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Karen's Posts April-June 2002

April 3, 2002
Forum: talk.religion.bahai

I hate to break it to you, Karen, but organizing protests against the Institutions is in violation of the Covenant.

Not any Covenant I ever believed in. But then I never believed that the Institutions would ever do anything worth protesting. Such was my naivete. If someone had asked me as a hypothetical, I would have said it was impossible, the Institutions would never do that. I was fool enough to trust them. Well, y'all better start informing people about that before they sign a card, that all other principles are subordinate to mindless obedience and conformity. Of course, you won't get many members that way, but at least you won't have troublesome folks like myself that believe in free expression hanging around, which I'm sure would make you much happier.

In any case, no protest was ever organized, and some Majnunis, as we know, stomped on the idea.

Karen

April 9, 2002
Forum: Unenrolled Baha'i

Dear X,

It's easy to believe in an infallible governing body if you don't know much about what they do. For me, the UHJ was always very distant -- out there guiding the Baha'i world, writing letters every Ridvan, and making plans and stuff. I already knew that it couldn't be completely infallible, because I believed the system was mutilated and that they couldn't help but stray into the interpretive sphere sometimes. However, rather contradictorily, the idea that they would do something really *wrong* had never entered my head. In some ways, though, the discovery that there are Baha'is who virtually treat the UHJ as an object of worship was just as shocking as finding out about some of the unjust decisions that have been made. Nobody I knew ever talked like that.

You know, I wonder sometimes how many Baha'is are really "loyal to the Covenant" in the way that conservatives think is a requirement. I've run across Baha'is who never bought into infallibility in the first place. Probably all those inactive and lost people on the rolls don't believe in it. Just recently a person commented to me that "organizing protests is against the Covenant", and I could only respond "Not any Covenant I ever believed in." That's the thing -- the powers-that-be have this notion of what is covenantal and what is not, and they pretty much expect that everybody "knows" where that line is. But it isn't true.

Somebody floated the idea that the community should go back to requiring new believers to deepen on the Will and Testament before signing a card, just to avoid getting all these pesky freethinking types into the Faith. I wonder when that practice stopped? I always figured it was after Shoghi Effendi's death and the Guardianship ended, in order to avoid those uncomfortable questions about there not being a living Guardian. Does anybody know?

Love, Karen

April 9, 2002
Forum: Unenrolled Baha'i

Dear X,

Well, to my mind, the biggest problem with the lack of a living Guardian is that it has basically taken the flexibility out of the system. Whatever policy Shoghi Effendi established in the 1930s still goes, no matter how impractical or outdated it might be. The other thing is that there would be a second power center to balance the UHJ. On the other hand, it's easy to imagine that all would be well if we only had a Guardian -- there are problems with having a single, charismatic individual at the top as well. It would have been nice, though, if we could have had at least two or three before the line ran out. As it is, one person's viewpoint is indelibly marked on the Baha'i world in an unchangeable, and unchallengeable, way.

I accepted the infalliability of the House on enrolling but it always seemed faroff so I never gave them much thought. It was at the local community level that I saw things I didn't agree with, and it was the administrative people who were always using the infalliablity of the House to legitimate their actions. So I figured that was the source of the problem.

I never so much ran into people who used the House to legitimize their actions. However, the higher-ups set the tone with their plans and letters, and so on. The people real into the administrative stuff tend to take it and run with it, while the rest of us sort of don't know what to do with it. Feast consultation would end up being "O.K., what are we going to do to meet the goals of the Plan?.", and we'd all just be there looking at each other wondering what to do, except for the one or two people that were into that stuff -- and who would basically end up leading the rest. The whole thing really doesn't work, when you get right down to it. We never met the goals, and we never really built a functioning community, either.

