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The Baha'i: The Religious Construction of a Global Identity Paperback – August 1, 2000

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From Library Journal

McMullen (sociology, Univ. of Houston) deals frankly with the Bah '! religion as lived in Atlanta, GA. The Bah '! Faith was founded in Iran by Bah 'ull h (1817-92), who taught that one God has revealed His will through a series of divine messengers (among them Moses, the Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad, and Bah 'ull h) and that this is the age of the realization of the oneness of humanity. McMullen calls Bah '!s "situated universalists" whose international structure fosters global thinking with local action. He demonstrates that the social factors that typically influence religious belief (gender, race, education, etc.) are unrelated to how Bah '!s engage in personal and community spiritual obligations or adhere to Bah '! principles, a finding that appears unique among religious groups. Instead, the grounding of elected Bah '! institutions (e.g., the Universal House of Justice, national and local spiritual assemblies) in the religion's scriptures makes loyalty to them a spiritual necessity, which is consistently practiced. Unfortunately, the book has some weaknesses in methodological points, the treatment of controversies, and occasional historical inaccuracies. Nonetheless, this work offers fresh insights and useful findings about a new religious approach to globalization. It will complement the few existing published sociological treatments of the Bah '! faith, especially Peter Smith's The B h! and Bah '! Religions (1987. o.p.), and Will van den Hoonaard's The Origins of the Bah '! Community in Canada (Wilfrid Laurier Univ.,1996) and is recommended for academic collections on the sociology of religion.DWilliam P. Collins, Library of Congress
Copyright 2000 Reed Business Information, Inc.

From the Back Cover

The Baha'i Faith is one of the fasters growing, but least studied, of the world's religions. Adherents view themselves as united by a universal belief that transcends national boundaries. Michael McMullen examines how the Baha'i develop and maintain this global identity. Taking the Baha'I community in Atlanta, Georgia, as a case in point, his book is the first to comprehensively examine the tenets of this little-understood faith.

McMullen notes that, to the Baha'I, Buddha, Moses, Jesus, and Mohammed are all divinely sent teachers of "the Truth," whose messages conform to the needs of their individual cultures and historical periods. But this divine message needs updating in the modern world. The Baha'I religion-which draws form the teachings of the Baha'u'llah, a nineteenth-century Persian-encourages its members to think of themselves as global citizens. It also seek to establish unity among its members through adherence to a Baha'I worldview.

By examining the Atlanta Baha'I community, McMullen shows how this global identity is interpreted locally. He discusses such topics as: the organization structure and authority relations in the Baha'I "Administrative Order"; Baha'I evangelicalism; and the social boundaries between Baha'I and the wider culture.


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