Thursday, December 18, 2008

"The institution" as a synonym for spiritual assembly

Some thoughts after reading Sen's "The Supreme Institution":

Sen says he first noticed people calling the House of Justice "The Supreme Institution" about 1985. That's the same time I first noticed people using "the Institution" as a synonym for "the Spiritual Assembly." I remember one person at a spiritual assembly meeting saying very sternly that is was time to start calling our spiritual assembly by its proper name, "the Institution."

Besides the fact that I see no grounds for that in any of the authoritative writings of the Faith, one of my objections is that it seems to me to undermine the other divine institutions, including the Nineteen Day Feast, the family, the Right of God and the Dawning Place.

At the time I thought it might have come from people who wanted Baha'is to be more aware of the spiritual assembly as an institution, and who sometimes said "the institution" instead of "the spiritual assembly," to emphasize that it is an institution. Also, in prolonged discussions about a spiritual assembly, it's easier to say "the institution" instead of "the spiritual assembly." Fewer syllables. I don't see anything wrong with that. The trouble comes when other people imitate it without understanding it, and turn it into a law.

I definitely would like to see that clarified in Baha'i training.

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