Love, Karen

April 13, 2002
Forum: All Relgions are One

Dear X and Y,

If I may butt in here: I see things a little differently than Paul, but before I tell you how, you should understand that matters of theology are not as central in Baha'i teaching as they are for Christianity. That is, having the "correct" understanding of the relationship between God and the Manifestation is not a crucial factor in Baha'i belief. On one occasion, a former Muslims jurist wrote to Baha'u'llah, saying that the friends (i.e. the Baha'is) were arguing two different viewpoints on the Divinity of the Manifestation, and Baha'u'llah said that both of them were approved, and arguing about it was disapproved. The idea one finds in the Baha'i writings is that of "standpoint epistomology" that is, human beings invariably will differ in their understandings and that various perspectives can all be "correct". Since God is ultimately unknowable, *all* human perspectives on His nature and relationship to creation are limited.

Untrue. I've been interested in the Baha'i Faith, and Baha'u'llah's claim in that religion to be (technical term) a Manifestation of God is the same claim as that of Christ to be God. Could you expand on that? Manifestation of God and Incarnation sound very different to me, although you mention it's a technical term.

The idea of "mazhar-i-illahi" or Manifestation of God, ultimately comes from Shi'ih Islam. To some extent, all things in creation reflect the attributes of the Creator, but there is no direct relationship between the two. The Manifestation embodies all the attributes of God, and is really as much of God as can be revealed in this world. I would say the concept is somewhat different than the Christian idea of Incarnation, where Jesus is thought to be fully God. My understanding of Baha'i teaching is that nothing but God can be "fully God", and He can't be fully incarnate in human form, only his attributes and qualities can be revealed in that way, not His essence.

In my meditation last night, I was reading this passage, which may help explain:

"The loftiest sentiments which the holiest of saints can express in praise of Thee, and the deepest wisdom which the most learned of men can utter in the their attempts to comprehend Thy nature, all revolve around that Center [i.e., the Manifestation] Which is wholly subjected to Thy sovereignity, Which adoreth Thy beauty, and is propelled through the movement of Thy Pen."

The Manifestation is not God, but He is as close to God as we can get, and is, in a sense "God" in relationship to mankind.

I was once told that the Orthodox essence/energy distinction (I'm not sure if you know of it) was similar to Baha'i ideas, but it doesn't seem that way. I believe God's essence is totally unknowable, but God acts, has energies, and these allow creation to interact with God existentially. But this energy is fully God. Does that sound familiar? I think I might have been the one who told you that. I would agree with everything except that the "energy" is not "fully God", but the expression of His attributes. Pretty fine distinction, huh? As I said, I wouldn't argue much with a Baha'i(or a Christian, for that matter. :-)) who saw it differently -- this is only my understanding.

Therefore, the Baha'i concept of "Manifestation" exactly reflects the Christian doctrine of Jesus' dual nature, ie, the idea that Jesus is both "fully God", and "fully human".

While for the most part, Paul has given a very good explanation here, I would disagree with describing the Manifestation as "fully God". "No God is there but God" as the Muslims say, and nothing and no one else can be "fully God". However, the Manifestation is the supreme embodiment of His attributes, and thus, as close to God as it is possible to get in creation.

Although, you could interpret Jesus that way, that is certainly not what the Councils meant by "fully God" and "fully human". Indeed that seems to miss the point of Christianity, that Jesus was not just here to teach about God, but to save humanity. What's so "good" about the Good News of a Jewish wanderer preaching in Galilee, whose morality is really just the developement of the ideas of the prophets?

It is interesting what people find meaningful in religion, and what they don't. I find I differ even with many Baha'is on what is meaningful about Baha'i teaching. To me, the spiritual path is what is meaningful, the Teachings are what is meaningful. Salvation is the transformation that comes about through developing the virtues, which Baha'is regard as divine attributes, that are taught by the Manifestations.

Love, Karen

April 14, 2002
Forum: uk.religion.interfaith

Karen(previously): I've been working on another article concerning responses to the exclusion of women from the Universal House of Justice -- the article is not yet complete, but I've done an extensive survey of over 250 Baha'i posters concerning this issue, which I can share if anybody's interested.

