Love: A Dialogue by Brendan Cook

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Apparently someone decided to use a DDoS attack against it and force it to be taken down. I’m glad to report that this situation is only temporary. Very soon Steve’s excellent site will be back up and dishing out off beat Baha’i news from around the world.

Until then, I’m going to do what I can to help out.

In that regard, here is the latest from Brendan Cook. It is a dialogue on love. Enjoy:

If you want to print it out and read it at your leisure, here is the printable format.

It is a summer day in the forests of the Canadian Northwest. Geron and Huios are sitting on the front porch of a small house built in a clearing among acres of poplar and spruce. They talk and look alike and it is clear they are father and son. Geron is greyer and bent slightly with age, but still looks much as he did when he was young. Beside them is a small portable CD player, with compact disc cases – The Times they are A-Changin’, Another Side of Bob Dylan, Bringing it All Back Home – scattered around it.

Geron: (sings)
Oh the time will come up
When the winds will stop
And the breeze will cease to be breathin’.
Like the stillness in the wind
Before the hurricane begins,
The hour that the ship comes in.

Huios: Thrilling words. Funny to think they were written because Dylan was angry that someone wouldn’t give him a hotel room.

Geron: You believe that? I’ve heard the story too, but I never took it seriously. And does it matter what he was thinking? For me and my friends that song was full of meaning – mystical, spiritual – it spoke to all of us. We didn’t agree about the details, but we all had the same feeling. ?The hour that the ship comes in? was the moment something wonderful would happen, something long-awaited and glorious. And we were sure it was coming soon. It was all tied up in the spirit of the times: I don’t think you could imagine if you weren’t there yourself.

Huios: Well, I think I can be excused. It’s hard to know the ?sixties firsthand when I wasn’t born until nineteen seventy-five.

Geron: Yes, but it was an important time for anyone who lived through it. There was the war, and civil rights, and the protests on campus. And of course the music. But what I remember most was the potential, the sense of what was possible. You could really believe that a better world was on the way. We knew it wouldn’t be easy, understand. We knew that there were powerful forces at work against us: nationalism, materialism, ignorance, indifference. But we thought we could beat them if we fought long enough and hard enough, if we were willing to pay the price. Anything seemed possible if we really wanted it. It was a time when you could hear ?the times they are a-changing? and hear a prophecy.

Huios: And you don’t now?

Geron: Well, it’s been forty years, and a lot of things haven’t lived up to their promise.

Huios: Like the Baha’i Faith?

Geron: I don’t see what’s the use of talking about that. I’ve moved on. That was part of my life for a long time, but it’s over now.

Huios: Is that it? It’s over now!? I don’t get it! How do you turn your back on something that was so important, such a meaningful part of your life? You were a Baha’i for all of thirty years; you fasted, prayed, and served on Assembly; you taught the Faith and you gave to the fund; but what matters most is that you believed, believed like no one I’ve known. Maybe every son thinks that about his father, but I thought that you would never change. You were my model of belief, your faith was like granite. And now I don’t recognize you. It’s as if that part of your life never happened. The Baha’i prayers used to be your lifeblood, and now you never open a prayerbook or recite any of the prayers you learned by heart, the same prayers you taught me when I was young. The words of Baha’u’llah, and Abdu’l-Baha were once so important to you, and now you never study them: for you they never existed.

Geron: Well I’ve moved on, that’s all. I thought I knew what it meant to be a Baha’i for many years, but now it seems I didn’t. The things you discovered in Toronto, all that we found on the internet: that settled it. When I signed my card, I thought I was joining something special, something different from all the religions that say they’re right and everyone else is wrong. I thought I was joining a community that would allow perfect freedom of belief. I thought that I could read the writings for myself and no one could ever say my reading was mistaken. But it was all a show: they sold me a bill of goods. They say they’re different, but underneath they’re like everyone else. The institutions of the Faith think they can decide who is a Baha’i and who isn’t: they can tell me I’m wrong if I don’t think they’re infallible or if I say shunning has no place in modern religion. They think that they and they alone have the way and the truth and the light. They think they have everything to teach and nothing to learn from the other faiths of the world: just like the Mormons I studied with, or the Catholic priest who tried to teach me catechism when I was twelve. I entered the Baha’i Faith because I thought I was getting one thing, and I got something else instead. I was deceived, but they couldn’t keep me. Once I found out that it wasn’t free and open and different, I was gone.

Huios: But it feels strange to hear you talk like this. You have your own life, I know, but you were also an important part of mine: you were the one who raised me as a Baha’i. You were the one who taught me about religion. I remember being six years old and sitting in your lap as you would tell me about God and His Manifestations. You read me the stories of Mohammed, and Buddha, and the Bab and Baha’u’llah, and all the other Messengers. You told me about Abdu’l-Baha and how he loved me and prayed for me, and you taught me to say my first prayers so I could pray for him in return.

Geron: You remember all that?

Huios: Of course I do. And I remember all the songs you’d sing to me. Songs about the heroes of Fort Tabarsi, and Abdu’l Baha, and about being world citizens. You’d take your guitar and sing:

Glory not in this that you love your country:

Glory but in this that you love mankind.

You are the fruits of but one tree

And the leaves of but one branch.

Geron: And I loved to sing those songs to you. I loved my children very much – until you have kids of your own you’ll never guess how much. And what I wanted more than anything was to raise you as world citizens. And why not? It was because of you that I found the Faith in the first place.

Huios: Me? That’s a lot to attribute to a two-year-old.

Geron: Haven’t I ever told you the story of what happened when you were born?

Huios: I think you have – a few times, actually. But go ahead. Let’s hear it once more.

Geron: Have I really told it so often? I don’t think so. And I never told it all the way through. But anyway, you’ve heard how I was interested in religion when I was younger – that’s why I attended catechism – but my interest trailed off as I got older. I had a lot going on in my life that didn’t give me much reason to believe in God. Going up to Canada to escape the draft, leaving school, thinking I might never come to back to the States to see my family: I was pretty bitter at the world and how it worked. And all the religions I’d looked at as a teenager, they really seemed the same to me. They would all say that they had the answers to any questions worth asking, and that everyone else was lost and misguided, or better yet on the straight road to Hell. My grandmother said prayers with me every night when I was little, but I knew that she loved me more than anything, and there was no love in any of these churches. So I stopped searching for religion for a while. And that’s where you entered the story.

Huios: Well, I can’t say it was intentional. Being born wasn’t something I gave much thought.

Geron: Wait until you’re a father and then you’ll see. Having children changes you, changes you could never expect. We’d been married quite a few years before we had you, your mother and I, and I don’t think I’d have wanted kids even then if she hadn’t pushed me.

Huios: I think I heard her tell me that. She basically insisted it was time to start a family.

Geron: That’s true. But it was a different matter when I saw you and held you for the first time. Then everything was different. You were so tiny that I could hold you in the crook of my arm: I can remember how you smelled and how you felt and how you looked up at me with a look of perfect trust.

Huios: You must have imagined that part. Babies that young can’t focus their eyes on anything. I probably wasn’t looking up at you so much as staring blankly.

Geron: Imagine it or not, that was what I felt. And with that feeling came an incredible rush of love, love like I never remembered feeling before in my life. I felt so much love towards the little baby in my arms it was almost intoxicating. The love seemed so strong that I tried to make sense of it, tried to understand where it was coming from. At first I thought it was coming from me, that the love rose up from somewhere deep inside. But then, all at once, I knew that this wasn’t true. The love wasn’t coming from me, but through me. I seemed to be standing in a tunnel of light, surrounded by light and suffused by it until it was shining through me like the sun through a clear glass.

Huios: That sounds like an analogy Abdu’l-Baha might have used.

Geron: And that could be why I responded to the Baha’i writings. But that came after. All I knew then was that the love I felt flowing through me and bathing my newborn son didn’t belong to me: I was only the vessel. And that changed how I saw the world within minutes. I knew, knew because I had experienced it, not read or been told, that the world of creation was alive with a love that was everywhere and shone through everyone and everything. That was when I decided to renew my religious journey. The love was so real that I knew I had to search and find and acknowledge the source.

