Those Naughty, Naughty “Baha’i Dissidents”

A few weeks ago, fellow Baha’i blogger J. A. McLean wrote an article titled “Dissidents and the Baha’i Faith”. It attracted a lot of attention, especially from quite of few of those naughty, naughty “dissidents”.

So much so that Jack seems to have changed his mind about the whole thing and decided to call it all off… by erasing his post from his blog.

Before the self-censorship, the blog post was featured on Baha’is Online. And Allison also wrote a commentary on her own blog. As for this humble blogger, for now I’m withholding any comments.

However, the internet and the technologies it contains allows us to punch a few buttons and take a ride in our own time machine (also known as, Google Cache) to retrieve Jack’s original post.

In all its effulgent glory (minus the holy numbered comments), behold:

[START DOCUMENT]

Thursday, August 23, 2007
DISSIDENTS AND THE BAHA’I FAITH

On the Internet today one may find webpages, websites and member lists that contain disgruntled views and/or bitter attacks, usually against the Bah??’?­ Administrative Order, from a relatively small number of so-called dissident and ex-Bah??’?­s. A dissident is not, of course, an ex-Bah??’?­, but someone who still claims to be a follower who has serious grievances against the Bah??’?­ Faith and who continues to militate for their acceptance. A dissident must be distinguished from the individual, who for personal reasons, chooses not to associate with the community, and from the person who, for one reason or another, drifts away from the Faith. Surprisingly, some of these attacks are made even by â€?Bah??’?­s in good standing.â€?

In the early 1990’s, I gained first-hand experience of this phenomenon when I was a temporary member of the original Talisman list, hosted by ex-Bah??’?­, Dr. Juan Ricardo Cole. I subsequently resigned from Talisman I when Dr. Cole, in his grand design to be the â€?gadflyâ€? reformer of the Bah??’?­ Faith, made direct, frontal attacks on the Universal House of Justice. What is perhaps not so well-known was that by that time Dr. Cole had been remonstrating with the Universal House of Justice more or less steadily for about 20 years.

It is not the purpose of this message to reanimate the specifics of Cole’s case which are well-known to those who once belonged to Talisman I and who are familiar with his articles that attempted to blacken the reputation of the Bah??’?­ Administrative Order. He has since found new enemies: his blog is largely devoted to attacking the foreign policy of the United States government. However, I would like to make some general comments about dissidents and ex-Bah??’?­s, whether it be Juan Cole, Francesco Ficicchia in German-speaking Europe in the 1980’s and â€?90’s, and/or the like-minded Internet club of present or past hostile critics.

The behaviour of these individuals, if one wants to step back and observe it, reveals a negative dynamic or pattern of behaviour that continues to be dismally instructive. I am submitting the following observations, consequently, not to revive some old grudges, nor to perpetuate present ones, but because I seriously doubt that the Bah??’?­ community has seen the end of the complaints of the constantly disgruntled, the doctrinally innovative and the permanently embittered. While space is lacking here to set out fully the entire dynamic of this pattern, I would like to comment briefly on the climate of sympathy that seems to be created, at least momentarily, for the grievances of these individuals.

Allow me to preface these observations with this comment: I do not doubt for a moment that these persons have been hurt or that some have been betrayed by a fellow believer or that some decision by an administrative body has not gone their way. Most Bah??’?­s, if they live long enough, will experience betrayal, or be subject to an administrative decision that has not been in their favour. The latter phrase applies sometimes to members of these very same institutions. These experiences contribute to our awakening to the stark realities of the human condition.

One of the keys to the sympathetic ear temporarily lent to the disgruntled has to do with the way that organized religion is generally perceived in contemporary society. In modernity, religion and spirituality have gone their separate ways. Individuals may willingly affirm their theism or spirituality but many disavow being official members of an �organized religion.� Of course, the whole notion of being against organized religion per se is a strange one, when one thinks about it. People, generally, do not object to organized government, to an organized judiciary, to organized political parties, to organized education, to organized medicine, clubs, associations and societies. But except for official members, the religious �organization� in a secular age has become definitely suspect.

And for good reason. This climate of suspicion has been created by a long history of the violent repression of doctrinal minorities, and other past or present moral travesties. Uninformed observers, consequently, tend to be predisposed to accept the viewpoint of the dissident without further reflection or investigation. If she has dissented from a religious institution, ergo, the charges must be true and she must be a victim: at least, that is the hasty conclusion. This predisposition was clearly at work for a time in Juan Cole’s case, just as it was for another ex-Bah??’?­, Francesco Ficicchia.

What the dissidents fail to realize, and do not accept, is that the Bah??’?­ Faith, while it allows for a fair and reasonable largesse of individual interpretation, has nonetheless its own doctrinal boundaries and ethical norms. But in the final analysis, these doctrinal boundaries and ethical norms are simply not accepted by these individuals who, driven by frustration at the non-acceptance of the perceived moral rightness of their cause, ego-mania, hyper-individualism and the principles of â€?liberal democracy,â€? engage in corrosive attacks which by definition are beyond the ethical norms and the principles of consultation which Bah??’u’ll??h has mandated to replace acrimonious and divisive debate.

The founders of the Bah??’?­ Faith have repeatedly warned their followers—some individuals even balk at the very notion of a warning–of the grave moral and spiritual consequences that accompany such hostile, confrontational approaches. But these individuals, unless they disaffiliate themselves from the religion to which they belong, and although they have knowingly accepted these doctrinal boundaries and ethical norms, imagine that these standards do not apply to them. They clearly view themselves as belonging to a different category. Dissidents believe somehow that they are fully within their rights to violate these norms with impunity.

Yet, just like the perpetrators who claim to be victims, they act shocked and surprised, and charge betrayal and harassment, when the government of their religion finally asks them to withdraw or takes measures to remove them permanently from the membership list. This removal, I should add, usually takes place after a lengthy and patient hearing and exchange of views, counselling and, final warnings. This careful process, however, has sometimes resulted in charges of fascism and religious fundamentalism being levelled against the institutions of the Bah??’?­ Faith. Of course, neither Bah??’?­ doctrine nor covenants gives any one a licence to radically alter Bah??’?­ belief or ethical practice to the point of making it unrecognizable to the community itself and to the institutions of the Bah??’?­ Faith. But for these individuals, this seems to be quite beside the point.

As sequitur to this last sentence: the point of this message is not, as might be supposed, simple justification, the basic preoccupation of theology, of administrative sanctions taken against these individuals. Methodologically, the confrontational, heavy-handed approach is also unsound. It is both strange and ironic when this defective, ineffective tool originates with the learned. Phenomenologist of religion, William Brede Kristensen, the Norwegian-Dutch scholar (1867-1953), in his instructive essay �What is Phenomenology?� was perhaps the first to make the point that serious students and scholars of religion must identify with the faith of others to the extent that they �must therefore be able to forget themselves, to be able to surrender themselves to others� (p. 49). The respected comparative religionists, Wilfred Cantwell Smith and Huston Smith have since made the same point both in their writings and in their lives by profound study and congenial practice with followers of faiths outside the Christian tradition.

Kristensen is promoting here, not some objective and detached study of a particular religion—let alone an inflammatory one–but rather a process of initiation into the sympathetic understanding of â€?the faith of other men,â€? as the title of Cantwell Smith’s 1962 comparative study of Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Chinese philosophy, Christians and Jews put it. Smith’s innovative little book aimed to elucidate, not only the beliefs of these world religions, but also and especially, how these religions formed the personal values of the men and women who practiced them, and how their personal beliefs motivated their lives. In other words, Cantwell Smith recommended that the observer be willing to be taught by the participants of the tradition he or she was investigating, and to assume their point of view, without necessarily adopting their faith. In the academic study of religion, then, the testimony of believers is consequently the starting point and the meeting place of authentic understanding and must necessarily carry great weight.

Some may think that this argument is irrelevant and has no bearing on the present case; these individuals are, after all, already Bah??’?­s, and are no longer studying the faith to which they belong. But Kristensen’s views are pertinent to this discussion. The point is that with Cole, Ficicchia, and present-day dissenters, the testimony, sacred writings, history and ethical norms of believers were either ignored or distorted to the extent that members of the Bah??’?­ Faith were no longer able to recognize their own religion in the distorted or hostile depictions by these critics. So much for the elementary protocol advocated by Brede Kristensen, Cantwell Smith and Huston Smith and other respected scholars of religion.

What one sometimes reads from these poisoned pens is even more surprising since some of them claimed, or still claim, to be Bah??’?­s. It is no wonder that the appointed and elected institutions of the Bah??’?­ Faith ultimately came to the intellectually defensible conclusion that they were not. Neither is it a wonder that the Universal House of Justice has written that character, that is, active spirituality, ethics, values and norms, and methodology cannot, and should not, be separated. In this, as in all things Bah??’?­, character and methodology are one.

***

Posted by J.A. McLean at 11:45 AM 9 comments

[END DOCUMENT]

I was unable to retrieve the nine comments, if anyone has them, please forward them for inclusion.

  • Andrew

    McLean writes: ‘William Brede Kristensen, the Norwegian-Dutch scholar (1867-1953), in his instructive essay â€?What is Phenomenology?â€? was perhaps the first to make the point that serious students and scholars of religion must identify with the faith of others to the extent that they â€?must therefore be able to forget themselves, to be able to surrender themselves to othersâ€? (p. 49). McLean further notes: ‘Kristensen is promoting here, not some objective and detached study of a particular religion—let alone an inflammatory one–but rather a process of initiation into the sympathetic understanding of â€?the faith of other men,â€? as the title of Cantwell Smith’s 1962 comparative study of Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Chinese philosophy, Christians and Jews put it.’

    This, however, is not a universally shared view. In the first place, Cantwell Smith insisted that the term ‘religion’ is a misnomer and should be abandoned. In his view, there are only religious persons, not religions. Smith claimed: ‘The locus of faith is persons.’ Faith is something shared by religious persons; it may, or it may not, serve as a basis for common understanding. Beliefs, however, are specific to each religion; they may help to distinguish, and eventually divide, religious persons.

    In the second place, Brede Kristensen has been criticized for simply ‘rubber stamping’ the viewpoint of believers as ‘true and complete.’ His principal error was in conflating empathy with understanding. In other words, relying on what ‘true believers’ say about themselves and their religion may not be enough; they may need supplemental information in order to enlarge their understanding, to make things clearer than they were before, or to correct erroneous information. Kristensen placed unnecessary obstacles in the way of an academic study of religion; he became a caretaker of religion rather than a challenger of and an inquirer into it.

    Sartre stated: ‘We only become what we are by the radical and deep-seated refusal of that which others have made of us.’ Whether it is in discussions about the legitimacy of homosexual relations, the suppression of reasoned criticism and principled dissidence, or the oblique and unacknowledged imposition and enforcement of religious orthodoxy at the expense of inclusion, diversity and integrity; Baha’i apologists (and the Baha’i in general) have singularly failed to grasp the arrogant presumption at the heart of their discourse: that what they make of others may not be correct.

    Baha’i apologists often appear smug and attitudinally deficient. I for one do not view the official Baha’i faith as it is currently constructed as an authentic world religion, but rather as a religious surrogate or substitute metaphor for a splinter faction of Shi’a Islam; a family business, so to speak. It might have emerged as the meta-religion of the new millenium; it has instead become an obscure and isolated sect that places the idiosyncratic interpretations of Shoghi Effendi
    above the inclusive, culminatory revelation of Baha’u’llah. Such a shame, such a loss, such a pity.

