Those who remember the TV comedy series Cheers, will surely also remember the character of Cliff Claven. He was for me, the most lovable character on that show because he was the perennial loser – a guy you just couldn’t help feeling sorry for. You wanted him to win so badly, just once! And every time he tried something, you winced because you just knew that it was going to blow up in his face.
One of the endearing qualities that Cliff Claven had was his ability to spout off meaningless facts and trivia. A cornucopia of insignificant tidbits. And usually he would start off by saying “It’s a little known fact. . . “ And you would brace yourself because it was sort of like a race with the writers on the show to see if they could outdo the stupid thing he said last week.
Well its time for Baha’i Rants to introduce a new feature honouring Cliff’s propensity for useless information. But in this case we’ll be taking the opportunity to pulverize misconceptions or ignorance, as the case may be. In each instance, Baha’i Rants will feature something to do with the Faith which is either assumed to be true (taken for a fact without basis) or flipping it around, astoundingly NOT known by most Baha’is. And then we will proceed to pick it up by the scruff of its scrawny neck and beat it to a pulp. There are a lot of these so lets get started with the first without further ado. The first one is something which 99.999% of Baha’is do NOT know.
It’s a little known fact that . . . the Arc Project is not finished.
I can hear the gasps now. What? How can you say that? They spent, what? like $250 million from the sacrificial donations of Baha’is around the world to build the Arc projects on Mount Carmel! There was a dedication ceremony! (someone pipes up from the back) That’s right, I was there!! (yells someone else).
Well, as much as I’d hate to increase your blood pressure. It is a little known fact. And yes, it is a fact. Let me explain.
The Arc Projects are comprised of 5 buildings. These were originally mentioned by Shoghi Effendi and they are:
- The Archives building (constructed first)
- The Seat of the Universal House of Justice
- The International Baha’i Library
- the Seat of the Hands of the Cause of God
- the Centre for the Study of the Sacred Texts
If you are sharp you will have noticed several things. One, since we do not have a Guardian (and sadly, can not have a Guardian anymore) we neither have a means of appointing Hands of the Cause of God. Therefore, we can’t build a building for the Hands of the Cause of God. So instead, the House decided to build that building for the institution which they created out of thin air to replace the function of the Hands of the Cause of God — namely the International Teaching Centre.
Here is a neat letter in 1987 from the House which outlines their construction project for the coming few years.
Two, the main point of all this explanation: We do not have an International Baha’i Library!
Notice that in that letter (above) the House describes the Baha’i International Library, as follows:
The International Bah??’? Library. This Library is the central depository of all literature published on the Faith, and is an essential source of information for the institutions of the World Centre on all subjects relating to the Cause of God and the conditions of mankind. In future decades its functions must grow, it will serve as an active centre for knowledge in all fields, and it will become the kernel of great institutions of scientific investigation and discovery.
The picture shows us from right to left: (far right, you can see the Terraces going up and down the side of the mountain), immediately to the right you can see the Archives building, the Centre for the Study of the Texts (literally carved into the mountain after 3 years of excavation work!), the Seat of the Universal House of Justice, moving along to the left, the International Teaching Centre and then finally, a nice apartment building!
Yup! That’s where the Library should be. And hopefully, that’s where it will be built in the future (once the owners of the property decide to sell it to the Baha’i community). But until then, no Library. And no Library means no Arc. Well, not in the complete sense of the word atleast. But I’m happy to report that the UHJ did not let such a small and trivial thing as a missing fifth building detract them from declaring the project finished and holding a huge ceremony to celebrate its completion (in mid 2001).