Confirmation: Maxwell International To Close

About three months ago I was the first to break the sad story that the Maxwell Baha’i school in Canada would be closing after 20 years of operation.

Almost immediately, a group of students, faculty, alumni, student families and well-wishers joined together to come up with ideas to save the school. They wrote a proposal that would result in the continuation of the school and sent it to the national administrative body in charge.

Unfortunately, their proposal was rejected and the decision to close Maxwell Baha’i School was reiterated and finalized by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Canada.

In their letter (see below), the NSA refers to the lack of funds as one of the primary reasons for the decision. As I mentioned in my first story, the fund is really the heart of the matter here.

The Canadian Baha’i community, as well as the US counterpart are undergoing a severe cash crunch. Donations have fallen dramatically over the years and the NSAs have been reluctant or unable to cut back. But as with the decision to close Maxwell, difficult options are being forced on them.

While this specific cutback is a tragic setback for the Baha’i community in Canada (and the world, since Maxwell had international students)… the bigger picture beckons.

Why is the fund persistently low? Are the resources of the Faith being managed as best as they can be? What, if any, is the silent message that the Baha’i community as a group may be sending the administration by reducing their donations?

maxwell-school-closes.png

[Note: bolded text is my own emphasis]

24 January 2008 / 6 Sovereignty 164

Dear Friends,

The National Spiritual Assembly warmly appreciated the proposal and supporting documents forwarded for consideration at our January 18-20 meeting. You have made extraordinary efforts to meet the National Assembly’s request for additional information related to your December 2007 proposal to continue the Maxwell International School as a Baha’i-inspired project, and have gained substantial support for the school’s continuation.

The National Assembly gave careful and detailed attention to your proposal, including financial resources available to you, recruitment strategies, governance structure and management expertise. We have concluded with regret that your submission is not sufficiently viable to allow the school to succeed in what you describe as a highly competitive international market and ensure the security of the sacrificial investment of the friends in the project. In addition, it still calls for substantial investment on the National Assembly’s part over a number of years, in the form of lost revenues. The funds of the Faith cannot be used to undertake the commitments you would require, nor could the National Assembly accept the implied moral responsibility for the success of the project.

The Assembly is not asking you to revise and resubmit the proposal, as it is not in the best interests of the school or the Faith to prolong this process. Nonetheless, our representatives would be happy to meet with you in due course to answer any questions you may have. In the meantime, should you wish to offer explanation of the National Assembly’s decision to other Maxwell supporters, we would appreciate your using this letter, in order to avoid misunderstanding and promote unity.

With warmest regards,
NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF THE BAHA’IS OF CANADA
Karen McKye, Secretary

cc: National Spiritual Assembly (9)
Board of Directors – Maxwell International School

  • Anonymous

    I honestly don’t understand why the world needs “Bah??’? schools,” anyway. Like the so-called “Bah??’? Network on AIDS, Sexuality, Addictions and Abuse,” Bah??’?s are wasting their efforts trying to reinvent the wheel. Why can’t Bah??’?s just contribute to secular efforts at improving the school system?

    Oh, wait. I know why. Because Bah??’?s (like all religious people) think that they alone have the cure for the world’s ills, that the rest of the world has gone woefully astray, and that they alone are charged with the duty of relieving humanity of its plight. What arrogance. What nonsense. If Bah??’?s had any real insights, they would be able to demonstrate the validity of their ideas in a secular language (i.e., using arguments that make sense to people who don’t adopt Bah??’? dogmas), and the world would end up adopting them. And to the extent that the Bah??’? Faith does have insights, Bah??’?s have done this and the international community has responded graciously. But in the largest part, Bah??’? are not able to do this, because their ideas of fundamentally dogmatic and largely idealistic — thereby having been put to the test by others much more capable and, by the same capable hands, buried long ago.

    Anyway, from personal experience, I recall that Maxwell was mostly a boarding school for bratty Bah??’? kids who weren’t being pious enough at home. So perhaps its foreclosure will usher in a renewed sense of parental responsibility in the Bah??’? community, in which case, this may be the start of very good thing for the Faith. But probably not.

  • http://mavaddat.livejournal.com Mavaddat

    I honestly don’t understand why the world needs “Bah??’? schools,” anyway. Like the so-called “Bah??’? Network on AIDS, Sexuality, Addictions and Abuse,” Bah??’?s are wasting their efforts trying to reinvent the wheel. Why can’t Bah??’?s just contribute to secular efforts at improving the school system?

    Oh, wait. I know why. Because Bah??’?s (like all religious people) think that they alone have the cure for the world’s ills, that the rest of the world has gone woefully astray, and that they alone are charged with the duty of relieving humanity of its plight. What arrogance. What nonsense. If Bah??’?s had any real insights, they would be able to demonstrate the validity of their ideas in a secular language (i.e., using arguments that make sense to people who don’t adopt Bah??’? dogmas), and the world would end up adopting them. And to the extent that the Bah??’? Faith does have insights, Bah??’?s have done this and the international community has responded graciously. But in the largest part, Bah??’? are not able to do this, because their ideas of fundamentally dogmatic and largely idealistic — thereby having been put to the test by others much more capable and, by the same capable hands, buried long ago.

