Marginality and Apostasy in the Baha’i Community

The following is my commentary on a recently published paper titled: “Marginality and Apostasy in the Baha’i Community” – by the Baha’i theologian, Dr. Moojan Momen.

circles-sand-edwin-markham

Let me make a crystal clear distinction here: I do not agree with Momen, his assertions nor his conclusions. In fact I strongly disagree with pretty much everything he says in this paper. However, I have nothing personal against him, and unlike him, I do not cast aspersions on his faith in Baha’u’llah nor his sincerity as a Baha’i.

I was going to leave this paper in the hands of others and have them take it away in due time (much like garbage at the curb). But I came to the realization that merely ignoring it won’t do anyone any good. If Momen is sincere in his attempts to be a Baha’i theologian, then he would welcome feedback. Even if it is negative.

“Research”
Momen did his “research” (to find out why it is in quotes keep reading) in the summer of 2006. Which means that he potentially could have run into Baha’i Rants. I don’t know if this blog never made it into his paper because he didn’t find it or because he found it and chose not to categorize me as an “apostate”. It doesn’t really matter because thanks to Momen, now other Baha’is are using his lexicon to sling mud at me and categorize me on Momen’s behalf.

Perhaps Momen is ignorant of the consequence of introducing such a lexicon. He has in effect handed every pretentious and self-righteous Baha’i, carte-blanche to engage in calumny and backbiting against a fellow Baha’i, by providing them with the thin camouflage of academic legitimacy.

As I mentioned in Reflections on 3 years of blogging, this is already in full swing.

Apparently someone (or two someones) out there pointed out to the fellow Baha’i blogger (George Dannells) that I was an enrolled Baha’i in good standing, which would mean that I can’t be an “apostate” – at least according to the definition that Momen uses. George loves to censor any and all comments that don’t agree with him so he promptly erased the two comments regarding my blog’s categorization.

But that wasn’t enough for George, to prove that he is right, he wrote:

This post may seem totally arcane and unnecessary to most Baha’i Views readers, to whom I apologize. The following excerpts are intended as a response to Anonymous 1 and Anonymous 2, whose comments I have deleted on the previous “Google 100″ post. They questioned my conclusion that the blog bahairants could be identified as an apostate site. It is my impression that apostate narratives, mythology, and issues constitute the vast majority of its content, so the label seems appropriate. The fact that the blogger claims to be a Baha’i in good standing is irrelevant.

I’m not mentioning this to highlight a minor Baha’i blogger in a huff but rather to point out the real and immediate consequences of Momen’s abominable paper.

George Dannells doesn’t really care that I haven’t left the Faith nor that I do not intend to. He doesn’t want to wait or think it is necessary. As George says, it is “irrelevant”. Which is strange since he jumps at the chance to call me an “apostate” but doesn’t mind that I do not fulfill the requirements. Since George is an intelligent fellow, the only obvious conclusion is that he is doing so out of spite and malice.

My personal choice is to do my utmost to see such attacks, insults and perversions as a Baha’i should. Which means that I welcome them with open arms and only retaliate with love and compassion. This isn’t easy because I’m no saint. But it is my duty since my Beloved instructs me to do this.

But questions nag at me: do we really want to go down this path of name calling and “categorization”? does such behavior, even couched in academic jargon, help or hinder the Faith?

I’ll leave you to ponder that.

The danger of such wrong ideas is that (as George has demonstrated) people within the Faith are all too ready to accept them as truth. Just as the Republican strategist Karl Rove has demonstrated, if you repeat a lie a few times, soon enough, there are ample fools to believe it as truth. And all it takes is for no one to stand up to set things right.

Read For Yourself
Since I’ll be referring to Momen’s paper, here it is. You know, for your own individual investigation of truth purposes.

Although Momen provides some real full names of people, he also uses letters (AA, BB, CC, etc.) to name those he labels as “apostates”. However, since he provides background information on these unnamed “apostates”, it is very easy to identify them.

This paper is so riddled with factual errors that it is not sporting to write a full critique. That, and the fact that such an exercise would be a monumentally boring undertaking, stops me from doing so. What you will find here is more of a rant or a meandering stroll inside Momen’s paper.

The most devastating and fundamental error that Momen makes is to insist on lumping 12 people with absolutely nothing in common with each other. Unfortunately Momen didn’t bother to do one iota of real research or he would have tossed out the idea of categorizing someone like say, Alison Marshall – who is, in her own words “in love with Baha’u’llah”, and who was booted out unceremoniously by the UHJ – with someone like, say, Eric Stetson who has left the Baha’i Faith of his own accord, holds it in low regard and is now a devout Christian.

Momen writes:

The apostates described here, whatever their differences, share an obsessive hatred of their former religious community.

Obsessive hatred? This is so out of left field that I am speechless (almost).

Does Juan Cole have an “obsessive hatred” of the Baha’i Faith? To anyone who has followed his activities since his resignation it is clear that Juan is doing just fine and has not done or said anything remotely related to the topics that were discussed on Talisman. If he even refers to the Baha’i Faith nowadays it is in passing within his writings about the Middle East, current events and other work he is engaged in.