Women are not excluded from serving on the Universal House of Justice in the sense you mean. Every female Bahai I have ever known was fully aware of not being able to serve on the Universal House of Justice as part of their investigations of the Bahai Faith before they became Bahai's.

I wasn't. And I've run into a lot of people who weren't. It doesn't show up in all the promotions about how we believe in gender equality. Probably a more accurate statement is that most Baha'is believe in the advancement of women, not equality.(Baha'u'llah, however, said "In this day, women are as men".) In my survey, I found a range of responses from quite fundamentalist and hostile to anyone even discussing the issue to those openly critical of the policy. The majority (52% IIRC) fell into what I call the "Conservative/Positive" response -- acceptance of the exclusion, denial that it contravenes the principle of equality, combined with a tendency to create spiritualized "explanations" to put it into a positive light. I did this on the up and up, X -- I honestly wanted to find out what the numbers were. I looked in every Baha'i forum I had access to, with posts going as far back as 1992. If there's a Baha'i anywhere in cyberspace who has commented on this issue that I missed, it wasn't for lack of trying.

So Abdul-Baha clearly states that the education of girls "is more necessary than that of sons". This is one of many examples in the Bahai Faith, examples which can be found in all World Religions of the equality between the sexes being a relative and not absolute concept . Of course in your effort to fracture Bahai unity you are not telling people about this . It won't work Karen people can read things up for themselves and come to their own conclusions.

You don't know what I'll tell people, because the article I'm working on now, of which this survey is a part, isn't even written yet. It is quite evident and obvious that the principle of sexual equality is important to Baha'is, this is why the exclusion from service on the UHJ is quite painful to some. I ran into many posters who are deeply conflicted about it. Quite frankly, X, your interpretation of my statements as "an effort to fracture Baha'i unity" says a whole lot more about you than it does about me. Indeed, people can read this matters and decide for themselves. I believe in freedom of expression, and would never have it any other way.

So , if you think the Bahai's do not practice equality between the sexes and you are suggesting an impossible state of full equality between the sexes I would be grateful if you could tell everyone what you really believe in which cannot be full equality between the sexes because it is impossible. What are your beliefs on equality between the sexes and how politically are you going to do it. I think you do not have an answer to the former so you will have no idea about the latter either . You want Utopia my friend but it means "No place"!

The exclusion from the UHJ is not based upon any biological differences at all. Indeed, no explanation whatsoever is given, although Baha'is tend to make them up. After all if one is "biologically unfit" to serve on the UHJ, why wouldn't they be "biologically unfit" to serve on National and local bodies, or in appointive positions which can also be quite time-consuming and taxing? The exclusion is based primarily upon letters from 'Abdu'l-Baha, which were actually written to Corinne True concerning the House of Justice in Chicago -- where women were originally excluded, and 'Abdu'l-Baha later overturned that ruling. Shoghi Effendi interpreted these letters as applying only to the UHJ. 'Abdu'l-Baha's actual intentions are a matter of much debate among historians, and the matter is far from settled. My own position is what I have called in my survey "Liberal/Positive" i.e. that the exclusion is an unclear matter that may be decided upon by the UHJ. At present they have decided to maintain the status quo; a future House of Justice may decide differently, and I hope they do.

I would really get yourself out of the Allison Marshal camp and start to think for yourself . You claim you still believe in Baha'u'llah, fair enough I accept that , but if you do believe in the investigation of the truth and this is the first Bahai Principle

Why is it that fundamentalist Baha'is always think that if you don't agree with them, you aren't thinking for yourself? 'Tis a puzzlement. :-)

it does mean to search for the whole truth , because how can truth be anything but whole, all of it ? Because you are pursuing a sectarian line of argument, practicing spiritual apartheid , you are being very economical with the truth about the Bahai Faith.

I am telling the truth as I see it.

Just remember the expression "the oxygen of publicity " and what it say in the Bahai Writings about those who misrepresent the Bahai Faith

I am misrepresenting nothing, and I don't appreciate being called a liar.

