Rainn Wilson’s Soulpancake on Oprah

If you haven’t been following the launch of Rainn Wilson‘s new website, soulpancake.com then you haven’t missed much because up until today it wasn’t more than a sign-up page. But now, it is finally here and you can signup, join, and take part in the conversation.

Rainn Wilson’s aim is to create a place to really delve into spirituality, religion and all those questions about God, the meaning of life, the universe, everything…

Here is Part 1 of his sit down interview with Oprah to introduce the site and the inspiration for this project (the Baha’i Faith):


Part 2

Part 3

Part 4

Part 5

Part 6

Part 7

  • Matt

    I think this guy is definitely helping to put the Baha'i faith on the map in the wider society. I think that is really cool, especially because he seems like the type of person who I wouldn't mind hanging out with and listening to.

  • Matt

    I think this guy is definitely helping to put the Baha'i faith on the map in the wider society. I think that is really cool, especially because he seems like the type of person who I wouldn't mind hanging out with and listening to.

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

    Hmm. …I gotta say I find it annoying to hear him claim he's "read all the holy books of the world" when he's making basic factual errors about his own in the same interview.

    The Baha'i Faith he's describing sounds like a really nice religion. He will have a hard time finding that religion in it's actual texts. But if all you ever read is Ruhi and pamphlets, I guess he's got it about right.

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

    Hmm. …I gotta say I find it annoying to hear him claim he's "read all the holy books of the world" when he's making basic factual errors about his own in the same interview.

    The Baha'i Faith he's describing sounds like a really nice religion. He will have a hard time finding that religion in it's actual texts. But if all you ever read is Ruhi and pamphlets, I guess he's got it about right.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Baquia Baquia

    what factual errors does he make?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Baquia Baquia

    what factual errors does he make?

  • Amanda

    The factual errors I heard (and honestly I was multitasking as I listened, so there may be more that I missed) were that he described the Baha'i Faith as a "democratic" religion when he was describing the AO. The UHJ certainly doesn't concur with that analysis in recent years. They've been explicit about that. His was a very "loosy-goosy, airy-fairy" (Quaker-school-ish) inaccurate rendering of the nature of the Baha'i Administrative Order.

    (No clergy my ass. We don't have clergy, but we have people who perform their duties. A rose by any other name… )

    His claim that Baha'i services/ceremonies don't happen in the House of Worship is also totally false. I guided there for a long time while working at National and lived next door-literally, next door to the Temple. His depiction of what happens there was a little fictionalized. Maybe he just never attended anything when he was a security guard?

    Also, the Baha'i prophecies about America were not written in "Persia." Not a single word. That reveals a pretty basic ignorance of the chronology of Baha'i history and of who wrote what, in my mind. Baha'u'llah was well out the door of Persia when he did most of his writing, including the letters to the rulers of the world. I imagine most of what Rainn Wilson was thinking of about America's destiny came from 'Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi, who were clearly not writing from "Persia." That just came off as pretty ignorant.

    I know he quoted some actual writings, but isn't that required these days? Were they Ruhi quotes? I don't know. When I resigned we were all still reading entire books.

    I don't mean to brow-beat. I think he seems sincere in his desire to proselytize his religion, and to live a life of service. He certainly talked about some good things. But I get creeped out when I hear the Faith being represented as if it is this wonderland of magical equality and New Age Zen. It isn't. And especially don't make absurd claims that are obviously untrue. Like, congrats on reading the Bhagavad-Gita. It's short. Obviously, you didn't make it all the way through Baha'u'llah's writings. but whatever. Oprah won't know the difference. Neither will most Baha'is.

    I'd feel much more comfortable with the Faith (or anything, really) being presented in an honest, balanced way. A truthful way. It's creepy to project a misrepresentation of the Light and ignore the Shadow. It's dangerous, actually. Like- what what happens when Oprah finds out women can't be on the UHJ and gays are treated the way they are? Um…..disaster waiting to happen, Rainn? Maybe he didn't read A Million Little Pieces, either. Maybe he missed the James Frey reckoning episode of Oprah. Don't misrepresent things to Oprah, is all I'm saying.

  • Amanda

    The factual errors I heard (and honestly I was multitasking as I listened, so there may be more that I missed) were that he described the Baha'i Faith as a "democratic" religion when he was describing the AO. The UHJ certainly doesn't concur with that analysis in recent years. They've been explicit about that. His was a very "loosy-goosy, airy-fairy" (Quaker-school-ish) inaccurate rendering of the nature of the Baha'i Administrative Order.

    (No clergy my ass. We don't have clergy, but we have people who perform their duties. A rose by any other name… )

    His claim that Baha'i services/ceremonies don't happen in the House of Worship is also totally false. I guided there for a long time while working at National and lived next door-literally, next door to the Temple. His depiction of what happens there was a little fictionalized. Maybe he just never attended anything when he was a security guard?

    Also, the Baha'i prophecies about America were not written in "Persia." Not a single word. That reveals a pretty basic ignorance of the chronology of Baha'i history and of who wrote what, in my mind. Baha'u'llah was well out the door of Persia when he did most of his writing, including the letters to the rulers of the world. I imagine most of what Rainn Wilson was thinking of about America's destiny came from 'Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi, who were clearly not writing from "Persia." That just came off as pretty ignorant.

    I know he quoted some actual writings, but isn't that required these days? Were they Ruhi quotes? I don't know. When I resigned we were all still reading entire books.

    I don't mean to brow-beat. I think he seems sincere in his desire to proselytize his religion, and to live a life of service. He certainly talked about some good things. But I get creeped out when I hear the Faith being represented as if it is this wonderland of magical equality and New Age Zen. It isn't. And especially don't make absurd claims that are obviously untrue. Like, congrats on reading the Bhagavad-Gita. It's short. Obviously, you didn't make it all the way through Baha'u'llah's writings. but whatever. Oprah won't know the difference. Neither will most Baha'is.

    I'd feel much more comfortable with the Faith (or anything, really) being presented in an honest, balanced way. A truthful way. It's creepy to project a misrepresentation of the Light and ignore the Shadow. It's dangerous, actually. Like- what what happens when Oprah finds out women can't be on the UHJ and gays are treated the way they are? Um…..disaster waiting to happen, Rainn? Maybe he didn't read A Million Little Pieces, either. Maybe he missed the James Frey reckoning episode of Oprah. Don't misrepresent things to Oprah, is all I'm saying.

  • Matt

    I understand your concerns, Amanda, and I agree that anything should be presented in the most honest fashion to provide an objective outlook on a given subject. But, I think there are many good teachings of the Baha'i Faith and they outweigh the bad ones. So, to introduce controversial topics in the beginning could shut people down and they would unable to appreciate the good stuff. That's my take, anyway. People shouldn't avoid controversial topics altogether, but I also think they shouldn't have to all be listed in one setting either.

  • Matt

    I understand your concerns, Amanda, and I agree that anything should be presented in the most honest fashion to provide an objective outlook on a given subject. But, I think there are many good teachings of the Baha'i Faith and they outweigh the bad ones. So, to introduce controversial topics in the beginning could shut people down and they would unable to appreciate the good stuff. That's my take, anyway. People shouldn't avoid controversial topics altogether, but I also think they shouldn't have to all be listed in one setting either.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Baquia Baquia

    Thanks Amanda. The only time I remember cringing a bit while watching the video was when he mentioned the "prophecies" about America. Having said that, you can argue both ways. For example, there is definitely a characteristic of democracy in the AO – secret ballot, annual elections.
    What he said about the nature of Baha'i houses of worship is also true for the most part. In comparison to a Baha'i centre which serves as a venue for 19 day feasts, holy days, etc. a temple is there for general devotional use of the public.
    My suspicion is that Rainn is much more open to delving into difficult topics, even those that you bring up, than you give him credit for. Of course, the purpose of his project encompasses much more than that but I don't think he would shy away from it. Just a hunch.
    As well, mentioning topics like the membership of the UHJ or the position on homosexuality, while valid, wasn't really appropriate in the context of the interview. As well, who knows! maybe Rainn doesn't fully agree with them, as do many other Baha'is.
    Your concerns reminded me of my criticism of Peter Owen Jones' portrayal of the Faith. Sure, what he may have said wasn't 100% correct but more importantly, his heart is in the right place and there isn't an intent to deceive or manipulate. He's just sharing what he knows, at that moment, in the context of the show.
    Why not join soulpancake.com and have your say?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Baquia Baquia

    Thanks Amanda. The only time I remember cringing a bit while watching the video was when he mentioned the "prophecies" about America. Having said that, you can argue both ways. For example, there is definitely a characteristic of democracy in the AO – secret ballot, annual elections.
    What he said about the nature of Baha'i houses of worship is also true for the most part. In comparison to a Baha'i centre which serves as a venue for 19 day feasts, holy days, etc. a temple is there for general devotional use of the public.
    My suspicion is that Rainn is much more open to delving into difficult topics, even those that you bring up, than you give him credit for. Of course, the purpose of his project encompasses much more than that but I don't think he would shy away from it. Just a hunch.
    As well, mentioning topics like the membership of the UHJ or the position on homosexuality, while valid, wasn't really appropriate in the context of the interview. As well, who knows! maybe Rainn doesn't fully agree with them, as do many other Baha'is.
    Your concerns reminded me of my criticism of Peter Owen Jones' portrayal of the Faith. Sure, what he may have said wasn't 100% correct but more importantly, his heart is in the right place and there isn't an intent to deceive or manipulate. He's just sharing what he knows, at that moment, in the context of the show.
    Why not join soulpancake.com and have your say?

  • Amanda

    In a letter dated 29 Dec 1988 to the followers of Baha'u'llah in North America, the UHJ quotes Shoghi Effendi:

    "It would be utterly misleading to attempt a comparison between this unique, divinely conceived Order and any of the diverse systems which the minds of men, at various periods of their history, have contrived for the government of human institutions." "Such an attempt," he felt, "would in itself betray a lack of complete appreciation of the excellence of the handiwork of its great Author."

    Utterly misleading, they say.

    They go on:

    The lack of such appreciation will detract from the perspective of anyone who measures Baha'i administrative processes against practices in today's society. For notwithstanding its inclination to democratic methods in the administration of its affairs, and regardless of the resemblance of some of its features to other systems, the Administrative Order is not to be viewed merely as an improvement on past and existing systems; it represents a departure both in origin and in concept."

    A departure both in origin and in concept. NOT a democracy. They go on to belabour the point, it seems to be kind of important to them:

    "You are, no doubt, conversant with the Guardian's expatiations on this theme. Why, then, this insistent emphasis? Why this repeated review of fundamentals? This emphasis, this review, is to sound an appeal for solid thinking, for the attainment of correct perspectives, for the adoption of proper attitudes. And these are impossible without a deep appreciation of Baha'i fundamentals."

    This is a Baha'i fundamental. Not a democracy.

    That letter is probably the single most relevant document to all the talk about freedom of belief and expression in the Baha'i world right now. They manage to praise it and prohibit it in just the span of one letter. Kind of impressive.

  • Amanda

    In a letter dated 29 Dec 1988 to the followers of Baha'u'llah in North America, the UHJ quotes Shoghi Effendi:

    "It would be utterly misleading to attempt a comparison between this unique, divinely conceived Order and any of the diverse systems which the minds of men, at various periods of their history, have contrived for the government of human institutions." "Such an attempt," he felt, "would in itself betray a lack of complete appreciation of the excellence of the handiwork of its great Author."

    Utterly misleading, they say.

    They go on:

    The lack of such appreciation will detract from the perspective of anyone who measures Baha'i administrative processes against practices in today's society. For notwithstanding its inclination to democratic methods in the administration of its affairs, and regardless of the resemblance of some of its features to other systems, the Administrative Order is not to be viewed merely as an improvement on past and existing systems; it represents a departure both in origin and in concept."

    A departure both in origin and in concept. NOT a democracy. They go on to belabour the point, it seems to be kind of important to them:

    "You are, no doubt, conversant with the Guardian's expatiations on this theme. Why, then, this insistent emphasis? Why this repeated review of fundamentals? This emphasis, this review, is to sound an appeal for solid thinking, for the attainment of correct perspectives, for the adoption of proper attitudes. And these are impossible without a deep appreciation of Baha'i fundamentals."

    This is a Baha'i fundamental. Not a democracy.

    That letter is probably the single most relevant document to all the talk about freedom of belief and expression in the Baha'i world right now. They manage to praise it and prohibit it in just the span of one letter. Kind of impressive.

  • Amanda

    Also, the House of Worship has Baha'i services and programs (Holy Days, etc) all the time. Really. I promise. Yes, it's also there for interfaith sightseeing and wedding photography, but Baha'is really do hold all kinds of Baha'i services and programs there. Call them and ask if you don't believe me.

    And my concern isn't whether or not Rainn as an individual is a homophobe or a sexist, it is that the Baha'i Faith, structurally, is a homophobe and a sexist, and he is publicly representing it on national television as an enterprise in equality and democracy. That is offensive if you happen to be a woman or gay. If the message is "We believe in the Oneness of Humanity, the Equality of Everyone- except *you* that means *I* am not part of Humanity. And that is misrepresentation, and it IS a big deal. It is like the US mouthing off about being the land of the free and spreading "freedom" all over the world *while not allowing blacks and women the vote.* So think of my opinion as you would a black veteran who was not allowed the vote but asked to fight for their country. It's not okay.

    And as to the argument about what you lead with when you are talking about the Faith, if you can't see how patronizing and disingenuous that perspective is, Matt, I don't even know what to say. The "good" outweighs the "bad" if you happen to be straight and happen to male, and happen to not be so concerned about the things the UHJ starts to rail on in the the letter I quoted above. (In the section I didn't get to yet. I'll let you go look it up.)

  • Amanda

    Also, the House of Worship has Baha'i services and programs (Holy Days, etc) all the time. Really. I promise. Yes, it's also there for interfaith sightseeing and wedding photography, but Baha'is really do hold all kinds of Baha'i services and programs there. Call them and ask if you don't believe me.

    And my concern isn't whether or not Rainn as an individual is a homophobe or a sexist, it is that the Baha'i Faith, structurally, is a homophobe and a sexist, and he is publicly representing it on national television as an enterprise in equality and democracy. That is offensive if you happen to be a woman or gay. If the message is "We believe in the Oneness of Humanity, the Equality of Everyone- except *you* that means *I* am not part of Humanity. And that is misrepresentation, and it IS a big deal. It is like the US mouthing off about being the land of the free and spreading "freedom" all over the world *while not allowing blacks and women the vote.* So think of my opinion as you would a black veteran who was not allowed the vote but asked to fight for their country. It's not okay.

    And as to the argument about what you lead with when you are talking about the Faith, if you can't see how patronizing and disingenuous that perspective is, Matt, I don't even know what to say. The "good" outweighs the "bad" if you happen to be straight and happen to male, and happen to not be so concerned about the things the UHJ starts to rail on in the the letter I quoted above. (In the section I didn't get to yet. I'll let you go look it up.)

  • pey

    It's marketing Amanda. No company, organization or associations will EVER put out anything negative about itself when do a promotional bit. This includes the Bahai community or a sincere Bahai like Wilson. So I really have no problem with this interview because it is what it is- a brief positivie intro to the Faith. What I have a problem with is that INSIDE the Bahai community people act like it is supposed to be one big glossy pamphlet. A place where we avoid those nasty discussions like allowing gays to openly be part of the community, women on the House, etc etc. But eventually it comes to bite the Bahai community in the you know where. Sincere seekers listen to Wilson go on about unity and peace and equality….then they enter the Bahai community and see endless committee meetings, constant talk about giving $$ to the Fund, mindless Ruhi classes and of course the inequalities against LGBT people and women's issues.

  • pey

    It's marketing Amanda. No company, organization or associations will EVER put out anything negative about itself when do a promotional bit. This includes the Bahai community or a sincere Bahai like Wilson. So I really have no problem with this interview because it is what it is- a brief positivie intro to the Faith. What I have a problem with is that INSIDE the Bahai community people act like it is supposed to be one big glossy pamphlet. A place where we avoid those nasty discussions like allowing gays to openly be part of the community, women on the House, etc etc. But eventually it comes to bite the Bahai community in the you know where. Sincere seekers listen to Wilson go on about unity and peace and equality….then they enter the Bahai community and see endless committee meetings, constant talk about giving $$ to the Fund, mindless Ruhi classes and of course the inequalities against LGBT people and women's issues.

  • Amanda

    Hey, P.

    It is marketing. But I don't think that's okay. It's a system that deals with human beings, it's not a vacuum cleaner. I think people outside the Faith deserve as much respect and honesty as people inside it in terms of honesty. ESPECIALLY in terms of "teaching." I think the approach Baha'is have taken with the public will bite them in the ass with the PUBLIC just as badly, if not worse, as it has WITHIN the community. That's already happening. It confuses the hell out of people. It creates suspicion and mistrust. It is ALWAYS better to be honest, even about our failings. We're all just human beings after all. It's that expectation of perfection that's the problem. No one but Baha'is expects the Baha'i Faith to be perfect. Because no human enterprise is perfect. But Baha'is keep insisting on perfection, which requires lying. And that will continue to piss off and alienate the public and people inside. It's a terrible approach.

  • Amanda

    Hey, P.

    It is marketing. But I don't think that's okay. It's a system that deals with human beings, it's not a vacuum cleaner. I think people outside the Faith deserve as much respect and honesty as people inside it in terms of honesty. ESPECIALLY in terms of "teaching." I think the approach Baha'is have taken with the public will bite them in the ass with the PUBLIC just as badly, if not worse, as it has WITHIN the community. That's already happening. It confuses the hell out of people. It creates suspicion and mistrust. It is ALWAYS better to be honest, even about our failings. We're all just human beings after all. It's that expectation of perfection that's the problem. No one but Baha'is expects the Baha'i Faith to be perfect. Because no human enterprise is perfect. But Baha'is keep insisting on perfection, which requires lying. And that will continue to piss off and alienate the public and people inside. It's a terrible approach.

  • Lee

    Amanda has anger issues take a chill pill. this is not a court session.

  • Lee

    Amanda has anger issues take a chill pill. this is not a court session.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Frank_Winters Frank_Winters

    Amanda may have anger issues but she is right — imho. And I think anyone who cares about Baha'i should be angry too.

    I left the faith and joined a UUish church in town. Every once in a while Baha'is are invited to speak to the congregation so people have some ideas about Baha'i. But they have been left with the impression that its a 'new age' sort of affair. This is ridiculous. Its the old (or as Baha'ullah puts it ancient) religion of the past full of small mindedness and fear. Mostly fear I think.

    Rainn Wilson is annoying. He grew up in the faith but seems to know little about it. He makes fun of new age religion but doesn't give a serious introduction to Baha'i. And some of his 'humorous' antics on TV — comedy sketches — show him to be out of sync with what the AO and most Baha'is expect of a Baha'i public figure. (Acting as the sex slave of another actor, for example)

    I think Amanda is also tight about the possible Oprah train wreck if she gets wind of what he left out. Of course he wouldn't be expected to say Baha'i is a fine religion for straight men but he ought to describe it as the traditional, old style religion that it is. Did he say its religion renewed? (I didn't listen to the whole thing because he makes me a little nauseous) Lots of folks like that — the white middle class is still homophobic and some even still believe women should never be the boss. Many also believe in keeping your views to your self and that they will never have enough knowledge to figure anything out for themselves — so there is a big audience for the real Baha'i message.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Frank_Winters Frank_Winters

    Amanda may have anger issues but she is right — imho. And I think anyone who cares about Baha'i should be angry too.

    I left the faith and joined a UUish church in town. Every once in a while Baha'is are invited to speak to the congregation so people have some ideas about Baha'i. But they have been left with the impression that its a 'new age' sort of affair. This is ridiculous. Its the old (or as Baha'ullah puts it ancient) religion of the past full of small mindedness and fear. Mostly fear I think.

    Rainn Wilson is annoying. He grew up in the faith but seems to know little about it. He makes fun of new age religion but doesn't give a serious introduction to Baha'i. And some of his 'humorous' antics on TV — comedy sketches — show him to be out of sync with what the AO and most Baha'is expect of a Baha'i public figure. (Acting as the sex slave of another actor, for example)

    I think Amanda is also tight about the possible Oprah train wreck if she gets wind of what he left out. Of course he wouldn't be expected to say Baha'i is a fine religion for straight men but he ought to describe it as the traditional, old style religion that it is. Did he say its religion renewed? (I didn't listen to the whole thing because he makes me a little nauseous) Lots of folks like that — the white middle class is still homophobic and some even still believe women should never be the boss. Many also believe in keeping your views to your self and that they will never have enough knowledge to figure anything out for themselves — so there is a big audience for the real Baha'i message.

  • http://sonjavank.blogspot.com sonja

    Thanks Amanda and others for your comments, and for me, it is great that there's a forum where things like this can be discussed openly.

    I agree with others that Rainn Wilson seems to be sincere and open and this is his take on the faith. I celebrate this, even if for my own personal taste I find the approach a little over the top, but…. He is doing great stuff and he is not being dishonest.

    I too would say that Bahai administration is based on democratic principles. It is, even if the letters you quoted Amanda state that the UHJ don't see it like that. I can imagine that the UHJ could just as easily find letters to support the opposite view if they chose. But aside from that, just look at the system: each person has one vote in secret, reps from local up to international, etc, and the emphasis on equality and diversity as a positive factor.
    I agree having no women as possible members on the UHJ is a contradiction. It is and hopefully more and more Bahais will see this and one day for the UHJ itself it might be a topic for real investigation.
    And it certainly is not healthy that current UHJ members all come from a pool of those they appointed onto the ITC. It is not healthy, not a good example of openness for new blood or diversity, but it is still a democratic system.

    A more pressing issue is the homophobic attitude, but it will lessen when more open minded people become Bahais and, it seems to me, these are the types of people Rainn is aiming his website for. So if he awakens an awareness of the Bahai Faith among those who value equality for all, I'm all for it.

  • http://sonjavank.blogspot.com sonja

    Thanks Amanda and others for your comments, and for me, it is great that there's a forum where things like this can be discussed openly.

    I agree with others that Rainn Wilson seems to be sincere and open and this is his take on the faith. I celebrate this, even if for my own personal taste I find the approach a little over the top, but…. He is doing great stuff and he is not being dishonest.

    I too would say that Bahai administration is based on democratic principles. It is, even if the letters you quoted Amanda state that the UHJ don't see it like that. I can imagine that the UHJ could just as easily find letters to support the opposite view if they chose. But aside from that, just look at the system: each person has one vote in secret, reps from local up to international, etc, and the emphasis on equality and diversity as a positive factor.
    I agree having no women as possible members on the UHJ is a contradiction. It is and hopefully more and more Bahais will see this and one day for the UHJ itself it might be a topic for real investigation.
    And it certainly is not healthy that current UHJ members all come from a pool of those they appointed onto the ITC. It is not healthy, not a good example of openness for new blood or diversity, but it is still a democratic system.

    A more pressing issue is the homophobic attitude, but it will lessen when more open minded people become Bahais and, it seems to me, these are the types of people Rainn is aiming his website for. So if he awakens an awareness of the Bahai Faith among those who value equality for all, I'm all for it.

  • pey

    Lee if you knew the nasty crap that Amanda and her sister have dealt with inside the Bahai community, uh you'd be very angry too. And in the end, so many others who are duped into believing it is this glossy happy pamphlet will enter the community and realize all is not well in Oz.

  • pey

    Lee if you knew the nasty crap that Amanda and her sister have dealt with inside the Bahai community, uh you'd be very angry too. And in the end, so many others who are duped into believing it is this glossy happy pamphlet will enter the community and realize all is not well in Oz.

  • pey

    Interesting Frank. I'm seriously looking into joining or at least getting involved in the UU church locally. They are such cool people and do great work. You've inspired me to get off my butt and go check them out again. Thanks!

  • pey

    Interesting Frank. I'm seriously looking into joining or at least getting involved in the UU church locally. They are such cool people and do great work. You've inspired me to get off my butt and go check them out again. Thanks!

  • pey

    On another thread Sonja, someone asked a very good question "why do we even have elections for the UHJ?" IF the UHJ is infallble in the sense that most Bahais believe- they are inspired by God in all their decisions and we mere mortals can not question them. Then why give the power of election to us infallible mortals? Wouldn't the UHJ members make a better choice if they speak for God? They should just elect the next set of members and do away with us voting- there is no need. IF they are infallible.

  • pey

    On another thread Sonja, someone asked a very good question "why do we even have elections for the UHJ?" IF the UHJ is infallble in the sense that most Bahais believe- they are inspired by God in all their decisions and we mere mortals can not question them. Then why give the power of election to us infallible mortals? Wouldn't the UHJ members make a better choice if they speak for God? They should just elect the next set of members and do away with us voting- there is no need. IF they are infallible.

  • pey

    So you are saying that they are only infallible when they are making some kind of arbitration? But even then they really are not infallible in the sense that they are correct. Their decision could be utterly/obviously wrong, but because it maintained the unity of the community, then it is right- no matter what. Is that what you are saying Farhan?

  • pey

    So you are saying that they are only infallible when they are making some kind of arbitration? But even then they really are not infallible in the sense that they are correct. Their decision could be utterly/obviously wrong, but because it maintained the unity of the community, then it is right- no matter what. Is that what you are saying Farhan?

  • farhan

    Pey wrote: Their decision could be utterly/obviously wrong, but because it maintained the unity of the community, then it is right

    Pey, the whole of the Baha’i dispensation aims at unity in diversity which implies conciliation. After having thoroughly consulted on all the obvious solutions, and eliminated the utterly wrong ones, the best we can do is to accept the final arbitration of our institutions in a majority vote (and not of any individual) even if it seems flawed to a minority of us. This first part is common sense for believers and non believers alike. In addition, Baha’u’llah promises that although the UHJ does not possess inherent infallibility, it is under the direct guidance of God. This last part is only accessible to the understanding of believers in the cohesive power of the covenant.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    Pey wrote: Their decision could be utterly/obviously wrong, but because it maintained the unity of the community, then it is right

    Pey, the whole of the Baha’i dispensation aims at unity in diversity which implies conciliation. After having thoroughly consulted on all the obvious solutions, and eliminated the utterly wrong ones, the best we can do is to accept the final arbitration of our institutions in a majority vote (and not of any individual) even if it seems flawed to a minority of us. This first part is common sense for believers and non believers alike. In addition, Baha’u’llah promises that although the UHJ does not possess inherent infallibility, it is under the direct guidance of God. This last part is only accessible to the understanding of believers in the cohesive power of the covenant.

  • pey

    Farhan wrote: Pey, the whole of the Baha’i dispensation aims at unity in diversity which implies conciliation….
    Well no not really farhan, but I accept that is what you believe. I presently don't see the kind of conciliation you speak of.
    But back to the initial topic. If the UHJ is under the direct guidance of God and they decide to do away with voting and be the individuals who elect the next UHJ- then they are correct in their decision. This is what I hear from you. They can do what they want- and they are under the direct guidance of God. Even if the decision is just flat out wrong (not to a minority of us farhan, but just flat out wrong).
    I still don't understand. If they are infallible, they have such guidance when they make collective decisions, then heck just play the stock market, play the lottery, elect the next members of the UHJ, find a cure for cancer….the possibilities are endless Farhan. Oh but wait, they may actually come up with bad choices if they did that and then it would prove they are not infallible. But I'm sure you'd still say they were infallible regardless….

  • pey

    Farhan wrote: Pey, the whole of the Baha’i dispensation aims at unity in diversity which implies conciliation….
    Well no not really farhan, but I accept that is what you believe. I presently don't see the kind of conciliation you speak of.
    But back to the initial topic. If the UHJ is under the direct guidance of God and they decide to do away with voting and be the individuals who elect the next UHJ- then they are correct in their decision. This is what I hear from you. They can do what they want- and they are under the direct guidance of God. Even if the decision is just flat out wrong (not to a minority of us farhan, but just flat out wrong).
    I still don't understand. If they are infallible, they have such guidance when they make collective decisions, then heck just play the stock market, play the lottery, elect the next members of the UHJ, find a cure for cancer….the possibilities are endless Farhan. Oh but wait, they may actually come up with bad choices if they did that and then it would prove they are not infallible. But I'm sure you'd still say they were infallible regardless….

