No Goats Harmed in Making of the Baha’i Faith

Haven’t seen Juno yet, but now I guess I have to

🙂

UPDATE:
I watched Juno and found it to be a charming movie. As Mavaddat mentioned in the comments section, Rainn Wilson’s role was tiny but he still gave a fantastic performance.

So far he has played smaller roles in movies and although he has been great in every movie that I’ve seen him in (Sahara was another) he hasn’t been given a career making role like his TV co-star Steve Carell with The 40 Year Old Virgin.

Steve put up a video of Rainn at the recent North East Baha’i Youth (NEBY) conference in Stamford, Connecticut.

  • Anonymous

    Some disconnected thoughts…

    I love Rainn Wilson’s wit. The movie Juno was hilarious, but Wilson plays a very small part. The whole thing is a tribute to the comedic stylings of the young Ellen Page, really.

    Chelsea Handler was really funny. I hadn’t ever seen her before this clip, but she had a good charisma about her. Although things went downhill for her in this interview went she started talking about “sucking”. Maybe the word hit a sensitive spot for Rainn…

    Regarding celebrating Christmas, I wonder how Rainn would feel if he read this bit of nonsense from Shoghi Effendi:

    As regards the celebration of the Christian Holidays by the believers; it is surely preferable and even highly advisable that the friends should in their relation to each other discontinue observing such holidays as Christmas and New Years, and to have their festal gatherings of this nature instead during the intercalary days and Naw-Ruz.

  • Some disconnected thoughts…

    I love Rainn Wilson’s wit. The movie Juno was hilarious, but Wilson plays a very small part. The whole thing is a tribute to the comedic stylings of the young Ellen Page, really.

    Chelsea Handler was really funny. I hadn’t ever seen her before this clip, but she had a good charisma about her. Although things went downhill for her in this interview went she started talking about “sucking”. Maybe the word hit a sensitive spot for Rainn…

    Regarding celebrating Christmas, I wonder how Rainn would feel if he read this bit of nonsense from Shoghi Effendi:

    As regards the celebration of the Christian Holidays by the believers; it is surely preferable and even highly advisable that the friends should in their relation to each other discontinue observing such holidays as Christmas and New Years, and to have their festal gatherings of this nature instead during the intercalary days and Naw-Ruz.

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  • yeah I thought of that but maybe his wife is not bahai so he makes a compromise

  • yeah I thought of that but maybe his wife is not bahai so he makes a compromise

  • nice about no goats being harmed 🙂

    and regarding Mavaddat’s post:
    The quotation he referred to was not written by Shoghi Effendi but was a letter to an individual written by someone (not named) on Shoghi Effendi’s behalf.

    Admittedly the following is also a letter written on Shoghi Effendi’s behalf but being addressed to a National Assembly, it has more authority than a letter written to an individual 🙂

    (Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 302)

    The exact status which Shoghi Effendi has intended the friends to
    give to those communications he sends to individual believers is
    explained in the following statement written through his secretary to
    the National Assembly on November 16, 1932:

    “As regards Shoghi Effendi’s letters to the individual Bah??’?s, he is
    always very careful not to contradict himself. He has also said that
    whenever he has something of importance to say, he invariably
    communicates it to the National Spiritual Assembly or in his general
    letters. His personal letters to individual friends are only for
    their personal benefit and even though he does not want to forbid
    their publication, he does not wish them to be used too much by the
    Bah??’? News. Only letters with special significance should be
    published there”

    (Shoghi Effendi, Extracts from the USBN)

    In googling this quotation, I found the following text which seems to follow on where Mavaddat’s quotation stops but I didn’t find a source for this, other than what was on that website and is cited below. Perhaps someone else can confirm if the following really is part of that quotation or not.


    Further, there is no objection to Bah??’?s’ attending religious marriage ceremonies of their friends and relatives or take part in festivities usually connected with these events …? — (The Universal House of Justice, 1998 Dec 16, Traditional practices in Africa)

    accessed on: http://bahai-library.org/nsa/distinctive.communities.txt

    Anyway, Mavaddat, as Rainn states in his interview, there really are no problem for Bahais to celebrating any festivals and given that Shoghi Effendi didn’t write the quotation you referred to, Rainn wouldn’t necessarally have any problems with this either.

    Some Bahais might interpret that quotation to mean that they shouldn’t celebrate Christmas, because they attritube anything written by secretaries as scripture, while others, such as myself, see the quotation being about stressing the importance of developing Bahai celebrations and seeing a distinction between these and other festivals and that this is not scripture anyway.

    And here’s are two examples of another approach, just to illustrate that there’s room in the Bahai faith for individuals to choose celebrate other religious events.

    bahai children attending sunday school:

    125. The changing of teachers should be neither too frequent nor too
    much delayed; moderation is preferable. Holding your meetings when it
    is the time of prayer in other churches is not advisable; it would
    lead to alienation, since the Bah??’? children who have their own
    Sunday school would be deprived of it if they tried to attend other
    Sunday schools. Moreover, the admission of children of non-Bah??’?
    parents to the school for Bah??’? children is permissible. And if, in
    this school, an outline of the fundamental principles underlying all
    religions be set forth for the information of the children, it can do
    no harm.
    (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 143)

    ABDUL BAHA AT THE “SALVATION ARMY” SHELTER
    London, England, Christmas Night, 1912.
    BY ISABEL FRASER.

    ON Christmas night Abdu’l Baha visited the poor of the Salvation
    Army Shelter, Westminster, where each year a Christmas dinner is
    provided for those who have no homes and no friends, and but for the
    shelter would have no lodgings. There were about 1,000 present on
    this occasion. It was a most impressive scene the dinner for the
    homeless and the Master from the East delivering Christ’s message to
    the poor. …
    – Star of the West, Vol. 3, No. 18, p. 8″


    hei konei ra / regards, Sonja

  • nice about no goats being harmed 🙂

    and regarding Mavaddat’s post:
    The quotation he referred to was not written by Shoghi Effendi but was a letter to an individual written by someone (not named) on Shoghi Effendi’s behalf.

    Admittedly the following is also a letter written on Shoghi Effendi’s behalf but being addressed to a National Assembly, it has more authority than a letter written to an individual 🙂

    (Compilations, Lights of Guidance, p. 302)

    The exact status which Shoghi Effendi has intended the friends to
    give to those communications he sends to individual believers is
    explained in the following statement written through his secretary to
    the National Assembly on November 16, 1932:

    “As regards Shoghi Effendi’s letters to the individual Bah??’?s, he is
    always very careful not to contradict himself. He has also said that
    whenever he has something of importance to say, he invariably
    communicates it to the National Spiritual Assembly or in his general
    letters. His personal letters to individual friends are only for
    their personal benefit and even though he does not want to forbid
    their publication, he does not wish them to be used too much by the
    Bah??’? News. Only letters with special significance should be
    published there”

    (Shoghi Effendi, Extracts from the USBN)

    In googling this quotation, I found the following text which seems to follow on where Mavaddat’s quotation stops but I didn’t find a source for this, other than what was on that website and is cited below. Perhaps someone else can confirm if the following really is part of that quotation or not.


    Further, there is no objection to Bah??’?s’ attending religious marriage ceremonies of their friends and relatives or take part in festivities usually connected with these events …? — (The Universal House of Justice, 1998 Dec 16, Traditional practices in Africa)

    accessed on: http://bahai-library.org/nsa/distinctive.communities.txt

    Anyway, Mavaddat, as Rainn states in his interview, there really are no problem for Bahais to celebrating any festivals and given that Shoghi Effendi didn’t write the quotation you referred to, Rainn wouldn’t necessarally have any problems with this either.

    Some Bahais might interpret that quotation to mean that they shouldn’t celebrate Christmas, because they attritube anything written by secretaries as scripture, while others, such as myself, see the quotation being about stressing the importance of developing Bahai celebrations and seeing a distinction between these and other festivals and that this is not scripture anyway.

    And here’s are two examples of another approach, just to illustrate that there’s room in the Bahai faith for individuals to choose celebrate other religious events.

    bahai children attending sunday school:

    125. The changing of teachers should be neither too frequent nor too
    much delayed; moderation is preferable. Holding your meetings when it
    is the time of prayer in other churches is not advisable; it would
    lead to alienation, since the Bah??’? children who have their own
    Sunday school would be deprived of it if they tried to attend other
    Sunday schools. Moreover, the admission of children of non-Bah??’?
    parents to the school for Bah??’? children is permissible. And if, in
    this school, an outline of the fundamental principles underlying all
    religions be set forth for the information of the children, it can do
    no harm.
    (Abdu’l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu’l-Baha, p. 143)

    ABDUL BAHA AT THE “SALVATION ARMY” SHELTER
    London, England, Christmas Night, 1912.
    BY ISABEL FRASER.

    ON Christmas night Abdu’l Baha visited the poor of the Salvation
    Army Shelter, Westminster, where each year a Christmas dinner is
    provided for those who have no homes and no friends, and but for the
    shelter would have no lodgings. There were about 1,000 present on
    this occasion. It was a most impressive scene the dinner for the
    homeless and the Master from the East delivering Christ’s message to
    the poor. …
    – Star of the West, Vol. 3, No. 18, p. 8″


    hei konei ra / regards, Sonja

  • Anonymous

    Hi Sonja,

    You wrote:

    The quotation […] was not written by Shoghi Effendi but was a letter to an individual written by someone (not named) on Shoghi Effendi’s behalf.

    I’ve often heard Bah??’?s cop this excuse when met with something unpleasant in Shoghi Effendi’s letters. However, this excuse has no grounding in anything except imagination, since there’s absolutely no reason to think that letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi carry any less weight (authority) than those written by himself.

    […] the following is also a letter written on Shoghi Effendi’s behalf but being addressed to a National Assembly, it has more authority than a letter written to an individual 🙂

    There is also nothing anywhere in the whole expanse of the Bah??’? writings that acknowledges this heirarchy of authority as depending on the addressee (i.e., individual versus NSA). It is, again, something made-up. Imagination. Fiction.

    The fact that Shoghi Effendi’s letters to the National Spiritual Assemblies may be “more important” says absolutely nothing about their authority. It is a principle you have conjured up from your own powers of reasoning, perhaps rightly so objectively speaking, but nevertheless, in utter opposition to the religion for which you supposedly stand.

    This is because, in their own correspondence, the Universal House of Justice repeatedly refers to and cites the letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi both to individuals and National Spiritual Assemblies with equal authority. They never spare or disregard a quotation on the grounds that it was written to an individual or written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi. Quite the opposite. This principle you are proposing simply does not exist.

    The fact that Shoghi Effendi apparently disregarded the example of ‘Abdu’l-Bah??’s that you cited from “Star of the West” is simply a contradiction on his part. An inconsistency. And another reason to doubt the collective infallibility of the whole lot. The point about children attending Sunday school is clearly irrelevant, since it has nothing to do with celebrating other religions’ holidays.

    Again, we see that this is an issue of picking-and-choosing what to follow when something unpleasant crops up in the writings of Shoghi Effendi. I do sympathize, really I do, because there is so much that is unpleasant in his writings; however, if you want to pick and choose, then you shouldn’t be a Bah??’?.
    ‘Abdu’l-Bah?? writes,

    To none is given the right to put forth his own opinion or express his particular conviction. All must seek guidance and turn unto the Center of the Cause and the House of Justice. And he that turneth unto whatsoever else is indeed in grievous error.

    So denounce the nonsense by all means, but be consistent: Don’t pretend that the religion still has authority when you’re choosing what you follow.

  • Hi Sonja,

    You wrote:

    The quotation […] was not written by Shoghi Effendi but was a letter to an individual written by someone (not named) on Shoghi Effendi’s behalf.

    I’ve often heard Bah??’?s cop this excuse when met with something unpleasant in Shoghi Effendi’s letters. However, this excuse has no grounding in anything except imagination, since there’s absolutely no reason to think that letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi carry any less weight (authority) than those written by himself.

    […] the following is also a letter written on Shoghi Effendi’s behalf but being addressed to a National Assembly, it has more authority than a letter written to an individual 🙂

    There is also nothing anywhere in the whole expanse of the Bah??’? writings that acknowledges this heirarchy of authority as depending on the addressee (i.e., individual versus NSA). It is, again, something made-up. Imagination. Fiction.

    The fact that Shoghi Effendi’s letters to the National Spiritual Assemblies may be “more important” says absolutely nothing about their authority. It is a principle you have conjured up from your own powers of reasoning, perhaps rightly so objectively speaking, but nevertheless, in utter opposition to the religion for which you supposedly stand.

    This is because, in their own correspondence, the Universal House of Justice repeatedly refers to and cites the letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi both to individuals and National Spiritual Assemblies with equal authority. They never spare or disregard a quotation on the grounds that it was written to an individual or written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi. Quite the opposite. This principle you are proposing simply does not exist.

    The fact that Shoghi Effendi apparently disregarded the example of ‘Abdu’l-Bah??’s that you cited from “Star of the West” is simply a contradiction on his part. An inconsistency. And another reason to doubt the collective infallibility of the whole lot. The point about children attending Sunday school is clearly irrelevant, since it has nothing to do with celebrating other religions’ holidays.

    Again, we see that this is an issue of picking-and-choosing what to follow when something unpleasant crops up in the writings of Shoghi Effendi. I do sympathize, really I do, because there is so much that is unpleasant in his writings; however, if you want to pick and choose, then you shouldn’t be a Bah??’?.
    ‘Abdu’l-Bah?? writes,

    To none is given the right to put forth his own opinion or express his particular conviction. All must seek guidance and turn unto the Center of the Cause and the House of Justice. And he that turneth unto whatsoever else is indeed in grievous error.

    So denounce the nonsense by all means, but be consistent: Don’t pretend that the religion still has authority when you’re choosing what you follow.

  • Anonymous

    Yes, perhaps. More picking-and-choosing — The fun never stops!

  • Yes, perhaps. More picking-and-choosing — The fun never stops!

  • concourse_on_low

    I love how Bahai’s hyperventilate with joy anytime the Faith is mentioned in the media. Emergin’ from obscurity. Yeeeah.

  • concourse_on_low

    I love how Bahai’s hyperventilate with joy anytime the Faith is mentioned in the media. Emergin’ from obscurity. Yeeeah.

  • Andrew

    Apparently not! And it seems like I’m on a roll these days!

    “They hatch the eggs of vipers and spin a spider’s web. Whoever eats their eggs will die, and when one is broken, an adder is hatched.”

    In addition to reading a gratuitous hiss thrown toward me, you can also read about “the real Baha’u’llah” here:

    http://meditationsonbahaullah.blogspot.com/

    “If these reflect the characteristics of a dictator, then may we have more of them!” Indeed! And if we don’t like them, then may we be subject to the indignant wrath of God’s servants! May we be chastised profusely by the Handmaids of Holiness! Sleep in peace, for the spirit of love reigneth and ruleth!

    “Empire is sleep. The colonised are Sleepwalkers.”

  • Andrew

    Apparently not! And it seems like I’m on a roll these days!

