BBC: Around the World in 80 Faiths – Baha’i Faith

Around the World in 80 Faiths is a BBC program that explores the nooks and crannies of the world for religions, spiritual traditions, exotic rituals and pilgrimage rites. Thanks to BahaisOnline.net for the tip.

The Baha’i Faith is #39 on the list. You can watch the short excerpt in the video below. The program is hosted by Peter Owen Jones, an Anglican vicar from the UK.

But as you might expect, Peter Owen Jones isn’t your typical vicar. He wears his hair dishevelled, sports cowboy boots, smokes, kicks back stiff drinks and has no qualms about getting mixed up with some exotic and downright strange rituals. The man is so open-minded, so curious and so ready to put himself in vulnerable situations that you can’t help but admire him.

Now, running around the world experiencing 80 different religions is a tall order and I don’t blame Jones for not being able to delve into the intricate details and histories of every one of them. But from watching the clip about the Baha’i Faith, it is obvious that he is making some very basic mistakes and misrepresenting what the Baha’i Faith is, exactly.

He says in the video:

Personally, I think one of the refreshing things about the Baha’i [sic] is that to become a Baha’i, you don’t even have to give up your existing religion.

This is, obviously, incorrect.

In the past, when the Faith was still very young, Baha’is were allowed to continue their affiliation with their previous religious institutions but gradually, we have come to recognize that as an independent religion, identifying as a Baha’i means that we leave behind previous affiliations. Shoghi Effendi was the Baha’i central figure that made this delineation. Currently there are only a few countries that are allowed exceptions to this, but for the rest of the world being a Baha’i means just that.

The Baha’i Faith comes across as one of the better or ‘best’ religions that are featured in the program. But if that is because it is characterized as a vague, all-inclusive, anything goes religion, it is misplaced. However, I do share Jones’ hope that the future is one where we are united in diversity.

I’m not sure where he got his information about the Baha’i Faith but Jones doesn’t seem to have a good grasp of things even beyond such elemental levels. For example, at the beginning he says that “the followers of the Baha’i Faith have built a garden at the shrine of their prophet, known as the Bab…” Without meaning to quibble over details, this is also incorrect. The prophet of the Baha’i Faith is Baha’u’llah. The prophet of the Babi Faith is the Bab. Perhaps Jones knows this and simply misspoke.

In a little bit, you can buy the book: Around the World in 80 Faiths. Here is the BBC website for the program.

It is wonderful to see such a program – even if it has a few errors – because it shows that we are slowly moving towards a recognition that we are all one family. Even if we may seem to have different ways of approaching spirituality, our intentions flow from the same divine inspiration. This reminds me of another project which I mentioned a while back: A Year of Faith where a group of youth decided to practice a different religion for a month (for a year). That project delved into the Faith in much more depth and resulted in some interesting perspectives:

An Introduction to the Baha’i Faith
The Kitab-i-Iqan
Theological Problems of the Baha’i Faith
The Baha’i Faith and Homosexuality

As a Baha’i, I greatly appreciate these efforts because it allows us to gain insight into what an ‘average person’ might go through when investigating the Faith.

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/SteveMarshall SteveMarshall

    Peter Owen Jones is quoted as saying:

    "Personally, I think one of the refreshing things about the Baha’i [sic] is that to become a Baha’i, you don’t even have to give up your existing religion."

    That's pretty much the impression a nice Mormon boy got, and it was not quite what he wanted to hear:

    "There were few rules, the congregation was encouraged to be themselves, attend other churches, and find what’s right for them, and search for truths everywhere. I almost got the feeling I could be Baha’i and Mormon at the same time. The few “rules” that they DID have seemed to only be suggestions. A faith that doesn’t require any sacrifices and didn’t really teach a “way to live” seems impotent, at least to me."
    Arthur Hatton, Mormon matters – Where would you go?

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/SteveMarshall SteveMarshall

    Peter Owen Jones is quoted as saying:

    "Personally, I think one of the refreshing things about the Baha’i [sic] is that to become a Baha’i, you don’t even have to give up your existing religion."