What about Denis MacEoin? Does he harbor “obsessive hatred” towards the Baha’i Faith? Again, not even close. He has left behind all work and scholarship related to the Faith to become a quite successful fiction writer under the pen name, Daniel Easterman. As far as I know he has not said a peep about the Faith nor done anything related to it since his resignation.

I’ll let K. Paul Johnson, another “apostate”, clarify in his own words in this letter to the editors of Religion (where Momen’s screed was published):

Dear Editors:

In “Marginality and Apostasy in the Baha’i Community,” Moojan Momen names me first among a list of alleged Baha’i apostates. In three sentences he misrepresents me on four crucial points:

“Johnson, a librarian, had been a Baha’i for five years (1969-1974) and could be called a serial apostate (1) since he then became a theosophist and subsequently wrote a book ‘debunking’ Blavatsky. (2) He has now moved on to Edgar Cayce’s Association for Research and Enlightenment. (3) He was active on the Talisman list as an ex-Baha’i, attacking core Baha’i beliefs (4) and publishing an article about the Talisman episode in Gnosis magazine.”

1. I was never a Baha’i apostate by Momen’s definition, resigning as a member at the age of 20 but remaining in friendly relations with Baha’is for many years thereafter. My Talisman membership in the mid-1990s was motivated primarily by the fact that I was writing a book at the time that addressed Baha’i history, and the discussion list provided access to the leading scholars in the field. Several Baha’i members of the list read relevant sections of my manuscript and made helpful suggestions; these included Robert Stockman of the National Baha’i Center and Christopher Buck, both now cited as sources by Momen, as well as Juan Cole, now named as an apostate. Since the book, Initiates of Theosophical Masters, was published in 1995 no Baha’i has ever to my knowledge suggested in any way that it was unfriendly to the Baha’i community. Far from angrily rejecting my Baha’i “spiritual past,” I embraced it in that book and in my dealings with Baha’is at the time.

2. The statement that I became a theosophist and subsequently wrote a book debunking Blavatsky is misleading in three ways. I wrote three books about Blavatsky, all while an active theosophist with substantial support from fellow theosophists. The research on which they were based was shared in a collegial atmosphere over a ten year period, in Theosophical conferences and lectures across the country and abroad. Although my books aroused some controversy, most Theosophical reviews were favorable. I have never repudiated or attacked Blavatsky and my books have generally, and accurately, been regarded as friendly to her.

3. It is untrue that I have now “moved on” to the Association for Research and Enlightenment after apostasizing from Theosophy. In 1995 I moved on from Theosophy as a literary subject and began research for a book about Edgar Cayce that appeared three years later. But I first joined the ARE thirty years ago, a few months before first joining the Theosophical Society, and have been involved intermittently with both movements ever since. The two have always been intertwined interests for me, but except for the period when I was writing about Cayce in the late 1990s, Blavatsky has been the greater influence and remains so now.

4. The claim that I participated in Talisman “as an ex-Baha’i” who attacked “core beliefs” is another misrepresentation. It is more accurate to say that I was there as a Theosophical historian, whose ex-Baha’i status inspired him to write a book that was friendly to the Baha’is. The majority of listmembers were welcoming and did not perceive me as attacking their religion. But in 1996 some of the Baha’i scholars on Talisman were targeted by the administration as dissidents which resulted in the closing of the list. My brief Gnosis article about the experience is the only thing I have ever published that was critical of the Baha’is, so I find it surprising ten years later to see myself at the head of Momen’s list. It is disheartening to see a sectarian enemies list filled with personal attacks on individuals in a scholarly journal, and I hope this will be the last instance of such an article in Religion.

Sincerely yours,

K. Paul Johnson

Martin Luther, Constructive?
Although a minor point, it is bizarre that Momen categorizes Martin Luther as an example of “constructive anger” (towards the Catholic Church). To any serious student of history, Luther was an acid tongued, indefatigable critic whose bitterness towards the Pope, papacy and the Catholic Church was frightening. He likened the pope to the genitalia of Satan and rhetorically asked his fellow Christians why they didn’t bathe their hands in the blood of cardinals and bishops. None of the so-called “apostates” on Momen’s list come close to reach the zeal and single-mindedness of Luther’s “obsessive hatred”.

Momen’s paper continuously disagrees with itself. For example, he writes:

Although these apostate groups and the very similar ?covenant-breaker’ groups, as they are known by core Baha’is, are often referred to as sects or splinter groups of the Baha’i Faith, this characterisation is in a sense incorrect. These groups are not developing their own distinctive beliefs and practices. They exist only to attack the main Baha’i community.

Here Momen gives a clue as to his true intentions: to expand the classification enough to just touch the terminology used within the Baha’i Faith for the “untouchables”; covenant-breakers. The title of “covenant-breaker” is such a loaded and powerful label within the Baha’i Faith that even implying that one is “similar” is the ultimate insult and enough to be ostracized.

