|Notes|| Part 1:|
This book, of which this document at BLO is Part A, is 790 pages font 16, and 680 pages font 14. The book has 280 thousand words. It contains reflections and understandings regarding the new Baha'i culture of learning and growth, what amounts to a paradigmatic shift, in the Baha’i community. This international community found in over 230 countries and territories, as well as an estimated 150 thousand localities, has been going through this shift in its culture since the mid-1990s.
This Faith had its origins in mid-19th century Iran with a century of several critical precursors going back to the middle of the 18th century. The new Baha'i culture or paradigm, which is the focus of this book, has just stuck its head above the ground, so to speak. This new culture of learning and growth will be developing in the decades ahead, arguably, at least until 2044, the end of the second century of the Baha'i Era(1844 to 2044), and perhaps beyond into that third century of the Baha'i Era, 2044 to 2144. Time will tell when the next paradigmatic shift will take place in the international Baha'i community, a community I have now been associated with for more than 60 years: 1953 to 2015.
Comparisons and contrasts are made to several previous paradigm shifts in the Baha'i community, as well as the Babi community, the major precursor community out of which the Baha'i Faith emerged by degrees from the 1850s to the 1860s. Thoughts on future developments within this paradigm, and future paradigms, are suggested. In the first nine years, 2007 to 2015, of the presence on the internet of this commentary, this book, it has contributed to an extensive dialogue on the issues regarding the many related and inter-related processes involved in the many ongoing changes since 1996 in the international Baha'i community and its 5 to 8 million adherents.
This work is dedicated to the Universal House of Justice, trustee of the global undertaking which the events of more than a century ago set in motion. The fully institutionalized charismatic Force, a Force that historically found its expression in the Person of Baha'u'llah, had effloresced by a process of succession, of appointment and election, at the apex of Bahai administration for half a century by the end of April 2013.
I have also written this book as a form of dedication to, by some accounts, an estimated 20 thousand Baha'is and Babis who have given their lives for this Cause from the 1840s to the second decade of this third millennium. I have also dedicated this book to the many best teachers and exemplary believers--those ordinary Bahais--who have consecrated themselves, indeed their lives by sensible and insensible degrees, each in their own ways, to the work of this Faith.
This book has also been written partly in memory of what has come to be recognized as a large and intrepid band of early Bahá’í men and women who blazed a trail for those of us who have followed, and the ever-growing, ever-evolving global Bahá’í community that they helped to “birth.”
I am also grateful to have been in the warm embrace of many Baha'i communities, a heterogeneous mix of people who have often tested me to my limits, and I them, but who taught me a great deal through the chrysalis of social interaction and experience over my more than 60 years of association with this newest, this latest, of the Abrahamic religions. Finally, I have written this work in memory of my maternal grandfather, Alfred Cornfield, whose life from 1872 to 1958 has always been for me a model of an engagement in a quite personal culture of learning and personal growth.
This book is the longest analysis and commentary on this new Baha'i paradigm that is currently available in the Bahai community, although several other books, which deal with this new Baha'i culture to some extent, have appeared since this book was first launched in cyberspace in 2007. The overarching perspective in this book is a quite personal one that attempts to answer the question: "where do I fit into this new paradigm?" Readers are left to work out their own response to this question, as readers inevitably must, now and in the decades ahead, as this new paradigm develops a life of its own within the framework already established in the first two decades of its operation: 1996 to 2015.
The question now is not "if" but "how" each Baha'i will engage themselves, will participate, in this new paradigm as the first century of the Baha'i Formative Age comes to an end in 2021, and as the years beyond in this third millennium continue to challenge all of humanity in ways we can, at this point, only dimly imagine.