26 November 2010

"Jeune Street" reviews "Revelation and Social Reality"

"Jeune Street", a blog I have long enjoyed for its reflections on global governance and development, has posted a nicely brief yet comprehensive review of Paul Lample's "Revelation and Social Reality". Do check it out, and more importantly, if you are interested in the philosophical underpinnings of the Baha'i institute process, read the book.

The Virtue of Moral Anxiety

David Brooks has an interesting take on the U.S. debt crises and our political inability to deal with it. He cites this gridlock as a relatively new phenomenon, relating to a depleted level of moral anxiety in our politics.
For centuries, American politicians did not run up huge peacetime debts. It wasn’t because they were unpartisan or smarter or more virtuous. It was because they were constrained by a mentality inherited from the founders. According to this mentality, a big successful nation exists in a state of equilibrium between its many factions. This equilibrium is fragile because we are flawed and fallen creatures and can’t quite trust ourselves. So all of us, but especially members of the leadership class, should practice self-restraint. Moral anxiety restrained hubris (don’t think your side possesses the whole truth) and self-indulgence (debt corrupts character).
This ethos has dissolved, on left and right. The new mentality sees the country not as an equilibrium, but as a battlefield in which the people, who are pure and virtuous, do battle against the interests or the elites, who stand in the way of the people’s happiness. 
The ideal leader in this mental system is free from moral anxiety but full of passionate intensity. This leader pushes his troops in lock step before the voracious foe. Each party has its own version of whom the evil elites are, but both feel they’ve more to fear from their enemies than from their own sinfulness.
And the American constitution divides power so completely that big important action requires some humility on all sides, or else collaboration is impossible. All legislation becomes emergency legislation, too little, too late.

20 November 2010

Compilation on Marriage and Sexuality

Several years ago I put together this compilation for a class I facilitated at a summer school. Since the subjects of marriage, chastity, and homosexuality have proven to be a popular source of discussion, I've been able to use it many times since the class, and I'm sharing it here for general interest. 


               …He established the law of marriage, made it as a fortress for well-being and salvation, and enjoined it upon us in that which was sent down out of the heaven of sanctity in His Most Holy Book. He saith, great is His glory: "Marry, O people, that from you may appear he who will remember Me amongst My servants; this is one of My commandments unto you; obey it as an assistance to yourselves."
Bahá'u'lláh, Bahá’í Prayers, p. 103