  • Andrew

    McLean writes: ‘William Brede Kristensen, the Norwegian-Dutch scholar (1867-1953), in his instructive essay â€?What is Phenomenology?â€? was perhaps the first to make the point that serious students and scholars of religion must identify with the faith of others to the extent that they â€?must therefore be able to forget themselves, to be able to surrender themselves to othersâ€? (p. 49). McLean further notes: ‘Kristensen is promoting here, not some objective and detached study of a particular religion—let alone an inflammatory one–but rather a process of initiation into the sympathetic understanding of â€?the faith of other men,â€? as the title of Cantwell Smith’s 1962 comparative study of Hindus, Buddhists, Muslims, Chinese philosophy, Christians and Jews put it.’

    This, however, is not a universally shared view. In the first place, Cantwell Smith insisted that the term ‘religion’ is a misnomer and should be abandoned. In his view, there are only religious persons, not religions. Smith claimed: ‘The locus of faith is persons.’ Faith is something shared by religious persons; it may, or it may not, serve as a basis for common understanding. Beliefs, however, are specific to each religion; they may help to distinguish, and eventually divide, religious persons.

    In the second place, Brede Kristensen has been criticized for simply ‘rubber stamping’ the viewpoint of believers as ‘true and complete.’ His principal error was in conflating empathy with understanding. In other words, relying on what ‘true believers’ say about themselves and their religion may not be enough; they may need supplemental information in order to enlarge their understanding, to make things clearer than they were before, or to correct erroneous information. Kristensen placed unnecessary obstacles in the way of an academic study of religion; he became a caretaker of religion rather than a challenger of and an inquirer into it.

    Sartre stated: ‘We only become what we are by the radical and deep-seated refusal of that which others have made of us.’ Whether it is in discussions about the legitimacy of homosexual relations, the suppression of reasoned criticism and principled dissidence, or the oblique and unacknowledged imposition and enforcement of religious orthodoxy at the expense of inclusion, diversity and integrity; Baha’i apologists (and the Baha’i in general) have singularly failed to grasp the arrogant presumption at the heart of their discourse: that what they make of others may not be correct.

    Baha’i apologists often appear smug and attitudinally deficient. I for one do not view the official Baha’i faith as it is currently constructed as an authentic world religion, but rather as a religious surrogate or substitute metaphor for a splinter faction of Shi’a Islam; a family business, so to speak. It might have emerged as the meta-religion of the new millenium; it has instead become an obscure and isolated sect that places the idiosyncratic interpretations of Shoghi Effendi
    above the inclusive, culminatory revelation of Baha’u’llah. Such a shame, such a loss, such a pity.

  • Sincere Friend

    Its seems to me that the root of all dissent, contention, conflict, is some sense of self importance, some sense of pride or personal entitlement beyond what others might posess. This I observe is the place where most of those who take offense or hold umbrage reside in consciousness, attached to these personal hurts and unable to forgive and move pass them, trying somehow to conform the world to themselves.

    Abdul Bahas example and aspiration was evanescence (the fading away to nothingness). This is where these souls will find their peace, not in concession that the Bahai institutions or community might convey to them.

  • Sincere Friend

    Its seems to me that the root of all dissent, contention, conflict, is some sense of self importance, some sense of pride or personal entitlement beyond what others might posess. This I observe is the place where most of those who take offense or hold umbrage reside in consciousness, attached to these personal hurts and unable to forgive and move pass them, trying somehow to conform the world to themselves.

    Abdul Bahas example and aspiration was evanescence (the fading away to nothingness). This is where these souls will find their peace, not in concession that the Bahai institutions or community might convey to them.

  • Andrew

    “Just as in the world of politics there is need for free thought, likewise in the world of religion there should be the right of unrestricted individual belief. Consider what a vast difference exists between modern democracy and the old forms of despotism. Under an autocratic government the opinions of men are not free, and development is stifled, whereas in a democracy, because thought and speech are not restricted, the greatest progress is witnessed. It is likewise true in the world of religion. When freedom of conscience, liberty of thought and right of speech prevail–that is to say, when every man according to his own idealization may give expression to his beliefs–development and growth are inevitable.” –Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 197.

    A calculated attempt to dismiss dissent, to insinuate that those who dissent do so from a sense of self-importance or personal entitlement, is the symptom of a weak and effete religion, unsure of itself and thus defensive.

    At the root of dissent is the endorsement of change. Emerson wrote: “Change is the law of life and we consequently obey the law if we choose to live a life of change…. Only conformists try to be fixed, and that in a democratic society, where change is allowed as a matter of principle, only conformists crave fixity.”

    Religious sects that reject modernity and intellectual tolerance, that regard criticism as tantamount to blasphemy, and that anathematize the results of research in the social sciences as biased and materialist, will inevitably become completely obscure and isolated, cut off from the mainstream of modern society, inhabiting a self-referential, hermetically-sealed, apocalyptic universe of their own. The adherents of such closed systems have no recourse but to take a kind of perverse pride in their ignorance and intransigence and reject all counsel to the contrary. An insult to humanity, a sin against God, and a betrayal of Abdu’l-Baha.

  • Andrew

    “Just as in the world of politics there is need for free thought, likewise in the world of religion there should be the right of unrestricted individual belief. Consider what a vast difference exists between modern democracy and the old forms of despotism. Under an autocratic government the opinions of men are not free, and development is stifled, whereas in a democracy, because thought and speech are not restricted, the greatest progress is witnessed. It is likewise true in the world of religion. When freedom of conscience, liberty of thought and right of speech prevail–that is to say, when every man according to his own idealization may give expression to his beliefs–development and growth are inevitable.” –Abdu’l-Baha, The Promulgation of Universal Peace, 197.

    A calculated attempt to dismiss dissent, to insinuate that those who dissent do so from a sense of self-importance or personal entitlement, is the symptom of a weak and effete religion, unsure of itself and thus defensive.

    At the root of dissent is the endorsement of change. Emerson wrote: “Change is the law of life and we consequently obey the law if we choose to live a life of change…. Only conformists try to be fixed, and that in a democratic society, where change is allowed as a matter of principle, only conformists crave fixity.”

    Religious sects that reject modernity and intellectual tolerance, that regard criticism as tantamount to blasphemy, and that anathematize the results of research in the social sciences as biased and materialist, will inevitably become completely obscure and isolated, cut off from the mainstream of modern society, inhabiting a self-referential, hermetically-sealed, apocalyptic universe of their own. The adherents of such closed systems have no recourse but to take a kind of perverse pride in their ignorance and intransigence and reject all counsel to the contrary. An insult to humanity, a sin against God, and a betrayal of Abdu’l-Baha.

  • Brendan Cook

    Sincere Friend,

    I don’t want any concessions, unless letting me be a Baha’i is a concession. I don’t want any changes, unless letting me worship at the 19 day feast is a change. Is my ego a problem? I suppose that would be between myself and God. But I don’t think that we can make that the criterion of Baha’i membership.

    Brendan

  • Brendan Cook

    Sincere Friend,

    I don’t want any concessions, unless letting me be a Baha’i is a concession. I don’t want any changes, unless letting me worship at the 19 day feast is a change. Is my ego a problem? I suppose that would be between myself and God. But I don’t think that we can make that the criterion of Baha’i membership.

    Brendan

  • Reed

    Andrew,

    You use the word “dissent” as if it was a positive. If we look at the Writings we find that “dissent” and “dissension” are always cast in a negative light, as elements contributing to discord and disunity.

    The individual investigation of truth will often produce many different aspects of any particular truth; for truth is often a multi-faceted jewel. Expression of any individual’s perception of truth to the larger community is not only permitted, it is encouraged. However, when the individual clings to “his” or “her” perception of truth as the only one, e.g., women on the Universal House of Justice, then the positive offering of their insight becomes an opposition to others. Note that the root of the word “dissent” comes from “feeling”, not thought. Dissenters are those who have gone beyond the mere expression of a different opinion and now “feel against” the prevailing opinion.

    We can grow and move forward in unity only if we allow free expression of thoughts. However, once that thought is offered to the body of believers, as we learn in the writings on consultation, it belongs to the whole and requires no further defense (unless solicited) from the initiator. What a delight! How liberating!

  • Reed

    Andrew,

    You use the word “dissent” as if it was a positive. If we look at the Writings we find that “dissent” and “dissension” are always cast in a negative light, as elements contributing to discord and disunity.

    The individual investigation of truth will often produce many different aspects of any particular truth; for truth is often a multi-faceted jewel. Expression of any individual’s perception of truth to the larger community is not only permitted, it is encouraged. However, when the individual clings to “his” or “her” perception of truth as the only one, e.g., women on the Universal House of Justice, then the positive offering of their insight becomes an opposition to others. Note that the root of the word “dissent” comes from “feeling”, not thought. Dissenters are those who have gone beyond the mere expression of a different opinion and now “feel against” the prevailing opinion.

    We can grow and move forward in unity only if we allow free expression of thoughts. However, once that thought is offered to the body of believers, as we learn in the writings on consultation, it belongs to the whole and requires no further defense (unless solicited) from the initiator. What a delight! How liberating!

  • Andrew

    It is unfortunate that you appear to characterize dissent as an oppositional trait. Attempting to dismiss dissent as a psychological disorder is however hardly new; even the Pentagon does this.

    In the context of unassailable power, dissent is a positive response. Inevitably, powerful institutions begin to oppress those who have less power. The Christian theologian Richard McCormick wrote that dissent is perceived as oppositional only or especially by those who claim to have captured—really imprisoned—God and God’s purposes in their own conceptual fortress. Dissent is not a threat but an invigorating contribution to continued life and growth.

    There is at least an ethical core to the idea of dissent; dissent is necessary because of the institutional instinct to move toward a totalitarian position—that authority, whatever its source, always attempts to marginalize people and movements considered to be deviant.

    One is often informed that Baha’is are enjoined to consult with those of other religions, with those of other nationalities, and with one another, in order to arrive at consensus; and that it is consultation and not individualism that are stressed. However, consultation necessarily involves collaborative individualism: a world view held by a growing number of people in Western society. It stresses the need for individuals to work together toward a common vision and mission; but it also stresses their emancipation, their freedom from the repressive authority of groups, organizations and social institutions. It also asks the question: who is being consulted on what? Does one consult only with those who are likely to agree with the position one wishes to promote? Consultation must be genuine, rather than token. Otherwise, authentic consultation has not taken place.

    In the coercive construction of assent, the absence of dissent is taken to indicate the approval of the silent majority; it suggests intangible yet highly effective restraints that create a false “feeling” of “togetherness.” However, the presence of dissent is the essence of democracy; the absence of dissent is the essence of totalitarianism. Your suggestion that, for Baha’u’llah, principled dissent and dissension constitute an equivalency to unprincipled discord and disunity simply proves the point.

  • Andrew

    It is unfortunate that you appear to characterize dissent as an oppositional trait. Attempting to dismiss dissent as a psychological disorder is however hardly new; even the Pentagon does this.

    In the context of unassailable power, dissent is a positive response. Inevitably, powerful institutions begin to oppress those who have less power. The Christian theologian Richard McCormick wrote that dissent is perceived as oppositional only or especially by those who claim to have captured—really imprisoned—God and God’s purposes in their own conceptual fortress. Dissent is not a threat but an invigorating contribution to continued life and growth.

    There is at least an ethical core to the idea of dissent; dissent is necessary because of the institutional instinct to move toward a totalitarian position—that authority, whatever its source, always attempts to marginalize people and movements considered to be deviant.

