The tab for resources contains a list of hyperlinks to a number of extremely valuable studies and databases for further study about Baha’i history and texts. It will be updated as the courses continues

These classes are not intended to be a substitute for the Ruhi Institute courses but will hopefully augment some of the same crucial subjects raised in that sequence. Due consideration is given for attendees who are not Bahá’ís, both in the sequence of presentations and in the discussions that follow. Some of the subjects discussed are treated more in depth in my BOOKS.

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This first class discusses what the Bahá’í writings indicate is an inextricable relationship between the advent of the Manifestations or Prophets of God and the advancement of human civilization. It further broaches the idea that creation itself emanates from the desire of God to be known that human beings can thereby become enlightened and evolve spiritually and materially, both in this life and the afterlife.

This session is part one in a series of classes that will discuss the nature, purpose, powers, and suffering of the Manifestation. It is largely derived from my book, The Face of God Among Us.
While it is certainly valuable and intellectually rewarding to study the logic underlying the Bahá’í theory of progressive revelation, one can only derive an authentic personal belief in God or His Messenger from an ongoing relationship with the Manifestation. Otherwise, our belief is limited to theory rather than to any substantive change in our lives.
For what reason do the Prophets or Manifestations of God employ various types of figurative imagery in the verses They reveal. If Their purpose is to teach us, then what is gained by veiling Their language in poetic devices that, for most people, make the meaning of these teachings more difficult to understand. Christ, among other Prophets, explains the rationale for this indirection, and Baha’u’llah actually demonstrates how to interpret symbolic language in The Book of Certitude.
Examining samples of poetic language—principally from the Abrahamic religions—Professor Hatcher examines samples from Biblical and Bahá’í scripture to appreciate the value of the poetic style of scripture that is so often challenging for us to understand.
While mixed in with all our discussions are various insights into Bahá’í teachings, we will for the next few classes focus primarily on Progressive Revelation, not so much as a theory, but analyzed systematically by reviewing the sequence of Abrahamic religions. This class will examine the overlay or schema with which we will undertake this review.
In addition to examining the overall stories and characters that populate the four thousand years of history represented in the Old Testament, this class attempts to summaries the major concepts that underlie the origin and evolution of Judaism and the Judaic people. Besides the oral formulaic and symbolic/mythological nature of the the narratives, we discuss the meandering journey of these people from the time of Abraham to the establishment of the Land of Israel as Moses’ successor Joshua leads the Israelites into Canaan where, ultimately, the effulgence of Israel emerges as a mighty kingdom under Saul, David, and Solomon.
This class/fireside is the first in a series of classes dedicated to a study of Christianity from the Baha’i perspective of the gradual unfolding of the Abrahamic religions, all of which lead up to their fulfillment with the Revelation of Baha’u’llah, even though the education of humankind and the succession of future Manifestations will continue.
This class focuses on those particular statements of Christ regarding the law and His station in relation to God. We will likewise take note of those events that have particular relevance to how the Christian religion takes shape after Christ’s crucifixion, especially during the Apostolic period.
This class/fireside discusses the seeds of conflict among the apostles after the crucifixion of Christ, especially regarding what laws were incumbent on new believers, as well as ideas introduced by Paul regarding women, primal sin, and the concept of salvation. These, in addition to the crucial question of the station of Christ (Christology) become the source of schism in Christianity relatively soon in the history of the church.
Not that long after the persecution of Christians by the Romans ceased, there arose among Christian ecclesiastics disputes about the ontology of Christ, the station of Mary, and a number of other doctrinal issues that a sequence of ecumenical councils attempted to resolve. Most famously at the first Council of Nicaea in 325, the doctrine was established that Christ and God were the same essence. Soon after, Christianity was accepted as the state religion of the Roman Empire. This discourse traces the historical events that set the stage for the advent of Muhammad, Who, among other things, deals directly with this matter and establishes a theology which provides a coherent overview of the succession of Abrahamic religions, as opposed to the Christian doctrine that the advent of Christ was a singular event in the human history.
 