    That's pretty much the impression a nice Mormon boy got, and it was not quite what he wanted to hear:

    "There were few rules, the congregation was encouraged to be themselves, attend other churches, and find what’s right for them, and search for truths everywhere. I almost got the feeling I could be Baha’i and Mormon at the same time. The few “rules” that they DID have seemed to only be suggestions. A faith that doesn’t require any sacrifices and didn’t really teach a “way to live” seems impotent, at least to me."
    Arthur Hatton, Mormon matters – Where would you go?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Baquia Baquia

    Thanks Steve. Do you think this is the vibe that Baha'is give everywhere? Honestly, I'm surprised that someone would come away with this take but then again, I'm biased of course.
    Reminds a little of the cameo the Faith got in the Simpsons – “gentle Baha’i”

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Baquia Baquia

    Thanks Steve. Do you think this is the vibe that Baha'is give everywhere? Honestly, I'm surprised that someone would come away with this take but then again, I'm biased of course.
    Reminds a little of the cameo the Faith got in the Simpsons – “gentle Baha’i”

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/SteveMarshall SteveMarshall

    I love the link to Billy Graham’s Bible Blaster – that's just the kind of Baha'i-related popular culture reference some of my readers love.

    The problem with explaining Baha'i is, well, where do you start?

    1844 – lame
    The laws – big turn-off
    Peace, World Unity – too nebulous

    With Anna's Presentation? No. Even the Mormons gave up flip-charts several decades ago.

    My usual gambit is, "It's a religion, but don't let that put you off."

    Fortunately, people seldom ask me to explain the whole of Baha'i. It's more likely to be, "Do you Baha'is eat meat?" or "Is it from India?" Then all you have to do is answer the question and not pretend to give the whole picture.

    I'm guessing Peter and Arthur got told stuff their Baha'i contacts thought they'd initially relate to, but they didn't stick around for the home visits, study circles and musical firesides where the rules and the administration might eventually have been introduced.

    Baha'is have a veneer of liberality but beneath there's a lot of black and white thinking and strict boundaries on behaviour and expression. Peter Khan is a master at expressing this. Check out any of his speeches.

    Folks who have a casual aquaintance with Baha'is are going to see and experience them as liberal. Those who have a deeper association are probably going to notice the conservative aspects. And, with the Ruhi culture change, peoples' first impressions are increasingly going to be of a conservative faith. Maybe that's a good thing.

    Perhaps we can chalk the results from Peter and Arthur up to a failure of the institute process to bring about the required culture change in the community?

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/SteveMarshall SteveMarshall

    I love the link to Billy Graham’s Bible Blaster – that's just the kind of Baha'i-related popular culture reference some of my readers love.

    The problem with explaining Baha'i is, well, where do you start?

    1844 – lame
    The laws – big turn-off
    Peace, World Unity – too nebulous

    With Anna's Presentation? No. Even the Mormons gave up flip-charts several decades ago.

    My usual gambit is, "It's a religion, but don't let that put you off."

    Fortunately, people seldom ask me to explain the whole of Baha'i. It's more likely to be, "Do you Baha'is eat meat?" or "Is it from India?" Then all you have to do is answer the question and not pretend to give the whole picture.

    I'm guessing Peter and Arthur got told stuff their Baha'i contacts thought they'd initially relate to, but they didn't stick around for the home visits, study circles and musical firesides where the rules and the administration might eventually have been introduced.

    Baha'is have a veneer of liberality but beneath there's a lot of black and white thinking and strict boundaries on behaviour and expression. Peter Khan is a master at expressing this. Check out any of his speeches.

    Folks who have a casual aquaintance with Baha'is are going to see and experience them as liberal. Those who have a deeper association are probably going to notice the conservative aspects. And, with the Ruhi culture change, peoples' first impressions are increasingly going to be of a conservative faith. Maybe that's a good thing.

    Perhaps we can chalk the results from Peter and Arthur up to a failure of the institute process to bring about the required culture change in the community?

  • Frank Winters

    The video seems to have ben removed…….

  • Frank Winters

    The video seems to have ben removed…….

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/SteveMarshall SteveMarshall

    It's back up here

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/SteveMarshall SteveMarshall

    It's back up here

  • David

    I'm not surprised at all that someone would come away with that Mormon's take on the Faith. I think most people's introduction to the Faith is usually short and brief. And Bahai's usually want to look good to others. So people usually get things like what Rainn Wilson says on interviews: "We want world peace and for everyone to love each other." There might be something about Iran or "Persia" thrown in there too. I can understand how non-Bahai's may get confused recalling details of what they were told, since they probably had never heard anything about the religion before. I do have to wonder how Peter Jones came away so misinformed though. I'm sure he met with high-level reps in Haifa and was seemingly at a Holy Day celebration at Bahji. I sure hope someone gave him the right info and he just bungled it.