    One is often informed that Baha’is are enjoined to consult with those of other religions, with those of other nationalities, and with one another, in order to arrive at consensus; and that it is consultation and not individualism that are stressed. However, consultation necessarily involves collaborative individualism: a world view held by a growing number of people in Western society. It stresses the need for individuals to work together toward a common vision and mission; but it also stresses their emancipation, their freedom from the repressive authority of groups, organizations and social institutions. It also asks the question: who is being consulted on what? Does one consult only with those who are likely to agree with the position one wishes to promote? Consultation must be genuine, rather than token. Otherwise, authentic consultation has not taken place.

    In the coercive construction of assent, the absence of dissent is taken to indicate the approval of the silent majority; it suggests intangible yet highly effective restraints that create a false “feeling” of “togetherness.” However, the presence of dissent is the essence of democracy; the absence of dissent is the essence of totalitarianism. Your suggestion that, for Baha’u’llah, principled dissent and dissension constitute an equivalency to unprincipled discord and disunity simply proves the point.

  • Reed

    Andrew,

    You said “In the context of unassailable power, dissent is a positive response.” If the power is unassailable, that is, “not liable to doubt, attack, or question” (Merriam-Webster Online), then dissent is merely noise with no positive result. If the purpose of dissent is only to create an atmosphere of discord, then I suppose such a dissent might be considered positive. To look at a dictionary once again, “dissension” is “DISAGREEMENT; especially : partisan and contentious quarreling
    synonym see DISCORD” (Merriam-Webster Online)

    It is the partisan nature of dissent, the seeming need for the dissenter to attract others to his/her “cause”, that is one of the proofs of the negative, soul-blighting essence of dissent. Dissent goes beyond free expression of opinion and becomes ego-centric and corrosive. Instead of saying “I offer for your consideration…” it says “You MUST believe…”. Dissent is inherently Fundamentalist in that it proposes that only one possible view may be true. It is the five blind men examining the elephant. Were the one holding the trunk to say, “This appears like a snake, some aspect of an elephant is snakelike.” he would be expressing opinion; when he says “An elephant MUST be a snake, do not be fooled by others. Listen only to me, not the zoologists.” he is expressing dissent… and is wrong.

    You said “Consultation…also stresses their emancipation, their freedom from the repressive authority of groups, organizations and social institutions.” How so? The very essence of groups is some form of “social contract”, some personal right that is offered to the group in exchange for some personal good. As Baha’is we learn from the Writings what surrender is expected of us from God… and some of that surrender is to the Administrative Order. Just as you might surrender your “right” to drive drunk, in order that the forces of society will protect you from drunk drivers; so you relinquish certain rights, including the right of dissent, as part of your Baha’i “social contract” (which is actually with Baha’u’llah). This does not mean you cannot freely express your insights, ideas, or opinions (as noted in my previous post), just that such expression is done in the manner prescribed in the Writings — to uplift all, without dissent or discord.

    You said “Your suggestion that, for Baha’u’llah, principled dissent and dissension constitute an equivalency to unprincipled discord and disunity simply proves the point.” I “suggested” nothing of the kind I hope, I meant to make that a clear declaration. I will not pummel you with the Writings, chapter and verse, but were you to search (on Ocean perhaps) the Writings for the word “Dissension” or “Dissent”, I’m confident you would agree with me.

  • Reed

    Andrew,

    You said “In the context of unassailable power, dissent is a positive response.” If the power is unassailable, that is, “not liable to doubt, attack, or question” (Merriam-Webster Online), then dissent is merely noise with no positive result. If the purpose of dissent is only to create an atmosphere of discord, then I suppose such a dissent might be considered positive. To look at a dictionary once again, “dissension” is “DISAGREEMENT; especially : partisan and contentious quarreling
    synonym see DISCORD” (Merriam-Webster Online)

    It is the partisan nature of dissent, the seeming need for the dissenter to attract others to his/her “cause”, that is one of the proofs of the negative, soul-blighting essence of dissent. Dissent goes beyond free expression of opinion and becomes ego-centric and corrosive. Instead of saying “I offer for your consideration…” it says “You MUST believe…”. Dissent is inherently Fundamentalist in that it proposes that only one possible view may be true. It is the five blind men examining the elephant. Were the one holding the trunk to say, “This appears like a snake, some aspect of an elephant is snakelike.” he would be expressing opinion; when he says “An elephant MUST be a snake, do not be fooled by others. Listen only to me, not the zoologists.” he is expressing dissent… and is wrong.

    You said “Consultation…also stresses their emancipation, their freedom from the repressive authority of groups, organizations and social institutions.” How so? The very essence of groups is some form of “social contract”, some personal right that is offered to the group in exchange for some personal good. As Baha’is we learn from the Writings what surrender is expected of us from God… and some of that surrender is to the Administrative Order. Just as you might surrender your “right” to drive drunk, in order that the forces of society will protect you from drunk drivers; so you relinquish certain rights, including the right of dissent, as part of your Baha’i “social contract” (which is actually with Baha’u’llah). This does not mean you cannot freely express your insights, ideas, or opinions (as noted in my previous post), just that such expression is done in the manner prescribed in the Writings — to uplift all, without dissent or discord.

    You said “Your suggestion that, for Baha’u’llah, principled dissent and dissension constitute an equivalency to unprincipled discord and disunity simply proves the point.” I “suggested” nothing of the kind I hope, I meant to make that a clear declaration. I will not pummel you with the Writings, chapter and verse, but were you to search (on Ocean perhaps) the Writings for the word “Dissension” or “Dissent”, I’m confident you would agree with me.

  • Sincere Friend

    It would seem that the purpose of a truly spiritual Bahai consultation is to exhaust the expression of every possible point of view and permit all different points of view to be seen in the light of all of the other points of view. So in a sense rather than seeing all the facets of the argument the entire group goes beyond a segmented vision or almagamation of variing points of view to a transcendental position of seeing all facets illumined from within the gem stone, as it were, even to the point of becoming one with the light that illumines the gem stone, this of course being an spiritual state of consciousness and not something that can be attained solely by intellectual discourse.

  • Sincere Friend

    It would seem that the purpose of a truly spiritual Bahai consultation is to exhaust the expression of every possible point of view and permit all different points of view to be seen in the light of all of the other points of view. So in a sense rather than seeing all the facets of the argument the entire group goes beyond a segmented vision or almagamation of variing points of view to a transcendental position of seeing all facets illumined from within the gem stone, as it were, even to the point of becoming one with the light that illumines the gem stone, this of course being an spiritual state of consciousness and not something that can be attained solely by intellectual discourse.

  • Craig Parke

    Dear Reed,

    Thank you for your post.

    Are you familiar with the famous story of Sophie Scholl and the White Rose Society in 1943? If your aren’t, I suggest you at least rent the DVD of the recent very fine German film:

    http://www.sophieschollmovie.com/

    Sophie Scholl: Wikipedia
    Sophie Scholl: Wikipedia 2

    Sophie Scholl article

    http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERschollS.htm

    Christianity Today article

    Let’s then have an essay from you on Sophie Scholl and her actions in the historical record and your safe, “Middle Class Baha’i”, deodorized, completely un-tested, and pleasant sanitized concept of “dissent”.

    I have been a Baha’i for 36 years and I will match my dedicated and selfless service with any Baha’i in the ranks anywhere in the world. And I fully believe the current version of the Baha’i Faith right now is a religion of disgraceful sheep completely unworthy of the name of Baha’u’llah. “Unity” now is just another name for boot licking cowardice by a planetary cult of shameful passive-aggressive yellow bellied neurotics afraid to speak-up and speak-out. This present Baha’i Era is a sorry disgrace.

    The US NSA wrote a concise, thoughtful, and succinct analysis of the current situation based upon their experience in it’s Ridvan 2007 Convention Report of the current failure of the straight-jacketed, top down, incredibly autocratic policies and practices of the current “Five Year Plan” only to have their analysis and suggestions for correction and improvement completely dismissed OUT OF HAND by the current UHJ and it’s gamed elections idolatrous ITC Faith Apparatus WITHIN FOURTEEN DAYS without ANY further permitted discussion among the rank and file. The report has now been suppressed from ALL community discussion and taken from cyberspace worldwide except for the copy you can find from the link created here and then placed in the Google archives. The harsh and quite unnecessary action of the current UHJ reacting to the report issued by the diligent US NSA trying to engage on these current matters was something right out of George Orwell’s “1984″. The report was just “disappeared” from the “Administrative order.”

    I will not passively accept this kind of conduct and I will stand up to it. I will work tirelessly for the current members of the UHJ to be removed from office in the next election cycle. These are harebrained psychological cultists who are systematically destroying the Baha’i Faith lock, stock, and barrel.

    The deep psychological issues involved in this kind of high-handed defensive conduct must be discussed by the rank and file everywhere on Earth. And eventually they will be at some point over the next 100 years. And the key issue involved IS the incredible failure of the Baha’i electoral process worldwide to put mentally balanced people into high positions in the Faith with clearly established term limits either by direct legislation or slowly evolving cultural rules. This planetary discussion is just beginning and it will go on possibly for centuries aided in it’s development by the Internet. A new body politic will eventually arise based upon real competence and a solid spiritual understanding not only of the Writings…but of the real processes of life by people who are awake and taking notes daily.

    This current sorry version of the Baha’i Faith is now completely cut off from the workings of the Holy Spirit on Earth among all Mankind. A child can see this. We are now an incredibly materialistic, even Godless, apparatchik cult of incredibly dumbed down people whose IQ and courage in life is dropping more and more with every passing year.

    Read the Tablet of the Holy Mariner. This was all prophesied by Baha’u’llah. Divine Judgment, therefore, will eventually come to purge the Faith of these lifetime incumbent Chief Priests, Scribes, and Pharisees Cosmic Archetypes and liberate the Faith to it’s free proper recipients: ALL the peoples of the World. That fine day of purification will come.

    In the meantime I suggest you study the life of Sophie Scholl as an example of how a human being should live their life who she now sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty and whose soul of light will live on in the annals of human history.

    While the people currently leading the Baha’i Faith into utter oblivion are going to have to be buried in unmarked graves because they will be so hated and despised by the peoples of the future on this planet who will understand the magnitude of their crimes, their astonishing spiritual illiteracy, and their grasping psychological neediness to commit usurpation of an authority they don’t have in the Writings to create a mind bending cult of abject heart-breaking failure destroying the hopes and prayers of tens of thousands of people some who know about the Faith now and many more who will yet learn of it in the future.

  • Craig Parke

    Dear Reed,

    Thank you for your post.

    Are you familiar with the famous story of Sophie Scholl and the White Rose Society in 1943? If your aren’t, I suggest you at least rent the DVD of the recent very fine German film:

    http://www.sophieschollmovie.com/

    Sophie Scholl: Wikipedia

    Sophie Scholl: Wikipedia 2

    Sophie Scholl article

    http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/GERschollS.htm

    Christianity Today article

    Let’s then have an essay from you on Sophie Scholl and her actions in the historical record and your safe, “Middle Class Baha’i”, deodorized, completely un-tested, and pleasant sanitized concept of “dissent”.

    I have been a Baha’i for 36 years and I will match my dedicated and selfless service with any Baha’i in the ranks anywhere in the world. And I fully believe the current version of the Baha’i Faith right now is a religion of disgraceful sheep completely unworthy of the name of Baha’u’llah. “Unity” now is just another name for boot licking cowardice by a planetary cult of shameful passive-aggressive yellow bellied neurotics afraid to speak-up and speak-out. This present Baha’i Era is a sorry disgrace.