After the various ecumenical councils failed to provide a unified creed, especially regarding Christology, the Great Schism between the Eastern Orthodox and the Western Catholic division of Christianity occurred in 1054, followed by the Crusades where Christianity attempted to re-take the Holy Land from the Moslems, and then the Reformation in 1517, marking the schism between Western Catholicism and the Protestant movement, which itself generated a plethora of denominations and sects. Meanwhile, Muhammad had appeared in Arabia in the 7th century, founding Islam, which, after unifying the tribes of Arabia, proceeded to spread the religion and conquer major portions of North Africa, the Eastern Mediterranean, the Middle East, and establishing influential centers of learning in Spain, the source–according to the Baha’i Writings–of the impetus that brought about the Renaissance. This brief discussion alludes to this transition by way of introducing our study of Islam.
This class discusses some of the historical and cultural background in Arabia during the time when Muhammad lived. Focusing on the functions of the cities of Mecca and Medina, this discussion begins with the theory of how the Manifestations choose where They will appear, what persona They will assume, and how They receive the first intimation of Their Revelation.
This class will discuss the events after Muhammad receives the first intimations of His revelation: His reveled teachings, the persecution of His followers by His own clan, the emigration to Medina (the date marking the first year of the Islamic Calendar), and His creative endeavors to provide political unity for the diverse peoples of Medina. (Plus, what is meant by the cleaving of the moon!)
 
This class will discuss the events leading up to the death of Muhammad and how Umar contrives to assume control of Islam, in spite of what the Prophet had clearly intended, thereby diverting the course of this great religion from many of its intended objectives and ultimately perverting some of its central teachings, including the continuity of the Cause of God beyond the Day of Days.
 
This class will discuss the events leading up to the death of Muhammad and how Umar contrives to assume control of Islam, in spite of what the Prophet had clearly intended, thereby diverting the course of this great religion from many of its intended objectives and ultimately perverting some of its central teachings, including the continuity of the Cause of God beyond the Day of Days. 
 
This class will discuss the value of employing the tools of critical thinking as we assess our knowledge of and attitudes towards Muḥammad and Islam. This discussion will focus particularly on how we can avoid letting the current actions of certain Islamic factions undermine what we know from authoritative sources to be the truth about Muḥammad and His revelation. For while the religion was fractured early on, its deviation from the intended course was no more grievous than was the course of Christianity.
 
This class discusses the complexity of the concept of Jihad as it applies to the attempt by the Manifestations to implement social justice based on spiritual principles. In particular, we will allude to the distinctions among the Abrahamic religions as each Manifestation must adapt laws of His Revelation to the exigencies of the historical context in which He appears. We will also discuss the distinction between justice at the level of the individual and at the level of the community.
 
This class discusses five of the major themes of the Qur’án: (1) Monotheism & the powers and attributes of God; (2) Interpretation of the abstruse versus the “perspicuous” verses; (3) The Qur’án and Christology (4) The Qur’án and Progressive Revelation (5) The Qur’án and Eschatology. 
 
This discussion focuses on some of the laws and guidance concerning women as derived from the Qur’an prior to the evolution of the sharia and the various schools of Islamic jurisprudence. 
 
This class discusses the Baha’i theory of governance as outlined by the Guardian in one portion of the letters collected in The World Order of Baha’u’llah
 
This is a discussion of the authoritative documents that constitute the links in the Covenant of Baha’u’llah, thereby rendering inviolable, unlike those Covenants in previous dispensations when the covenants of the Manifestations where there was no explicit designation of succession or format for the institutionalization of the religion, or else where the instructions of the Manifestation were broken, as in the case of Muhammad.
 
This class discusses the axiomatic and systematic process by which the Baha’i Writings assert that any action, especially spiritual development, should be undertaken. This process involves at least four steps or stages of knowledge, volition, action, and habituation, and can be usefully applied to both individual and collective endeavors.
This class discusses the transition between what became Shia Islam and the events that are a prelude to the Declaration of the Báb to Mulla Husayn. We will cover the story of the twelfth Imam, the Minor Occultation, the Major Occultation, the signs in the visible and invisible heavens that presage the advent of a new Manifestation, and some of the events surrounding the teachings of Shaykh Ahmad and Siyyid Káẓim-i-Rashtí.
 
This presentation focuses entirely on the night of May 23rd, 1844, when the Bab declared his station to Mulla Husayn, thereby instigating the point of beginning the Baha’i Era, the Baha’i Cycle, and the Babi Faith. It also marks the point of confluence of two universal cycles: the end of the Prophetic or Adamic Cycle, and the beginning of a cycle destined to endure at least 500,000 years.
 
This discussion focuses on how, after His Declaration to Mulla Husayn, the Bab sets in motion a series of actions indicating a well-conceived plan for teaching the new Revelation throughout Persia.
 
While following the progress of the Báb from place to place as He gradually unfolds His station and purpose is fairly simple, the plethora of activities and heroic stories emanating from His influence and the effect of His followers on Persia is quite complex, certainly more than a single narrative could hope to portray. This is the first in a series of attempts to highlight some of the more important episodes that take place during these first few years of what is called The Heroic Period of Baha’i history.

This discussion focuses on how the Manifestations allow Themselves to be moved from place to place at the whims of the government, even though They have the power and the will to do otherwise. Do They have free will or is Their response to the changes and chances of life merely the will of God and, therefore, out of Their hands?