    “They hatch the eggs of vipers and spin a spider’s web. Whoever eats their eggs will die, and when one is broken, an adder is hatched.”

    In addition to reading a gratuitous hiss thrown toward me, you can also read about “the real Baha’u’llah” here:

    http://meditationsonbahaullah.blogspot.com/

    “If these reflect the characteristics of a dictator, then may we have more of them!” Indeed! And if we don’t like them, then may we be subject to the indignant wrath of God’s servants! May we be chastised profusely by the Handmaids of Holiness! Sleep in peace, for the spirit of love reigneth and ruleth!

    “Empire is sleep. The colonised are Sleepwalkers.”

  • Kate

    Ayyam-i-Ha is nearly upon us, a joyful time for those who are Baha’is. Our home has remnants still of visits from Christian and Jewish friends who celebrated their own festivals and with whom we exchanged presents and fun times. But one of our special times is approaching and that is where our hearts lie. What’s wrong with that? Nothing at all. Mavaddat, as you do not accept Baha’u’llah as the Messenger of God for today, why do you bother so much with the Bah??’? Faith? It does not apply to you – not one dotted i of it, or one crossed t. Why don’t you apply your undoubted intelligence and talents to something that will bring you joy?

  • Kate

    Ayyam-i-Ha is nearly upon us, a joyful time for those who are Baha’is. Our home has remnants still of visits from Christian and Jewish friends who celebrated their own festivals and with whom we exchanged presents and fun times. But one of our special times is approaching and that is where our hearts lie. What’s wrong with that? Nothing at all. Mavaddat, as you do not accept Baha’u’llah as the Messenger of God for today, why do you bother so much with the Bah??’? Faith? It does not apply to you – not one dotted i of it, or one crossed t. Why don’t you apply your undoubted intelligence and talents to something that will bring you joy?

  • Anonymous

    Wow, Andrew. That is just silly. The analysis given by Juan Cole, cited by Alison, is an attempted philosophical one; but as we know, Dr. Cole is an historian. And here, it shows.

    Dr. Cole thinks that he shows that Bah??’u’ll??h was not a dictatorial authority of the fascist kind because he, for example, “refused to intervene in the dispute between Jamal-i Burujirdi”. But did he really refuse?

    From the text of the epistle, it seems not. Rather, Bah??’u’ll??h intervenes quite forcefully, and tells both men that they are right, and that God adores contradiction so long as those contradicting do not contend with one another. That this is pure nonsense and “white noise”, as Christopher Hitchens puts it, is besides the point. The point is simply that Bah??’u’ll??h’s word is (supposed to be taken as) final and authoritative.

    Sure, Bah??’u’ll??h didn’t want his time wasted with inane questions; but you can bet that when he did give an answer, that answer was final and binding.

    That Dr. Cole think that presenting evidence of Bah??’?s ignoring Bah??’u’ll??h’s advice in any way suggests that Bah??’u’ll??h was not dictatorial or authoritarian shows Dr. Cole’s lack of distinction between is and ought. I have made this point elsewhere, but it bears repeating.

    In this vein, it’s important to distinguish between what the Bah??’? Faith, as a religion, expects of Bah??’?s, and what expectations Bah??’?s actually fulfill. This is analogous to the distinction between what the state expects of its citizens and what laws the citizens actually follow. In a democracy, although the citizenry is (indirectly) responsible for what laws are passed, how the citizens behave at any one time nevertheless has no bearing on what laws they are expected to obey at that time.

    Thus, the example of Bah??’?s disobeying Bah??’u’ll??h is utterly irrelevant to the question of whether they were expected to have submitted to Bah??’u’ll??h, which would have rendered him as their personal dictator. That this was indeed Bah??’u’ll??h’s secret fantasy is so demonstrated by a preponderance of textual evidence that I leave it to the fair-minded reader to verify this him or her self.

    The point I think Alison Marshall is missing is that all totalitarian schemes are guided by the highest moral guidance. I own a book of quotations by M??o Z?d?ng. Do you have any idea how many beautiful ideas are in that book? How many phrases that literally echo the ideals of the Bah??’? Faith? I could not count them for you. But the fact that they are high ideals is not in anyway contrary to the fact that Mao’s communism was avowedly totalitarian. On the contrary. Totalitarianism positively requires these high ideals. Allison misses this point and misses her mark. This would be a point of mere pedantry of no real consequence, except for the very real consequences that the 20th Century has shown us that this lust for fascism has on the world…

  • Wow, Andrew. That is just silly. The analysis given by Juan Cole, cited by Alison, is an attempted philosophical one; but as we know, Dr. Cole is an historian. And here, it shows.

    Dr. Cole thinks that he shows that Bah??’u’ll??h was not a dictatorial authority of the fascist kind because he, for example, “refused to intervene in the dispute between Jamal-i Burujirdi”. But did he really refuse?

    From the text of the epistle, it seems not. Rather, Bah??’u’ll??h intervenes quite forcefully, and tells both men that they are right, and that God adores contradiction so long as those contradicting do not contend with one another. That this is pure nonsense and “white noise”, as Christopher Hitchens puts it, is besides the point. The point is simply that Bah??’u’ll??h’s word is (supposed to be taken as) final and authoritative.

    Sure, Bah??’u’ll??h didn’t want his time wasted with inane questions; but you can bet that when he did give an answer, that answer was final and binding.

    That Dr. Cole think that presenting evidence of Bah??’?s ignoring Bah??’u’ll??h’s advice in any way suggests that Bah??’u’ll??h was not dictatorial or authoritarian shows Dr. Cole’s lack of distinction between is and ought. I have made this point elsewhere, but it bears repeating.

    In this vein, it’s important to distinguish between what the Bah??’? Faith, as a religion, expects of Bah??’?s, and what expectations Bah??’?s actually fulfill. This is analogous to the distinction between what the state expects of its citizens and what laws the citizens actually follow. In a democracy, although the citizenry is (indirectly) responsible for what laws are passed, how the citizens behave at any one time nevertheless has no bearing on what laws they are expected to obey at that time.

    Thus, the example of Bah??’?s disobeying Bah??’u’ll??h is utterly irrelevant to the question of whether they were expected to have submitted to Bah??’u’ll??h, which would have rendered him as their personal dictator. That this was indeed Bah??’u’ll??h’s secret fantasy is so demonstrated by a preponderance of textual evidence that I leave it to the fair-minded reader to verify this him or her self.

    The point I think Alison Marshall is missing is that all totalitarian schemes are guided by the highest moral guidance. I own a book of quotations by M??o Z?d?ng. Do you have any idea how many beautiful ideas are in that book? How many phrases that literally echo the ideals of the Bah??’? Faith? I could not count them for you. But the fact that they are high ideals is not in anyway contrary to the fact that Mao’s communism was avowedly totalitarian. On the contrary. Totalitarianism positively requires these high ideals. Allison misses this point and misses her mark. This would be a point of mere pedantry of no real consequence, except for the very real consequences that the 20th Century has shown us that this lust for fascism has on the world…

  • Anonymous

    She is a human and has feelings. That counts. Surely we can openly criticize each others beliefs (and even get passionate and angry about it!) without insulting one another personally.

  • She is a human and has feelings. That counts. Surely we can openly criticize each others beliefs (and even get passionate and angry about it!) without insulting one another personally.

  • Kate,

    What is it about Ayyam-i-Ha that should preclude freedom of thought and respectful dialogue?

    And what is it about Ayyam-i-Ha that encourages self-righteous hyper-sensitivity to the clearly articulated (and respectful) opinions of others?

    Who has attacked your “special time?” Nobody.

    I read your words to Mavaddat as meaning, “Mavaddat, you are not a part of my moral enclave of specialness. Why don’t you just shut up and go away?” Am I wrong? Or was that code for ‘Happy Holidays?’

    You say, “as you do not accept Baha’u’llah as the Messenger of God for today, why do you bother so much with the Bah??’? Faith? It does not apply to you – not one dotted i of it, or one crossed t. ” That says to me, and to alot of readers of this blog, that you are not familiar with your own sacred writings, or you choose to ignore them. Here’s what you’re either ignorant of or turning a blind eye to:

    1) The concept of the innate “oneness” of humanity. That when ANY group of people are being oppressed by ANY group of people, it is the business of ALL people, regardless of their respective tiny societal sub-group labels to correct this. (Please see below Mavaddat’s defense of YOU in his response to POTA, for an instructional example of this practice in action.)

    2) Your religion has as it’s goal the creation of a Baha’i World Commonwealth, where ALL people, Baha’i or not, will be subject to the unjust agendas of the Baha’i Faith. You should thank people like Mavaddat who have the foresight to be worried about the welfare of YOUR great-great-grandchildren. If you find you disagree with him, or anyone, on their specific criticisms of the Baha’i Faith, perhaps a more constructive approach would be to actually try offering respectful, specific criticism yourself rather than volleying irrelevent (and insulting) quotations from scripture, or relying on weak appeals to the spirit of the season to back up your platitudes.

    And POTA, everyone on this blog would appreciate you checking your misogyny at the door. We get enough of it from the Writings. Thanks.

    Amanda

  • Kate,

    What is it about Ayyam-i-Ha that should preclude freedom of thought and respectful dialogue?

    And what is it about Ayyam-i-Ha that encourages self-righteous hyper-sensitivity to the clearly articulated (and respectful) opinions of others?

    Who has attacked your “special time?” Nobody.

    I read your words to Mavaddat as meaning, “Mavaddat, you are not a part of my moral enclave of specialness. Why don’t you just shut up and go away?” Am I wrong? Or was that code for ‘Happy Holidays?’

    You say, “as you do not accept Baha’u’llah as the Messenger of God for today, why do you bother so much with the Bah??’? Faith? It does not apply to you – not one dotted i of it, or one crossed t. ” That says to me, and to alot of readers of this blog, that you are not familiar with your own sacred writings, or you choose to ignore them. Here’s what you’re either ignorant of or turning a blind eye to:

    1) The concept of the innate “oneness” of humanity. That when ANY group of people are being oppressed by ANY group of people, it is the business of ALL people, regardless of their respective tiny societal sub-group labels to correct this. (Please see below Mavaddat’s defense of YOU in his response to POTA, for an instructional example of this practice in action.)

    2) Your religion has as it’s goal the creation of a Baha’i World Commonwealth, where ALL people, Baha’i or not, will be subject to the unjust agendas of the Baha’i Faith. You should thank people like Mavaddat who have the foresight to be worried about the welfare of YOUR great-great-grandchildren. If you find you disagree with him, or anyone, on their specific criticisms of the Baha’i Faith, perhaps a more constructive approach would be to actually try offering respectful, specific criticism yourself rather than volleying irrelevent (and insulting) quotations from scripture, or relying on weak appeals to the spirit of the season to back up your platitudes.

    And POTA, everyone on this blog would appreciate you checking your misogyny at the door. We get enough of it from the Writings. Thanks.

    Amanda

  • Anonymous

    In retrospect, I think this particular issue is moot (whether celebrating Christmas with non-Bah??’? friends is alright), since it seems that Shoghi Effendi is specifically referring to the Bah??’? communities holding their own Christmas celebrations (amongst themselves) rather than about Bah??’?s visiting their non-Bah??’? friends’ celebrations.

    However, the objections still stand regarding the method of dismissing some authoritative texts as somehow “less authoritative” simply on the grounds that they were written by a secretary or to an individual.

    Consider the consequences of this principle: If it is true that Shoghi Effendi’s infallible word somehow becomes less authoritative when it is in a letter written on his behalf, then it means that Bah??’u’ll??h’s word is less authoritative when written down by an amanuensis. We know that Shoghi Effendi personally consulted with his secretaries to make sure they conveyed his meaning (if not his exact words) in the letters written on his behalf. This is only one step removed from Bah??’u’ll??h’s transcription to a scribe who wrote his words down for him. So are we to pick-and-choose from Bah??’u’ll??h’s words too on the grounds that they were transcribed?

    But wait, wasn’t Bah??’u’ll??h writing on God’s behalf, himself? So should we take Bah??’u’ll??h’s word as less authoritative, since everything from Bah??’u’ll??h is merely “written on behalf of God,” as it were?

    And what of this writing to individuals business? Almost everything Bah??’u’ll??h wrote in his entire career as a self-styled representative of God was written to individuals in response to often personal and subjective questions. So should we take Bah??’u’ll??h’s answers to these people (which comprises almost everything he wrote, including the Kitab-i-Aqdas) as somehow less authoritative than what he wrote to the nations?

    No. Surely, the whole of Bah??’? theology makes nonsense of these two principles.

  • In retrospect, I think this particular issue is moot (whether celebrating Christmas with non-Bah??’? friends is alright), since it seems that Shoghi Effendi is specifically referring to the Bah??’? communities holding their own Christmas celebrations (amongst themselves) rather than about Bah??’?s visiting their non-Bah??’? friends’ celebrations.

    However, the objections still stand regarding the method of dismissing some authoritative texts as somehow “less authoritative” simply on the grounds that they were written by a secretary or to an individual.

    Consider the consequences of this principle: If it is true that Shoghi Effendi’s infallible word somehow becomes less authoritative when it is in a letter written on his behalf, then it means that Bah??’u’ll??h’s word is less authoritative when written down by an amanuensis. We know that Shoghi Effendi personally consulted with his secretaries to make sure they conveyed his meaning (if not his exact words) in the letters written on his behalf. This is only one step removed from Bah??’u’ll??h’s transcription to a scribe who wrote his words down for him. So are we to pick-and-choose from Bah??’u’ll??h’s words too on the grounds that they were transcribed?

    But wait, wasn’t Bah??’u’ll??h writing on God’s behalf, himself? So should we take Bah??’u’ll??h’s word as less authoritative, since everything from Bah??’u’ll??h is merely “written on behalf of God,” as it were?

    And what of this writing to individuals business? Almost everything Bah??’u’ll??h wrote in his entire career as a self-styled representative of God was written to individuals in response to often personal and subjective questions. So should we take Bah??’u’ll??h’s answers to these people (which comprises almost everything he wrote, including the Kitab-i-Aqdas) as somehow less authoritative than what he wrote to the nations?

    No. Surely, the whole of Bah??’? theology makes nonsense of these two principles.

  • Kate

    Amanda,

    You are free to voice your beliefs and concerns how you wish and I am likewise free to do the same. We are all so different and we cannot dictate to each other how to be and do. If you find my posts to be unpleasant or insulting, then please skip them.

  • Kate

    Amanda,

    You are free to voice your beliefs and concerns how you wish and I am likewise free to do the same. We are all so different and we cannot dictate to each other how to be and do. If you find my posts to be unpleasant or insulting, then please skip them.

  • Anonymous

    Hi Kate,

    You wrote:

    Mavaddat, as you do not accept Baha’u’llah as the Messenger of God for today, why do you bother so much with the Bah??’? Faith?

    I often wonder this same thing, Kate. It’s a personal question and the answer will have to be personal too, but there really isn’t one reason. There are many.

