I’ve decided to transcribe the Los Angeles Baha’i Study Class Newsletter for your reading pleasure. Although the originals are available on the internet already, they are scanned gif files of the photocopied documents and as such, can not be read easily, nor can they be accessed by search engines in this format. Here is a very uninviting example.To those not familiar with the newsletter, a concise introduction is in order.
Around 30 years ago, a small group of Baha’is in the LA area created a forum in which they could comfortably discuss topics of interest to them about the Faith. They felt that an appropriate space did not exist (with firesides being for the intruduction of the Faith to seekers, not its analysis and discussion). As a result of their discussions, they produced an informal newsletters which was written and distributed to the group, as well as a few other interested parties. What transpired in those meetings, the discussions that they yielded and ultimately, the resulting response from the Administration, is now a part of Baha’i history.The newsletters are self explanatory so I will limit myself to brief observations when I post each one.
I would like to ask that you compare and contrast these notes that will appear in this space shortly (and the imagined lively discussions that gave rise to them) with the current study course being promoted in the Baha’i international community. Whereas Ruhi is soporific and childishly simple, these classes are lively and complex; whereas Ruhi is clear-cut and involves the spoonfeeding of information, these classes are sometimes confusing, difficult and ask of the participants introspection, research and thought; whereas Ruhi is riddled with errors that are hoisted on to an unbeknowst audience, the errors in this course come from unavoidable stumbles along the earnest journey to deepen in the Writings. To me, comparing Ruhi to these classes held 30 years ago is like comparing a rusted butter knife to a tempered Samurai sword.
The other observation I would like to make is how much the topics, concerns and general discussions in these classes held some 30 years ago are still relevant. When I read them I am struck by how much things have not changed at all. I have my own ideas about the whys of this but I will leave that for another time.
Finally, a few thoughts on the process that I went through: the original text is from a typewriter and can at times, be difficult to read (as you can see from the above example). This is especially true with numbers and dates where context is of no help. When this occurs, you will find (?) or square brackets with explanatory notes. I have not added nor removed any text; with two exceptions. One being the removal of personal information (such as home addresses and phone numbers) or other superfluous information. And the second, being the insertion of my best guess (from context and visual clues) regarding illegible, missing or smudged text. In such a case, I have, again, in square brackets, noted the nature of the information and the reason for its removal or addition. As well, in a few instances I have corrected spelling errors while doing my utmost to maintain the same punctuation, syntax and formatting. But I’m sure that I’ve also missed a few (or made a few new ones of my own) so when you spot them, drop me a note.
I will be posting the first shortly and thereafter, in chronological order, about two per week.