The fact is that these “apostate groups” are not at all a cohesive group, nor do they have anything common with each other. They all arrived at a different crossroad and took different paths from there.

But then he goes on to attempt to prove that there is cohesion and identity within the “apostate” group through their activity of creating an “apostate mythology”. It is obvious by now that Momen has taken the leap into full fantasy mode.

Momen continues:

Since con?ict is viewed negatively by Baha’is the pathway of contention chosen by apostates is unlikely to be effective.

I’m not sure which Baha’i Faith Momen is writing about since one of Abdu’l-Baha’s (the Perfect Examplar for Baha’is) most famous quotes is this:

The shining spark of truth cometh forth only after the clash of differing opinions.

It is true that Baha’is are bidden to not engage in “dissention and strife”. The only problem is that any disagreement, however minor, or well based, is seen as “dissention” by the institutions. This has created a stifling atmosphere and choked creativity and individual initiative within the Baha’i community.

To imply that the Baha’i Faith negatively views conflict is categorically false. It is one of the inherent ingredient for successful consultation and as the Master eloquently puts it, required for the discovery of truth.

Intellectual Twilight Zone
Then Momen continues to step directly into the intellectual Twilight Zone by suggesting, just before his conclusions, that the recent movement towards “core activities” – including Ruhi – are in fact a movement towards the ideals of “apostates”.

Yet the changes that have been occurring in the Baha’i world can be seen to be in the direction suggested by some apostates.

So proving himself a formidable opponent to coherence, Momen first asserts that “apostates” are hate-filled little demons running around spewing vitriol at the Baha’i Faith and then right after, that they have the same ideals as the Universal House of Justice.

Still with me? Good. ‘Cause I’m not sure if I am. Hold me close now. We’re almost done.

The truth is that most “apostates” truly dislike Ruhi and its “monkey see, monkey do” courses. Rather than expand the mind of Baha’is and plunge them into the ocean of the Writings, it is rigid, biased and fundamentally flawed because it is based on the anachronistic Shiite tradition of taqlidabolished by Baha’u’llah long ago.

Far from empowering Baha’is to become independent learners and thinkers, Ruhi inculcates a dogmatic and cult-like “programming”.

So first he suggest that these changes align with the thinking of “apostates” and then the best that Momen can do in refuting that these changes were caused by them is to say:

Still, these changes have probably not arisen in reaction to the apostates.

Which is as water tight an argument as you’ll get inside this paper! Wow. How can I ever punch a hole in that statement: “probably not”. Wow. Just… wow.

Momen fails to prove anything nor provide any satisfying argument that is tenable. Unable to answer the calls of Baha’is and former Baha’is for improvements within the Faith, Momen falls back into the position of name calling. But since this is academia, instead of “Your Mama!” or “Nya, Nya na nya!” we have a paper which is a thinly veiled insult full of ad hominem arguments based on nothing more than empty assertions and academic jargon.

Here are Momen’s conclusions. First:

The majority of the apostates have tried to turn the status of the Baha’i Faith from that of an ?allegiant organisation’ to that of a ?subversive’ one, or a ?cult’.

Not only does Momen provide no proof of this… by using the social science model and vocabulary he has chosen, it is Momen who is implying that the Baha’i Faith is a cult!

Let me explain.

The implications of the model he is using are not very flattering to the Faith. Momen uses the framework of Bromley and it is upon Bromley’s definition of “apostasy” Momen build his tottering arguments.

I wonder if Momen actually read Bromley? If he did, then he must know that Bromley uses “apostasy” to means specifically “contested exits” from “subversive organizations”.

In other words, cults.

So implicit in Momen’s adoption and usage of Bromely’s framework is his assertion that the Baha’i Faith is a cult.

Also, several of the “exits” Moojan describes were not “contested”, i.e. cases where either the person didn’t want to leave and was forced to, or wanted to leave when the organization didn’t want them to. For Bromley it is precisely the low status of the religion in the wider society that makes “apostasy” possible. His typical apostate is an ex-member of a group that is widely considered a “cult”, that goes through “deprogamming”, and then turns around and makes a career of warning others of the horrors of the group.

This can be quite literal, as in becoming a professional counsellor or speaker. In other words, Moojan is using a model that implies that the Baha’i Faith is pretty much on the level of Hare Krishna or Scientology in the eyes of the wider society.

Second conclusion:

The experience of persons moving from the centre to marginality and on to apostasy can be the opposite of that of those who remain within the core of the movement. It is thus important to recognise that when Baha’i apostates give descriptions of tyranny and authoritarianism, they are referring to exactly the same institutions and individuals that core members experience as providing encouragement and guidance.

Momen here describes the experience of a lot of Baha’is – that of being treated by the institutions with arbitrary authority; of severe retribution; of closed and non-transparent decision making which refuses due process. Momen does not and can not refute that Baha’is have been thus treated by the institutions. And that they continue to be (sadly). All he says here is that yes, well, sometimes the institutions behave badly and sometimes well. This is like the physically abusive husband who, in his defense, points out that on occasion he takes out the garbage.

Third conclusion:

The use of the Internet by these apostates has been both extensive and crucial.