  • David

    I'm not surprised at all that someone would come away with that Mormon's take on the Faith. I think most people's introduction to the Faith is usually short and brief. And Bahai's usually want to look good to others. So people usually get things like what Rainn Wilson says on interviews: "We want world peace and for everyone to love each other." There might be something about Iran or "Persia" thrown in there too. I can understand how non-Bahai's may get confused recalling details of what they were told, since they probably had never heard anything about the religion before. I do have to wonder how Peter Jones came away so misinformed though. I'm sure he met with high-level reps in Haifa and was seemingly at a Holy Day celebration at Bahji. I sure hope someone gave him the right info and he just bungled it.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Baquia Baquia

    Thanks Frank and Steve – fixed.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Baquia Baquia

    Thanks Frank and Steve – fixed.

  • farhan

    Steve wrote:

    "Baha'is have a veneer of liberality but beneath there's a lot of black and white thinking and strict boundaries on behaviour and expression."

    Steve, I think you are right in opposing the superficial and the profound manner of being a Baha’i, just like the superficial and profound manner of being a musician. If you are a poor lonesome cow-boy playing the mouth-organ on you horse in the Far-West, you are free; if you want to play in the philharmonic orchestra, there is a lot of rigid learning and discipline involved.

    I am just back from the conference in Frankfurt. They were expecting 2000 participants and got 4700; they managed it beautifully, not just because the Germans are good organizers, but because even the French and Iranians have now acquired discipline and civic talents, thanks to the Institute. 5 rooms were reserved for participants with infants with video projectors. 1à minutes before each session everyone was seated, and the doors closed for prayers at the exact opening of the conference. The German organizers were astounded by the loving care and attention between all these crowds moving from conference halls to workshops without the least incident.

    Freedom in enterprise and service projects at home, self discipline in collective enterprises whenever needed.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    Steve wrote:

    "Baha'is have a veneer of liberality but beneath there's a lot of black and white thinking and strict boundaries on behaviour and expression."

    Steve, I think you are right in opposing the superficial and the profound manner of being a Baha’i, just like the superficial and profound manner of being a musician. If you are a poor lonesome cow-boy playing the mouth-organ on you horse in the Far-West, you are free; if you want to play in the philharmonic orchestra, there is a lot of rigid learning and discipline involved.

    I am just back from the conference in Frankfurt. They were expecting 2000 participants and got 4700; they managed it beautifully, not just because the Germans are good organizers, but because even the French and Iranians have now acquired discipline and civic talents, thanks to the Institute. 5 rooms were reserved for participants with infants with video projectors. 1à minutes before each session everyone was seated, and the doors closed for prayers at the exact opening of the conference. The German organizers were astounded by the loving care and attention between all these crowds moving from conference halls to workshops without the least incident.

    Freedom in enterprise and service projects at home, self discipline in collective enterprises whenever needed.

  • pey

    "that implies equal rights" He says in the video?? hardly :)

  • pey

    "that implies equal rights" He says in the video?? hardly :)

  • Kate

    Farhan wrote "…even the French and Iranians have now acquired discipline and civic talents, thanks to the Institute…"

    These words made me want to throw up.

  • Kate

    Farhan wrote "…even the French and Iranians have now acquired discipline and civic talents, thanks to the Institute…"

    These words made me want to throw up.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/SteveMarshall SteveMarshall

    Now, now, Kate. Discipline yourself… :-)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/SteveMarshall SteveMarshall

    Now, now, Kate. Discipline yourself… :-)

  • Craig Parke

    Farhan wrote:

    "They were expecting 2000 participants and got 4700; they managed it beautifully, not just because the Germans are good organizers, but because even the French and Iranians have now acquired discipline and civic talents, thanks to the Institute."

    Sorry Farhan. It was because Germans are damn good organizers! Why can I say this in full confidence that this is the reality. Because I don't think the "Institute process" did much to help the nation of Columbia. It all started THERE over 25 years ago and Columbia is STILL a miserable catastrophic failed narco state. Your statement is pure magical thinking. And people in the Baha'i AO that traffic in pure magical thinking have done great harm to mankind for destroying the true bottom up potential of the Faith and will consequently go before Great Tribunals in the next world in spiritual karmic retribution for this fatal disaster.