Huios: And you thought that someone might be able to lead you closer to this source? An organized religion?

Geron: I’d had my doubts about religion before, but then I’d had my doubts about God, too. After you were born I gave everything a second look.

Huios: But you didn’t become a Baha’i at once, or at least that’s what I remember.

Geron: I didn’t know about the Baha’is. First I had to work my way through the other religions.

Huios: And the Mormons?

Geron: I looked at them, but I saw how they operate. They were friendly and helpful, and they welcomed me into their homes. But it still felt like I was a number, a potential Mormon and not a person. And they proved it, too. When I wouldn’t join, they lost interest in me.

Huios: And the Baha’is felt different?

Geron: It’s not hard to tell a person who really cares about you from someone who just wants to convert you. The Baha’is really cared. But I’m getting ahead of myself. The point is that it didn’t take me long to realize that this was something special.

Huios: How fast did you know you’d found what you were searching for?

Geron: I’d been looking for years, but when I found it I knew it at once. You might say I knew in the time it takes to open a prayer book. And maybe it’s better not to say that I found it but that I recognized it. The first time I was among Baha’is, I recognized the love I’d felt when you were born. And when I read my first Baha’i prayers they weren’t strange, they were familiar. The words were new, but what lay behind the words, the thing that turned them from words to prayers, this had been with me my whole life. At certain times I’d felt it more than at others, but it was always there. I felt it so deeply in the prayers that I spent all of my free time reading and reciting and learning them. It wasn’t as much discovering something new as rediscovering something familiar: I was seeing something I’d seen before, but seeing it clearly now instead of at a distance.

Huios: It sounds like you really loved the prayers.

Geron: I did. No one forced a prayerbook on me, but when she saw that I was interested, the woman who owned it, she gave it to me. And I stayed up all night reading that prayerbook. I’d start at the beginning and when I reached the end, I’d start over again.

Huios: That’s love, true love some might say. But this just brings me back to my question. If the prayers affected you this way, how can you set them aside so completely? I understand your disappointment with the Faith, because I share it. But I don’t understand why you let that disappointment embitter you.

Geron: Bitter? I don’t think I’m bitter, not at all.

Huios: How else when you cut yourself off from the past? What can it mean but that you’re bitter? If you only said a prayer or read a passage from the writings, if you only showed that these things still mattered to you, it wouldn’t seem this way. You said that the love you felt from the Baha’i community was real, that the love you read in the prayers was real. But when you turn your back on both, you’re saying it wasn’t real after all.

Geron: But what about all of the problems of the community? In the administration? You know all that’s gone wrong. Do you think I should have accepted these things?

Huios: Of course not. You should know how I feel after all I’ve written and told you. I agree there are problems. I agree that I could never shun someone, that no person or institution can be ?freed from error? in the sense of never being mistaken. And I know that the Baha’i Faith can’t save the world alone. But none of this matters here.

Geron: It doesn’t?

Huios: No. It’s all true and important in its place, but the fact remains that the love you found in the Baha’i community and in the Baha’i prayers was real. And it’s not just that it was real, it’s that it wasn’t an aberration or an accident. The love that felt so genuine to you springs directly from Baha’u’llah’s revelation, it’s the essence of everything that He wrote, everything that others wrote after Him. In a sense, you can say that whole Baha’i message is nothing but love, no more and no less. That’s what I hear Abdu’l Baha telling me.

    Love is the real magnet which attracts the hearts and souls of men, and consequently the purpose of the manifestations of God is to radiate the light of love from their hearts. That is why Jesus said, ?I am Love.? Thus it becomes known that the highest human station, the chief virtue, the cause of the greatest progress and prosperity which humanity can attain, and the divine perfection of the human race is love, which is the greatest favor of the Majestic One… All the Divine manifestations and prophets taught this truth, and the purpose of all of them was love.

Geron: I know those words, but I’m glad you mentioned them. I hadn’t thought about them for a long time. But I still don’t see what you’re trying to say. What does it matter if Abdu’l Baha said that, if this is what’s become of the religion he helped establish? What’s the use of all those fine words if Baha’is shun Covenant-breakers or if they can’t accept committed homosexual relationships? He can say all these noble things, but it doesn’t change that he set up an authoritarian religious structure, a pyramid of power with infallible leaders at the top. Abdu’l Baha talks about love, but the leaders of the Faith today are as fundamentalist as any in the world. Why does it matter what these ?Central Figures’ said?

Huios: Because it was how you taught me the most important lesson of my life. It was how you introduced me to the religion of love, how you discovered it yourself. It’s how we both learned to believe in religion without tolerating the abuses of religion, to reconcile reason with faith, to view every problem in terms of the common family of humanity. Words like those instructed us both.

Geron: But aren’t there any number of other religions that teach the same thing? I could have taught you the same if I’d raised you as a Christian or a Muslim. You could have learned about God’s love outside of any formal religious tradition.

Huios: Maybe. And maybe I could have known the same love I felt as a child from some other father. But I didn’t. You were my father, you and my mother were the ones who taught me what love was. It might have been someone else, but it was you. And it’s the same with Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l Baha. They weren’t the first to teach the religion of love, and they’re not the last, but the fact remains that they were the ones who taught you and, through you, who taught me. It was through Abdu’l Baha that I first read that love is ?the living link that unites God with man,? and ?the most great law that rules this mighty and heavenly cycle,? and ?the supreme magnetic force that directs the movement of the spheres in the celestial realms.?

Geron: All beautiful words: but look how it ends! When I became a Baha’i, I thought that the promise I’d felt in the sixties would be realized. We were going to unite the human race and make one family of the whole world. I thought that I would see the first signs in my lifetime, and that in yours or in your children’s it might be achieved. But it’s not going to happen. Love doesn’t stand a chance against ?do as we say’, inside the faith or in the larger world. Or do you think that it will end differently? Do you think the Baha’i Faith has any real chance of uniting the world?

Huios: You’ve heard me say it. The Baha’i Faith can never save the world alone. They’ve shut out too many people for that. If they want to help the world, Baha’is have only two choices. Either become truly open and find room for everyone who loves the prayers and the writings, or accept that they’ll always be a small religion, a minority in every country. But even if Baha’is won’t allow the Faith to be truly universal, they can still do a lot of good. They’ll just have to learn to work with others who share their goals even when they don’t share their beliefs.

Geron: Maybe the House should invite you to help: even if they don’t think you have Baha’i beliefs, they should know you believe in world unity.

Huios: I doubt that will ever happen. I don’t think I’m well liked in Haifa.

Geron: You’re probably right. And then what’s the difference between you and me? In the end you’ve given up on the Baha’i Faith too!

Huios: What’s different is that I haven’t given up on the promise of the Baha’i Faith – the promise you raised me with. And that’s a promise much bigger than any single teacher or movement. I’m talking about a promise that’s universal.

Geron: Universal? The only thing I see that’s universal is disappointment! People hoping for something that never comes! And it’ll only be worse by the time you’re my age. People are already noticing that Ruhi isn’t getting results, that all these ?A Clusters’ and ?cycles of intensive growth’ are leading nowhere. The American NSA says it in their report, the one the House ?corrected’ afterwards, the one they buried so deep you can only find it on a few websites now. People are beginning to see that something’s going wrong. Just think what they’ll say when nothing’s happened after thirty years!

Huios: I agree. At some point everyone’s going to have their doubts. And when you talk about universal disappointment, you’re actually very close to what I mean. I’m starting to believe that hope, and to some extent the failure of hope, is what defines the human condition.

Geron: I suppose that makes sense. If you look at history, there’s plenty of disappointment to go around.