  • farhan

    Pey wrote: They can do what they want- and they are under the direct guidance of God

    Pey, they have God's protection in their specific mission such as:
    … the Trustees of God among His servants. (Tab Baha’u’llah, p 26)
    …ensure the protection and safeguarding of men, women and children… the utmost regard for the interests of the people at all times and under all conditions…(Tab Baha’u’llah, p 69) fix their gaze upon … the training of peoples, the upbuilding of nations… the protection of man and the safeguarding of his honour… (Tab Baha’u’llah, p 125) that they may enforce them according to the exigencies of the time and the dictates of wisdom. (Tab Baha’u’llah, p 134)…

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    Pey wrote: They can do what they want- and they are under the direct guidance of God

    Pey, they have God's protection in their specific mission such as:
    … the Trustees of God among His servants. (Tab Baha’u’llah, p 26)
    …ensure the protection and safeguarding of men, women and children… the utmost regard for the interests of the people at all times and under all conditions…(Tab Baha’u’llah, p 69) fix their gaze upon … the training of peoples, the upbuilding of nations… the protection of man and the safeguarding of his honour… (Tab Baha’u’llah, p 125) that they may enforce them according to the exigencies of the time and the dictates of wisdom. (Tab Baha’u’llah, p 134)…

  • farhan

    Pey asked : IF the UHJ is infallble in the sense that most Bahais believe- they are inspired by God in all their decisions and we mere mortals can not question them. Then why give the power of election to us infallible mortals?

    Pey, I get your question better than the one by Curious. Individuals are always fallible; when they are elected and function in a prescribed way as a body for arbitration, they are guided by God in their COLLECTIVE function and their decisions are to be considered as infallible, just like a referee is to be considered infallible if we want to maintain unity in any activity. It is to be remembered that a collective mistake is a learning experiment that can be corrected, whereas chaos is irremediable.

    Also, Pey, we can remember that the Hands of the Cause, our elites, neither voted, nor accepted to be candidates for the first UHJ in 1963. It had to be the mass of fallible believers, having prayerfully elected the delegates who elected the NSA members who in turn voted for the UHJ, to bring about a body of arbitration whose decision they could consider as sacred and divinely guided. Arbitration is a sacred function. It is not the wielding personal power and privileges held by outstanding people.

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    Pey asked : IF the UHJ is infallble in the sense that most Bahais believe- they are inspired by God in all their decisions and we mere mortals can not question them. Then why give the power of election to us infallible mortals?

    Pey, I get your question better than the one by Curious. Individuals are always fallible; when they are elected and function in a prescribed way as a body for arbitration, they are guided by God in their COLLECTIVE function and their decisions are to be considered as infallible, just like a referee is to be considered infallible if we want to maintain unity in any activity. It is to be remembered that a collective mistake is a learning experiment that can be corrected, whereas chaos is irremediable.

    Also, Pey, we can remember that the Hands of the Cause, our elites, neither voted, nor accepted to be candidates for the first UHJ in 1963. It had to be the mass of fallible believers, having prayerfully elected the delegates who elected the NSA members who in turn voted for the UHJ, to bring about a body of arbitration whose decision they could consider as sacred and divinely guided. Arbitration is a sacred function. It is not the wielding personal power and privileges held by outstanding people.

  • sisi loftus

    i gotta say you sound like all you've ever read are some pamphlets–have a great journey through life, but don't diss what you don't really know? this was the coolest thing i've seen for a long while and , thanks Rainn!

  • sisi loftus

    i gotta say you sound like all you've ever read are some pamphlets–have a great journey through life, but don't diss what you don't really know? this was the coolest thing i've seen for a long while and , thanks Rainn!

  • sisi

    glad you spelt it out–shows me very clearly you're so inaccurate–S.E. says "the systems" in America not"the American people"–and rainn did not mention system–do look up Baha'u'llah's Tablets to the rulers of the republics and leaders of the world and see what rainn said was pretty accurate … quakerish? Baha'i clergy? how way off are you?

  • sisi

    glad you spelt it out–shows me very clearly you're so inaccurate–S.E. says "the systems" in America not"the American people"–and rainn did not mention system–do look up Baha'u'llah's Tablets to the rulers of the republics and leaders of the world and see what rainn said was pretty accurate … quakerish? Baha'i clergy? how way off are you?

  • sisi

    It's neither marketing nor gloss nor avoidance–it's a bunch of people from hugely diverse backgrounds trying to learn, learn, learn to live up to the Writings while limited by their limited, all too human, steeped-in-their-own-particular-idiosyncrasies, inheritances and backgrounds–it's either keep on trying or leave–free choice..

  • sisi

    It's neither marketing nor gloss nor avoidance–it's a bunch of people from hugely diverse backgrounds trying to learn, learn, learn to live up to the Writings while limited by their limited, all too human, steeped-in-their-own-particular-idiosyncrasies, inheritances and backgrounds–it's either keep on trying or leave–free choice..

  • Amanda

    Pey, although you are right, and many of us do have plenty of good reasons to be angry, this actually isn't about being angry at all. There's no basis to Lee's "anger issues" comment. I reject the premise. Attributing my motivations for speaking to some hyper-emotional stereotype, instead of evaluating the content of what I actually said, is just a pretty simple way to stop the conversation. Responding to critical analysis of the Faith (or the behavior of it's members) with ridiculous ad hominems is something people do to abort rational thought and conversation, and because it makes them feel like they are being righteous. Calling me angry is a no-brainer, because Lee gets to appeal to stereotypes about verbal/intelligent women, feminists, and ex-Baha'is all at once. Once that stereotype is invoked and my personhood is called into question, Lee doesn't have to actually *think* about or consider the content of anything I actually say, really. It's a great system. It's verbal rock throwing. Very effective. Very moronic, but effective.

    Saying my comments are about anger is just a way to discredit me. I reject the premise. I invite you to also do the same. Playing into the premise with them just accomplishes what they want (to divert the conversation) and actually inadvertently adds fuel to the flames of those anger-y PMS-y ex-Baha'i woman motivations to begin with. (Women only speak because they have an axe to grind, whereas men speak because they are informed, etc etc) Any actual (normal sized) anger I may ever feel I can articulate on my own, and it's probably best that be left to me to do. I deeply appreciate your coming to bat for me in your reply to Lee, but I think comments like "if you knew the nasty crap that Amanda and her sister have dealt with" etc are out of place in this discussion.

  • Amanda

    Pey, although you are right, and many of us do have plenty of good reasons to be angry, this actually isn't about being angry at all. There's no basis to Lee's "anger issues" comment. I reject the premise. Attributing my motivations for speaking to some hyper-emotional stereotype, instead of evaluating the content of what I actually said, is just a pretty simple way to stop the conversation. Responding to critical analysis of the Faith (or the behavior of it's members) with ridiculous ad hominems is something people do to abort rational thought and conversation, and because it makes them feel like they are being righteous. Calling me angry is a no-brainer, because Lee gets to appeal to stereotypes about verbal/intelligent women, feminists, and ex-Baha'is all at once. Once that stereotype is invoked and my personhood is called into question, Lee doesn't have to actually *think* about or consider the content of anything I actually say, really. It's a great system. It's verbal rock throwing. Very effective. Very moronic, but effective.

    Saying my comments are about anger is just a way to discredit me. I reject the premise. I invite you to also do the same. Playing into the premise with them just accomplishes what they want (to divert the conversation) and actually inadvertently adds fuel to the flames of those anger-y PMS-y ex-Baha'i woman motivations to begin with. (Women only speak because they have an axe to grind, whereas men speak because they are informed, etc etc) Any actual (normal sized) anger I may ever feel I can articulate on my own, and it's probably best that be left to me to do. I deeply appreciate your coming to bat for me in your reply to Lee, but I think comments like "if you knew the nasty crap that Amanda and her sister have dealt with" etc are out of place in this discussion.

  • Amanda

    Thanks, Frank.

  • Amanda

    Thanks, Frank.

  • pey

    agreed! Damn, you are so articulate! :)

  • pey

    agreed! Damn, you are so articulate! :)

  • pey

    Well sisi at least you don't mask your opinion in hundreds of flowery esoteric words. But some of us are trying, online- here. It's just that YOU don't see that. So be limited in your view of what it means to be a Bahai- free choice.

  • pey

    Well sisi at least you don't mask your opinion in hundreds of flowery esoteric words. But some of us are trying, online- here. It's just that YOU don't see that. So be limited in your view of what it means to be a Bahai- free choice.

  • Amanda

    Hi, Sonja.

    Thanks. I have to ask, though- a democracy isn't just about the act of casting ballots. *Elections* do not equal *democracy.* If they did there are plenty of totalitarian regimes and dictators who "elect" themselves over and over again that way. That's the performance of democracy, not actual democracy. The *principles* of an actual democracy are *not* reflected in the (Haifan) Baha'i Faith. For example, in a democracy, the power and authority to govern comes from the authority of the people. The rulers are then obligated to their "constituencies." The letters b/w the UHJ and the US NSA in the 90's make clear that is NOT the paradigm the Haifan system will allow. The UHJ is explicit. The UHJ might be elected by (some) Baha'is, out of (some) Baha'is, but it is accountable to "GOD," not to the people. That is more like Velayat-e Faqih than democracy. I truly mean this with no disrespect, but thinking of "electing" a ruler who is not accountable to you, reminds me of a TV commercial in the US from the 80's about a roach motel. "The roaches get in, but they don't get out." Maybe it was a democracy when you elected them in, but if you voted for someone who has *absolute power over you* it's not a democracy.

    Also, democracies, in principle, enfranchise everyone. which the BF doesn't. Democracies also, in principle, practice freedom of speech, the press and dissent, which the Baha'i Administrative Order doesn't. So, how again was it a democracy?

    If the folks you guys are electing, the UHJ, are TELLING you it's not a democracy, don't you think it's not a democracy? They, are, after all, the boss of you. They are in power. At least from a "you elected them" standpoint. I detect cognitive dissonance. That doesn't mean it's right, that's how it should be, etc. But that is how it IS. Yes?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy

  • Amanda

    Hi, Sonja.

    Thanks. I have to ask, though- a democracy isn't just about the act of casting ballots. *Elections* do not equal *democracy.* If they did there are plenty of totalitarian regimes and dictators who "elect" themselves over and over again that way. That's the performance of democracy, not actual democracy. The *principles* of an actual democracy are *not* reflected in the (Haifan) Baha'i Faith. For example, in a democracy, the power and authority to govern comes from the authority of the people. The rulers are then obligated to their "constituencies." The letters b/w the UHJ and the US NSA in the 90's make clear that is NOT the paradigm the Haifan system will allow. The UHJ is explicit. The UHJ might be elected by (some) Baha'is, out of (some) Baha'is, but it is accountable to "GOD," not to the people. That is more like Velayat-e Faqih than democracy. I truly mean this with no disrespect, but thinking of "electing" a ruler who is not accountable to you, reminds me of a TV commercial in the US from the 80's about a roach motel. "The roaches get in, but they don't get out." Maybe it was a democracy when you elected them in, but if you voted for someone who has *absolute power over you* it's not a democracy.

    Also, democracies, in principle, enfranchise everyone. which the BF doesn't. Democracies also, in principle, practice freedom of speech, the press and dissent, which the Baha'i Administrative Order doesn't. So, how again was it a democracy?

    If the folks you guys are electing, the UHJ, are TELLING you it's not a democracy, don't you think it's not a democracy? They, are, after all, the boss of you. They are in power. At least from a "you elected them" standpoint. I detect cognitive dissonance. That doesn't mean it's right, that's how it should be, etc. But that is how it IS. Yes?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Democracy

  • Amanda

    Thanks, Pey. :)

  • Amanda

    Thanks, Pey. :)

  • Amanda

    I was gonna sit this particular dismissal out, but I keep looking at it and it's too funny for me to pass up.

    I just want to point out the irony of posting "don't diss what you don't really know?" BEFORE actually continuing to read the rest of the thread, Delightful.

    Now to continue that "great journey through life."

  • Amanda

    I was gonna sit this particular dismissal out, but I keep looking at it and it's too funny for me to pass up.

    I just want to point out the irony of posting "don't diss what you don't really know?" BEFORE actually continuing to read the rest of the thread, Delightful.

    Now to continue that "great journey through life."

  • Amanda

    sisi,
    The "system" Rainn Wilson mentioned in his interview with Oprah was "Democracy." He said the Baha'i Faith was a democracy, and I quoted Shoghi Effendi and The UHJ above saying that it, in fact, is NOT a democracy. I didn't say anything about "the American people" and am unclear on why you're inserting that into the conversation. Care to clarify? Are you referring to the UHJ letter?

    I have actually read Baha'u'llah's Tablets to the Rulers of America and the Elected Representatives of the Peoples in Every Land (in Proclamation of Baha'u'llah, not in a pamphlet as you previously suggested.) Which part did you feel confirmed Rainn's opinion that the Baha'i Faith is a democracy? The part where Baha'u'llah doesn't mention that at all?

    I called Rainn's depiction of the Faith "Quaker-ish" because he was depicting a religion that runs it's affairs more like the Quakers do, than like the Baha'is do.

    What I said about Baha'i clergy was that the Baha'i Faith does, in fact, have people who perform the duties of clergy, we just don't call them that. Do you disagree? Do you think those duties are no longer performed by anyone in the Baha'i community?

    So, "how way off" am I?

  • Amanda

    sisi,
    The "system" Rainn Wilson mentioned in his interview with Oprah was "Democracy." He said the Baha'i Faith was a democracy, and I quoted Shoghi Effendi and The UHJ above saying that it, in fact, is NOT a democracy. I didn't say anything about "the American people" and am unclear on why you're inserting that into the conversation. Care to clarify? Are you referring to the UHJ letter?

    I have actually read Baha'u'llah's Tablets to the Rulers of America and the Elected Representatives of the Peoples in Every Land (in Proclamation of Baha'u'llah, not in a pamphlet as you previously suggested.) Which part did you feel confirmed Rainn's opinion that the Baha'i Faith is a democracy? The part where Baha'u'llah doesn't mention that at all?

    I called Rainn's depiction of the Faith "Quaker-ish" because he was depicting a religion that runs it's affairs more like the Quakers do, than like the Baha'is do.

    What I said about Baha'i clergy was that the Baha'i Faith does, in fact, have people who perform the duties of clergy, we just don't call them that. Do you disagree? Do you think those duties are no longer performed by anyone in the Baha'i community?

    So, "how way off" am I?

  • Amanda

    sisi,

    How is an actor appearing on Oprah to promote his new website *not marketing?* That's what we were talking about. It wasn't "a bunch of people" doing anything, it was 2 people- Oprah and Rainn Wilson. You are conflating your perception of the intentions of the entire Baha'i community ("a bunch of people from hugely diverse backgrounds….etc") with the actual item being discussed here, the interview between Rainn Wilson and Oprah Winfrey.

    How do YOU explain this actor making "airy fairy" assertions that conflict with the "authoritative Baha'i texts" (the above quoted UHJ and Shoghi Effendi assertions that the Baha'i Faith is NOT a democracy) if it was not gloss, marketing or avoidance? Was it ignorance? Was it cognitive dissonance? Was it Stockholm Syndrome?

    About a year ago Rainn Wilson offended a lot of Baha'is by appearing in a skit for the Independent Spirit Awards that was sexually graphic. In the discussion here about it, I defended him, because he was just a man doing his job, minding his own business, and was not acting as a representative for the Baha'i community. In that debate, people seemed very ready to censure him for his actions because he might be perceived as a representative of the Faith. Well, now here he is being a mouthpiece for the Faith, and when his (either ignorance or avoidance) is pointed out, suddenly he's NOT a representative of the Faith but an individual believer. Seriously? So, when he overtly teaches the Faith on Oprah (which you know he had to get permission to do) he is just an idiosyncratic little man, an individual doing the best he can, but when he's playing a sex worker on TV he's responsible for his actions? Hmm… Double standard, anyone?

    And this is important- marketing, in and of itself, isn't bad. But *unethical marketing* is bad. False advertising is bad. And there might be arenas of human enterprise that should be off limits to marketing. I think he veered into one of those areas.

    But, I did think his skit at the Independent Spirit Awards was hilarious. And Dwight Shrute is one funny character.

  • Amanda

    sisi,

    How is an actor appearing on Oprah to promote his new website *not marketing?* That's what we were talking about. It wasn't "a bunch of people" doing anything, it was 2 people- Oprah and Rainn Wilson. You are conflating your perception of the intentions of the entire Baha'i community ("a bunch of people from hugely diverse backgrounds….etc") with the actual item being discussed here, the interview between Rainn Wilson and Oprah Winfrey.

    How do YOU explain this actor making "airy fairy" assertions that conflict with the "authoritative Baha'i texts" (the above quoted UHJ and Shoghi Effendi assertions that the Baha'i Faith is NOT a democracy) if it was not gloss, marketing or avoidance? Was it ignorance? Was it cognitive dissonance? Was it Stockholm Syndrome?

    About a year ago Rainn Wilson offended a lot of Baha'is by appearing in a skit for the Independent Spirit Awards that was sexually graphic. In the discussion here about it, I defended him, because he was just a man doing his job, minding his own business, and was not acting as a representative for the Baha'i community. In that debate, people seemed very ready to censure him for his actions because he might be perceived as a representative of the Faith. Well, now here he is being a mouthpiece for the Faith, and when his (either ignorance or avoidance) is pointed out, suddenly he's NOT a representative of the Faith but an individual believer. Seriously? So, when he overtly teaches the Faith on Oprah (which you know he had to get permission to do) he is just an idiosyncratic little man, an individual doing the best he can, but when he's playing a sex worker on TV he's responsible for his actions? Hmm… Double standard, anyone?

    And this is important- marketing, in and of itself, isn't bad. But *unethical marketing* is bad. False advertising is bad. And there might be arenas of human enterprise that should be off limits to marketing. I think he veered into one of those areas.

    But, I did think his skit at the Independent Spirit Awards was hilarious. And Dwight Shrute is one funny character.

  • Amanda

    Also, just to be clear, I was a very active "teacher of the Faith" for a very long time and during that time I practiced the same cognitive dissonance that I'm critiquing here. It takes one to know one. Matt commented earlier: "to introduce controversial topics in the beginning could shut people down and they would unable to appreciate the good stuff." That was what I was taught, what I believed, and how I "taught" for a long time. It was dishonest, patronizing, and unethical. It was not okay. That attitude reflects a very low opinion of the human beings you are talking to, and is intellectually dishonest. It's difficult to change that mentality. Especially when you are afraid of negative responses. But for those of us raised in the Faith, pioneering, in Workshop, deeply within that structure for so long, I believe we actually have a responsibility to be more ethical and honest in our communications about the Faith. That ultimately serves everyone's best interests. Yes, it is uncomfortable. But it is also ethical. Being more honest upfront prevents a lot of damage and distrust later. And if you truly have nothing to be ashamed of, than you have nothing to be secretive about.

  • Amanda

    Also, just to be clear, I was a very active "teacher of the Faith" for a very long time and during that time I practiced the same cognitive dissonance that I'm critiquing here. It takes one to know one. Matt commented earlier: "to introduce controversial topics in the beginning could shut people down and they would unable to appreciate the good stuff." That was what I was taught, what I believed, and how I "taught" for a long time. It was dishonest, patronizing, and unethical. It was not okay. That attitude reflects a very low opinion of the human beings you are talking to, and is intellectually dishonest. It's difficult to change that mentality. Especially when you are afraid of negative responses. But for those of us raised in the Faith, pioneering, in Workshop, deeply within that structure for so long, I believe we actually have a responsibility to be more ethical and honest in our communications about the Faith. That ultimately serves everyone's best interests. Yes, it is uncomfortable. But it is also ethical. Being more honest upfront prevents a lot of damage and distrust later. And if you truly have nothing to be ashamed of, than you have nothing to be secretive about.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/SteveMarshall SteveMarshall
  • http://intensedebate.com/people/SteveMarshall SteveMarshall
  • Amanda

    Hey, Baquia. I just looked back at your post about Peter Owen Jones. I definitely see the connection. I do think the difference between ignorant outsider (Jones) and ignorant? insider is important, though. At least in it's effect. People put more stock in what people say about their own religions. It's seen as "fact." For example, check out the democracy bits in this:
    http://www.christandpopculture.com/featured/soulp

    If I don't say it enough (which I don't) thanks for running this site, Baquia.

  • Amanda

    Hey, Baquia. I just looked back at your post about Peter Owen Jones. I definitely see the connection. I do think the difference between ignorant outsider (Jones) and ignorant? insider is important, though. At least in it's effect. People put more stock in what people say about their own religions. It's seen as "fact." For example, check out the democracy bits in this:
    http://www.christandpopculture.com/featured/soulp

    If I don't say it enough (which I don't) thanks for running this site, Baquia.

  • Amanda

    Here's a question for you, Farhan. If the UHJ only has power over the "spiritual" lives of believers, and no "temporal power," why is it they can tell me what to do with my uterus? Is my uterus only spiritual? Is it not temporal, also? Is it an apparition, and not a physical part of my body, the doings of which impact the quality of every aspect of my life as a woman? Is what happens to it (and therefore me) not an exercise in "temporal power?"

    Also, you are right that the body of believers are to "volunteer" to take on the duties of clergy. But you realize that certain offices come with a paycheck, right? That isn't volunteering. Everyone who works at National gets paid. Not well, don't get me wrong. But the statements I get in the mail for my retirement savings still say "National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States." Ironic? Yes. But we need to clarify what we mean when we say we don't have clergy. We DO have paid leaders. We DO have people that tell us what to do. Also, our opinion of what "clergy" means comes from a particular milieu that is a little misleading when we claim we don't have it in the West.

  • Amanda

    Here's a question for you, Farhan. If the UHJ only has power over the "spiritual" lives of believers, and no "temporal power," why is it they can tell me what to do with my uterus? Is my uterus only spiritual? Is it not temporal, also? Is it an apparition, and not a physical part of my body, the doings of which impact the quality of every aspect of my life as a woman? Is what happens to it (and therefore me) not an exercise in "temporal power?"

    Also, you are right that the body of believers are to "volunteer" to take on the duties of clergy. But you realize that certain offices come with a paycheck, right? That isn't volunteering. Everyone who works at National gets paid. Not well, don't get me wrong. But the statements I get in the mail for my retirement savings still say "National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States." Ironic? Yes. But we need to clarify what we mean when we say we don't have clergy. We DO have paid leaders. We DO have people that tell us what to do. Also, our opinion of what "clergy" means comes from a particular milieu that is a little misleading when we claim we don't have it in the West.

  • Craig Parke

    Ditto from me, Amanda. Spot on!

  • Craig Parke

    Ditto from me, Amanda. Spot on!

  • farhan

    Amanda wrote: If the UHJ only has power over the "spiritual" lives of believers, and no "temporal power," why is it they can tell me what to do with my uterus?

    Amanda, the guidance of the UHJ only applies to those who wish to be spiritually guided as to the organising of their material lives, on subjects that concern contributions, marriage, use of drugs, fasting, prayer etc, just as what the Pope might say on condoms only concerns the spiritual lives of those who seek his spiritual guidance. The guidance of the UHJ does not concern the uterus of persons like you who do not seek their guidance.

    Amanda: Also, you are right that the body of believers are to "volunteer" to take on the duties of clergy. But you realize that certain offices come with a paycheck, right?

    Farhan: I know of no fees for services in countries I have served in, but I am aware that in some cases where the believers are involved full-time, the community might take on their expenses; there is a clear instruction that in the future all services to the Faith will be without a financial counterpart.

    Amanda: We DO have people that tell us what to do.

    Farhan: we have people who only advise those who seek that advise what to do.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    Amanda wrote: If the UHJ only has power over the "spiritual" lives of believers, and no "temporal power," why is it they can tell me what to do with my uterus?

    Amanda, the guidance of the UHJ only applies to those who wish to be spiritually guided as to the organising of their material lives, on subjects that concern contributions, marriage, use of drugs, fasting, prayer etc, just as what the Pope might say on condoms only concerns the spiritual lives of those who seek his spiritual guidance. The guidance of the UHJ does not concern the uterus of persons like you who do not seek their guidance.

    Amanda: Also, you are right that the body of believers are to "volunteer" to take on the duties of clergy. But you realize that certain offices come with a paycheck, right?

    Farhan: I know of no fees for services in countries I have served in, but I am aware that in some cases where the believers are involved full-time, the community might take on their expenses; there is a clear instruction that in the future all services to the Faith will be without a financial counterpart.

    Amanda: We DO have people that tell us what to do.

    Farhan: we have people who only advise those who seek that advise what to do.

  • Amanda

    Thanks, Craig. :)

  • Amanda

    Thanks, Craig. :)

  • http://kaweah.com/blog Dan Jensen

    I personally believe that Rainn Wilson is the next Guardian. Somebody check his pedigree. I swear he can take Tom Cruise any time! But that said, his fluffy hollywood pancake can't hold a candle to Rants.

  • http://kaweah.com/blog Dan Jensen

    I personally believe that Rainn Wilson is the next Guardian. Somebody check his pedigree. I swear he can take Tom Cruise any time! But that said, his fluffy hollywood pancake can't hold a candle to Rants.

  • Amanda

    Farhan wrote:
    "The guidance of the UHJ does not concern the uterus of persons like you who do not seek their guidance. "

    If only that were true. You see, the funny thing about having a uterus, is that it's not *just what YOU do with it* that impacts it. I have just given you a golden tip about womanhood, Farhan. A glimpse behind the veil. There are these other people, called men, who do NOT, in fact, have uteri, (not even the ones on the UHJ, the Central Figures, or Shoghi Effendi- though you would THINK they did, since they so freely tell women what to do with theirs.) These NON-uterus-havers (men) have something called ejaculate that actually concerns the condition of a woman's uterus regardless of her beliefs. These non-uterus-havers also have something called *beliefs* that impact what they see fit to do with that ejaculate. And men in the Baha'i Faith ALSO have something called "privilege" which makes the whole thing a sticky wicket. You follow?

    Sadly, the beliefs of men impact the health and future of a woman's uterus *regardless* of the woman's personal belief system.

  • Amanda

    Farhan wrote:
    "The guidance of the UHJ does not concern the uterus of persons like you who do not seek their guidance. "

    If only that were true. You see, the funny thing about having a uterus, is that it's not *just what YOU do with it* that impacts it. I have just given you a golden tip about womanhood, Farhan. A glimpse behind the veil. There are these other people, called men, who do NOT, in fact, have uteri, (not even the ones on the UHJ, the Central Figures, or Shoghi Effendi- though you would THINK they did, since they so freely tell women what to do with theirs.) These NON-uterus-havers (men) have something called ejaculate that actually concerns the condition of a woman's uterus regardless of her beliefs. These non-uterus-havers also have something called *beliefs* that impact what they see fit to do with that ejaculate. And men in the Baha'i Faith ALSO have something called "privilege" which makes the whole thing a sticky wicket. You follow?

    Sadly, the beliefs of men impact the health and future of a woman's uterus *regardless* of the woman's personal belief system.

  • pey

    So we are left to believe that in that future government influenced by the Bahai teaching (in the rigid manner that you uphold) will do what with gay couples that want to adopt children, women that wish to have an abortion, straight couples that are living out of wedlock, etc etc.? How people are treated INSIDE the Bahai community today is a reflection of what this great New World Order may look like.

  • pey

    So we are left to believe that in that future government influenced by the Bahai teaching (in the rigid manner that you uphold) will do what with gay couples that want to adopt children, women that wish to have an abortion, straight couples that are living out of wedlock, etc etc.? How people are treated INSIDE the Bahai community today is a reflection of what this great New World Order may look like.

  • farhan

    Sissi, although it is true that the Baha’i administration is a religious institution and not a government “by the people for the people” as Abraham Lincoln defined democracy, compared to other religions, it is administered by a system inspired by democratic rules, where each and every believer is invited to volunteer to take on the duties once taken on by the clergy. Also, the UHJ only has authority on the spiritual lives of believers,an authority accompanied by no temporal power and which only applies to those who wish to benefit from the spiritual guidance of the Baha’i teachings.

    As to the future world government which Baha’is believe will be inspired by the Baha’i teachings in a few centuries, no one knows what it will look like, but it will no doubt be very different from the present democratic governances that Churchill described as “the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    Sissi, although it is true that the Baha’i administration is a religious institution and not a government “by the people for the people” as Abraham Lincoln defined democracy, compared to other religions, it is administered by a system inspired by democratic rules, where each and every believer is invited to volunteer to take on the duties once taken on by the clergy. Also, the UHJ only has authority on the spiritual lives of believers,an authority accompanied by no temporal power and which only applies to those who wish to benefit from the spiritual guidance of the Baha’i teachings.

    As to the future world government which Baha’is believe will be inspired by the Baha’i teachings in a few centuries, no one knows what it will look like, but it will no doubt be very different from the present democratic governances that Churchill described as “the worst form of government, except for all those other forms that have been tried from time to time."