While many may be familiar with the basic facts about the Conference of Badasht, especially the climactic proclamation by Tahirih that the Trumpet had sounded and a new dispensation had begun, there are underlying facts that give additional elucidation about this momentous gathering. This talks explains how the Bab and Baha’u’llah were actually the planners and executors of this abrogation of Islamic law and the advent of the dispensation of the Bab.

Halfway through this class we switch from tracking the chronology of Bahá’í history – something readily available to everyone via books or online resources – and begin a series of discussions on some of the essential concepts presented in the Bahá’í teachings. Some of these will involve Bahá’í history, but we will begin with some major theological matters, the first being a couple of classes devoted to examining the  concept of Satan, sin, and salvation, a subject that has confounded so much religious discourse about morality and human nature.

This informal discussion covers the basic Baha’i concepts of the symbolic nature of Satan, Hell, and Heaven, and, more importantly, presents an overview of the Baha’i concept of sin, guilt, and the process of salvation, whether in this life, or in the continuation of our lives in the metaphysical realm.

The question that arose among Christ’s disciples about the definition and proof of “faith” or “belief” is no less vital in religious discourse today. This informal presentation will discuss the Bahá’í concept of why the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh plays such a critical role in defining “faith” and “belief” from a Bahá’í perspective and what makes it more secure or enduring than the covenant of previous Manifestations.

This discussion focuses on the foundation of the Bahá’í Administrative Order, especially the crucial role played by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in devising crucial institutions, in designing the parameters of their authority, and in establishing the means by which these institutions would be established and perpetuated.

This discussion will continue where Class 33 left off by showing how each of the four institutions created or instituted by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá played a critical role in completing the World Order of Bahá’u’lláh by establishing the Universal House of Justice, what could be called the “keystone” in the Arc that is the Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh. Yet at each point in this transition of authority, the links in the Covenant were tested and tempered in the fire of ordeal.

This session will focus on the framework or overview of Bahá’u’lláh’s life and work, what I hope will be a useful beginning, especially for those who are not Bahá’ís or who have not had a chance to study the history in depth. This is the beginning of the study for which all 34 previous classes have been but preparation (all ten months!!)

There occurs a point in the lives of the Manifestations of God where They receive some sign or have some experience described by Them as transformative, a turning point when They begin to speak as the Word of God among us. Does this experience represent some change in the nature of Their being, the point where They are changed from ordinary human beings into God’s Messengers? If not, then what is happening or what are They experiencing. This discussion will examine the Bahá’í texts that resolve this mystery, especially as it applies to Bahá’u’lláh’s experience in the Siyáh-Chál.

This class discusses how much we can understand about the process by which God speaks to us through the Manifestations. Are They simply repeating what They hear, or are They creators of Their utterances?

Bahá’u’lláh states that He has revealed His verses in “nine different modes.” This class will discuss what He might mean by this, and the variety of literary styles He employs in the multitude of works He revealed.

While Bahá’u’lláh wrote several works in the mode of a mystic treatise, he explicitly forbids some of the major practices and beliefs of mystic sects, such as Súfism. This is the first in a couple of classes where we will both try to define mysticism, outline the Bahá’í response to its teachings or orientations, and examine several of the works of Bahá’u’lláh that can be characterized as being mystically oriented in literary mode and in spiritual concepts.

This second class on mysticism in Bahá’u’lláh’s works that deal with some of the important themes of the mystic tradition so popular in Persian poetry, will focus on the basic concepts of The Seven Valleys as compared to the same themes of Farid ud-Din Attar’s Conference of the Birds. We will also discuss some more about the influence of Plato on the concept of mystic ascent, and will touch on the notion of “Annihilation or “True Poverty and Absolute Nothingness.”

Before one can understand much beyond the foundational allegorical meaning of Bahá’u’lláh’s “The Seven Valleys” as seven stages in a process of spiritualization, certain tools can be helpful and, in some cases, essential if one is to discover the difficult and diverse figurative devices He has employed in this rich and abstruse work. This class will introduce the attendees to a basic understanding how to identify these devices and how to uncover their veiled meaning.

In the last class we discussed some of the figurative devices commonly associated with mysticism and mystic works. This class will apply these tools to some of what Bahá’u’lláh refers to as the “Húrís of Inner Meaning,” both in His mystical works and in His other modes of revelation.