What a shocking revelation! The intertubes are being used! Wow! What’s next? Momen telling us that kids are using these “tubes” to download music? pirate movies? chat with each other? Somebody call the Nobel Institute. We have a genius on our hands.

Fourth:

By drawing on ?gures from Baha’i history, some factual and some considerably reworked, the apostates have created an apostate mythology, with its own heroes and anti-heroes.

Momen gives examples of this “mythology”: the LA Class in the 70′s, Dialogue magazine and others. The only problem is that all of the examples he provides are factual, provable and documented.

For example, Momen disputes (implicitly) that the LA Class was “suppressed” but we have the very letter of the NSA of the United States in which they write to the class members and tell them to stop. Similarly with Dialogue and the other situations, the “mythology” fantasy that Momen repeats is no mere narrative. It is historically documented fact.

Fifth:

“…apostates have been very successful in their use of the academic media to present their views.”

Again, this isn’t a conclusion but like the usage of the internet (above) a mere statement of the obvious. However, this mundane fact made to masquerade by Momen as a “conclusion”, holds within it the very reason why Momen embarked on this ridiculous exercise in the first place.

Momen (and his close minded peers) can not stand the fact that not only are the topics put forward by “apostates” lingering, waiting for any reasonable response from Baha’i theologians. But that these ideas are being exposed to the whole world (via the internet) and via academic channels to a discerning audience. So rather than respond to the legitimate concerns and criticisms, Momen has lashed out with personal insults veiled loosely in academic jargon.

Finally, Momen’s sixth conclusion:

Frustration leads to marginality and in turn to rejection of the religion.

Again, this conclusion is tacked on without any attempt to prove it. It dangles as an embarrassingly naked assertion. Truth is that frustration does not necessarily lead to marginality. Nor to rejection of religion. There are many Baha’is who are happy to be Baha’is and yet hold the views of those Momen so pointlessly shoehorns into “apostates”. You are reading the words of one such person. Alison Marshall is another example. There are many more but why continue? Momen’s flimsy argument is already in taters.

* * * * * * * * *

I know that Momen believes that he is doing good. He probably thinks that his is an attempt to discredit “apostates” and defend the Baha’i Faith against those who attack it.

Only problem is that, unbeknownst to him, he is actually doing much more damage than any of the 12 “apostates” he cites.

As Baha’u’llah said:

My imprisonment doeth Me no harm, nor do the things that have befallen Me at the hands of My enemies. That which harmeth Me is the conduct of my loved ones who, though they bear My name, yet commit that which maketh My heart and My pen to lament.

My final response is inspired by Abdu’l-Baha and a certain English professor of German descent (who’s thick accent made learning Shakespeare, Coleridge and Wordsworth somehow ironic).

First, here is Abdu’l-Baha explaining what a Baha’i is (taken directly from the official website of the Baha’is of the United States):

To be a Baha’i simply means to love all the world; to love humanity and try to serve it; to work for universal peace and universal brotherhood.

And thanks to my old teacher, I now have the perfect poem for this occasion:

He drew a circle that shut me out.
Heretic, rebel, a thing to flout
But love and I had the wit to win;
We drew a circle that took him in.
- Edwin Markham

circles-sand-edwin-markham-2

Related Links:

Karen Bacquet (a named “apostate”) responds on her blog
Alison Marshall’s (another “apostate”) reaction on her blog
From Tarikh (Baha’i Discussion List): Ahead of the Curve & Unenrolling (thanks to BahaisOnline)
A more serious commentary on Momen’s paper

Tongue in cheek response from Brendan Cook
A useful categorization chart
A humorous summary of Momen’s paper

  • Randy Burns

    The major problem with Momen’s paper is that his data is very impeachable, as he conducted much of his research on the internet where people often assume fake personalities and introduce a great deal of spin to whatever their real personal beliefs might actually be.

    Secondly, as you point out, he clearly creates a grab-bag of several distinctive groups by simply ignoring the very real differences beween these groups.

    The real question is why did he do this? He obviously had many pre-conceived notions before doing his research and simply ended up fitting the facts to his theories any way he could. This does not make for a good research paper.

    The real point is that Momen had several targets that he wanted to sling-mud at, and was willing to do this at all costs.

    Cheers, Randy

  • Randy Burns

    The major problem with Momen’s paper is that his data is very impeachable, as he conducted much of his research on the internet where people often assume fake personalities and introduce a great deal of spin to whatever their real personal beliefs might actually be.

    Secondly, as you point out, he clearly creates a grab-bag of several distinctive groups by simply ignoring the very real differences beween these groups.

    The real question is why did he do this? He obviously had many pre-conceived notions before doing his research and simply ended up fitting the facts to his theories any way he could. This does not make for a good research paper.

    The real point is that Momen had several targets that he wanted to sling-mud at, and was willing to do this at all costs.

    Cheers, Randy

  • http://www.sonjavank.com sonja

    Bacquia wrote: if you repeat a lie a few times, soon enough, there are ample fools to believe it as truth. And all it takes is for no one to stand up and set things right.