    Anyway, from personal experience, I recall that Maxwell was mostly a boarding school for bratty Bah??’? kids who weren’t being pious enough at home. So perhaps its foreclosure will usher in a renewed sense of parental responsibility in the Bah??’? community, in which case, this may be the start of very good thing for the Faith. But probably not.

  • Pingback: Dervish » Blog Archive » Interesting developments in the world of religion

  • Andrew

    Mavaddat wrote: “Bah??’? are not able to do this, because their ideas of fundamentally dogmatic and largely idealistic.”

    Maybe you meant: “Bah??’? are not able to do this, because their ideas *are* fundamentally dogmatic and largely idealistic.” In which case I would completely agree. Your assessment is entirely accurate.

    Bah??’u’ll??h (unlike Ibn ‘Arabi or T??hirih Qurratu’l-’Ayn) legislated the marriage of mysticism and law; he also (unlike Jesus or Mohammad) encouraged the construction of costly, lavish religious edifices. The old patriarchal paradigm in new colors, but with the same design.

    ‘Abdu’l-Bah?? referred to “the inhabitants of a country like Africa” as “wandering savages (babari) and wild animals,” who were lacking in “intelligence and knowledge,” “uncivilized.” A kinder, gentler racism.

    K. Paul Johnson has noted, “To make Jesus into a lawgiver, rather than a liberator, is to distort his very essence. The Procrustean bed of prophetic legalism will fit Christ no more than it will Buddha.” As Marcus Borg writes, “As a teacher of wisdom, Jesus was not primarily a teacher of information (what to believe) or morals (how to behave), but a teacher of a way or path of transformation.”

    In the same light, T??hirih Qurratu’l-`Ayn proclaimed the shari’a wholly abrogated and spearheaded an antinomian faction within Babism, something which Bah??’u’ll??h would have unequivocally condemned.

    “Your preoccupation with namaz, fasting, and zakah, and whatever Mohammed brought is all nonsense and falsehoods. Only the ignorant and the unaware adhere to that law … Therefore I say to you and it is the truth what I say, No orders as of today, and no commandments, no prohibitions and no castigation. Emerge from the solitude to the multitude and tear off the barrier which separates you from your women. Let them share in actions and in deeds … Hoarding the riches and denying others the enjoyment and use of such riches is the origin of all sin, and wellspring of all misery. Make the poor among you equal to the rich. Do not keep your wives away from your dear ones as there is now no prohibition, commandment or restraint. Take your lot in this life, for there is nothing after death.” — T??hirih Qurratu’l-`Ayn

    These constitute two fundamentally different spiritual perspectives with distinctly different social and religious consequences; i.e., one encourages the development of a “both-and” philosophy of inclusion while the other mandates an “either-or” philosophy of exclusion. As one of my spiritual teachers was fond of saying, “choose wisely and choose well.”

  • Andrew

    Mavaddat wrote: “Bah??’? are not able to do this, because their ideas of fundamentally dogmatic and largely idealistic.”

    Maybe you meant: “Bah??’? are not able to do this, because their ideas *are* fundamentally dogmatic and largely idealistic.” In which case I would completely agree. Your assessment is entirely accurate.

    Bah??’u’ll??h (unlike Ibn ‘Arabi or T??hirih Qurratu’l-’Ayn) legislated the marriage of mysticism and law; he also (unlike Jesus or Mohammad) encouraged the construction of costly, lavish religious edifices. The old patriarchal paradigm in new colors, but with the same design.

    ‘Abdu’l-Bah?? referred to “the inhabitants of a country like Africa” as “wandering savages (babari) and wild animals,” who were lacking in “intelligence and knowledge,” “uncivilized.” A kinder, gentler racism.

    K. Paul Johnson has noted, “To make Jesus into a lawgiver, rather than a liberator, is to distort his very essence. The Procrustean bed of prophetic legalism will fit Christ no more than it will Buddha.” As Marcus Borg writes, “As a teacher of wisdom, Jesus was not primarily a teacher of information (what to believe) or morals (how to behave), but a teacher of a way or path of transformation.”

    In the same light, T??hirih Qurratu’l-`Ayn proclaimed the shari’a wholly abrogated and spearheaded an antinomian faction within Babism, something which Bah??’u’ll??h would have unequivocally condemned.