Huios: Yes. And your generation was hardly to first to feel it. You weren’t the first to believe that the world was about to change forever and then feel cheated when it didn’t happen. When your father and grandfather were young, the socialists and the radicals and the men and women of the labor movement thought they were the generation that would change the world. They sang the International, and believed in the promise that ?a better world’s in birth? in the same way that you believed that ?the times, they are a-changing.? Before that it was the French Revolution, the Declaration of the Rights of Man and the Citizen. Wordsworth might have been speaking for idealistic youth in your day, mine, or any other when he wrote: ?bliss it was in that dawn to be alive, but to be young was very heaven.” And long before that, the first disciples of Jesus were sure that He would return in their lifetime and establish the Kingdom of God on Earth. You came of age hearing Dylan sing that ?the first one now will later be last,? but the idea’s much older. It stretches back long before the birth of Christianity. I’m sure it’s as old as humanity, or at least as civilization.

Geron: I suppose that there’s some consolation in knowing I’m not the first one to be duped. It’s at least a small comfort to think that others have been deceived before me.

Huios: But were they only deceived? Simply because nothing lives up to the expectations people set, does that mean all’s lost, that there’s no value in the dream? I think the reason you’re so bitter – and believe me that you are bitter – I think you’re bitter because you’ve placed your hope entirely in the future, in this case on the World Order of Baha’u’llah that it was supposed to bring. When you lost faith in that, you lost faith in everything else too.

Geron: And how else could it be? It’s what we all set our hopes on, even you. I know what you believed back in your teens. You hoped and waited and looked for signs with the rest of us. And now you know that it isn’t going to come, or if it did, it wouldn’t be anything like what we dreamed. In a way I’m glad the Baha’i Faith will never become the religion of the world. I wouldn’t want it to, not if it’s going to be religion of people who exclude and shun and control and follow leaders without thinking.

Huios: I agree. I wouldn’t want a World Order like that either. But even apart from that, even if the future had been what we thought it was, I think we set too much hope on it. It’s important to have goals, to know the direction we want to carry the world. But did we take it too far? I’m starting to think that this is the great mistake of all millennial movements, all these people who’ve dreamed of a new heaven and a new earth. They let their vision of the future push everything else aside. If you look too hard after what’s to come, you can lose sight of the present.

Geron: And are you saying Baha’is shouldn’t look towards the future? Good luck with that! You know enough to realize no Baha’i could ever accept it. Or can’t you guess how you’ll shock believers if you say you’re not concerned with the World Order to be established in the coming centuries? And you think you have trouble convincing them you’re a Baha’i now!

Huios: I can foresee their reaction well enough. But it won’t be the first time people have been shocked like this. I’ve got plenty of examples to follow. Take Eduard Bernstein…

Geron: Who?

Huios: Eduard Bernstein was the German socialist leader at the turn of the last century, the one Lenin attacked for ?corrupting’ the original teachings of Marx. Bernstein outraged everyone in his religion too – socialism is really a religion if you think about it. He wrote that the future society that European Marxists believed was coming wasn’t important, he wrote that ?the final aim of socialism means nothing to me.?

Geron: That could never be popular. Socialism is all about the future. It’s based on the theory that we’re entering a new stage of history. It’s all about uniting the human race: that’s what every socialist expects.

Huios: In that sense it’s a little like the Baha’i vision, isn’t it? And that’s why I admire Bernstein’s courage in saying what he did. He wasn’t afraid to declare that the thing everything else thought was essential didn’t matter at all. He didn’t care about the theoretical problem-free world to come, but about what men and women could do for each other in the imperfect here and now. ?The movement means everything for me,? Bernstein writes. He says that helping the human race today is better than worrying about an order that will only bear fruit, if it ever bears fruit, long after we’re dead. When most socialists were preparing for the ?final stage of history,? Bernstein talked about decent wages, education, and health care for his own generation.

I have at no time had an excessive interest in the future, beyond general principles; I have not been able to read to the end any picture of the future. My thoughts and efforts are concerned with the present.

Geron: And would you really say the same thing in a Baha’i context? Would you tell Baha’is to think only of the present?

Huios: A thousand times over. I’d repeat it high and low to every Baha’i of every description in every community on earth. Build the World Order of today, and let tomorrow take care of itself! Help others now, and leave the future to future generations! At its best, thinking so much about the future allows us to forget the problems of the moment.

Geron: Like the AIDS epidemic in Africa.

Huios: Precisely. We save up all our money for the Arc Project and shiny, showpiece temples when we could be bringing real help to real people in need. It’s like planning for twenty years ahead when people are sick and hungry at your door. And that’s not the worst of it.

Geron: It’s not?

Huios: Hardly. The worst thing about this fixation on the future is that it helps us justify things that have no justification. Because we’ve got to build the society of the future, we have to do unpleasant things in the present: shunning, disenrolling, denying due process. And it’s all accepted because these are the sacrifices we must make if we want tomorrow to be better. The current order is only embryonic, after all!

Geron: I wonder how long they’ll keep making that the excuse! But seriously, I might I agree with you, but don’t imagine anyone else will! It’s something they’re just not ready to hear. You’re asking people to give up on the World Order of Baha’u’llah. Why not go all the way? Why not ask them to stop calling themselves Baha’is altogether?

Huios: That’s certainly how many people will feel. It’s how everyone will feel who insists on understanding the World Order in the most literal sense, the people who imagine that Baha’is will convert every person on the planet and that the Universal House of Justice will rule the world from Haifa. But I’m not worried about them. I’m talking to you, and you already don’t believe any of that. I’m trying to show you how the idea of the World Order can have another meaning, one that still holds value for us after what we’ve come to believe.

Geron: And what value is that?

Huios: A spiritual one. The idea of the World Order is a spiritual concept, and I think it can be best understood in a spiritual sense. This is what Christians do when they view the Kingdom Jesus promised as something other than an earthly kingdom. They understand it as something in the present rather than the future, and as something raised up in the hearts of the faithful rather than in the physical world.

Geron: It’s a beautiful way of understanding things.

Huios: Baha’is could learn from it, too. Many of the first Christians thought the Kingdom was a physical kingdom, so it may be natural that most Baha’is still think the World Order is something visible and external that will be established in the future. But if you read the Baha’i scriptures, you’ll see that it doesn’t have to be that way. Do you remember what Baha’u’llah says about this in the Iqan?

Geron: Not everything.

Huios: Well, the relevant part is very brief.

The one true God… hath ever regarded, and will continue to regard, the hearts of men as His own, His exclusive possession. All else, whether pertaining to land or sea, whether riches or glory, He hath bequeathed unto the Kings and rulers of the earth.

There are many passages I could mention, from Baha’u’llah or Abdu’l Baha, but you can always find more if you want. I’m not going to try to convince you by piling up references to scripture. But there are enough of them – the place in the Aqdas where Baha’u’llah tells rulers he want to possess ?the hearts of men? and not earthly kingdoms is one more example I might give. There are enough examples to argue that Baha’u’llah wouldn’t want us to conceive His promise strictly in material terms. He invites us, I think, to reconsider this universal human dream – call it the World Order, call it the Kingdom of God on Earth, call it Socialism or even ?the hour that the ship comes in.? What kind of Kingdom will it be? When and where will it be manifested? If we reconsider our answers to these questions, we may reconsider this obsession with the future. What would it mean if the World Order wasn’t something off in the distance, several lifetimes away, but something taking shape inside us right now? We would still need to think about the future, to challenge the world to change, that will always matter. But we would also act differently if we believed that God’s dominion lies primarily in our hearts, and that the Kingdom of the Promised One of all ages is still not a kingdom of this earth.

Geron: So you’re saying that you believe in a spiritual World Order? But is that any different from denying it all together? You avoid saying you don’t believe by ?spiritualizing’ it, but it amounts to the same thing in the end. When you say the World Order can’t be realized on earth, isn’t that just giving up by another name?

Huios: Giving up on seeing it realized perfectly, yes. But that’s not the same as giving up on the direction, on the ideal. You remember back when Tommy Douglas held the office of premier here, back during the fight to get universal health care, first in this province and later across the whole country, how he’d end his speeches? He used those famous lines from Blake:

I will not cease from mental strife,

Nor shall my sword rest in my hand,

Until we have built Jerusalem,

In this green and pleasant land.

Geron: I remember it well. Tommy was a politician, but he was also someone with a religious perspective: he knew that helping people when they needed it was a spiritual duty. He said that this was what it meant to be a society that honored God.