After finishing a few observations about Bahá’u’lláh’s mystic poetry, we will begin the first in a series of weekly classes of relatively deep study of the most important doctrinal work in the Bahá’í Faith, the second most important work revealed by Bahá’u’lláh, and what may well be regarded as the possibly the most important work in the Bahá’í dispensation. This essential reading for all those who are Bahá’ís, as well as for anyone wishing to discover perhaps the most weighty proof of the validity of the Bahá’í claims about Bahá’u’lláh as the Messenger from God for this age.

This is the first class in a series of weekly classes dedicated to examining the structure and major parts of Bahá’u’lláh’s most important doctrinal work, the Kitáb-i-Íqán (The Book of Certitude). Each class will be designed to provide the participants with a focused examination of how Bahá’u’lláh has structured this two-part essay on (1) why people of failed to recognize Manifestations of the past and on (2) the nature and proofs of the Manifestations. Attendees will be provided with an exacting outline of the entire work, which will serve as the structure for each class on this work, and slides derived from that outline.

This is the second in a series of weekly classes dedicated to examining the structure and major themes of Bahá’u’lláh’s most important doctrinal work, the Kitáb-i-Íqán (The Book of Certitude). Each class will be designed to provide the participants with a focused examination of how Bahá’u’lláh has structured this two-part essay on (1) why people of failed to recognize Manifestations of the past and (2) the nature and proofs of the Manifestations. Attendees will be provided with an exacting outline of the entire work, which will serve as the structure for each class, as well as slides for each class derived from that outline.

This class finishes the discussion of Part One (the first half) of The Book of Certitude, the focus of which is Baha’u’llah’s explication of the symbols and figures of speech in three verses from Matthew that foretell of the advent of Muhammad.

This fourth discussion of The Book of Certitude begins the examination of Part Two, the second half of this most important doctrinal work of Bahá’u’lláh. Focusing on the ontology, powers, and proofs of the Manifestations, this second half explains and elucidates some of the most important passages from the Qur’án regarding the Prophets of God. It serves not only as a proof of the Báb as the Qá’im, but as a paradigm for proving the claims of every Manifestation.

This fifth discussion of The Book of Certitude will examine such concept as the “Return,” “Entering the Presence of God,” and the station of “Essential Unity” and the station of “Distinction.”

This sixth – and the next-to-last class on The Book of Certitude –discusses Baha’u’llah’s lengthy examination of how to study the revealed word, which He describes as the process of entering the “City of Certitude,” and which He says is “none other than the Word of God.” The Final discussion will cover the three other proofs of the Báb as Qá’im, and Bahá’u’lláh’s forewarning to the Bábís of the tests that await them.

This is last class discussing The Book of Certitude will focus on the last four proofs of the Manifestation, and, in particular, of the Báb as Qá’im. It concludes with the forewarning by Bahá’u’lláh that the Bábís will be tested to recognize “Him Whom God will make manifest” (Bahá’u’lláh), even as the Moslems are being tested to recognize the Báb.

This is the first of two classes on The Tablet of the Holy Mariner,” an allegorical work whose intent the believers at the time understood, but which the contemporary reader needs some background information to appreciate and interpret. This class will help establish the groundwork for a more meaningful understanding of this important work.

This is an important allegorical work, the intent of which the believers at the time immediately understood, but which the contemporary reader needs some background information to appreciate and interpret. This class will help establish the groundwork for a more meaningful understanding and subsequent study of this important work.

While the Guardian notes that we know only a few of the details surrounding the momentous twelve days of the Festival of Ridvan during which time Baha’u’llah declared openly His station as the Manifestation foretold by the Bab (“Him Whom God will make manifest”), what we do know is well worth recounting and sharing, especially inasmuch as three of the nine Baha’i holy days on which work is to be suspended commemorate the first, ninth, and twelfth days of this occasion.

This Class discusses the arduous journey of 110 days of Baha”u’llah and His retinue from Baghdad to Samsun, and the two works associated with that journey, the Surih of Patience (also called the Surih of Job) and the Surih of the Howdah, which Baha’u’llah wrote as they came into view of the Black Sea.

After arriving in Constantinople, Bahá’u’lláh unveils His stature and comportment as a Manifestation of God and a prisoner to no one – neither to potentates nor any worldly force. By the end of this brief stay, Bahá’u’lláh’s life is never the same again. especially after His remarkable letter to the Sultan of the Ottoman Empire, ‘Abdu’l-Azíz.

After only four months in Constantinople, and partially the result of His refusal to kowtow to the authority and station of Sultan ‘Abdu’l-Azíz, Bahá’u’lláh and family were exiled in the dead of winter to travel the 150 miles to Adrianople. But during the four years in Adrianople that followed, some of the most dramatic and defining events of Bahá’í history take place, all in addition to weighty public declaration of His station and guidance to the leaders of the world.