Karen

April 14, 2002
Forum: uk.religion.interfaith

So, what the hey, I'll give you my survey results. However, I'll do so with the disclaimer that while it is substantially finished and I think these numbers can be regarded as fairly firm, I'm still double-checking on some things, and the numbers may differ slightly when (and if) it goes into publication as part of an article. I find it interesting because it reveals a definite ideological spectrum among Baha'is. The exclusion of women from the UHJ is a good issue to work with because it has been extensively discussed over a long period of time by a great many posters. As I said earlier, I examined posts from 259 posters over a ten-year period.

The numbers don't add up to 100% because slightly over 30% gave more than one kind of response. I'm not categorizing *people* here, so much as responses. For example, some posters gave both liberal and conservative responses -- they themselves could probably be regarded as moderate fence-sitters, but their responses were recorded in both categories. Most respondents in multiple categories, of course, gave responses along a "border" e.g. both fundamentalist and conservative.

A brief (and anything brief will necessarily be inadequate) explanation for the benefit of non-Baha'is here: The Baha'i Faith includes the equality of men and women among its basic principles, and indeed is quite progressive compared to many other religions on that issue. Women often hold powerful positions, both elected and appointed, in the Baha'i administration. They are, however, not eligible to be elected to the Universal House of Justice, the Faith's supreme governing body. The exclusion is based upon what are regarded as authoritative interpretations of scripture, in which no justification is given other than the reason will become clear in the future. This extensive survey categorizes the responses of Baha'is to this conflict between principle and practice in five ways:

Fundametalist/Hostile responses: 29.3% These posters demonstrated a hostility either to the issue being discussed, to the posters bringing it up, taking a hardline that the exclusion must be accepted or one simply wasn't a Baha'i. Accusations that such posters were trying to "undermine" the Faith were common; non-Baha'i critics were sometimes characterized as "closed-minded".

Conservative/Positive responses: 52.5% These posters accept the exclusion, and generally try to put it in a positive light (e.g. calling it an "exemption" as if not being allowed to serve was a special benefit women are given). There is a strong tendency among conservatives, and some moderates to offer non-scriptural "explanations" for the exclusion -- some very spiritualized, some blatantly sexist. However, these posts did not demonstrate the hardline hostility of the fundamentalists.

Moderate/Unresolved responses: 28.2% In this category, responses reflect an awareness, denied by the conservatives, that the exclusion is problematic and in conflict with the Baha'i Faith's teaching on gender equality. However, unlike liberals, they didn't see any way out of the dilemma. This group was more of a mixed bag than any other. Some defended the status quo, differing only from conservatives in that they recognized a problem. Others were unhappily resigned. Some were quite disturbed and in conflict about the issue. It is, perhaps, symptomatic, that half of all posters making moderate responses also made other types of responses as well, demonstrating an inability to satisfactorily resolve the issue.

Liberal/Optimistic responses: 16.7% These posters reject the official stand that the exclusion is permanent and unalterable, largely using historical and contextual arguments to do so. However, these posters demonstrated a willingness to wait until a future UHJ would legislate on the matter, so their posts were not openly critical.

Dissident/Critical: 5.8% These posts openly criticize the exclusion, calling it unjust, hypocritical, unscriptural etc. This is a dramatic break from Baha'i norms, where criticism of the Baha'i administration, and most especially the Universal House of Justice is strongly disapproved of, and can lead sanction or expulsion.

So, there you have it. Forgive me if this is less than fascinating to non-Baha'i readers here; it's just that this is what I've been working on right now, and there was some discussion here about divisions among Baha'is, so I didn't feel like it was terribly off-topic. However, this survey is intended for publication in a non-Baha'i academic journal as part of an article, so responses from a non-Baha'i audience could be useful.