Huios: He was a minister before he ever entered politics, so it isn’t surprising if he took a larger view of things. And the way he used those words underlines the point I’m trying to make. ?Until we have built Jerusalem.? The Kingdom is real enough: it’s just that it’s never complete. It’s always a work in progress, to be laid up brick by brick: it’s something we’re striving after, something we always seek but still stays just out of reach. Which is another reason I love the metaphor of Jerusalem. Because in a sense, we’re all pilgrims, each of us who follows God’s love and is led to the love of humanity. We’re all on a common road, and even if we never set eyes on the Holy City while we live, it remains our destination. Call it ?the goal of our desires,? to borrow words you taught me long ago.

Geron: Well, I guess that if those words have stayed with you, I must have done something right. They don’t inspire me any longer, but I’m happy if they have meaning for you.

Huios: They do. All of them: not only the words of the Baha’i Faith, but of every faith, and everyone without a faith who speaks or writes words of hope and comfort. Whenever I hear or read about the longing for a better world – it doesn’t matter if it’s today or thousands of years ago – my spirit lifts: not because the dream is ever realized but simply that it is and that it continues despite inevitable disillusionment. I think that this dream of bringing the love of heaven down to earth reflects what is best in us and most like God. And I have you to thank for introducing it to me: for the prayers and songs and the love you shared. You can say what you like about your time as a Baha’i, but don’t forget what you gave me during those years.

Geron: I won’t forget. And I’m glad to hear you tell me this. It’s good to know that I’ve left you something beside disappointment and failure. Your time’s going to come soon enough, and you’ll see that when you reach my age you’ll want to feel you have something worthwhile to leave your kids, something to pass on to the next generation. And I guess that if you still feel good about the world, if you’re not beaten down and cynical, then maybe I haven’t done so badly by you after all.

Huios: You’ve left me all that I could ask for. Have you ever considered formally resigning?

Geron: I’ve thought about it, but I don’t think I’ll do it. I’ve had my card this long, and I’ll probably keep it. If they can disenroll people who still believe in Baha’u’llah so sincerely, it’s a good joke to have them keep me on the rolls when I don’t believe any of it. I’ll go on getting Baha’i Canada and helping the LSA keep the books, and no one will be the wiser. I live too far outside of town for anyone to expect me at feasts or holy days. But maybe someday they’ll ask me why I don’t fast anymore.

Huios: That’ll be a long answer.

Geron opens the CD player, drops in a new disc, and selects a track. ?My Back Pages? begins to play, as Geron and Huios sit and listen.

  • http://www.scripturerock.com Brian

    Hi Baquia and Brendan,

    Thanks for posting the piece and writing the piece.
    Interesting timing – I haven’t spoken at a fireside in forever but I was asked the other day to do one (tonite).
    I just chose the topic “God is Love” rather whimsically – but I delivered the goods and there was some lively discourse. Even questioning the first notion of “God” as such – anyhoo . ..

    Thought I’d hit the sack but then I turned computer on, checked out Baquia’s link and here was your story. Dialogue.

    My thought is that the “Temple” of the Book of Revelation is built first within the individual – each pillar is one of the sacred texts from the various religions.

    Within the Holy City is the Mashriqu’l-Adkhar, with its 5 dependencies. And this too is first built within the flesh and bone of the individual. The center, the House of Worship, is the human heart – the five agencies are the pentacle – legs, arms and head.

    The Baha’i Faith is the repository of the Words that effect and transmute, or better catalyse and unify these various strands of Word within the individual.

    The Baha’i Faith – as yet – is not the mechanism, nor model, for that world unity. Geron, in his day, thought the “vision”, the “dream”, the “desire” was enough – even as most Baha’is still do. And as men have for millenia.

    But it is not enough.
    There is a “language” of the Kingdom. A vocabulary. As specific and self-referential as any other body of knowledge.
    And “intellectual” familiarity is not the same as alchemical transmutation . . . and so Geron seems to have some “time” left in his earthly life.
    To re-wind the life script, and remember the “beginning” so he can better see the “end”.

    What was the deceptive “promise” in the first place?
    Might there have been a wishful expectation on Geron’s part?
    A projection onto this social canvas called Baha’i?

    Not saying its not “true” or a “truth”.
    Rather am saying that . . . .

    Let us not forget that Evolve is an anagram for Love
    forward and backward.

    Thank goodness for Geron’s son
    (which implies, by the way, what a great job Geron’s done in spite of feeling a little depressed and disillusioned these days!)

    Take care,
    Love,
    Brian

  • http://www.scripturerock.com Brian

    Hi Baquia and Brendan,

    Thanks for posting the piece and writing the piece.
    Interesting timing – I haven’t spoken at a fireside in forever but I was asked the other day to do one (tonite).
    I just chose the topic “God is Love” rather whimsically – but I delivered the goods and there was some lively discourse. Even questioning the first notion of “God” as such – anyhoo . ..

    Thought I’d hit the sack but then I turned computer on, checked out Baquia’s link and here was your story. Dialogue.

    My thought is that the “Temple” of the Book of Revelation is built first within the individual – each pillar is one of the sacred texts from the various religions.

    Within the Holy City is the Mashriqu’l-Adkhar, with its 5 dependencies. And this too is first built within the flesh and bone of the individual. The center, the House of Worship, is the human heart – the five agencies are the pentacle – legs, arms and head.

    The Baha’i Faith is the repository of the Words that effect and transmute, or better catalyse and unify these various strands of Word within the individual.

    The Baha’i Faith – as yet – is not the mechanism, nor model, for that world unity. Geron, in his day, thought the “vision”, the “dream”, the “desire” was enough – even as most Baha’is still do. And as men have for millenia.

    But it is not enough.
    There is a “language” of the Kingdom. A vocabulary. As specific and self-referential as any other body of knowledge.
    And “intellectual” familiarity is not the same as alchemical transmutation . . . and so Geron seems to have some “time” left in his earthly life.
    To re-wind the life script, and remember the “beginning” so he can better see the “end”.

    What was the deceptive “promise” in the first place?
    Might there have been a wishful expectation on Geron’s part?
    A projection onto this social canvas called Baha’i?

    Not saying its not “true” or a “truth”.
    Rather am saying that . . . .

    Let us not forget that Evolve is an anagram for Love
    forward and backward.

    Thank goodness for Geron’s son
    (which implies, by the way, what a great job Geron’s done in spite of feeling a little depressed and disillusioned these days!)

    Take care,
    Love,
    Brian

  • Brendan Cook

    Brian,

    Good to hear from you, as always. I wonder if you’d clarify this comment:

    “Geron, in his day, thought the ?vision?, the ?dream?, the ?desire? was enough — even as most Baha’is still do. And as men have for millenia.”

    I’m not sure what you mean by this. As I understand it, the father in the piece never thought the vision or dream of the World Order was enough. He was promised — you can hear it in the words of important Baha’is to this day — a real world order, one that would begin with the stones and mortar of the Arc Project. It is the son and not the father who says that perhaps the dream was enough, that perhaps the internal kingdom is all that matters. But that was never what the father believed, and with good reason. Just ask Peter Khan or Douglas Martin and to this day you’ll hear the kind of things the father was told. word of a real kingdom, a World Order that is going to physically rule the world off in the future.

    But perhaps I’m missing your point. You’re probably using the word ‘dream’ and ‘vision’ in a different sense then I would. I’d love it if you could explain yourself a little further, your ideas are always rewarding.

    And for the record, let me say that I have the best and most loving father that anyone could want or imagine.

    Brendan

  • Brendan Cook

    Brian,

    Good to hear from you, as always. I wonder if you’d clarify this comment:

    “Geron, in his day, thought the ?vision?, the ?dream?, the ?desire? was enough — even as most Baha’is still do. And as men have for millenia.”

    I’m not sure what you mean by this. As I understand it, the father in the piece never thought the vision or dream of the World Order was enough. He was promised — you can hear it in the words of important Baha’is to this day — a real world order, one that would begin with the stones and mortar of the Arc Project. It is the son and not the father who says that perhaps the dream was enough, that perhaps the internal kingdom is all that matters. But that was never what the father believed, and with good reason. Just ask Peter Khan or Douglas Martin and to this day you’ll hear the kind of things the father was told. word of a real kingdom, a World Order that is going to physically rule the world off in the future.