  • Amanda

    It's not just abortion. Even (straight) married women who want to use birth control do not automatically have the right to do so.

    http://bahai-library.com/?file=hornby_lights_guid

  • Amanda

    It's not just abortion. Even (straight) married women who want to use birth control do not automatically have the right to do so.

    http://bahai-library.com/?file=hornby_lights_guid

  • farhan

    Amanda wrote: t's not just abortion. Even (straight) married women who want to use birth control do not automatically have the right to do so.

    Amanda, there is a close interaction between our spiritual and material lives, and again, the spiritual rulings only concern those who seek such advice. When we consider the guidance on these subjects, we notice that they evolve and the UHJ adapts them to each situation, time and age and in fact leaves an important part of the decision making to individuals. Just below the quote you provided we read:

    "You and your husband, therefore, should have no feeling that you are obliged to add to your already large family. This is a matter entirely for you to decide, and there are many methods of preventing conception, including self-discipline and restraint, to which you can have recourse. (UHJ, Jan 28, 1977) and again at a later date:

    “…an area of the application of the laws is intentionally left to the conscience of each individual believer. This is the age in which mankind must attain maturity, and one aspect of this is the assumption by individuals of the responsibility for deciding, with the assistance of consultation responsibility for deciding, their own course of action in areas which are left open by the Law of God.” (UHJ, 14 November 1986)

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    Amanda wrote: t's not just abortion. Even (straight) married women who want to use birth control do not automatically have the right to do so.

    Amanda, there is a close interaction between our spiritual and material lives, and again, the spiritual rulings only concern those who seek such advice. When we consider the guidance on these subjects, we notice that they evolve and the UHJ adapts them to each situation, time and age and in fact leaves an important part of the decision making to individuals. Just below the quote you provided we read:

    "You and your husband, therefore, should have no feeling that you are obliged to add to your already large family. This is a matter entirely for you to decide, and there are many methods of preventing conception, including self-discipline and restraint, to which you can have recourse. (UHJ, Jan 28, 1977) and again at a later date:

    “…an area of the application of the laws is intentionally left to the conscience of each individual believer. This is the age in which mankind must attain maturity, and one aspect of this is the assumption by individuals of the responsibility for deciding, with the assistance of consultation responsibility for deciding, their own course of action in areas which are left open by the Law of God.” (UHJ, 14 November 1986)

  • http://sonjavank.blogspot.com sonja

    Ah ha, one of those non-scriptural-written-by-an-anonymous-writer- letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, which is not Bahai Scripture.

    I realise Bahais may think they are Bahai Scripture, so I do not deny that this is an issue for some. But I can not jump in here because as far as I am concerned such a letter is not scripture. And seriously, how many Bahais in good standing in the world would not be using some form of birth control?
    This very letter would be a great one for a future blog. And I love it, because as I see it, it clearly shows that we cannot treat these letters as Bahai scripture or we would notice a sudden rise in the number of children in families. I'll file it for future reference, as I don't have time to go into this at the moment. It also raises all sorts of issues about what the writer claims is the purpose of marriage.

    "Bahá'í marriage is the commitment of the two parties one to the other, and their mutual attachment of mind and heart. Each must, however, exercise the utmost care to become thoroughly acquainted with the character of the other, that the binding covenant between them may be a tie that will endure forever. Their purpose must be this: to become loving companions and comrades and at one with each other for time and eternity…"

    (Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 117)

  • http://sonjavank.blogspot.com sonja

    Ah ha, one of those non-scriptural-written-by-an-anonymous-writer- letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, which is not Bahai Scripture.

    I realise Bahais may think they are Bahai Scripture, so I do not deny that this is an issue for some. But I can not jump in here because as far as I am concerned such a letter is not scripture. And seriously, how many Bahais in good standing in the world would not be using some form of birth control?
    This very letter would be a great one for a future blog. And I love it, because as I see it, it clearly shows that we cannot treat these letters as Bahai scripture or we would notice a sudden rise in the number of children in families. I'll file it for future reference, as I don't have time to go into this at the moment. It also raises all sorts of issues about what the writer claims is the purpose of marriage.

    "Bahá'í marriage is the commitment of the two parties one to the other, and their mutual attachment of mind and heart. Each must, however, exercise the utmost care to become thoroughly acquainted with the character of the other, that the binding covenant between them may be a tie that will endure forever. Their purpose must be this: to become loving companions and comrades and at one with each other for time and eternity…"

    (Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 117)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/beth_r beth_r

    i actually agree with you here, sisi – the bahai community is made up largely of "people from hugely diverse backgrounds trying to learn, learn, learn to live up to the Writings". but the longer they stay and the more actual studying they do, the more they find out that all not well in fairyland. then they too have a choice – keep on trying to make sense of it and come up with excuses of why the nonsensical contradictions are there – or they start trying to talk about it within the community they love so much. that's when they hit the wall… that's when they find out who plays the role of the clergy. LSA members start visiting you to discuss "these troubling issues", and if they can't confuse you back into accepting the contradictions or at least being quiet about them, them the Auxilliary board members start calling and visiting you. if you stubborn enough to keep calling a spade a spade, these meeting phone calls and letters will continue until you are "disenrolled" by the administration or until you quit.

    and back to this "free choice" – if this were truly encouraged, why then, sisi, are you so frustrated by those of us who decided to leave? aren't we just exercising our god-given free will, just like you? why do you assume we have only read pamphlets, and not actually been on LSAs, or volunteered at the House of Worship, or worked at the National Center for years? why do you assume we haven't been on pilgrimage, or that we don't come from families who have been Baha'is for generations?

    i believe all we are asking for is a little honesty. the bahai faith is not for everyone. better to find out before you join that after.

    the funny thing to me is, i believe if all those open-hearted baha'is were actually allowed to discuss freely and make changes at national convention, the bahai community would be a much better place. i love the bahai faith that people think they are members of. i loved the baha'i faith i thought i belonged to for 30 years. i just wish it was real.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/beth_r beth_r

    i actually agree with you here, sisi – the bahai community is made up largely of "people from hugely diverse backgrounds trying to learn, learn, learn to live up to the Writings". but the longer they stay and the more actual studying they do, the more they find out that all not well in fairyland. then they too have a choice – keep on trying to make sense of it and come up with excuses of why the nonsensical contradictions are there – or they start trying to talk about it within the community they love so much. that's when they hit the wall… that's when they find out who plays the role of the clergy. LSA members start visiting you to discuss "these troubling issues", and if they can't confuse you back into accepting the contradictions or at least being quiet about them, them the Auxilliary board members start calling and visiting you. if you stubborn enough to keep calling a spade a spade, these meeting phone calls and letters will continue until you are "disenrolled" by the administration or until you quit.

    and back to this "free choice" – if this were truly encouraged, why then, sisi, are you so frustrated by those of us who decided to leave? aren't we just exercising our god-given free will, just like you? why do you assume we have only read pamphlets, and not actually been on LSAs, or volunteered at the House of Worship, or worked at the National Center for years? why do you assume we haven't been on pilgrimage, or that we don't come from families who have been Baha'is for generations?

    i believe all we are asking for is a little honesty. the bahai faith is not for everyone. better to find out before you join that after.

    the funny thing to me is, i believe if all those open-hearted baha'is were actually allowed to discuss freely and make changes at national convention, the bahai community would be a much better place. i love the bahai faith that people think they are members of. i loved the baha'i faith i thought i belonged to for 30 years. i just wish it was real.

  • http://sonjavank.blogspot.com sonja

    sorry Amanda, I didn't see this till now.

    On one hand I agree with your points above, when there's a system that is not transparent nor accountable, then that is hardly democratic. On the other hand, I was looking more at the principles of the Bahai admin rather than its practice.
    Also I am sure that in some areas of the world LSA's and perhaps even NSA's are apply democratic principles. I also have many experiences of being an LSA member myself where we did our best to be of service to our community, in the spirit of openess and consultation, and that meant accountability.
    I agree, any institution that see itself as not being accountable is hardly democratic. I am also the type of Bahai, who hasn't given up on the idea that the principles of the Bahai Faith are what it is about. So, I do believe there's equality for all. And I'd say openly to anyone that equality is a principle of the Bahai Faith which is like the context of Rainn's interview. Then if there was a deeper discussion or more interest in how the Bahai Faith works in practice, my response would be that many Bahais seem to think that gay marriage is not acceptable but I've yet to find any scriptural basis for this. And on the lack of female membership, I'd say that as I see it, this is not set in stone, but at the moment there isn't much civil discourse to discuss things like this in the Bahai community, except there's this blog bahairants where you will find all sorts of things discussed…

  • http://sonjavank.blogspot.com sonja

    sorry Amanda, I didn't see this till now.

    On one hand I agree with your points above, when there's a system that is not transparent nor accountable, then that is hardly democratic. On the other hand, I was looking more at the principles of the Bahai admin rather than its practice.
    Also I am sure that in some areas of the world LSA's and perhaps even NSA's are apply democratic principles. I also have many experiences of being an LSA member myself where we did our best to be of service to our community, in the spirit of openess and consultation, and that meant accountability.
    I agree, any institution that see itself as not being accountable is hardly democratic. I am also the type of Bahai, who hasn't given up on the idea that the principles of the Bahai Faith are what it is about. So, I do believe there's equality for all. And I'd say openly to anyone that equality is a principle of the Bahai Faith which is like the context of Rainn's interview. Then if there was a deeper discussion or more interest in how the Bahai Faith works in practice, my response would be that many Bahais seem to think that gay marriage is not acceptable but I've yet to find any scriptural basis for this. And on the lack of female membership, I'd say that as I see it, this is not set in stone, but at the moment there isn't much civil discourse to discuss things like this in the Bahai community, except there's this blog bahairants where you will find all sorts of things discussed…

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/beth_r beth_r

    interesting, Farhan. you say "the UHJ only has authority on the spiritual lives of believers, an authority accompanied by no temporal power ". but then when Amanda mentions her uterus (and the uteri of other women) you reply "The guidance of the UHJ does not concern the uterus of persons like you who do not seek their guidance " and go on to say "there is a close interaction between our spiritual and material lives, and again, the spiritual rulings only concern those who seek such advice"

    do you realize you just contradicted yourself? you said the UHJ have no temporal power, except over people who believe in them. THAT IS HAVING POWER. so were you wrong when you said the UHJ only has spiritual and not temporal power? or were you wrong when you said they only have temporal power over the people who believe in them?

    it's no wonder people are confused. it seems that bahai's use which ever points suit their point in a particular arguement. whichever point makes the bahai faith look better. when you are talking with non-baha'is in order to convert them (which, lets face it, is what baha'is are usually doing) that is called FALSE ADVERTISING. who are you trying to convince – us or yourself?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/beth_r beth_r

    interesting, Farhan. you say "the UHJ only has authority on the spiritual lives of believers, an authority accompanied by no temporal power ". but then when Amanda mentions her uterus (and the uteri of other women) you reply "The guidance of the UHJ does not concern the uterus of persons like you who do not seek their guidance " and go on to say "there is a close interaction between our spiritual and material lives, and again, the spiritual rulings only concern those who seek such advice"

    do you realize you just contradicted yourself? you said the UHJ have no temporal power, except over people who believe in them. THAT IS HAVING POWER. so were you wrong when you said the UHJ only has spiritual and not temporal power? or were you wrong when you said they only have temporal power over the people who believe in them?

    it's no wonder people are confused. it seems that bahai's use which ever points suit their point in a particular arguement. whichever point makes the bahai faith look better. when you are talking with non-baha'is in order to convert them (which, lets face it, is what baha'is are usually doing) that is called FALSE ADVERTISING. who are you trying to convince – us or yourself?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/beth_r beth_r

    farhan, you said of the UHJ that "they are guided by God in their COLLECTIVE function and their decisions are to be considered as infallible, just like a referee is to be considered infallible if we want to maintain unity in any activity". this is a bad anology. referees are not considered infallible, we just make a social contract to play by their decisions until the end of the game so that the specific game can move forward. when the particular game is over, the referee can be reprimanded or even fired depending on the circumstances. if they have done considerable harm, potentially they could even be fined or jailed. this is nothing like the UHJ. not only can no action be taken against them, but even *talk * of them being wrong is enough to get the individual questioning them in SERIOUS trouble.

    i wonder why you used the analogy of a referee? to make the UHJ seem like something we already know and accept as a society? to make them less scary? "it's okay – it's like your kids little league." honestly, id rather have a bunch of little league coaches running my religion, especially if i have the right to question or fire them if they are not acting in the team's best interest. but that's not what the UHJ does is it? it acts in *God's* best interest, who is supposedly acting in *our* best interest. and there is a whole complicated structure around protecting that. in order to make an informed decision about whether or not to accept that structure, shouldn't people know as much about it as possible? would you buy a house without reading the contract? reading the fine print?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/beth_r beth_r

    farhan, you said of the UHJ that "they are guided by God in their COLLECTIVE function and their decisions are to be considered as infallible, just like a referee is to be considered infallible if we want to maintain unity in any activity". this is a bad anology. referees are not considered infallible, we just make a social contract to play by their decisions until the end of the game so that the specific game can move forward. when the particular game is over, the referee can be reprimanded or even fired depending on the circumstances. if they have done considerable harm, potentially they could even be fined or jailed. this is nothing like the UHJ. not only can no action be taken against them, but even *talk * of them being wrong is enough to get the individual questioning them in SERIOUS trouble.

    i wonder why you used the analogy of a referee? to make the UHJ seem like something we already know and accept as a society? to make them less scary? "it's okay – it's like your kids little league." honestly, id rather have a bunch of little league coaches running my religion, especially if i have the right to question or fire them if they are not acting in the team's best interest. but that's not what the UHJ does is it? it acts in *God's* best interest, who is supposedly acting in *our* best interest. and there is a whole complicated structure around protecting that. in order to make an informed decision about whether or not to accept that structure, shouldn't people know as much about it as possible? would you buy a house without reading the contract? reading the fine print?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/beth_r beth_r

    hey sonja – you are the kind of bahai i still love hanging out with. i too believe "the principles" of the bahai faith are a beautiful. i love those shirts – i had one when i was a teenager, and i certainly gave out a lot of those cards. my mom still does.

    but i wonder, who actually wrote them? im sure it wasn't an institution of the bahai faith but some individual bahai that wrote down what the faith meant to them, and it caught on. it wasn't censured b/c it was close enough, and, well, it sure makes bahai's look good. but if i wore a t-shirt with the quotes about homosexuality being a spiritual illness and gays being "problem people", you can be damn sure i'd be told by the LSA to take it off. but why is it more okay to start a conversation with one of the bahai teachings that it is another? aren't they all "from god"? is "god" as embarassed by the bahai teachings on homosexuality as most baha'is are? how about a t-shirt that says women can't be on the UHJ? or about the not-yet-applicable financial penalties for sex outside of marraige?

    im curious enough (almost) to have those printed up, just to see what happens. would any of you wear them?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/beth_r beth_r

    hey sonja – you are the kind of bahai i still love hanging out with. i too believe "the principles" of the bahai faith are a beautiful. i love those shirts – i had one when i was a teenager, and i certainly gave out a lot of those cards. my mom still does.

    but i wonder, who actually wrote them? im sure it wasn't an institution of the bahai faith but some individual bahai that wrote down what the faith meant to them, and it caught on. it wasn't censured b/c it was close enough, and, well, it sure makes bahai's look good. but if i wore a t-shirt with the quotes about homosexuality being a spiritual illness and gays being "problem people", you can be damn sure i'd be told by the LSA to take it off. but why is it more okay to start a conversation with one of the bahai teachings that it is another? aren't they all "from god"? is "god" as embarassed by the bahai teachings on homosexuality as most baha'is are? how about a t-shirt that says women can't be on the UHJ? or about the not-yet-applicable financial penalties for sex outside of marraige?

    im curious enough (almost) to have those printed up, just to see what happens. would any of you wear them?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/beth_r beth_r

    it's true – the House of Worship in Wilmette definitely has holy day observances for bahai holy days, as well as other "holy" events. i've been to them myself. i never saw one for any other other religion's holy days. there is upstairs, where they do the holy stuff, and then the basement where they have all kinds of other events – elections, weddings, meetings, tours, et cetera.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/beth_r beth_r

    it's true – the House of Worship in Wilmette definitely has holy day observances for bahai holy days, as well as other "holy" events. i've been to them myself. i never saw one for any other other religion's holy days. there is upstairs, where they do the holy stuff, and then the basement where they have all kinds of other events – elections, weddings, meetings, tours, et cetera.

  • Amanda

    Farhan.

    Thanks for pulling a couple of passages from Lights of Guidance that absolutely do NOT convey the nuance or difficulty the totality of the teachings about Birth Control present for women. Please remember the context here was about power, and your claim that the UHJ has no temporal power.

    Here are some sticky wicket birth control highlights you left out of your analysis, (emphasis below is mine.) Please notice that birth control is "to be discarded as constituting a real danger to the very foundations of our social life," that it is "unacceptable and unworthy, and those who commit the act were responsible before God," and that it is "against the spirit of the law of Baha'u'llah." So all your nicey-nice aside, if a couple is left to "consult" and decide on this for themselves, they are supposed to apply these teachings to their situation. If the male is a reasonably obedient Baha'i, one might imagine his opinion going along with "the spirit of the law of Baha'ullah" in many a time and place, yes? And a couple, unlike an LSA, is not an uneven number of people- there are no "tie breakers" in the event of a disagreement. So, I'd say this heap of Baha'i writings (scripture or not) acts as the 3rd party deciding vote in a lot of situations. REGARDLESS of the woman's beliefs. Add to that this chunk of patriarchal direction, straight from the lips of 'Abdu'l-Baha, also quoted in Lights of Guidance, and I think a picture starts to emerge, about how free any Baha'i women actually are to use contraception openly:

    "749. Honour and Privilege Ordained for Women: Obedience to Husbands…

    'O Handmaids of the Self-Sustaining Lord! Exert your efforts so that you may attain the honour and privilege ordained for women. *Undoubtedly the GREATEST GLORY OF WOMEN is SERVITUDE at His Threshold and SUBMISSIVENESS at His door;* it is the possession of a vigilant heart, and praise of the incomparable God; it is heartfelt love towards other handmaids and spotless chastity; it is OBEDIENCE TO and consideration for their husbands and the education and care of their children; and it is tranquillity, and dignity, perseverance in the remembrance of the Lord, and the utmost enkindlement and attraction.'""

    Remember this was about your claim that the UHJ has no temporal power. What do you imagine temporal power is, exactly? For a woman to exercise her reproductive, bodily human rights she has to 1) ignore the guiding principle of Baha'i teachings on Birth Control 2) leave the Faith or risk censure if she is going to do that openly and honestly 3) more commonly, do that secretly and practice all kinds of mental olympics and cognitive dissonance so she doesn't really have to think through it 4) find a partner who is also willing to practice cognitive dissonance so they can disobey and use birth control and prioritize safety and family planning, in clear violation of the "teachings" on the subject.

    Obeying this teaching requires abject violation of women's rights. Rejecting it or disobeying it involves enormous social cost. And your utopian analyis that this doesn't impact women who resign from the Faith is laughable. It imagines that male partners aren't a part of this equation. So, unless you are amending your statement to advise that women who prize their reproductive rights should avoid all men raised in the Baha'i community, your argument doesn't fly. Is that what you're advising?

  • Amanda

    Farhan.

    Thanks for pulling a couple of passages from Lights of Guidance that absolutely do NOT convey the nuance or difficulty the totality of the teachings about Birth Control present for women. Please remember the context here was about power, and your claim that the UHJ has no temporal power.

    Here are some sticky wicket birth control highlights you left out of your analysis, (emphasis below is mine.) Please notice that birth control is "to be discarded as constituting a real danger to the very foundations of our social life," that it is "unacceptable and unworthy, and those who commit the act were responsible before God," and that it is "against the spirit of the law of Baha'u'llah." So all your nicey-nice aside, if a couple is left to "consult" and decide on this for themselves, they are supposed to apply these teachings to their situation. If the male is a reasonably obedient Baha'i, one might imagine his opinion going along with "the spirit of the law of Baha'ullah" in many a time and place, yes? And a couple, unlike an LSA, is not an uneven number of people- there are no "tie breakers" in the event of a disagreement. So, I'd say this heap of Baha'i writings (scripture or not) acts as the 3rd party deciding vote in a lot of situations. REGARDLESS of the woman's beliefs. Add to that this chunk of patriarchal direction, straight from the lips of 'Abdu'l-Baha, also quoted in Lights of Guidance, and I think a picture starts to emerge, about how free any Baha'i women actually are to use contraception openly:

    "749. Honour and Privilege Ordained for Women: Obedience to Husbands…

    'O Handmaids of the Self-Sustaining Lord! Exert your efforts so that you may attain the honour and privilege ordained for women. *Undoubtedly the GREATEST GLORY OF WOMEN is SERVITUDE at His Threshold and SUBMISSIVENESS at His door;* it is the possession of a vigilant heart, and praise of the incomparable God; it is heartfelt love towards other handmaids and spotless chastity; it is OBEDIENCE TO and consideration for their husbands and the education and care of their children; and it is tranquillity, and dignity, perseverance in the remembrance of the Lord, and the utmost enkindlement and attraction.'""

    Remember this was about your claim that the UHJ has no temporal power. What do you imagine temporal power is, exactly? For a woman to exercise her reproductive, bodily human rights she has to 1) ignore the guiding principle of Baha'i teachings on Birth Control 2) leave the Faith or risk censure if she is going to do that openly and honestly 3) more commonly, do that secretly and practice all kinds of mental olympics and cognitive dissonance so she doesn't really have to think through it 4) find a partner who is also willing to practice cognitive dissonance so they can disobey and use birth control and prioritize safety and family planning, in clear violation of the "teachings" on the subject.

    Obeying this teaching requires abject violation of women's rights. Rejecting it or disobeying it involves enormous social cost. And your utopian analyis that this doesn't impact women who resign from the Faith is laughable. It imagines that male partners aren't a part of this equation. So, unless you are amending your statement to advise that women who prize their reproductive rights should avoid all men raised in the Baha'i community, your argument doesn't fly. Is that what you're advising?

  • Amanda

    For anyone who wants to read the full quotations:
    ———
    "As to the problem of birth control, neither Bahá'u'lláh nor Abdu'l-Bahá has revealed anything direct or explicit regarding this question. But the Bahá'í Teachings, when carefully studied imply that such current conceptions like birth control, if not necessarily wrong and immoral in principle, *HAVE NEVERTHELESS TO BE DISCARDED AS CONSTITUTING A REAL DANGER TO THE VERY FOUNDATIONS OF OUR SOCIAL LIFE.* For Bahá'u'lláh explicitly reveals in His Book of Laws that the very purpose of marriage is the procreation of children who, when grown up, will be able to know God and to recognize and observe His Commandments and Laws as revealed through His Messengers. Marriage is thus, according to the Bahá'í Teachings, primarily a social and moral act. It has a purpose which TRANSCENDS the immediate personal NEEDS and INTERESTS of the parties…." (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 14, 1935)

    "…The question asked was whether *AFTER* a few children it would be permissible to have a surgical operation on the *WIFE* to prevent further conception. *HIS REPLY WAS THAT SUCH AN ACT WAS UNACCEPTABLE AND UNWORTHY, AND THOSE WHO COMMIT THE ACT WERE RESPONSIBLE BEFORE GOD.*

    (From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, July 31, 1970)

    "We, as Bahá'ís, are not therefore in a position either to condemn the practice of birth control or to confirm it.
    'Birth control, however, when exercised in order to deliberately prevent the procreation of any children is *AGAINST THE SPIRIT OF THE LAW OF BAHA'U'LLAH* which defines the primary purpose of marriage to be the rearing of children and their spiritual training in the Cause. The Universal House of Justice will have to consider this issue and give its verdict upon it."

    (From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, July 13, 1967)

  • Amanda

    For anyone who wants to read the full quotations:
    ———
    "As to the problem of birth control, neither Bahá'u'lláh nor Abdu'l-Bahá has revealed anything direct or explicit regarding this question. But the Bahá'í Teachings, when carefully studied imply that such current conceptions like birth control, if not necessarily wrong and immoral in principle, *HAVE NEVERTHELESS TO BE DISCARDED AS CONSTITUTING A REAL DANGER TO THE VERY FOUNDATIONS OF OUR SOCIAL LIFE.* For Bahá'u'lláh explicitly reveals in His Book of Laws that the very purpose of marriage is the procreation of children who, when grown up, will be able to know God and to recognize and observe His Commandments and Laws as revealed through His Messengers. Marriage is thus, according to the Bahá'í Teachings, primarily a social and moral act. It has a purpose which TRANSCENDS the immediate personal NEEDS and INTERESTS of the parties…." (From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, October 14, 1935)

    "…The question asked was whether *AFTER* a few children it would be permissible to have a surgical operation on the *WIFE* to prevent further conception. *HIS REPLY WAS THAT SUCH AN ACT WAS UNACCEPTABLE AND UNWORTHY, AND THOSE WHO COMMIT THE ACT WERE RESPONSIBLE BEFORE GOD.*

    (From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to an individual believer, July 31, 1970)

    "We, as Bahá'ís, are not therefore in a position either to condemn the practice of birth control or to confirm it.
    'Birth control, however, when exercised in order to deliberately prevent the procreation of any children is *AGAINST THE SPIRIT OF THE LAW OF BAHA'U'LLAH* which defines the primary purpose of marriage to be the rearing of children and their spiritual training in the Cause. The Universal House of Justice will have to consider this issue and give its verdict upon it."

    (From a letter of the Universal House of Justice to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles, July 13, 1967)

  • Amanda

    Sonja,

    What do you make of Shoghi Effendi's postscript, on Dec 7, 1930, to a letter written on his behalf:

    "I wish to add and say that whatever letters are sent in my behalf from Haifa are all read and approved by me before mailing. There is no exception whatever to this rule."

    And of this, sent out (and therefore "read and approved") on his behalf:

    "Although the secretaries of the Guardian convey his thoughts and instructions and these messages are authoritative, their words are in no sense the same as his, their style certainly not the same, and their authority less, for they use their own terms and not his exact words in conveying his messages."

    (25 February 1951 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles)

    We have here that they are authoritative. There is a distinction made between "sacred writings" and "authoritative writings." Sacred writings would be "scripture," as you call it. But bot categories comprise the Baha'i writings. If Shoghi Effendi conveyed his authoritative thoughts and instructions, read and approved the letters, how can you argue they aren't authoritative?

    I often agree with your opinions, (pro-gay rights, etc.) But I don't find any evidence for those opinions in the "authoritative writings," themselves. In many instances, the authoritative texts, including those letters, do not live up to the principles we imagine are "Baha'i." The Aqdas itself doesn't. The "scripture" itself doesn't.

  • Amanda

    Sonja,

    What do you make of Shoghi Effendi's postscript, on Dec 7, 1930, to a letter written on his behalf:

    "I wish to add and say that whatever letters are sent in my behalf from Haifa are all read and approved by me before mailing. There is no exception whatever to this rule."

    And of this, sent out (and therefore "read and approved") on his behalf:

    "Although the secretaries of the Guardian convey his thoughts and instructions and these messages are authoritative, their words are in no sense the same as his, their style certainly not the same, and their authority less, for they use their own terms and not his exact words in conveying his messages."

    (25 February 1951 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles)

    We have here that they are authoritative. There is a distinction made between "sacred writings" and "authoritative writings." Sacred writings would be "scripture," as you call it. But bot categories comprise the Baha'i writings. If Shoghi Effendi conveyed his authoritative thoughts and instructions, read and approved the letters, how can you argue they aren't authoritative?

    I often agree with your opinions, (pro-gay rights, etc.) But I don't find any evidence for those opinions in the "authoritative writings," themselves. In many instances, the authoritative texts, including those letters, do not live up to the principles we imagine are "Baha'i." The Aqdas itself doesn't. The "scripture" itself doesn't.

  • pey

    Hi Amanda. I understand what you are saying and await Sonja's response. But I feel the answer lies in the second passage you quoted "and their authority less.." What does that mean? What is the difference between Shoghi Effendi saying "thou shalt not use birth control" or a secretary saying the same words? If they are equal, then why does the letter say "their authority less"? I think what this means is that the Bahai Faith can be a much more dynamic religion than we give credit. All the judeo-christian religions have their hard-line "my way or the highway" attitude. And unfortunately, religious authorities usually bolster people in their communities that take this hard line approach (it's easier to maintain control with willing servants). But there is also the liberal side of Faiths that you can not deny. A good example is my friend's catholic congregation that has an LGBT association within the church WITH the bishop's approval. I guess I hope for the same kind of balance in my religion- a Faith that is meant for ALL of humanity.