    The US NSA wrote a concise, thoughtful, and succinct analysis of the current situation based upon their experience in it’s Ridvan 2007 Convention Report of the current failure of the straight-jacketed, top down, incredibly autocratic policies and practices of the current “Five Year Plan” only to have their analysis and suggestions for correction and improvement completely dismissed OUT OF HAND by the current UHJ and it’s gamed elections idolatrous ITC Faith Apparatus WITHIN FOURTEEN DAYS without ANY further permitted discussion among the rank and file. The report has now been suppressed from ALL community discussion and taken from cyberspace worldwide except for the copy you can find from the link created here and then placed in the Google archives. The harsh and quite unnecessary action of the current UHJ reacting to the report issued by the diligent US NSA trying to engage on these current matters was something right out of George Orwell’s “1984″. The report was just “disappeared” from the “Administrative order.”

    I will not passively accept this kind of conduct and I will stand up to it. I will work tirelessly for the current members of the UHJ to be removed from office in the next election cycle. These are harebrained psychological cultists who are systematically destroying the Baha’i Faith lock, stock, and barrel.

    The deep psychological issues involved in this kind of high-handed defensive conduct must be discussed by the rank and file everywhere on Earth. And eventually they will be at some point over the next 100 years. And the key issue involved IS the incredible failure of the Baha’i electoral process worldwide to put mentally balanced people into high positions in the Faith with clearly established term limits either by direct legislation or slowly evolving cultural rules. This planetary discussion is just beginning and it will go on possibly for centuries aided in it’s development by the Internet. A new body politic will eventually arise based upon real competence and a solid spiritual understanding not only of the Writings…but of the real processes of life by people who are awake and taking notes daily.

    This current sorry version of the Baha’i Faith is now completely cut off from the workings of the Holy Spirit on Earth among all Mankind. A child can see this. We are now an incredibly materialistic, even Godless, apparatchik cult of incredibly dumbed down people whose IQ and courage in life is dropping more and more with every passing year.

    Read the Tablet of the Holy Mariner. This was all prophesied by Baha’u’llah. Divine Judgment, therefore, will eventually come to purge the Faith of these lifetime incumbent Chief Priests, Scribes, and Pharisees Cosmic Archetypes and liberate the Faith to it’s free proper recipients: ALL the peoples of the World. That fine day of purification will come.

    In the meantime I suggest you study the life of Sophie Scholl as an example of how a human being should live their life who she now sits on the right hand of God the Father Almighty and whose soul of light will live on in the annals of human history.

    While the people currently leading the Baha’i Faith into utter oblivion are going to have to be buried in unmarked graves because they will be so hated and despised by the peoples of the future on this planet who will understand the magnitude of their crimes, their astonishing spiritual illiteracy, and their grasping psychological neediness to commit usurpation of an authority they don’t have in the Writings to create a mind bending cult of abject heart-breaking failure destroying the hopes and prayers of tens of thousands of people some who know about the Faith now and many more who will yet learn of it in the future.

  • Andrew

    Structures that appear unassailable in one context are not always impervious in another. An appeal to one purely formal definition of dissent provided by a particular dictionary in support of a preconceived idea is inadequate, because formal definitions often lack comprehensibility; such distinctions would generally be regarded as pedantic.

    The “proof” you offer that dissent is negative is predicated upon your assertion that dissent is intrinsically partisan; but to assert is not to prove, far less is it to persuade. As Anne Hathaway aptly noted, “The greatest derangement of the mind is to believe in something because one wishes it to be so.”

    For the same reason, your caricature of dissent constitutes a false tautology. To assert that principled dissent is inherently fundamentalist is disingenuous at best and simply churlish at worst.

    You conflate rights with privileges; rights are not dependent upon the fulfillment of obligations in order to acquire some personal good, still less are they contingent upon the largesse of administrative organizations. The arguments you offer have applicability only within the restricted domains of religious belief and practice; they are self-referential and self-contained. We live in a world where the kind of arguments you make work only in religion, where they can’t be criticized; in other words, they only work when those who make them are in no danger of having to realize them in practice, beyond the very narrow boundaries of religious and cultural enclaves.

    I do not know how Baha’i dissidents would respond to your assertion of “a clear declaration” based upon the Writings of Baha’u’llah: I am not a Baha’i. As I have stated elsewhere, Christians have interpreted the laws of the Hebrew Bible (and the teachings of Jesus) for over two thousand years as they used pre-modern, modern and post-modern critical methods of study and interpretation. The Manifestations of God are limited by their humanity like any other human; Baha’u’llah is no longer here in human form, still less is he confined within the rigid institutional structures of Baha’i religion, any more than the words of Christ are confined within the structures of the conciliar church of the first seven centuries.

    I have no interest in engaging with apologists who merely reiterate the same heuristic arguments and dialectics; sad tactics that demonstrate nothing other than their own beliefs in the arguments they offer on behalf of the religious institutions to which they belong. Such arguments convince only the already convinced, and are thus ineffectual foundations for rational discourse. Perhaps the officially sanctioned dissidents of the Baha’i religion might wish to take these matters up with you. I wish them the very best of luck.

  • Andrew

    Structures that appear unassailable in one context are not always impervious in another. An appeal to one purely formal definition of dissent provided by a particular dictionary in support of a preconceived idea is inadequate, because formal definitions often lack comprehensibility; such distinctions would generally be regarded as pedantic.

    The “proof” you offer that dissent is negative is predicated upon your assertion that dissent is intrinsically partisan; but to assert is not to prove, far less is it to persuade. As Anne Hathaway aptly noted, “The greatest derangement of the mind is to believe in something because one wishes it to be so.”

    For the same reason, your caricature of dissent constitutes a false tautology. To assert that principled dissent is inherently fundamentalist is disingenuous at best and simply churlish at worst.

    You conflate rights with privileges; rights are not dependent upon the fulfillment of obligations in order to acquire some personal good, still less are they contingent upon the largesse of administrative organizations. The arguments you offer have applicability only within the restricted domains of religious belief and practice; they are self-referential and self-contained. We live in a world where the kind of arguments you make work only in religion, where they can’t be criticized; in other words, they only work when those who make them are in no danger of having to realize them in practice, beyond the very narrow boundaries of religious and cultural enclaves.

    I do not know how Baha’i dissidents would respond to your assertion of “a clear declaration” based upon the Writings of Baha’u’llah: I am not a Baha’i. As I have stated elsewhere, Christians have interpreted the laws of the Hebrew Bible (and the teachings of Jesus) for over two thousand years as they used pre-modern, modern and post-modern critical methods of study and interpretation. The Manifestations of God are limited by their humanity like any other human; Baha’u’llah is no longer here in human form, still less is he confined within the rigid institutional structures of Baha’i religion, any more than the words of Christ are confined within the structures of the conciliar church of the first seven centuries.

    I have no interest in engaging with apologists who merely reiterate the same heuristic arguments and dialectics; sad tactics that demonstrate nothing other than their own beliefs in the arguments they offer on behalf of the religious institutions to which they belong. Such arguments convince only the already convinced, and are thus ineffectual foundations for rational discourse. Perhaps the officially sanctioned dissidents of the Baha’i religion might wish to take these matters up with you. I wish them the very best of luck.

  • Craig Parke

    Hi Sincere Friend,

    Good to hear from you! This is an excellent point you have made here. This is how I have always viewed the spiritual process of consultation from my own experience in both the Faith and in other work situations and other organizations where I have consulted with various differing views (many strongly held by folks) to try and get at the reality and truth of a sitiuation to take an action. It has often worked wonders from my Baha’i discipline in action.

    So I ask you this, why didn’t the UHJ allow the delegates to the 2007 National Convention to openly consult on the US NSA report as the Writings say to do with free and open expression on these vitally important issues to the National Baha’i Community.

    Why didn’t they allow any discussion whatsoever of the report that took considerable time and expense to write with the hard earned financial contributions of the rank and file Baha’is?

    Is that fair?

    Why are they afraid to allow anyone to speak about these issues?

  • Craig Parke

    Hi Sincere Friend,

    Good to hear from you! This is an excellent point you have made here. This is how I have always viewed the spiritual process of consultation from my own experience in both the Faith and in other work situations and other organizations where I have consulted with various differing views (many strongly held by folks) to try and get at the reality and truth of a sitiuation to take an action. It has often worked wonders from my Baha’i discipline in action.

    So I ask you this, why didn’t the UHJ allow the delegates to the 2007 National Convention to openly consult on the US NSA report as the Writings say to do with free and open expression on these vitally important issues to the National Baha’i Community.

    Why didn’t they allow any discussion whatsoever of the report that took considerable time and expense to write with the hard earned financial contributions of the rank and file Baha’is?

    Is that fair?

    Why are they afraid to allow anyone to speak about these issues?

  • Concourse on Low

    For a rather apt illustration of intellectual myopia within the rank and file of today’s Bahai community, a recent post on this subject and the predictable responses to it are on Bahai live journal right now.

  • Concourse on Low

    For a rather apt illustration of intellectual myopia within the rank and file of today’s Bahai community, a recent post on this subject and the predictable responses to it are on Bahai live journal right now.

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    CoL, are you referring to this message specifically?

    I originally wanted to post this as a comment in a thread in my previous post, but I think it’s more appropriate as an independent post.

    I’ve been following some of the discussions in this community for a while now, and I feel a bit unsettled about the way some of them unfold.

    It seems to me that reasoned debate, and particularly the expression of reasoned disagreement, is implicitly, and sometimes actively, discouraged within this forum, which, unfortunately, also mirrors my experience within the Bahai community. Now a qualification before someone uses this as a red herring to avoid addressing my central concerns: I know my experience by nature is anecdotal, but my personal experiences seem to coincide with the experiences of others. A formal, randomized statistical survey is not necessary, as some have suggested in the previous thread…

  • http://www.bahairants.com Baquia

    CoL, are you referring to this message specifically?

    I originally wanted to post this as a comment in a thread in my previous post, but I think it’s more appropriate as an independent post.

    I’ve been following some of the discussions in this community for a while now, and I feel a bit unsettled about the way some of them unfold.

    It seems to me that reasoned debate, and particularly the expression of reasoned disagreement, is implicitly, and sometimes actively, discouraged within this forum, which, unfortunately, also mirrors my experience within the Bahai community. Now a qualification before someone uses this as a red herring to avoid addressing my central concerns: I know my experience by nature is anecdotal, but my personal experiences seem to coincide with the experiences of others. A formal, randomized statistical survey is not necessary, as some have suggested in the previous thread…

  • Concourse on Low

    Yes Baquia, and the subsequent comments, several of which were screened and deleted by the forum’s moderators.

  • Concourse on Low

    Yes Baquia, and the subsequent comments, several of which were screened and deleted by the forum’s moderators.

  • Andrew

    Thank you for the link to the very informative discussion on Baha’i live journal.

    It seems like an experience of cognitive dissonance: one of the posters might protest that he or she does not appreciate subtle jabs or veiled insults but then musters up the energy to spew some sarcasm of his or her own. Do as I say, not as I do, or multiple guidelines may be violated!