    But perhaps I’m missing your point. You’re probably using the word ‘dream’ and ‘vision’ in a different sense then I would. I’d love it if you could explain yourself a little further, your ideas are always rewarding.

    And for the record, let me say that I have the best and most loving father that anyone could want or imagine.

    Brendan

  • http://www.scripturerock.com Brian

    Hi Brendan,

    Right back at you about “rewarding ideas”. Your dialogue/ discourse format is such a great way to present ideas. And you do it exceedingly well.

    I wish I could be succinct in my reply but, after a couple of attempts, have found it not possible. Nor do I wish to distract from the points your are raising in this piece.

    I shall attempt to find a window to write something up and e-mail it to you to clarify the above (mostly its that Geron and the people you mentioned, both jumped the gun, enthusiastically, to working on an external, social manifestation in the form of the Baha’i structure without understanding that the pre-requisite for such a structure to be erected requires the “builders”, aka Baha’is, to have their inner beings thoroughly transmuted and edified first. Many of the 60′s and 70′s American believers selectively perceived that aspect of the faith that resonated with their idealistic desires. Conversely, many of those attempting to man the Arc presently have fixated on a rigid vision which has no reality because, alas, the first steps have not been properly taken – IMO).

    So G’s and the others’ “vision” is of a vague, but tangible, Kingdom on earth with buildings and doo-hickeys, that will then do something for mankind.

    Wereas Huios’ “vision” seems to be of the spiritual kind – a Kingdom of the spirit in the heart.

    That Geron has abandoned his enthusiasm, having seen through the delusion of spiritual perfection, seems correct. That those in the positions of leadership continue to articulate the “party line”, so to speak, is also correct.

    They have a “responsibility” to the success of the enterprise. Just like a business owner.

    There’s not a corporation in the world that is teetering on the brink of disolution that would even hint at it internally. They think they can “save” it. It’s not till the workers walk into work one morning and find pink slips that they, the rank and file, gets struck by lightning out of the blue.

    So . . . hope that helps clarify. I’m still going to try to run with some ideas and send them your way – see what you make of them.

    Please, however, don’t get me wrong. I don’t see the Baha’i Faith Inc. as being on the brink of dissolution. Quite the opposite. I see the malaise, the etc., all as signs of an evolving and growing organism. It is like what happens inside a cell before it splits and grows. Polarization. Empty space at the heart.

    A tearing at the membrane.
    Great confusion and then . . .

    :-)

    Peace,
    B

  • http://www.scripturerock.com Brian

    Hi Brendan,

    Right back at you about “rewarding ideas”. Your dialogue/ discourse format is such a great way to present ideas. And you do it exceedingly well.

    I wish I could be succinct in my reply but, after a couple of attempts, have found it not possible. Nor do I wish to distract from the points your are raising in this piece.

    I shall attempt to find a window to write something up and e-mail it to you to clarify the above (mostly its that Geron and the people you mentioned, both jumped the gun, enthusiastically, to working on an external, social manifestation in the form of the Baha’i structure without understanding that the pre-requisite for such a structure to be erected requires the “builders”, aka Baha’is, to have their inner beings thoroughly transmuted and edified first. Many of the 60′s and 70′s American believers selectively perceived that aspect of the faith that resonated with their idealistic desires. Conversely, many of those attempting to man the Arc presently have fixated on a rigid vision which has no reality because, alas, the first steps have not been properly taken – IMO).

    So G’s and the others’ “vision” is of a vague, but tangible, Kingdom on earth with buildings and doo-hickeys, that will then do something for mankind.

    Wereas Huios’ “vision” seems to be of the spiritual kind – a Kingdom of the spirit in the heart.

    That Geron has abandoned his enthusiasm, having seen through the delusion of spiritual perfection, seems correct. That those in the positions of leadership continue to articulate the “party line”, so to speak, is also correct.

    They have a “responsibility” to the success of the enterprise. Just like a business owner.

    There’s not a corporation in the world that is teetering on the brink of disolution that would even hint at it internally. They think they can “save” it. It’s not till the workers walk into work one morning and find pink slips that they, the rank and file, gets struck by lightning out of the blue.

    So . . . hope that helps clarify. I’m still going to try to run with some ideas and send them your way – see what you make of them.

    Please, however, don’t get me wrong. I don’t see the Baha’i Faith Inc. as being on the brink of dissolution. Quite the opposite. I see the malaise, the etc., all as signs of an evolving and growing organism. It is like what happens inside a cell before it splits and grows. Polarization. Empty space at the heart.

    A tearing at the membrane.
    Great confusion and then . . .

    :-)

    Peace,
    B

  • Andrew

    A wonderful, beautiful dialogue! So poignant, so engaging. Thank you!

  • Andrew

    A wonderful, beautiful dialogue! So poignant, so engaging. Thank you!

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

    Hello Brendan,

    I’m here trying to relax while a summer cold has me feeling fairly crappy. I usually don’t have the patience to read an entire story or essay online — I print ‘em out or don’t bother — but in my current state of forced relaxation I read your story and found it engaging.

    Some thoughts:

    Dylan, the 60′s — idealism. But to me the 60′s were mostly about freedom, secondly about achieving an ideal world. I think the current malaise the Faith is in stems from that time. The combination of the impact of 60′s freedom seeking and the death of the Guardian was a one two punch that is still being felt.

    Before the Guardian died many Bahai’s thought they knew just what was going to happen: first many, many coverts, then a king or other ruler would become a Bahai, then the lesser peace would follow — all by the year 2000.

    The recent debate on T9 about who kills more folk — the religious zealots gone wrong or the atheists — has been rattling around my brain. I think I had a slow coming epiphany yesterday — what the two groups share is the temerity (haven’t used that word in a while) to believe that not only do they have an answer — they have the answer. This is a cause of the injustice, cruelty and killing. Also a cause of lesser sins such as shunning.

    As human beings we are born with great capacity but little or no knowledge. We are surrounded by mystery. I think one purpose of life is to explore that mystery for oneself. Any creed sacred or secular that offers the answers on a platter — especially Ruhi style — is unhealthy imo.

    I like this from your story:

    “When most socialists were preparing for the ?final stage of history,? Bernstein talked about decent wages, education, and health care for his own generation.

    I have at no time had an excessive interest in the future, beyond general principles; I have not been able to read to the end any picture of the future. My thoughts and efforts are concerned with the present. ”

    I think we need to solve today’s problems today. Problem solving involves making a little progress on each good day, not waiting for some event — be it the Calamity or the rapture — (very similar concepts it seems to me).

    I think people are happiest when we’ve had a really good day — a day filled with nature, good food and love. A day in which we have accomplished something; made a new friend or learned something we didn’t know before.

    Geron became disillusioned because his hopes were set too high. He didn’t start from where he was — he tried to pull himself up by his bootstraps and he fell over.

    I think he should turn in his card and start again. This time though he should start from where he is at that precise moment. I think he would be invigorated by and enjoy the experience!

    Thanks for your writing and sharing,

    Best Wishes,
    Frank

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

    Hello Brendan,

    I’m here trying to relax while a summer cold has me feeling fairly crappy. I usually don’t have the patience to read an entire story or essay online — I print ‘em out or don’t bother — but in my current state of forced relaxation I read your story and found it engaging.

    Some thoughts:

    Dylan, the 60′s — idealism. But to me the 60′s were mostly about freedom, secondly about achieving an ideal world. I think the current malaise the Faith is in stems from that time. The combination of the impact of 60′s freedom seeking and the death of the Guardian was a one two punch that is still being felt.

    Before the Guardian died many Bahai’s thought they knew just what was going to happen: first many, many coverts, then a king or other ruler would become a Bahai, then the lesser peace would follow — all by the year 2000.

