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Old 09-21-2011, 05:13 PM   #1
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Resource: "Baha'i e-books"

Yesterday I came across what could be good resource for Baha'is and their friends interested in having available Baha'i Writings on their various ebooks or other devices..Click on:

Bahá

From the site:

"Bahá’í eBooks Publications is a private initiative not associated with any Bahá’í institution or other publishing company. Its primary focus is making the Bahá’í Sacred Writings available on portable devices, to as wide an audience as possible and at no cost to the end user."

Note: that's "at no cost".

I downloaded Directives from the Guardian yesterday and it works!
 
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Old 09-21-2011, 10:24 PM   #2
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I've got mixed opinions about this.

First, yay! The widest dissemination possible is desirable, and that site contributes to that. So kudos!

However, most of this is already available on Gutenberg, and I don't need to click a dozen different things to figure out what formats are really being offered. Also, importantly, people come there and they are most likely looking for PDF's, which are bafflingly absent. A reason is given, but at the least, a link could be provided.

Noticeably absent from either that site or Gutenberg (or the Ruhi website, for that matter,) are the Ruhi materials. I can't decide if I'm happy or sad about that, to be honest, but since the Ruhi courses have been so highly encouraged by the House of Justice, they need to be a mouse-click away from everyone's fingertips.

On a separate tangent, I (personally) disapprove of the name, Ruhi Institute. "Institution" has definite implications within a Baha'i context, and so calling the Ruhi Foundation "the Ruhi Institute," especially capitalized, is not dissimilar than if someone went around calling himself "Sheriff John Smith" when he was not actually an officer of the law. Ruhi is not an Institute. Firesides are an Institute. Feast is an Institute. These things were Instituted by Baha'u'llah. Ruhi was not. "Something like, "The Ruhi Initiative" would be far less "yellow zone." Did I miss something? I don't understand how such an overstep slipped by for so long without getting gently corrected. In fact I cannot wrap my head around how it could have happened. At first I was thinking, "Well maybe the House of Justice can create Institutions." But given what the Guardian said regarding His inability to alter an Institution of the Faith, it doesn't make sense that the House of Justice would have such ability. So what am I missing?
 
Old 09-22-2011, 07:25 AM   #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by arthra View Post
Bahá’í eBooks Publications is a private initiative . . . .
And please note also that there's also a Baha'i Digital Proofreading Site (that is affiliated with the Faith) where a number of us are editing and formatting many different Baha'i books in preparation for releasing them online!

I myself have edited and prepared over 20 of these, and they range from brief works to massive volumes of over 850 pages!

So more and more excellent titles will be available online in the near future! :-)

Bruce

P.S.--This project is multilingual and is preparing books in many different languages. Any of you who are good at English or any other language who have spare time and would like to contribute to the work of this project, please contact me, and I'll put you in touch with the right folks! (For example, while I'm in Maryland, the English-language coordinator is a Baha'i in Oregon.) bdl
 
Old 09-22-2011, 07:27 AM   #4
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Originally Posted by kavaliro View Post
[M]aybe the House of Justice can create Institutions.
It certainly can!

And the Continental Board of Counsellors (which carries on the functions of the previously-extant Hands of the Cause of God, now all deceased) is a prime example!

Best! :-)

Bruce
 
Old 09-22-2011, 08:11 AM   #5
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I think it's a great website! I've been using them for half a year now. Guess I should have shared! In my opinion, the formatting is preferable over what's at Gutenberg, not to mention it lacks all the pages of legal disclosures that Gutenberg's e-books are always loaded with. I have all the books from Baha'i-ebooks on my Kindle, and they work just great.

By the way, I think you are confusing the words 'institute' and 'institution.' For example, the Nineteen Day Feast is a Baha'i 'institution' (not an institute) and Ruhi is an 'institute' (not an institution). The Wilemette Institute is an other example of a Baha'i institute (not an institution). An institute is basically a place or program of learning, and an institution is like an organization or a beuracracy.


Quote:
Originally Posted by kavaliro View Post
First, yay! The widest dissemination possible is desirable, and that site contributes to that. So kudos!

However, most of this is already available on Gutenberg, and I don't need to click a dozen different things to figure out what formats are really being offered. Also, importantly, people come there and they are most likely looking for PDF's, which are bafflingly absent. A reason is given, but at the least, a link could be provided.

Noticeably absent from either that site or Gutenberg (or the Ruhi website, for that matter,) are the Ruhi materials. I can't decide if I'm happy or sad about that, to be honest, but since the Ruhi courses have been so highly encouraged by the House of Justice, they need to be a mouse-click away from everyone's fingertips.

On a separate tangent, I (personally) disapprove of the name, Ruhi Institute. "Institution" has definite implications within a Baha'i context, and so calling the Ruhi Foundation "the Ruhi Institute," especially capitalized, is not dissimilar than if someone went around calling himself "Sheriff John Smith" when he was not actually an officer of the law. Ruhi is not an Institute. Firesides are an Institute. Feast is an Institute. These things were Instituted by Baha'u'llah. Ruhi was not. "Something like, "The Ruhi Initiative" would be far less "yellow zone." Did I miss something? I don't understand how such an overstep slipped by for so long without getting gently corrected. In fact I cannot wrap my head around how it could have happened. At first I was thinking, "Well maybe the House of Justice can create Institutions." But given what the Guardian said regarding His inability to alter an Institution of the Faith, it doesn't make sense that the House of Justice would have such ability. So what am I missing?
 