    I do understand, though, that if I sleep with a page from a Ruhi Book in my pajama bottoms certain parts of my anatomy will automatically increase in size and that seems to be an extra plus these days. Yes. That's the ticket. Sure. If we are going to indulge in magical thinking let's go with something really useful than to believe Iranians and Frenchman can now suddenly organize things as good as Germans because they took the Ruhi Institute Full Sequence of Courses.

  • Craig Parke

    Farhan wrote:

    "They were expecting 2000 participants and got 4700; they managed it beautifully, not just because the Germans are good organizers, but because even the French and Iranians have now acquired discipline and civic talents, thanks to the Institute."

    Sorry Farhan. It was because Germans are damn good organizers! Why can I say this in full confidence that this is the reality. Because I don't think the "Institute process" did much to help the nation of Columbia. It all started THERE over 25 years ago and Columbia is STILL a miserable catastrophic failed narco state. Your statement is pure magical thinking. And people in the Baha'i AO that traffic in pure magical thinking have done great harm to mankind for destroying the true bottom up potential of the Faith and will consequently go before Great Tribunals in the next world in spiritual karmic retribution for this fatal disaster.

    I do understand, though, that if I sleep with a page from a Ruhi Book in my pajama bottoms certain parts of my anatomy will automatically increase in size and that seems to be an extra plus these days. Yes. That's the ticket. Sure. If we are going to indulge in magical thinking let's go with something really useful than to believe Iranians and Frenchman can now suddenly organize things as good as Germans because they took the Ruhi Institute Full Sequence of Courses.

  • Craig Parke

    Farhan wrote:

    "The German organizers were astounded by the loving care and attention between all these crowds moving from conference halls to workshops without the least incident."

    They should have been here in the U.S. when over 2 million people crowded together to witness President Obama's Inauguration three weeks ago and treated each other beautifully in extreme cold for over eight hours.

    Some of these were the people trapped in the Purple Gate tunnel. It could have been a very dangerous situation. But they looked out for each other. They did not need the top down Ruhi Books. All they needed was Bill Withers famous bottom up 1972 song from Slab Fork, West Virginia "Lean On Me". It's cultural intelligence and heart Farhan. It comes from within. It was here before the Baha'is and it will be here after them.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhA7s63_vts

    I like this version:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KhuDJgpKkoE

    People know about friendship from intelligence and heart in life and people know how to wipe their own a** themselves without some body having to make them take a course in either thing.

  • Craig Parke

    Farhan wrote:

    "The German organizers were astounded by the loving care and attention between all these crowds moving from conference halls to workshops without the least incident."

    They should have been here in the U.S. when over 2 million people crowded together to witness President Obama's Inauguration three weeks ago and treated each other beautifully in extreme cold for over eight hours.

    Some of these were the people trapped in the Purple Gate tunnel. It could have been a very dangerous situation. But they looked out for each other. They did not need the top down Ruhi Books. All they needed was Bill Withers famous bottom up 1972 song from Slab Fork, West Virginia "Lean On Me". It's cultural intelligence and heart Farhan. It comes from within. It was here before the Baha'is and it will be here after them.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZhA7s63_vts

    I like this version:

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KhuDJgpKkoE

    People know about friendship from intelligence and heart in life and people know how to wipe their own a** themselves without some body having to make them take a course in either thing.

  • Craig Parke

    Even better, here is Bill Withers himself back in 1972. Pretty good for "a poor lonesome cow-boy playing the mouth-organ on you horse in the Far-West". Helped several thousand people in a tunnel 37 years later.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Wpof8s5ZTg

  • Craig Parke

    Even better, here is Bill Withers himself back in 1972. Pretty good for "a poor lonesome cow-boy playing the mouth-organ on you horse in the Far-West". Helped several thousand people in a tunnel 37 years later.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2Wpof8s5ZTg

  • farhan

    Craig wrote :
    “Sorry Farhan. It was because Germans are damn good organizers! Why can I say this in full confidence that this is the reality.”

    Dear Craig, I am conveying to you my first hand experience; you are free to believe or to reject. You have served the Faith for decades; you should attend such meetings and you can be proud of the foundations you have laid.