    The recent debate on T9 about who kills more folk — the religious zealots gone wrong or the atheists — has been rattling around my brain. I think I had a slow coming epiphany yesterday — what the two groups share is the temerity (haven’t used that word in a while) to believe that not only do they have an answer — they have the answer. This is a cause of the injustice, cruelty and killing. Also a cause of lesser sins such as shunning.

    As human beings we are born with great capacity but little or no knowledge. We are surrounded by mystery. I think one purpose of life is to explore that mystery for oneself. Any creed sacred or secular that offers the answers on a platter — especially Ruhi style — is unhealthy imo.

    I like this from your story:

    “When most socialists were preparing for the ?final stage of history,? Bernstein talked about decent wages, education, and health care for his own generation.

    I have at no time had an excessive interest in the future, beyond general principles; I have not been able to read to the end any picture of the future. My thoughts and efforts are concerned with the present. ”

    I think we need to solve today’s problems today. Problem solving involves making a little progress on each good day, not waiting for some event — be it the Calamity or the rapture — (very similar concepts it seems to me).

    I think people are happiest when we’ve had a really good day — a day filled with nature, good food and love. A day in which we have accomplished something; made a new friend or learned something we didn’t know before.

    Geron became disillusioned because his hopes were set too high. He didn’t start from where he was — he tried to pull himself up by his bootstraps and he fell over.

    I think he should turn in his card and start again. This time though he should start from where he is at that precise moment. I think he would be invigorated by and enjoy the experience!

    Thanks for your writing and sharing,

    Best Wishes,
    Frank

  • Brendan Cook

    Frank,

    Your praise means a great deal. This was a serious and deeply-meant piece and one that took me many hours to set in words. My hope through all the work I did was that when I was finished, people — such as yourself — would read it and consider what I tried to say.

    I’m glad you like the spot about solving the problems of the present. I am in complete agreement with you there. I like to feel I’ve reached the point where the dream of heaven on earth — one that still has a poweful appeal for me — doesn’t distract me from today.

    As for ‘Geron’, I trust that all the people whose experiences inspired that character will do what you’ve said they should. Many already are, and I hear it’s as invigorating as you say. For my part, I don’t have my card — I was refused — and I’m not going to apply again. I don’t know if I’m done writing about the Baha’i Faith, but I’m done trying to fit in. I’ll look for Jerusalem somewhere else.

    But most of all, I agree with you that the best thing for all of us is to remember how little we really know. Thanks for your insights.

    Brendan

  • Brendan Cook

    Frank,

    Your praise means a great deal. This was a serious and deeply-meant piece and one that took me many hours to set in words. My hope through all the work I did was that when I was finished, people — such as yourself — would read it and consider what I tried to say.

    I’m glad you like the spot about solving the problems of the present. I am in complete agreement with you there. I like to feel I’ve reached the point where the dream of heaven on earth — one that still has a poweful appeal for me — doesn’t distract me from today.

    As for ‘Geron’, I trust that all the people whose experiences inspired that character will do what you’ve said they should. Many already are, and I hear it’s as invigorating as you say. For my part, I don’t have my card — I was refused — and I’m not going to apply again. I don’t know if I’m done writing about the Baha’i Faith, but I’m done trying to fit in. I’ll look for Jerusalem somewhere else.

    But most of all, I agree with you that the best thing for all of us is to remember how little we really know. Thanks for your insights.

    Brendan

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

    Brendan,

    You are most welcome. Your writing is excellent and obviously from the heart.

    Question: I thought you were a Bahai. Were you asked to leave or rejected upon application for the first time?

    This is what amazes me about Bahai — its wonderful to have such high standards that only a couple of people on the planet qualify — if they all told the truth! But how an organization like this thinks it will have entry by troops and solve the world’s problems is beyond me.

    Anyway when any religion has entry by troops it is a sign that something is wrong. Hysteria has set in or corruption or both.

    I’ve been learning about Unitarian/Universalist thought. My Bahai prejudices always led me to believe that this was no faith at all but now that I’m looking into it I find it to be very appealing. Have you investigated it? If so — wadaya think?

    Peace,
    Frank

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

    Brendan,

    You are most welcome. Your writing is excellent and obviously from the heart.

    Question: I thought you were a Bahai. Were you asked to leave or rejected upon application for the first time?

    This is what amazes me about Bahai — its wonderful to have such high standards that only a couple of people on the planet qualify — if they all told the truth! But how an organization like this thinks it will have entry by troops and solve the world’s problems is beyond me.

    Anyway when any religion has entry by troops it is a sign that something is wrong. Hysteria has set in or corruption or both.

    I’ve been learning about Unitarian/Universalist thought. My Bahai prejudices always led me to believe that this was no faith at all but now that I’m looking into it I find it to be very appealing. Have you investigated it? If so — wadaya think?

    Peace,
    Frank

  • Brendan Cook

    Frank,

    My own Baha’i story is described — although very briefly — in the second of my three dialogues, *Truth*, which you can find on bahaisonline. I was raised a Baha’i but I never applied for a card, and in rural Saskatchewan I never needed one. When I came to Toronto I was shocked to hear I needed a card to attend feasts. I applied for one and I couldn’t get it. I thought of myself as a Baha’i since I was five or six, but now people tell me routinely that I never was.

    I understand your interest in the Unitarian/Universalist scene. When I was early in Toronto and not yet suspect for my heresies I gave a presentation on the Baha’i Faith at a Unitarian church. One of my friends sang a prayer for them as well, it was lovely. I attended an earlier service the week before our presentation with a Baha’i friend and we both enjoyed it.

    So I can see why many spiritual but free-minded people might want to join a UU congregation, but that’s not the same as saying I would. It’s all a matter of personal taste I suppose, but I think I’d fit better in a very liberal Christian congregation — such as the United Church. I’m a historian of Renaissance thought and I’m deeply immersed in the Western Christian tradition — I’ve even read the Pauline epistles in the original Greek. And so just as I know some people who find Buddhism congenial or the Sufi tendencies of Islam, I think that Christianity might be the best place for me. But in the end I think — as I’m sure you agree — that the most important thing is to find a community that is a comfortable fit. Doctrinal issues and such are secondary.

    Brendan

  • Brendan Cook

    Frank,

    My own Baha’i story is described — although very briefly — in the second of my three dialogues, *Truth*, which you can find on bahaisonline. I was raised a Baha’i but I never applied for a card, and in rural Saskatchewan I never needed one. When I came to Toronto I was shocked to hear I needed a card to attend feasts. I applied for one and I couldn’t get it. I thought of myself as a Baha’i since I was five or six, but now people tell me routinely that I never was.

    I understand your interest in the Unitarian/Universalist scene. When I was early in Toronto and not yet suspect for my heresies I gave a presentation on the Baha’i Faith at a Unitarian church. One of my friends sang a prayer for them as well, it was lovely. I attended an earlier service the week before our presentation with a Baha’i friend and we both enjoyed it.

    So I can see why many spiritual but free-minded people might want to join a UU congregation, but that’s not the same as saying I would. It’s all a matter of personal taste I suppose, but I think I’d fit better in a very liberal Christian congregation — such as the United Church. I’m a historian of Renaissance thought and I’m deeply immersed in the Western Christian tradition — I’ve even read the Pauline epistles in the original Greek. And so just as I know some people who find Buddhism congenial or the Sufi tendencies of Islam, I think that Christianity might be the best place for me. But in the end I think — as I’m sure you agree — that the most important thing is to find a community that is a comfortable fit. Doctrinal issues and such are secondary.

    Brendan

  • Craig Parke

    Thank you for the poignant dialogue essay, Brendan.

    Thank you for your commentary Frank.

    For any member of the Universal House of Justice or any member of the US NSA reading this blog who doesn’t know the song “When the Ship Comes In” you might want to check out this version. While you’re at it check out the energy of the 1960′s in this grainy black and white footage. Check out all that spiritual energy that eventually
    came to the Baha’i Faith for a little while in the 1960′s and early to mid 1970′s but was then lost because the people flying the plane had their heads where the sun don’t shine for the next 44 years on a weekly basis.

