Iran – A Nation of Bloggers

A short 2 minute animation video from the Vancouver Film School which takes you through a few turbulent decades in Iranian history.

Alternative link for video, in case above doesn’t work.

It isn’t just Baha’i discourse that has moved online. The whole world is now interconnected through…

A mechanism of world intercommunication will be devised, embracing the whole planet, freed from national hindrances and restrictions, and functioning with marvelous swiftness and perfect regularity.

Eric Stetson: An Apology to the Baha’is

Eric was a Baha’i from 1998 to 2002, at which point he left and became a Christian. You can read more about him and his views on his site. Momen, in his recent paper, lumped Stetson in with a few others as “apostates” because of their belligerence towards the Faith they once belonged to.

Recently he wrote a lengthy letter outlining a public apology to the Baha’is of the world. And he has approached several websites and blogs to distribute this apology further. I’m happy to oblige his request:

Between the years 2002 and 2008, I have gradually progressed from the point of condemning Baha’u’llah to hell (a judgment that only rebounded back upon myself while I believed it) to a recognition that, whether or not he was inspired by God and regardless of any specific mistakes he may have made, he was surely a man who was trying to make a positive difference in the world and deserves much credit for that.

So let me join the Baha’is this year, this day, in saying “Happy birthday Baha’u’llah!” The world is a better place and many souls have been lifted up to greater heights because you were born and lived on this earth and shared your spiritual message with its people. I love you — not in the way Baha’is do as a follower of the religion you founded, but as a fellow child of God who yearns to do good for my brothers and sisters in the human family and who appreciates the positive things you did in your life in the face of extraordinary trials.

I apologize for excessive and sometimes unfair criticisms I have voiced against Baha’u’llah, his successors, and the Baha’i community. I ask forgiveness from all of you — those who are in this world as well as those in the world beyond. I especially ask those who have been martyred for their Baha’i faith to forgive me. I know that you sacrificed yourselves for something worth dying for: a vision of humanity united in inclusive love, common purpose, and peace among nations and religions under One God. Let me have as much courage and strength to live for these ideals as you had to die for them.

I didn’t talk with Eric very much when he was active and seemingly angry at the Baha’i Faith online. I did join his online group briefly and left on amicable terms after taking part in a few discussions.

The history of the Baha’i Faith and polemics on the internet is quite rich and I’m sure at some point historians will wade through the archives or discussion groups, websites and blogs to write more about it.

At the beginning Baha’i activities online were mostly dominated by academics, mostly because it was they who had ready access to the internet and were at the forefront of adopting new technologies. Then as the internet became more widely available, a more diverse group of people entered the fray. For the most part, it remained a very small group of people.

Over time the discussion flowed from these smaller academic discussion groups to the wider newsgroups: soc.religion.bahai and talk.religion.bahai – the establishment of the latter is itself an interesting story.

From there the online presence branched off into many different discussion groups and then into separate Baha’i blogs, like the one you are reading. Many of the original forums are still ongoing, with Talisman, being one of the oldest. You can find a full list of online Baha’i communities and discussion groups to the right.

No one knows what the future holds, the only thing certain is that the nature of discourse has been forever changed. Whereas before Baha’is were confined by geographic locations and the ability to travel and perhaps on a limited basis, communicate via letters and books, now, we can instantly exchange ideas, share news and collaborate.

The Wayfarer Film

Quest Media has released a film about the Baha’i Faith named “The Wayfarer”. You can watch the trailer of the film above and purchase the DVD online.

Perhaps it isn’t fair since I haven’t seen the full film but judging from the trailer, the film looks to be a piece of puffery. I’d rather see a documentary style film of interviews with people like Juan Cole, William Garlinton, Abbas Amanat, Dann May, Keven Brown, William McCants, Sen McGlinn, etc. If you are familiar with the recent history of the Baha’i Faith, you’ll recognize those names. If not, you can find out more about them online.

Such a production might turn out a bit dry but it certainly would be more insightful. It would deal with not just about where the Baha’i Faith has come from and what it is about from but also where it is headed. The problem is that a non-Baha’i would really have to be “plugged in” to do a film like that.

The Wayfarer was done by someone who knew little about the Baha’i Faith and set out to learn the basics by visiting communities around the world. Maybe, just maybe, Jess Firth and Alexander Hedly will do a follow up which deals with the real Baha’i community and its challenges now that they know the basics.

With thanks to Steve Marshall of BahaisOnline

Video Contest for Iranian Baha’i Rights


The NSA of the United States is sponsoring an online video contest which seeks to raise awareness of the plight of Iranian Baha’is.

The deadline is fast approaching: January 15, 2009 so if you are interested, shake a leg. Here are the guidelines:

Prepare a 2-minute video or animation about the denial of access to higher education to Baha’i in Iran and post it online. The video should focus on the issue of Baha’is being denied access to universities in Iran and not on any alternative educational programs which they may pursue as a means to gain higher education.

Get the full details.

The prize? The satisfaction of winning and bragging rights.

radioNUR Website Hacked, Now Back To Normal


I went to check up on radioNUR’s website recently and because I’m using Firefox, I was shown this warning. I’ve removed the website URL which shows up in the warning because it is another attack site and if people don’t have up to date protection, their computers can get infected.

Apparently radioNUR’s website was recently hacked and taken over for some nefarious reason. It seems that they are back up and trying to clean up after the fact. I hope they are ok and can recover from this. They are a small operation that does good work and don’t really need this headache.

I’m not sure if they are struggling financially as they were before but I’m glad to see that Michael’s project continues to operate. Way back when I started writing this Baha’i blog, radioNUR was going through some extreme financial pressures and I offered some ideas and suggestions: radioNUR part I and radioNUR part II.

Unfortunately, not only have they not taken any of my suggestions regarding improving their useability but they’ve somehow managed to make it even more challenging for their listeners to tune in. Sheesh.

But if any Baha’is out there have money simply burning a hole in their wallets, consider buying a donation or ads on radioNUR. And if you are a fan of Baha’i Rants, you could do worse than buy an ad to mention and promote this blog on radioNUR 😉

Or you can simply tune in and listen to the broadcast when you’re online. If you can make heads or tails of the instructions.