    The Faith is now moving individual tutorship to mass number school teaching… from kitchen gardens to industrial farming, from fishing lines to industrial fishing… much less fun, I agree, but much more efficient in addressing the primary needs of the hungering masses. Those who survive will then move on to their personal research work.
    I have just done book 3, which was missing, in my sequences. I did not believe that I had the patience to stoop down to teaching toddlers of 5 to 7. After these 4 days of training, I know that if it was needed, I could cope with half a dozen kids for 2 to 3 hours a week. Nothing magical about this, only the realisation on my part that I also have to do things that are needed, and not only what I fancy most.

    I am moving from the status of a consumer Baha’i to that a serving Baha’i. The institute is most certainly not for me, but for the thousands that will need my help and services. I can well understand that this is not the aim of life for every one. We need more people eating food, than cooks preparing for them.

    Craig wrote: “If we are going to indulge in magical thinking let's go with something really useful than to believe Iranians and Frenchman can now suddenly organize things as good as Germans because they took the Ruhi Institute Full Sequence of Courses.”
    Dear Craig, this was neither sudden, nor magical; in a short decade, since 1996, human resources have been continually multiplying: dozens in the Bahá’í community have acquired new talents and competences. This makes the difference. Nothing magical, but a change in culture; from consumer Baha’is, we are moving to acting Baha’is, acting in line, in time and in tune with the needs of each community. This must be how Christ multiplied the bread and the fish. This is the very concept of leaven with which we are to leaven the lump. A self-replicating process.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    Craig wrote :
    “Sorry Farhan. It was because Germans are damn good organizers! Why can I say this in full confidence that this is the reality.”

    Dear Craig, I am conveying to you my first hand experience; you are free to believe or to reject. You have served the Faith for decades; you should attend such meetings and you can be proud of the foundations you have laid.

    The Faith is now moving individual tutorship to mass number school teaching… from kitchen gardens to industrial farming, from fishing lines to industrial fishing… much less fun, I agree, but much more efficient in addressing the primary needs of the hungering masses. Those who survive will then move on to their personal research work.
    I have just done book 3, which was missing, in my sequences. I did not believe that I had the patience to stoop down to teaching toddlers of 5 to 7. After these 4 days of training, I know that if it was needed, I could cope with half a dozen kids for 2 to 3 hours a week. Nothing magical about this, only the realisation on my part that I also have to do things that are needed, and not only what I fancy most.

    I am moving from the status of a consumer Baha’i to that a serving Baha’i. The institute is most certainly not for me, but for the thousands that will need my help and services. I can well understand that this is not the aim of life for every one. We need more people eating food, than cooks preparing for them.

    Craig wrote: “If we are going to indulge in magical thinking let's go with something really useful than to believe Iranians and Frenchman can now suddenly organize things as good as Germans because they took the Ruhi Institute Full Sequence of Courses.”
    Dear Craig, this was neither sudden, nor magical; in a short decade, since 1996, human resources have been continually multiplying: dozens in the Bahá’í community have acquired new talents and competences. This makes the difference. Nothing magical, but a change in culture; from consumer Baha’is, we are moving to acting Baha’is, acting in line, in time and in tune with the needs of each community. This must be how Christ multiplied the bread and the fish. This is the very concept of leaven with which we are to leaven the lump. A self-replicating process.

  • farhan

    Thanks for the link, Craig. I enjoyed the song, and I have just ordered Seals and Crofts, but i am so happy that philharmonic orchestras also exist and I would not be offended if some people moved from small musical groups to great orchestras, and if instead of giving a one-man show on a scene, getting a standing ovation, the artists came down into the audience to help others learn how to play a musical instrument themselves. Won't sound as good to the consumers to start with, but in time we will have dozens of musicians coming up.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    Thanks for the link, Craig. I enjoyed the song, and I have just ordered Seals and Crofts, but i am so happy that philharmonic orchestras also exist and I would not be offended if some people moved from small musical groups to great orchestras, and if instead of giving a one-man show on a scene, getting a standing ovation, the artists came down into the audience to help others learn how to play a musical instrument themselves. Won't sound as good to the consumers to start with, but in time we will have dozens of musicians coming up.

  • Matt

    I think it depends on what he was reading. If he read "Paris Talks", "Abdul Baha in London", or "Promulgation of Universal Peace", it could be easy to gather that one could be a Baha'i and a member of another religion at the same time. And why is that such a radical idea that Shoghi Effendi had to put an end to it?