    Firstly, I was raised in a Bah??’? community to Bah??’? parents, Bah??’? cousins and many of my closest friends and family are Bah??’?s. I make this point first because you seemed to have taken it for granted that

    [The Bah??’? belief] does not apply to you – not one dotted i of it, or one crossed t.

    but clearly it does, since my friends and family still hold me to standards of conversation and behaviour that I personally no longer accept. So I want to simultaneously communicate my state of mind to them, and to people like you, so that you can understand why people like me might be so unimpressed by your religion.

    Secondly, critical examination of my former beliefs is therapeutic for me. You can take this as, “It is healthy for me to vent my frustrations.” If you don’t like what I’m writing, then please follow the advice of this wise woman:

    If you find my posts to be unpleasant or insulting, then please skip them.

    Thirdly, I like to think about questions; and I derive most of my questions about life and truth from my former faith. I am passionate about the truth and how we as a humanity should live our lives. As Amanda pointed out, the Bah??’? Faith takes the pretense to having the only (perfectly) correct answers to these questions, and thus, it demands criticism. By accepting the Bah??’? Faith, you implicitly make assumptions about how I and the rest of humanity should live our lives, and you expect me us not to criticize your dogmas? Please.

    Fourthly, I want to help other people avoid the pain I went through. Upon realizing that the faith was built on shallow deceptions and unfounded superstitions, I felt lied to and my whole world got turned upside down. I also wasted thousands of my own dollars travel teaching, serving, and donating to “the cause.” I wasted a great deal of my time, and I don’t want anyone else to have to go through the same thing.

    Fifthly, I think that the Bah??’? Faith helps to spread a grossly unjust and perverted picture of human sexuality. This is most especially seen in its condemnation of homosexuality, but also in its obsession with chastity and premarital sex. That these doctrines are unhealthy for society is proved by the comparison of the divorce rate among atheists and agnostics (21%) versus that of Bah??’?s, which (since last count) is actually higher than the national average in the United States.

    And lastly, I genuinely love the Bah??’? community. I really, really do. And I think it is suffering from a stultifying group-think that has rendered it well-nigh mindless. I think that the Bah??’? world would be much better served at least adopting the kind of critical approach epitomized by people like Baquia.

    Ultimately though, I must admit, I wish that humanity could out-grow its need for myths and superstitions to get along with one another. It is 2008: The time has come for us to love for the sake of love, and not for the sake of impressing an almighty dictator in the sky. No. I take that back. That time has long been here. Religion is holding humanity back. And it’s time to let go.

    Does that answer your question?

  • Hi Kate,

    You wrote:

    Mavaddat, as you do not accept Baha’u’llah as the Messenger of God for today, why do you bother so much with the Bah??’? Faith?

    I often wonder this same thing, Kate. It’s a personal question and the answer will have to be personal too, but there really isn’t one reason. There are many.

    Firstly, I was raised in a Bah??’? community to Bah??’? parents, Bah??’? cousins and many of my closest friends and family are Bah??’?s. I make this point first because you seemed to have taken it for granted that

    [The Bah??’? belief] does not apply to you – not one dotted i of it, or one crossed t.

    but clearly it does, since my friends and family still hold me to standards of conversation and behaviour that I personally no longer accept. So I want to simultaneously communicate my state of mind to them, and to people like you, so that you can understand why people like me might be so unimpressed by your religion.

    Secondly, critical examination of my former beliefs is therapeutic for me. You can take this as, “It is healthy for me to vent my frustrations.” If you don’t like what I’m writing, then please follow the advice of this wise woman:

    If you find my posts to be unpleasant or insulting, then please skip them.

    Thirdly, I like to think about questions; and I derive most of my questions about life and truth from my former faith. I am passionate about the truth and how we as a humanity should live our lives. As Amanda pointed out, the Bah??’? Faith takes the pretense to having the only (perfectly) correct answers to these questions, and thus, it demands criticism. By accepting the Bah??’? Faith, you implicitly make assumptions about how I and the rest of humanity should live our lives, and you expect me us not to criticize your dogmas? Please.

    Fourthly, I want to help other people avoid the pain I went through. Upon realizing that the faith was built on shallow deceptions and unfounded superstitions, I felt lied to and my whole world got turned upside down. I also wasted thousands of my own dollars travel teaching, serving, and donating to “the cause.” I wasted a great deal of my time, and I don’t want anyone else to have to go through the same thing.

    Fifthly, I think that the Bah??’? Faith helps to spread a grossly unjust and perverted picture of human sexuality. This is most especially seen in its condemnation of homosexuality, but also in its obsession with chastity and premarital sex. That these doctrines are unhealthy for society is proved by the comparison of the divorce rate among atheists and agnostics (21%) versus that of Bah??’?s, which (since last count) is actually higher than the national average in the United States.

    And lastly, I genuinely love the Bah??’? community. I really, really do. And I think it is suffering from a stultifying group-think that has rendered it well-nigh mindless. I think that the Bah??’? world would be much better served at least adopting the kind of critical approach epitomized by people like Baquia.

    Ultimately though, I must admit, I wish that humanity could out-grow its need for myths and superstitions to get along with one another. It is 2008: The time has come for us to love for the sake of love, and not for the sake of impressing an almighty dictator in the sky. No. I take that back. That time has long been here. Religion is holding humanity back. And it’s time to let go.

    Does that answer your question?

  • Mavaddat, you wrote:

    since there’s absolutely no reason to think that letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi carry any less weight (authority) than those written by himself.

    and yes, you are correct, I should not have expressed this in my post as if there was a logic there, instead I should have said it was because a letter written on Shoghi Effendi’s behalf states this, quoted in my post above:

    ?As regards Shoghi Effendi’s letters to the individual Bah??’?s, he is
    always very careful not to contradict himself. He has also said that
    whenever he has something of importance to say, he invariably
    communicates it to the National Spiritual Assembly or in his general
    letters. His personal letters to individual friends are only for
    their personal benefit

    However as you wrote, it is true that

    in their own correspondence, the Universal House of Justice repeatedly refers to and cites the letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi both to individuals and National Spiritual Assemblies with equal authority.

    and the Universal House of Justice also quotes unauthentic texts such as Pilgrim’s notes in its correspondence as well as making interpretations such as:

    ‘Abdu’l-Bah?? anticipated that the Lesser Peace could be established before
    the end of the twentieth century.
    (From a letter written on
    behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 15
    April 1976)
    br />
    (International Teaching Centre, 1984 Jul 01, Concerns about Retributive Calamity)

    and later the Universal House of Justice wrote:

    In reviewing this material it becomes apparent that there is nothing in the authoritative Bah??’? Writings to indicate that the Lesser Peace would be established before the end of the twentieth century.

    (The Universal House of Justice, 2001 Apr 19, Unity of Nations and the Lesser Peace)

    Some individuals might say, this is an example of inconsistency, and yet others might see this as not being scripture to start with.

    There are countless unauthentic texts attributed to Abdul-Baha used all the time by Bahais, and likewise the thousands, probably tens of thousands of letters written to individuals which the Bahais use as if they are authorative, even though, Shoghi Effendi clearly (in the quotation above) didn’t want them to be used in this way.

    For me it is not a case of picking and choosing, but an attempt to find a principle and to understand Shoghi Effendi’s own thinking as he intended.

    Let me explain here: when I first became a Bahai, all seemed to so open and possible and then almost month by month it seemed, Bahai after Bahai would tell me I couldn’t:
    1) live as I was in a mixed gender flat with other students
    2) work as a nude model for the art school
    3) participate actively in the Save the Aramoana campaign (we were against the building of an aluminium smelter at the head of the harbour which was also a breeding area for birds.)

    And each time it felt as if Shoghi Effendi was hitting me over the head with a hammer because I was told this is what Shoghi Effendi had said. Fortunately I ignored this because it didn’t seem to match with what I found in the writings myself and I placed a greater importance on this than on what Bahais were telling me, especially when they didn’t come up with support from the writings.
    Let me stress here, all the Bahais at the time were wonderful people and that there was no conflict. They gave me advice as a new Bahai and left it up to me to make my own decisions.
    Later as I read more and met more Bahais, I realised that my ‘hate’ towards what I was told Shoghi Effendi had said, including homophobia were not penned by him, and it was certainly not as in the case of Baha’u’llah that the secretaries were taking dictation.

    You final point about Baha’u’llah’s own writings I agree with. As I stated above that principle of Shoghi Effendi’s letters only has validity because of Shoghi Effendi’s own instruction.

    So, for me, it is not a case of picking and choosing or ignoring authentic Scripture, but as an individual Bahai, trying to apply the principle of independent investigation. Since I believe there is authority in the writings, I am motivated to keep digging until I find something that makes sense to me. Of course tomorrow it might not and then I’ll have to start all over.

    And… I appreciate your directness in your posts and I object to the comments assuming that such questions are not relevant for a non-Bahai to make. I think they are, but then I’m one of those silly Bahais who thinks that the Bahai Teachings have meaning for the world 🙂

  • Mavaddat, you wrote:

    since there’s absolutely no reason to think that letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi carry any less weight (authority) than those written by himself.

    and yes, you are correct, I should not have expressed this in my post as if there was a logic there, instead I should have said it was because a letter written on Shoghi Effendi’s behalf states this, quoted in my post above:

    ?As regards Shoghi Effendi’s letters to the individual Bah??’?s, he is
    always very careful not to contradict himself. He has also said that
    whenever he has something of importance to say, he invariably
    communicates it to the National Spiritual Assembly or in his general
    letters. His personal letters to individual friends are only for
    their personal benefit

    However as you wrote, it is true that

    in their own correspondence, the Universal House of Justice repeatedly refers to and cites the letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi both to individuals and National Spiritual Assemblies with equal authority.

    and the Universal House of Justice also quotes unauthentic texts such as Pilgrim’s notes in its correspondence as well as making interpretations such as:

    ‘Abdu’l-Bah?? anticipated that the Lesser Peace could be established before
    the end of the twentieth century.
    (From a letter written on
    behalf of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, 15
    April 1976)
    br />
    (International Teaching Centre, 1984 Jul 01, Concerns about Retributive Calamity)

    and later the Universal House of Justice wrote:

    In reviewing this material it becomes apparent that there is nothing in the authoritative Bah??’? Writings to indicate that the Lesser Peace would be established before the end of the twentieth century.

    (The Universal House of Justice, 2001 Apr 19, Unity of Nations and the Lesser Peace)

    Some individuals might say, this is an example of inconsistency, and yet others might see this as not being scripture to start with.

    There are countless unauthentic texts attributed to Abdul-Baha used all the time by Bahais, and likewise the thousands, probably tens of thousands of letters written to individuals which the Bahais use as if they are authorative, even though, Shoghi Effendi clearly (in the quotation above) didn’t want them to be used in this way.

    For me it is not a case of picking and choosing, but an attempt to find a principle and to understand Shoghi Effendi’s own thinking as he intended.

    Let me explain here: when I first became a Bahai, all seemed to so open and possible and then almost month by month it seemed, Bahai after Bahai would tell me I couldn’t:
    1) live as I was in a mixed gender flat with other students
    2) work as a nude model for the art school
    3) participate actively in the Save the Aramoana campaign (we were against the building of an aluminium smelter at the head of the harbour which was also a breeding area for birds.)

    And each time it felt as if Shoghi Effendi was hitting me over the head with a hammer because I was told this is what Shoghi Effendi had said. Fortunately I ignored this because it didn’t seem to match with what I found in the writings myself and I placed a greater importance on this than on what Bahais were telling me, especially when they didn’t come up with support from the writings.
    Let me stress here, all the Bahais at the time were wonderful people and that there was no conflict. They gave me advice as a new Bahai and left it up to me to make my own decisions.
    Later as I read more and met more Bahais, I realised that my ‘hate’ towards what I was told Shoghi Effendi had said, including homophobia were not penned by him, and it was certainly not as in the case of Baha’u’llah that the secretaries were taking dictation.

    You final point about Baha’u’llah’s own writings I agree with. As I stated above that principle of Shoghi Effendi’s letters only has validity because of Shoghi Effendi’s own instruction.

    So, for me, it is not a case of picking and choosing or ignoring authentic Scripture, but as an individual Bahai, trying to apply the principle of independent investigation. Since I believe there is authority in the writings, I am motivated to keep digging until I find something that makes sense to me. Of course tomorrow it might not and then I’ll have to start all over.

    And… I appreciate your directness in your posts and I object to the comments assuming that such questions are not relevant for a non-Bahai to make. I think they are, but then I’m one of those silly Bahais who thinks that the Bahai Teachings have meaning for the world 🙂

  • This is a beautiful letter, Mavaddat. Thank you for putting your personal experiences and motivations out here for consideration. They are a fine testimony and I think sharing information like this (especially in escalated situations) helps to re-humanize the discussion. Thanks again, Amanda 🙂

  • This is a beautiful letter, Mavaddat. Thank you for putting your personal experiences and motivations out here for consideration. They are a fine testimony and I think sharing information like this (especially in escalated situations) helps to re-humanize the discussion. Thanks again, Amanda 🙂

  • Dear Kate,

    Thank you for your response. Yes, I realize I am free to voice my beliefs and concerns, I am glad you are also aware of that. I responded to your post specifically because I found it unpleasant and insulting, and I imagine that in a similar situation here in the future, I would continue to do the same.

    “Discussion” is not fruitful when your approach to those you disagree with is to 1) try to invalidate their very participation in the conversation by questioning their “qualifications” to participate (i.e., “you’re not a Baha’i, why don’t you just go home.”) or 2) inviting those who make specific critiques of your statements to just “skip them,” rather than responding to the actual issues raised. Of course, it is your choice as to whether or not you want to engage in actual discussion here about these issues, but I find your presence in a discussion-forum like this curious if you are here to AVOID discussion. But I could easily be ignorant of other noble motives for participation here, so please let me know if that’s the case.

    In any case, I continue to be open to discussing any of the points either you or I have made here.

    Thank you,
    Amanda

  • Dear Kate,

    Thank you for your response. Yes, I realize I am free to voice my beliefs and concerns, I am glad you are also aware of that. I responded to your post specifically because I found it unpleasant and insulting, and I imagine that in a similar situation here in the future, I would continue to do the same.

    “Discussion” is not fruitful when your approach to those you disagree with is to 1) try to invalidate their very participation in the conversation by questioning their “qualifications” to participate (i.e., “you’re not a Baha’i, why don’t you just go home.”) or 2) inviting those who make specific critiques of your statements to just “skip them,” rather than responding to the actual issues raised. Of course, it is your choice as to whether or not you want to engage in actual discussion here about these issues, but I find your presence in a discussion-forum like this curious if you are here to AVOID discussion. But I could easily be ignorant of other noble motives for participation here, so please let me know if that’s the case.

    In any case, I continue to be open to discussing any of the points either you or I have made here.

    Thank you,
    Amanda

  • p.s.
    Happy Ayyam-i-Ha!

  • p.s.
    Happy Ayyam-i-Ha!