    And this is my major concern with Momen’s paper: his consistent use of the terms ?core? Bahai and ?marginal? Bahai as if these terms existed in Bahai usage before he invented them. Since then I’ve been called a ?marginal? Bahai by a US academic on an email list as if this was a fact she was stating.

    Of course I know that I am not a ?marginal? anymore than I am a ?core? Bahai because the Dutch Bahai community does not operate in such narrow-minded way. But now Momen’s paper seems to have given one educated and able U.S. Bahai the idea that there is no problem in applying this label to another person she knows nothing about, other than the fact that I am married to Sen McGlinn.

    In fact I would take issue with even labelling Sen as ?marginal?. What does this mean? Is a ?core? Bahai to be defined by the number of feasts or committees one is a member of? It is true that he is an ?unenrolled? Bahai but he is as passionate and committed about the Faith as ever. Check out his website for yourselves: http://www.sonjavank.com/sen

    At the end of Momen’s paper he refers to Sen as:
    ?a New Zealand Baha’i living in the Netherlands, who have both, like Marshall, been declared not be Baha’is because of their persistent challenges to the Universal House of Justice.? (Page 200) He provides no sources for these statements.

    What Momen says about Sen and the Universal House of Justice is incorrect. The Universal House of Justice has not claimed that Sen has challenged its authority. So this is not just bad scholarship, or at best a misconception, but unfortunately a lie. Others might repeat it, assuming it is correct because Momen published this.

    The Universal House of Justice has also not declared that Sen is not a Baha’i, as Momen wrote. They instructed that he should be removed from the rolls of the Baha’i community as not ?meeting the requirements of Baha’i membership? and Momen certainly knows of this.

    I quote Sen here:
    ? The Universal House of Justice has, however, issued a circular letter which explains its actual reasons for having me removed from the community rolls, a letter which Dr. Momen must know, but which he fails to mention. The second page of this letter refers to the first page of my book Church and State, a postmodern political theology, (which you can read here: http://www.sonjavank.com/sen/pdfs/cs_intro.pdf) but based on a selective quotation which distorted the meaning. (Since the misrepresentation is quite transparent, it seems most likely that what I wrote was incorrectly reported to the Universal House of Justice, and not by them.)

    Various speculations, one of which has been repeated by Dr. Momen, have been circulated as to the ?real’ reasons for the UHJ’s decision. So far as I know, these are all groundless, and the UHJ’s reasoning is precisely what it says in its circular letter.?

    There’s a lot more to Momen’s paper but this post is long enough!

  • http://www.sonjavank.com sonja

    Bacquia wrote: if you repeat a lie a few times, soon enough, there are ample fools to believe it as truth. And all it takes is for no one to stand up and set things right.

    And this is my major concern with Momen’s paper: his consistent use of the terms ?core? Bahai and ?marginal? Bahai as if these terms existed in Bahai usage before he invented them. Since then I’ve been called a ?marginal? Bahai by a US academic on an email list as if this was a fact she was stating.

    Of course I know that I am not a ?marginal? anymore than I am a ?core? Bahai because the Dutch Bahai community does not operate in such narrow-minded way. But now Momen’s paper seems to have given one educated and able U.S. Bahai the idea that there is no problem in applying this label to another person she knows nothing about, other than the fact that I am married to Sen McGlinn.

    In fact I would take issue with even labelling Sen as ?marginal?. What does this mean? Is a ?core? Bahai to be defined by the number of feasts or committees one is a member of? It is true that he is an ?unenrolled? Bahai but he is as passionate and committed about the Faith as ever. Check out his website for yourselves: http://www.sonjavank.com/sen

    At the end of Momen’s paper he refers to Sen as:
    ?a New Zealand Baha’i living in the Netherlands, who have both, like Marshall, been declared not be Baha’is because of their persistent challenges to the Universal House of Justice.? (Page 200) He provides no sources for these statements.

    What Momen says about Sen and the Universal House of Justice is incorrect. The Universal House of Justice has not claimed that Sen has challenged its authority. So this is not just bad scholarship, or at best a misconception, but unfortunately a lie. Others might repeat it, assuming it is correct because Momen published this.

    The Universal House of Justice has also not declared that Sen is not a Baha’i, as Momen wrote. They instructed that he should be removed from the rolls of the Baha’i community as not ?meeting the requirements of Baha’i membership? and Momen certainly knows of this.

    I quote Sen here:
    ? The Universal House of Justice has, however, issued a circular letter which explains its actual reasons for having me removed from the community rolls, a letter which Dr. Momen must know, but which he fails to mention. The second page of this letter refers to the first page of my book Church and State, a postmodern political theology, (which you can read here: http://www.sonjavank.com/sen/pdfs/cs_intro.pdf) but based on a selective quotation which distorted the meaning. (Since the misrepresentation is quite transparent, it seems most likely that what I wrote was incorrectly reported to the Universal House of Justice, and not by them.)

    Various speculations, one of which has been repeated by Dr. Momen, have been circulated as to the ?real’ reasons for the UHJ’s decision. So far as I know, these are all groundless, and the UHJ’s reasoning is precisely what it says in its circular letter.?