Old 09-22-2011, 11:04 AM   #6
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Quote:
By the way, I think you are confusing the words 'institute' and 'institution.' For example, the Nineteen Day Feast is a Baha'i 'institution' (not an institute) and Ruhi is an 'institute' (not an institution). The Wilemette Institute is an other example of a Baha'i institute (not an institution). An institute is basically a place or program of learning, and an institution is like an organization or a beuracracy.
Good point. I was tired when I wrote that yesterday, and it came across just terribly.

I've come to think of Institutions of the Faith as those things that are immutable because they were established by Baha'u'llah. Maybe that definition is wrong. In a way it's a moot point. It's simply a matter of terminology and chain-of-command. It's comparable to orders in the military: a General Order is a framwork for a soldier to follow, but he can get orders from an admiral, a captain, a commanding officer, etc. Each carries a different precedence and weight, and so it's important to know where an order comes from. But they are still orders and must be followed. On the other hand, we don't simply call orders from an admiral "General Orders." We might call the "Admiral's Orders." That would communicate the precedence. But to call just any order a "General Order" detracts from what a General Order means.

My issue is only the blurring-of-the-lines caused by the lack of a distinct vocabulary. It causes confusion.

A good example of this is when Baha'is say that, for instance, "The House of Justice is Infallible." From a 10,000 meter view, that looks correct. But it's not truly correct: Only a Manifestation is inherently Infallible. All others with an Infallibility have specific Infallibilities conferred to them, which cover only certain situations. The House of Justice is only Infallible in making decisions about things not outwardly revealed in the Writings. If they were to make some decision about something which was revealed in the Writings, their Infallibility would not protect them from error in that decision. (In that case, they simply refer to the Writings.) Some Baha'is understand this concept, and some simply don't. When you're studying many Baha'i topics, understanding Infallibilty makes a huge difference. Without having a detailed understanding of Infallibility, some things do not make sense and can be a stumbling block, especially for new Baha'is. A finer-grained vocabulary might reduce this.

A more mundane example is if a person were to call a ball "a circle." A ball is circular from a certain point of view: it is round. But it is not a circle. It has too many dimensions to ever be simply "a circle." When a person says "circle," they're talking about something else entirely.

But the issue I have is purely linguistic (and maybe even limited to English.) It's about word connotation and the confusion it can cause. I hope I communicated it better this time.
 
Old 09-22-2011, 11:21 AM   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by kavaliro View Post

A good example of this is when Baha'is say that, for instance, "The House of Justice is Infallible." From a 10,000 meter view, that looks correct. But it's not truly correct: Only a Manifestation is inherently Infallible. All others with an Infallibility have specific Infallibilities conferred to them, which cover only certain situations. The House of Justice is only Infallible in making decisions about things not outwardly revealed in the Writings. If they were to make some decision about something which was revealed in the Writings, their Infallibility would not protect them from error in that decision. (In that case, they simply refer to the Writings.) Some Baha'is understand this concept, and some simply don't. When you're studying many Baha'i topics, understanding Infallibilty makes a huge difference. Without having a detailed understanding of Infallibility, some things do not make sense and can be a stumbling block, especially for new Baha'is. A finer-grained vocabulary might reduce this.
The House of Justice is infallible. Friends that have difficulty with that misunderstand what this means. It doesn't mean they share in the "Most Great Infallibilty" which for the Manifestation of God, and it doesn't meant that they are perfect and don't make mistakes or need white out in the chambers!

But there is another kind of infallibility that is the conferred kind, such as the House has conferred on it by the power of the covenant of Baha'u'llah. The House has the authority to legislate and make decision for the faith, within the limits imposed on it by Baha'u'llah, and they also have the ability to ammend and abrogate those decisions. While the House can change its mind, if an individual or group says "those guys in Haifa don't know what they're doing, I'm not going to do that, because I know better" even if the house were decreeing that 1 + 1 =3, and I should refuse to change my slide rule to reflect that, well, I'm the one who is wrong and blameworthy in the eyes of God, not the House. That's infallibility. In this faith you can be right for being wrong and wrong for being right, when it comes to breaking unity or breaking the covenant.
 
Old 09-22-2011, 09:06 PM   #8
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We are in absolute unity on the definition and scope of the conferred Infallibilities. The only issue I have is the semantic error created by a far-too-simplified statement like, "The House of Justice is Infallible." The least that could be said and convey the correct information would be something like, "The House of Justice is Infallible in making decisions on matters that are not outwardly revealed in the Writings."

When someone says, "The House of Justice is Infallible," and a new Baha'i hears it, or a non-Baha'i, the information transmitted by the words is the wrong information. It's merely incorrect; not totally false: the implications the statement carries is false. It's the truth, but not the full, whole truth.

Furthermore, speaking about it that way propagates an incorrect understanding of it, even amongst deepened Baha'is who have at one time learned the scope of it. We begin believing in the back of our minds that the House of Justice does have such a blanket infallibility, and our understanding of it becomes blurred until we purposely stop and re-assess. It's kind of a self-perpetuating brainwash effect. We need to maintain a real understanding of it. To me, that means not taking the shortcut of merely saying "The House of Justice is Infallible," even if I am talking to someone who I know understands Infallibility.

But this is deeply off-topic. Sorry about that.
 
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