    People did try very hard for a good 10 or 20 years there. But the psychological needs of the tiny clique of people at the top of the Baha’i Faith took precedence over anything Baha’u’llah (or Jesus or Buddha or anyone else for that matter in the entire history of the world) ever said about anything spiritual and eventually trumped all that energy as they ran everything they ever touched completely into the ground.

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=Rc_du8TVVuI

    About all anyone can do now is lament with the visual cinematic poetry of the last frames of the motion picture “The English Patient” as written in the shooting script.

    EXT. CAVE OF SWIMMERS. DAY.

    Alm??sy comes out of the cave, carrying the bundle of Katharine in his arms, wrapped in the silks of her parachute.

    KATHARINE (O/S)
    …I know you will come and carry me
    out into the palace of winds, the rumors
    of water… That’s all I’ve wanted -
    to walk in such a place with you, with
    friends, on earth without maps.

    EXT. TIGER MOTH. DAY.

    THE PLANE growls and complains into the air.

    INT. TIGER MOTH. DAY.

    INSIDE THE COCKPIT: THE COUPLE AS AT THE FRONT OF THE FILM. Alm??sy obliterated by goggles and helmet. Katharine behind him, slumped forwards as if sleeping.

    Alm??sy banks across the plateau of the Gilf Kebir and glances down. In a ravine is a sudden OASIS OF WHITE ACACIAS. He is mesmerized.

    And then it’s gone and he passes into the earth without maps – the
    desert – as it stretches out for mile after mile.

    KATHARINE (O/S)
    The lamp’s gone out and I’m writing
    in the darkness…

    Alm??sy, the English Patient, begins to sing – Szerelem, Szerelem –
    until that also fades and is replaced by the woman’s tender lament
    heard at the beginning of the film, singing for all that has been lost.

    The sound of gun fire…

    THE END.

    That is pretty much where we are today from Vietnam to “the sound of gun fire …” in Iraq. Forty-four years later the Baha’i Faith has realisticly probably lost well over two-thirds of the membership from the energy of those years.

    All of that water lost from the once found spiritual Cave of the Swimmers in the energy of those times.

    People now fleeing “the earth without maps” of the top down “color only between the lines” Ruhiized Faith where you look at nothing with your own eyes but only through the eyes of others to whom you have been required to turn over the bearings of your own sacred soul.

    No longer going by seeing in the Tiger Moth of each person’s individual soul spirit. But now only perhaps by some inner hearing.

    Some still small voice.

    Many now reduced to searching to find those “singing for all that has been lost”.

    Even if it is just very, very faint upon the wind of the spirit out in the endless desert.

  • Craig Parke

    Thank you for the poignant dialogue essay, Brendan.

    Thank you for your commentary Frank.

    For any member of the Universal House of Justice or any member of the US NSA reading this blog who doesn’t know the song “When the Ship Comes In” you might want to check out this version. While you’re at it check out the energy of the 1960′s in this grainy black and white footage. Check out all that spiritual energy that eventually
    came to the Baha’i Faith for a little while in the 1960′s and early to mid 1970′s but was then lost because the people flying the plane had their heads where the sun don’t shine for the next 44 years on a weekly basis.

    People did try very hard for a good 10 or 20 years there. But the psychological needs of the tiny clique of people at the top of the Baha’i Faith took precedence over anything Baha’u’llah (or Jesus or Buddha or anyone else for that matter in the entire history of the world) ever said about anything spiritual and eventually trumped all that energy as they ran everything they ever touched completely into the ground.

    http://youtube.com/watch?v=Rc_du8TVVuI

    About all anyone can do now is lament with the visual cinematic poetry of the last frames of the motion picture “The English Patient” as written in the shooting script.

    EXT. CAVE OF SWIMMERS. DAY.

    Alm??sy comes out of the cave, carrying the bundle of Katharine in his arms, wrapped in the silks of her parachute.

    KATHARINE (O/S)
    …I know you will come and carry me
    out into the palace of winds, the rumors
    of water… That’s all I’ve wanted -
    to walk in such a place with you, with
    friends, on earth without maps.

    EXT. TIGER MOTH. DAY.

    THE PLANE growls and complains into the air.

    INT. TIGER MOTH. DAY.

    INSIDE THE COCKPIT: THE COUPLE AS AT THE FRONT OF THE FILM. Alm??sy obliterated by goggles and helmet. Katharine behind him, slumped forwards as if sleeping.

    Alm??sy banks across the plateau of the Gilf Kebir and glances down. In a ravine is a sudden OASIS OF WHITE ACACIAS. He is mesmerized.

    And then it’s gone and he passes into the earth without maps – the
    desert – as it stretches out for mile after mile.

    KATHARINE (O/S)
    The lamp’s gone out and I’m writing
    in the darkness…

    Alm??sy, the English Patient, begins to sing – Szerelem, Szerelem –
    until that also fades and is replaced by the woman’s tender lament
    heard at the beginning of the film, singing for all that has been lost.

    The sound of gun fire…

    THE END.

    That is pretty much where we are today from Vietnam to “the sound of gun fire …” in Iraq. Forty-four years later the Baha’i Faith has realisticly probably lost well over two-thirds of the membership from the energy of those years.

    All of that water lost from the once found spiritual Cave of the Swimmers in the energy of those times.

    People now fleeing “the earth without maps” of the top down “color only between the lines” Ruhiized Faith where you look at nothing with your own eyes but only through the eyes of others to whom you have been required to turn over the bearings of your own sacred soul.

    No longer going by seeing in the Tiger Moth of each person’s individual soul spirit. But now only perhaps by some inner hearing.

    Some still small voice.

    Many now reduced to searching to find those “singing for all that has been lost”.

    Even if it is just very, very faint upon the wind of the spirit out in the endless desert.

  • http://www.tobstv.blog.co.uk Toby Doncaster

    Hello Love, (as we say in England),

    You have captured what I realised almost 10 years ago, however I too, still smile and serve this Faith. Why? Because it is true in itself.

    Oh yes, I too have been “rejected” by, strangely enough, assemblies in the States and had some difficulties elsewhere, due to not carrying my Baha’i ID card. I now tend to avoid situations where ID is required. And sometimes, my comments and views do not hold with current thinking…

    And still I teach…

    To the extent where knowledgeable Bahais admit that yes, I am a travel teacher. It’s what I do, and I do it damn well.

    But I’m not trying to convert or enrol. I’ll leave that to some other agency to administer.

    I’m just polishing up one heart at a time.

    “Polish on, Polish off”

    Quite simple really.

    Anyway, you ARE a Bahai.

    And I’ll challenge anyone to say different.

    All my best,

    Tobbot, aka Tobstv

  • http://www.tobstv.blog.co.uk Toby Doncaster

    Hello Love, (as we say in England),

    You have captured what I realised almost 10 years ago, however I too, still smile and serve this Faith. Why? Because it is true in itself.

    Oh yes, I too have been “rejected” by, strangely enough, assemblies in the States and had some difficulties elsewhere, due to not carrying my Baha’i ID card. I now tend to avoid situations where ID is required. And sometimes, my comments and views do not hold with current thinking…

    And still I teach…

    To the extent where knowledgeable Bahais admit that yes, I am a travel teacher. It’s what I do, and I do it damn well.

    But I’m not trying to convert or enrol. I’ll leave that to some other agency to administer.

    I’m just polishing up one heart at a time.

    “Polish on, Polish off”

    Quite simple really.

    Anyway, you ARE a Bahai.

    And I’ll challenge anyone to say different.

    All my best,

    Tobbot, aka Tobstv

  • peyamb

    Thank you for the story. It could almost be mine, with a few exceptions. The reason I was the square peg being forced into the round Bahai hole is because of my sexuality. It took me years to wake up and see that there wasn’t anything wrong with me. I’m actually very happy that I turned out gay- it’s helped me question a lot of the things in the Faith which I was supposed to blindly accept. I still have my card somewhere. I guess like Geron “I’ve had my card this long, and I’ll probably keep it.” But unlike him, I still have some belief in the faith. Great writing!