  • Kate

    Amanda,
    Please do not attribute to me statements that I never made. You are coming across as a bully.

  • Kate

    Amanda,
    Please do not attribute to me statements that I never made. You are coming across as a bully.

  • Kate

    Mavaddat,

    Thank you for your heartfelt and honest reply. It does indeed answer my question. You had referred to the directive of Shoghi Effendi about Baha’is building up their own holy days etc., as ‘a bit of nonsense’ and I could not for the life of me figure out why it should make any diffence to you what Baha’is did about their special celebration days!
    You have actually helped me understand a lot more about this site. And I have learned that it is not the place I want to be. Thank you for your open and loving attitude.

  • Kate

    Mavaddat,

    Thank you for your heartfelt and honest reply. It does indeed answer my question. You had referred to the directive of Shoghi Effendi about Baha’is building up their own holy days etc., as ‘a bit of nonsense’ and I could not for the life of me figure out why it should make any diffence to you what Baha’is did about their special celebration days!
    You have actually helped me understand a lot more about this site. And I have learned that it is not the place I want to be. Thank you for your open and loving attitude.

  • Anonymous

    Kate wrote:

    You have actually helped me understand a lot more about this site. And I have learned that it is not the place I want to be.

    In all honesty, I assumed this would be the next step. At its core, the Bah??’? Faith’s most effective shield against any outside influence is to teach all Bah??’?s to fear and loathe close critical examination of the teachings of their religion, except insofar as they confirm was is already believed. The most ingenious part of this fear and loathing is that it is instilled under the banner of “unity”, which protects it’s own sinister nature from exposure…

    But alas, I type my words only to watch them fall to the ground…

  • Kate wrote:

    You have actually helped me understand a lot more about this site. And I have learned that it is not the place I want to be.

    In all honesty, I assumed this would be the next step. At its core, the Bah??’? Faith’s most effective shield against any outside influence is to teach all Bah??’?s to fear and loathe close critical examination of the teachings of their religion, except insofar as they confirm was is already believed. The most ingenious part of this fear and loathing is that it is instilled under the banner of “unity”, which protects it’s own sinister nature from exposure…

    But alas, I type my words only to watch them fall to the ground…

  • Kate-

    How am I coming across as a bully? By voicing objection to your statements? DISAGREEING is not bullying.

    What statements have I attributed to you that you haven’t made? If I have misunderstood you, please correct me- I have asked for that clarification several times. It is a sincere request.

    Sincerely,
    Amanda

  • Kate-

    How am I coming across as a bully? By voicing objection to your statements? DISAGREEING is not bullying.

    What statements have I attributed to you that you haven’t made? If I have misunderstood you, please correct me- I have asked for that clarification several times. It is a sincere request.

    Sincerely,
    Amanda

  • I saw Rainn Wilson on the Spirit Awards — he was host for this awards show that honors independent filmmakers — and I was amazed to hear the profanity and obscenity that came from his mouth. He does not seem to be a good representative for a spiritual faith.

    Did any one else see these? What are your thoughts?

  • I saw Rainn Wilson on the Spirit Awards — he was host for this awards show that honors independent filmmakers — and I was amazed to hear the profanity and obscenity that came from his mouth. He does not seem to be a good representative for a spiritual faith.

    Did any one else see these? What are your thoughts?

  • Andrew

    Thank you, Mavaddat. Your comments confirm my own observations. Alison Marshall could have responded to the perception (in many quarters) that Baha’u’llah was a religious tyrant with no reference to me at all (as if I were the only person who has ever made this point!), but it seems she felt the need to single me out for her own purposes. Or she could simply have informed her readers that I no longer accept that Baha’u’llah was a Manifestation of God. Instead, she chose to reduce a collective process of discernment and reflection that took place over the course of several months with a tetchy “it seems that he has changed his mind.” This seems sadly typical of the approach most often taken by Baha’is (or members of any authoritarian meme-complex who are protected by firm filters from external contamination). Genuine teachers do not need to assert their authority at the expense of others, nor do they need to make thinly veiled threats of spiritual contamination against those who doubt their claims, as in: “Every time the sin committed by any one amongst them was breathed in the Court of His Presence, the Ancient Beauty would be so filled with shame as to wish He could hide the glory of His countenance from the eyes of all men, for He hath, at all times, fixed His gaze on their fidelity, and observed its essential requisites.”

    This is all so puerile and absurd that it merits little more than a good laugh and a roll of the eyes. However, between Nima Hazini and Alison Marshall, me and my co-conspirators have been reduced to gales of laughter for days! I guess it’s true: religion really is a great source of comedy, particularly when it reads like the manic ramblings of the inhabitants of an insane asylum!

    See also:

    http://primordial-blog.blogspot.com

  • Andrew

    Thank you, Mavaddat. Your comments confirm my own observations. Alison Marshall could have responded to the perception (in many quarters) that Baha’u’llah was a religious tyrant with no reference to me at all (as if I were the only person who has ever made this point!), but it seems she felt the need to single me out for her own purposes. Or she could simply have informed her readers that I no longer accept that Baha’u’llah was a Manifestation of God. Instead, she chose to reduce a collective process of discernment and reflection that took place over the course of several months with a tetchy “it seems that he has changed his mind.” This seems sadly typical of the approach most often taken by Baha’is (or members of any authoritarian meme-complex who are protected by firm filters from external contamination). Genuine teachers do not need to assert their authority at the expense of others, nor do they need to make thinly veiled threats of spiritual contamination against those who doubt their claims, as in: “Every time the sin committed by any one amongst them was breathed in the Court of His Presence, the Ancient Beauty would be so filled with shame as to wish He could hide the glory of His countenance from the eyes of all men, for He hath, at all times, fixed His gaze on their fidelity, and observed its essential requisites.”

    This is all so puerile and absurd that it merits little more than a good laugh and a roll of the eyes. However, between Nima Hazini and Alison Marshall, me and my co-conspirators have been reduced to gales of laughter for days! I guess it’s true: religion really is a great source of comedy, particularly when it reads like the manic ramblings of the inhabitants of an insane asylum!

    See also:

    http://primordial-blog.blogspot.com

  • Craig Parke

    Merry Christmas, Laura!

    Happy New Year too!

    Whatever…

  • Craig Parke

    Merry Christmas, Laura!

    Happy New Year too!

    Whatever…

  • Anonymous

    This is comedic genius…

    Did no one else get this?

  • This is comedic genius…

    Did no one else get this?

  • David

    Rainn is a funny guy, and “Dwight” is a riot. It is so very interesting that he is probably the most well known Bahai in the U.S. There have been a couple mentions of him in the American Bahai, one of which talked about him getting involved in some type of program to publicize the faith. I thought it was a bit strange that the NSA would actually use him in that way, because his comedy can be racy. Rainn is not exactly someone who will try to always portray the pious believer. But who knows? Maybe the NSA wants to be edgy now.

    Around the time I read that last year, I saw Rainn on Real Time with Bill Maher. If you know that show (and Bill), you know it’s about politics and current events, and Bill lets it all hang out. I was very surprised Rainn went on the show to begin with. He actually didn’t get too involved in any of the debates, but he did say two things that shocked me a bit: One, that he volunteered to do work for the Green Party (he made it into a joke because he said the group was disorganized and he really didn’t do anything). Two, that his favorite candidate was Hillary Clinton (he also talked about how oddly attractive she is). I wasn’t shocked he did and thought those things, but that he said them on national television. He’s not the only Bahai to volunteer for a political party or have a favorite candidate, but those are two pretty big no-no’s to make in public. And then there was no mention of what he said by the NSA.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Rainn didn’t even know about the writings concerning political involvement, or this issue with celebrating Christmas. He was raised Bahai, but I also read that he spent a decade or so as an inactive Bahai and just searched (and all that other fun stuff too, I presume). Or maybe he does know, and that’s just how he chooses to live (or shall we say, picks-and chooses), and we’re just seeing a reflection of a normal Bahai, not one afraid to rock the boat. The things he said and did would be startling to most Bahais I know, but it certainly doesn’t bother me. The thing that wows me the most is that he is saying all this stuff to large numbers of people. Not that I want Rainn to be “punished”, but I look forward to seeing if and when the NSA responds.

    I can’t wait to see him hosting the awards show. I missed it Sunday but it will be on again on IFC on Friday afternoon. I did see a commercial for it though, where he dresses up like the guy from Juno and has “something” kinda hanging out of his shorts. I’m guessing a tape of this won’t be part of next month’s feast, ha!

  • David

    Rainn is a funny guy, and “Dwight” is a riot. It is so very interesting that he is probably the most well known Bahai in the U.S. There have been a couple mentions of him in the American Bahai, one of which talked about him getting involved in some type of program to publicize the faith. I thought it was a bit strange that the NSA would actually use him in that way, because his comedy can be racy. Rainn is not exactly someone who will try to always portray the pious believer. But who knows? Maybe the NSA wants to be edgy now.

    Around the time I read that last year, I saw Rainn on Real Time with Bill Maher. If you know that show (and Bill), you know it’s about politics and current events, and Bill lets it all hang out. I was very surprised Rainn went on the show to begin with. He actually didn’t get too involved in any of the debates, but he did say two things that shocked me a bit: One, that he volunteered to do work for the Green Party (he made it into a joke because he said the group was disorganized and he really didn’t do anything). Two, that his favorite candidate was Hillary Clinton (he also talked about how oddly attractive she is). I wasn’t shocked he did and thought those things, but that he said them on national television. He’s not the only Bahai to volunteer for a political party or have a favorite candidate, but those are two pretty big no-no’s to make in public. And then there was no mention of what he said by the NSA.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Rainn didn’t even know about the writings concerning political involvement, or this issue with celebrating Christmas. He was raised Bahai, but I also read that he spent a decade or so as an inactive Bahai and just searched (and all that other fun stuff too, I presume). Or maybe he does know, and that’s just how he chooses to live (or shall we say, picks-and chooses), and we’re just seeing a reflection of a normal Bahai, not one afraid to rock the boat. The things he said and did would be startling to most Bahais I know, but it certainly doesn’t bother me. The thing that wows me the most is that he is saying all this stuff to large numbers of people. Not that I want Rainn to be “punished”, but I look forward to seeing if and when the NSA responds.

    I can’t wait to see him hosting the awards show. I missed it Sunday but it will be on again on IFC on Friday afternoon. I did see a commercial for it though, where he dresses up like the guy from Juno and has “something” kinda hanging out of his shorts. I’m guessing a tape of this won’t be part of next month’s feast, ha!

  • David wrote:

    he volunteered to do work for the Green Party (he made it into a joke because he said the group was disorganized and he really didn’t do anything).

    and later in your post you wrote:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Rainn didn’t even know about the writings concerning political involvement,

    I haven’t seen the show but just reading your own post, it seems clear to me that Rainn was being witty, making a joke out of joining the Green Party. And if I understand US politics, it really was quite a joke because the US only has two parties – at least at the national level. Someone correct me if I am wrong. So that joke would be even more pointed or funny, whereas in Europe, as voters we have more than a choice of two.

    So I find it judgemental that you write in your post that you assume Rainn didn’t know the Bahai writings on this.

    Likewise with your other statements as if he has done something wrong because, reading from your posts, you seem to have the idea that there is a “right” way of presenting the Bahai Faith.
    Any individual, including UHJ members, when they mention the Bahai Faith, do this subjectively, because we all interprete in some way, whether we dress in a suit to do this, use informal language or jokes to tell our story.

    When the book “Vignettes” (which was full of stories about Abdul-Baha) came out in the mid 80s, it inspired me because here we could read about the various aspects of Abdul-Baha as a human, including his sense of humour.

    So, when I hear I a Bahai express the judgemental tone I read in your post, I think to myself, why the “fear” and “loathing”. The Bahai Faith is not that fragile nor are the Teachings that narrow.
    If we can’t laugh at ourselves, then I think there is something wrong.

    For me personally, it is relief to hear from the various posts here (I don’t know who Rainn is.) that there’s a Bahai who is making a bit of an impression who is not dressed up in a suit. I’ve nothing against men wearing suits! Just that after seeing the film, “Bahais in my backyard” (it was aired on Dutch tv recently), that was the impression anyone would have of the Bahais.

    I’m arguing here for a diversity of expression!
    Please do not shut artists up, just because they have a creative approach 🙂

    And for your information, I also celebrate Christmas (when I’m with family) as well as the Dutch sinterklaas. There is nothing in the Writings to say I shouldn’t. If a Bahai chooses not to do this, that is their choice and my take on this is, “isn’t it great that Bahais are so diverse”.
    I do believe that the Bahai Faith, really, can embrace diversity, but it seems from the posts above, that some Bahais think it doesn’t. However, I prefer to use what is in the Writings for my guidance. So in this case my picking and choosing is choosing not to take too much notice of Bahais who call me “marginal” (and others) because I do not fit within the definition of what they call “core” 🙂

  • David wrote:

    he volunteered to do work for the Green Party (he made it into a joke because he said the group was disorganized and he really didn’t do anything).

    and later in your post you wrote:

    I wouldn’t be surprised if Rainn didn’t even know about the writings concerning political involvement,

    I haven’t seen the show but just reading your own post, it seems clear to me that Rainn was being witty, making a joke out of joining the Green Party. And if I understand US politics, it really was quite a joke because the US only has two parties – at least at the national level. Someone correct me if I am wrong. So that joke would be even more pointed or funny, whereas in Europe, as voters we have more than a choice of two.

    So I find it judgemental that you write in your post that you assume Rainn didn’t know the Bahai writings on this.

    Likewise with your other statements as if he has done something wrong because, reading from your posts, you seem to have the idea that there is a “right” way of presenting the Bahai Faith.
    Any individual, including UHJ members, when they mention the Bahai Faith, do this subjectively, because we all interprete in some way, whether we dress in a suit to do this, use informal language or jokes to tell our story.

    When the book “Vignettes” (which was full of stories about Abdul-Baha) came out in the mid 80s, it inspired me because here we could read about the various aspects of Abdul-Baha as a human, including his sense of humour.

    So, when I hear I a Bahai express the judgemental tone I read in your post, I think to myself, why the “fear” and “loathing”. The Bahai Faith is not that fragile nor are the Teachings that narrow.
    If we can’t laugh at ourselves, then I think there is something wrong.

    For me personally, it is relief to hear from the various posts here (I don’t know who Rainn is.) that there’s a Bahai who is making a bit of an impression who is not dressed up in a suit. I’ve nothing against men wearing suits! Just that after seeing the film, “Bahais in my backyard” (it was aired on Dutch tv recently), that was the impression anyone would have of the Bahais.

    I’m arguing here for a diversity of expression!
    Please do not shut artists up, just because they have a creative approach 🙂

    And for your information, I also celebrate Christmas (when I’m with family) as well as the Dutch sinterklaas. There is nothing in the Writings to say I shouldn’t. If a Bahai chooses not to do this, that is their choice and my take on this is, “isn’t it great that Bahais are so diverse”.
    I do believe that the Bahai Faith, really, can embrace diversity, but it seems from the posts above, that some Bahais think it doesn’t. However, I prefer to use what is in the Writings for my guidance. So in this case my picking and choosing is choosing not to take too much notice of Bahais who call me “marginal” (and others) because I do not fit within the definition of what they call “core” 🙂

  • Hi, Sonja.