The outpouring of works emanating from the pen of Bahá’u’lláh during the Adrianople period is immense, and we can hardly survey them all. We will, however, study the salient points in some of the better known works from that period, and we will begin with what is perhaps the most familiar to followers of the Bahá’í Faith, the highly regarded Tablet of Ahmad. 

Among the most important works emanating from the pen of Bahá’u’lláh during the Adrianople period is The Súrih of the Temple. After being further exiled to `Akká, Bahá’u’lláh had this work configured into the calligraphic form of five-pointed star, and included within it five of the letters He had written to various political and religious leaders proclaiming His station and mission. This class will discuss the essential themes and structure of this important work, which appears in the collection Summons of the Lord of Hosts.

In addition to discussing some of the highlights regarding the letters Bahá’u’lláh sent to the Pope, Napoleon III, Czar Alexander II, Queen Victoria, and Náṣirid-Dín Sháh, we will discuss how the abiding themes of delegation of authority and the path to the Lesser Peace are presented by Bahá’u’lláh in this important work.

The class will examine briefly three of the four tablets included in Summons of the Lord of Hosts: the Súriy-i-Ra’ís, the Lawḥ-i-Ra’ís, and the Lawḥ-i-Fu’ád. We will attempt to examine the historical context, note some of the major themes of these works, and examine a few of the prophecies they contain, as well as how these were realized shortly after the tablets were revealed.

The class examines briefly two of the major tablets revealed by Bahá’u’lláh in Adrianople, together with a salient anecdote about Mírzá Muḥammad ‘Álí. This will end our examination of the Adrianople period, after which we will begin with the journey to `Akká, followed by classes on the tablets and events that constitute the highlights leading up to the climax of the revelation of Bahá’u’lláh in 1873 with the revelation of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas.

The class examines the highlights of the journey from Adrianople to `Akká, including the initial experiences that began two years of confinement in the barracks prison. This class will consist of pictures of the barracks, descriptions of the conditions the prisoners endured, the attempts of believers to visit Bahá’u’lláh, and the unfortunate death of Mírzá Mihdí.

The class examines the dramatic events that characterize the early years for Bahá’u’lláh and the other Bahá’ís in Akka. These include the death of Mirza Mihdi, the murder of Siyyid Muḥammad Iṣfáhání, and the delivery of the letter to the Sháh by Badí`.

This first discussion of the singular importance of the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (The Most Holy Book or The Mother Book) of the Revelation of Bahá’u’lláh, will cover the structure, methodology, and theme of this work, in addition to the prerequisites that were necessary for translating to the work authoritatively into English.

Since the Manifestations reveal laws and social ordinances only as humankind is ready to understand and implement them, we may safely presume that Bahá’u’lláh’s revelation and explicit directives regarding the equality of women and men imply that humanity currently has both the experience and capacity to comprehend this verity and implement it in contemporary society. This session discusses what seem to be distinction in the functions of women and men in Bahá’í teachings.

The Laws of Bahá’u’lláh not only establish the pattern for achieving nearness to God through individual and collective behavior; they also establish the boundaries for what constitutes negative behavior and, by designated the punishment for a few offenses, present a model of how society should design other offenses. This class will examine the distinction between those offenses that are entirely personal (between man and God) and those that come under the purview of social institutions. It will further discuss some distinctions between the Bahá’í model and contemporary systems of jurisprudence as regards criminal behavior.

In examining some of the most influential philosophers and how they influenced religious thought in the evolution of Western thought, Bahá’u’lláh in the Lawḥ-i-Ḥikmat explores the divine wisdom that these individuals comprehended, but ultimately focuses on His assertion that “A true philosopher would never deny God nor His evidences, rather would he acknowledge His glory and overpowering majesty which overshadow all created things. Verily We love those men of knowledge who have brought to light such tings as to promote the best interests of humanity….” We will explore the highlights of this important work.

There are several tablets by Bahá’u’lláh revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas (The Most Holy Book) that contain lists of some of the laws, exhortations, and ordinances. In these works, Bahá’u’lláh may comment on these, elucidate others, or explain their relationship and relevance to His vision of the reformation of society He has introduced in His blueprint for a world commonwealth. The abiding effect of reviewing these works, especially when read together, is to expand our vision about how a global community will function and what are some of the essential components in constructing this next stage in our collective social and moral evolution.

This survey of some of the major works revealed by Bahá’u’lláh after the Aqdas will require two classes to review the themes of “The Most Holy Tablet,” “Tablet of the World,” “Tablet of Maqsud,” “Tablet to Vafa,” Tablet to Siyyid Mihdiy-i-Dahaji,” Tablet of the Proof,” and Tablet of the Land of Bá” While these will not be detailed examinations, we will try to assess the purpose and highlights of each work.