    Is it really just a matter of intellectual myopia, or is it something a bit deeper than that? Ralph Wood, in his book on Flannery O’Connor, writes:

    ” … fudging of dramatic and religious truth makes for the sentimentality that O’Connor so starchily scorned, especially when it was prompted by allegedly Christian concerns. She likened such saccharine religion to pornographic literature: the achieving of cheap and easy ends at the expense of valuable and difficult means.”

    Or, as M. N. Roy writes in his essay on democracy and nationalism in Asia: “The teleological view of life, the most outstanding feature of the medieval religious culture, creates an authoritarian mentality — the psychological predisposition to cultivate submission as a virtue and to accept authority as providentially ordained. With the ignorant multitude, this cultural tradition takes the form of fatalism; it makes the politically-minded minority regard dictatorship or paternalism as more desirable than democracy.”

  • Andrew

    Thank you for the link to the very informative discussion on Baha’i live journal.

    It seems like an experience of cognitive dissonance: one of the posters might protest that he or she does not appreciate subtle jabs or veiled insults but then musters up the energy to spew some sarcasm of his or her own. Do as I say, not as I do, or multiple guidelines may be violated!

    Is it really just a matter of intellectual myopia, or is it something a bit deeper than that? Ralph Wood, in his book on Flannery O’Connor, writes:

    ” … fudging of dramatic and religious truth makes for the sentimentality that O’Connor so starchily scorned, especially when it was prompted by allegedly Christian concerns. She likened such saccharine religion to pornographic literature: the achieving of cheap and easy ends at the expense of valuable and difficult means.”

    Or, as M. N. Roy writes in his essay on democracy and nationalism in Asia: “The teleological view of life, the most outstanding feature of the medieval religious culture, creates an authoritarian mentality — the psychological predisposition to cultivate submission as a virtue and to accept authority as providentially ordained. With the ignorant multitude, this cultural tradition takes the form of fatalism; it makes the politically-minded minority regard dictatorship or paternalism as more desirable than democracy.”

  • Andrew

    I also note that the comments made in response to this thread …

    http://community.livejournal.com/ljbahai/442916.html

    … have been removed or replaced. Ah, religion. For a good chuckle, see:

    http://www.ca.bahai.org/main.cfm?sid=17

  • Andrew

    I also note that the comments made in response to this thread …

    http://community.livejournal.com/ljbahai/442916.html

    … have been removed or replaced. Ah, religion. For a good chuckle, see:

    http://www.ca.bahai.org/main.cfm?sid=17

  • Andrew

    In the words of one opponent to the kind of fundamentalism that Reed represents for us in his latest post:

    “The division in (the world today) is between those who embrace the Age of Enlightenment, modernity, and true democracy and those who reject those notions. It is between those who believe in the separation between church and state and those who do not. It is between those who believe in true liberty and tolerance and those who would deny civil rights to anyone they don’t like or hate. It is between the well read, informed, tolerant, and educated against those living in a fantasyland of religious literalism, quasi-literate indifference, close-minded intolerance, and utter stupidity … Those who don’t defend democracy don’t deserve to live in one.”

  • Andrew

    In the words of one opponent to the kind of fundamentalism that Reed represents for us in his latest post:

    “The division in (the world today) is between those who embrace the Age of Enlightenment, modernity, and true democracy and those who reject those notions. It is between those who believe in the separation between church and state and those who do not. It is between those who believe in true liberty and tolerance and those who would deny civil rights to anyone they don’t like or hate. It is between the well read, informed, tolerant, and educated against those living in a fantasyland of religious literalism, quasi-literate indifference, close-minded intolerance, and utter stupidity … Those who don’t defend democracy don’t deserve to live in one.”

  • Brendan Cook

    “We are all prone to imagine ourselves right and everybody else wrong. This illustrates what I was striving to say in one of my above posts – dissent, which seeks others to agree with the dissenter in a partisan manner, not to seek truth independently, but to listen to their version of truth, is inherently fundamentalist and flawed.”

    Reed,

    This isn’t what dissent means. ‘Dissent’ means to feel differently or even, this goes back to the Latin, to entertain different convictions. A dissenter — and you can see the validity of this usage in English history — is someone fighting for the right to think differently, to feel differently from the majority. Striving to make others agree is a striving after *assent*, not *dissent*, And the best example of this is in the kind of language Bill Davis uses in the post above. Davis is telling us we have no choice but to see things the way the House sees them. When I dissent I’m resisting this, I’m fighting for my right to see with my own eyes and know of my own knowledge. Dissent is the struggle for justice.

    Brendan

  • Brendan Cook

    “We are all prone to imagine ourselves right and everybody else wrong. This illustrates what I was striving to say in one of my above posts – dissent, which seeks others to agree with the dissenter in a partisan manner, not to seek truth independently, but to listen to their version of truth, is inherently fundamentalist and flawed.”

    Reed,

    This isn’t what dissent means. ‘Dissent’ means to feel differently or even, this goes back to the Latin, to entertain different convictions. A dissenter — and you can see the validity of this usage in English history — is someone fighting for the right to think differently, to feel differently from the majority. Striving to make others agree is a striving after *assent*, not *dissent*, And the best example of this is in the kind of language Bill Davis uses in the post above. Davis is telling us we have no choice but to see things the way the House sees them. When I dissent I’m resisting this, I’m fighting for my right to see with my own eyes and know of my own knowledge. Dissent is the struggle for justice.

    Brendan

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  • Robert Clifton

    Ah yes! I quote:
    The division in (the world today)…is between the well read, informed, tolerant, and educated against those living in a fantasyland of religious literalism, quasi-literate indifference, close-minded intolerance, and utter stupidity. Unquote.
    It seems to me that this could be better stated as:
    The division in (the world today)…is between the well read, informed, tolerant, and educated …living in a fantasyland of religious literalism, quasi-literate indifference, close-minded intolerance, and utter stupidity — and those well read, informed, tolerant, and educated living in a fantasyland of religious literalism, quasi-literate indifference, close-minded intolerance, and utter stupidity.
    Or even more succinctly the division in the world today is between those who believe like me and those who do not believe like me.
    Again it may just be my untutored mind but I thought consultation was supposed to bring us together in some form or other.

  • Robert Clifton

    Ah yes! I quote:
    The division in (the world today)…is between the well read, informed, tolerant, and educated against those living in a fantasyland of religious literalism, quasi-literate indifference, close-minded intolerance, and utter stupidity. Unquote.
    It seems to me that this could be better stated as:
    The division in (the world today)…is between the well read, informed, tolerant, and educated …living in a fantasyland of religious literalism, quasi-literate indifference, close-minded intolerance, and utter stupidity — and those well read, informed, tolerant, and educated living in a fantasyland of religious literalism, quasi-literate indifference, close-minded intolerance, and utter stupidity.
    Or even more succinctly the division in the world today is between those who believe like me and those who do not believe like me.
    Again it may just be my untutored mind but I thought consultation was supposed to bring us together in some form or other.

  • Andrew

    Again, it may be just your untutored mind.

    Will consultation bring you together with “Covenant-breakers” in some form or other?

  • Andrew

    Again, it may be just your untutored mind.

    Will consultation bring you together with “Covenant-breakers” in some form or other?

  • Robert Clifton

    Tutoring must include some element of which I am not aware.
    I have read “all the comments” suggested, which to me would constitute being well tutored on the content of this thread.
    Consultation will, does, and indeed has brought me together with “covenant-breakers”, as well as Christians for and against Baha’u’llah, members of the Tarbiyat, Orthodox, Jacques group, Monatana group, but alas not the Reform nor the UHJ group.
    Of course I am talking about consultation, not debate, not argument, not ‘open and free” discussion.
    At this moment consultation is progressing between me and a Baptist, me and an African Methodist, two hands of the cause in the Orthodox, one from Heart of the Faith group, one from the Tarbiyat, one from the “disaffected”, and just before I entered here I recieved an email from a Salvation Army person with comments on unity.
    Being well tutored in the world of existence is considerably less affective than being well immersed in the writings. Any one wanting to consult with me is welcome to do so via personal email and not through a blog. Unfortunately blogs lend to rancor.
    Thanks for your comments.
    Robert

  • Robert Clifton

    Tutoring must include some element of which I am not aware.
    I have read “all the comments” suggested, which to me would constitute being well tutored on the content of this thread.
    Consultation will, does, and indeed has brought me together with “covenant-breakers”, as well as Christians for and against Baha’u’llah, members of the Tarbiyat, Orthodox, Jacques group, Monatana group, but alas not the Reform nor the UHJ group.
    Of course I am talking about consultation, not debate, not argument, not ‘open and free” discussion.
    At this moment consultation is progressing between me and a Baptist, me and an African Methodist, two hands of the cause in the Orthodox, one from Heart of the Faith group, one from the Tarbiyat, one from the “disaffected”, and just before I entered here I recieved an email from a Salvation Army person with comments on unity.
    Being well tutored in the world of existence is considerably less affective than being well immersed in the writings. Any one wanting to consult with me is welcome to do so via personal email and not through a blog. Unfortunately blogs lend to rancor.
    Thanks for your comments.
    Robert

  • Andrew

    Robert:

    You initially wrote:

    “Or even more succinctly the division in the world today is between those who believe like me and those who do not believe like me.”

    But that is not even remotely representative of what the author of the comments to which you refer intended to convey. Yet you write: “Blogs lead to rancor.” Where is the rancor? I would submit that the rancor lies in your portrayal of the words whose intent you caricature. Own it!

    Truth refuses to split the difference with falsehood. There are limits to consultation. I’m not interested in “consulting” with ignorant, prejudiced bigots — bigots who have every opportunity in the world to educate and inform themselves but resolutely refuse to do so — under the pretext of promoting “unity.” I’d rather contribute my time and resources to those who are engaged in the creation of “enlightened society,” one in which the voices of intolerance, obscurantism and sectarianism will be even further diminished, as they should be.

  • Andrew

    Robert:

    You initially wrote:

    “Or even more succinctly the division in the world today is between those who believe like me and those who do not believe like me.”

    But that is not even remotely representative of what the author of the comments to which you refer intended to convey. Yet you write: “Blogs lead to rancor.” Where is the rancor? I would submit that the rancor lies in your portrayal of the words whose intent you caricature. Own it!

    Truth refuses to split the difference with falsehood. There are limits to consultation. I’m not interested in “consulting” with ignorant, prejudiced bigots — bigots who have every opportunity in the world to educate and inform themselves but resolutely refuse to do so — under the pretext of promoting “unity.” I’d rather contribute my time and resources to those who are engaged in the creation of “enlightened society,” one in which the voices of intolerance, obscurantism and sectarianism will be even further diminished, as they should be.

  • Robert Clifton

    Thank you for your response:
    I read your point of view.
    I offered my point of view.
    We have shown by example that contentious rancorus debate divides.
    Would you care to try consultation? You and I can achieve a unity of some form or other.

    Robert Clifton

  • Robert Clifton

    Thank you for your response:
    I read your point of view.
    I offered my point of view.
    We have shown by example that contentious rancorus debate divides.
    Would you care to try consultation? You and I can achieve a unity of some form or other.

    Robert Clifton

  • Andrew

    To quote Martin Brecht: clear positions are better than a false unity.

    Any ideas of separation or division within the whole are purely arbitrary. All divisions are relative, unity remains.

    I anathematize neither difference nor disagreement. Contention can be a viable strategy for challenging authoritarian regimes.

    To quote Pema Chedron: “There’s nothing wrong with negativity. Anger without the fixation is none other than mirrorlike wisdom.”

    Peace!

  • Andrew

    To quote Martin Brecht: clear positions are better than a false unity.