    Although those books are not regarded as "authoritative", I don't think a beginner would know that right away.

  • Matt

    I think it depends on what he was reading. If he read "Paris Talks", "Abdul Baha in London", or "Promulgation of Universal Peace", it could be easy to gather that one could be a Baha'i and a member of another religion at the same time. And why is that such a radical idea that Shoghi Effendi had to put an end to it?

    Although those books are not regarded as "authoritative", I don't think a beginner would know that right away.

  • Craig Parke

    Farhan,

    It is top down micro-managed completely centrally planned spiritual communism looking for easily found marks in society. It is predatory which is a form of violence to other people. It did not work in the forced collectivization of the material world in the Soviet Union or North Korea and it will not work in the forced collectivization of the spiritual world. It is just the same old, same old top down control mentality under a different mask.

    It is the completely free and open Spirit of Almighty God in the completely free and open Powers of the World Age in completely free and open human hearts that spiritually tutors mature human beings in daily life. Not automatons who are living life at a first form level of consciousness.

    instead of thinking about 4,000 plus hapless Ruhi hacks showing up for a Spiritual Amway Sales Rally or Time Share Rental Sales Rally conference, try thinking about the 4,000 American soldiers killed in Iraq and their grieving families and the 40,000 wounded (10,000 severely – no arms, no legs, blind for life) because the Baha'is of the world and their lifetime incumbent incompetent leadership have completely and utterly failed all mankind through endless repeated innumerable wars and economic great depressions over and over. Why? Because the Baha'is don't actually do anything to help with the real problems of the world. Ever. And they never will. Never.

    It is a hapless zero sum game world wide electorate of talentless cowards who have elected talentless cowards to lead themselves for 88 years and counting. I wish to God that it were otherwise because the world could use a Baha'i Faith of planetary activists who can actually do something useful other then prey upon other people for the selfish psychological needs of the lifetime incumbent idiots at the top.

    Nothing is ever going to change that because the rank and file are completely passive sheep. These books and the so called "skills" they develop will die on the vine. Why? because they are against what Baha'u'llah taught! They are man made Unicorn hunts. They are arts and crafts make work projects by high school tecahers who could not hold a job where you actually have to create something.

    Already there are letters about figuring out how to keep the people that are signed up while going door to door in the Faith past a year.

    Meanwhile there are millions of spiritual seekers all over the Internet globally every day around the clock at thousands and thousands of spiritual inquiry sites. But the BAO does not want people like that coming into the Faith because they might be able to think for themselves and therefore cannot be controlled. That is a nightmare for the current people at the top. That causes them sleepless nights. Their power to create the Faith to be in the shape of their personal ideological wills will be gone forever if that ever happens. Therefore they want spiritually lobotomized Ruihiized Baha'is and a cadre of automatons to carry it out.

    Remember me in ten years because I will most likely be gone from this world. Just remember me and think "You know that guy on Baha'i Rants ten years ago was right. It is ten years later and we still have accomplished absolutely nothing to actually help the real world because we still are a religion of clueless top down group think broomstick-up-the-a** idiots just like we always have been since 1921." I'll be in another existence, but when i hear it I will dim the lights several times that I heard you.

    Could selection on ordering some Seals and Crofts though. I met them several times. They were absolutely world class. Wonderful musicians. Absolutely wonderful! They had real actualy skills in life. They could play! But people of that stand-out caliber would never be permitted in the Baha'i Faith of today. There would be a whispering campaign against them.

  • Craig Parke

    Farhan,

    It is top down micro-managed completely centrally planned spiritual communism looking for easily found marks in society. It is predatory which is a form of violence to other people. It did not work in the forced collectivization of the material world in the Soviet Union or North Korea and it will not work in the forced collectivization of the spiritual world. It is just the same old, same old top down control mentality under a different mask.

    It is the completely free and open Spirit of Almighty God in the completely free and open Powers of the World Age in completely free and open human hearts that spiritually tutors mature human beings in daily life. Not automatons who are living life at a first form level of consciousness.

    instead of thinking about 4,000 plus hapless Ruhi hacks showing up for a Spiritual Amway Sales Rally or Time Share Rental Sales Rally conference, try thinking about the 4,000 American soldiers killed in Iraq and their grieving families and the 40,000 wounded (10,000 severely – no arms, no legs, blind for life) because the Baha'is of the world and their lifetime incumbent incompetent leadership have completely and utterly failed all mankind through endless repeated innumerable wars and economic great depressions over and over. Why? Because the Baha'is don't actually do anything to help with the real problems of the world. Ever. And they never will. Never.