This survey of some of the major works revealed by Bahá’u’lláh after the Aqdas will require two classes to review the themes of “The Most Holy Tablet,” “Tablet of the World,” “Tablet of Maqsud,” “Tablet to Vafa,” Tablet to Siyyid Mihdiy-i-Dahaji,” Tablet of the Proof,” and Tablet of the Land of Bá” While these will not be detailed examinations, we will try to assess the purpose and highlights of each work.

This class discusses an overview of the structure and themes of this important review of the works and ministry of Baha’u’llah, all of which culminate in a series of proofs and prophecies regarding the Day of Days and concluding with allusions to Akka as a place of enlightenment.

This class focuses on the explicit proofs of the Revelation of Baha’u’llah derived by Baha’u’llah from a variety of sources: the Old Testament, the New Testament, the Qur’an, hadith, and more than 40 passages from the writings of the Bab. These are found primarily in the last third of the book, but function as a crescendo to the overall proof that work as a whole. It constitutes a remarkable conclusion to the ministry of Baha’u’llah.

These last two major documents of Baha’u’llah both relate importantly to the Covenant, how succession became secured, and how the vision of the future administrative order and even the Baha’i World Center itself was ordained and prophesied by Baha’u’llah Himself. It is in this sense that the Tablet of Carmel is consider a “charter document” of the Baha’i Faith, and the Book of the Covenant the WIll and Testament of Baha’u’llah,

This class discusses the resistance to the succession of ‘Abdu’l-Baha by members of his own family who became Covenant-Breakers and tried to undermine the authority which Baha’u’llah had bestowed on him in His Will and Testament, even going so far as to try and have him executed.

This class focuses on some of the major endeavors undertaken by ‘Abdu’l-Baha once he assumed administrative authority of the Baha’i Faith, such as constructing the Shrine of the Bab, meeting early pilgrims from the West, traveling to Europe and America to meet with the various Baha’i communities, and helping to feed the peoples of Haifa and Akka by purchasing property near the Jordan River where Baha’is grew wheat and other produce.

The Will and Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha is one of the four charter documents that establish the administrative order of the Baha’i Faith. Among other things, it establishes and delineates the authority and succession of the Guardianship, the Institution of Hands of the Cause of God, the Secondary Houses of Justice (National Spiritual Assemblies), and three-tiered process for electing the Universal House of Justice.

This discussion highlights the amazing variety of capacities and accomplishments of Shoghi Effendi who, in the course of but thirty-six years, brought into being the administrative order, the plans for the World Center, teachings plans to establish the “pillars” (the NSAs) that would elect the Universal House of Justice, translated into English the most crucial texts revealed by Baha’u’llah, and supported the world-wide Baha’i community with a ceaseless flow of guidance, answers to queries, and encouragement to succeed in the panoply of endeavors required during this crucial time of bringing into being the foundation of the Baha’i Faith.

This class discusses the unexpected passing of the Guardian and the challenges and tests it presented, together with the lessons we learn from the response to this milestone event.

his class discusses the administration of the Baha’i Faith during the period between the passing of the Guardian in 1957 and the election of the House of Justice in 1963. It thus deals with the creation of the institution of the “Custodians,” the appointment and subsequent election of the International Baha’i Council, the defection of Mason Remey in 1960, and the successful transfer of authority with the election of the House of Justice.

While we have already review briefly the crucial part the Hands of the Cause played in continuity of the Faith between the passing of the Guardian and the election of the Universal House of Justice, this class focuses more particularly on their function in protecting the Cause and the nature of Covenant Breaking.

Initiated by the Tablets of the Divine Plan by ‘Abdu’l-Baha, the successive teaching plans have throughout the years accounted fro the systematic development of the Baha’i Faith throughout the World. Now as we set out to accomplish the goals of the Nine Year Plan, we do well to see how far we have come and the struggle it took to arrive at this stage of a fully comprehensive strategy for building global community from the ground up, not by imposing Baha’i views on others, but by helping to construct inclusive and nurturing community life.

This class cites passages from the Guardian about those events that will bring about the Lesser Peace, how the Baha’i Faith will evolve during this period, and what the likely structure of the secular global commonwealth will be. It also focuses on what role the individual Baha’i can take in helping to bring about this seminal change in governance on planet Earth.

This final class on our survey of the Abrahamic religions leading up to and including the Baha’i Faith, examines to the extent we are able the foundational features of the Baha’i Commonwealth of the Golden Age of the Baha’i Era. At the core of this presentation is an emphasis on how the secular government of the Lesser Peace will in time become merged together in the Baha’i administrative order, not as a theocracy but as a unique form of governance for which the present Baha’i administrative order is the foundation and model.