  • pey

    Hi Amanda. I understand what you are saying and await Sonja's response. But I feel the answer lies in the second passage you quoted "and their authority less.." What does that mean? What is the difference between Shoghi Effendi saying "thou shalt not use birth control" or a secretary saying the same words? If they are equal, then why does the letter say "their authority less"? I think what this means is that the Bahai Faith can be a much more dynamic religion than we give credit. All the judeo-christian religions have their hard-line "my way or the highway" attitude. And unfortunately, religious authorities usually bolster people in their communities that take this hard line approach (it's easier to maintain control with willing servants). But there is also the liberal side of Faiths that you can not deny. A good example is my friend's catholic congregation that has an LGBT association within the church WITH the bishop's approval. I guess I hope for the same kind of balance in my religion- a Faith that is meant for ALL of humanity.

  • pey

    Well i would wear one of them for sure! Might even get some discussion going among some of my friends. LOL!

  • pey

    Well i would wear one of them for sure! Might even get some discussion going among some of my friends. LOL!

  • pey

    and so farhan you are saying what? That these 9 men collectively can never be corrupt? You really believe that Abdul-Baha thought that? I don't. Abdul-Baha was way smarter than that. He tread the spiritual path with practical feet- right? So to create a system where there are no checks. Where we can't ever question/critique and the only optino is "my way or the highway" is VERY dangerous. THAT is not what the Bahai Faith is and that is not what the Kingdom of God on earth will be. What you offer Farhan sounds more like what a cult would offer. I don't buy it.

  • pey

    and so farhan you are saying what? That these 9 men collectively can never be corrupt? You really believe that Abdul-Baha thought that? I don't. Abdul-Baha was way smarter than that. He tread the spiritual path with practical feet- right? So to create a system where there are no checks. Where we can't ever question/critique and the only optino is "my way or the highway" is VERY dangerous. THAT is not what the Bahai Faith is and that is not what the Kingdom of God on earth will be. What you offer Farhan sounds more like what a cult would offer. I don't buy it.

  • Amanda

    Hey, Pey.

    I really appreciate your thoughts. I have a few responses to this. I think the phrase "their authority is less" only makes sense in the context of the phrases that surround it. He told them what to write, and they wrote it. Then he proof-read it and it was sent out, authenticated. But, unfortunately, he didn't tell them word for word what to write. (Can you tell I've been a secretary. I'm having flashbacks to the difference between a boss dictating a letter word for word versus saying "write so-and-so and tell them to come to dinner at 6 o'clock.") I think that's the difference. The wording. I really think that's it. Especially given that he, himself, wrote that he checked each letter without exception. Nothing was slipping past him.

    I understand why people would want him to have not checked these letters and for these letters to not be authoritative. I get that. That would mean that the model of Divine Authority gets to remain intact and you get to call out and change the injustices at the same time. I understand why one would want to do that. But, the problem with that, is that the errors were made by Shoghi Effendi himself. I look back on what 'Abdu'l-Baha said about women obeying their husbands and African Americans being grateful for slavery, and see an equal amount of human error. I look back at Baha'u'llah's works and see the same kind of thing. They really knocked some beautiful ones out of the park, all of them, but they also made mistakes. When we start hiding the evidence and blaming their poor secretaries who were just writing down *what they were told* we are departing from truth and being intellectually dishonest.

    Now, I think this is where choice comes in. For me, I see this and say "I'm not a Baha'i anymore. I don't believe in this model." But I think others can still have that dynamic religion you want, where you said:

    "I think what this means is that the Bahai Faith can be a much more dynamic religion than we give credit. "

    But that means not misrepresenting the mistakes that exist in the Baha'i writings, but admitting them. No biggie. That's what liberal Christians and Jews do. They say, "Leviticus, yeah, that's wrong." They don't expect their writings to be impossibly inhumanly perfect the way fundamentalists do. They say, "that was wrong and we are moving past it." There's no reason Baha'is can't do the same thing. But I don't think Baha'is have the right to deny and misrepresent the mistakes. Just own up to 'em. That's what everybody else does.

    That's what I think. What do you think?

  • Amanda

    Hey, Pey.

    I really appreciate your thoughts. I have a few responses to this. I think the phrase "their authority is less" only makes sense in the context of the phrases that surround it. He told them what to write, and they wrote it. Then he proof-read it and it was sent out, authenticated. But, unfortunately, he didn't tell them word for word what to write. (Can you tell I've been a secretary. I'm having flashbacks to the difference between a boss dictating a letter word for word versus saying "write so-and-so and tell them to come to dinner at 6 o'clock.") I think that's the difference. The wording. I really think that's it. Especially given that he, himself, wrote that he checked each letter without exception. Nothing was slipping past him.

    I understand why people would want him to have not checked these letters and for these letters to not be authoritative. I get that. That would mean that the model of Divine Authority gets to remain intact and you get to call out and change the injustices at the same time. I understand why one would want to do that. But, the problem with that, is that the errors were made by Shoghi Effendi himself. I look back on what 'Abdu'l-Baha said about women obeying their husbands and African Americans being grateful for slavery, and see an equal amount of human error. I look back at Baha'u'llah's works and see the same kind of thing. They really knocked some beautiful ones out of the park, all of them, but they also made mistakes. When we start hiding the evidence and blaming their poor secretaries who were just writing down *what they were told* we are departing from truth and being intellectually dishonest.

    Now, I think this is where choice comes in. For me, I see this and say "I'm not a Baha'i anymore. I don't believe in this model." But I think others can still have that dynamic religion you want, where you said:

    "I think what this means is that the Bahai Faith can be a much more dynamic religion than we give credit. "

    But that means not misrepresenting the mistakes that exist in the Baha'i writings, but admitting them. No biggie. That's what liberal Christians and Jews do. They say, "Leviticus, yeah, that's wrong." They don't expect their writings to be impossibly inhumanly perfect the way fundamentalists do. They say, "that was wrong and we are moving past it." There's no reason Baha'is can't do the same thing. But I don't think Baha'is have the right to deny and misrepresent the mistakes. Just own up to 'em. That's what everybody else does.

    That's what I think. What do you think?

  • farhan

    Beth wrote : i wonder why you used the analogy of a referee?

    Beth I use analogies so as to make my point understood in spite of language discrepancies. The writings use the word “arbitration” in matters in where we have been unable to settle our differences. An arbitration cannot be “mistaken”, because only applicable in specific circumstances subject to change. What I did to do to a patient 30 years ago would be criminal today, but was the best available solution then. It was not a “mistake”; this is the difference between an established rule in the sacred writings and temporary rulings.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    Beth wrote : i wonder why you used the analogy of a referee?

    Beth I use analogies so as to make my point understood in spite of language discrepancies. The writings use the word “arbitration” in matters in where we have been unable to settle our differences. An arbitration cannot be “mistaken”, because only applicable in specific circumstances subject to change. What I did to do to a patient 30 years ago would be criminal today, but was the best available solution then. It was not a “mistake”; this is the difference between an established rule in the sacred writings and temporary rulings.

  • farhan

    Pey, I have nothing to sell; the Faith has something to offer for free: accepting or not is a matter of choice and faith; not having arbitration is even mode dangerous.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    Pey, I have nothing to sell; the Faith has something to offer for free: accepting or not is a matter of choice and faith; not having arbitration is even mode dangerous.

  • pey

    I have no problem doing that Amanda- it makes sense to me. But to do so would deny the other group of people who absolutely believe the hardline way. I have no desire to push those people out. IF the Bahai Faith is truly to be different, then it has to accomodate ALL of us, under one umbrella. IF not, then why waste my time? Religious authority will never do what you propose. The Pope will never say it is ok to have an LGBT organization inside his church, anymore than the UHJ will say it's ok for the Gay Bahai Network to be allowed to exist again. But those are official views from on top- at the bottom- grass roots, there is more that can be done. I guess I'm ok with being a little "intellectually dishonest" if you will. It is a small sacrifice in order to create a spiritual haven for ALL of humanity.

  • pey

    I have no problem doing that Amanda- it makes sense to me. But to do so would deny the other group of people who absolutely believe the hardline way. I have no desire to push those people out. IF the Bahai Faith is truly to be different, then it has to accomodate ALL of us, under one umbrella. IF not, then why waste my time? Religious authority will never do what you propose. The Pope will never say it is ok to have an LGBT organization inside his church, anymore than the UHJ will say it's ok for the Gay Bahai Network to be allowed to exist again. But those are official views from on top- at the bottom- grass roots, there is more that can be done. I guess I'm ok with being a little "intellectually dishonest" if you will. It is a small sacrifice in order to create a spiritual haven for ALL of humanity.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/SteveMarshall SteveMarshall

    Hi Beth,

    You wrote:
    im curious enough (almost) to have those [t-shirts] printed up, just to see what happens. would any of you wear them?

    Sure, put me down for one each of:

    Road kill: just say no
    "hunting with such weapons as bows and arrows, guns, and the like, is included in this ruling, but that the consumption of game if it is found dead in a trap or a net is prohibited" (Q and A 24).(Baha'u'llah: Aqdas: Notes, Page: 203)

    No fish and chips, thanks – we're Baha'is
    "Take heed lest, when partaking of food, ye plunge your hands into the contents of bowls and platters." (Baha'u'llah: The Kitab-i-Aqdas, Page: 36)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/SteveMarshall SteveMarshall

    Hi Beth,

    You wrote:
    im curious enough (almost) to have those [t-shirts] printed up, just to see what happens. would any of you wear them?

    Sure, put me down for one each of:

    Road kill: just say no
    "hunting with such weapons as bows and arrows, guns, and the like, is included in this ruling, but that the consumption of game if it is found dead in a trap or a net is prohibited" (Q and A 24).(Baha'u'llah: Aqdas: Notes, Page: 203)

    No fish and chips, thanks – we're Baha'is
    "Take heed lest, when partaking of food, ye plunge your hands into the contents of bowls and platters." (Baha'u'llah: The Kitab-i-Aqdas, Page: 36)

  • pey

    Yes Farhan the FAITH has something to offer for free, but what you describe is not it. You use quotes to justify your view and I have used mine.

  • pey

    Yes Farhan the FAITH has something to offer for free, but what you describe is not it. You use quotes to justify your view and I have used mine.

  • farhan

    Beth wrote : you said the UHJ have no temporal power, except over people who believe in them….

    Beth, at this time, the guidance of the UHJ only concerns those who call themselves Baha’is and there is no executive power behind this legislation. Baha’is believe that in a few centuries governments will adopt those views and provide the executive power for enforcing those laws. You can find a more explanations on the future relations between legislative and executive power here: http://bahaistudies.net/susanmaneck/theocracy.htm
    As the lord said (Mat 6/34) “Each day has enough trouble of its own”. For the time being, the true aim of the Faith is the spiritualisation of humanity, not bringing names on an enrolment list.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    Beth wrote : you said the UHJ have no temporal power, except over people who believe in them….

    Beth, at this time, the guidance of the UHJ only concerns those who call themselves Baha’is and there is no executive power behind this legislation. Baha’is believe that in a few centuries governments will adopt those views and provide the executive power for enforcing those laws. You can find a more explanations on the future relations between legislative and executive power here: http://bahaistudies.net/susanmaneck/theocracy.htm
    As the lord said (Mat 6/34) “Each day has enough trouble of its own”. For the time being, the true aim of the Faith is the spiritualisation of humanity, not bringing names on an enrolment list.

  • pey

    "at this time", so in a few centuries if you are gay, you better be ready to head back into the closet, if you are a feminist, you better keep your mouth shut, if you are a scholar that questions Bahai history, you better not write anything down…..

  • pey

    "at this time", so in a few centuries if you are gay, you better be ready to head back into the closet, if you are a feminist, you better keep your mouth shut, if you are a scholar that questions Bahai history, you better not write anything down…..

  • farhan

    Pey wrote: so in a few centuries if you are gay, you better be ready to head back into the closet, if you are a feminist, you better keep your mouth shut, if you are a scholar that questions Bahai history, you better not write anything down…..

    Pey, if in a few centuries some states will have adopted Baha’i principles, perhaps some others may have not, and everyone will have the choice of choosing the state where to live, instead of living in a Baha’i state and trying to reform it’s laws.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    Pey wrote: so in a few centuries if you are gay, you better be ready to head back into the closet, if you are a feminist, you better keep your mouth shut, if you are a scholar that questions Bahai history, you better not write anything down…..

    Pey, if in a few centuries some states will have adopted Baha’i principles, perhaps some others may have not, and everyone will have the choice of choosing the state where to live, instead of living in a Baha’i state and trying to reform it’s laws.

  • pey

    Kind of sounds like the situation in the Islamic State of Iran right now, doesn't Farhan?

  • pey

    Kind of sounds like the situation in the Islamic State of Iran right now, doesn't Farhan?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/beth_r beth_r

    i forgot about that one! no popcorn either, huh?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/beth_r beth_r

    i forgot about that one! no popcorn either, huh?

  • farhan

    Amanda wrote: If Shoghi Effendi conveyed his authoritative thoughts and instructions, read and approved the letters, how can you argue they aren't authoritative?

    I fully agree with you here, Amanda, thanks; my personal hunch is also that authoritative writings could sometimes be adapted to a specific circumstance.

    Amanda wrote: So, unless you are amending your statement to advise that women who prize their reproductive rights should avoid all men raised in the Baha’i community, your argument doesn’t fly. Is that what you’re advising?

    Amanda, I am not advising anything, but sharing thoughts and thanking you for yours. I am pointing out that the Faith evolves progressively, and the UHJ arbitrates according to the needs of each day and age. For example, when we look at the stand on abortion, we have one quote from Shoghi Effendi saying it is criminal, another later saying the UHJ will have to legislate, yet later the UHJ saying it does not wish to determine when it is legitimate, and again saying that with consultation and expert advice, individuals will have to bear the responsibility.

    Beth wrote : do you realize you just contradicted yourself? you said the UHJ have no temporal power, except over people who believe in them.

    Beth, I see an obvious difference between having a temporal executive power which implies taking people to prison seizing their property, and a spiritual prescriptive authority. When a patient asks my opinion, I have no power, even when he throws his pills into the closet, except if he is creating a danger to himself or to public health, in which case I call in the civil authorities to intervene with their power.

    Sonja wrote: Ah ha, one of those non-scriptural-written-by-an-anonymous-writer- letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, which is not Bahai Scripture.

    Sonja, This is an obvious application of the difference between scripture and elasticity of temporary rulings for which we need the arbitration of the UHJ:
    “Such is the immutability of His revealed Word. Such is the elasticity which characterises the functions of His appointed ministers. The first preserves the identity of His Faith, and guards the integrity of His law. The second enables it, even as a living organism, to expand and adapt itself to the needs and requirements of an ever-changing society.”(Shoghi Effendi: World Order of Baha’u’llah, p 23)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    Amanda wrote: If Shoghi Effendi conveyed his authoritative thoughts and instructions, read and approved the letters, how can you argue they aren't authoritative?

    I fully agree with you here, Amanda, thanks; my personal hunch is also that authoritative writings could sometimes be adapted to a specific circumstance.

    Amanda wrote: So, unless you are amending your statement to advise that women who prize their reproductive rights should avoid all men raised in the Baha’i community, your argument doesn’t fly. Is that what you’re advising?

    Amanda, I am not advising anything, but sharing thoughts and thanking you for yours. I am pointing out that the Faith evolves progressively, and the UHJ arbitrates according to the needs of each day and age. For example, when we look at the stand on abortion, we have one quote from Shoghi Effendi saying it is criminal, another later saying the UHJ will have to legislate, yet later the UHJ saying it does not wish to determine when it is legitimate, and again saying that with consultation and expert advice, individuals will have to bear the responsibility.

    Beth wrote : do you realize you just contradicted yourself? you said the UHJ have no temporal power, except over people who believe in them.

    Beth, I see an obvious difference between having a temporal executive power which implies taking people to prison seizing their property, and a spiritual prescriptive authority. When a patient asks my opinion, I have no power, even when he throws his pills into the closet, except if he is creating a danger to himself or to public health, in which case I call in the civil authorities to intervene with their power.

    Sonja wrote: Ah ha, one of those non-scriptural-written-by-an-anonymous-writer- letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, which is not Bahai Scripture.

    Sonja, This is an obvious application of the difference between scripture and elasticity of temporary rulings for which we need the arbitration of the UHJ:
    “Such is the immutability of His revealed Word. Such is the elasticity which characterises the functions of His appointed ministers. The first preserves the identity of His Faith, and guards the integrity of His law. The second enables it, even as a living organism, to expand and adapt itself to the needs and requirements of an ever-changing society.”(Shoghi Effendi: World Order of Baha’u’llah, p 23)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/beth_r beth_r

    so how about when the NSA of the US decided to change the health care plan for employees so that it would no longer cover Birth Control? that had a direct effect on employees. and how about when the NSA of Uganda recommended that peaceful LGBT activists be arrested?

    it is disingenuous to say that bahai administrations, even currently, have no power over the "temporal" nature of humanity just b/c they have no executive branch, when as you so clearly pointed out, the physical and spiritual nature of people are intricately connected.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/beth_r beth_r

    so how about when the NSA of the US decided to change the health care plan for employees so that it would no longer cover Birth Control? that had a direct effect on employees. and how about when the NSA of Uganda recommended that peaceful LGBT activists be arrested?

    it is disingenuous to say that bahai administrations, even currently, have no power over the "temporal" nature of humanity just b/c they have no executive branch, when as you so clearly pointed out, the physical and spiritual nature of people are intricately connected.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/beth_r beth_r

    but THIS analogy, that of the referee, doesn't apply. and it is grossly misleading.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/beth_r beth_r

    but THIS analogy, that of the referee, doesn't apply. and it is grossly misleading.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/beth_r beth_r

    farhan, although it was my understanding when i was a bahai that in the future ALL governments would eventually be "baha'i states", lets say for a moment that you are right. this is the same principle that the baha'i community works from currently – agree with us or get out. i think we agree on this. but as you know also, the community includes children. what are they to do if, as they grow older, they decide the baha'i faith is not for them? leave the country? abandon their families? how will that work? hardly conducive to family unity i'd say. ideas are nice. practical application leaves quite a bit to be desired.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/beth_r beth_r

    farhan, although it was my understanding when i was a bahai that in the future ALL governments would eventually be "baha'i states", lets say for a moment that you are right. this is the same principle that the baha'i community works from currently – agree with us or get out. i think we agree on this. but as you know also, the community includes children. what are they to do if, as they grow older, they decide the baha'i faith is not for them? leave the country? abandon their families? how will that work? hardly conducive to family unity i'd say. ideas are nice. practical application leaves quite a bit to be desired.

  • farhan

    Pey wrote : Kind of sounds like the situation in the Islamic State of Iran right now, doesn't Farhan?

    Are you seriously comparing a future Baha’i commonwealth to the IRI?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    Pey wrote : Kind of sounds like the situation in the Islamic State of Iran right now, doesn't Farhan?

    Are you seriously comparing a future Baha’i commonwealth to the IRI?

  • farhan

    Beth wrote : what are they to do if, as they grow older, they decide the baha'i faith is not for them? leave the country? abandon their families?

    What makes you think that at that time a Baha’i commonwealth would no longer apply the laws of independent search after truth?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    Beth wrote : what are they to do if, as they grow older, they decide the baha'i faith is not for them? leave the country? abandon their families?

    What makes you think that at that time a Baha’i commonwealth would no longer apply the laws of independent search after truth?

  • farhan

    Beth wrote : it is disingenuous to say that bahai administrations, even currently, have no power over the "temporal" nature of humanity

    I agree with you here; the spiritual power of uniting and arbitrating differences between conflicting creeds is tremendous. I was talking of repressive power to oblige people to obey laws.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    Beth wrote : it is disingenuous to say that bahai administrations, even currently, have no power over the "temporal" nature of humanity

    I agree with you here; the spiritual power of uniting and arbitrating differences between conflicting creeds is tremendous. I was talking of repressive power to oblige people to obey laws.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/beth_r beth_r

    wait – the LAW of independent search of after truth? a lot of bahais are in big trouble then… but does that mean in a baha'i state laws will only be suggested? not enforced? will we truly get to decide which laws we believe in? what would be the point of that? i imagine that in these future baha'i states, laws would absolutely be enforced. but which ones? baha'i laws, i imagine. which was my original point.

    so back to that original point, as an adult child of a bahai in one of these "baha'i states", lets imagine that i am gay. if i want to marry or adopt, i'd have to go to some other country. or what if i want to live with a hetero partner without marrying them – would they send LSA members to my house to harass me, like they do now in the baha'i community? which laws still count in a baha'i state? is this when the financial penalties for sex outside of marraige come in? when a state converts to this new style of government, what would the people who already live there but who are not baha'is do? do they have to leave? if they want to stick with their old laws, do they have to live on a reservation?

    a baha'i state, regardless of whether or not their are other states to move to if i don't like it, is a TERRIBLE idea.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/beth_r beth_r

    wait – the LAW of independent search of after truth? a lot of bahais are in big trouble then… but does that mean in a baha'i state laws will only be suggested? not enforced? will we truly get to decide which laws we believe in? what would be the point of that? i imagine that in these future baha'i states, laws would absolutely be enforced. but which ones? baha'i laws, i imagine. which was my original point.

    so back to that original point, as an adult child of a bahai in one of these "baha'i states", lets imagine that i am gay. if i want to marry or adopt, i'd have to go to some other country. or what if i want to live with a hetero partner without marrying them – would they send LSA members to my house to harass me, like they do now in the baha'i community? which laws still count in a baha'i state? is this when the financial penalties for sex outside of marraige come in? when a state converts to this new style of government, what would the people who already live there but who are not baha'is do? do they have to leave? if they want to stick with their old laws, do they have to live on a reservation?

    a baha'i state, regardless of whether or not their are other states to move to if i don't like it, is a TERRIBLE idea.

  • pey

    Yes Farhan, why shouldn't I? Because the commonwealth that you describe will not have any checks/balances, no criticism allowed, strict adherence to the letter of the law and if you don't like it, then you can leave? What is the difference? The degree of possible punishment?

  • pey

    Yes Farhan, why shouldn't I? Because the commonwealth that you describe will not have any checks/balances, no criticism allowed, strict adherence to the letter of the law and if you don't like it, then you can leave? What is the difference? The degree of possible punishment?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/beth_r beth_r

    right. that only comes with the future baha'i states.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/beth_r beth_r

    right. that only comes with the future baha'i states.

  • pey

    But truth leads to where? Let's say truth leads you to the belief that God wants you to adopt kids with a partner you are not state sanctioned married to (gay or straight). And this State is a Bahai one. What then? What is the rosy picture for these individuals in such a Bahai state? If you want to live together, then you better move to the neighboring country. Otherwise at minimum be ready to pay the following. At worse, we will use force to keep you apart and make your relationships illegal.

  • pey

    But truth leads to where? Let's say truth leads you to the belief that God wants you to adopt kids with a partner you are not state sanctioned married to (gay or straight). And this State is a Bahai one. What then? What is the rosy picture for these individuals in such a Bahai state? If you want to live together, then you better move to the neighboring country. Otherwise at minimum be ready to pay the following. At worse, we will use force to keep you apart and make your relationships illegal.

  • farhan

    Pey wrote : But truth leads to where?

    Pey, truth can lead us to unity and maintaining life on this planet by escaping from what Lewis Mumford called the programmed auto destruction of the planet which BTW, concerns gays and non-gays alike. (see http://www.nd.edu/~ehalton/mumfordbio.html

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    Pey wrote : But truth leads to where?

    Pey, truth can lead us to unity and maintaining life on this planet by escaping from what Lewis Mumford called the programmed auto destruction of the planet which BTW, concerns gays and non-gays alike. (see http://www.nd.edu/~ehalton/mumfordbio.html

  • farhan

    We will have to unite and collaborate harmoniously before we can ever get to the point of a Baha'i inspired state alive…

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    We will have to unite and collaborate harmoniously before we can ever get to the point of a Baha'i inspired state alive…

  • farhan

    Pey wrote : Because the commonwealth that you describe will not have any checks/balances, no criticism allowed, strict adherence to the letter of the law and if you don't like it, then you can leave?

    I disagree, Pey; there is a clear indication by Shoghi Effendi that once the faith has emerged from stormy weathers: “the financial support accorded to a very few workers in the teaching and administrative fields is of a temporary nature; that the present restrictions imposed on the publication of Bahá’í literature will be definitely abolished;” (WOB, p6-7).

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    Pey wrote : Because the commonwealth that you describe will not have any checks/balances, no criticism allowed, strict adherence to the letter of the law and if you don't like it, then you can leave?

    I disagree, Pey; there is a clear indication by Shoghi Effendi that once the faith has emerged from stormy weathers: “the financial support accorded to a very few workers in the teaching and administrative fields is of a temporary nature; that the present restrictions imposed on the publication of Bahá’í literature will be definitely abolished;” (WOB, p6-7).

  • Amanda

    I don't think being honest pushes anyone out. And the Pope will only "never" say it's ok as long as the hardliners are in the majority and no one is speaking up. The ironic thing is most Baha'is as individuals actually do believe in equality for everybody, it's just "authoritative Baha'i texts" that don't. If everyone were more vocal the "Pope" would come around, or be out of a job. That's how I see it. A pretty process? No. The right thing to do? Probably.

    I think truthfulness is the foundation of all human virtues. ;) I think if you use a "little intellectual dishonesty" in the structure of your religion you're screwed. It's only gonna get worse from there.

    I'm an atheist, right? This is the funny thing about faith. I can understand your pessimism that nobody's ever going to come around and we have to be pragmatic (lie) to have justice and "unity. " But that sounds like an assessment that has no faith in *people.* In *humanity.* When I take the temperature of that situation, it's just totalitarian in a different way. It *doesn't* become a "haven for ALL of humanity," it can't even be a haven for *telling the truth about our own writings.* So anyone who requires truth-telling (academics, poets, children, people who want to be mentally healthy, etc) will be "pushed out. " The hard-liners will still have their utopia, but it won't be for everybody. I get your pessimism. But I think faith in humanity comes into play here. If you assume no one is ever going to act right, you are going to create some very fucked up societies with very low expectations. I think we have to struggle out of hope and faith in what people can be and often are. The good. We have to deal with how shitty people can often be, but there's no point in struggling for a better society if you think people are no good. In any case, I think agreeing to lie, even to yourself, is making a deal with the devil. (Symbolically, of course!) It will bite you in the ass, every time.

    That's what I think.

  • Amanda

    I don't think being honest pushes anyone out. And the Pope will only "never" say it's ok as long as the hardliners are in the majority and no one is speaking up. The ironic thing is most Baha'is as individuals actually do believe in equality for everybody, it's just "authoritative Baha'i texts" that don't. If everyone were more vocal the "Pope" would come around, or be out of a job. That's how I see it. A pretty process? No. The right thing to do? Probably.

    I think truthfulness is the foundation of all human virtues. ;) I think if you use a "little intellectual dishonesty" in the structure of your religion you're screwed. It's only gonna get worse from there.

    I'm an atheist, right? This is the funny thing about faith. I can understand your pessimism that nobody's ever going to come around and we have to be pragmatic (lie) to have justice and "unity. " But that sounds like an assessment that has no faith in *people.* In *humanity.* When I take the temperature of that situation, it's just totalitarian in a different way. It *doesn't* become a "haven for ALL of humanity," it can't even be a haven for *telling the truth about our own writings.* So anyone who requires truth-telling (academics, poets, children, people who want to be mentally healthy, etc) will be "pushed out. " The hard-liners will still have their utopia, but it won't be for everybody. I get your pessimism. But I think faith in humanity comes into play here. If you assume no one is ever going to act right, you are going to create some very fucked up societies with very low expectations. I think we have to struggle out of hope and faith in what people can be and often are. The good. We have to deal with how shitty people can often be, but there's no point in struggling for a better society if you think people are no good. In any case, I think agreeing to lie, even to yourself, is making a deal with the devil. (Symbolically, of course!) It will bite you in the ass, every time.

    That's what I think.

  • Amanda

    Btw- I'm not saying that you, Pey, think people are no good. I'm saying I think that argument doesn't give people enough credit. People will make mistakes. But I think doing so in an honest framework is ultimately more inclusive.

  • Amanda

    Btw- I'm not saying that you, Pey, think people are no good. I'm saying I think that argument doesn't give people enough credit. People will make mistakes. But I think doing so in an honest framework is ultimately more inclusive.

  • http://kaweah.com/blog Dan Jensen

    Amen, Amanda. The UHJ is more a form of elected authoritarianism than democracy, putting aside all questions as to the legitimacy of the electoral process itself. No means of democratic recall was provided by Abdu'l-Baha' or Shoghi Effendi (one might allow that Baha'u'llah was ambiguous enough to permit some form of re-election or recall).