    You wrote, “it seems clear to me that Rainn was being witty, making a joke out of joining the Green Party. And if I understand US politics, it really was quite a joke because the US only has two parties – at least at the national level. Someone correct me if I am wrong.”

    We actually do have many political parties here in the States, and the Green Party is one of the more prominent “alternatives” to the bipartisan system. So, although the man is witty, I don’t think he was making THAT joke. 🙂 We have Green candidates and everything.

    I wanted to tell you I appreciate you saying, “I’m arguing here for a diversity of expression! Please do not shut artists up, just because they have a creative approach.” I think there are so many conservative forces within ourselves (like fear and loathing) and within the community (like pre-publication book review, a kibosh on dissent, a general prude-ishness, etc) that it’s become a difficult climate for artists. Or for anyone who is practicing free thought or expression. It is nice to hear people like you voice support. Thanks.

    I think poor Rainn is in a difficult position. He is just a guy. It’s his job to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” with his art, and he belongs to a religion that controls human behavior and expression. Like all Baha’is, he is being scrutinized by the people in his community. He just happens to be going through it in the limelight. It isn’t possible for me to know if the suggestion made earlier that he should have cleared his comments with the UHJ/NSA for the INDEPENDENT SPIRIT awards was a joke, I hope it was. (And a good one, if it was….Merry X-Mas) But it is obvious that people do think that way. I think it’s sad that Baha’is feel like they are “representing the Faith” everywhere they go, and that that ALWAYS entails a constant self-censorship and spin-doctoring. That says alot about what being a Baha’i means, in my eyes.

    So here’s to artists, to diversity, to Santa, to every filthy word that Rainn Wilson ever chooses to utter in public or in private, and “to opening, to upward, to leaf and to sap…”

  • Hi, Sonja.

    You wrote, “it seems clear to me that Rainn was being witty, making a joke out of joining the Green Party. And if I understand US politics, it really was quite a joke because the US only has two parties – at least at the national level. Someone correct me if I am wrong.”

    We actually do have many political parties here in the States, and the Green Party is one of the more prominent “alternatives” to the bipartisan system. So, although the man is witty, I don’t think he was making THAT joke. 🙂 We have Green candidates and everything.

    I wanted to tell you I appreciate you saying, “I’m arguing here for a diversity of expression! Please do not shut artists up, just because they have a creative approach.” I think there are so many conservative forces within ourselves (like fear and loathing) and within the community (like pre-publication book review, a kibosh on dissent, a general prude-ishness, etc) that it’s become a difficult climate for artists. Or for anyone who is practicing free thought or expression. It is nice to hear people like you voice support. Thanks.

    I think poor Rainn is in a difficult position. He is just a guy. It’s his job to “comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable” with his art, and he belongs to a religion that controls human behavior and expression. Like all Baha’is, he is being scrutinized by the people in his community. He just happens to be going through it in the limelight. It isn’t possible for me to know if the suggestion made earlier that he should have cleared his comments with the UHJ/NSA for the INDEPENDENT SPIRIT awards was a joke, I hope it was. (And a good one, if it was….Merry X-Mas) But it is obvious that people do think that way. I think it’s sad that Baha’is feel like they are “representing the Faith” everywhere they go, and that that ALWAYS entails a constant self-censorship and spin-doctoring. That says alot about what being a Baha’i means, in my eyes.

    So here’s to artists, to diversity, to Santa, to every filthy word that Rainn Wilson ever chooses to utter in public or in private, and “to opening, to upward, to leaf and to sap…”

  • Hi Amanda,

    You wrote:

    “So here’s to artists, to diversity, to Santa, to every filthy word that Rainn Wilson ever chooses to utter in public or in private, and ?to opening, to upward, to leaf and to sap…?

    Yes to Santa, yes to artists and to deversity. But did you see the Spirit Awards? For example he said he really wanted to f**k an actor who was in No Country for Old Men. He dressed in drag and let Dennis Hopper put him out as a male prostitute in some sort of hazing ritual. After he successfully brought money back from his time on the street he spit in a pathetic fashion as if he had just been forced to put his mounth where it didn’t belong.

    I don’t particularly enjoy that sort of low-life approach to art, but — ‘ya know its what they do these days in Hollywood — so what the heck, right? (I saw Once instead of No Counrty for Old Men — much more uplifting!) But after that performance to speak with the same mounth about Bahai or any other spiritual cause seems disrespectful to me. I’d say don’t lick the gutter and then kiss the bible, but I guess that would make me a square.

    Frank

  • Hi Amanda,

    You wrote:

    “So here’s to artists, to diversity, to Santa, to every filthy word that Rainn Wilson ever chooses to utter in public or in private, and ?to opening, to upward, to leaf and to sap…?

    Yes to Santa, yes to artists and to deversity. But did you see the Spirit Awards? For example he said he really wanted to f**k an actor who was in No Country for Old Men. He dressed in drag and let Dennis Hopper put him out as a male prostitute in some sort of hazing ritual. After he successfully brought money back from his time on the street he spit in a pathetic fashion as if he had just been forced to put his mounth where it didn’t belong.

    I don’t particularly enjoy that sort of low-life approach to art, but — ‘ya know its what they do these days in Hollywood — so what the heck, right? (I saw Once instead of No Counrty for Old Men — much more uplifting!) But after that performance to speak with the same mounth about Bahai or any other spiritual cause seems disrespectful to me. I’d say don’t lick the gutter and then kiss the bible, but I guess that would make me a square.

    Frank

  • Frank, it’s ok to be “square.” 🙂 Some even say it’s hip. We don’t all have to have the same tastes in art.

    But, I’m okay with the blending of the sacred and the profane. I revere it, personally. I think it’s one of the big Zen-stick moments in life to realize the big, blessed joke that it’s all happening at once, you know? We’re all so blissfully, imperfectly glorious and ridiculous at the same time. The fact that the things we fear and loathe, let’s say excriment, by way of example, actually make the flowers grow. It’s all connected. It is, literally, “holy shit.” Where would any of us be without that? I’ve done some of my best thinking while “licking a gutter” or two.

    I have had the obscene blessing of attending many, many, many births. One thing that has given me is an appreciation (and awe and wonder) for the fact that Creation, New Life comes from the raw, unsanitized most sexual and earthy bits of human existence. Again, a Zen-stick: when a woman is pushing out a new, pristine baby earthling, she also invariably pushes out some excriment. It’s all there, present at the birth of Jesus, so to speak. Sure, I think Jesus was “just a man,” but in my book, that is about the best thing a person can be. What wonder to be a man. To be a woman. What infinite mystery.

    I think the sacred and the profane are secretly childhood best friends, wandering around life holding hands, giggling that it freaks us out so much.

    And a little drag never hurt anyone. Overt sexuality is ok in my book, as well. But we can still be friends if you don’t like it, some of my best friends are “square.” 🙂

    Thanks for your thoughts,
    Amanda

  • Frank, it’s ok to be “square.” 🙂 Some even say it’s hip. We don’t all have to have the same tastes in art.

    But, I’m okay with the blending of the sacred and the profane. I revere it, personally. I think it’s one of the big Zen-stick moments in life to realize the big, blessed joke that it’s all happening at once, you know? We’re all so blissfully, imperfectly glorious and ridiculous at the same time. The fact that the things we fear and loathe, let’s say excriment, by way of example, actually make the flowers grow. It’s all connected. It is, literally, “holy shit.” Where would any of us be without that? I’ve done some of my best thinking while “licking a gutter” or two.

    I have had the obscene blessing of attending many, many, many births. One thing that has given me is an appreciation (and awe and wonder) for the fact that Creation, New Life comes from the raw, unsanitized most sexual and earthy bits of human existence. Again, a Zen-stick: when a woman is pushing out a new, pristine baby earthling, she also invariably pushes out some excriment. It’s all there, present at the birth of Jesus, so to speak. Sure, I think Jesus was “just a man,” but in my book, that is about the best thing a person can be. What wonder to be a man. To be a woman. What infinite mystery.

    I think the sacred and the profane are secretly childhood best friends, wandering around life holding hands, giggling that it freaks us out so much.

    And a little drag never hurt anyone. Overt sexuality is ok in my book, as well. But we can still be friends if you don’t like it, some of my best friends are “square.” 🙂

    Thanks for your thoughts,
    Amanda

  • David

    Sonja,

    Rainn honestly said he volunteered to do work for the Green Party. I see that in my first post Baquia linked to the entry on this site that has the clips of the show, so you can see it all for yourself. I think Amanda addressed the rest of your thoughts on that matter.

    It was not my intention to criticize Rainn for not doing things the “right” way. (Whatever that right way may be???) My point was to show that he is in the public eye and saying and doing things that are not commonly said and done in the Bahai community. Or if they are, people are usually reprimanded (however politely) for doing them. In fact, I even said, “The things he said and did would be startling to most Bahais I know, but it certainly doesn’t bother me.” And it has nothing to do with his comedy, because I think most of the stuff he does is funny.

    I am all for individuals expressing themselves in creative ways, and am not interested in shutting people up.

    I searched YouTube last night looking for other clips of Rainn and came across this recent talk he made at a Bahai youth gathering a week ago: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OT8eK84b86E

    There are four parts, and even though the audio isn’t good all the time, it’s worth watching.

  • David

    Sonja,

    Rainn honestly said he volunteered to do work for the Green Party. I see that in my first post Baquia linked to the entry on this site that has the clips of the show, so you can see it all for yourself. I think Amanda addressed the rest of your thoughts on that matter.

    It was not my intention to criticize Rainn for not doing things the “right” way. (Whatever that right way may be???) My point was to show that he is in the public eye and saying and doing things that are not commonly said and done in the Bahai community. Or if they are, people are usually reprimanded (however politely) for doing them. In fact, I even said, “The things he said and did would be startling to most Bahais I know, but it certainly doesn’t bother me.” And it has nothing to do with his comedy, because I think most of the stuff he does is funny.

    I am all for individuals expressing themselves in creative ways, and am not interested in shutting people up.

    I searched YouTube last night looking for other clips of Rainn and came across this recent talk he made at a Bahai youth gathering a week ago: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OT8eK84b86E

    There are four parts, and even though the audio isn’t good all the time, it’s worth watching.

  • Anonymous

    Frank,

    I’d say don’t lick the gutter and then kiss the bible, but I guess that would make me a square.

    Seriously now. Have you read what’s written in the Bible? Incest, rape, murder, genocide, infanticide… and that’s just 2 Samuel!!

    Honestly, these books are not worthy of one ounce of the respect and adulation we hoist on them. If anyone actually read them instead of blindly inheriting the requisite piety toward them from society, we would have abandoned them in disgust long ago.

    But, I suppose Mark Twain was right:

    A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.

  • Frank,

    I’d say don’t lick the gutter and then kiss the bible, but I guess that would make me a square.

    Seriously now. Have you read what’s written in the Bible? Incest, rape, murder, genocide, infanticide… and that’s just 2 Samuel!!

    Honestly, these books are not worthy of one ounce of the respect and adulation we hoist on them. If anyone actually read them instead of blindly inheriting the requisite piety toward them from society, we would have abandoned them in disgust long ago.

    But, I suppose Mark Twain was right:

    A classic is something that everybody wants to have read and nobody wants to read.

  • Hi Amanda,

    I think maybe you are ignoring some of what went on during the Spirit Awards. You say “But, I’m okay with the blending of the sacred and the profane” and then describe the dirty process of birth which is sacred if anything is.

    But much of what goes on in today’s entertainment and the popular arts nets out to bad taste. Imo that’s the sin Rainn committed and if I had to choose someone to represent a faith I cared about it would not be him unless he changes his tune (he is clever and funny at times).

    Personally I am sick of the ‘Pulp Fiction’ attitude that misuses and abuses the degenerates of our world, sometimes turing them into cult heroes. I don’t enjoy movies and novels about the Mafia. I dislike entertainment that abuses the pathetic figure of Britney Spears.

    Rainn made light of human depravity — not a little shit during birth or lots of shit on a farm (both sacred and wonderful). In fact depravity as fun just doesn’t work for me. That’s why I enjoy some of John Waters work (“Pecker”) and dislike some (“Pink Flamingos”).

    I just don’t enjoy bad taste and poor judgment in the name of humor. Its not sacred or profane — its just a huge and childish turn off — sometimes a “plaything of the ignorant” to use Bahaullah’s words — in my square opinion of course.

    Peace,
    Frank

  • Hi Amanda,

    I think maybe you are ignoring some of what went on during the Spirit Awards. You say “But, I’m okay with the blending of the sacred and the profane” and then describe the dirty process of birth which is sacred if anything is.

    But much of what goes on in today’s entertainment and the popular arts nets out to bad taste. Imo that’s the sin Rainn committed and if I had to choose someone to represent a faith I cared about it would not be him unless he changes his tune (he is clever and funny at times).

    Personally I am sick of the ‘Pulp Fiction’ attitude that misuses and abuses the degenerates of our world, sometimes turing them into cult heroes. I don’t enjoy movies and novels about the Mafia. I dislike entertainment that abuses the pathetic figure of Britney Spears.

    Rainn made light of human depravity — not a little shit during birth or lots of shit on a farm (both sacred and wonderful). In fact depravity as fun just doesn’t work for me. That’s why I enjoy some of John Waters work (“Pecker”) and dislike some (“Pink Flamingos”).

    I just don’t enjoy bad taste and poor judgment in the name of humor. Its not sacred or profane — its just a huge and childish turn off — sometimes a “plaything of the ignorant” to use Bahaullah’s words — in my square opinion of course.

    Peace,
    Frank

  • Mavaddat,

    “Seriously now. Have you read what’s written in the Bible? Incest, rape, murder, genocide, infanticide… and that’s just 2 Samuel!!”

    Good point. I have not read the Bible from cover to cover and I should. But I have read enough to know that it is myth and history on an epic scale. It reflects the fears of people over the years and records the actions of heroes real and imagined. It is an important part of our cultural heritage. (I have read some Joseph Cambell)

    BTW I do read classics — Walden, Nature, The Sun Also Rises.

    My reference to the bible uses it to stand for what is held as sacred. Most people whether they have read it or not concede that The Bible is a sacred object. You disagree — but that doesn’t change its power as a symbol. So my comment stands. Don’t lick the gutter and then kiss a sacred object with the same mouth. You probably would use another symbol for the sacred, yes?

    Now I wonder what would that be, Mavaddat? What do you hold sacred?

    Best Wishes,
    Frank

  • Mavaddat,

    “Seriously now. Have you read what’s written in the Bible? Incest, rape, murder, genocide, infanticide… and that’s just 2 Samuel!!”