    It is a hapless zero sum game world wide electorate of talentless cowards who have elected talentless cowards to lead themselves for 88 years and counting. I wish to God that it were otherwise because the world could use a Baha'i Faith of planetary activists who can actually do something useful other then prey upon other people for the selfish psychological needs of the lifetime incumbent idiots at the top.

    Nothing is ever going to change that because the rank and file are completely passive sheep. These books and the so called "skills" they develop will die on the vine. Why? because they are against what Baha'u'llah taught! They are man made Unicorn hunts. They are arts and crafts make work projects by high school tecahers who could not hold a job where you actually have to create something.

    Already there are letters about figuring out how to keep the people that are signed up while going door to door in the Faith past a year.

    Meanwhile there are millions of spiritual seekers all over the Internet globally every day around the clock at thousands and thousands of spiritual inquiry sites. But the BAO does not want people like that coming into the Faith because they might be able to think for themselves and therefore cannot be controlled. That is a nightmare for the current people at the top. That causes them sleepless nights. Their power to create the Faith to be in the shape of their personal ideological wills will be gone forever if that ever happens. Therefore they want spiritually lobotomized Ruihiized Baha'is and a cadre of automatons to carry it out.

    Remember me in ten years because I will most likely be gone from this world. Just remember me and think "You know that guy on Baha'i Rants ten years ago was right. It is ten years later and we still have accomplished absolutely nothing to actually help the real world because we still are a religion of clueless top down group think broomstick-up-the-a** idiots just like we always have been since 1921." I'll be in another existence, but when i hear it I will dim the lights several times that I heard you.

    Could selection on ordering some Seals and Crofts though. I met them several times. They were absolutely world class. Wonderful musicians. Absolutely wonderful! They had real actualy skills in life. They could play! But people of that stand-out caliber would never be permitted in the Baha'i Faith of today. There would be a whispering campaign against them.

  • http://hadleyives.blogspot.com Eric Hadley-Ives

    Great post, and I've enjoyed the dialogue between Farhan and Craig. I think Farhan expresses what is best in the current Baha'i culture and Craig expresses what is worst, and I see truth in both of their viewpoints.

    The post says:
    “the followers of the Baha’i Faith have built a garden at the shrine of their prophet, known as the Bab…” Without meaning to quibble over details, this is also incorrect….

    Well, you know, I guess, that you are quibbling over details. The Gate is "our" prophet as much as any other Messenger of God. There are so few Babis these days, that, as a pragmatic matter, on a superficial level, you might as well say that Ali Muhammad Al Shirazi Bab Al Din is one of our prophets. And those gardens where he was walking around are in fact near the Shrine of the Bab, and not at Bahji, right?

    You also point out that when Peter Owen Jones says, "to become a Baha’i, you don’t even have to give up your existing religion…." he is incorrect. Well sure, you're technically correct about that in most cases, if you mean official membership or something like that. But I think if you look at conversion narratives (or at least my conversion narrative), many Baha'is do experience the Faith as a belief-and-practice system that requires very little or no rejection of their previous religion. Coming from a liberal United Methodist upbringing, the only theological aspects I had to abandon were those I had trouble believing anyway, so I did not feel I was really "leaving" liberal mainstream Protestant Christianity so much as adding Baha'i on top of my religious foundation, or recognizing that the foundation was universal in all religions, including Baha'i. Didn't someone once even do a study of conversion in India demonstrating that many new Baha'i converts just saw recognition of Baha'u'llah as adding a new avatar to the list of God's manifestations? I think then, in a practical and non-technical sense, Peter Owen Jones is probably correct. Aside from changing membership registration (a fairly meaningless thing for many of us anyway), most new Baha'is do not perceive themselves as "giving up" their previous religion.

    Hey, your blog is always fun. Sorry I don't have time to post more comments.

    – Eric

  • http://hadleyives.blogspot.com Eric Hadley-Ives

    Great post, and I've enjoyed the dialogue between Farhan and Craig. I think Farhan expresses what is best in the current Baha'i culture and Craig expresses what is worst, and I see truth in both of their viewpoints.