  • peyamb

    Thank you for the story. It could almost be mine, with a few exceptions. The reason I was the square peg being forced into the round Bahai hole is because of my sexuality. It took me years to wake up and see that there wasn’t anything wrong with me. I’m actually very happy that I turned out gay- it’s helped me question a lot of the things in the Faith which I was supposed to blindly accept. I still have my card somewhere. I guess like Geron “I’ve had my card this long, and I’ll probably keep it.” But unlike him, I still have some belief in the faith. Great writing!

  • Brendan Cook

    Peyam,

    Join us on the Unenrolled Baha’i Yahoo Group — perhaps you already subscribe — and you’ll hear about other, similar stories. A few people had the same specific problem you mention — sexuality — and many share the essential issue of not fitting for one reason or another. They would be glad to hear you tell your tale.

    I can’t tell you how gratified I am every time I hear of something who read and enjoyed one of my stories. Which is why I can’t resist recommending others to you. If you want to hear more about my objections with the way the Baha’i Faith was presented to me by certain people, you can find it hear in my first dialogue, Obedience.

    http://snipr.com/1nmb9

    Also of interest is the ‘middle’ dialogue of my trilogy, Truth.

    http://snipr.com/1nmb6

    If you have not read either of these, I recommend it and hope you find something of value.

    Thank you once more for your words of encouragement. Perhaps we will hear from you on Unenrolled Baha’i.

    Brendan

  • Brendan Cook

    Peyam,

    Join us on the Unenrolled Baha’i Yahoo Group — perhaps you already subscribe — and you’ll hear about other, similar stories. A few people had the same specific problem you mention — sexuality — and many share the essential issue of not fitting for one reason or another. They would be glad to hear you tell your tale.

    I can’t tell you how gratified I am every time I hear of something who read and enjoyed one of my stories. Which is why I can’t resist recommending others to you. If you want to hear more about my objections with the way the Baha’i Faith was presented to me by certain people, you can find it hear in my first dialogue, Obedience.

    http://snipr.com/1nmb9

    Also of interest is the ‘middle’ dialogue of my trilogy, Truth.

    http://snipr.com/1nmb6

    If you have not read either of these, I recommend it and hope you find something of value.

    Thank you once more for your words of encouragement. Perhaps we will hear from you on Unenrolled Baha’i.

    Brendan

  • Brendan Cook

    Tobbot,

    Congratulations on your years of happy teaching: I suppose something like that is reward in itself! And thank you for telling me that I am a Baha’i. With so many people saying I’m not and never was, your vote is encouraging. Good luck spreading the Word!

    Brendan

  • Brendan Cook

    Tobbot,

    Congratulations on your years of happy teaching: I suppose something like that is reward in itself! And thank you for telling me that I am a Baha’i. With so many people saying I’m not and never was, your vote is encouraging. Good luck spreading the Word!

    Brendan

  • http://www.tobstv.blog.co.uk Toby Doncaster

    Hmmm, I know there’s a habit out there, of people deciding whether or not you are a Baha’i. I don’t know how that habit came to be, you’ve either accepted Baha’u’llah as the manifestation of God for today, or you haven’t. You either accept his teachings, or you don’t.

    As a travel teacher, all I can do is to confirm that someone is a Baha’i. It doesn’t matter whether they can quote pages of writings at me, or speak a single word.

    Once, when I was travelling by train through Russia, I decided to put up a picture I had of the Baha’i ringstone up on the wall in the cabin I was in.

    Soon enough, an old lady and her grandson boarded the train, and entered my cabin.

    We greeted each other, and the grandson started translating loads of questions from his grandmother (my Russian was pretty basic then).

    She then looked up, pointed at the picture and asked, “What is that? Bring it down, and let me have a look at it.”

    So I gave it to her. She cradled the symbol and stroked it tenderly. She kept on asking more questions, and I answered them as best I could.

    Before she got off, she kissed the picture and gave it back. She also gave me a peck on the cheek!

    One man who is very dear to me, couldn’t accept a single one of Baha’u’llah’s teachings, and I was beginning to despair. As he was from China, he kept on insisting that it was all very well, but, “we could never practise this where I come from.”

    In desperation, I cracked open the Hidden Words, and just handed him whatever was written there.

    71

    O SON OF MAN!

    Write all that We have revealed unto thee with the ink of light upon the tablet of thy spirit. Should this not be in thy power, then make thine ink of the essence of thy heart. If this thou canst not do, then write with that crimson ink that hath been shed in My path. Sweeter indeed is this to Me than all else, that its light may endure for ever.

    He read it through, (in Chinese) and said, “I agree”.

    I can’t explain the feeling coursing through me, it was as if the entire creation had just accepted Baha’u’llah through this man’s lips.

    Such was the intensity of this feeling, I couldn’t contain my emotion, and I burst into tears.

    Of course, he is a Baha’i. I only pray that he will never have to live up to the quotation!

    To me, such is the power within a single word uttered by Baha’u’llah, that if you were able to hold to that word, then you would be counted among those who follow him.

    Hah, if you can hold on to more than one word, then you are a force to be reckoned with!

    (I don’t usually ramble on this long, so if you want to delete this I really don’t mind!) :)

  • http://www.tobstv.blog.co.uk Toby Doncaster

    Hmmm, I know there’s a habit out there, of people deciding whether or not you are a Baha’i. I don’t know how that habit came to be, you’ve either accepted Baha’u’llah as the manifestation of God for today, or you haven’t. You either accept his teachings, or you don’t.

    As a travel teacher, all I can do is to confirm that someone is a Baha’i. It doesn’t matter whether they can quote pages of writings at me, or speak a single word.

    Once, when I was travelling by train through Russia, I decided to put up a picture I had of the Baha’i ringstone up on the wall in the cabin I was in.

    Soon enough, an old lady and her grandson boarded the train, and entered my cabin.

    We greeted each other, and the grandson started translating loads of questions from his grandmother (my Russian was pretty basic then).

    She then looked up, pointed at the picture and asked, “What is that? Bring it down, and let me have a look at it.”

    So I gave it to her. She cradled the symbol and stroked it tenderly. She kept on asking more questions, and I answered them as best I could.

    Before she got off, she kissed the picture and gave it back. She also gave me a peck on the cheek!

    One man who is very dear to me, couldn’t accept a single one of Baha’u’llah’s teachings, and I was beginning to despair. As he was from China, he kept on insisting that it was all very well, but, “we could never practise this where I come from.”

    In desperation, I cracked open the Hidden Words, and just handed him whatever was written there.

    71

    O SON OF MAN!

    Write all that We have revealed unto thee with the ink of light upon the tablet of thy spirit. Should this not be in thy power, then make thine ink of the essence of thy heart. If this thou canst not do, then write with that crimson ink that hath been shed in My path. Sweeter indeed is this to Me than all else, that its light may endure for ever.

    He read it through, (in Chinese) and said, “I agree”.

    I can’t explain the feeling coursing through me, it was as if the entire creation had just accepted Baha’u’llah through this man’s lips.

    Such was the intensity of this feeling, I couldn’t contain my emotion, and I burst into tears.

    Of course, he is a Baha’i. I only pray that he will never have to live up to the quotation!

    To me, such is the power within a single word uttered by Baha’u’llah, that if you were able to hold to that word, then you would be counted among those who follow him.

    Hah, if you can hold on to more than one word, then you are a force to be reckoned with!

    (I don’t usually ramble on this long, so if you want to delete this I really don’t mind!) :)

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    Toby,
    there’s no “prepublication review” here. Ramble on as much as you’d like.
    Thanks for your message.

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    Toby,
    there’s no “prepublication review” here. Ramble on as much as you’d like.
    Thanks for your message.

  • Peyamb

    thanks brent. I think I may have subscribed at one point. But I’m too busy with work to check out too many sites. Right now getting on beliefnet.org is taking up too much time. Thanks for the reading!

    cheers,
    Pey

  • Peyamb

    thanks brent. I think I may have subscribed at one point. But I’m too busy with work to check out too many sites. Right now getting on beliefnet.org is taking up too much time. Thanks for the reading!

    cheers,
    Pey

  • Peyamb

    brendan I mean. sorry I wrote brent.

  • Peyamb

    brendan I mean. sorry I wrote brent.