    Any ideas of separation or division within the whole are purely arbitrary. All divisions are relative, unity remains.

    I anathematize neither difference nor disagreement. Contention can be a viable strategy for challenging authoritarian regimes.

    To quote Pema Chedron: “There’s nothing wrong with negativity. Anger without the fixation is none other than mirrorlike wisdom.”

    Peace!

  • Sincere Friend

    The essence of our Faith is Unity. Consultation is the process whereby unity is achieved. Argument, debate, contention, all seek to defeat, divide and conquer. That is not the way of unity, nor of consultation.

  • Sincere Friend

    The essence of our Faith is Unity. Consultation is the process whereby unity is achieved. Argument, debate, contention, all seek to defeat, divide and conquer. That is not the way of unity, nor of consultation.

  • Andrew

    Sincere Friend writes:

    “The essence of our Faith is Unity. Consultation is the process whereby unity is achieved. Argument, debate, contention, all seek to defeat, divide and conquer. That is not the way of unity, nor of consultation.”

    Uniformity of organization under the banner of visible unity is merely a fa?§ade of unity. It is a uniformity of automatons.

    The belief that argument, debate, and contention all seek to divide and conquer is convenient to those who have found it to be convenient. That does not, however, make it true. Far from it.

    `Abdu’l-Bah?? writes:

    “The shining spark of truth comes forth only from the clash of differing opinions.”

    I’m certain Sincere Friend will find a way to explain away the words of `Abdu’l-Bah??. Nothing I haven’t read before, of course.

  • Andrew

    Sincere Friend writes:

    “The essence of our Faith is Unity. Consultation is the process whereby unity is achieved. Argument, debate, contention, all seek to defeat, divide and conquer. That is not the way of unity, nor of consultation.”

    Uniformity of organization under the banner of visible unity is merely a fa?§ade of unity. It is a uniformity of automatons.

    The belief that argument, debate, and contention all seek to divide and conquer is convenient to those who have found it to be convenient. That does not, however, make it true. Far from it.

    `Abdu’l-Bah?? writes:

    “The shining spark of truth comes forth only from the clash of differing opinions.”

    I’m certain Sincere Friend will find a way to explain away the words of `Abdu’l-Bah??. Nothing I haven’t read before, of course.

  • Sincere Friend

    Dear Friend Andrew,

    It has been my experience that consultation, when undertaken in a spirit of loving kindness, truth seeking and service does produce true unity.

    For consultation to be successful this spirit must first be present, and that is why prayer is such an important part of the consultative process.

    When differences of opinion that are divisive arise then they must be resolved in this same spirit or by further discussion to remove misunderstandings.

    It is my observation that argument, debate, and contention come from traditions, systems, or cultures where the intended result is that there is a clear winner or loser and therefore a division of the community in which the argument, debate or contention occurred. This produces the unsavory effect of simmering resentments and undercurrents of hatred for particular personalities or entities as a result of the pain of defeat suffered by the particular egos who lost the argument, debate, or contention.

    It is true, as you so rightly quote Abdul Baha as saying �The shining spark of truth comes forth only from the clash of differing opinions.�,
    but then what? How is unity then achieved?

    What I also observe is that often when persons engage in a discussion and do not find immediate agreement that there is a tendency to begin a process of assumption about the other person, accusation, and dismissal, that can eventually lead to provocation, insult, and violence (whether verbal or physical). This obviously is not the way of unity.

    I think the comment you make about the facade of unity and the conformity of automatons is a perception that implies dissatisfaction with what seems to be the current state of the Bahai community. I perceive this current state, which I concede may be accurate in some jurisdictions, as a stage of adjustment between cultures of conflict and the emergence of a culture of true unity where the ideals of adversarial systems which seek to use conflict to bring about truth and the ideals of the Bahai Faith for unity can both be realized.

    I really do think that we as a world community are really still learning how to achieve true unity, and that when we do, under the guidance of Baha u llahs teachings and His Covenant and whatever relevant science can be applied, that it will fulfill both the desire of those like you who seek for individuality and explicit truth such as the better parts of the traditional adversarial cultures have provided, and those who are seeking to achieve the practical institutional goals of true unity in diversity.

    In the spirit of loving kindness,
    Sincerely

  • Sincere Friend

    Dear Friend Andrew,

    It has been my experience that consultation, when undertaken in a spirit of loving kindness, truth seeking and service does produce true unity.

    For consultation to be successful this spirit must first be present, and that is why prayer is such an important part of the consultative process.

    When differences of opinion that are divisive arise then they must be resolved in this same spirit or by further discussion to remove misunderstandings.

    It is my observation that argument, debate, and contention come from traditions, systems, or cultures where the intended result is that there is a clear winner or loser and therefore a division of the community in which the argument, debate or contention occurred. This produces the unsavory effect of simmering resentments and undercurrents of hatred for particular personalities or entities as a result of the pain of defeat suffered by the particular egos who lost the argument, debate, or contention.

    It is true, as you so rightly quote Abdul Baha as saying �The shining spark of truth comes forth only from the clash of differing opinions.�,
    but then what? How is unity then achieved?

    What I also observe is that often when persons engage in a discussion and do not find immediate agreement that there is a tendency to begin a process of assumption about the other person, accusation, and dismissal, that can eventually lead to provocation, insult, and violence (whether verbal or physical). This obviously is not the way of unity.

    I think the comment you make about the facade of unity and the conformity of automatons is a perception that implies dissatisfaction with what seems to be the current state of the Bahai community. I perceive this current state, which I concede may be accurate in some jurisdictions, as a stage of adjustment between cultures of conflict and the emergence of a culture of true unity where the ideals of adversarial systems which seek to use conflict to bring about truth and the ideals of the Bahai Faith for unity can both be realized.

    I really do think that we as a world community are really still learning how to achieve true unity, and that when we do, under the guidance of Baha u llahs teachings and His Covenant and whatever relevant science can be applied, that it will fulfill both the desire of those like you who seek for individuality and explicit truth such as the better parts of the traditional adversarial cultures have provided, and those who are seeking to achieve the practical institutional goals of true unity in diversity.

    In the spirit of loving kindness,
    Sincerely

  • Robert Clifton

    Sometimes it is difficult to reconcile apparently conflicting statements in the writings.
    �The shining spark of truth comes forth only from the clash of differing opinions.�
    “Nothing whatsoever can, in this Day, inflict a greater harm upon this Cause than dissension and strife, contention, estrangement and apathy, among the loved ones of God.”
    Gauged by standards current amongst us these are contradictory statements. However reading further we find:
    “With the utmost friendliness and in a spirit of perfect fellowship take ye counsel together,”
    “consultation is the lamp of guidance”
    Entering consultation in a spirit of cooperation to find that shining spark of truth will produce results while entering discussion or debate to prove a point is doomed to produce division.

    Sincere Friend and I are definately not in the same Bahai cult but we just as assuredly agree that consultation will bring about peace and unity.

    Robert Clifton

  • Robert Clifton

    Sometimes it is difficult to reconcile apparently conflicting statements in the writings.
    �The shining spark of truth comes forth only from the clash of differing opinions.�
    “Nothing whatsoever can, in this Day, inflict a greater harm upon this Cause than dissension and strife, contention, estrangement and apathy, among the loved ones of God.”
    Gauged by standards current amongst us these are contradictory statements. However reading further we find:
    “With the utmost friendliness and in a spirit of perfect fellowship take ye counsel together,”
    “consultation is the lamp of guidance”
    Entering consultation in a spirit of cooperation to find that shining spark of truth will produce results while entering discussion or debate to prove a point is doomed to produce division.

    Sincere Friend and I are definately not in the same Bahai cult but we just as assuredly agree that consultation will bring about peace and unity.

    Robert Clifton

  • Sincere Friend

    Well said dear Friend Robert.

    I am not sure what you mean by “Sincere Friend and I are definately not in the same Bahai cult” but the Spirit of Bah ullah is greater than any difference that may exist and when we keep that foremost in mind we will undoubtedly all attain to the city of Unity.

  • Sincere Friend

    Well said dear Friend Robert.

    I am not sure what you mean by “Sincere Friend and I are definately not in the same Bahai cult” but the Spirit of Bah ullah is greater than any difference that may exist and when we keep that foremost in mind we will undoubtedly all attain to the city of Unity.

  • Andrew

    “It has been my experience that consultation, when undertaken in a spirit of loving kindness, truth seeking and service does produce true unity.”

    And who, pray tell, defines what constitutes “truth seeking”? Those who accuse dissidents of suffering from “ressentiment”? When the well has already been poisoned by years of adversarial propaganda (much of it inflammatory and grossly inaccurate) by those who claim sole ownership of its contents, it takes more than good intentions left over from paving the road to Hell.

    “It is my observation that argument, debate, and contention come from traditions, systems, or cultures where the intended result is that there is a clear winner or loser and therefore a division of the community in which the argument, debate or contention occurred.”

    I think your observation is biased in favor of a religious culture of control and intimidation in which public dissidence is strongly disapproved of, not to mention caricatured, derided, and ridiculed.

    “What I also observe is that often when persons engage in a discussion and do not find immediate agreement that there is a tendency to begin a process of assumption about the other person, accusation, and dismissal, that can eventually lead to provocation, insult, and violence (whether verbal or physical).”

    Indeed: witness the the latest article to come out in “Religion,” writren by Moojan Momen, called “Marginality and Apostasy in the Baha’i Community.” I can’t think of a better example than this of assumption, accusation, and dismissal.

    “I perceive this current state, which I concede may be accurate in some jurisdictions, as a stage of adjustment between cultures of conflict and the emergence of a culture of true unity where the ideals of adversarial systems which seek to use conflict to bring about truth and the ideals of the Bahai Faith for unity can both be realized.”

    I don’t think this will fly. The Baha’i Faith has been in existence for almost 150 years. Unlike Christianity or Islam, it developed in the industrial age and has matured (as much as it ever will, I suspect) in the information age. When Baha’i dissidents present knowledge and insights in support of their positions, they’re simply dismissed as malcontents who suffer from “ressentiment.” This is like trying to lock the barn door after the horse has bolted.

    “I really do think that we as a world community are really still learning how to achieve true unity.”

    I would like to believe this is true. I really would. But it seems to me that when presented with every opportunity to acquire new insights and alter their perceptions, the upholders of Baha’i orthodoxy consistently express a shared intransigence and distrust of dissidence and modernity. This does not bode well for the development of a mature religious faith, and virtually ensures that the Baha’i religion will remain a marginal phenomenon, limited to a relatively small cadre of devout adherents who are unable to accept the evolving social environment or culture. In other words: at best, a sect; at worst, a cult.

  • Andrew

    “It has been my experience that consultation, when undertaken in a spirit of loving kindness, truth seeking and service does produce true unity.”

    And who, pray tell, defines what constitutes “truth seeking”? Those who accuse dissidents of suffering from “ressentiment”? When the well has already been poisoned by years of adversarial propaganda (much of it inflammatory and grossly inaccurate) by those who claim sole ownership of its contents, it takes more than good intentions left over from paving the road to Hell.

    “It is my observation that argument, debate, and contention come from traditions, systems, or cultures where the intended result is that there is a clear winner or loser and therefore a division of the community in which the argument, debate or contention occurred.”

    I think your observation is biased in favor of a religious culture of control and intimidation in which public dissidence is strongly disapproved of, not to mention caricatured, derided, and ridiculed.

