rather grim. I have no crystal ball. All I know is that I love the Baha’i Faith and that I don’t understand God’s methods. There are many times that I, perhaps a little bit like Job, look into the Whirlwind and have to admit that I just don’t understand what is going on. I know that I love the Universal House of Justice, and that I cherish Their every word, and that I pray for the strength to manifest the loving obedience required in our times.

[END DOCUMENT]