    Good point. I have not read the Bible from cover to cover and I should. But I have read enough to know that it is myth and history on an epic scale. It reflects the fears of people over the years and records the actions of heroes real and imagined. It is an important part of our cultural heritage. (I have read some Joseph Cambell)

    BTW I do read classics — Walden, Nature, The Sun Also Rises.

    My reference to the bible uses it to stand for what is held as sacred. Most people whether they have read it or not concede that The Bible is a sacred object. You disagree — but that doesn’t change its power as a symbol. So my comment stands. Don’t lick the gutter and then kiss a sacred object with the same mouth. You probably would use another symbol for the sacred, yes?

    Now I wonder what would that be, Mavaddat? What do you hold sacred?

    Best Wishes,
    Frank

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Frank,

    I realized after I posted my comment that it sounded like I was saying you know nothing about the Bible and, perhaps, that you have never read any classics either; but that was accidental. Sorry.

    I only meant, as you rightly took it, that the Bible should not have the place of a sacred object in our society. The Bible should be taken from its throne of undue reverence and placed where it belongs: On the shelf right next to Plato’s Republic, Homer’s Odyssey, and other influential works of human literature.

    You probably would use another symbol for the sacred, yes? Now I wonder what would that be, Mavaddat? What do you hold sacred?

    I do not physically symbolize the sacred. I think that the superimposing of sacredness on some physical object is the first step down a dangerous and self-destructive road.

    With that said, I do believe that human activities can be sacred. Conversation, honesty, freedom of expression, satire, sex, inquiry, altruism, parenthood, spending quality time with one’s child, and so on. These are all sacred to me.

  • Thanks Frank,

    I realized after I posted my comment that it sounded like I was saying you know nothing about the Bible and, perhaps, that you have never read any classics either; but that was accidental. Sorry.

    I only meant, as you rightly took it, that the Bible should not have the place of a sacred object in our society. The Bible should be taken from its throne of undue reverence and placed where it belongs: On the shelf right next to Plato’s Republic, Homer’s Odyssey, and other influential works of human literature.

    You probably would use another symbol for the sacred, yes? Now I wonder what would that be, Mavaddat? What do you hold sacred?

    I do not physically symbolize the sacred. I think that the superimposing of sacredness on some physical object is the first step down a dangerous and self-destructive road.

    With that said, I do believe that human activities can be sacred. Conversation, honesty, freedom of expression, satire, sex, inquiry, altruism, parenthood, spending quality time with one’s child, and so on. These are all sacred to me.

  • Hello Mavaddat,

    No need to apologize — we don’t know each other so I didn’t take offense.

    You wrote:

    “I do believe that human activities can be sacred. Conversation, honesty, freedom of expression, satire, sex, inquiry, altruism, parenthood, spending quality time with one’s child, and so on. These are all sacred to me.”

    Well said. I agree that objects aren’t sacred. Books aren’t sacred — if anything in them is its the writing maybe and the thoughts sometimes.

    The Bible is myth but myth is critical to the health of a society. It does belong with the Odyssey, imo, but that’s pretty heady company.

    Peace,
    Frank

  • Hello Mavaddat,

    No need to apologize — we don’t know each other so I didn’t take offense.

    You wrote:

    “I do believe that human activities can be sacred. Conversation, honesty, freedom of expression, satire, sex, inquiry, altruism, parenthood, spending quality time with one’s child, and so on. These are all sacred to me.”

    Well said. I agree that objects aren’t sacred. Books aren’t sacred — if anything in them is its the writing maybe and the thoughts sometimes.

    The Bible is myth but myth is critical to the health of a society. It does belong with the Odyssey, imo, but that’s pretty heady company.

    Peace,
    Frank

  • Anonymous

    Thanks Frank. Your understanding is appreciated.

    You wrote,

    The Bible is myth but myth is critical to the health of a society. It does belong with the Odyssey, imo, but that’s pretty heady company.

    In the sense that myths give us a narrative whereby we are reminded of our values and archetypes, I think you’re right that society benefits from myths. I think that they provide an artistic representation of our aspirations, hopes and fears.

    However, two caveats must be carefully noted. The first is that myths become exceedingly unhealthy, to the point of cancerous, when we fail to identify the myths as what they are: myths. That those who praise the Bible with undue servility have not passed beyond this childish stage to recognize the Bible as myth is self-evident. For this reason, I think it’s especially important to not use the Bible as the archetype of sacredness, since people still confuse it as describing actual historical facts.

    The second caveat is that while myths are important, the Bible cannot be the myth for modernity, since we have passed beyond its standards and insights. The idea that strength and conquering others is the determinant of what is moral (“might makes right”), for example, is abhorrent to us. And yet, this is the foundational ethic of the Bible: that the power and might of God is the reason why he has the authority to tell us what is right and wrong. To any fair-minded reader, the qualities that the authors of the Bible took as praiseworthy are chauvinistic, power hungry, and heavy-handed. As Chris Hitchens rightly says:

    The thing about religion is that it’s the first and the worst. The worst because it’s the first. In other words, religion is our first attempt at philosophy, and cosmology, and even in a way at physics. It’s what we came up with when we didn’t know we lived on a cooling planet, with continental drift, and thus earthquakes and tsunamis and so forth. We didn’t know that there were microorganisms, so we didn’t know where diseases came from. We didn’t know the planet was round, we didn’t know we were in a very, very, very small suburb of a very, very, very, very, very big megalopolis, the rest of which has no idea we’re even here. However, religion is our point of departure.

    I’m not saying that the time has come to chuck the Bible entirely. No. By all means, if there are stories in the Bible that you find emphasize an important idea or reveal a particular insight about humanity, then by all means, praise that story. But let’s not pretend that the Bible as a whole is still relevant. It’s not. It is as relevant as Odyssey, which reads like a very poetic fairy tale. The language is heady, but the story is beyond childish.

    Moreover, the Bible itself is a specific collection of myths that served the interests of the the Roman Empire who are the ones that compiled it. To praise the Bible, therefore, is to praise that particular compilation of myths, and thus, to implicitly place value in the oppression for which it stands.

  • Thanks Frank. Your understanding is appreciated.

    You wrote,

    The Bible is myth but myth is critical to the health of a society. It does belong with the Odyssey, imo, but that’s pretty heady company.

    In the sense that myths give us a narrative whereby we are reminded of our values and archetypes, I think you’re right that society benefits from myths. I think that they provide an artistic representation of our aspirations, hopes and fears.

    However, two caveats must be carefully noted. The first is that myths become exceedingly unhealthy, to the point of cancerous, when we fail to identify the myths as what they are: myths. That those who praise the Bible with undue servility have not passed beyond this childish stage to recognize the Bible as myth is self-evident. For this reason, I think it’s especially important to not use the Bible as the archetype of sacredness, since people still confuse it as describing actual historical facts.

    The second caveat is that while myths are important, the Bible cannot be the myth for modernity, since we have passed beyond its standards and insights. The idea that strength and conquering others is the determinant of what is moral (“might makes right”), for example, is abhorrent to us. And yet, this is the foundational ethic of the Bible: that the power and might of God is the reason why he has the authority to tell us what is right and wrong. To any fair-minded reader, the qualities that the authors of the Bible took as praiseworthy are chauvinistic, power hungry, and heavy-handed. As Chris Hitchens rightly says:

    The thing about religion is that it’s the first and the worst. The worst because it’s the first. In other words, religion is our first attempt at philosophy, and cosmology, and even in a way at physics. It’s what we came up with when we didn’t know we lived on a cooling planet, with continental drift, and thus earthquakes and tsunamis and so forth. We didn’t know that there were microorganisms, so we didn’t know where diseases came from. We didn’t know the planet was round, we didn’t know we were in a very, very, very small suburb of a very, very, very, very, very big megalopolis, the rest of which has no idea we’re even here. However, religion is our point of departure.

    I’m not saying that the time has come to chuck the Bible entirely. No. By all means, if there are stories in the Bible that you find emphasize an important idea or reveal a particular insight about humanity, then by all means, praise that story. But let’s not pretend that the Bible as a whole is still relevant. It’s not. It is as relevant as Odyssey, which reads like a very poetic fairy tale. The language is heady, but the story is beyond childish.

    Moreover, the Bible itself is a specific collection of myths that served the interests of the the Roman Empire who are the ones that compiled it. To praise the Bible, therefore, is to praise that particular compilation of myths, and thus, to implicitly place value in the oppression for which it stands.

  • Hey, Frank.

    Thanks for your response.

    I wasn’t ignoring the content of the Spirit Awards. I didn’t see the whole show, but I DID see the Dennis Hopper initiation segment. I thought it was funny. It was a joke about how the world depicted in independent film is a far cry from the sitcom that Rainn inhabits, and “justifying” Rainn as a credible host. You wrote: “Rainn made light of human depravity— not a little shit during birth or lots of shit on a farm (both sacred and wonderful). In fact depravity as fun just doesn’t work for me.” I guess I should clarify what I mean by “shit,” and maybe ask you to clarify what you mean by “depravity.” I was using shit as a symbol to make a point (another example of the downfall of symbolic representation–it’s not always clear) and I will try to make it another way. I think human experience includes elements that are beautiful and easy to look at, the equivalent of tasting something sweet. Human experience also includes elements that are salty, bitter, or sour. Elements that are maybe not so easy to look at for whatever reason. But all of those elements, what has been labeled “sacred” and what has been labeled “profane” are a part of human life. I think it’s important that art depict all of those aspects of being alive, mostly because truth is essential to human welfare. But also because we are in grave danger when we segregate our component parts into an “acceptable” and an “unacceptable” list. If something is going on in life, why shouldn’t it be depicted? Art is one of the ways human beings can self-reflect as a group, and it’s often the darker stuff that needs more reflection. But my main concern was with your description of what was depicted as “depraved,” especially the sexual aspects, like where you said, “he said he really wanted to f**k an actor who was in No Country for Old Men. He dressed in drag and let Dennis Hopper put him out as a male prostitute in some sort of hazing ritual. After he successfully brought money back from his time on the street he spit in a pathetic fashion as if he had just been forced to put his mounth where it didn’t belong.” Now, I’m not a fan of forced prostitution either, but I don’t think that was what they were making fun of. But, why is saying you want to “f**k” someone depraved? Why is dressing in drag depraved? And why is “where he had put his mouth” someplace “where it didn’t belong?” I think those are just expressions of human sexuality. I don’t see anything depraved about that.

    Maybe I should clarify, too, that in my previous comment, I didn’t just mean the “shit” part of birth, I meant the sexual part as well. I really don’t think you can ever actually disect the “spiritual” out of the “physical.” I think we do harm to our integrity as persons when we label the “sacred” as the non-physical. That’s a real problem I have with the idea of fasting. How would denying our physical needs make us somehow holier? I think it’s demeaning. I feel like we walk around with this massive Cartesian body/mind split, this massive Judeo-Christian-Islamic-Baha’i Spiritual/Physical split and to me it’s just an inaccurate depiction of human life. Especially when we revere the non-bodily over the bodily. Being a complicated, imperfect, physical person is just a part of being alive. There’s a definite anti-body, anti-sex vibe in the Baha’i Writings that is just inherited historical baggage from warring tribes and patriarchy. Sex isn’t bad or shameful. It’s human. Pleasure isn’t a sin. It also isn’t “unspiritual.” Unless your view of spirit is “detached from the body.” But in that view, every anorexic would be a saint.

    Dipiction of the “darker” parts of human experience is REALLY important. The anti-hero is, in some ways, all of us, whether or not we happen to be in the mafia. Anymore. (Just Kidding) We all have some raw place inside, some lack of completion, some weakness, something that we’re trying to work out. Having flawed protagonists reflects who we really are and gives us a space to reflect on it. To come away more whole. I think a common Western psychological and religious approach is to suppress it, to quarentine it in our psyches, where, of course, it just gains shadow power. I honestly think that’s why much of the worst crimes happen in religious or eutopian settings. You can’t segregate off a piece of your own psyche, or vanquish it Ahura Mazda style. I see a lot of fear, that well, if we don’t do that than “moral chaos” will ensue, to borrow Mavaddat’s term. Like, if no one is telling me what is “right” and what is “wrong” then I will enact a depraved orgy of badness. Not so. That kind of binging usually only happens when it’s coming out of pent up repression (which is why when Baha’i youth “go wrong,” they GO WRONG. It’s not coming from a balanced place.) Have you ever seen the film Chocolat? I always think of it around this time of year, with the Fast coming up, but there’s this great scene were the Mayor who is viciously observing Lent breaks into the Chocolate shop window and binges on all of the chocolate.

    When I was a Baha’i youth and just starting out acting, I wouldn’t take parts that I felt like were in conflict with my Baha’i moral code. Like, I wouldn’t play a romantic lead because I thought it would be unchaste to kiss and make out with an actor on stage. I wouldn’t play a role that I felt was racist, etc. I wanted to only portray characters that were “good Baha’is,” essentially. As I got older, and deeper into training, I had a eureka moment, courtesy of a genius acting teacher I had. PORTRAYING Hitler is not the same thing as CONDONING Hitler’s behavior. If you approach any part with a judgement of that character, you will never be able to accurately portray the role. You MUST set the judgement aside and get into the motivations of THAT BEING to honestly depict them. The magical part of doing that, is for a little minute, in a safe and structured way, you get to set your own agendas aside and peer into another being. Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. I found it to be the most profound experience of the “oneness of humanity” I had ever known. Imagine if we all had to find common ground with Hitler. With a mobster. With a prostitute. It’s practice, it lets us start to do that with each other, even when we’re just audience members. It’s like empathy training. That doesn’t mean we will accept or condone unjust actions, but if we wake up from the illusion that we are somehow separate from other living beings, especially the ones we are most tempted to fear and loathe, we have the chance to really create a community that is genuine.

    And in terms of licking the gutter and kissing the bible, I think no symbol should be sacrosanct. Example: love is sacred, valentines candy and engagement rings are not. Human life is sacred– pictures of people are not. Inquiry is sacred–dogmatizing findings is not. I think of it as idol worshipping. (I think of theism as idol worshiping, too, but that’s another story.) I have to agree with Mavaddat about the content of “sacred books.” The bible just seems like a historical trail of breadcrumbs, not the Truth.

    In any case, I really appreciate your willingness to dialogue about this, and the spirit you argue your opinions with. I hope that door stays open, I enjoy reading your posts. 🙂 If a certain humor “doesn’t work for you,” it doesn’t work for you. That’s ok. I just think it’s important not to condemn it.

    And Mavaddat, I loved your response about the sacredness of human activities.

  • Hey, Frank.

    Thanks for your response.