    The post says:
    “the followers of the Baha’i Faith have built a garden at the shrine of their prophet, known as the Bab…” Without meaning to quibble over details, this is also incorrect….

    Well, you know, I guess, that you are quibbling over details. The Gate is "our" prophet as much as any other Messenger of God. There are so few Babis these days, that, as a pragmatic matter, on a superficial level, you might as well say that Ali Muhammad Al Shirazi Bab Al Din is one of our prophets. And those gardens where he was walking around are in fact near the Shrine of the Bab, and not at Bahji, right?

    You also point out that when Peter Owen Jones says, "to become a Baha’i, you don’t even have to give up your existing religion…." he is incorrect. Well sure, you're technically correct about that in most cases, if you mean official membership or something like that. But I think if you look at conversion narratives (or at least my conversion narrative), many Baha'is do experience the Faith as a belief-and-practice system that requires very little or no rejection of their previous religion. Coming from a liberal United Methodist upbringing, the only theological aspects I had to abandon were those I had trouble believing anyway, so I did not feel I was really "leaving" liberal mainstream Protestant Christianity so much as adding Baha'i on top of my religious foundation, or recognizing that the foundation was universal in all religions, including Baha'i. Didn't someone once even do a study of conversion in India demonstrating that many new Baha'i converts just saw recognition of Baha'u'llah as adding a new avatar to the list of God's manifestations? I think then, in a practical and non-technical sense, Peter Owen Jones is probably correct. Aside from changing membership registration (a fairly meaningless thing for many of us anyway), most new Baha'is do not perceive themselves as "giving up" their previous religion.

    Hey, your blog is always fun. Sorry I don't have time to post more comments.

    – Eric

  • farhan

    I agree, Matt; in Abdu’l-Baha in London, the Master clearly says that we can belong to other churches and be Baha'is at the same time, but once again, this underlines the idea that as the community grows, its structure must change and gain complexity and what was required at the time of Abdu'l-Baha is no longer so now and Abdu’l-Baha clearly required us to abide by the rulings of the UHJ, as He announced He would have done himself, had this institution been elected during is life-time, as He had wished.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    I agree, Matt; in Abdu’l-Baha in London, the Master clearly says that we can belong to other churches and be Baha'is at the same time, but once again, this underlines the idea that as the community grows, its structure must change and gain complexity and what was required at the time of Abdu'l-Baha is no longer so now and Abdu’l-Baha clearly required us to abide by the rulings of the UHJ, as He announced He would have done himself, had this institution been elected during is life-time, as He had wished.

  • farhan

    Eric wrote: "to become a Baha’i, you don’t even have to give up your existing religion…." he is incorrect.

    Well Eric in a sense, you are right, but when we look closer, we see that the Baha'i faith accepts the essential part of all previous religions, even though a Baha'i does not apply the rituals and traditions of these religions. Even though I do not go to communion, I do consider myself as Christian as any Christian can be.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    Eric wrote: "to become a Baha’i, you don’t even have to give up your existing religion…." he is incorrect.

    Well Eric in a sense, you are right, but when we look closer, we see that the Baha'i faith accepts the essential part of all previous religions, even though a Baha'i does not apply the rituals and traditions of these religions. Even though I do not go to communion, I do consider myself as Christian as any Christian can be.

  • farhan

    Baha’is are concentrating on preparing the coming world order, starting with the spiritualization of our own neighbourhood, instead of running around and speaking up” at Don Quichotte… Time will show who was right. If you look carefully, the blue-print is actually working wonders. We are already plenty pulling down the old world order; it is good time we specialised, don’t you think? Demolishers for who wish to demolish, builders for those who wish to build.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    Baha’is are concentrating on preparing the coming world order, starting with the spiritualization of our own neighbourhood, instead of running around and speaking up” at Don Quichotte… Time will show who was right. If you look carefully, the blue-print is actually working wonders. We are already plenty pulling down the old world order; it is good time we specialised, don’t you think? Demolishers for who wish to demolish, builders for those who wish to build.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Baquia Baquia

    Thanks for sharing Eric. We could use more of your level-headedness 'round these parts.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Baquia Baquia

    Thanks for sharing Eric. We could use more of your level-headedness 'round these parts.