This class is a very informal introductory discussion about my most recent book “The Body of God: A Reader’s Guide to Baha’u’llah’s Surih of the Temple. It is by no means a complete or in-depth analysis of the book, but I do attempt to provide an overview of the major themes, the structure, and the literary devices Baha’u’llah employs in this abstruse work in the hope that this work may assist some readers in appreciating the importance of this tablet, one of the first works Baha’u’llah Himself had published.

We are constantly assaulted by the media with images of the “Good Life” as the resolution to our troubles and the fulfillment of our desires, but through a Baha’i lens, the components of this material/sensual vision turn out to be a mirage, and even a distraction from those objectives that are truly worthwhile, satisfying, and that endure beyond this earthly stage of our eternal existence.

This class discusses the monograph “The Metaphorical Nature of Physical Reality,” how the work came to be written and how the central thesis opens up a path to further understanding of the relationship between the spiritual realm and the physical realm.

The Book includes some of the discussion in the monograph “The Metaphorical Nature of Physical Reality,” but extends the discussion of why a loving and omnipotent God think it beneficial for us to begin our lives in an environment that seems to be antithetical to our inherent nature and our ultimate destiny (spiritual reality). Among other things, it deals with theodicy (why the innocent are allowed to suffer) and the Baha’i nature of our transition to the spiritual realm and our initial experience in that reality as informed by NDE accounts.

This class completes the overview of the book “The Purpose of Physical Reality” and introduces the premise for “The Arc of Ascent,” a sequel to and extension of this same book. This discourse will examine how the spiritual ascent of the individual is necessarily a collaborative process, a social process, and is inseparable from the ascent of society as a whole.

Even as “The Purpose of Physical Reality” explains how the physical experience provides us with a metaphorical classroom or workshop wherein we can learn about, exercise, and develop spiritual virtues, “The Arc of Ascent” explains that none of this can be done isolated or alone, that spiritual development is necessarily a social exercise that provides an ever ascending arc of ascent for both the individual soul and the community, a process that ultimate leads to the creation of a spiritually based global commonwealth.

Divided into four parts with four chapters each, the book discussed in this class provides in great detail about the Purpose, the Nature, the Powers, and the Methodology of the Prophets or Manifestations of God. The class simply provides a survey of some of the major points in the book, which is available through Amazon or the Baha’i Bookstore.

The first discussion of this book in class 90 dealt with (1) The Purpose of the Prophets and (2) The Nature of the Prophets. This class finishes the review of the highlights of this book by discussing part (3) The Powers of the Prophets and concludes with part (4) The Methodology of the Prophets

This is the last book in a series of books I have written about the relationship between Spiritual and Physical reality. This concluding book on that subject attempts to show the harmony between science and religion from a Baha’i perspective. This presentation covers the first half of this book.

Beginning with a discussion of “proving God,” and a clarification of the previous discussion on the Baha’i understanding of evolution, this class covers the second half of this last book in a series of books I have written about the relationship between Spiritual and Physical reality. This concluding book on that subject attempts to show the harmony between science and religion from a Baha’i perspective. This presentation covers the first half of this book.

Autobiographically oriented, this sometimes whimsical narrative about the author’s thoughts about death, meanders from personal experiences to important axioms about death and dying as informed by his beliefs derived from the Baha’i Faith as they respond to some of the widely accepted social norms regarding this inevitable and strategic transition in our lives

This discussion consists of some of the major axioms and observations covered in the book “From Sin to Salvation,” and demonstrates briefly how the Baha’i beliefs deal with these subjects that are so essential to religious beliefs. I further distinguishes between Baha’i interpretations and clarifications about those beliefs about “hell,” “Satan,” “salvation,” and “damnation” and how other religions understand these same concepts.

Not only are the utterances of the Manifestations the most important proof of Their station and powers, but language or communication is perhaps the greatest foundation for all other human capacities. This class discusses how language constructs the links between Dispensations and constitutes the principal means by which we are guided by God, whether individually or collectively.

This discussion attempts to review some of the major themes discussed in this book regarding the advancement and completion of the administrative order and the unfolding of the various teaching plans, emphasizing the decisions of the House of Justice to establish a framework for the process of entry by troops through a series of global plans that focus on organized study and action at the grassroots level.

This discussion reviews some of the major features of one of Baha’u’llah’s most abstruse and important tablets. In addition to discussing the overall structure of the work as a dialogue between Baha’u’llah and the Maid of Heaven (symbolizing the Holy Spirit), this class examines some of the major symbols and concludes by noting the relevance of the work to current world conditions.

