August 2010 Archives

Baha'i Books Available Online

August 22, 2010

Did you know that many Bahá'í books are available for free download onto your computer, smartphone, or e-reader?

  • At http://reference.bahai.org you can click on an author's name to see a list of books, including all published translations from the Central Figures, the writings of Shoghi Effendi, and a few other works. To the right of the book title are two small icons that you can click to download that book: one as a Microsoft Word document and another as an adobe PDF document. Both are zip files that require a program like WinZip or 7-Zip to open (newer computers will also have built-in capability to open these zip files).
  • Palabra Publications offers many compilations of letters from the House of Justice, as well as books on deepening themes written by Melanie Smith, Paul Lample, and Dr. A.M. Ghadirian. This includes Lample's Creating a New Mind and his new Revelation & Social Reality. Available at http://www.palabrapublications.com/downloads
  • The Gutenberg project at http://www.gutenberg.org aims to preserve a digital collection of tens of thousands of public domain books: those whose copyright has expired, or whose authors have placed the books into the public domain. All of the works at reference.bahai.org are also found here. In addition, you can find:
    • Under "Baha'i International Community" as author - Century of Light, One Common Faith, The Prosperity of Humankind, Statement on Baha'u'llah.
    • Under "Baha'i World Centre" - Bahiyyih Khanúm

Favorite Passages from On The Origin of Species

August 14, 2010

The Times has a special feature about On the Origin of Species, including annotations from various Scientists commenting on favorite passages. The first annotation is by the famous primatologist Frans de Waal, who comments one of the passages that struck my interest when I read the book earlier this year:

I should premise that I use the term Struggle for Existence in a large and metaphorical sense, including dependence of one being on another, and including (which is more important) not only the life of the individual, but success in leaving progeny

Darwin, in the course of his opus, did not merely lay out the voluminous evidence for natural selection, he also frequently dropped hints of further research to come: for instance, the topic of cooperation. As de Waal notes, we're generally taught to think of Darwinianism as survival of the strongest individual competitors. Look at so-called "social Darwinism," and you'll see something that Darwin would likely have hated. Because he clearly believed that cooperation and education (an extension of "leaving progeny") were key components of the general competition between traits (evolution) in a population — that evolution is more than just my biceps are bigger than yours, my brain case has more volume than yours, etc.

What does it mean to be a member of a Baha'i community?

August 8, 2010

So asked a new friend (well, something close to this anyway). In a nutshell: it means striving to build unity in our midst, and acting on a path of service that starts "at home" but continues into the whole community, not just the Bahá'ís.

Darfur Is Calling, Who's Answering? And Don't Forget Pakistan.

August 5, 2010

Save Darfur Coalition just called me. And thanked me for being so pleasant on the phone. How sad. Its not like it was a cold call — I've supported them in the past and thus have a reasonable expectation that they'll try to contact me in the future. Why are they calling? Because apparently the conditions in Darfur are deteriorating. Do I believe the woman on the phone? Well, the Times reports that Violence Said to Be Rising in Sudan’s Darfur Region (yesterday). At this point Sudan is as much a powder-keg as ever, with secession of the south likely next year, renewed civil war equally likely. The Save Darfur Coalition is helping spread awareness of, and global pressure on, the Sudanese government's grave abuses (killings, rapes, and other human rights violations). My money will not do much to stop the situation. But public pressure does make a difference, and I'll provide a small amount to help keep that pressure steady.

Meanwhile, Pakistan is also calling, though not literally. The flooding has been absolutely terrible, and relief agencies expect that hunger and isolation will be extreme in the coming months. Time to step up and show the love again for Pakistan. Unicef, World Food Programm, International Committee of the Red Cross, Oxfam, etc. — let's all give one of them a cold call, only to give rather than receive.

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