    I wasn’t ignoring the content of the Spirit Awards. I didn’t see the whole show, but I DID see the Dennis Hopper initiation segment. I thought it was funny. It was a joke about how the world depicted in independent film is a far cry from the sitcom that Rainn inhabits, and “justifying” Rainn as a credible host. You wrote: “Rainn made light of human depravity— not a little shit during birth or lots of shit on a farm (both sacred and wonderful). In fact depravity as fun just doesn’t work for me.” I guess I should clarify what I mean by “shit,” and maybe ask you to clarify what you mean by “depravity.” I was using shit as a symbol to make a point (another example of the downfall of symbolic representation–it’s not always clear) and I will try to make it another way. I think human experience includes elements that are beautiful and easy to look at, the equivalent of tasting something sweet. Human experience also includes elements that are salty, bitter, or sour. Elements that are maybe not so easy to look at for whatever reason. But all of those elements, what has been labeled “sacred” and what has been labeled “profane” are a part of human life. I think it’s important that art depict all of those aspects of being alive, mostly because truth is essential to human welfare. But also because we are in grave danger when we segregate our component parts into an “acceptable” and an “unacceptable” list. If something is going on in life, why shouldn’t it be depicted? Art is one of the ways human beings can self-reflect as a group, and it’s often the darker stuff that needs more reflection. But my main concern was with your description of what was depicted as “depraved,” especially the sexual aspects, like where you said, “he said he really wanted to f**k an actor who was in No Country for Old Men. He dressed in drag and let Dennis Hopper put him out as a male prostitute in some sort of hazing ritual. After he successfully brought money back from his time on the street he spit in a pathetic fashion as if he had just been forced to put his mounth where it didn’t belong.” Now, I’m not a fan of forced prostitution either, but I don’t think that was what they were making fun of. But, why is saying you want to “f**k” someone depraved? Why is dressing in drag depraved? And why is “where he had put his mouth” someplace “where it didn’t belong?” I think those are just expressions of human sexuality. I don’t see anything depraved about that.

    Maybe I should clarify, too, that in my previous comment, I didn’t just mean the “shit” part of birth, I meant the sexual part as well. I really don’t think you can ever actually disect the “spiritual” out of the “physical.” I think we do harm to our integrity as persons when we label the “sacred” as the non-physical. That’s a real problem I have with the idea of fasting. How would denying our physical needs make us somehow holier? I think it’s demeaning. I feel like we walk around with this massive Cartesian body/mind split, this massive Judeo-Christian-Islamic-Baha’i Spiritual/Physical split and to me it’s just an inaccurate depiction of human life. Especially when we revere the non-bodily over the bodily. Being a complicated, imperfect, physical person is just a part of being alive. There’s a definite anti-body, anti-sex vibe in the Baha’i Writings that is just inherited historical baggage from warring tribes and patriarchy. Sex isn’t bad or shameful. It’s human. Pleasure isn’t a sin. It also isn’t “unspiritual.” Unless your view of spirit is “detached from the body.” But in that view, every anorexic would be a saint.

    Dipiction of the “darker” parts of human experience is REALLY important. The anti-hero is, in some ways, all of us, whether or not we happen to be in the mafia. Anymore. (Just Kidding) We all have some raw place inside, some lack of completion, some weakness, something that we’re trying to work out. Having flawed protagonists reflects who we really are and gives us a space to reflect on it. To come away more whole. I think a common Western psychological and religious approach is to suppress it, to quarentine it in our psyches, where, of course, it just gains shadow power. I honestly think that’s why much of the worst crimes happen in religious or eutopian settings. You can’t segregate off a piece of your own psyche, or vanquish it Ahura Mazda style. I see a lot of fear, that well, if we don’t do that than “moral chaos” will ensue, to borrow Mavaddat’s term. Like, if no one is telling me what is “right” and what is “wrong” then I will enact a depraved orgy of badness. Not so. That kind of binging usually only happens when it’s coming out of pent up repression (which is why when Baha’i youth “go wrong,” they GO WRONG. It’s not coming from a balanced place.) Have you ever seen the film Chocolat? I always think of it around this time of year, with the Fast coming up, but there’s this great scene were the Mayor who is viciously observing Lent breaks into the Chocolate shop window and binges on all of the chocolate.

    When I was a Baha’i youth and just starting out acting, I wouldn’t take parts that I felt like were in conflict with my Baha’i moral code. Like, I wouldn’t play a romantic lead because I thought it would be unchaste to kiss and make out with an actor on stage. I wouldn’t play a role that I felt was racist, etc. I wanted to only portray characters that were “good Baha’is,” essentially. As I got older, and deeper into training, I had a eureka moment, courtesy of a genius acting teacher I had. PORTRAYING Hitler is not the same thing as CONDONING Hitler’s behavior. If you approach any part with a judgement of that character, you will never be able to accurately portray the role. You MUST set the judgement aside and get into the motivations of THAT BEING to honestly depict them. The magical part of doing that, is for a little minute, in a safe and structured way, you get to set your own agendas aside and peer into another being. Walk a mile in someone else’s shoes. I found it to be the most profound experience of the “oneness of humanity” I had ever known. Imagine if we all had to find common ground with Hitler. With a mobster. With a prostitute. It’s practice, it lets us start to do that with each other, even when we’re just audience members. It’s like empathy training. That doesn’t mean we will accept or condone unjust actions, but if we wake up from the illusion that we are somehow separate from other living beings, especially the ones we are most tempted to fear and loathe, we have the chance to really create a community that is genuine.

    And in terms of licking the gutter and kissing the bible, I think no symbol should be sacrosanct. Example: love is sacred, valentines candy and engagement rings are not. Human life is sacred– pictures of people are not. Inquiry is sacred–dogmatizing findings is not. I think of it as idol worshipping. (I think of theism as idol worshiping, too, but that’s another story.) I have to agree with Mavaddat about the content of “sacred books.” The bible just seems like a historical trail of breadcrumbs, not the Truth.

    In any case, I really appreciate your willingness to dialogue about this, and the spirit you argue your opinions with. I hope that door stays open, I enjoy reading your posts. 🙂 If a certain humor “doesn’t work for you,” it doesn’t work for you. That’s ok. I just think it’s important not to condemn it.

    And Mavaddat, I loved your response about the sacredness of human activities.

  • Andrew

    Amanda …

    “Imagine if we all had to find common ground with Hitler. With a mobster. With a prostitute.”

    Good practice. See here.

    “When we train in letting go of thinking that anything—including ourselves—is either good or bad, we open our minds to practice with forgiveness and humor. And we practice opening to a compassionate space in which good/bad judgments can dissolve. We practice letting go of our idea of a ‘goal’ and letting go of our concept of ‘progress,’ because right there, in that process of letting go, is where our hearts open and soften—over and over again.”

    Pema Chodron was one of my meditation teachers. There is a collection of her articles at the Shambhala Sun website here:

    “That nothing is static or fixed, that all is fleeting and impermanent, is the first mark of existence. It is the ordinary state of affairs. Everything is in process. Everything—every tree, every blade of grass, all the animals, insects, human beings, buildings, the animate and the inanimate—is always changing, moment to moment.”

  • Andrew

    Amanda …

    “Imagine if we all had to find common ground with Hitler. With a mobster. With a prostitute.”

    Good practice. See here.

    “When we train in letting go of thinking that anything—including ourselves—is either good or bad, we open our minds to practice with forgiveness and humor. And we practice opening to a compassionate space in which good/bad judgments can dissolve. We practice letting go of our idea of a ‘goal’ and letting go of our concept of ‘progress,’ because right there, in that process of letting go, is where our hearts open and soften—over and over again.”

    Pema Chodron was one of my meditation teachers. There is a collection of her articles at the Shambhala Sun website here:

    “That nothing is static or fixed, that all is fleeting and impermanent, is the first mark of existence. It is the ordinary state of affairs. Everything is in process. Everything—every tree, every blade of grass, all the animals, insects, human beings, buildings, the animate and the inanimate—is always changing, moment to moment.”

  • Amanda, Amanda, Amanda — where to begin!

    I’m not a fan of long posts — but yours was an easy read.

    To respond I think its necessary for me (for me) to separate the actions of actor A who is not a religious person, from actor B who is. A has more freedom — not to be misused imo but freedom nonetheless. B, if he is a representative of said religion needs to watch his skirts! Simple as that.

    (Why does the religious actor/person need to be careful even circumspect in her actions and words? Because she has made a promise in choosing to believe and represent a religion. Its a matter of trust among fellows, as much as anything.)

    As to depravity — there is a line and I’m afraid that it is different depending on the person — there is a line that can but shouldn’t be crossed. I know some philosophers believe we must sink to our lowest point before raising to the heights but I don’t agree.

    I think drug addiction is depravity. Some sexual practices are. Divine in Pink Flamingos is. Group sex usually is but not always. I don’t think homosexuality is but sleeping around can be depending on the extent and how it makes the people involved feel. I can’t see any committed relationship, married, unmarried, gay or straight as depraved.

    Charles Bukowski seems to have been depraved, Jack Kerouac probably was not (but he came close) — see its all subjective according to taste and one’s background. But when 10,000 French men think something is depraved it might be. So its a social norm kind of thing and you know it when you see kind of thing but if an action makes you feel creepy and awful or might make you sick it might be — depraved. Cannibalism, murder, rape, deep immoral selfishness — all are forms of depravity for many people I think. If you really know better and do it any way its probably an act of depravity. (I don’t think its helpful to label a person as depraved but it might be to label some action for some people at some times — depraved)

    The important thing is to have some personal standards. I no longer get my standards from Baha’i (ok so there is some residual influence) but Rainn claims to. So imo he needs to watch it buddy! Pretending (for fun not drama or even well crafted comedy — maybe that’s the true rub) to be giving oral lsex to strangers for money crosses the line for most people and all Baha’is — imo of course.

    BTW I agree that dogma = bad. Seeking = good. But dogma is a good discussion point. I am about to join a Unitarian church, one that appears to be w/o dogma. Yet i must agree that the search for truth is a good thing. That’s a fairly low level of it but its dogma of a kind. So its not so much the acceptance of constraints its the degree of constraint we are required to accept.

    My favorite photographer/artist is Henri Cartier-Bresson. He described himself as an anarchist . He said anarchy is an aesthetic. I can see that but need more structure in my life. I used to get it from Baha’i — now I get it from Emerson, UU Church, Nature, Art, Baha’ullah (but I ‘cherry pick!) and – as with love – where I find it. To some that’s anarchy — to others its a straight jacket.

    I have always felt like an outsider — ever since I read Catcher in the Rye (just kidding — I know a clich? when I write it!) I’m too hip for some and a complete square for others. But since I retired I’ve found a group of friends who make me feel very comfortable and capable. I cherish them for that.

    I guess that’s it. Rainn’s bit on Spirit Awards made me uncomfortable. It was for me bad taste. Like the one he had in his mouth after pretending to give head for money. I don’t like the expression ‘it sucks’ as it is used today and I don’t like the exploitation of the ‘it sucks’ aesthetic.

    Many thanks for your expression of appreciation. I’ve enjoyed our discussion as well. Maybe we should continue?

    Cheers,
    Frank

  • Amanda, Amanda, Amanda — where to begin!

    I’m not a fan of long posts — but yours was an easy read.

    To respond I think its necessary for me (for me) to separate the actions of actor A who is not a religious person, from actor B who is. A has more freedom — not to be misused imo but freedom nonetheless. B, if he is a representative of said religion needs to watch his skirts! Simple as that.

    (Why does the religious actor/person need to be careful even circumspect in her actions and words? Because she has made a promise in choosing to believe and represent a religion. Its a matter of trust among fellows, as much as anything.)

    As to depravity — there is a line and I’m afraid that it is different depending on the person — there is a line that can but shouldn’t be crossed. I know some philosophers believe we must sink to our lowest point before raising to the heights but I don’t agree.

    I think drug addiction is depravity. Some sexual practices are. Divine in Pink Flamingos is. Group sex usually is but not always. I don’t think homosexuality is but sleeping around can be depending on the extent and how it makes the people involved feel. I can’t see any committed relationship, married, unmarried, gay or straight as depraved.

    Charles Bukowski seems to have been depraved, Jack Kerouac probably was not (but he came close) — see its all subjective according to taste and one’s background. But when 10,000 French men think something is depraved it might be. So its a social norm kind of thing and you know it when you see kind of thing but if an action makes you feel creepy and awful or might make you sick it might be — depraved. Cannibalism, murder, rape, deep immoral selfishness — all are forms of depravity for many people I think. If you really know better and do it any way its probably an act of depravity. (I don’t think its helpful to label a person as depraved but it might be to label some action for some people at some times — depraved)

    The important thing is to have some personal standards. I no longer get my standards from Baha’i (ok so there is some residual influence) but Rainn claims to. So imo he needs to watch it buddy! Pretending (for fun not drama or even well crafted comedy — maybe that’s the true rub) to be giving oral lsex to strangers for money crosses the line for most people and all Baha’is — imo of course.

    BTW I agree that dogma = bad. Seeking = good. But dogma is a good discussion point. I am about to join a Unitarian church, one that appears to be w/o dogma. Yet i must agree that the search for truth is a good thing. That’s a fairly low level of it but its dogma of a kind. So its not so much the acceptance of constraints its the degree of constraint we are required to accept.

    My favorite photographer/artist is Henri Cartier-Bresson. He described himself as an anarchist . He said anarchy is an aesthetic. I can see that but need more structure in my life. I used to get it from Baha’i — now I get it from Emerson, UU Church, Nature, Art, Baha’ullah (but I ‘cherry pick!) and – as with love – where I find it. To some that’s anarchy — to others its a straight jacket.

    I have always felt like an outsider — ever since I read Catcher in the Rye (just kidding — I know a clich? when I write it!) I’m too hip for some and a complete square for others. But since I retired I’ve found a group of friends who make me feel very comfortable and capable. I cherish them for that.

    I guess that’s it. Rainn’s bit on Spirit Awards made me uncomfortable. It was for me bad taste. Like the one he had in his mouth after pretending to give head for money. I don’t like the expression ‘it sucks’ as it is used today and I don’t like the exploitation of the ‘it sucks’ aesthetic.

    Many thanks for your expression of appreciation. I’ve enjoyed our discussion as well. Maybe we should continue?

    Cheers,
    Frank

  • Hello Mavaddat,

    Many thanks for our discussion.

    You wrote:

    “the Bible cannot be the myth for modernity, since we have passed beyond its standards and insights.”

    “Love thy neighbor as thy self” is still good advice. Much of the New Testament is. recently The Lord’s Prayer has had new meaning for me.

    If we lose the bible completely we will be the lesser for it. But if we follow it as “the word of the living god, perfect in every way,” we are screwed.

    My life is a course of choices — I don’t think we can ever rest in the knowledge that what we believe is ‘it.’

    One of my goals for this year is to read the bible (New Testament first) from cover to cover. What will you be reading?

    Peace,
    Frank

  • Hello Mavaddat,

    Many thanks for our discussion.

    You wrote:

    “the Bible cannot be the myth for modernity, since we have passed beyond its standards and insights.”

    “Love thy neighbor as thy self” is still good advice. Much of the New Testament is. recently The Lord’s Prayer has had new meaning for me.

    If we lose the bible completely we will be the lesser for it. But if we follow it as “the word of the living god, perfect in every way,” we are screwed.

    My life is a course of choices — I don’t think we can ever rest in the knowledge that what we believe is ‘it.’