    There’s a lot more to Momen’s paper but this post is long enough!

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    Thanks Sonja for clearing that up. As I mentioned, Momen’s paper is so fraught with logical mistakes and factual errors that it would be a monstrous task to itemize and correct them all.

    It is quite unlike any of the other papers that he has written so I can’t help but wonder why he is off his game so much.

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    Thanks Sonja for clearing that up. As I mentioned, Momen’s paper is so fraught with logical mistakes and factual errors that it would be a monstrous task to itemize and correct them all.

    It is quite unlike any of the other papers that he has written so I can’t help but wonder why he is off his game so much.

  • Brendan Cook

    Since then I’ve been called a ‘marginal’ Bahai by a US academic on an email list as if this was a fact she was stating.

    A US academic? That could mean so many people I have no idea to whom you’re referring. None whatsoever. It could be anyone. Really.

  • Brendan Cook

    Since then I’ve been called a ‘marginal’ Bahai by a US academic on an email list as if this was a fact she was stating.

    A US academic? That could mean so many people I have no idea to whom you’re referring. None whatsoever. It could be anyone. Really.

  • Randy Burns

    Brendan, you only need one guess really. There is only one Susan Maneck after all!

    Re Sonja’s comment on core Baha’i versus marginal Baha’i: the word “core” is now being used everywhere in Baha’i media! Everything good is now “core” and the other word is never mentioned.

    Core is now a core Baha’i term.

    Cheers, Randy

  • Randy Burns

    Brendan, you only need one guess really. There is only one Susan Maneck after all!

    Re Sonja’s comment on core Baha’i versus marginal Baha’i: the word “core” is now being used everywhere in Baha’i media! Everything good is now “core” and the other word is never mentioned.

    Core is now a core Baha’i term.

    Cheers, Randy

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    Coming soon, you’ll see a very useful tool inspired by Momen’s article (hint: related links above).

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    Coming soon, you’ll see a very useful tool inspired by Momen’s article (hint: related links above).

  • http://www.sonjavank.com sonja

    Please elaborate Randy,
    I have not come across the term “core Bahai” before.
    Of course I know what “core” means :)

    I have come across the terms active and inactive Bahais, which in themselves could be used to exclude, but in practise I found they were used as ways of looking levels of participation in community activities, not as a way of judging someone’s beliefs.

  • http://www.sonjavank.com sonja

    Please elaborate Randy,
    I have not come across the term “core Bahai” before.
    Of course I know what “core” means :)

    I have come across the terms active and inactive Bahais, which in themselves could be used to exclude, but in practise I found they were used as ways of looking levels of participation in community activities, not as a way of judging someone’s beliefs.

  • Randy Burns

    Hi Sonja,

    I mean “core” referring to core activities, core beliefs, core Baha’i practices, etc. but not in reference to individual believers. Ruhi is now a “core” Baha’i practice, that is the manner in which the word is being used. I haven’t seen it used in reference to any individual Baha’is, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening though.

    Cheers, Randy

  • Randy Burns

    Hi Sonja,

    I mean “core” referring to core activities, core beliefs, core Baha’i practices, etc. but not in reference to individual believers. Ruhi is now a “core” Baha’i practice, that is the manner in which the word is being used. I haven’t seen it used in reference to any individual Baha’is, doesn’t mean it isn’t happening though.

    Cheers, Randy

  • Terry Pook

    thank you for reminding me of the poem by Edwin Markham – I have it on a powerpoint slide. many times in my previous work (HIV/AIDs specialist) I spoke about discrimination and stigma – against gays, people with HIV, people with addictions, etc – and I often used this poem for discussion.
    Terry

  • Terry Pook

    thank you for reminding me of the poem by Edwin Markham – I have it on a powerpoint slide. many times in my previous work (HIV/AIDs specialist) I spoke about discrimination and stigma – against gays, people with HIV, people with addictions, etc – and I often used this poem for discussion.
    Terry

  • http://bahaitheway.blogspot.com Priscilla Gilman

    Is the letter from the House on Sen’s disenrollment available anywhere on-line?

  • http://bahaitheway.blogspot.com Priscilla Gilman

    Is the letter from the House on Sen’s disenrollment available anywhere on-line?

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia
  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia
  • Brendan Cook

    I agree that the quote from Markham is well-chosen. But there’s another poet who answers Momen even better. I can’t think of a better response to this whole ‘core-marginal-apostate’ business than the words of Mr Dylan. Nobody else is so good at dramatizing the inconsistency between an obsession with categorizing and defining and simple, unconditional love.

    I ain’t lookin’ to compete with you,
    Beat or cheat or mistreat you,
    Simplify you, classify you,
    Deny, defy or crucify you.
    All I really want to do
    Is, baby, be friends with you.

    I ain’t lookin’ to block you up
    Shock or knock or lock you up,
    Analyze you, categorize you,
    Finalize you or advertise you.
    All I really want to do
    Is, baby, be friends with you.