    “What I also observe is that often when persons engage in a discussion and do not find immediate agreement that there is a tendency to begin a process of assumption about the other person, accusation, and dismissal, that can eventually lead to provocation, insult, and violence (whether verbal or physical).”

    Indeed: witness the the latest article to come out in “Religion,” writren by Moojan Momen, called “Marginality and Apostasy in the Baha’i Community.” I can’t think of a better example than this of assumption, accusation, and dismissal.

    “I perceive this current state, which I concede may be accurate in some jurisdictions, as a stage of adjustment between cultures of conflict and the emergence of a culture of true unity where the ideals of adversarial systems which seek to use conflict to bring about truth and the ideals of the Bahai Faith for unity can both be realized.”

    I don’t think this will fly. The Baha’i Faith has been in existence for almost 150 years. Unlike Christianity or Islam, it developed in the industrial age and has matured (as much as it ever will, I suspect) in the information age. When Baha’i dissidents present knowledge and insights in support of their positions, they’re simply dismissed as malcontents who suffer from “ressentiment.” This is like trying to lock the barn door after the horse has bolted.

    “I really do think that we as a world community are really still learning how to achieve true unity.”

    I would like to believe this is true. I really would. But it seems to me that when presented with every opportunity to acquire new insights and alter their perceptions, the upholders of Baha’i orthodoxy consistently express a shared intransigence and distrust of dissidence and modernity. This does not bode well for the development of a mature religious faith, and virtually ensures that the Baha’i religion will remain a marginal phenomenon, limited to a relatively small cadre of devout adherents who are unable to accept the evolving social environment or culture. In other words: at best, a sect; at worst, a cult.

  • CRAIG PARKE

    PLEASE search your own conscience and support this anti-war
    measure even though such a stance is completely against the
    current Teachings of the Baha’i Faith.

    “You’ll recall that the U.S. was ‘dragged’ into WWII with the attack on Pearl Harbor. Our boys were sleeping off Saturday night while the enemy schemed — but America soon woke up. So when you see the U.S. in Cambodia or in Vietnam — or when you see America’s young men in Lebanon, or knocking around in the Balkans — ‘please, will you be quiet and let God do His work!’”

    - Glenford Mitchell

    Member of the Universal House of Justice

    “We have inherited a dangerous delusion from Christianity that our
    individual conscience is supreme. This is not a Baha’i belief. In the end, in the context of both our role in the community and our role in the greater world, we must be prepared to sacrifice our personal convictions or opinions. The belief that individual conscience is supreme is equivalent to ‘taking partners with God’ which is abhorrent to the Teachings of the Faith.”

    - Douglas Martin

    Former Member of the Universal House of Justice

    I have been a dedicated card carrying Baha’i for 36 years and I
    know that whatever the individual members of the Universal House
    of Justice say has great weight AMONG ALL MANKIND. In fact many
    current members of the rank and file hold that what any member of
    the Universal House of Justice thinks, believes, or feels is the
    actual Voice of God on Earth.

    Even though the Central Figures of the Faith all taught the importance of World Peace and the terrible human tragedy and monumental catastrophic sadness of war for both individuals and nations as well as the sanctity of the individual human conscience (Shoghi Effendi even said that members of the Universal House of Justice THEMSELVES should actually use their own individual conscience to make decisions for the Faith!!!), I would not want to suggest anything counter to what Glenford Mitchell or Douglas Martin said to large Baha’i audiences and risk being branded an “apostate” Baha’i as I am currently very much a Baha’i in good standing.

    But for the hope of World Peace in accordance with what I feel
    Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha actually taught and in accordance with
    my own individual conscience even though this is now deemed
    “taking partners with God” I am asking here on the PUBLIC INTERNET WORLDWIDE for the Universal House of Justice of the Baha’i Faith and the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States to support this important legislation now proposed in the Congress of the United States. Our Institutions MUST ACT and make a spiritual and moral statement for posterity even though it is
    against the current version of our Teachings.

    Further, even though we are not to participate in political issues
    (unless it involves the civil rights of Iranian Baha’is) I ask
    that we as a worldwide community VIGOROUSLY SUPPORT this proposed very strong legislation even if it is vetoed by President Bush.

    Sometimes one has to make a stand on spiritual and moral principle
    even though some Baha’is might deem it “political”.

    PLEASE SUPPORT THIS POLITICAL LEGISLATION EVEN THOUGH USING YOUR OWN CONSCIENCE IS A VIOLATION OF THE CURRENT TEACHINGS OF THE BAHA’I FAITH AS STATED BY MEMBERS OF THE UHJ. PLEASE. FOR THE SAKE OF HUMANITY IN THESE TROUBLED TIMES – WE MUST ACT.

    http://tinyurl.com/yv8hcw

  • CRAIG PARKE

    PLEASE search your own conscience and support this anti-war
    measure even though such a stance is completely against the
    current Teachings of the Baha’i Faith.

    “You’ll recall that the U.S. was ‘dragged’ into WWII with the attack on Pearl Harbor. Our boys were sleeping off Saturday night while the enemy schemed — but America soon woke up. So when you see the U.S. in Cambodia or in Vietnam — or when you see America’s young men in Lebanon, or knocking around in the Balkans — ‘please, will you be quiet and let God do His work!’”

    - Glenford Mitchell

    Member of the Universal House of Justice

    “We have inherited a dangerous delusion from Christianity that our
    individual conscience is supreme. This is not a Baha’i belief. In the end, in the context of both our role in the community and our role in the greater world, we must be prepared to sacrifice our personal convictions or opinions. The belief that individual conscience is supreme is equivalent to ‘taking partners with God’ which is abhorrent to the Teachings of the Faith.”

    - Douglas Martin

    Former Member of the Universal House of Justice

    I have been a dedicated card carrying Baha’i for 36 years and I
    know that whatever the individual members of the Universal House
    of Justice say has great weight AMONG ALL MANKIND. In fact many
    current members of the rank and file hold that what any member of
    the Universal House of Justice thinks, believes, or feels is the
    actual Voice of God on Earth.

    Even though the Central Figures of the Faith all taught the importance of World Peace and the terrible human tragedy and monumental catastrophic sadness of war for both individuals and nations as well as the sanctity of the individual human conscience (Shoghi Effendi even said that members of the Universal House of Justice THEMSELVES should actually use their own individual conscience to make decisions for the Faith!!!), I would not want to suggest anything counter to what Glenford Mitchell or Douglas Martin said to large Baha’i audiences and risk being branded an “apostate” Baha’i as I am currently very much a Baha’i in good standing.

    But for the hope of World Peace in accordance with what I feel
    Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha actually taught and in accordance with
    my own individual conscience even though this is now deemed
    “taking partners with God” I am asking here on the PUBLIC INTERNET WORLDWIDE for the Universal House of Justice of the Baha’i Faith and the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States to support this important legislation now proposed in the Congress of the United States. Our Institutions MUST ACT and make a spiritual and moral statement for posterity even though it is
    against the current version of our Teachings.

    Further, even though we are not to participate in political issues
    (unless it involves the civil rights of Iranian Baha’is) I ask
    that we as a worldwide community VIGOROUSLY SUPPORT this proposed very strong legislation even if it is vetoed by President Bush.

    Sometimes one has to make a stand on spiritual and moral principle
    even though some Baha’is might deem it “political”.

    PLEASE SUPPORT THIS POLITICAL LEGISLATION EVEN THOUGH USING YOUR OWN CONSCIENCE IS A VIOLATION OF THE CURRENT TEACHINGS OF THE BAHA’I FAITH AS STATED BY MEMBERS OF THE UHJ. PLEASE. FOR THE SAKE OF HUMANITY IN THESE TROUBLED TIMES – WE MUST ACT.

    http://tinyurl.com/yv8hcw

  • Robert Clifton

    Hello SF,
    For clarification–
    I understand that there are several “groups” of Baha’i.
    Consensus of concept forms people into clubs, groups, cults, sects, political parties and so on. As long as a person wants to be in a group she is welcome until she begins to question that consensus of concept. The Baha’is have conceptual groups such as the UHJ, The Tarbiyat, the Orhtodox, the Jensenites, the Shoghomonians, Reform, BUPC and a few other formed groups as well as the unformed groups unenrolled, disenrolled, and maybe a couple more.
    I am of the opinion that if there is any organization of the faith it is to be done from the bottom up starting from a local house of justice in every village or area. Collectively, probably over the net in forums such as this a Universal Consensus develops from those local houses interchanges and consultation.
    That universal consenus of the current local houses of justice has as a base that irrespective of their world view or no matter what group a person is in they are in fact a Baha’i. (in good standing). Over the coming years consultation will sort out the true stuff.
    Thus I can state with confidence that you and I are in different cubby holes.

    Keep up your good work,
    Robert

  • Robert Clifton

    Hello SF,
    For clarification–
    I understand that there are several “groups” of Baha’i.
    Consensus of concept forms people into clubs, groups, cults, sects, political parties and so on. As long as a person wants to be in a group she is welcome until she begins to question that consensus of concept. The Baha’is have conceptual groups such as the UHJ, The Tarbiyat, the Orhtodox, the Jensenites, the Shoghomonians, Reform, BUPC and a few other formed groups as well as the unformed groups unenrolled, disenrolled, and maybe a couple more.
    I am of the opinion that if there is any organization of the faith it is to be done from the bottom up starting from a local house of justice in every village or area. Collectively, probably over the net in forums such as this a Universal Consensus develops from those local houses interchanges and consultation.
    That universal consenus of the current local houses of justice has as a base that irrespective of their world view or no matter what group a person is in they are in fact a Baha’i. (in good standing). Over the coming years consultation will sort out the true stuff.
    Thus I can state with confidence that you and I are in different cubby holes.

    Keep up your good work,
    Robert

  • Sincere Friend

    To quote Edward Markham,

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

  • Sincere Friend

    To quote Edward Markham,

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

  • fubar

    the ideals of fairness and objectivity, selflessness, holism/transcendence, are hardly unique to bahaism.

    it is a typical “tactic” of bahai polemicists/apologists to try to “falsely appropriate” such ideals. so much for “detachment”.

    anyways…..

    Part of McClean's argument (which I also made while still a bahai and a talisman1 participant), that there were predictable, ideological and operational flaws in some aspects of the dissident's “agenda(s)”, really DOES NOT support the larger issue of the illegitimacy and un-necessity of dissent.

    andrew's analysis is brilliant

    in intgral theory, the premodern, authoritarian, conformist “mythic” forms of metaphysics, such as have been revived in haifan bahaism, tend to become seen as the “organizing centers” for radical forms of traditionalism and fundamentalism.

    It really is shocking that “scholars” such as Momen and McClean have written so much distortionary, unwise drivel and frufru about the “talisman1″ dissidents, and the dissent in general.

    the conformist version of haifan bahaism that McClean, Momen are “defending” and promoting can easily be described with one word:

    BACKWARD.

    I'll add one more word: UNENLIGHTENED

  • fubar

    RC,

    You are trying to coerce belief by forcing people into accepting a mythic-conformist paradigm.

    This is the essence of haifan bahai apologetics and polemics.

    You fail the test of modernity, which is why haifan bahaims is an insignificant religion, and will remain so until outmoded bahai metaphyscial baggage is jettisoned as part of deep reforms.

  • fubar

    RC,

    The actual evidence is that there is a long pattern of injustices, lies and deception in haifan bahaism.