This class consists of a brief introduction to Hayden, an excerpt from a 1976 interview with him about his work, and a reading of a couple of his more accessible and popular poems.

This final course in the sequence of the Baha’i Faith reviews those remaining works by Professor Hatcher that would be difficult to discuss in a single class session because most are collections of poetry, either by Hatcher or poems by Tahirih translated by Hatcher and co-translator Amrollah Hemmat. This class also provides links for anyone interested in acquiring any of these works.

This is first class in a series of discussion about the language of scripture, particularly that of the Abrahamic religions. This class discusses why it is important to become familiar with the tools available for penetrating the veils that so often make understanding scripture so difficult, whether these be symbols, parables, or other rhetorical devices. As Baha’u’llah notes, while reading scripture has value regardless of the depth of our understanding, the true objective of reading and studying scripture is to understand its meaning.

This class will go over some of the very first steps we can take when we read scripture and don’t understand its meaning. There are numerous valid approaches we can use when we are trying to discern the meaning of a verse or passage. In future classes we will study a variety of tools that are helpful in learning how to apprehend both the general meaning and the deeper and sometimes more concealed levels of meaning. In future classes we will also discuss how to determine if our interpretations or readings are valid, always remembering that our ultimate objective is to discover “the intended meaning.”

This class is the first part of an ongoing discussion of the reason why the Prophets employ figurative language as a critical part of Their indirect teaching methodology. In particular, this class explores the essential nature of the principal recurring rhetorical tools, such as metaphor, symbolism, allegory, etc.

This is a continuation of the discussion in class 103 of the rhetorical devices and poetic techniques employed by the Manifestations and why this indirect technique challenges the reader to become an active participant in comprehending the message being imparted. It also involves the first in a series of applying these tools to interpreting scripture.

Most cultures have creation myths, most of which derive from some religious influence. The Adamic myth in Genesis, purported by some to be revealed by Moses along with the other four books of the Pentateuch, is clearly symbolic, but how do the Baha’i texts interpret the various meanings of this intriguing story?

This class examines briefly the Baha’i concept of the rationale underlying God’s desire to bring creation into being. It will be discussed in terms of the first stage in the causality of the means by which each habitable planet is nurtured by the divine process by which it attains its inherent destiny of becoming a physical expression of the divine reality.

This is the first of two classes examining the Purpose, the Nature, the Powers, and the Methodology of the Prophets or Manifestations of God, particularly how They initiate and sustain the will of God in replicating the spiritual realm in a physical dimension.

This class continues discussing the ontology, powers, and methodologies of the Manifestations, demonstrating, among other things, that these specialized Beings are omniscient, infallible, pre-existent, the architects of social change for each dispensation, and choose where They will appear and the human persona with which They associate during Their earthly lives.

The class begins to assemble some of the previous verities we have gleaned from the authorized Baha’i texts about God’s desire to be known and how that methodology is carried out in the twin dimensions of reality. Gradually we are striving to articulate a logical argument that takes into account the major parts of this eternal teaching plan that is reality itself.

This class continues the discussion of the Baha’i concepts of ontology, philosophy, and science as the seem to contradict or offer explanations about reality that seem conflict with scientific theories. Though quite incomplete, this discussion sets the stage for future classes that will explore these issues further as they relate to the Baha”i axiom that there is harmony between science and religion.

This class picks up where Class 110 left off, discussing the ostensible refutation of Newtonian physics (Classical Physics), and focusing on both ‘Abdu’l-Baha’s allusion to the ether and the disparity between what most contemporary physicists theorize about physical reality and what the Baha’i Writings assert.

This is a very informal and incomplete sharing of a few of my memories of my brother, how he introduced me to the Baha’i Faith, and the impact he had on studying and teaching the Baha’i Faith throughout the world.

This discourse begins to pull together some of the conclusion derived from previous discussions about the similarity between what seems to be action at a distance in the physical realm and the same influence in the spiritual realm, as well as the interplay or interpenetration between these two dimensions of reality. It is hardly a complete examination of these parallels, but perhaps does offer several useful insights.

This class reviews some of the conclusions we have thus far reached regarding how the structure of physical reality accommodates the plan of God to provide a learning space to prepare humankind for eternal life in the spiritual realm through individual and collective action.

This class discusses the enigmatic notion that we should “fear God,” even while we are assured that God loves and forgives us. In addition to trying to resolve this ostensible paradox, the class also discusses how best to respond to the guilt that might derive from our disobeying the laws of God.

This brief presentation consists primarily of readings from some of the important descriptions regarding how the crumbling of society will ultimately bring forth the Lesser Peace – as described in “The Promised Day is Come” and “The World Order of Baha’u’llah.