  • http://kaweah.com/blog Dan Jensen

    Amen, Amanda. The UHJ is more a form of elected authoritarianism than democracy, putting aside all questions as to the legitimacy of the electoral process itself. No means of democratic recall was provided by Abdu'l-Baha' or Shoghi Effendi (one might allow that Baha'u'llah was ambiguous enough to permit some form of re-election or recall).

  • pey

    Ok I can understand that. But I think sometimes it is difficult to understand why people of Faith wish to continue inside their communities. You have chosen to leave it and be atheist because you could not fit your mind in the Bahai framework or any religious framework that asks for belief in an omniscient God. But for others, they can fit in such a framework- even if it takes them some intellectual wiggle room (what you see as lying to ourselves). Take my friend who goes to his Catholic church. He feels a great connection to his tradition and a sense of community. So regardless of the Vatican's stance or its authoritative texts on homosexuality- his congregation has accepted him fully and he is part of it. Is this being hypocritical? Will it come and bite him in the ass one day? I don't think so. I think he's doing a great service by staying in the church and helping mold it into something new; without trying to bring the whole thing down. I kind of hope for the same inside the Bahai community.

  • pey

    Ok I can understand that. But I think sometimes it is difficult to understand why people of Faith wish to continue inside their communities. You have chosen to leave it and be atheist because you could not fit your mind in the Bahai framework or any religious framework that asks for belief in an omniscient God. But for others, they can fit in such a framework- even if it takes them some intellectual wiggle room (what you see as lying to ourselves). Take my friend who goes to his Catholic church. He feels a great connection to his tradition and a sense of community. So regardless of the Vatican's stance or its authoritative texts on homosexuality- his congregation has accepted him fully and he is part of it. Is this being hypocritical? Will it come and bite him in the ass one day? I don't think so. I think he's doing a great service by staying in the church and helping mold it into something new; without trying to bring the whole thing down. I kind of hope for the same inside the Bahai community.

  • Amanda

    Oh, I wouldn't think your friend (or you) or anyone who's attending a religious community and being who they are while the higher-ups are still in the dark ages is lying just by being there. I think, if you're religious, being there is important. I think what you do, for example, is really important and right on. But you're honest about it. It would be weird if your friend attended the church and said "the Pope says this is ok, Leviticus LOVES gay people!!!" THAT's cognitive dissonance. If it's important to you to be there- BE THERE. Change it. That's powerful. There's no lying in that. Your friend and his local priest admit that the Vatican is wrong. That's not lying.

  • Amanda

    Oh, I wouldn't think your friend (or you) or anyone who's attending a religious community and being who they are while the higher-ups are still in the dark ages is lying just by being there. I think, if you're religious, being there is important. I think what you do, for example, is really important and right on. But you're honest about it. It would be weird if your friend attended the church and said "the Pope says this is ok, Leviticus LOVES gay people!!!" THAT's cognitive dissonance. If it's important to you to be there- BE THERE. Change it. That's powerful. There's no lying in that. Your friend and his local priest admit that the Vatican is wrong. That's not lying.

  • Amanda

    I think what you do is awesome, Pey. And you are so forthright about it.

  • Amanda

    I think what you do is awesome, Pey. And you are so forthright about it.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/kaweah Dan Jensen

    Watching the Rainn-on-Oprah videos … It appears that the Baha'i Faith is an anarchistic artist colony of some kind. Very appealing. The administration is democratically elected, yet it doesn't have any power over anyone. The houses of worship are built by the Baha'is for everyone else to use. Everybody just speaks their opinion, and nobody else has the authority to tell them their opinions are wrong. I LIKE it!! How do I sign up?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/kaweah Dan Jensen

    Watching the Rainn-on-Oprah videos … It appears that the Baha'i Faith is an anarchistic artist colony of some kind. Very appealing. The administration is democratically elected, yet it doesn't have any power over anyone. The houses of worship are built by the Baha'is for everyone else to use. Everybody just speaks their opinion, and nobody else has the authority to tell them their opinions are wrong. I LIKE it!! How do I sign up?

  • Amanda

    Exactly.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/beth_r beth_r

    i second this, Pey. I see no intellectual dishonesty in the way you choose to believe and live. i think the way you stick with what you believe and stand up to what you don't, inside and outside the baha'i community, is a remarkable thing and I am completely in your corner.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/beth_r beth_r

    i second this, Pey. I see no intellectual dishonesty in the way you choose to believe and live. i think the way you stick with what you believe and stand up to what you don't, inside and outside the baha'i community, is a remarkable thing and I am completely in your corner.

  • Amanda

    Exactly.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Frank_Winters Frank_Winters

    The Baha'i faith has always had more than its share of narrow minded types in leadership roles. Many are self appointed but with the formation of the UHJ and other non-clergy clergy roles they have become more institutionalized. Then there are folks like Rainn who seem to ignore both the heart of the writings and the reality of the leadership. These ones do describe a really nice — new age sounding religion, but it doesn't exist. They usually seem to get away with this. Maybe they represent an important part of the Baha'i faith of the future? I know that my non-Baha'i friends who know about Baha'i think its like what Rainn describes.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Frank_Winters Frank_Winters

    The Baha'i faith has always had more than its share of narrow minded types in leadership roles. Many are self appointed but with the formation of the UHJ and other non-clergy clergy roles they have become more institutionalized. Then there are folks like Rainn who seem to ignore both the heart of the writings and the reality of the leadership. These ones do describe a really nice — new age sounding religion, but it doesn't exist. They usually seem to get away with this. Maybe they represent an important part of the Baha'i faith of the future? I know that my non-Baha'i friends who know about Baha'i think its like what Rainn describes.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/kaweah Dan Jensen

    Frank, I wonder why Rainn is so evangelical, presuming that he knows what he's saying is quite heterodox. Does he think he can draw in a wave of young liberal converts that might influence the course of the Baha'i Faith from within, or is he just bottom-fishing for suckers? He clearly wants people to hear about *his* religion. What is he up to?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/kaweah Dan Jensen

    Frank, I wonder why Rainn is so evangelical, presuming that he knows what he's saying is quite heterodox. Does he think he can draw in a wave of young liberal converts that might influence the course of the Baha'i Faith from within, or is he just bottom-fishing for suckers? He clearly wants people to hear about *his* religion. What is he up to?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Frank_Winters Frank_Winters

    He doesn't know. At least that's my theory. He was raised Baha'i but might never really studied it. Just learned by osmosis. He thinks it as he describes it. Some Baha'is do seem to get away with ignoring lots of reality. If I'm wrong I don't have a clue re: what he is trying to do — except maybe seem quirky and cool.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Frank_Winters Frank_Winters

    He doesn't know. At least that's my theory. He was raised Baha'i but might never really studied it. Just learned by osmosis. He thinks it as he describes it. Some Baha'is do seem to get away with ignoring lots of reality. If I'm wrong I don't have a clue re: what he is trying to do — except maybe seem quirky and cool.

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/kaweah Dan Jensen

    "I … just put myself into art as my religion, which is supported by my faith" (Rainn Wilson to Oprah, Part 4)

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/kaweah Dan Jensen

    "I … just put myself into art as my religion, which is supported by my faith" (Rainn Wilson to Oprah, Part 4)

  • Craig Parke

    Farhan,

    There is one thing you can be very sure of and that is the restrictions imposed on the publication of Baha'i literature will never be abolished. Ever. That is not going to happen for 100,000 years. People have already been thrown out of the Faith for writing a book. Book companies have been threatened for selling banned books.

    The system will have absolute control over every persons heart and mind and personal thoughts on Earth forever. What the people on the top interpret is what everyone absolutely must believe. What they say goes. No questioning permitted. The personal opinions of the people at the top are the new teachings of the Faith and no one can challenge them. Their personal understanding rules over all. Their personal and individual understandings are the Faith. Forever. The Faith is another Abrahamic Religion and that is part of the franchise.

    The human race will never, ever escape the systems of dogma of clergy. It is a psychological disease and it will always be with the human race. Always. They will never give up that power for free expression.

    The BAO will shut down the entire Internet wordwide on the first day they own the planet.

    Or in Ruhiese:

    The BAO will ____ ____ the entire ______ ________ on the ____ ___ they _____ the _______t.

    So it goes.

  • Craig Parke

    Farhan,

    There is one thing you can be very sure of and that is the restrictions imposed on the publication of Baha'i literature will never be abolished. Ever. That is not going to happen for 100,000 years. People have already been thrown out of the Faith for writing a book. Book companies have been threatened for selling banned books.

    The system will have absolute control over every persons heart and mind and personal thoughts on Earth forever. What the people on the top interpret is what everyone absolutely must believe. What they say goes. No questioning permitted. The personal opinions of the people at the top are the new teachings of the Faith and no one can challenge them. Their personal understanding rules over all. Their personal and individual understandings are the Faith. Forever. The Faith is another Abrahamic Religion and that is part of the franchise.

    The human race will never, ever escape the systems of dogma of clergy. It is a psychological disease and it will always be with the human race. Always. They will never give up that power for free expression.

    The BAO will shut down the entire Internet wordwide on the first day they own the planet.

    Or in Ruhiese:

    The BAO will ____ ____ the entire ______ ________ on the ____ ___ they _____ the _______t.

    So it goes.

  • Norma

    This conversation is intriguing. Rainn Wilson seems to be a sincere follower of the spirit of the faith. What is wrong with that? Maybe if Ophrah declares, she will find a place in infallable pantheon and be able to straighten them out.

  • Norma

    This conversation is intriguing. Rainn Wilson seems to be a sincere follower of the spirit of the faith. What is wrong with that? Maybe if Ophrah declares, she will find a place in infallable pantheon and be able to straighten them out.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    Frank Winters wrote: The Baha'i faith has always had more than its share of narrow minded types in leadership roles.

    Frank, do you have any reason to believe that Baha’i leadership is more narrow minded than leadership in other religions?

  • farhan

    Frank Winters wrote: The Baha'i faith has always had more than its share of narrow minded types in leadership roles.

    Frank, do you have any reason to believe that Baha’i leadership is more narrow minded than leadership in other religions?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Frank_Winters Frank_Winters

    Farhan asked "do you have any reason to believe that Baha'i leadership is more narrow minded than leadership in other religions?"

    Answer — yes I do but that really isn't the point. If Baha'i is the renewal of religion and if it ushers in the day that will not be followed by night why doesn't it, hasn't it had — since the passing of Abdul Baha — much better leadership. And I include the Guardian in this question. (Maybe the answer is god works in mysterious ways (yeah!) or he doeth whatsoever he willeth — the one size fits all explanation for most everything under the sun.)

    Some of the ministers and priests I know are not narrow minded at all, while others are. The Hindus I've known over the years — not leaders — have been very open minded and warm. They embrace other ways of thinking readily. The Buddhists too but I have less direct experience with them.

    I knew Hands of the Cause (fine men and one was a spiritual dynamo) and one member of the original UHJ (a very conservative, up tight type). I was always puzzled by Rúhíyyih Khánum, by her style and outlook. She seemed an odd match for the Guardian and for her role — to me anyway.

    I think one of the reasons the faith has not spread more deeply is the lack of creative, charismatic leaders who where also completely sane. The leaders I knew during my active Baha'i years pushed back more often than they reached out.

    Rainn Wilson's leadership is another quirky kind of "what were they thinking" leader for Bahai's. Surely the Baha'is can and should do better than this.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Frank_Winters Frank_Winters

    Farhan asked "do you have any reason to believe that Baha'i leadership is more narrow minded than leadership in other religions?"

    Answer — yes I do but that really isn't the point. If Baha'i is the renewal of religion and if it ushers in the day that will not be followed by night why doesn't it, hasn't it had — since the passing of Abdul Baha — much better leadership. And I include the Guardian in this question. (Maybe the answer is god works in mysterious ways (yeah!) or he doeth whatsoever he willeth — the one size fits all explanation for most everything under the sun.)

    Some of the ministers and priests I know are not narrow minded at all, while others are. The Hindus I've known over the years — not leaders — have been very open minded and warm. They embrace other ways of thinking readily. The Buddhists too but I have less direct experience with them.

    I knew Hands of the Cause (fine men and one was a spiritual dynamo) and one member of the original UHJ (a very conservative, up tight type). I was always puzzled by Rúhíyyih Khánum, by her style and outlook. She seemed an odd match for the Guardian and for her role — to me anyway.

    I think one of the reasons the faith has not spread more deeply is the lack of creative, charismatic leaders who where also completely sane. The leaders I knew during my active Baha'i years pushed back more often than they reached out.

    Rainn Wilson's leadership is another quirky kind of "what were they thinking" leader for Bahai's. Surely the Baha'is can and should do better than this.

  • Craig Parke

    I do not think Rúhíyyih Khánum would ever be a member of the current version of the Baha'i Faith. I thought she was a remarkable person. I thought William Sears was a tremendous person. I met him several times. Also Dr. Ruhe. A quite loving and honest, straight forward man. These were all real people.

    Now the Baha'i Faith is full of self appointed "administrative MBA" types. They are like the Free Market Taliban derivative sellers on Wall Street. Just ideologues in a suit. Lovesless. Zero spirituality. Sellers of worthless paper.

    But the World Age will go on Brother Frank as we all know. I think I am going to read me some Jack Kerouc this weekend. I need a fix from "On the Road". Sure. he was an alcoholic and a failure as a human being. But he could write. And so he sits at the Right Hand of God The Father Almighty. The religious "derivatives sellers" will never reach that heaven.

    Or in Ruhiease.

    The ______ "derivatives sellers" will ____ _____ _____ heaven.

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

  • Craig Parke

    I do not think Rúhíyyih Khánum would ever be a member of the current version of the Baha'i Faith. I thought she was a remarkable person. I thought William Sears was a tremendous person. I met him several times. Also Dr. Ruhe. A quite loving and honest, straight forward man. These were all real people.

    Now the Baha'i Faith is full of self appointed "administrative MBA" types. They are like the Free Market Taliban derivative sellers on Wall Street. Just ideologues in a suit. Lovesless. Zero spirituality. Sellers of worthless paper.

    But the World Age will go on Brother Frank as we all know. I think I am going to read me some Jack Kerouc this weekend. I need a fix from "On the Road". Sure. he was an alcoholic and a failure as a human being. But he could write. And so he sits at the Right Hand of God The Father Almighty. The religious "derivatives sellers" will never reach that heaven.

    Or in Ruhiease.

    The ______ "derivatives sellers" will ____ _____ _____ heaven.

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

  • Lee

    dear sincere Bahais. if you really all claim that you want to truly apply the principls of Baha'u'llah then let me remind you of one of His most important principles , and that is Backbiting. you guys managed to demonize, protect, attack and curse a guy behind his back with things that in best case is 50% true and 50% falls. backbiting is to say something true of a person that wishes not to be mentioned! now saying something lie is even worse. now if you are saying things that are just speculation about a person will this is just utter ignorance and childish.

    Backbiting is the topic of this chat and will remain that way no matter how you want to justify it. it really wont help. Baha'u'llah put backbiting next to Murder in the Kitab-i-Aqdas it extinguishes the light of the soul.

  • Lee

    dear sincere Bahais. if you really all claim that you want to truly apply the principls of Baha'u'llah then let me remind you of one of His most important principles , and that is Backbiting. you guys managed to demonize, protect, attack and curse a guy behind his back with things that in best case is 50% true and 50% falls. backbiting is to say something true of a person that wishes not to be mentioned! now saying something lie is even worse. now if you are saying things that are just speculation about a person will this is just utter ignorance and childish.

    Backbiting is the topic of this chat and will remain that way no matter how you want to justify it. it really wont help. Baha'u'llah put backbiting next to Murder in the Kitab-i-Aqdas it extinguishes the light of the soul.

  • farhan

    Dan Jensen wrote : Does he think he can draw in a wave of young liberal converts that might influence the course of the Baha'i Faith from within, or is he just bottom-fishing for suckers?

    Dan, in the 1970s we were “proclaiming” or if you prefer, advertising the name of the Cause; today this is over. We are trying to present Baha’i values to every one, Baha’is or non Baha’is and drawing in large numbers of converts is not the purpose. Growth of the community is measured by the degree of deepening and just the number of names on a list. I see Rainn as just one sincere Baha’i, with his own understanding which is closer to mine than to yours, trying to share his passion with others.

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    Dan Jensen wrote : Does he think he can draw in a wave of young liberal converts that might influence the course of the Baha'i Faith from within, or is he just bottom-fishing for suckers?

    Dan, in the 1970s we were “proclaiming” or if you prefer, advertising the name of the Cause; today this is over. We are trying to present Baha’i values to every one, Baha’is or non Baha’is and drawing in large numbers of converts is not the purpose. Growth of the community is measured by the degree of deepening and just the number of names on a list. I see Rainn as just one sincere Baha’i, with his own understanding which is closer to mine than to yours, trying to share his passion with others.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Frank_Winters Frank_Winters

    Lee for the record some of us — me included are not Bahais at all.

    Secondly once a person appears in public to discuss private matters they are no longer private. I personally have no knowledge of Rainn Wilson the private person but I do now what he presents publicity. Our discussion here is about that public presentation. Rainn is free to read this and comment if he wishes. It is closer to criticism as in critics of TV or movies than to backbiting I think.

    Backbiting is private behind someones back — obviously. This is a public discussion about a public presentation. We do not hide here in fact we stick our necks out for anyone to take a whack at. It might be foolish but its not backbiting.

    Cheers,
    Frank

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/Frank_Winters Frank_Winters

    Lee for the record some of us — me included are not Bahais at all.

    Secondly once a person appears in public to discuss private matters they are no longer private. I personally have no knowledge of Rainn Wilson the private person but I do now what he presents publicity. Our discussion here is about that public presentation. Rainn is free to read this and comment if he wishes. It is closer to criticism as in critics of TV or movies than to backbiting I think.

    Backbiting is private behind someones back — obviously. This is a public discussion about a public presentation. We do not hide here in fact we stick our necks out for anyone to take a whack at. It might be foolish but its not backbiting.

    Cheers,
    Frank

  • Amanda

    Lee, was your statement that I had "anger issues" backbiting? Is it only backbiting if you disagree with the assessment?

  • Amanda

    Lee, was your statement that I had "anger issues" backbiting? Is it only backbiting if you disagree with the assessment?

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/kaweah Dan Jensen

    That would be tre cool, Norma. I would love to see Oprah declare. I consider it highly unlikely, but don't think that's because I wouldn't like to see Oprah encounter the Baha'i establishment as a committed believer.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/kaweah Dan Jensen

    That would be tre cool, Norma. I would love to see Oprah declare. I consider it highly unlikely, but don't think that's because I wouldn't like to see Oprah encounter the Baha'i establishment as a committed believer.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/kaweah Dan Jensen

    Well said, Frank. I'd just like to add that I (for one) am not even sure that I'm criticizing Rainn Wilson. I cannot say that I trust him or understand him, but I think his enthusiasm for the arts as a spiritual expression is something that ought not be ridiculed; it ought to be admired and pursued.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/kaweah Dan Jensen

    Well said, Frank. I'd just like to add that I (for one) am not even sure that I'm criticizing Rainn Wilson. I cannot say that I trust him or understand him, but I think his enthusiasm for the arts as a spiritual expression is something that ought not be ridiculed; it ought to be admired and pursued.

  • farhan

    Frank wrote: I think one of the reasons the faith has not spread more deeply is the lack of creative, charismatic leaders who where also completely sane. The leaders I knew during my active Baha'i years pushed back more often than they reached out.

    This is a great question to me; my hunch is that individual and charismatic leadership must entirely disappear in the Baha’i era to be replaced by servitude towards human values and harmonisation of efforts through a collegial administrative system. Here is one source of reflection

    The whole Institute Process aims at empowering each individual, at grass roots, providing means to each and every citizen to acquire skills that make him independent of others in enterprise and action. It is an anti guru system, something to do with the promised �Great Reversal� when the haughty will be abased and the humble raised.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    Frank wrote: I think one of the reasons the faith has not spread more deeply is the lack of creative, charismatic leaders who where also completely sane. The leaders I knew during my active Baha'i years pushed back more often than they reached out.

    This is a great question to me; my hunch is that individual and charismatic leadership must entirely disappear in the Baha’i era to be replaced by servitude towards human values and harmonisation of efforts through a collegial administrative system. Here is one source of reflection

    The whole Institute Process aims at empowering each individual, at grass roots, providing means to each and every citizen to acquire skills that make him independent of others in enterprise and action. It is an anti guru system, something to do with the promised �Great Reversal� when the haughty will be abased and the humble raised.

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/Frank_Winters Frank_Winters

    There is an article on Dylan wrtitten by Alex Beam in today's Boston Globe.

    All about how the academics think Dylan is someone deserving of respect. Cambridge University Press is publishing "The Cambridge Companion to Bob Dylan." Dylan took the mantel from James Dean who got it from Kerouac. Dylan still wears it but more lightly now — and he has the benefit of still being alive!

    Did you see the interview a few years ago on 60 minutes? I think Dylan was asked why he keeps touring and performing — his answer was that he had made a pact with God. Now that Tibet is hampered we need Dylan to keep up good relations with God, don't we?

    Once Dylan declares he will go on Oprah and that's when she will declare as well. Its all in the Tablet of the Ancient Mariner, did you but know.

    BTW I read an interview with Rúhíyyih Khánum some years back and came away thinking that she really was in love with the AO and ritual. She called it being a basic Baha'i — as opposed to a mystical one. I think she would be comfortable with the authoritarian aspects of modern Baha'i because she and many of the leaders of her time believed that strict obedience and keeping the party line was the most important part of Baha'i — all for the sake of unity of course.

    Here is a fine example of Dylan in a spiritual mood. He captures some of what a lot of us walking around stiffs feel, I think:

    In the time of my confession, in the hour of my deepest need
    When the pool of tears beneath my feet flood every newborn seed
    There's a dyin' voice within me reaching out somewhere,
    Toiling in the danger and in the morals of despair.

    Don't have the inclination to look back on any mistake,
    Like Cain, I now behold this chain of events that I must break.
    In the fury of the moment I can see the Master's hand
    In every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand.

    Oh, the flowers of indulgence and the weeds of yesteryear,
    Like criminals, they have choked the breath of conscience and good cheer.
    The sun beat down upon the steps of time to light the way
    To ease the pain of idleness and the memory of decay.

    I gaze into the doorway of temptation's angry flame
    And every time I pass that way I always hear my name.
    Then onward in my journey I come to understand
    That every hair is numbered like every grain of sand.

    I have gone from rags to riches in the sorrow of the night
    In the violence of a summer's dream, in the chill of a wintry light,
    In the bitter dance of loneliness fading into space,
    In the broken mirror of innocence on each forgotten face.

    I hear the ancient footsteps like the motion of the sea
    Sometimes I turn, there's someone there, other times it's only me.
    I am hanging in the balance of the reality of man
    Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand.

    Peace Brother Craig — enjoy the Jack (saw his scroll in Lowell near where I live — he is still on the road, just dead that's all.)

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/Frank_Winters Frank_Winters

    There is an article on Dylan wrtitten by Alex Beam in today's Boston Globe.

    All about how the academics think Dylan is someone deserving of respect. Cambridge University Press is publishing "The Cambridge Companion to Bob Dylan." Dylan took the mantel from James Dean who got it from Kerouac. Dylan still wears it but more lightly now — and he has the benefit of still being alive!

    Did you see the interview a few years ago on 60 minutes? I think Dylan was asked why he keeps touring and performing — his answer was that he had made a pact with God. Now that Tibet is hampered we need Dylan to keep up good relations with God, don't we?

    Once Dylan declares he will go on Oprah and that's when she will declare as well. Its all in the Tablet of the Ancient Mariner, did you but know.

    BTW I read an interview with Rúhíyyih Khánum some years back and came away thinking that she really was in love with the AO and ritual. She called it being a basic Baha'i — as opposed to a mystical one. I think she would be comfortable with the authoritarian aspects of modern Baha'i because she and many of the leaders of her time believed that strict obedience and keeping the party line was the most important part of Baha'i — all for the sake of unity of course.

    Here is a fine example of Dylan in a spiritual mood. He captures some of what a lot of us walking around stiffs feel, I think:

    In the time of my confession, in the hour of my deepest need
    When the pool of tears beneath my feet flood every newborn seed
    There's a dyin' voice within me reaching out somewhere,
    Toiling in the danger and in the morals of despair.

    Don't have the inclination to look back on any mistake,
    Like Cain, I now behold this chain of events that I must break.
    In the fury of the moment I can see the Master's hand
    In every leaf that trembles, in every grain of sand.

    Oh, the flowers of indulgence and the weeds of yesteryear,
    Like criminals, they have choked the breath of conscience and good cheer.
    The sun beat down upon the steps of time to light the way
    To ease the pain of idleness and the memory of decay.

    I gaze into the doorway of temptation's angry flame
    And every time I pass that way I always hear my name.
    Then onward in my journey I come to understand
    That every hair is numbered like every grain of sand.

    I have gone from rags to riches in the sorrow of the night
    In the violence of a summer's dream, in the chill of a wintry light,
    In the bitter dance of loneliness fading into space,
    In the broken mirror of innocence on each forgotten face.

    I hear the ancient footsteps like the motion of the sea
    Sometimes I turn, there's someone there, other times it's only me.
    I am hanging in the balance of the reality of man
    Like every sparrow falling, like every grain of sand.

    Peace Brother Craig — enjoy the Jack (saw his scroll in Lowell near where I live — he is still on the road, just dead that's all.)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/kaweah Dan Jensen

    That link didn't work for me, Frank.

    I bet you didn't know the inner significance of this verse:

    "Sometimes I turn, there's someone there, other times it's only me. "

    Clearly this indicates that in one respect, Bob is God.
    "God Dylan," as my son once said.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/kaweah Dan Jensen

    That link didn't work for me, Frank.

    I bet you didn't know the inner significance of this verse:

    "Sometimes I turn, there's someone there, other times it's only me. "

    Clearly this indicates that in one respect, Bob is God.
    "God Dylan," as my son once said.

  • Craig Parke

    Exactly. If a current or former member of the UHJ gives a 10,000 hour public speech on every little pet belief they have on every topic in the known and unknown Universe and how they personally interpret every single jot and tittle of everything Shoghi Effendi ever wrote or someone ever thought he wrote, that is fair game. That is public discussion of a piblic speech. Welcome to the Internet. The only protection for anyone over the next 1,000 years is (1) Actual competence in deeds not mere words and (2) Thinking before you open your mouth.

    That is about it. Welcome to the World age on cable broadband.

  • Craig Parke

    Exactly. If a current or former member of the UHJ gives a 10,000 hour public speech on every little pet belief they have on every topic in the known and unknown Universe and how they personally interpret every single jot and tittle of everything Shoghi Effendi ever wrote or someone ever thought he wrote, that is fair game. That is public discussion of a piblic speech. Welcome to the Internet. The only protection for anyone over the next 1,000 years is (1) Actual competence in deeds not mere words and (2) Thinking before you open your mouth.

    That is about it. Welcome to the World age on cable broadband.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/kaweah Dan Jensen

    Farhan, you may indeed know Rainn Wilson's inner motivations better than I do, but I am inclined to doubt that he is not still in the 1970s. He sounds like a walking time capsule to me.

    Oh, I nearly missed that. Farhan is trying harder to express his passion to others than Dan is. That’s quite a startling insight. :-)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/kaweah Dan Jensen

    Farhan, you may indeed know Rainn Wilson's inner motivations better than I do, but I am inclined to doubt that he is not still in the 1970s. He sounds like a walking time capsule to me.

    Oh, I nearly missed that. Farhan is trying harder to express his passion to others than Dan is. That’s quite a startling insight. :-)

  • Craig Parke

    Glad to see Lewis Mumford mentioned on here! A great man. Farhan, the Baha'is have contributed absolutely nothing whatsoever to help prevent the destruction of the world. In fact they sit on the sidelines in every event of world history for the last 100 years and cheer for total destruction so everyone will become Baha'i. No one is going to ever join or stay in a religion that is that dysfunctional and remote from the life and death issues facing the human race. The Baha'is have contributed absolutely nothing. I think at some point they will. But not for another 500-1000 years if that. The only chance will be with the rise of the Internet and people not yet born who will read Baha'u'llah independent of the AO top down control on the interpretation of the Writings.

    But by then the human race will have implemented all these ideas anyway on their own without the Baha'is just as it is today.

    It is called "independent investigation of competence".

