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Alan and Lorraine Manifold

Alan and Lorraine Manifold are loving life in Australia. They have a Baha'i choir in Melbourne, 'Perfect Chord', and are actively involved in their local Baha'i community. They're planning their second Australian Baha'i Choral Festival in Sydney, hopefully to become an annual event. But they're also finding that women's issues are quite similar here to those in other Western countries and want to do what they can to improve things. Lorraine has suffered acutely from oppression and objectification growing up in Belgium, Canada and the US. Alan has been deeply involved for many years providing diversity education and training.

It’s OK to Be a Feminist

Many people have strong opinions about the word “feminist” and the whole concept of feminism. These opinions might be based on good or bad experiences that people have had, on things they have heard or read, or on fundamental understandings of the realities of women and men. Everyone is entitled to their opinions and to the reasons behind those opinions.

For this article, we (the authors) are going to focus on only two things: a dictionary definition of “feminism” and some of the statements found in the Baha’i Writings that we feel address aspects of that definition. We hope that you will read with this in mind, gleaning anything you find useful from the post as a jumping off point for continued conversation.  Continue reading

6 Ways to Make Microsoft Word® More Baha’i Friendly

All too often I see Microsoft Word® documents where the name of the Faith has been “corrected” to “Baha’I”. And I’m sure all of you have seen documents where the diacritical marks were missing on words like “Bahá’í”, “Bahá’u’lláh” and “‘Abdu’l-Bahá”.

Diacritics are those little marks often placed over, under, or through a letter to show that the letter should be pronounced in a particular way. I know that on Baha’i Blog, the editors have decided to remove all diacritics from words like “Bahá’í” for instance, turning it into “Baha’i” because of the effect diacritics have on what is known as Search Engine Optimization, where those little marks really impact the probability of certain words being found during a Google search for that word online. But in your own Word® documents, if you’re tired of seeing those squiggly little red underlines under words like “Bahá’í” when you do a spell check, then I hope you’ll find these six adjustments useful in making Microsoft Word® more “Bahá’í” friendly. Continue reading

Choral Music in the Baha’i Community

Rehearsal time for Baha'i-inspired choir 'Perfect Chord' based in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo: Rachael Dere)

Rehearsal time for Baha’i-inspired choir ‘Perfect Chord’ based in Melbourne, Australia. (Photo: Rachael Dere)

Much has been written in previous Baha’i Blog posts about singing, but mostly in connection with soloists, often combined with instruments. Less has been said here about group singing, which is an important branch of vocal music. Baha’is have been encouraged by the Central Figures, the Guardian and the Universal House of Justice to incorporate music and singing into all aspects of Baha’i community life: Continue reading

7 Things Men Can Do to Help Undo the Oppression of Women

As Baha’is we believe in Baha’u’llah’s explicit teaching of the equality of men and women, but believing in something and acting on it are two different things, and we each have to strive continually to ensure that Baha’u’llah’s teachings are translated into our everyday lives.

The reality is that we live in a male dominated world, and even though the landscape of the inequality of the sexes is currently changing to varying degrees and rates in many countries and societies, we’ve still got a long way to go as we’re products of our environment and there’s still a lot we can do as individuals to help change things.

Living in a male dominated world, as men especially, we have a lot of responsibility in regards to this inequality, so I’ve listed below seven things men can do to help undo the oppression of women – but before we get to that, it’s important to understand that we live in a materialistic society, and one definition of materialism is that it’s “a doctrine that the only or the highest values or objectives lie in material well-being and in the furtherance of material progress”. Given this definition, we clearly live in a materialistic society as success in our society is most often defined as an attainment of material advantage, whether it’s money, possessions, rank, competitiveness, or power. When people talk about what the greatest country in the world is, the greatest corporation, or the greatest sports team, these are invariably the criteria they use. This is clearly out of step with the teachings of the Baha’i Faith:

… consider how base a nature it reveals in man that, notwithstanding the favors showered upon him by God, he should lower himself into the animal sphere, be wholly occupied with material needs, attached to this mortal realm, imagining that the greatest happiness is to attain wealth in this world. How purposeless! … What an ignorance this is! What a blindness! (Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, p 185)

Women are viewed almost exclusively through this materialistic lens. Widespread unhealthy and unchaste images, pressure to spend time and money on appearance, and the distressingly high danger of harassment and rape are just some of the damaging effects. So here are a few ideas for how men, particularly Baha’i men can address this situation:  Continue reading