    One of my goals for this year is to read the bible (New Testament first) from cover to cover. What will you be reading?

    Peace,
    Frank

  • Hello, Frank!

    Thanks for your great post. Hmmm…

    Well, I actually agree that many things are “immoral,” like rape, hurting or exploiting others, etc. I do believe in moral/ethical decision making, but I locate that faculty within the individual conscience, not within a religious doctrine. I think certain civil laws need to exist to prevent genuine harm (not imagined harm or symbolic harm) like violence or fraud, but I think those laws have to come from “the people.”

    In personal relationships, if no one is being harmed, I just don’t think it’s fair to put a “depraved” label on consensual behavior. Even if that behavior doesn’t “do it” for me, personally.

    My main beef is just with putting sexuality in the dust bin with the things we think are bad or not “spiritual.” I don’t think it’s fair.

    I do think people and their actions sometimes sink to very low places, but I argue for a non-religious method of discerning how we evaluate that, and for how we respond to it. I don’t think religion does anything to prevent human “evil,” I actually think it perpetuates it by eating away at people’s personal intellectual and ethical authority. It sounds like you and I might even agree about some of that, given your UU/Emerson leanings.

    With Rainn, can I see an inconsistency with some of what he chooses to do/say as an actor and with the Baha’i role? Yes. But, for me, the “moral tension” arises from the Baha’i role, not from any immorality in the other things he’s doing. I think it isn’t depraved to depict the full spectrum of human experience in art. I think it’s important. Even if I would never, in a million years, enact in my own life what a character I portray does, I still think it’s important to depict. Even if the art isn’t especially great.

    I appreciate your distinction between labeling a person as depraved and labeling an action as depraved, but I think we also have to examine our criteria for labeling an action that way. Actions can certainly be depraved, but why? How do we know when they are? What is it that we value that they somehow transgress? For example, you say you can’t see any committed relationship as being depraved, but I think the content of many marriages IS depraved. You can be committed to a bad course of action, just as you can be committed to a good one. I don’t think the “goodness” or “badness” is apparent in the committment. Do I personally seek committment? Yes. But only to something worthy of committment. I think it can be more moral to be without committment than arriving at it based on someone else’s reasoning (like Baha’u’llahs.)

    Anyway. 🙂 Thanks for hanging in. I look forward to your response, if you look forward to sharing it.

    Amanda

  • Hello, Frank!

    Thanks for your great post. Hmmm…

    Well, I actually agree that many things are “immoral,” like rape, hurting or exploiting others, etc. I do believe in moral/ethical decision making, but I locate that faculty within the individual conscience, not within a religious doctrine. I think certain civil laws need to exist to prevent genuine harm (not imagined harm or symbolic harm) like violence or fraud, but I think those laws have to come from “the people.”

    In personal relationships, if no one is being harmed, I just don’t think it’s fair to put a “depraved” label on consensual behavior. Even if that behavior doesn’t “do it” for me, personally.

    My main beef is just with putting sexuality in the dust bin with the things we think are bad or not “spiritual.” I don’t think it’s fair.

    I do think people and their actions sometimes sink to very low places, but I argue for a non-religious method of discerning how we evaluate that, and for how we respond to it. I don’t think religion does anything to prevent human “evil,” I actually think it perpetuates it by eating away at people’s personal intellectual and ethical authority. It sounds like you and I might even agree about some of that, given your UU/Emerson leanings.

    With Rainn, can I see an inconsistency with some of what he chooses to do/say as an actor and with the Baha’i role? Yes. But, for me, the “moral tension” arises from the Baha’i role, not from any immorality in the other things he’s doing. I think it isn’t depraved to depict the full spectrum of human experience in art. I think it’s important. Even if I would never, in a million years, enact in my own life what a character I portray does, I still think it’s important to depict. Even if the art isn’t especially great.

    I appreciate your distinction between labeling a person as depraved and labeling an action as depraved, but I think we also have to examine our criteria for labeling an action that way. Actions can certainly be depraved, but why? How do we know when they are? What is it that we value that they somehow transgress? For example, you say you can’t see any committed relationship as being depraved, but I think the content of many marriages IS depraved. You can be committed to a bad course of action, just as you can be committed to a good one. I don’t think the “goodness” or “badness” is apparent in the committment. Do I personally seek committment? Yes. But only to something worthy of committment. I think it can be more moral to be without committment than arriving at it based on someone else’s reasoning (like Baha’u’llahs.)

    Anyway. 🙂 Thanks for hanging in. I look forward to your response, if you look forward to sharing it.

    Amanda

  • Hi Amanda,

    I can’t talk for long — but thanks for your post.

    One thing i wanted to make clear — i know that some of my behavior is ‘depraved,’ And any day a good person can do something not so good, not so healthy.

    But I reserve the right to be turned off by the actions of others. But I also reserve the right to continuously try to improve the quality of my own behavior and actions.

    OK?

    More later.

    Frank

  • Hi Amanda,

    I can’t talk for long — but thanks for your post.

    One thing i wanted to make clear — i know that some of my behavior is ‘depraved,’ And any day a good person can do something not so good, not so healthy.

    But I reserve the right to be turned off by the actions of others. But I also reserve the right to continuously try to improve the quality of my own behavior and actions.

    OK?

    More later.

    Frank

  • Sounds good, Frank.

    Just a quick thought you can respond to later when you have time…

    I, too, am certainly “turned off by the actions of others” at times, and agree that we can all do things that are “not so good, not so healthy.”

    But my question is, HOW DO WE KNOW that something is good or not good, and WHY are we turned off?

    Thanks,
    Amanda

  • Sounds good, Frank.

    Just a quick thought you can respond to later when you have time…

    I, too, am certainly “turned off by the actions of others” at times, and agree that we can all do things that are “not so good, not so healthy.”

    But my question is, HOW DO WE KNOW that something is good or not good, and WHY are we turned off?

    Thanks,
    Amanda

  • Anonymous
  • Anonymous

    I thank you for the discussion too, Frank.

    You wrote,

    One of my goals for this year is to read the bible (New Testament first) from cover to cover. What will you be reading?

    I’d really like to finish Walter Kaufman’s “The Portable Nietzsche,” which I’ve been working on for a while now. It’s a beautifully translated book of Nietzsche’s greatest work. that’s the only thing I’m really committed to right now, although I was informally reading a book about Plato’s Republic. I read the Republic for a class, and found it extremely distasteful in the morals and social structure it advocated. So I wanted to understand why people admired it so much. The book has turned out to be surprisingly simple.

  • I thank you for the discussion too, Frank.

    You wrote,

    One of my goals for this year is to read the bible (New Testament first) from cover to cover. What will you be reading?

    I’d really like to finish Walter Kaufman’s “The Portable Nietzsche,” which I’ve been working on for a while now. It’s a beautifully translated book of Nietzsche’s greatest work. that’s the only thing I’m really committed to right now, although I was informally reading a book about Plato’s Republic. I read the Republic for a class, and found it extremely distasteful in the morals and social structure it advocated. So I wanted to understand why people admired it so much. The book has turned out to be surprisingly simple.

  • Hi Amanda,

    Good questions — I’m off on a trip and wil get back to you early next week.

    Peace,
    Frank

  • Hi Amanda,

    Good questions — I’m off on a trip and wil get back to you early next week.

    Peace,
    Frank

  • Hi Mavaddat,

    “I’d really like to finish Walter Kaufman’s ?The Portable Nietzsche,? which I’ve been working on for a while now. It’s a beautifully translated book of Nietzsche’s greatest work. that’s the only thing I’m really committed to right now, although I was informally reading a book about Plato’s Republic. I read the Republic for a class, and found it extremely distasteful in the morals and social structure it advocated. So I wanted to understand why people admired it so much. The book has turned out to be surprisingly simple.”

    Good reading! I have similar reading on my to read list — I just need to make the time for it. My to read list grows faster than my read list. Got to work on that.

    Best Wishes,
    Frank

  • Hi Mavaddat,

    “I’d really like to finish Walter Kaufman’s ?The Portable Nietzsche,? which I’ve been working on for a while now. It’s a beautifully translated book of Nietzsche’s greatest work. that’s the only thing I’m really committed to right now, although I was informally reading a book about Plato’s Republic. I read the Republic for a class, and found it extremely distasteful in the morals and social structure it advocated. So I wanted to understand why people admired it so much. The book has turned out to be surprisingly simple.”

    Good reading! I have similar reading on my to read list — I just need to make the time for it. My to read list grows faster than my read list. Got to work on that.

    Best Wishes,
    Frank

  • Thank you Mavaddat, I’ll take a look at those 🙂

  • Thank you Mavaddat, I’ll take a look at those 🙂

  • Hi Amanda,

    I’m back and want to pick up on your question to me:

    [quote]

    Just a quick thought you can respond to later when you have time…

    I, too, am certainly “turned off by the actions of others” at times, and agree that we can all do things that are “not so good, not so healthy.”

    But my question is, HOW DO WE KNOW that something is good or not good, and WHY are we turned off?

    Thanks,
    Amanda[/quote]

    Bird quoted Bertrand Russell recently:
    [quote]
    “?Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth — more than ruin — more even than death…. Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habit. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man.?[/quote]

    I’m afraid that telling right from wrong, good actions from bad requires dreaded thought. It requires discernment — a power of the mind and soul that needs to be developed and encouraged throughout one’s life.

    I believe that what we traditionally call god resides within us and serves as among other things as a moral compass. Prayer and meditation help us to hear the voice within and give us the strength to follow its guidance.

    I don’t know if every person has a moral compass but I think that the design of the universe includes one for each of us. Sometimes we are born without all our facilities, that is one of the roles of chance in our world. But our design includes a moral compass that gives us an innate ability to discern right from wrong. Of course we also have free will and can choose to ignore or heed the indications of our compass.

    What do you think?

    Peace,
    Frank

  • Hi Amanda,

    I’m back and want to pick up on your question to me:

    [quote]

    Just a quick thought you can respond to later when you have time…

    I, too, am certainly “turned off by the actions of others” at times, and agree that we can all do things that are “not so good, not so healthy.”

    But my question is, HOW DO WE KNOW that something is good or not good, and WHY are we turned off?

    Thanks,
    Amanda[/quote]

    Bird quoted Bertrand Russell recently:
    [quote]
    “?Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth — more than ruin — more even than death…. Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habit. Thought looks into the pit of hell and is not afraid. Thought is great and swift and free, the light of the world, and the chief glory of man.?[/quote]

    I’m afraid that telling right from wrong, good actions from bad requires dreaded thought. It requires discernment — a power of the mind and soul that needs to be developed and encouraged throughout one’s life.

    I believe that what we traditionally call god resides within us and serves as among other things as a moral compass. Prayer and meditation help us to hear the voice within and give us the strength to follow its guidance.

    I don’t know if every person has a moral compass but I think that the design of the universe includes one for each of us. Sometimes we are born without all our facilities, that is one of the roles of chance in our world. But our design includes a moral compass that gives us an innate ability to discern right from wrong. Of course we also have free will and can choose to ignore or heed the indications of our compass.

    What do you think?

    Peace,
    Frank

  • Frank, thanks for your post and for picking up this topic again.

    I agree with you. I think we each come equiped with the capacity and obligation for thought and moral reasoning. I agree that meditation is a way to engage that capacity, as is thoughtful debate. I like your description of god for it’s usefulness in locating an internal compass as the source of moral authority. I understand you to be using the term god as a symbol. I get nervous when people actually imagine an external source of moral authority, particularly one they feel conditioned to turn their will and cognitive abilities over to, as that is a projection of an internal capacity. Just as we like to project our shadow onto others, we like to project our light.

    I think religion eats away at the basic development of reasoning skills and ethical decision making. It teaches people to replace their internal compass with an external set of rules and lists of right and wrong, which were developed to keep certain people in power a very long time ago. I think that, ironically, the process of religious indoctrination creates LESS moral individuals who lack ethical problem solving skills, unless they break away from it.

    Thanks, Frank. 🙂

  • Frank, thanks for your post and for picking up this topic again.

    I agree with you. I think we each come equiped with the capacity and obligation for thought and moral reasoning. I agree that meditation is a way to engage that capacity, as is thoughtful debate. I like your description of god for it’s usefulness in locating an internal compass as the source of moral authority. I understand you to be using the term god as a symbol. I get nervous when people actually imagine an external source of moral authority, particularly one they feel conditioned to turn their will and cognitive abilities over to, as that is a projection of an internal capacity. Just as we like to project our shadow onto others, we like to project our light.

    I think religion eats away at the basic development of reasoning skills and ethical decision making. It teaches people to replace their internal compass with an external set of rules and lists of right and wrong, which were developed to keep certain people in power a very long time ago. I think that, ironically, the process of religious indoctrination creates LESS moral individuals who lack ethical problem solving skills, unless they break away from it.

    Thanks, Frank. 🙂

  • [quote post=”361″]I like your description of god for it’s usefulness in locating an internal compass as the source of moral authority.I understand you to be using the term god as a symbol. I get nervous when people actually imagine an external source of moral authority….[/quote]

    Amanda, thank you for talking to me.

    I don’t know what god or God is. I do see evidence in my life that there is a power higher/stronger than just me/us. But i don’t understand it. We are responsible for our actions and how we treat each other and ourselves no matter how the universe was created and no matter what beings or forces we don’t understand actually exist. To understand god I think we must understand ourselves and each other, so I’m starting from there.

    Thank you & peace,
    Frank

    As far as what ‘religion’ does I think it need not be a negative. It just tends to be that way usually. But what is it other than our attempts to understand the universe (at least it starts that way I think.)

  • [quote post=”361″]I like your description of god for it’s usefulness in locating an internal compass as the source of moral authority.I understand you to be using the term god as a symbol. I get nervous when people actually imagine an external source of moral authority….[/quote]

    Amanda, thank you for talking to me.

    I don’t know what god or God is. I do see evidence in my life that there is a power higher/stronger than just me/us. But i don’t understand it. We are responsible for our actions and how we treat each other and ourselves no matter how the universe was created and no matter what beings or forces we don’t understand actually exist. To understand god I think we must understand ourselves and each other, so I’m starting from there.

    Thank you & peace,
    Frank

    As far as what ‘religion’ does I think it need not be a negative. It just tends to be that way usually. But what is it other than our attempts to understand the universe (at least it starts that way I think.)

  • Frank,
    Thank YOU for talking to me.
    🙂

  • Frank,
    Thank YOU for talking to me.
    🙂

  • Annique

    I’m a Baha’i myself and I have to admit, it’s pretty darn cool to have your religion show up in the media. I happened upon an article about Baha’i’s in my family’s favourite newspaper (the North-Hollandic Daily, so pretty regional stuff) and just about spat out my milk in surprise.

  • Annique

    I’m a Baha’i myself and I have to admit, it’s pretty darn cool to have your religion show up in the media. I happened upon an article about Baha’i’s in my family’s favourite newspaper (the North-Hollandic Daily, so pretty regional stuff) and just about spat out my milk in surprise.