  • Craig Parke

    Glad to see Lewis Mumford mentioned on here! A great man. Farhan, the Baha'is have contributed absolutely nothing whatsoever to help prevent the destruction of the world. In fact they sit on the sidelines in every event of world history for the last 100 years and cheer for total destruction so everyone will become Baha'i. No one is going to ever join or stay in a religion that is that dysfunctional and remote from the life and death issues facing the human race. The Baha'is have contributed absolutely nothing. I think at some point they will. But not for another 500-1000 years if that. The only chance will be with the rise of the Internet and people not yet born who will read Baha'u'llah independent of the AO top down control on the interpretation of the Writings.

    But by then the human race will have implemented all these ideas anyway on their own without the Baha'is just as it is today.

    It is called "independent investigation of competence".

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/Frank_Winters Frank_Winters

    Try this one Dan:

    Re Dylan as God —

    In Shelter from the Storm he writes:
    "In a little hilltop village, they gambled for my clothes
    I bargained for salvation an' they gave me a lethal dose.
    I offered up my innocence and got repaid with scorn.
    "Come in," she said,
    "I'll give you shelter from the storm."

    That was after his fans almost loved him dead.

    In All Along the Watchtower he writes:
    "Businessmen they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth, none of them along the line know what any of it is worth"

    Written after his near death experience via motorcycle. But still you'd think he would have learned not to do that. (Jimmy Hendricks carried a notebook full of Dylan lyrics and songs — did a magnificent cover of Watchtower.)

    So he — like many in history — speaks with God's voice sometimes. God's voice is always that of a mortal near as I can tell.

    In the case of Grain of Sand I don't read it the way you do. The ancient footsteps refer to the spirit world, God maybe, but when he turns around he is sometimes lonely and disapointed — as we all are sometimes especially if we rely on God. In fact if we think God is anywhere but in our heats we will be disapointed every time.

    So I think no matter how you read this song, Dylan's voice rings true. Does for me anyway.

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/Frank_Winters Frank_Winters

    Try this one Dan:

    Re Dylan as God —

    In Shelter from the Storm he writes:
    "In a little hilltop village, they gambled for my clothes
    I bargained for salvation an' they gave me a lethal dose.
    I offered up my innocence and got repaid with scorn.
    "Come in," she said,
    "I'll give you shelter from the storm."

    That was after his fans almost loved him dead.

    In All Along the Watchtower he writes:
    "Businessmen they drink my wine, plowmen dig my earth, none of them along the line know what any of it is worth"

    Written after his near death experience via motorcycle. But still you'd think he would have learned not to do that. (Jimmy Hendricks carried a notebook full of Dylan lyrics and songs — did a magnificent cover of Watchtower.)

    So he — like many in history — speaks with God's voice sometimes. God's voice is always that of a mortal near as I can tell.

    In the case of Grain of Sand I don't read it the way you do. The ancient footsteps refer to the spirit world, God maybe, but when he turns around he is sometimes lonely and disapointed — as we all are sometimes especially if we rely on God. In fact if we think God is anywhere but in our heats we will be disapointed every time.

    So I think no matter how you read this song, Dylan's voice rings true. Does for me anyway.

  • Lee

    I said it right to your face I didn't backbite it. big difference. you read it reply to it.

  • Lee

    I said it right to your face I didn't backbite it. big difference. you read it reply to it.

  • pey

    Uh, this is an open site for ALL to read, so how is it backbiting? Rainn or whoever can come in and participate any time they feel like. Again, you are wrong Lee.

  • pey

    Uh, this is an open site for ALL to read, so how is it backbiting? Rainn or whoever can come in and participate any time they feel like. Again, you are wrong Lee.

  • Craig Parke

    Good Morning everyone! Weather here is warming up. I'm spending the weekend re-reading "On The Road". It is 1947 and World War II is just over. Betty Page in the 1950's and the incredible energy of the 1960's is still to come. Black and white television and Playhouse 90 is still yet to come. Young faces at the Actor's Studio in NYC of the 1950's just becoming aware of the possibilities of the search and exploration of life all guns blazing. For the weekend all those energies not yet born. All things still unknown and latent. I will be back in time "On the Road."

    Here is some morning maniac music for you.

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

    Peace Out to all my brothers and sisters.

  • Craig Parke

    Good Morning everyone! Weather here is warming up. I'm spending the weekend re-reading "On The Road". It is 1947 and World War II is just over. Betty Page in the 1950's and the incredible energy of the 1960's is still to come. Black and white television and Playhouse 90 is still yet to come. Young faces at the Actor's Studio in NYC of the 1950's just becoming aware of the possibilities of the search and exploration of life all guns blazing. For the weekend all those energies not yet born. All things still unknown and latent. I will be back in time "On the Road."

    Here is some morning maniac music for you.

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

    Peace Out to all my brothers and sisters.

  • Grover

    The Indians (not the American kind) are buggered then aren't they? No more eating with their hands.

  • Grover

    The Indians (not the American kind) are buggered then aren't they? No more eating with their hands.

  • sonja

    "Although the secretaries of the Guardian convey his thoughts and instructions and these messages are authoritative, their words are in no sense the same as his, their style certainly not the same, and their authority less, for they use their own terms and not his exact words in conveying his messages."
    (25 February 1951 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles)

    In response to the above, there are some clear cases where Shoghi Effendi obviously didn't read and approve the letters because of obvious contradictations in the letters and I've pointed these out elsewhere on this blog (for example one letter states that there is no known 'age of consent' for marriage, when clearly Shoghi Effendi would have known this).
    It would be good one day if someone could do some research on just how many letters Shoghi Effendi clearly approved or didn't. The reference indicating that he had some problems with some of his secretaries indicates that letters could have gone out without his approval. At least the following makes it clear that only letters clearly marked by Shoghi Effendi were counted in this particular book.

    (see: “In 1979, Mr. Hainsworth wrote:
    (in his foreword to Principles of Bahai administration)

    Prior to April 1941 when Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum began to write to the British Bahá'ís on behalf of the Guardian, he had had few helpers and his secretaries had caused him much suffering. Their names are not mentioned in this book and only their letters which carried the Guardian's handwriting as a footnote or contained words which indicated they were writing as instructed by him have been used. (p. xvii)
    (The Universal House of Justice, 1996 Oct 22, Authentication and Authority)”)

    and it would also be useful to know which letters these secretaries sent out.

    However this is not an issue if one doesn't treat the “authority” referred to above as if this is like Bahai scripture.

  • sonja

    "Although the secretaries of the Guardian convey his thoughts and instructions and these messages are authoritative, their words are in no sense the same as his, their style certainly not the same, and their authority less, for they use their own terms and not his exact words in conveying his messages."
    (25 February 1951 to the National Spiritual Assembly of the British Isles)

    In response to the above, there are some clear cases where Shoghi Effendi obviously didn't read and approve the letters because of obvious contradictations in the letters and I've pointed these out elsewhere on this blog (for example one letter states that there is no known 'age of consent' for marriage, when clearly Shoghi Effendi would have known this).
    It would be good one day if someone could do some research on just how many letters Shoghi Effendi clearly approved or didn't. The reference indicating that he had some problems with some of his secretaries indicates that letters could have gone out without his approval. At least the following makes it clear that only letters clearly marked by Shoghi Effendi were counted in this particular book.

    (see: “In 1979, Mr. Hainsworth wrote:
    (in his foreword to Principles of Bahai administration)

    Prior to April 1941 when Amatu'l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum began to write to the British Bahá'ís on behalf of the Guardian, he had had few helpers and his secretaries had caused him much suffering. Their names are not mentioned in this book and only their letters which carried the Guardian's handwriting as a footnote or contained words which indicated they were writing as instructed by him have been used. (p. xvii)
    (The Universal House of Justice, 1996 Oct 22, Authentication and Authority)”)

    and it would also be useful to know which letters these secretaries sent out.

    However this is not an issue if one doesn't treat the “authority” referred to above as if this is like Bahai scripture.

  • http://www.sonjavank.blogspot.com sonjavank

    So we need to ask ourselves what type of “authority” is meant in these letters. Is it the authority to instruct NSAs, etc, operating in his role as a guardian as head of the Bahai Faith at the time?
    Is it “authority” to defne Bahai law?
    The guardian didn't have this authority, and so of course, secretaries wouldn't have this either.
    Or is it authority as interpretor of the Bahai Writings? That is the guardian in his role as the Guardian. The last question is the tricky one to answer.

    We know when he had important things to say, he wrote book such as, “The Dispensation of Baha'ullah” (a book about the essential verities of the Bahai writings). So we need to ask, was it ever his practice to do this, that is to use his position as interpretor, through a secretary?
    It seems unlikely because when he defines terms in the Bahai writings, he does this with great care. Just look at his own words and the way he phrases things. The whole approach is very different to any of the many many letters written on his behalf. Sen wrote an article on this issue which is here:
    http://bahai-library.com/articles/fazel.interpret

    Amanda wrote “But I don't find any evidence for those opinions in the "authoritative writings," themselves.”

    It seems that you are treating the letters on behalf of Shoghi Effendi as authoritative in the 2 or 3 ways I mention above while I only treat these as authoritative in the first way.

  • sonja

    So we need to ask ourselves what type of “authority” is meant in these letters. Is it the authority to instruct NSAs, etc, operating in his role as a guardian as head of the Bahai Faith at the time?
    Is it “authority” to defne Bahai law?
    The guardian didn't have this authority, and so of course, secretaries wouldn't have this either.
    Or is it authority as interpretor of the Bahai Writings? That is the guardian in his role as the Guardian. The last question is the tricky one to answer.

    We know when he had important things to say, he wrote book such as, “The Dispensation of Baha'ullah” (a book about the essential verities of the Bahai writings). So we need to ask, was it ever his practice to do this, that is to use his position as interpretor, through a secretary?
    It seems unlikely because when he defines terms in the Bahai writings, he does this with great care. Just look at his own words and the way he phrases things. The whole approach is very different to any of the many many letters written on his behalf. Sen wrote an article on this issue which is here:
    http://bahai-library.com/articles/fazel.interpret

    Amanda wrote “But I don't find any evidence for those opinions in the "authoritative writings," themselves.”

    It seems that you are treating the letters on behalf of Shoghi Effendi as authoritative in the 2 or 3 ways I mention above while I only treat these as authoritative in the first way.

  • sonja

    So that we can move forward in our discussion let's focus on your comment:

    “The Aqdas itself doesn't. The "scripture" itself doesn't.”

    What do you mean by this? I mean give me a quotation from the Aqdas, the actual text? I am not being dishonest by only accepting the authentic texts of The Bab, Baha'ullah, 'Adbul-Baha's as Bahai scripture but because this is Bahai Teaching. See:
    “Thou has written concerning the pilgrims and pilgrims' note. Any narrative that is not authenticated by a Text should not be trusted. Narratives, even if true, cause confusion. For the people of Baha, the Text, and only the Text, is authentic."
    ('Abdu'l-Bahá: from a previously untranslated tablet, in Lights of Guidance, p. 438)”

    Of course you could ask, what is meant by “Text”, put in capitals by the translator. I've searched around for other examples which state what Bahai Scripture actually is but can only find this mentioned in letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, which would make my argument circular if I rely on these as my only evidence. I'm sorry I don't have any more time to keep looking. I hope someone who reads this might have time to look for some examples and to post them. After all, as Bahais, we should have something somewhere that clearly states what is authentic Bahai Scripture.

    So I'll continue in my response to Amanda's comments.
    And then there's the question of translation, which I can't really go into without consulting or trusting translators opinions, but it is also an issue. Even something as simple as translating the word “rijal” (in Persian this means 'honoured ones') as 'men' and then to be interpreted as if this refers only to males.
    I guess I'm one of those Bahais who just won't give up on the idea that the Bahai Faith is more than what Ruhi classes tend to project :) Also one of those Bahais who thinks the Bahai Faith should allow for a great diversity of types of Bahais, including those like myself, who has yet to find anything in the Bahai Writings that is anti-gay. It is one thing to have a group of people with anti-gay attitudes developed out of not really questioning the implications of this in relation to the principle of equality and quite another issue if anti-gay attitudes were to be found somewhere in our scripture.

    So Amanda from my perspective, you are assuming “authority” to stuff 'Abdu'l-Bahá wouldn't assign authority to. If 'Abdu'l-Bahá didn't I am not going to. It isn't a case of taking a 'liberal' attitude, but rather an attitude that doesn't throw in bad eggs with good eggs and call the whole basket bad. I don't see a need to 'fuzz' on what is in Bahai scripture, instead if I come across something that doesn't seem to make sense to me, I need to dig deeper to see where that comes from, if there is support for this in Bahai Scripture and so on. There are certainly situations where one could then argue either way, and in those cases as Bahais we will need accept that in those cases a Bahai would have to choose for themselves, such as on the question of contraception.

    You mention something about 'Abdul-Bahai saying the women have to obey their husbands, an impossible situation if there is to be equality, so in response, I ask for the quotation and the context and we can then discuss this to see, first is this authentic? Then what was mostly like 'Abdul-Baha's intention in this case. I suggest this approach, because it is the context and the intent of the author concerned that gives a statement meaning, not what other's say it means. That's why I love the Bahai principle of independent investigation so much. It means we should never stop thinking for ourselves, never stop looking for understanding in our changing world/s.

    “This phenomenal world will not remain in an unchanging condition even
    for a short while. Second after second it undergoes change and
    transformation.”
    (Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 79)

  • sonja

    So that we can move forward in our discussion let's focus on your comment:

    “The Aqdas itself doesn't. The "scripture" itself doesn't.”

    What do you mean by this? I mean give me a quotation from the Aqdas, the actual text? I am not being dishonest by only accepting the authentic texts of The Bab, Baha'ullah, 'Adbul-Baha's as Bahai scripture but because this is Bahai Teaching. See:
    “Thou has written concerning the pilgrims and pilgrims' note. Any narrative that is not authenticated by a Text should not be trusted. Narratives, even if true, cause confusion. For the people of Baha, the Text, and only the Text, is authentic."
    ('Abdu'l-Bahá: from a previously untranslated tablet, in Lights of Guidance, p. 438)”

    Of course you could ask, what is meant by “Text”, put in capitals by the translator. I've searched around for other examples which state what Bahai Scripture actually is but can only find this mentioned in letters written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, which would make my argument circular if I rely on these as my only evidence. I'm sorry I don't have any more time to keep looking. I hope someone who reads this might have time to look for some examples and to post them. After all, as Bahais, we should have something somewhere that clearly states what is authentic Bahai Scripture.

    So I'll continue in my response to Amanda's comments.
    And then there's the question of translation, which I can't really go into without consulting or trusting translators opinions, but it is also an issue. Even something as simple as translating the word “rijal” (in Persian this means 'honoured ones') as 'men' and then to be interpreted as if this refers only to males.
    I guess I'm one of those Bahais who just won't give up on the idea that the Bahai Faith is more than what Ruhi classes tend to project :) Also one of those Bahais who thinks the Bahai Faith should allow for a great diversity of types of Bahais, including those like myself, who has yet to find anything in the Bahai Writings that is anti-gay. It is one thing to have a group of people with anti-gay attitudes developed out of not really questioning the implications of this in relation to the principle of equality and quite another issue if anti-gay attitudes were to be found somewhere in our scripture.

    So Amanda from my perspective, you are assuming “authority” to stuff 'Abdu'l-Bahá wouldn't assign authority to. If 'Abdu'l-Bahá didn't I am not going to. It isn't a case of taking a 'liberal' attitude, but rather an attitude that doesn't throw in bad eggs with good eggs and call the whole basket bad. I don't see a need to 'fuzz' on what is in Bahai scripture, instead if I come across something that doesn't seem to make sense to me, I need to dig deeper to see where that comes from, if there is support for this in Bahai Scripture and so on. There are certainly situations where one could then argue either way, and in those cases as Bahais we will need accept that in those cases a Bahai would have to choose for themselves, such as on the question of contraception.

    You mention something about 'Abdul-Bahai saying the women have to obey their husbands, an impossible situation if there is to be equality, so in response, I ask for the quotation and the context and we can then discuss this to see, first is this authentic? Then what was mostly like 'Abdul-Baha's intention in this case. I suggest this approach, because it is the context and the intent of the author concerned that gives a statement meaning, not what other's say it means. That's why I love the Bahai principle of independent investigation so much. It means we should never stop thinking for ourselves, never stop looking for understanding in our changing world/s.

    “This phenomenal world will not remain in an unchanging condition even
    for a short while. Second after second it undergoes change and
    transformation.”
    (Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 79)

  • sonja

    And on a final note: I found the following quotation which reaffrims for me the importance of context. The reference to “authority” has quite a different meaning now we see the rest of the same letter. Of course, I am not relying on the “authority” of the following letter in any scriptural sense, but rather as “authority” as an instruction for an NSA.

    “I wish to call your attention to certain things in "Principles of Bahá'í Administration" which has just reached the Guardian; although the material is good, he feels that the complete lack of quotation marks is very misleading. His own words, the words of his various secretaries, even the Words of Bahá'u'lláh Himself, are all lumped together as one text. This is not only not reverent in the case of Bahá'u'lláh's Words, but misleading. Although the secretaries of the Guardian convey his thoughts and instructions and these messages are authoritative, their words are in no sense the same as his, their style certainly not the same, and their authority less, for they use their own terms and not his exact words in conveying his messages. He feels that in any future edition this fault should be remedied, any quotations from Bahá'u'lláh or the Master plainly attributed to them, and the words of the Guardian clearly differentiated from those of his secretaries.

    (A Letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 25 Feb, 1951, published in The Unfolding Destiny of the British Baha'i Community, p. 260)

  • sonja

    And on a final note: I found the following quotation which reaffrims for me the importance of context. The reference to “authority” has quite a different meaning now we see the rest of the same letter. Of course, I am not relying on the “authority” of the following letter in any scriptural sense, but rather as “authority” as an instruction for an NSA.

    “I wish to call your attention to certain things in "Principles of Bahá'í Administration" which has just reached the Guardian; although the material is good, he feels that the complete lack of quotation marks is very misleading. His own words, the words of his various secretaries, even the Words of Bahá'u'lláh Himself, are all lumped together as one text. This is not only not reverent in the case of Bahá'u'lláh's Words, but misleading. Although the secretaries of the Guardian convey his thoughts and instructions and these messages are authoritative, their words are in no sense the same as his, their style certainly not the same, and their authority less, for they use their own terms and not his exact words in conveying his messages. He feels that in any future edition this fault should be remedied, any quotations from Bahá'u'lláh or the Master plainly attributed to them, and the words of the Guardian clearly differentiated from those of his secretaries.

    (A Letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 25 Feb, 1951, published in The Unfolding Destiny of the British Baha'i Community, p. 260)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/SteveMarshall SteveMarshall

    And it certainly is not healthy that current UHJ members all come from a pool of those they appointed onto the ITC. It is not healthy, not a good example of openness for new blood or diversity, but it is still a democratic system.

    …like Zimbabwe, the People's Republic of China and The Sudan. Wiki – elections by country

    Indirect, or even direct, elections do not make a democracy. Check out the democracy index.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/SteveMarshall SteveMarshall

    And it certainly is not healthy that current UHJ members all come from a pool of those they appointed onto the ITC. It is not healthy, not a good example of openness for new blood or diversity, but it is still a democratic system.

    …like Zimbabwe, the People's Republic of China and The Sudan. Wiki – elections by country

    Indirect, or even direct, elections do not make a democracy. Check out the democracy index.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/SteveMarshall SteveMarshall

    Farhan, you invited the comparison. I would have said the same thing as Pey, but he beat me to it.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/SteveMarshall SteveMarshall

    Farhan, you invited the comparison. I would have said the same thing as Pey, but he beat me to it.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/SteveMarshall SteveMarshall

    Dealing with people, such as you, who find their own way to Baha'i is a bit tricky. We have a systematically-developed recruitment process — one that has been refined over several decades — and we prefer to get members that way.

    Shoghi Effendi (you'll be introduced to him soon) said:

    Baha'is do not believe in the suppression of the teaching process but in its regulation and control.
    (Shoghi Effendi: A Chaste and Holy Life, Page: 56)

    Actually, he was talking about the sex impulse, but the principle is the same.

    Moving right along. It means that we don't like to leave conversion up to chance. Any other conversion process can be somewhat haphazard and it can introduce unwanted, untimely and unsequenced ideas. We don't want that.

    What we do is take you through the recruitment process anyway, under the guise of confirming that you really do understand what you're getting yourself into. It means you have to sit through something called Anna's Presentation.

    No, I think you mis-heard me. …"Anna's".

    Ha, Ha. No, definitely not that. It's my NZ accent I fear! A-N-N-A-apostrophe-S.

    Oh, I'm glad we could clear that up.

    Now, don't worry, Anna's Presentation is more of the same sanitized pablum, except, …uh, how do you feel about the concept of God?

    Good. Rather than me explaining any further, you can read about how another self-recruited Baha'i was inducted.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/SteveMarshall SteveMarshall

    Dealing with people, such as you, who find their own way to Baha'i is a bit tricky. We have a systematically-developed recruitment process — one that has been refined over several decades — and we prefer to get members that way.

    Shoghi Effendi (you'll be introduced to him soon) said:

    Baha'is do not believe in the suppression of the teaching process but in its regulation and control.
    (Shoghi Effendi: A Chaste and Holy Life, Page: 56)

    Actually, he was talking about the sex impulse, but the principle is the same.

    Moving right along. It means that we don't like to leave conversion up to chance. Any other conversion process can be somewhat haphazard and it can introduce unwanted, untimely and unsequenced ideas. We don't want that.

    What we do is take you through the recruitment process anyway, under the guise of confirming that you really do understand what you're getting yourself into. It means you have to sit through something called Anna's Presentation.

    No, I think you mis-heard me. …"Anna's".

    Ha, Ha. No, definitely not that. It's my NZ accent I fear! A-N-N-A-apostrophe-S.

    Oh, I'm glad we could clear that up.

    Now, don't worry, Anna's Presentation is more of the same sanitized pablum, except, …uh, how do you feel about the concept of God?

    Good. Rather than me explaining any further, you can read about how another self-recruited Baha'i was inducted.

  • lee

    you address it to the person directly not saying it in the air and claiming that if he want he can hear it. backbiting IS in the air. according to your logic I go around spread roamers and say "oh well I am saying it out loud so if he wants he can hear it. come on use a mature logic! if you have something to say you say to the person not say it everyone else then let the public do the work for you and convey your message! there is a word for that oh yeah "backbiting".

  • lee

    you address it to the person directly not saying it in the air and claiming that if he want he can hear it. backbiting IS in the air. according to your logic I go around spread roamers and say "oh well I am saying it out loud so if he wants he can hear it. come on use a mature logic! if you have something to say you say to the person not say it everyone else then let the public do the work for you and convey your message! there is a word for that oh yeah "backbiting".

  • pey

    But what you said about Amanda you said publicly to everyone else. You said that she is angry in order to belittle her comments as unworthy of being heard. For the record no one here is backbiting agains Rainn. We are discussing if he actually covered the Faith correctly or at least fully when speaking on this show. That's all.

  • pey

    But what you said about Amanda you said publicly to everyone else. You said that she is angry in order to belittle her comments as unworthy of being heard. For the record no one here is backbiting agains Rainn. We are discussing if he actually covered the Faith correctly or at least fully when speaking on this show. That's all.

  • Rebekah

    Ruhi, and the Baha'i Faith is whatever you make of it.

    That's the amazing thing about it.

    There's so much criticism. From ex-Baha'is etc. It's like this, I don't agree, doing it all wrong, in reality it's such and such a way.

    It's still very new, and there is so much potential people can embrace and explore to make this Faith, for them, a truly dynamic, creative and inspirational experience.

    Much aroha <3

    (keep up with good vibes!!)

  • Rebekah

    Ruhi, and the Baha'i Faith is whatever you make of it.

    That's the amazing thing about it.

    There's so much criticism. From ex-Baha'is etc. It's like this, I don't agree, doing it all wrong, in reality it's such and such a way.

    It's still very new, and there is so much potential people can embrace and explore to make this Faith, for them, a truly dynamic, creative and inspirational experience.

    Much aroha <3

    (keep up with good vibes!!)

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/kaweah Dan Jensen

    "Ruhi, and the Baha'i Faith is whatever you make of it. "

    Rebekah, did mean to make the Baha'i Faith sound like an extension of Ruhi?

    But you're right. One is certainly free to define "the Baha'i Faith" however one wishes to define it; but of course in doing so one risks being tossed out of the BIGS group and one also risks being sued for trademark infringement by the US-NSA.

    But keep it to yourself and you'll be fine.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/kaweah Dan Jensen

    "Ruhi, and the Baha'i Faith is whatever you make of it. "

    Rebekah, did mean to make the Baha'i Faith sound like an extension of Ruhi?

    But you're right. One is certainly free to define "the Baha'i Faith" however one wishes to define it; but of course in doing so one risks being tossed out of the BIGS group and one also risks being sued for trademark infringement by the US-NSA.

    But keep it to yourself and you'll be fine.

  • farhan

    RebeKah wrote : Ruhi, and the Baha'i Faith is whatever you make of it. __That's the amazing thing about it.

    Rebekah, the whole of God’s revelation is what each of us makes of it. When we study the writings deeply with other people, discuss, share and delve into the hidden meanings, we discover the pearls that are hidden in them. The institute process is very special activity: it is a course that enables each and every one of us, if we are at least literate, to become a teacher of the Faith and help others acquire a basic understanding of the important teachings, and help others become teachers themselves

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    RebeKah wrote : Ruhi, and the Baha'i Faith is whatever you make of it. __That's the amazing thing about it.

    Rebekah, the whole of God’s revelation is what each of us makes of it. When we study the writings deeply with other people, discuss, share and delve into the hidden meanings, we discover the pearls that are hidden in them. The institute process is very special activity: it is a course that enables each and every one of us, if we are at least literate, to become a teacher of the Faith and help others acquire a basic understanding of the important teachings, and help others become teachers themselves

  • farhan

    Steve wrote: Farhan, you invited the comparison. I would have said the same thing as Pey, but he beat me to it.

    Interesting point f view; you must show me the similarities between a future Baha'i commonwealth and the present IRI

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    Steve wrote: Farhan, you invited the comparison. I would have said the same thing as Pey, but he beat me to it.

    Interesting point f view; you must show me the similarities between a future Baha'i commonwealth and the present IRI

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/SteveMarshall SteveMarshall

    I'm pretty sure I've already talked about the similarities here. Perhaps you missed the post. Just off the top of my head – lack of due process, removal by administrative fiat, top-down decision-making over security and threat issues, scapegoating, whispering campaigns. That's just the start, and I've directly experienced all of those things. Needless to say, I didn't need to wait for a Baha'i commonwealth. That stuff happend to me and Alison around 2001. And it's well documented.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/SteveMarshall SteveMarshall

    I'm pretty sure I've already talked about the similarities here. Perhaps you missed the post. Just off the top of my head – lack of due process, removal by administrative fiat, top-down decision-making over security and threat issues, scapegoating, whispering campaigns. That's just the start, and I've directly experienced all of those things. Needless to say, I didn't need to wait for a Baha'i commonwealth. That stuff happend to me and Alison around 2001. And it's well documented.

  • farhan

    Steve wrote : lack of due process, removal by administrative fiat, top-down decision-making over security and threat issues, scapegoating, whispering campaigns…. That stuff happend to me and Alison around 2001. And it's well documented.

    Steve, I truly sympathise with whatever you might have undergone at the hands of my fellow Baha’is, and as the central figures of our Faith have so often pointed out, our greatest tests come from our friends and not from our foes. Your deception and frustration, however justified, seems to have blinded you, and you are obviously are not aware of what Iranians are living under the IRI.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    Steve wrote : lack of due process, removal by administrative fiat, top-down decision-making over security and threat issues, scapegoating, whispering campaigns…. That stuff happend to me and Alison around 2001. And it's well documented.

    Steve, I truly sympathise with whatever you might have undergone at the hands of my fellow Baha’is, and as the central figures of our Faith have so often pointed out, our greatest tests come from our friends and not from our foes. Your deception and frustration, however justified, seems to have blinded you, and you are obviously are not aware of what Iranians are living under the IRI.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/SteveMarshall SteveMarshall

    Iranians – Baha'is, gays, communists, Kurds, women and the rest – are facing the lack of due process, removal by administrative fiat, top-down decision-making over security and threat issues, scapegoating and whispering campaigns. The only difference I can see is that the state wields coercive power, and often uses it.

    In the early 80s I took in three Iranian Baha'i refugees. Two were from Gombad and one was from Shiraz. They lived with me until they were reasonably settled and acculturated. I forget how long – perhaps a year, maybe more. I have a reasonable idea what they went through. I know what scars they carried.

    What Alison and I went through was at the hands of the Universal House of Justice. I thank God that the institution, in its current embryonic form, lacks the coercive power of the IRI.