    In haifan-bahai-speak “unity” = “conformity”, and “peace” is really “coersion”.

    the scriptural statements about converting the people of the world to haifan bahaism are clearly just a very poorly rehased form of colonialism/imperialism. both abdul-baha and shoghi effendi made some big mistakes in not putting in place principles, policies and practices to stop haifan bahaism from becoming authoritarian and fundamentalist. (sliding backward into tribalism)

  • fubar

    the “spirit of bahaullah” excludes the vast majority of spiritual traditions, including shamanism, much of the vedic and buddhist traditions, and many others.

    it is a complete delusion to think that bahaullah was doing anything other than seeking a mesh of christian and islamic cultural imperialism against all/most other spiritual traditions.

  • Realist !

    Sincere Friend,

    Your post is standard answer that baha’ies give, as if it has written in some handbook as standard procedure.

    No, people do not feel important or expect any entitlements as you put it.

    They do have thier opinion and grivensses and instead of poo-poo and
    wishy-washy them, thier grivensses need to be addressed other-wise
    the questions get piled up !

    Thanks

  • Maureen

    Thank you, Sincere friend

  • Maureen

    Thank you, Sincere friend

  • Realist !

    And point of the story is ?!?

  • Maureen

    I posted in the wrong place…I have no idea what the point is. I happened to arrive at this site this morning, saw that you, Realist, had posted on this thread and ended up reading all the posts. In light of the past several days that I’ve spent on another site participating in a very animated discussion involving LGBT issues, I found this thread to be somehow relevent to the other discussion on the other site. That’s my excuse ! ( I think I actually meant to thank you, Realist ). 

  • Jack McLean

    Hello All,

    It is strange that my post on ‘Baha’i dissidents” should have ended up here on Baha’i Rants, an oxymoron if there ever was one. The reason I erased my blog was not because I changed my mind about its contents–I haven’t–but because I think it’s rather pointless to argue with those whose claws are sharp and whose minds are made up. My blog wasn’t a rant; it was an argument. And as someone who has been a Baha’i for 50 years, it wasn’t coming from “left-field”, but was based on a long experience with the issues I discussed. My main point was the following: a religion has to be recognizable, first and foremost, from the inside-out, not from the outside-in, the position that most ranters and critics of the Baha’i Faith, even if they call themselves Baha’is, usually take. By the way, the pervasive use of irony by your moderator, as in “naughty, naughty”, and the use of innuendo, weakens, not strengthens, the positions you take. When name-calling takes over, and is used a tool to degrade the interlocutor, you have left the domain of the rational and reasonable, and have entered the world of gesticulation and theater. Best regards, Jack McLean 

  • Amado

    Dear Jack – Thanks for your contribution – and for the article. Seeing your comment, I re-read it. 
    It’s well written – I’m not trying to slip by your guard by way of your ego, so I’ll say that another way: it’s better written than the long-winded efforts we periodically get out of Haifa lately…
    You are, I think (with all due respect and the possibility that I may have missed everyone’s point at once) neglecting one aspect:
    If a whole series of “infallible” statements are actually imperfect, and a whole string of decisions are taking the least miniscule group of the Bahai Faith the wrong direction in significant ways, maybe we “dissidents” can help fix it! 
    Trusting the Lord but trying to wake up our camel, rather than sitting in a darkening room praying for someone to turn on the lights, even people who are currently Bahais can be quite reasonably “just as Bahai as you are” – without agreeing with 100% of what you consider to be revealed, perfect doctrine.
    You object to the irony of putting the word “naughty” in your mouth. If that is a confession of having no better rebuttal, then so is your changing the subject to argue about the other party’s attitude!
    Let’s admit it – forget about the claws, but your mind is made up, too! However, if we dissidents get some changes to happen, our Bahai Faith will have fewer untenable tenets.
    Amado

  • JS

    Jack, 

    Well I guess the left wing is now getting so much right wing as the so called Dissidents did grow so much that they are now majority. Any body who have quick look at the participation rates, see’s that almost no-one turning up or listen to rants coming out of administration. 

  • Desir0101

    Dear Mc Lean,

    One thing is sure the Faith is withering and is dying in every land.

    Bahais are just clinging to the hem of HOPE that tomorrow will be better.

    Iam sure that a long time dedicated Bahai will admit this fact.

    People are athirst of unity and peace but when presented to them the Bahai teaching they are reticent.Why???

    Bahais are squeezed between one Muslim believe in the finality of his religion and others are not ready to accept a teaching sourced from far or near to Islam.

    According to the Writings only after a global destruction will the rest of humanity will turn towards Bahai faith.

    So where will be the appropriate time to the famous Entry by Troops.???

    Before or after the catastrophe.???

    REligion are made for those spiritually feeble people.
    I believe that spirituallity are beyond borders of all these rituals and paradigm.
    Spirituality is the music of the soul.
    And i firmly believe that ‘s no need to be submitted to such and such dogme and doctrines.

    An AWARE consciousness is the root of all good.

    People are losing their precious moment of their life in shunning, hating others.

    A candle will light up a thousand candles without  diminish in intensity.
    It will light up the environment but will remain in the shade, it’s own shadow, this is humility.

    You turn towards the candle your shadow will be behind you and will not affect but turn away your shadow will be in front of you and will embarass your footsteps. you may stumble and fall.

    Naturals or artificial light all is good.
    Light is good from any lamp it may come from.

    I

  • Fubar

    re: McClean shows everyone, once again, why bahai leaders are out of touch with reality.

    Jack McClean said: “The behaviour of these individuals, if one wants to step back and
    observe it, reveals a negative dynamic or pattern of behaviour that
    continues to be dismally instructive. ”

    While it is clear that there were many dysfunctional PC/left issues with the various bahai dissidents (ex-bahais, etc.) I stopped reading Mr. McClean’s archived commentary at the above. Classic psychological projection. Mr. McClean’s commentary reveals the negative dynamic commonly found in the haifan bahai community about criticism, nonconformance and dissident.

    Mr. McClean has no credibility (as a critic of the critics) unless he describes the not only his own negative attitude about nonconformism, but the vast, overwhelming level of negative/dysfunctional behavior that is common in many bahai communities, and most of bahai administration.

    Haifan bahai culture is what is dismal, not MOST of what MOST of the dissidents had to say.

    A typical sick tactic for those in denial of the dysfunctional aspects of bahai culture, or more the more disturbed apologists/polemicists, is to accuse a nonconformist, critic or dissident of “spiritual inferiority”.

    Haifan bahaism is a grotesque cult-like religion that based on a mythic-conformist paradigm.

    There is a long dreary history of autocratic leaders and cult infighting in bahai history, in both Iran and the USA/N.Am.

    That said, Mr. Mcclean is right in that the many well intentioned bahais (who started out populists, progresives, utopians, etc.), most of whom are victims of the disgusting behavior of bahai leadership, were not presented with a coherent reform message by most of the PC/Left elements of the bahai dissident movement(s) and leaders, rather many of them (the PC/Left) were grinding axes and pursuing other agendas.

    This is a classic case of “two wrings don’t make a right”.

    Unfortunately Mr. McClean (an accomplished scholar) is only interested in promoting the old, tired and irrelevant haifan bahai “party line”, not the whole truth.

    And that is exactly why bahaism is a silly religion, and also why not all, but most of what the “dissidents” said was correct.

    If Mr. McClean produces ANY evidence that the original problematic conditions that gave rise to the legitimate criticisms of the “dissidents” have gotten better, PLEASE LET ME KNOW so I can read more of his dreary stuff.

    I’m assuming that to the contrary, the wildly inaccurate, vile example of attacks from BAO apologists and fundamentalists, such as Momen’s even more silly article on “dissidents”, shows how bahaism has utterly failed to address dissidents’ concerns in a significant manner, or used them as the basis for meaningful, constructive reforms.

    Other than that, I can’t see any reason to read all of McClean’s commentary. At this time.

    The overwhelming experience I had, and most of the people I’ve known for 30+ years, is that bahai administration is irrelevant at best. At worst, it is a religion that is run by horrible people (many are evil liars, probably psychopaths, or deeply into groupthink) that exploit and demean the spiritual yearnings of most of the people that join up.

    (ex-bahai, originally coerced into signing a bahai declaration card in the early 70s.)

  • Fubar

     haifan bahai administration is a dysfunctional organization. bahai scripture says that the foundation of virtue is honesty, but bahai administration/leadership is a system of lies and distortions.

    if one observes the nasty underbelly of bahai culture and administration, it is all about autocrats blaming their failures on “believers” who are spiritually inadequate, incapable of sufficient “sacrifice”, etc.

    it is simply a dismal, medieval and utterly pointless way of running a religion.

    McClean is brainwashed and incapable of seeing the truth.

    And that is all anyone needs to know about what is wrong with bahaism.

    It is a religion in which the psychological needs of psychopaths and dysfunctional people come first.

    From this, we can make some assumptions about McClean’s personality, and why he defends dysfunctional bahai culture.

  • Fubar

     Human beings are wired by evolution to function in tribes (of one form or another). The human world is one of tribe vs. tribe (Kingdoms and Empires/”civilizations” are scaled up supertribes). Bahaism attempts to assert a form of spirituality that transcends tribalism, but it ultimately fails to escape the gravity well of tribalism/Shi’ism. Bahai universalism isn’t as universal as its adherents claim.

    This is probably as much a failure of human DNA as it is a given religious system.

    It is however ironic, and perhaps sad, the a few molecules of genetic material so easily defeat the grandiose claims of some of humanity’s most so called “enlightened” people.

  • JS

    @fubar – Well Yes I can not agree more that baha’i admin is dysfunctional and it has caused a huge amount of damage to baha’i members & the faith itself. I am a Iranian baha’i and seen a-lot of this cultism gang attitude. Always had issues with it, eventually did stopped to participate in any baha’i gathering and do rarely associate with baha’is. Personally I think that baha’i admin is irrelevant. The main question is what is next ? does baha’i faith dies soon because its admin betrayed us or does it evolve to something else? current baha’i admin does not see itself responsible and is not responding to any concerns or questions. They are so lost that if you push the question, they first, oh you know, we have so much problems ?!?, and if you push more, you get attacked and threaten with all kind of accusations. Attitude is to  total conform party lines under the pretext of unity and do only serves the interest (wealth, prestige and ego) of few individuals at the top. Young are lost and indifferent. Were old have no clue [they never had, including my own parents]. My hope is that as number of vocal disgruntle members grow, and these old members die, may some younger baha’i eventually take over whom will inject some new blood in this dieing body. what is your thoughts ?

  • JS

    @fubar – Well Yes I can not agree more that baha’i admin is dysfunctional and it has caused a huge amount of damage to baha’i members & the faith itself. I am a Iranian baha’i and seen a-lot of this cultism gang attitude. Always had issues with it, eventually did stopped to participate in any baha’i gathering and do rarely associate with baha’is. Personally I think that baha’i admin is irrelevant. The main question is what is next ? does baha’i faith dies soon because its admin betrayed us or does it evolve to something else? current baha’i admin does not see itself responsible and is not responding to any concerns or questions. They are so lost that if you push the question, they first, oh you know, we have so much problems ?!?, and if you push more, you get attacked and threaten with all kind of accusations. Attitude is to  total conform party lines under the pretext of unity and do only serves the interest (wealth, prestige and ego) of few individuals at the top. Young are lost and indifferent. Were old have no clue [they never had, including my own parents]. My hope is that as number of vocal disgruntle members grow, and these old members die, may some younger baha’i eventually take over whom will inject some new blood in this dieing body. what is your thoughts ?