    I don’t want to straight-face you,
    Race or chase you, track or trace you,
    Or disgrace you or displace you,
    Or define you or confine you.
    All I really want to do
    Is, baby, be friends with you.

    I don’t want to fake you out,
    Take or shake or forsake you out,
    I ain’t lookin’ for you to feel like me,
    See like me or be like me.
    All I really want to do
    Is, baby, be friends with you.

  • Brendan Cook

    I agree that the quote from Markham is well-chosen. But there’s another poet who answers Momen even better. I can’t think of a better response to this whole ‘core-marginal-apostate’ business than the words of Mr Dylan. Nobody else is so good at dramatizing the inconsistency between an obsession with categorizing and defining and simple, unconditional love.

    I ain’t lookin’ to compete with you,
    Beat or cheat or mistreat you,
    Simplify you, classify you,
    Deny, defy or crucify you.
    All I really want to do
    Is, baby, be friends with you.

    I ain’t lookin’ to block you up
    Shock or knock or lock you up,
    Analyze you, categorize you,
    Finalize you or advertise you.
    All I really want to do
    Is, baby, be friends with you.

    I don’t want to straight-face you,
    Race or chase you, track or trace you,
    Or disgrace you or displace you,
    Or define you or confine you.
    All I really want to do
    Is, baby, be friends with you.

    I don’t want to fake you out,
    Take or shake or forsake you out,
    I ain’t lookin’ for you to feel like me,
    See like me or be like me.
    All I really want to do
    Is, baby, be friends with you.

  • Craig Parke

    Well, maybe the Mojo Man might want to kick back with the Byrds version of the song after a hard day of, well, “scholarshiping” the despised “marginals” and hated “non-core” Baha’is into the ground. It is hard work and maybe he could use a break of some sort. Same with the Nine World Executives. It’s grim work keeping tabs on everyone and auto-disenrolling people by First Class Mail. I have heard they don’t even use Registered or Certified Mail to save on postage for the Faith. And trying to keep up with everyone’s “thought crimes” in order to throw them out of the Faith is, well, pretty darn downright exhausting work.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMICkWw75kE

    Or maybe he would like Cher’s version better. She did go higher in the charts with her version than the Byrds at the time. And, after all, she ALMOST became a Baha’i. It was true. I was there on duty at the stage door in Oklahoma City that night. But it probably turned out just as well. By never having declared she has safely missed being called a “marginal” or “non-core” in any way all these years later.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqBEE9t6ufw

    Damn ! Those Go-Go dancers in the back ground look good! It brings back memories. People just don’t move like that anymore these days!

  • Craig Parke

    Well, maybe the Mojo Man might want to kick back with the Byrds version of the song after a hard day of, well, “scholarshiping” the despised “marginals” and hated “non-core” Baha’is into the ground. It is hard work and maybe he could use a break of some sort. Same with the Nine World Executives. It’s grim work keeping tabs on everyone and auto-disenrolling people by First Class Mail. I have heard they don’t even use Registered or Certified Mail to save on postage for the Faith. And trying to keep up with everyone’s “thought crimes” in order to throw them out of the Faith is, well, pretty darn downright exhausting work.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pMICkWw75kE

    Or maybe he would like Cher’s version better. She did go higher in the charts with her version than the Byrds at the time. And, after all, she ALMOST became a Baha’i. It was true. I was there on duty at the stage door in Oklahoma City that night. But it probably turned out just as well. By never having declared she has safely missed being called a “marginal” or “non-core” in any way all these years later.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lqBEE9t6ufw

    Damn ! Those Go-Go dancers in the back ground look good! It brings back memories. People just don’t move like that anymore these days!

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  • http://www.whoisbahaullah.com Alison Marshall

    Dear Baquia,

    I love the new voice. I think it’s a real wonder and a bounty for us all. I look forward to hearing more from it.

    blessings

    Alison

  • http://www.whoisbahaullah.com Alison Marshall

    Dear Baquia,

    I love the new voice. I think it’s a real wonder and a bounty for us all. I look forward to hearing more from it.

    blessings

    Alison

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  • peyamb

    What’s sad is something like Momen’s paper enboldens the “core” group in their desire to oust those that hold the same beliefs. I’ve encountered these type of Bahais on the YouTube debates over homosexuality. Att least two “core” Bahais there have said to me that I can call myself and admirer of the Faith, but don’t call yourself a Bahai. And another one who said I can do whatever I want, but to stop calling myself Bahai, because I wasn’t one. Of course he is a confused 21 year old who is clinging to some kind of absolutist truth to give him order in life. Hopefully he’ll grow out of his cultist mentality and not remain the type of Bahai that Momen wants in the community.

  • peyamb

    What’s sad is something like Momen’s paper enboldens the “core” group in their desire to oust those that hold the same beliefs. I’ve encountered these type of Bahais on the YouTube debates over homosexuality. Att least two “core” Bahais there have said to me that I can call myself and admirer of the Faith, but don’t call yourself a Bahai. And another one who said I can do whatever I want, but to stop calling myself Bahai, because I wasn’t one. Of course he is a confused 21 year old who is clinging to some kind of absolutist truth to give him order in life. Hopefully he’ll grow out of his cultist mentality and not remain the type of Bahai that Momen wants in the community.