    So don't tell me I'm blinded and "not aware of what Iranians are living under the IRI" unless you can back it up.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/SteveMarshall SteveMarshall

    Iranians – Baha'is, gays, communists, Kurds, women and the rest – are facing the lack of due process, removal by administrative fiat, top-down decision-making over security and threat issues, scapegoating and whispering campaigns. The only difference I can see is that the state wields coercive power, and often uses it.

    In the early 80s I took in three Iranian Baha'i refugees. Two were from Gombad and one was from Shiraz. They lived with me until they were reasonably settled and acculturated. I forget how long – perhaps a year, maybe more. I have a reasonable idea what they went through. I know what scars they carried.

    What Alison and I went through was at the hands of the Universal House of Justice. I thank God that the institution, in its current embryonic form, lacks the coercive power of the IRI.

    So don't tell me I'm blinded and "not aware of what Iranians are living under the IRI" unless you can back it up.

  • farhan

    Steve wrote : I thank God that the institution, in its current embryonic form, lacks the coercive power of the IRI.

    Steve, one of my colleagues has been through the machinery of the IRI, and you are obviously unaware of the reality on which I will not insist. Since you refer to God, you can perhaps also refer to Him and have Faith that whatever grudge you might have against the present imperfections of individuals (like you and me) within the Baha’i community, the promise of a Golden Age so emphatically repeated throughout the ages will one day be accomplished, whether by us or by others.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    Steve wrote : I thank God that the institution, in its current embryonic form, lacks the coercive power of the IRI.

    Steve, one of my colleagues has been through the machinery of the IRI, and you are obviously unaware of the reality on which I will not insist. Since you refer to God, you can perhaps also refer to Him and have Faith that whatever grudge you might have against the present imperfections of individuals (like you and me) within the Baha’i community, the promise of a Golden Age so emphatically repeated throughout the ages will one day be accomplished, whether by us or by others.

  • farhan

    Steve wrote : I thank God that the institution, in its current embryonic form, lacks the coercive power of the IRI.

    Steve, one of my colleagues has been through the machinery of the IRI, and you are obviously unaware of the reality on which I will not insist. Since you refer to God, you can perhaps also refer to Him and have Faith that in spite of whatever grudge you might have against the present imperfections of individuals (like you and me) within the Baha’i community, the promise of a Golden Age so emphatically repeated throughout the ages will one day be accomplished, whether by us or by others.

  • http://www.intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    Steve wrote : I thank God that the institution, in its current embryonic form, lacks the coercive power of the IRI.

    Steve, one of my colleagues has been through the machinery of the IRI, and you are obviously unaware of the reality on which I will not insist. Since you refer to God, you can perhaps also refer to Him and have Faith that in spite of whatever grudge you might have against the present imperfections of individuals (like you and me) within the Baha’i community, the promise of a Golden Age so emphatically repeated throughout the ages will one day be accomplished, whether by us or by others.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/SteveMarshall SteveMarshall

    you are obviously unaware of the reality on which I will not insist

    Just more assertion, Farhan. What part of "the state wields coercive power, and often uses it." do you not understand? I'm quite aware of the vast numbers of people the IRI has killed, tortured, broken and exiled in the last 30 years. I'm aware that Baha'is have had their share of persecution, and that the Baha'is are now being tortured, harassed and imprisoned along with groups like the Kurds.

    But I don't need to convince you that the main difference between the Baha'i administration and the IRI in their dealings with internal dissidents is that the IRI has coercive powers at its disposal. I'm happy let others reading this dialogue decide who is making the most sense.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/SteveMarshall SteveMarshall

    you are obviously unaware of the reality on which I will not insist

    Just more assertion, Farhan. What part of "the state wields coercive power, and often uses it." do you not understand? I'm quite aware of the vast numbers of people the IRI has killed, tortured, broken and exiled in the last 30 years. I'm aware that Baha'is have had their share of persecution, and that the Baha'is are now being tortured, harassed and imprisoned along with groups like the Kurds.

    But I don't need to convince you that the main difference between the Baha'i administration and the IRI in their dealings with internal dissidents is that the IRI has coercive powers at its disposal. I'm happy let others reading this dialogue decide who is making the most sense.

  • pey

    Are you a bit dyslexic online Farhan, or do you choose to read inbetween the lines? Steve did not say anything about the imperfections of individuals who hurt him and his wife in the Faith. Oh, but yeah, you think the AO is perfect so you have to throw the blame on individual Bahais. Well guess what, individual Bahais make up the AO (including the UHJ).

  • pey

    Are you a bit dyslexic online Farhan, or do you choose to read inbetween the lines? Steve did not say anything about the imperfections of individuals who hurt him and his wife in the Faith. Oh, but yeah, you think the AO is perfect so you have to throw the blame on individual Bahais. Well guess what, individual Bahais make up the AO (including the UHJ).

  • farhan

    Pey wrote: Are you a bit dyslexic online Farhan, or do you choose to read inbetween the lines? Steve did not say anything about the imperfections of individuals who hurt him and his wife in the Faith

    Pey, I give my opinion, without necessarily opposing that of others.
    As to why people are no longer enrolled, I am neither informed, nor competent, nor authorised to comment on what happened to a particular person.

    All I know is that I read people openly and sincerely expressing their disbeliefs at a system of belief, and I respect their choices and at the same time respect the straightforward attitudes of a Faith which chooses to no longer count them as a believers.

    Most of my best friends are not Baha’is, express their disbelief concerning Baha’i beliefs, but would never compare the UHJ that they know I love and revere to the IRI. I would not offend them by counting them as Baha’is.
    I read people who do not believe that the UHJ expresses God’s will for our day and age. They not only tie their camel, but chain it down and express their disbelief on Faith, prayers, God and His religion. I still respect them, love them, but I believe it would be dishonest to count them as Baha’is.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    Pey wrote: Are you a bit dyslexic online Farhan, or do you choose to read inbetween the lines? Steve did not say anything about the imperfections of individuals who hurt him and his wife in the Faith

    Pey, I give my opinion, without necessarily opposing that of others.
    As to why people are no longer enrolled, I am neither informed, nor competent, nor authorised to comment on what happened to a particular person.

    All I know is that I read people openly and sincerely expressing their disbeliefs at a system of belief, and I respect their choices and at the same time respect the straightforward attitudes of a Faith which chooses to no longer count them as a believers.

    Most of my best friends are not Baha’is, express their disbelief concerning Baha’i beliefs, but would never compare the UHJ that they know I love and revere to the IRI. I would not offend them by counting them as Baha’is.
    I read people who do not believe that the UHJ expresses God’s will for our day and age. They not only tie their camel, but chain it down and express their disbelief on Faith, prayers, God and His religion. I still respect them, love them, but I believe it would be dishonest to count them as Baha’is.

  • farhan

    Steve wrote: the main difference between the Baha'i administration and the IRI in their dealings with internal dissidents is that the IRI has coercive powers at its disposal.

    Steve you are entitled to this opinion, diametrically opposed to mine. At the same time, if you reject a system of belief, the Baha’i AO must have the sincerity not to count you as a believer. You say they “whisper”, hence no one shouts; do they harass you, oblige you to recant, expel your kids from school, desecrate the resting place of your loved ones, destroy your houses, that you compare them to some totalitarian regime eagerly seeking coercive power to crush you??

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    Steve wrote: the main difference between the Baha'i administration and the IRI in their dealings with internal dissidents is that the IRI has coercive powers at its disposal.

    Steve you are entitled to this opinion, diametrically opposed to mine. At the same time, if you reject a system of belief, the Baha’i AO must have the sincerity not to count you as a believer. You say they “whisper”, hence no one shouts; do they harass you, oblige you to recant, expel your kids from school, desecrate the resting place of your loved ones, destroy your houses, that you compare them to some totalitarian regime eagerly seeking coercive power to crush you??

  • Sam

    Well done Rainn Wilson and Oprah Winfrey! Despite factual inaccuracies and a certain idealistic naivetë shared by both Wilson and Winfrey, in the popular appeal and lay accessibility of their conversation also lies its power. Wilson is an ordinary Bahá'í inspired by the basic tenets of his Faith, not a scholar of comparative religion or a Bahá'í apologetic trying to address the criticism of disgruntled former members – whether propelled by just grievances or blemished egos. Critiques which, by the way, are rather easy to refute by more comprehensive, analytical, profound and contextual study of its writings and its administrative order.

    Their probing little chat was one of love and compassion, of humour, tolerance, child-like curiosioty, spiritual longing and the desire to be of service to others. In short, it was religious in the truest sense of the word. Whatever it is that has inspired both of them, Bahá'í or not, is worthy not only of unbiased study but also of dissemination to others. It is precisely the sincerely inquisitive and positive orientation of both Wilson and Oprah that a deeply divided and disillusioned world could benefit from.

    The barrage of spiteful comments in this thread, on the other hand, offer a somewhat stark contrast to the loving discourse that took place between Wilson and Oprah. Whatever be their motive force, the “rants” in this forum are rather indicative of precisely the kind of vengeful spite and prejudice that all the great religious scriptures have sought to eliminate throughout the ages.

    Any fair-minded third person observer would rather follow whatever Wilson and Oprah represent than the acrimonious opinions put forward in this thread, no matter how delicately worded they may be. Any “balanced” view self-described as “an observation” that is spurred by an openly resentful sentiment is as biased as one borne of blind love, and to suggest otherwise is both irrational and unscientific.

  • Sam

    Well done Rainn Wilson and Oprah Winfrey! Despite factual inaccuracies and a certain idealistic naivetë shared by both Wilson and Winfrey, in the popular appeal and lay accessibility of their conversation also lies its power. Wilson is an ordinary Bahá'í inspired by the basic tenets of his Faith, not a scholar of comparative religion or a Bahá'í apologetic trying to address the criticism of disgruntled former members – whether propelled by just grievances or blemished egos. Critiques which, by the way, are rather easy to refute by more comprehensive, analytical, profound and contextual study of its writings and its administrative order.

    Their probing little chat was one of love and compassion, of humour, tolerance, child-like curiosioty, spiritual longing and the desire to be of service to others. In short, it was religious in the truest sense of the word. Whatever it is that has inspired both of them, Bahá'í or not, is worthy not only of unbiased study but also of dissemination to others. It is precisely the sincerely inquisitive and positive orientation of both Wilson and Oprah that a deeply divided and disillusioned world could benefit from.

    The barrage of spiteful comments in this thread, on the other hand, offer a somewhat stark contrast to the loving discourse that took place between Wilson and Oprah. Whatever be their motive force, the “rants” in this forum are rather indicative of precisely the kind of vengeful spite and prejudice that all the great religious scriptures have sought to eliminate throughout the ages.

    Any fair-minded third person observer would rather follow whatever Wilson and Oprah represent than the acrimonious opinions put forward in this thread, no matter how delicately worded they may be. Any “balanced” view self-described as “an observation” that is spurred by an openly resentful sentiment is as biased as one borne of blind love, and to suggest otherwise is both irrational and unscientific.

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

    "Fundamentalists never can just disagree. The person they fall out with is not only on the wrong side of an issue; they are on the wrong side of God."
    -Frank Schaeffer, Crazy For God Pp. 30

    (or "spiteful, vengeful, etc.") Consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of self-righteousness, outright contempt for inquiry, and trickery/logical fallacies if you can swing it?

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

    "Fundamentalists never can just disagree. The person they fall out with is not only on the wrong side of an issue; they are on the wrong side of God."
    -Frank Schaeffer, Crazy For God Pp. 30

    (or "spiteful, vengeful, etc.") Consort with the followers of all religions in a spirit of self-righteousness, outright contempt for inquiry, and trickery/logical fallacies if you can swing it?

  • Sam

    "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."

    -William Congreve (The Mourning Bride), a religious non-fundamentalist and a male chauvinist

  • Sam

    "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."

    -William Congreve (The Mourning Bride), a religious non-fundamentalist and a male chauvinist

  • fubar

    I am glad that some people still have faith in basic human decency and therefor labor under the illusion that bahai can be made "progressive" (can keep up with the leading edge of the evolution of consciousness on planet earth), but I see very little evidence of that actually happening.

    You are in deep denial about the backwardness of bahai.

    bahai belief is supposed to rest on a strong foundation of honesty, but it has become a house of cards built in lies and deception, dysfunctional centralized bureaucracy, and authoritarianism/fundamentalism/conformism.

    what happened to "seeking truth"?

    This is all explained by Jean Gebser, pioneer of integral theory, as "paradigm regression".

    bye!
    fubar
    (ex-bahai, 30+ years)

  • fubar

    I am glad that some people still have faith in basic human decency and therefor labor under the illusion that bahai can be made "progressive" (can keep up with the leading edge of the evolution of consciousness on planet earth), but I see very little evidence of that actually happening.

    You are in deep denial about the backwardness of bahai.

    bahai belief is supposed to rest on a strong foundation of honesty, but it has become a house of cards built in lies and deception, dysfunctional centralized bureaucracy, and authoritarianism/fundamentalism/conformism.

    what happened to "seeking truth"?

    This is all explained by Jean Gebser, pioneer of integral theory, as "paradigm regression".

    bye!
    fubar
    (ex-bahai, 30+ years)

  • fubar

    Sam,

    A predictable, dishonest, and empty debate tactic used by polemicists is to "bait" someone into making "angry' statements, then "flip the sh*t" onto them, implying that they are "spiritually inferior" for getting angry.

    You use of such a "tactic" is a perfect example of the deeply imbedded dysfunctional attitudes amongst the "in group" bahais who perpetuate a DEHUMANIZING system of lies and deception, cover ups, abuse of authority, systemic, failed attempts at bureaucratic reinvention.

    It is "anything but" inclusive, or tolerant, or open and transparent.

    Rainn Wilson makes the same basic mistake that many people, myself included, made in previous decades/generations: thinking that “progressive” and/or “liberal” and/or “new age” (etc.) ideas can be dropped on top of a belief system that is rooted in many culturally backward ideas, outdated metaphysics, and so forth.

    Example: As I’ve stated before on this forum, Progressive Revelation is bunk, and is significantly at variance with current developmental “stage” theories that attempt to “map” the evolution of culture and consciousness.

    In the audio section of “vastsky.org” (last clip), Ken Wilber demolishes the idea of a “mystical unity” that underlies the “world religions”.

    The simple fact is that the sufi/neoplantonism that underlies deep bahai beliefs is outmoded, and can’t sustain scrutiny from the leading edge of “independent investigation” that is being conducted by enlightened elements of the human species.

  • fubar

    Sam,

    A predictable, dishonest, and empty debate tactic used by polemicists is to "bait" someone into making "angry' statements, then "flip the sh*t" onto them, implying that they are "spiritually inferior" for getting angry.

    You use of such a "tactic" is a perfect example of the deeply imbedded dysfunctional attitudes amongst the "in group" bahais who perpetuate a DEHUMANIZING system of lies and deception, cover ups, abuse of authority, systemic, failed attempts at bureaucratic reinvention.

    It is "anything but" inclusive, or tolerant, or open and transparent.

    Rainn Wilson makes the same basic mistake that many people, myself included, made in previous decades/generations: thinking that “progressive” and/or “liberal” and/or “new age” (etc.) ideas can be dropped on top of a belief system that is rooted in many culturally backward ideas, outdated metaphysics, and so forth.

    Example: As I’ve stated before on this forum, Progressive Revelation is bunk, and is significantly at variance with current developmental “stage” theories that attempt to “map” the evolution of culture and consciousness.

    In the audio section of “vastsky.org” (last clip), Ken Wilber demolishes the idea of a “mystical unity” that underlies the “world religions”.

    The simple fact is that the sufi/neoplantonism that underlies deep bahai beliefs is outmoded, and can’t sustain scrutiny from the leading edge of “independent investigation” that is being conducted by enlightened elements of the human species.

  • fubar

    http://www.amazon.com/Integral-Spirituality-Start

    —excerpt—

    …The first problem is that, although Wilber spent the bulk of "Sex, Ecology and Spirit" savagely critiquing the limits of a menagerie of postmodernist thinking, he did not incorporate the insights of postmodernism into his AQAL model. The second problem is that … even though he divides the world into four irreducible quadrants in his AQAL model (the individual interior, the individual exterior, the social interior, and the social exterior), he reads the history of the Enlightenment as the differentiation of only three spheres of values (aesthetics, morals and science). Clearly, one sphere of value missing.

    …But this particular presentation of the AQAL model offers something fundamentally different. It embraces postmodern insights into its core, by providing a much more nuanced discussion of inter-subjectivity. That's why Wilber makes such a big deal, as another reviewer pointed out, of critiquing the "Myth of the Given" and the "Philosophy of Consciousness" in these chapters. These critiques encapsulate the basic insight of twentieth century postmodernism, and it is something that Wilber did not do in previous books.

    ***************************************************************************
    Wilber argues that eastern traditions are blind to their cultural biases
    ***************************************************************************

    - biases that are fundamentally invisible to meditative introspection. These cultural biases can only be detected using hermeneutics/sociological techniques, the bread-and-butter of postmodernist thinkers. Wilber accuses every major meditative tradition of being naive (or monological) in their

    *********************************************************************************
    belief in the absolute reality of the cultural manifestations of their traditions.
    *********************************************************************************

    That is why many genuine teachers of Eastern traditions, might also be misogynists, sexual deviants and abusive figures of authority. This is a major clarification and culminates in a very satisfying chapter about the Shadow and the Self, or how western psychology might supplement meditative practices.

    In "Integral Spirituality", Wilber resolves this anomaly between the Big Three and the Four Quadrants. He now finds that the Enlightenment failed because it failed to differentiate a Fourth sphere of values. He has tentatively identified this as the spiritual line of development, as described by James Fowler. This is admittedly vague, but represents a genuine change in Wilber's thinking. The failure of the Enlightenment is not the failure to integrate the Big Three, but the failure to differentiate into the Big Four, and that is what is preventing the next step in human evolution, the Integration that is yet to come. Based on this insight, Wilber offers some startling insights on the future role of institutionalized religions in the chapter "The Conveyor Belt". He argues that the world's religions must transform themselves to develop this fourth sphere of value, an enlightened differentiated form of spirituality.

    —end excerpt—

    re: “Defenders and Critics” template – as seen in various movements and cults

    —excerpt—

    http://whatenlightenment.blogspot.com/2007/04/dej…

    I once belonged to a major meditation sect for nearly a decade, living and working in their largest US community for several years. While followers were never physically violated, the familiar financial, mental and shame pressures were all there. The movement later ventured into politics also (but often with laughable results).

    After reading just a few cross-postings here, I just got cold shivers of recognition. I recognized the same two roles, played over and over again — no matter which particular group or leader it is about. I know this since I played both roles over time.

    I was once the bright, angry apologist whose eager, dismissive counter-attacks barely hid my own insecurity and indignation. I relished jumping on any dissenter to pick apart his story and credibility. After all, I was defending the “perfect.” And it is only a doubter’s own, personal failure to recognize it as such.

    Then I became the burnt-out, disoriented, ex-member who was trying to make sense of their positive experience while raising uncomfortable questions about all the logical disconnect. I would come across similar stories on ex-member sites, only to recognize their names as those who once vigorously defended the Movement (and sometimes help keep me in line!). What a shock! And then I’d read the same, predictable, snide responses to them from the faithful.

    These templates, and the types of people who fall into them, never seem to change — just the labels.

    Will we ever learn?

    —end excerpt—

  • fubar

    http://www.amazon.com/Integral-Spirituality-Start

    —excerpt—

    …The first problem is that, although Wilber spent the bulk of "Sex, Ecology and Spirit" savagely critiquing the limits of a menagerie of postmodernist thinking, he did not incorporate the insights of postmodernism into his AQAL model. The second problem is that … even though he divides the world into four irreducible quadrants in his AQAL model (the individual interior, the individual exterior, the social interior, and the social exterior), he reads the history of the Enlightenment as the differentiation of only three spheres of values (aesthetics, morals and science). Clearly, one sphere of value missing.

    …But this particular presentation of the AQAL model offers something fundamentally different. It embraces postmodern insights into its core, by providing a much more nuanced discussion of inter-subjectivity. That's why Wilber makes such a big deal, as another reviewer pointed out, of critiquing the "Myth of the Given" and the "Philosophy of Consciousness" in these chapters. These critiques encapsulate the basic insight of twentieth century postmodernism, and it is something that Wilber did not do in previous books.

    ***************************************************************************
    Wilber argues that eastern traditions are blind to their cultural biases
    ***************************************************************************

    - biases that are fundamentally invisible to meditative introspection. These cultural biases can only be detected using hermeneutics/sociological techniques, the bread-and-butter of postmodernist thinkers. Wilber accuses every major meditative tradition of being naive (or monological) in their

    *********************************************************************************
    belief in the absolute reality of the cultural manifestations of their traditions.
    *********************************************************************************

    That is why many genuine teachers of Eastern traditions, might also be misogynists, sexual deviants and abusive figures of authority. This is a major clarification and culminates in a very satisfying chapter about the Shadow and the Self, or how western psychology might supplement meditative practices.

    In "Integral Spirituality", Wilber resolves this anomaly between the Big Three and the Four Quadrants. He now finds that the Enlightenment failed because it failed to differentiate a Fourth sphere of values. He has tentatively identified this as the spiritual line of development, as described by James Fowler. This is admittedly vague, but represents a genuine change in Wilber's thinking. The failure of the Enlightenment is not the failure to integrate the Big Three, but the failure to differentiate into the Big Four, and that is what is preventing the next step in human evolution, the Integration that is yet to come. Based on this insight, Wilber offers some startling insights on the future role of institutionalized religions in the chapter "The Conveyor Belt". He argues that the world's religions must transform themselves to develop this fourth sphere of value, an enlightened differentiated form of spirituality.

    —end excerpt—

    re: “Defenders and Critics” template – as seen in various movements and cults

    —excerpt—

    http://whatenlightenment.blogspot.com/2007/04/dej…

    I once belonged to a major meditation sect for nearly a decade, living and working in their largest US community for several years. While followers were never physically violated, the familiar financial, mental and shame pressures were all there. The movement later ventured into politics also (but often with laughable results).

    After reading just a few cross-postings here, I just got cold shivers of recognition. I recognized the same two roles, played over and over again — no matter which particular group or leader it is about. I know this since I played both roles over time.

    I was once the bright, angry apologist whose eager, dismissive counter-attacks barely hid my own insecurity and indignation. I relished jumping on any dissenter to pick apart his story and credibility. After all, I was defending the “perfect.” And it is only a doubter’s own, personal failure to recognize it as such.

    Then I became the burnt-out, disoriented, ex-member who was trying to make sense of their positive experience while raising uncomfortable questions about all the logical disconnect. I would come across similar stories on ex-member sites, only to recognize their names as those who once vigorously defended the Movement (and sometimes help keep me in line!). What a shock! And then I’d read the same, predictable, snide responses to them from the faithful.

    These templates, and the types of people who fall into them, never seem to change — just the labels.

    Will we ever learn?

    —end excerpt—

  • fubar

    Steve Marshall said:

    | Baha'is do not believe in the suppression of the teaching process but in its regulation
    | and control.
    | (Shoghi Effendi: A Chaste and Holy Life, Page: 56)
    |
    | Actually, he was talking about the sex impulse, but the principle is the same.

    LOL!!!

    Yes, "screwing people over" is the "same principle".

    conventional bahai "teaching" is a vestige of left over "consciousness structures" from the age of imperialism mingled together from both christian and islamic cultures.

    fwiw ~ I was coerced into signing a declaration card 35 years ago by a "prominent" high-class bahai close to R.K.

    I guess that makes me an "subject matter expert" on the issue of "prosletysing".

    As such, I see the "conversion" tendency ("teaching") in bahai as dysfunctional, if not insane, and frequently predatory.

    The pure dehumanizing sickness of the "in group" dynamics involved in "conversion" is revolting, and a complete betrayal of the "universalist" aspects of bahai.

    The main reason that the "sick' version of bahai "teaching" exists is that the religion really doesn't make sense in so many ways that "false advertising" has to happen to suck vulnerable people in.

    That is the predatory aspect.

    bahai is a "spiritual" ponzi scheme, requiring new "customers" to sustain an ever failing hierarchy.

    The current version of bahai culture is hostile to self-examination and self-honesty, a glaring and massive contradiction to the most basic moral principles of both bahai and every other religion, or philosophy, or belief system, that claims to have integrity.

    Critics, dissidents and nonconformists are expelled, hounded and/or marginalized as "spiritual inferiors". Sick stuff.

    A cycle of failed bureaucratic reinvention goes back many many many decades. When the bahai elites realized that they were going to have to become liars (false advertisers), they adopted then-popular ideas about social engineering to compensate, and proceeded to morph bahai culture and "administration" into a "better bureaucratic mousetrap". That of course failed, and the new bureaucrats had to find scapegoats such as Mazandarani and Louis Gregory to "blame" their failures on.

    And thus, the downward spiral started.

    Ultimately the bahai power elites had to resort to fundamentalism when they could not deal with their Jungian "shadow stuff".

    generally, bahai has *not* been about "real" personal transformation for a long time (outside the elites with ties to the echos of the old sufi orders in iran), it is just lip service transformation and happenstance/serendipity.

    Meanwhile, a large body of "outside" effort has gone into understanding the "real" nature of social change and paradigm shifts and social justice activism based on spirituality and personal transformation. And in comparison, bahai looks very irrelevant.

    http://www.vastsky.org/Home.html

    As it stands, bahai as a collective has too many obsessions about hiding from its own inner demons to "teach" anyone else about how spiritual transformation actually works.

  • fubar

    Steve Marshall said:

    | Baha'is do not believe in the suppression of the teaching process but in its regulation
    | and control.
    | (Shoghi Effendi: A Chaste and Holy Life, Page: 56)
    |
    | Actually, he was talking about the sex impulse, but the principle is the same.

    LOL!!!

    Yes, "screwing people over" is the "same principle".

    conventional bahai "teaching" is a vestige of left over "consciousness structures" from the age of imperialism mingled together from both christian and islamic cultures.

    fwiw ~ I was coerced into signing a declaration card 35 years ago by a "prominent" high-class bahai close to R.K.

    I guess that makes me an "subject matter expert" on the issue of "prosletysing".

    As such, I see the "conversion" tendency ("teaching") in bahai as dysfunctional, if not insane, and frequently predatory.

    The pure dehumanizing sickness of the "in group" dynamics involved in "conversion" is revolting, and a complete betrayal of the "universalist" aspects of bahai.

    The main reason that the "sick' version of bahai "teaching" exists is that the religion really doesn't make sense in so many ways that "false advertising" has to happen to suck vulnerable people in.

    That is the predatory aspect.

    bahai is a "spiritual" ponzi scheme, requiring new "customers" to sustain an ever failing hierarchy.

    The current version of bahai culture is hostile to self-examination and self-honesty, a glaring and massive contradiction to the most basic moral principles of both bahai and every other religion, or philosophy, or belief system, that claims to have integrity.

    Critics, dissidents and nonconformists are expelled, hounded and/or marginalized as "spiritual inferiors". Sick stuff.

    A cycle of failed bureaucratic reinvention goes back many many many decades. When the bahai elites realized that they were going to have to become liars (false advertisers), they adopted then-popular ideas about social engineering to compensate, and proceeded to morph bahai culture and "administration" into a "better bureaucratic mousetrap". That of course failed, and the new bureaucrats had to find scapegoats such as Mazandarani and Louis Gregory to "blame" their failures on.

    And thus, the downward spiral started.

    Ultimately the bahai power elites had to resort to fundamentalism when they could not deal with their Jungian "shadow stuff".

    generally, bahai has *not* been about "real" personal transformation for a long time (outside the elites with ties to the echos of the old sufi orders in iran), it is just lip service transformation and happenstance/serendipity.

    Meanwhile, a large body of "outside" effort has gone into understanding the "real" nature of social change and paradigm shifts and social justice activism based on spirituality and personal transformation. And in comparison, bahai looks very irrelevant.

    http://www.vastsky.org/Home.html

    As it stands, bahai as a collective has too many obsessions about hiding from its own inner demons to "teach" anyone else about how spiritual transformation actually works.

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

    Sam wrote:
    "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."

    -William Congreve (The Mourning Bride), a religious non-fundamentalist and a male chauvinist "
    ——–
    It's actually "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned." It's a shame to misquote dead playwrights. They can't defend themselves.

