God Wants You To Send Him Money

So here’s some news:

Both the Baha’i community in the US and in Canada are in financial dire straits.

In a urgent letter dated 5 February 2007, the National Spiritual Assembly informed… that, in response to its great concern about the present status of the Funds, it has asked its Treasurer and other members to visit major centres across the country before Ridvan, in order to speak directly with the friends about our response to the critical requirements of the second year of the Five Year Plan and ?the pressing national and international needs of the Cause?.

And in March the NSA of the United States informed all LSAs and Baha’i registered groups that the budgetary shortfall for the year was projected to be more than 50%. The budget was for $25 million and with two months to go the contributions were $13.5 million.

Of course, this is “news” in the same way that violence in the Middle East is news.

It reminds me of a hilarious bit that George Carlin did a few years ago. He turned his acid tongue on the TV Christian evangelists and said:

“Religion has actually convinced people that there’s an invisible man living in the sky who watches everything you do, every minute of every day. And the invisible man has a special list of ten things he does not want you to do. And if you do any of these ten things, he has a special place, full of fire and smoke and burning and torture and anguish, where he will send you to live and suffer and burn and choke and scream and cry forever and ever ’til the end of time!

But He loves you. He loves you, and He needs money! He always needs money! He’s all-powerful, all-perfect, all-knowing, and all-wise, somehow just can’t handle money! Religion takes in billions of dollars, they pay no taxes, and they always need a little more.”

Alright, if I can address all the National treasurers in a huddle over here. As for the rest of you, I’ll give you another topic… The Partridge Family, neither family nor partridge, discuss.

The treasurers and I will be over here:

“ok, now listen up team. This isn’t that difficult. Money comes in. Money gets spent. Sure, we know that things aren’t going that well, what with the declining enrollments and the stagnation that has come about from the Ruhi-fication of Baha’i communities. But Come On !! This is not rocket surgery boys and girls!

As I said, money comes in. Money gets spent. As treasurer you have one job and one job only: make sure no more gets spent than comes in. Got that? Think you can handle that?

Alright, Richard, hit the lights, we have a special video presentation. Now this is advanced stuff, so you’ll have to pay real close attention. I know math isn’t most of your strong suits but if you concentrate, I have no doubt that you’ll get the complicated ideas in this video. Remember, you will be quizzed on this later.”

[lights turn down as the screen comes on...]

  • http://bahaisonline.net Steve Marshall

    The George Carlin clip about religion is available on YouTube.

  • http://bahaisonline.net Steve Marshall

    The George Carlin clip about religion is available on YouTube.

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

    Excellent blog entry and great Carlin clip.

    But I wonder if the stagnation of the faith is a result of poor leadership and Ruhi or is it a result of the inherent nature of Bahai? IOW is Bahai a religion that most thoughtful people will find attractive today?

    I think not. I think that Bahai is steeped in the traditions that include ‘fear of God’, divine retribution — ‘We have fixed a time for you Oh people’ — and what amounts to modern day fire and brimstone. If a calamity is about to happen most people will want to help not wait for it as a gift from God. The people who enjoy this way of thinking already have their home waiting for the Rapture or equivalent.

    It seems to me that Bahaullah’s understanding of human nature is focused not on an appeal to reason and enlightened self interest (altho there is some of that) as much as reward and punishment.

    He wants us to turn to God which in Bahai means him.

    Today people are interested in spiritual development but they generally want help with self discovery and development. The idea that the path to God is an inner one is catching on. People I meet seem to turn a deaf ear to heavy handed celestial thunder of the kind that is found in Bahai. The notion that whatever the Manifestation says must be true — “If He says wine is water you must not question it” or words to that effect by Abdul Baha — is not well received by most people interested in religion or spirituality today in my experience.

    That said — I know there are beautiful, spiritual passages and teachings in the Bahai writing but the emphasis in what is being taught seems to be on fear, coercion and power. Ruhi is a great example of this. It is no different than the Catholic catechism.

    I no longer try to discuss this sort of idea with Bahai friends and relatives. They have the trump card — Bahaullah is the messenger of God for today, is infallible, so don’t use the standards of mankind to judge him or what he teaches.

    IMO this line of thinking — requiring a leap of faith just as belief in the angel Moroni or the Resurrection does — will not win many converts these days.

    Peace,
    Frank

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

    Excellent blog entry and great Carlin clip.

    But I wonder if the stagnation of the faith is a result of poor leadership and Ruhi or is it a result of the inherent nature of Bahai? IOW is Bahai a religion that most thoughtful people will find attractive today?

    I think not. I think that Bahai is steeped in the traditions that include ‘fear of God’, divine retribution — ‘We have fixed a time for you Oh people’ — and what amounts to modern day fire and brimstone. If a calamity is about to happen most people will want to help not wait for it as a gift from God. The people who enjoy this way of thinking already have their home waiting for the Rapture or equivalent.

    It seems to me that Bahaullah’s understanding of human nature is focused not on an appeal to reason and enlightened self interest (altho there is some of that) as much as reward and punishment.

    He wants us to turn to God which in Bahai means him.

    Today people are interested in spiritual development but they generally want help with self discovery and development. The idea that the path to God is an inner one is catching on. People I meet seem to turn a deaf ear to heavy handed celestial thunder of the kind that is found in Bahai. The notion that whatever the Manifestation says must be true — “If He says wine is water you must not question it” or words to that effect by Abdul Baha — is not well received by most people interested in religion or spirituality today in my experience.

    That said — I know there are beautiful, spiritual passages and teachings in the Bahai writing but the emphasis in what is being taught seems to be on fear, coercion and power. Ruhi is a great example of this. It is no different than the Catholic catechism.

    I no longer try to discuss this sort of idea with Bahai friends and relatives. They have the trump card — Bahaullah is the messenger of God for today, is infallible, so don’t use the standards of mankind to judge him or what he teaches.

    IMO this line of thinking — requiring a leap of faith just as belief in the angel Moroni or the Resurrection does — will not win many converts these days.

    Peace,
    Frank

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