Love, Karen

April 14, 2002
Forum: uk.religion.interfaith

Yep. Sadly, that's the way it is right now. Actually, you can probably disagree with the Pope more easily than you can the UHJ. I don't think the Catholic church has ever excommunicated people over email messages, for example, that express the opinion that women ought to be priests. The UHJ has threatened excommunication (with an attached penalty of shunning), and has simply dropped people from the rolls based upon their opinions expressed in cyberspace.

However, it should be noted that freedom of expression is upheld in Baha'i scripture, and not all Baha'is (e.g. the liberals in my survey) accept this hardline version of Baha'i "unity". I don't, for one. The watchword of the Baha'i Faith is supposed to be "unity in diversty"; it's biggest hope is the "big tent" where a variety of perspectives are allowed. To me, unity means nothing if it can't accomodate diversity -- any religion can claim to be united if it is only limited to people who agree on everything. However, the administration has openly opposed opinions that come from solid scholarship (which they deem "materialistic"), and any sort of grassroots reform. I outline the story in the article I linked to in my first post, if you're interested.

I make a clear separation between the teachings of Baha'u'llah, and current practice. I consider myself an unenrolled Baha'i -- a believing Baha'i that is not a formal member of the administration.

Love, Karen

Forum: uk.religion.interfaith

Dear Y, It would not be accurate to characterize the Baha'i Faith as a cult, which is a word with a very flexible definition anyway. However, there are cultists within it, compared to which X is a pussycat. ( Trust me; I've tangled with some of them.)What is surprising to many about the Faith is that it has a very broad-minded and liberal reputation, and those principles actually do exist in Baha'i scripture, but the reality is that, when it comes to lack of tolerance for dissent and authoritarianism, it's probably on the level of fringe groups like Jehovah's Witnesses. Most Baha'is, however, don't realize this, and seem to treat this sort of behavior as a normal thing that all religions do. However, it would be a definite injustice to compare the Baha'i Faith to dangerous, totalitarian cults. I'm a little leary of the concept of "brainwashing.", although there are various sorts of pressure put on to make sure people tow the line. As I hope my survey pointed out, there is a range of views among Baha'is, but some of these views can get people into trouble. Yes, some Baha'is do have a cult-like attitude towards authority, but this is not the norm.

One big difference between the Baha'i Faith and cults is that there is no stigma attached to leaving the Faith (although some have an attitude that those that leave are in some way spiritually inadequate). In fact, dissenters are actually encouraged and/or forced to leave. Most cults are quite strongly condemning of apostasy, and try to force conformity in ways other than throwing people out, or they make the prospect of leaving so frightening (you'll go to hell etc.) that a person has no choice but to conform. As I pointed out in my article, the big fear in the Baha'i Faith is of the *internal* enemy. Nothing would make most conservative Baha'is happier than if I were to convert to another religion, and stop talking about Baha'i issues on the Internet. But since I've retained my Baha'i identity and belief, that makes me a real baddie.

As far as X's discourse -- he does tend to repetitively use a variety of buzzwords, some of which are typical, others are not. His continuing emphasis on the "democratic" nature of the Baha'i institutions is rather unique to him; I usually don't run into that.

Love, Karen

April 21, 2002
Forum: All Religions are One

How do Baha'is see the fundamental relationship between God and humans? You implied the idea of a personal God was absent but what replaces it?

Dear X,

Before I try to answer that, I think it is important for you to realize that the Baha'i Faith is a young religion. Its theology has never been systemetized, and works of Baha'i theology are rare. When you speak of Christian theology, that's something that brilliant minds have been working on for centuries. When I speak of Baha'i theology, you are mostly looking at a single individual's view of the Writings.

Another factor is that the Baha'i Faith is, outside of Iran and the communities in the Middle East, a religion of converts. And these converts bring their own notions of the Divine with them, something made easier by the religion's lack of emphasis on theology. Lots of Baha'is have a very personal idea of God. In the West, certainly, where Christianity has influenced our religious thinking, the Baha'i attitude towards Baha'u'llah is very like the Christian attitude towards Jesus. In India, which is now the largest national Baha'i community, they call Him Bhagavan Baha -- and He is seen very much like a Hindu Avatar, like Krishna.

