Wanted: Baha’i bloggers

As many Baha’i blogs as exist out there (and there are plenty) there is an egregious gap in blogging content. As far as I can tell, there seems to be no Baha’i blog that defends the Baha’i position on controversial issues.

There are certain issues that many seekers will have trouble when they learn of them. Any Baha’i with experience teaching can rattle off a litany of them. Some seekers are motivated by social justice concerns. For them, the prohibition on involvement in partisan politics can be very confusing. Some can’t understand why lifestyle choices should have anything to do with spirituality. Others are attracted by the Faith’s message of religious unity and inclusiveness, and then they’re disturbed that non-Baha’is can’t attend Nineteen Day Feast, or that the readings at feast are supposed to be only from the Baha’i Writings. Many find the Faith’s emphasis on equality of women and men appealing, only to find out that women can’t serve on the Universal House of Justice.

I have not found a single blog dedicated to exploring these issues directly. There are a number of very good Baha’i blogs out there. Many of them are personal blogs that happen to be written by Baha’is. Martin’s Quest is by far the best example, an excellent blog. Others combine personal material with observations on current events as they bear on the Baha’i Faith. These include doberman pizza and Barnabas Quotidianus.

Another set of Baha’i blogs take on social issues from a Baha’i perspective, like Baha’i Thought and Black America and Correlating. (I wish Correlating would post more often, though.) There are blogs aimed at seekers, like 1863 Unity Road, but these take more of a fireside approach. There’s nothing wrong with that. What we also need, though, is a blog that handles doctrinal issues, and that directly engages non-Baha’is’ questions and objections. The nearest thing out there is Arise. It is relatively new, and I look forward to seeing how it develops.

All these, and other blogs I haven’t mentioned, are good at what they do and should keep doing it. It’s good to see so many blogs aimed at a non-Baha’i audience. What seems to be lacking in them, though, is a willingness to confront controversy. It’s easy to tout the Baha’i Faith’s teachings on the unity of women and men, for example. It’s much harder to explain why there are no women on the Universal House of Justice.

A Baha’i might be concerned that airing these issues in public could turn people off to the Faith. Better to help them fall in love with Baha’u’llah first, and then that love can sustain them as they look at these issues. But these issues are being aired anyway, especially by Baha’i dissidents and disaffected former Baha’is. If there is no Baha’i presence on the web to discuss these matters honestly and frankly and to explain the Baha’i position, then the Baha’is’ position will be explained for them.

Is anyone out there up to the challenge?

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18 Responses

  1. Let me get this straight. You are a Baha’i and are soliciting Baha’is to blog on controversial issues that might “jolt” the seeker off the path to his intended goal. Has each man, then, become his own Guardian, interpreting guidance for the rest?

    Are we lovers of God so pathetically weak of mind that we cannot ride the waves of controversery on our own, with our own spiritual resources? Why oh why do Baha’is think we have to be led by the nose?

    The Word of God alone can change hearts! The Word of God! No Baha’i of any rank or station can improve on that. In fact, the Word of God is the remedy for the world’s ills!

    Open the doorway to controversy and you attract the miserable and obstreperous, who thrive on controversy. They will not give a hoot what the “Baha’i Position” on anything is. They will join you just to have a place where they can enjoy a good scrap.

    Grant us the respect to discover the “Baha’i Position” directly from the Writings, for ourselves. The last thing this world needs is one more “filter” for Divine Revelation before it can reach the thirsty masses.

    Baha’is are cautioned in their own Writings to avoid controversy and simply love the seeker. Let the seeker empty his cup and then with humility and love begin to fill it again.

    People don’t want “the Baha’i Position.” They want love. It is easy to be a politician; it is easier to be a lover.

  2. Mr. Donout, aren’t you Nancy Walker, and ex-Baha’i yourself?

    Jonah is an an ex-Baha’i turned Catholic as I understand it.

    But as far as Baha’i blogs go, I think one of the best ones is by Ismael Velasco.

    http://bahai-epistolary.blogspot.com/

    He’s not afraid of controversial issues though I’m not sure he addresses the same ones Jonah is interested in.

    I prefer regular websites myself. Mine is susanmaneck.com
    I think I address some pretty controversial subjects there.

  3. […] a mission for the blog and a direction in which to aim my posts- combined with a recent post by Jonah on the lack of solid Bahá’í Apologetics in the blogosphere has led me to create this new […]

  4. Jonah,
    Thank you for this, I have been suffering from bad and lazy blogging, but this has given me a boost to aim my blogging in a specific direction, and I have created a new blog to do exactly this.

  5. After recently discussing the Bahá’í faith, and the persecution of it’s followers in Iran, I have gleaned some extra knowledge on the subject that may answer your question. The Bahá’í’s believe in not only non-physical violence, but in fact non-verbal violence, so defending one’s faith is technically not permitted. This is in distinction to the clarification of one’s faith and the statement of allegiance to Bahá’í, this being a key difference between the Bahá’í and the Babí, the predecessor religion, who believed in self defense (you would too if 20,000 were massacred because of their religious believes) but, as Bahá’u’lláh proclaimed

    “The Time of the Sword is Over.”

  6. Iz Brosilow: Yes, physical and verbal violence are not permitted, violence is only ever permitted in defense of innocents. However, to defend ones faith is not violence, to denegrate another’s is. I do not feel I am breaking my religious laws by writing apologetics, however if I were to write a treatis insulting the faiths of others and condemning them, I would. The time of the sword is over, yes, but Baha’u’llah has great praises for the pen.