    “Your preoccupation with namaz, fasting, and zakah, and whatever Mohammed brought is all nonsense and falsehoods. Only the ignorant and the unaware adhere to that law … Therefore I say to you and it is the truth what I say, No orders as of today, and no commandments, no prohibitions and no castigation. Emerge from the solitude to the multitude and tear off the barrier which separates you from your women. Let them share in actions and in deeds … Hoarding the riches and denying others the enjoyment and use of such riches is the origin of all sin, and wellspring of all misery. Make the poor among you equal to the rich. Do not keep your wives away from your dear ones as there is now no prohibition, commandment or restraint. Take your lot in this life, for there is nothing after death.” — T??hirih Qurratu’l-`Ayn

    These constitute two fundamentally different spiritual perspectives with distinctly different social and religious consequences; i.e., one encourages the development of a “both-and” philosophy of inclusion while the other mandates an “either-or” philosophy of exclusion. As one of my spiritual teachers was fond of saying, “choose wisely and choose well.”

  • http://frankwinters.wordpress.com/ Frank Winters

    “Why is the fund persistently low? Are the resources of the Faith being managed as best as they can be? What, if any, is the silent message that the Baha’i community as a group may be sending the administration by reducing their donations?”

    Lack of leadership of the right kind is to blame here, I suspect. With no clergy leadership is up to administrators (who rarely inspire) and ad hoc members who emerge at random from time to time.

    As to spending — we have discussed the $$ spent of marble and so on. Its a putting the cart before the horse activity, I think.

    The message is “we are starting not to care.” We don’t care about world domination or world conversion or entry by troops or any other Quixotic goal . People are in need of spiritual growth and community. The new age movement, which seems to have supplanted the drug culture in some towns and villages is evidence of that.

    If the faith can figure out how to do a better job feeding the spiritual needs of people and communities maybe the fund will become healthy again. But Ruhi and entry by troops will not do it.

    Peace,
    Frank

  • http://frankwinters.wordpress.com/ Frank Winters

    “Why is the fund persistently low? Are the resources of the Faith being managed as best as they can be? What, if any, is the silent message that the Baha’i community as a group may be sending the administration by reducing their donations?”

    Lack of leadership of the right kind is to blame here, I suspect. With no clergy leadership is up to administrators (who rarely inspire) and ad hoc members who emerge at random from time to time.

    As to spending — we have discussed the $$ spent of marble and so on. Its a putting the cart before the horse activity, I think.

    The message is “we are starting not to care.” We don’t care about world domination or world conversion or entry by troops or any other Quixotic goal . People are in need of spiritual growth and community. The new age movement, which seems to have supplanted the drug culture in some towns and villages is evidence of that.

    If the faith can figure out how to do a better job feeding the spiritual needs of people and communities maybe the fund will become healthy again. But Ruhi and entry by troops will not do it.

    Peace,
    Frank

  • http://www.letters-of-the-living.blogspot.com Amanda

    What’s the source for the quotation from Tahirih? It’s interesting.

  • http://www.letters-of-the-living.blogspot.com Amanda

    What’s the source for the quotation from Tahirih? It’s interesting.

  • Mark

    Some of those posting here are wondering why the Fund levels have declined to the point where peojects like the Maxwell School must be abandoned.

    I point out here, as I have done elsewhere, that in all religious organizations, the rank and file vote with their wallets. If funds are in decline, it follows that so too are retention/attendance levels and enrolment levels. It’s because the rank and file aren’t buying the message and direction of the leadership. At its basest level, the believers simply won’t pay for something they don’t trust.

    If the leadership is paying attention and is honest, they will start to ask why enrolment is down, contributions are down, and attendance is down.

    Been to a Baha’i event lately? Where is the rapture? The awe? Gone. All gone. Buried underneath an adminstrative landslide that has turned the believers into unpaid statisticians and ciphers.

    This Faith, which had such a gentle and intuitive culture in the 70s and earlier, has become a left-brain, counter-inuitive tangle of uninspiring administrative threads.

    Woe…woe.

  • Andrew

    Ref: “Hearings from the Baha’is,” Francis Maconisikola.

  • Mark

    Some of those posting here are wondering why the Fund levels have declined to the point where peojects like the Maxwell School must be abandoned.

    I point out here, as I have done elsewhere, that in all religious organizations, the rank and file vote with their wallets. If funds are in decline, it follows that so too are retention/attendance levels and enrolment levels. It’s because the rank and file aren’t buying the message and direction of the leadership. At its basest level, the believers simply won’t pay for something they don’t trust.

    If the leadership is paying attention and is honest, they will start to ask why enrolment is down, contributions are down, and attendance is down.

    Been to a Baha’i event lately? Where is the rapture? The awe? Gone. All gone. Buried underneath an adminstrative landslide that has turned the believers into unpaid statisticians and ciphers.

    This Faith, which had such a gentle and intuitive culture in the 70s and earlier, has become a left-brain, counter-inuitive tangle of uninspiring administrative threads.

    Woe…woe.

  • Andrew

    Ref: “Hearings from the Baha’is,” Francis Maconisikola.