    And I'm not sure why you draw the conclusion William Congreve was a “male chauvinist?” Is it because most people, like you, misquote that line and actually have no idea where it came from? Yes, Congreve wrote that line, but it was spoken by a very powerful female character, Zara, an enslaved queen, who spoke it to mislead the captain of her captors army, after he walked in on her arguing with a man whose life she was trying to save. She is one of the most nuanced and well-written female characters in all of English-language dramatic literature. Congreve's plays are full of interesting female characters- women hadn't been allowed on the English stage until the Restoration, and he is known for being one of the first playwrights brave enough to create roles that allowed women to dominate the “spotlight” when that happened. How is that chauvinist? I'm actually quite grateful to the man. If I'm missing something, please let me know.

    And as far as him being religious, he was condemned for the “immorality” of his plays- especially his comedies- specifically because he was challenging the religious and sexual status quo. (Here's one of the most famous diatribes against him. It's worth checking out, you might pick up some some pointers for your next round of swipes against irreligious people who bug you on the internets: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Short_View_of_the_Im

    The critic who wrote that diatribe helped kill Restoration comedy and push back freedom of speech in England. Who knows what kind of joy and free thought you can destroy if you sharpen up your methods a little? Congreve wrote some of the most beautiful and impressive words in the English language. But, unlike some of his playwright buddies who stuck it out, his critics attacks on his motives shut him up and shut him down. If you get really good, maybe you can hope for the same kind of effect on people. Who knows how many beautiful ideas you can abort just through ad hominim insults instead of addressing actual ideas? God speed.

    I also notice the conspicuous reference to my gender in your above (misquoted) reply to me to be a bit of a non-sequitur. Do you make a habit of attributing the ideas of people you're talking with to what is between their legs, or can we safely assume that it is you, and not William Congreve, who is the “male chauvinist” in this scenario?

    In any case, he dedicated that play, with it's strong female leads and actual female actresses, to women. After bantering a bit with his pious critics in the epilogue, here's how he ended it:

    “Small Hope our Poet from these Prospects draws;
    And therefore to the Fair commends his Cause.
    Your tender Hearts to Mercy are inclin'd,
    With whom, he hopes, this Play will Favour find,
    Which was an Off'ring to the Sex design'd. – -”
    -William Congreve, from the Epilogue to The Mourning Bride

    I know you've previously mentioned in this thread that facts and context don't matter, only intentions (and only the intentions of good, religious people…certainly not the intentions of people you disagree with, whose intentions you can just make-up at will.) But I thought your little misquote deserved a little context. Facts never hurt anybody.

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

    Sam wrote:
    "Hell hath no fury like a woman scorned."

    -William Congreve (The Mourning Bride), a religious non-fundamentalist and a male chauvinist "
    ——–
    It's actually "Heaven has no rage like love to hatred turned, Nor hell a fury like a woman scorned." It's a shame to misquote dead playwrights. They can't defend themselves.

    And I'm not sure why you draw the conclusion William Congreve was a “male chauvinist?” Is it because most people, like you, misquote that line and actually have no idea where it came from? Yes, Congreve wrote that line, but it was spoken by a very powerful female character, Zara, an enslaved queen, who spoke it to mislead the captain of her captors army, after he walked in on her arguing with a man whose life she was trying to save. She is one of the most nuanced and well-written female characters in all of English-language dramatic literature. Congreve's plays are full of interesting female characters- women hadn't been allowed on the English stage until the Restoration, and he is known for being one of the first playwrights brave enough to create roles that allowed women to dominate the “spotlight” when that happened. How is that chauvinist? I'm actually quite grateful to the man. If I'm missing something, please let me know.

    And as far as him being religious, he was condemned for the “immorality” of his plays- especially his comedies- specifically because he was challenging the religious and sexual status quo. (Here's one of the most famous diatribes against him. It's worth checking out, you might pick up some some pointers for your next round of swipes against irreligious people who bug you on the internets: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Short_View_of_the_Im

    The critic who wrote that diatribe helped kill Restoration comedy and push back freedom of speech in England. Who knows what kind of joy and free thought you can destroy if you sharpen up your methods a little? Congreve wrote some of the most beautiful and impressive words in the English language. But, unlike some of his playwright buddies who stuck it out, his critics attacks on his motives shut him up and shut him down. If you get really good, maybe you can hope for the same kind of effect on people. Who knows how many beautiful ideas you can abort just through ad hominim insults instead of addressing actual ideas? God speed.

    I also notice the conspicuous reference to my gender in your above (misquoted) reply to me to be a bit of a non-sequitur. Do you make a habit of attributing the ideas of people you're talking with to what is between their legs, or can we safely assume that it is you, and not William Congreve, who is the “male chauvinist” in this scenario?

    In any case, he dedicated that play, with it's strong female leads and actual female actresses, to women. After bantering a bit with his pious critics in the epilogue, here's how he ended it:

    “Small Hope our Poet from these Prospects draws;
    And therefore to the Fair commends his Cause.
    Your tender Hearts to Mercy are inclin'd,
    With whom, he hopes, this Play will Favour find,
    Which was an Off'ring to the Sex design'd. – -”
    -William Congreve, from the Epilogue to The Mourning Bride

    I know you've previously mentioned in this thread that facts and context don't matter, only intentions (and only the intentions of good, religious people…certainly not the intentions of people you disagree with, whose intentions you can just make-up at will.) But I thought your little misquote deserved a little context. Facts never hurt anybody.

  • Leanna

    Amanda you are missing the point. I agree that Rainn wasn't giving the whole story on the Baha'i Faith, but it also would not have been his place to air the Baha'i Faith's "dirty laundry" on national television. One of the most important concepts in the Baha'i Faith is Individual Investigation of Truth. So at the end of the day no matter what Rainn said it is the job of each individual to investigate the faith and decide for themselves. That's why although you may think that Your interpretation of all the quotes you listed above are correct in reality they are only Your interpretations. That is one reason that I love the Baha'i Faith… we can disagree about the writings or social subjects and still manage to not break up into sects. That's no small accomplishment. So whatever beef you may have with the Baha'i Faith is just that your beef (or rather your spiritual opinion, journey, experience). I'm sorry if it has been a negative one. I'm not saying that I can't relate or that I don't agree with some of what you said because I even dis enrolled for awhile. I just realized that no matter what issues I had with the Faith (and there are still many) at the end of the day the message of the Baha'i Faith is from God and has the best interest of humanity at heart, therefore its nothing for me to pick apart. The Baha'i community is ignorant and will continue to get things wrong, but that is part of the process. Its been that way for every religion, doesn't mean they are bad. We are humans trying to do the work of God, I think its fair to say we are going to mess up a lot. Give people a break and definitely don't blame the religion itself.

  • Leanna

    Amanda you are missing the point. I agree that Rainn wasn't giving the whole story on the Baha'i Faith, but it also would not have been his place to air the Baha'i Faith's "dirty laundry" on national television. One of the most important concepts in the Baha'i Faith is Individual Investigation of Truth. So at the end of the day no matter what Rainn said it is the job of each individual to investigate the faith and decide for themselves. That's why although you may think that Your interpretation of all the quotes you listed above are correct in reality they are only Your interpretations. That is one reason that I love the Baha'i Faith… we can disagree about the writings or social subjects and still manage to not break up into sects. That's no small accomplishment. So whatever beef you may have with the Baha'i Faith is just that your beef (or rather your spiritual opinion, journey, experience). I'm sorry if it has been a negative one. I'm not saying that I can't relate or that I don't agree with some of what you said because I even dis enrolled for awhile. I just realized that no matter what issues I had with the Faith (and there are still many) at the end of the day the message of the Baha'i Faith is from God and has the best interest of humanity at heart, therefore its nothing for me to pick apart. The Baha'i community is ignorant and will continue to get things wrong, but that is part of the process. Its been that way for every religion, doesn't mean they are bad. We are humans trying to do the work of God, I think its fair to say we are going to mess up a lot. Give people a break and definitely don't blame the religion itself.

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

    Hi, Sonja.

    Sorry for the delay, and sorry for having to be very brief in my reply.

    You wrote:
    "I am not being dishonest by only accepting the authentic texts of The Bab, Baha'ullah, 'Adbul-Baha's as Bahai scripture but because this is Bahai Teaching."

    That's not what I was saying. I'm afraid this has gotten kind of convoluted. I agree that the only "scripture," or "sacred writings" would those you mentioned. But in addition to what you describe as "scripture," the Baha'i Faith, as laid out by those very figures you mention, also has "authoritative texts" that are not "scripture." These "authoritative texts" are not the same as pilgrims notes, as pilgrims notes came from random believers, they are written texts that come from people who were given the authority (thus "authoritative") to write them. There is not an equivalent type of authoritative text in Christianity, exactly. The issue is that, because Baha'u'llah seems to have given authority to 'Abdu'l-Baha, who seems to have given authority to Shoghi Effendi, who seems to have written some stuff that contradicts what you uphold as "Baha'i," it falls apart there. But it is "authoritative." It is a part of the religion.

    Now, what a person's relationship is to that authority is their own business, and I don't particularly care. I don't think respect for authority should be given cart blanch. I think it should be earned. I'm okay with with Baha'is being disobedient (openly and honestly) and openly and honestly cherry-picking. But I think it's dishonest if a person tries to cherry pick AND be an apologist at the same time. That's what I'm saying. Why not just be honest, and say Shoghi Effendi was wrong about this? Or 'Abdu'l-Baha was wrong about this? Or Baha'u'llah was wrong about this? There are Christians and Jews who disagree with Leviticus. Why can't there be Baha'is who disagree with a section of Gleanings or with Shoghi Effendi? Why the necessity to lose one's integrity about it? Because that's what I see alot of Baha'is doing. They DO disagree, but they either pretend they don't, OR they pretend the "authoritative texts" DON'T SAY what THEY SAY.

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

    Hi, Sonja.

    Sorry for the delay, and sorry for having to be very brief in my reply.

    You wrote:
    "I am not being dishonest by only accepting the authentic texts of The Bab, Baha'ullah, 'Adbul-Baha's as Bahai scripture but because this is Bahai Teaching."

    That's not what I was saying. I'm afraid this has gotten kind of convoluted. I agree that the only "scripture," or "sacred writings" would those you mentioned. But in addition to what you describe as "scripture," the Baha'i Faith, as laid out by those very figures you mention, also has "authoritative texts" that are not "scripture." These "authoritative texts" are not the same as pilgrims notes, as pilgrims notes came from random believers, they are written texts that come from people who were given the authority (thus "authoritative") to write them. There is not an equivalent type of authoritative text in Christianity, exactly. The issue is that, because Baha'u'llah seems to have given authority to 'Abdu'l-Baha, who seems to have given authority to Shoghi Effendi, who seems to have written some stuff that contradicts what you uphold as "Baha'i," it falls apart there. But it is "authoritative." It is a part of the religion.

    Now, what a person's relationship is to that authority is their own business, and I don't particularly care. I don't think respect for authority should be given cart blanch. I think it should be earned. I'm okay with with Baha'is being disobedient (openly and honestly) and openly and honestly cherry-picking. But I think it's dishonest if a person tries to cherry pick AND be an apologist at the same time. That's what I'm saying. Why not just be honest, and say Shoghi Effendi was wrong about this? Or 'Abdu'l-Baha was wrong about this? Or Baha'u'llah was wrong about this? There are Christians and Jews who disagree with Leviticus. Why can't there be Baha'is who disagree with a section of Gleanings or with Shoghi Effendi? Why the necessity to lose one's integrity about it? Because that's what I see alot of Baha'is doing. They DO disagree, but they either pretend they don't, OR they pretend the "authoritative texts" DON'T SAY what THEY SAY.

  • farhan

    Thank you, Leanna, I agree.

  • http://intensedebate.com/people/farhan farhan

    Thank you, Leanna, I agree.

  • Craig Parke

    Thank you, Leanna. I don't agree. At present the Baha'i Faith is one of the most incompetently run organizations on Earth. It is a world wide community of spineless, mindless cowards who by their own passivity are completely unworthy of the worldwide vote they have.

    Up to now the Baha'i Faith has completely failed all mankind. The record is pathetic.

    But I feel with the rise of the Internet, the rank and file of the Baha'i Faith worldwide will indeed take up their great power 500-1000 years in the future.

    Of course, everyone else on Earth (atheists, drug dealers, murders, and prostitutes among them) will have COMPLETELY implemented EVERYTHING themselves by then just by free and open spiritual search within their own hearts under their own power and not by the programming of the Comintern.

    The Baha'is will STILL be smoking their Ruhi Book Crack Pipes on the sidelines in a zero sum game.

    But the free world will go on to do these things of itself.

    The Baha'i Faith currently is one of the most impaired organizations in the history of the world. But I think that will eventually change far in the future. The sign will be Term Limits finally being established for the UHJ and the NSA's and the absolute fierceness of the rank and file vote when people will then often be voted out of office after just ONE TERM in a system of fierce total accountability via the Internet. RateTheAO.com will eventually appear sometike over the new 1,000 years. Or maybe the next Manifestation will just be a damn good Adobe Flex 3 programmer who will set up that site and change everything as the clicks start coming in worldwide. Here is the shape of things to come in terms of current events:

    http://hallofidiots.blogspot.com/

    A mature fierce and ruthless system of impeachment, due process, and redress of grievances will have to be developed too. It won't be in the lifetime of anyone here because the current members of the Baha'i Faith in every land are passive sheep and cowards with zero consulting skills. But I believe that will eventually change in the far, far, far future.

    But thanks for you comment! Keep posting!

  • Craig Parke

    Thank you, Leanna. I don't agree. At present the Baha'i Faith is one of the most incompetently run organizations on Earth. It is a world wide community of spineless, mindless cowards who by their own passivity are completely unworthy of the worldwide vote they have.

    Up to now the Baha'i Faith has completely failed all mankind. The record is pathetic.

    But I feel with the rise of the Internet, the rank and file of the Baha'i Faith worldwide will indeed take up their great power 500-1000 years in the future.

    Of course, everyone else on Earth (atheists, drug dealers, murders, and prostitutes among them) will have COMPLETELY implemented EVERYTHING themselves by then just by free and open spiritual search within their own hearts under their own power and not by the programming of the Comintern.

    The Baha'is will STILL be smoking their Ruhi Book Crack Pipes on the sidelines in a zero sum game.

    But the free world will go on to do these things of itself.

    The Baha'i Faith currently is one of the most impaired organizations in the history of the world. But I think that will eventually change far in the future. The sign will be Term Limits finally being established for the UHJ and the NSA's and the absolute fierceness of the rank and file vote when people will then often be voted out of office after just ONE TERM in a system of fierce total accountability via the Internet. RateTheAO.com will eventually appear sometike over the new 1,000 years. Or maybe the next Manifestation will just be a damn good Adobe Flex 3 programmer who will set up that site and change everything as the clicks start coming in worldwide. Here is the shape of things to come in terms of current events:

    http://hallofidiots.blogspot.com/

    A mature fierce and ruthless system of impeachment, due process, and redress of grievances will have to be developed too. It won't be in the lifetime of anyone here because the current members of the Baha'i Faith in every land are passive sheep and cowards with zero consulting skills. But I believe that will eventually change in the far, far, far future.

    But thanks for you comment! Keep posting!

  • ar

    they are infallible BECAUSE they are democratically elected. stop trying so hard to misinterped everything. seriously people. who cares if there are women on the universal house of justice. as you quoted above, this has nothing to do with any modern western-style democracy we know. so, there is no representation. people, the time were women make politics for women, the industry makes politics for the industry, and so on are over.

  • Craig Parke

    ar,

    Where do you get the idea that the UHJ is democratically elected? That is precisely the point. Show me that they are elected in accordance with either the LETTER or the SPIRIT of the W&T of Abdu'l-Baha? I believe they are no longer duly constituted because they are elected from a closed candidate list set up by the sitting UHJ! This change in procedure was made in 1983. I accepted it as a kind of training wheels because the Faith was so small and immature worldwide. But it is now very clear those training wheels are never going to come off. It ap[pears the UHJ will always be elected from a tiny clique of insiders who have passed an ideological litmus test with those who now essentially control the electoral process. Please explain to me how this is otherwise? The Faith, therefore, is now completely in YEAR ZERO thinking just like any other man made ideology like communism or Nazism. It is trapped in a litmus test ideology and is now cut off from the bottom up spiritual energies of the developing World Age. It will help no one. All it's energies are consumed with enforcing orthodoxy in an organization. It is the same old, same old in human history. It is now organizational cronyism and the result has been and will continue to be just like the corporate cronyism that has destroyed the economy of the United States and now the economy of the entire world. Ruhi is a very thinly disguised ham fisted attempt at ideological purification in the Faith. Diverse ideas and interpretations make these people very nervous because they are out and out man made ideologues. It is the exact same brain chemistry. They want to create the automation Faith where no one is permitted to think or question. They want total mindless obedience. It will not work because it is against the Teachings of Baha'u'llah. It will not work because it is against the individual spiritual energies of the unfolding new World Age. With the rise of the Internet, such a strategy is absolutely ludicrous! It is totally self-defeating and dysfunctional but these people are too impaired by their incestuous ideology to see the extent of their mind bending folly.

    So the Tablet of the Holy Mariner is now in effect. This was all foretold by Baha'u'llah. Judgment has to come upon the mindset of clueless usurpers before a pure planetary civilization can come. This is the first order of business in the Divine Judgment upon spiritual archetypes that is under way when a new World Age comes. The Age of Chief Priests, Scribes, and Pharisees is over. Witness shoes that are now going to drop in Iran over time. Witness shoes that are going to drop in the Baha'i Faith over time. A huge cosmic courtesy flush is coming upon both fetid situations. It is not going to be pretty. People's heads are going to symbolically end up on poles in human history. The power of the Internet cannot be stopped. the cameras are rolling and everything is being recorded on waves of communicated electronic thought.

    The Promised Day has indeed come. Everyone keep posting. Every person on Earth can now intimately communicate with any OTHER person on Earth. And anyone who does not fully understand the mind bending implications for that in the potential magnitude for change in human affairs is an idiot. Our lifetime incumbent groupthink guys clearly do not comprehend this. They are whistling in the dark in their air tight bubble. It is a lightning bolt that is now going to hit them hourly and then minute by minute and then second by second. They will never be able to deal with this.

    Meanwhile, explain to me how the UHJ is “democratically elected”? I will study in detail what you say. Try to convince me. Let's hear it?

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  • Amanda

    ar-

    “who cares if there are women on the universal house of justice?”
    Your mother.
    The Maid of Heaven.
    Tahirih spinning in her grave.

    “the time were women make politics for women, the industry makes politics for the industry, and so on are over.”

    But the time where MEN “make politics” for WOMEN clearly ISN'T over, now is it?

  • Amanda

    ar-

    “who cares if there are women on the universal house of justice?”
    Your mother.
    The Maid of Heaven.
    Tahirih spinning in her grave.

    “the time were women make politics for women, the industry makes politics for the industry, and so on are over.”

    But the time where MEN “make politics” for WOMEN clearly ISN'T over, now is it?

  • YB

    The Baha'i Faith is perhaps the earliest to recognize the reality of there being in nature homosexuals. However, the Baha'i Faith also limits sexual acts to be limited to between husband and wife within a marriage. As a bonding and compensation of the union.

    IF we are homosexual or heterosexual and un married we are not having sex. So there is no need to be homophobic. It is simple as a Bahai'i. If I am not married to you, I shouldn't be having sex with you.

    Marriage is defined as between a man and a woman. If your looking for the Baha'i Faith to have a Same Gender Marriage, you should look to a Civil Orgainization not the Baha'i Faith or any other Religion for that matter. But, the Baha'i Faith will not change the Law's and Rules just to have more members or accept fees.

    On the question of clergy. Yes there is a group of people called the Local Spritual Assembly, National Spritual Assembly and the Universal House of Justice. These individuals are elected via an representational election process without nomination. The Electorate is selected from the communities and the Electorate then votes. Democratic in that at the local level all adults vote. Republic or Representative as the Local Levels of elections select electorat representatives to vote in their best interest.

    No nominations, no campaign, and no one knows who voted for the elected. The elected is called to vote their best within a prayful focus and selfless attitude. All votes or elections are done this way.

    Clergy, Baha'is have none. Clergy acts as teacher and authority between the believer and the Word of God and may go so far as to dictate God's Will. No one in the Baha'i Faith has this authority or possition. The Administrative Body known as the Universal House of Justice is made of 9 men. When acting as a unit their decisions are resolutions signed by the Secretary of the Universal House of Justice. Individually they have as much authority as a Baha'i in Topeka Ks.

    Yes they are afforded respect for the work they are undertaking. But, this is the same respect we should have for each individual on the planet. To elevate them is a burden that should not be placed upon any individual.

    In all matters of Baha'i Life there is equality of the genders. The bird can not fly with one strong wing and one weak wing. The only area of service not open to Women is a seat on the Universal House of Justice and for this exclusion we shall see the reason for it in the future.

    I know that service on the Universal House of Jusitce is being the same as the Servants of the Servants of the Servants. It is not a position of ease, riches, or power. In this day and age the Greatest Body of Servants made of men who have the obligation to Serve Woman as well as Man. Think on this in this day. How many organizations who are working for woman's rights are made of all men?

    Education is important in the Baha'i Faith. However, if a man has 2 children and only 1 can be educated it should be the girl child. Women have the responcibility of raising the children. This does not preclude a family arrangement between individuals where the mother works and the father is a full time parent houseband if the couple finds this works. But, as a norm the mother is the one who carries and breast feeds the infant. A father still is not likely to do this. Natural Fact.

    So is the Baha'i Faith Sexist. NO quite a big NO…

    Is the Baha'i Faith something that is compromising to fit a wider population. Nope.

    It is what it is. You chose to join it, or not. It does not “Join” with you.

    When I read over 50 books on the Baha'i Faith and all the available writings of its Founder, Expounder and Guardian, I felt that this what I knew was truth, this was the Religion I could identify with.

    Don't become a Baha'i because of a friend, or how good the food is at a Baha'i Event. Being a Baha'i in todays world will be making yourself a religious miniority and even in the USA it take strong people to say I am a Baha'i. Real harm is done to Baha'is in other countries. In the USA there are constant challanges for the Baha'is to live the laws of their faith. Try not drinking a beer at a family party, or class reunion. You'll get the oh your the funny Baha'i.

    Rainn is an individual. He has no Baha'i Authority or Power, or Title. He is just saying to the world, hey here I am an Actor who is also a Bahai. Trying to ballance both in the life he has been given.

    Do I agree with him all the time. Do I like his humor.. quite frankly no. But as a Baha'i I don't have to. He has his own relationship with God, I am not his judge. I have no authority over him or his actions. I wish him well, and I hope that his efforts on his web site does open a space in the internet to explore uplifting ideas, information and the edification of mankind.

  • yrb

    Rainn Wilson’s aim is to create a place to really delve into spirituality, religion and all those questions about God, the meaning of life, the universe, everything…

    I have been to his site. I find that it misses the mark by a mile. If you want to know about the Baha'i Faith. Read the writings of the Founder of the Faith Baha'u'llah. Read the writings about Administration by Effendi. Go to the source.

    If you don't agree with the teachings and the Faith. By all means go be a Great member of anothe Religion based on the study and YOUR understanding of that religions Holy Text.

    If your looking for a Religion According to YOU. You may be in a long search. But good luck with that too.

    One thing that is for sure. Baha'is are not homophobic. The Baha'i Faith's teachings recognize the natural state of being a homosexual. However, marriage is limited to a partnership/relationship or bond between a man and woman. Sex is limited to between person who are married to each other.

    So if you are hetero or homosexual and you are not married you aren't supposed to be having sex. It is simple. There is no greater or lessor violation of the laws.

    Women are to be Served, and the Universal House of Justice is the highest level or the greatest burden of servace to the human race. It is perhaps the only all male body that has the duty to Serve Womankind in such a way. Think about that in todays terms and try and project what that can mean in the future. You ladies out there saying this is unfair… try to ask the question why is it this way. It is not that the 9 Men Want the Obligation of Service they have been placed in.

    I am a woman, and I have no problem haveing Men being put in the situation of being Servants of Woman and accountable for advancing not only the status of Baha'i Women within their community but Women of the entire planet. Not a problem for me at all.

    Study a Faith, on its merrits not on the attraction of a friend, or individual or an interview on Operha. Follow the Faith not the Followers. We will always not measure up. Baha'is are not perfect, we fall short every day. This is one of the many reason we don't have clergy. We are accountable to God. That is a tough audiance. However, God is forgiving if we earnistly are trying to do better each day.

    I hope.

  • peyamb

    “Study a Faith, on its merrits not on the attraction of a friend, or individual or an interview on Operha”
    Amen. And don't judge the Faith based on the beliefs of some of its fundamentalist members (such as yourself). Bahaullah's Words are way greater. This Faith is WAY greater than you. That's why I still consider myself a Bahai, I have read the words and I SO disagree with so much that you have stated. But I accept that literalists such as yourself have a place in the Bahai community (as I guess they do in every religion). But just understand that there are many other Bahais who don't share your narrow views on homosexuality, or women not being allowed to serve on the UHJ, etc. Bahaullah's Faith is for everyone, even if his community may not be at this time in history.

  • peyamb

    “IF we are homosexual or heterosexual and un married we are not having sex. So there is no need to be homophobic. It is simple as a Bahai'i. If I am not married to you, I shouldn't be having sex with you.”
    Not really that simple. Although I can see how fundamentalists in every religions need to package everything into nice neat boxes. You see everything in black and white. More and more, there will be acceptance in society of gay “married” couples, who will raise wonderful kids. These families will look at the Faith and say- you know I don't believe that Bahaullah ever meant that my relationship is wrong. He spoke about the raping of young slave boys- not me. And these couples will ask to be part of the Bahai community. Some local communities have already started acceptign such individuals and not making a big deal of it. Others (probably the one that you live in) are not as accepting. Hopefully one day I will find a local community that is accepting and be able to return as an active Bahai. Til then…I'll worship on my own. Cheers!

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

    YB,
    Congratulations on having read 50 Baha'i books, and thank you for your time. Unfortunately, your teaching-outreach time could be better spent on someone who isn't a third generation (ex) Baha'i. But thanks for reminding me of why I left.

    In complete disagreement,
    Amanda

  • norbit

    You make it sound as if hes some devious plotter out to misrepresent things. In truth many Bahais would Not have seen the things you picked up on because you are skewed by Bias against the house of Justices policies (like no women allowed etc), aside from a few small apparent inconsistencies most people of the world WOULD view Bahai as a accepting religion and his interview as honest and balanced. As for democratic that word would usually be applied to politics and can be misrepresented in a thousand ways to suit whatever purpose you would like to argue against the faiths administration. Frankly your anti Administration sentiment shines through as plain as the sun in your apparent ‘analysis’ of Rains interview.

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_TAIATK2TINWB4UUCUV2XWRQ7DY D.

    My daughter was born enlightened and more highly evolved than many. When she was 12, she was introduced to the Bhah’i faith and was instantly “connected” to spirituality that nourished her. She spent several years immersed in their retreats, activities and participated in Bahai performances at our local high schools. She was happy.

    After several years, I decided that I wanted to learn more about the Bahai faith because I respected my daughter’s choices and opinion so much. At that time, I had felt very connected through Unitarian Universalism for nearly a decade. Nevertheless, I asked my daughter to teach me about her faith, excited that I might see through her eyes and share her joy.

    To my surprise, she looked a bit ashamed. We talked for hours, and she told me that she loved *most* of her Bahai spirituality, and all her Bahai community; then confessed she had long known that she needed to walk away from it and find a spiritual connectin elsewhere. She went on to explain that their Order clearly did not believe in equality for women or gays, and that that narrow opinion, more than any other, revealed a non-loving hidden agenda that blatantly flew in the face of the natural order.

    She had been unable to separate from it because these were her best friends (remember how important that is to us in high school?); but admitted that now that she had said the words out loud, confessing her knowledge of such primitive backward thinking, she did not respect the Bahai organization due to these specific offensive tenets.  She said they did not appear capable of evolving in her lifetime regarding such basic and obvious conditions & inherent rights.

    It was a sad day for my daughter, her sister, and for both her mothers.  There were lots of tears; she mourned it like a death, but never questioned her life’s quest for light and universal love.

    I am a mother who can love Amanda for courageously voicing the obvious.

  • Amanda

    Thanks, D.

  • Fubar

    (late response)

    A cynical view would be that as long as bahaism is attempting to convert people and take over the world, it is happy that democratic societies exist within which religious minorities are allowed freedoms.

    In the unlikely event that bahaism became dominant it would then see no reason for religious freedom, and would curtail it (along with democracy).

    bahaism is largely a mythic, medieval religion, and as such, its culture is conformist, and is focused on “saving face”.

    most theories of democracy are premised on a rejection of mythic religion in favor of modernist values, such as the use of reason and public debate, however rude, in service of participatory government.