  • ep

    Hi Sonja,

    Thanks for the response, it is always a great pleasure to see something new online from you or Sen. I bought a couple of Sen’s church-state books and gave them to interested parties a few years ago.

    As you may know, I’m exbahai now, thank gawd.

    With all due respect, attempting to make bahai theology “modernist” or “postmodernist” is futile, there is just too much confused junk in it that supports fundies and thought police.

    basic question: have you or Sen ever considered that postmodernism isn’t all that great?

    I really appreciate all the hard work y’all have done on attempting to grok some celestial alignment of a few bits of bahai theology with pluralism and nurturing earth goddess stuff, but postmodernism isn’t exactly without its critics, e.g., Ken Wilber’s “Boomeritis”.

    Jean Gebser’s integral theory predicts that postmodernism will go bad fast, which it has, at least in the USA (paradigm regression).

    I hate to say it, but I think y’all are living in an academic bubble within a european cultural bubble.

    I would love to see Sen finish up on the postmodernism stuff and move on to integralism.

    Regards,
    Eric P.
    (formerly of talisman/irfan/etc.)
    Sacramento

  • ep

    Hi Sonja,

    Thanks for the response, it is always a great pleasure to see something new online from you or Sen. I bought a couple of Sen’s church-state books and gave them to interested parties a few years ago.

    As you may know, I’m exbahai now, thank gawd.

    With all due respect, attempting to make bahai theology “modernist” or “postmodernist” is futile, there is just too much confused junk in it that supports fundies and thought police.

    basic question: have you or Sen ever considered that postmodernism isn’t all that great?

    I really appreciate all the hard work y’all have done on attempting to grok some celestial alignment of a few bits of bahai theology with pluralism and nurturing earth goddess stuff, but postmodernism isn’t exactly without its critics, e.g., Ken Wilber’s “Boomeritis”.

    Jean Gebser’s integral theory predicts that postmodernism will go bad fast, which it has, at least in the USA (paradigm regression).

    I hate to say it, but I think y’all are living in an academic bubble within a european cultural bubble.

    I would love to see Sen finish up on the postmodernism stuff and move on to integralism.

    Regards,
    Eric P.
    (formerly of talisman/irfan/etc.)
    Sacramento

  • ep

    peyam,

    in case you aren’t depressed enough, I must say that the absolutists and fascists in bahai culture, on both left and right, will inevitably get even worse.

    that is because the world is getting worse in the same way, and bahai culture ALWAYS follows the psychosocial trends of the rest of society. (despite all the ridiculous yammering to the contrary within bahai culture)

    M&M&co. are delusional because the world has left their youthful utopias behind, and they are bitter, and are regressing their paradigms. sorry to be bleak.

    there is plenty of stuff in the world that is much more interesting to read than the current dismal bahai scholarship and the dismal scriptural metaphysics it rests on.

    hoda hafez

    Eric P.
    (exbahai)
    Sacramento

  • ep

    peyam,

    in case you aren’t depressed enough, I must say that the absolutists and fascists in bahai culture, on both left and right, will inevitably get even worse.

    that is because the world is getting worse in the same way, and bahai culture ALWAYS follows the psychosocial trends of the rest of society. (despite all the ridiculous yammering to the contrary within bahai culture)

    M&M&co. are delusional because the world has left their youthful utopias behind, and they are bitter, and are regressing their paradigms. sorry to be bleak.

    there is plenty of stuff in the world that is much more interesting to read than the current dismal bahai scholarship and the dismal scriptural metaphysics it rests on.

    hoda hafez

    Eric P.
    (exbahai)
    Sacramento

  • http://susanmaneck.com Susan Maneck

    For the record, I never called Brendan Cook a ‘marginal Baha’i.’ That wouldn’t make any sense. He was never enrolled in the first place.

  • http://susanmaneck.com Susan Maneck

    For the record, I never called Brendan Cook a ‘marginal Baha’i.’ That wouldn’t make any sense. He was never enrolled in the first place.

  • sonja

    Susan, for the record, can you confirm that you wrote to Brendan’s NSA inquiring about his enrollment which led to them finding that his local community hadn’t correctly enrolled him when he was a youth.

  • sonja

    Susan, for the record, can you confirm that you wrote to Brendan’s NSA inquiring about his enrollment which led to them finding that his local community hadn’t correctly enrolled him when he was a youth.

  • http://susanmaneck.com Susan

    Sonja,

    Where did you get that idea? No, I had no contact with the Canadian NSA regarding Brendan’s status whatsoever. The only time I have contacted the NSA of Canada has been to complain about the ABS.

    Susan

  • http://susanmaneck.com Susan

    Sonja,

    Where did you get that idea? No, I had no contact with the Canadian NSA regarding Brendan’s status whatsoever. The only time I have contacted the NSA of Canada has been to complain about the ABS.

    Susan

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