So, with those caveats, I'll give you my view of the Baha'i view of the relationship between man and God. The central idea in Baha'i thinking is that of Covenant. It is probably more central to the Baha'i Faith than just about any other religion, except maybe Judaism. God created man because He wanted to be known and loved. Being the Creator is part of God's nature, what He is. In return, man has the capacity, the desire placed within him to know and love God. An individual may not entirely recognize it as that -- but human beings are meaning-seeking creatures. The Baha'i Writings refer to a primal covenant, often referred to by the Sufis, where God says to all human souls "Am I not your Lord?", and man responds "Yea, we bear witness." (There are a lot of Sufi concepts in the Baha'i Writings.)

God, as I've said, is not part of Creation. But all things in Creation have qualities of the Creator. The closest tie between man and God is the Manifestation of God, the perfect Mirror of Divinity. One might think of Him as the perfect vehicle for the divine logos -- except we differ from Christianity in that we do not believe that there was only one human being that held this status. The promise of what Baha'is call the Greater Covenant is that God always has, and always will, send these Messengers to mankind, to show them the way to Him. Baha'u'llah makes no claim of finality or exclusivity for Himself. We establish a relationship with God, through His Manifestation.

That's the best explanation I can come up with, anyway. If anything doesn't make sense, or you have more questions, let me know.

Love, Karen

April 23, 2002
Forum: talisman9

Dear X,

Yeah, I came into the faith having been told that Baha'is don't proselytize. The reality came as a big shock. I always felt guilty about it, after running through everybody I knew, what was I supposed to do, grab people off the street? If I talked about the Faith, smiles would freeze on people's faces, and their eyes would dart around trying to find some excuse to get away. It just never worked. But the pressure can be really bad in a community that is barely viable anyway. If we couldn't pull together a decent community life, it was always our fault for not teaching enough.

But online, I'm generally hanging out with people who are interested in religion -- people who are asking questions and really want to know.

True that... but detachment is really freakin' hard! I used to believe the only fitting end to my spiritual journey was Hell... lots of sins and I really needed to burn...

Well, the whole spiritual path is '"really freakin' hard". :-) It's a bridge "finer than a hair, sharper than a sword, and hotter than fire" and it's suspended over Hell. But it's better than being dead -- which is where you're at if you don't start walking at all. It isn't really Hell anyway -- more like Purgatory, the stuff you have to go through to get where you're going. More than once I've been knocked for a loop and had to start at square one looking again at what I believed. Pretty bad to go through, but good in the long run -- I think we need to be shaken up once in a while. It doesn't do to get too complacent. I'm a little suspicious of people who say they've never had doubts, in fact. If they haven't, then they aren't thinking about anything.

[quote snipped]

What I'm scared of is possibility of being shunned or being compelled, by the threat of spiritual death and everlasting damnation, to shun someone close to me. My supersitious fear of Covenant-Breakers is mostly gone - just going to Beliefnet a couple of times did that for me. :-) I didn't burn my computer when I saw my first Remeyite post, so I can't be all that bad...

No, I'd say there's definitely hope for you. :-) But Baha'u'llah didn't tell us to shun anyone; quite the opposite. He was concerned with breaking down the barriers between people associating with each other "in joy and fragrance." I think of shunning as an unfortunate legacy of what happened with Muhammad 'Ali's rebellion. Later groups of covenant-breakers are mostly people who couldn't cope with major shifts in the faith -- Shoghi Effendi's emphasis on administration, then the ending of the Guardianship. The fear that Baha'is have of them just gives them more significance than is really their due.