  7. Also, the Bab’i did belileve in self defense, but as far as I know the Bab never actually permitted this, it was a mistaken belief.

  8. ruhiwarrior19, I’m excited to see your new blog. It’s going right onto my blogroll. A blog of this nature will inevitably attract trolls. Try not to let them get to you. Clever name, too.

    Dr. Maneck, I agree that Mr. Velasco’s (Dr. Velasco’s?) blog is good. But it hasn’t been updated in six months. And anyway his approach isn’t quite what I had in mind.

    I prefer regular websites myself. Mine is susanmaneck.com
    I think I address some pretty controversial subjects there.

    There are two potential advantages to blogs, that admittedly most blogs don’t achieve. One is that if it is updated often, then readers will come back regularly. The other is that with comment boxes, you can have conversations with readers. That second one is, I think, especially helpful for apologetics websites.

  9. By the way, last Saturday Baha’i Views blogged on this subject here.

  10. Jonah, many thanks for the link to Barnabas Quotidianus. I am conscious that I don’t post daily. As much as I would like to I don’t always have time, nor do I always have something to say. However, your post may well give me the necessary poke to update more frequently – although I am unlikely to make the daily frequency my blog’s title promises.

    Do we shy away from “controversial” issues? Perhaps we do. There’s no doubt that some will be better at apologetics than others. I don’t set out to be a writer of apologetics (in the technical sense). I have a degree in philosophy, but I am not a theologian. I rather think that your wish and my interests may coincide in the human rights and moral philosophy fields. Let’s see. Sometimes, though, I just want to write about my family or my home or anything I fancy. Hence, the choice of a “personal diary” format for my blog.

    Keep up your good work!

  11. Hi Barney, thanks for your comment.

    I wouldn’t suggest that all Baha’i bloggers engage in apologetics. There is a place for blogging about one’s personal life, or discussing mentions of the Faith on the Internet, or discussing issues of interest only to Baha’is. All of these are necessary components of a rich Internet discourse. I simply feel that there is a gap in that discourse when it comes to the Baha’i community. By all means continue to blog the way you have done. There are people in the Baha’i community who have a natural inclination toward apologetics. Leave it to them.

  12. Jonah,
    The sound is not good, but you might want to watch this video
    .

    It is a comment about the incidents at La Sapienza University.

  13. The only authoritative sources on Baha’i postions are the The Writings, the UHJ, and appropriate interpretations of those by lesser institutions of The Faith.

    Any Baha’i can speak to their personal understanding of Doctrine with regards to a specific subject; but that is all that such speech is: personal opinion.

    If you want authoritative comments on “The Baha’i Position”, especially if you want it on controversial issues, you should best get them as official comments by one of The Institutions. Preferably the UHJ itself.

    Personal opinion can be valuable. But in the case of controversial topics, particularly those being presented to non Bahai’s, there is a real danger of distortion and misunderstanding that could lead to false beliefs about The Faith or even harm to The Faith.

    Be very careful about statements that claim to represent the Baha’i POV on controversial topics that are made by individuals rather than as official statements by The Institutions.

    On some of the more controversial topics, even something as seemly simple as properly intrepreting The Writings is difficult for most individuals.

    Most Bahai’s are therefore understandably reticent about making public statements of opinion that could easily be misconstrued as “The Baha’i Position”.

    It should stay that way.

  14. I would like to say, that I know for a fact that woman can, and do serve at The House of Justice. I also partake in example in what I write, as my step-father’s oldest sister served at The House of Justice.

  15. I would like to correct my post in the beginning, so to say that my step-father’s sisters was volunteering for the Baha’i Faith in Haifa, doing something else, NOT serving at the House of Justice, my deep apologies it is late and I wrote falsely. Furthermore, I would also like to mention that the reason why women are not serving at the House of Justice is because when women have children or are pregnant, they should not be working under such stress, and should stay with their child and take care of their child. God put us on earth to reproduce and that is important and should stay that way; the relationship between a mother and child can not be broken and shall not be interrupted. Moreover, I would also like to say that yes some of you might wonder what if you never want a child or can not have a child, can’t you still serve at The House of Justice? Now those are questions that I have not thought about simply because I wonder if it is fair to allow one woman who says she will never have children or can not, and a woman who wants to serve so bad but has children. Is that fair to allow one woman and not the rest? I would say no. Then again, I am still on my path towards “investigation of personal truth”, so that is something I will have to think more of, as I haven’t put much thought in to it as of now. And it is late, so I will go to bed now. Good night all. Much love to all. :)
    PS. I do not want to speak for the Baha’i faith, I am only an opinion, mentioning what I heard and read and initially learned about the Baha’i Faith. (And we humans all make mistakes, as you can tell from what I wrote in the first post, which again I greatly apologize for because it is FALSE INFORMATION, though my second post holds more merit)

  16. ‘Furthermore, I would also like to mention that the reason why women are not serving at the House of Justice is because when women have children or are pregnant, they should not be working under such stress, and should stay with their child and take care of their child. God put us on earth to reproduce and that is important and should stay that way; the relationship between a mother and child can not be broken and shall not be interrupted.’

    I am just pointing out that no such reason is given by any of the central figures of the Baha’i Faith. It certainly is a reasonable proposition, but it is not stated by the UHJ, Shoghi Effendi, ‘Abdu’l-Baha, or Baha’u’llah (at least not translated at this point).

  17. […] a mission for the blog and a direction in which to aim my posts- combined with a recent post by Jonah on the lack of solid Bahá’í Apologetics in the blogosphere has led me to create this new […]

  18. Well said :-)

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