This fear of internal enemies even spills over onto people who *haven't* been specifically named covenant-breakers. You might have seen Y's reference to the guy who just had to announce to me that he knew very well how to shun me! If you've been over to Beliefnet, you know the kind of people I'm talking about. Those people do far more harm to the Cause of God than any Remeyite ever thought about doing. So maybe this is heretical, but I don't shun. I just tell people who follow one of the guardian-claimants that I don't want to discuss Guardianship issues, and since that's their main interest, they don't talk to me much. But I think that's a whole lot better than running screaming in the opposite direction, or even worse, following them about crying "Unclean!"

As for your own fears, I don't know what to say. I don't have family in the faith, so the threat of shunning isn't so terrifying to me. So it's a bit too easy for me to say "Don't be afraid." But I think the whole shunning threat is a pretty rotten way of keeping people in line. It was supposed to be a way of protecting the Faith from schism, not a means of imposing orthodoxy.

Love, Karen

April 24, 2002
Forum: talisman9

Hmm... I believe somewhere I saw Y.Z. produce a quote in which Baha'u'llah instructed shunning of those who followed Azal... I don't remember the details, however, nor do I have any idea where the quote is from.

Dear X,

I don't remember the quote; I'd have to see it. Now, IIRC, most of the time when Baha'u'llah uses the term "shun", it is in connection with avoiding people who are immoral, who might tempt us into destructive ways. I don't think that the Faith, in its early days, had the kind of systematic shunning that came about later. After all, Baha'is must have been talking to Babis -- that's where most of the Baha'is came from! And before Baha'u'llah made His claim, most of them saw Azal as the legitimate leader, so a blanket, systematic shunning of "followers of Azal" would have been pretty difficult.

Karen(previously): "I think of shunning as an unfortunate legacy of what happened with Muhammad 'Ali's rebellion." The Master was certainly very serious about the shunning of those whom he labeled as Covenant-Breakers, as was the Guardian. Did they both get it wrong, or was shunning somehow perhaps only right for their time, and is no longer needed?

Yes, that's what I think. Shunning was a means of avoiding foundational schisms in the Faith, during a very precarious situation. But I don't see how it helps anything now. Those few who are convinced by Remeyite arguments aren't going to be deterred by the threat of shunning -- if anything they are likely to take a martyr's attitude of being persecuted for the "truth". They don't have a wide appeal; it's not as if they are any kind of major threat to the Faith. They themselves are splintered into different groups, each following a different claimant to the Guardianship.

But when the threat of shunning can be used against Baha'is who are not attempting to create a schism, but who simply have views that are more liberal than the mainstream, then the whole thing has gone from useless into outright harmful. Indeed, it is destructive of the very unity the Covenant was supposed to preserve.

Love, Karen

April 24, 2002
Forum: Unenrolled Baha'i

Dear X,

The official stand is that the Guardianship still exists, even though there is no living person holding the office. So we have the "ship" part without the "Guardian" part! For all practical purposes, Shoghi Effendi is still the Guardian--his body of writings is supposed to provide the guidance we need. For example, I've told a certain Lady on trb that without a Guardian, we can't even really define the spheres of the Twin Institutions, because that's interpretive. She said "We don't have to; Shoghi Effendi already defined them." Years ago, when I brought this quote up to our ABM, she said "We have *never* been divorced from the Guardianship". That's the official line: flat, loopy denial.

From the official perspective, to set aside Shoghi Effendi's interpretation excluding women from the UHJ would "mutilate" the Cause and divorce the Guardianship from the World Order. That's why we're stuck with "Shoghi dogma" as you call it. So I don't know if you'll get very far with your argument, because in theory primogeniture is still operational. Yes, I know it's dumb, but that's what you're up against.

A lot of fundies were going along with the mutilation but I didn't get to second base.

Interesting -- a lot of people seem unaware of what the official line actually is. When I first became a Baha'i, the UHJ was presented more or less as the successor to Shoghi Effendi -- that's why the discovery of how these institutions were to work together came as a shock. Then, I found out that we are supposed to have this sort of ghost Institution, which has always struck me as ridiculous. No doubt it would strike a lot of people so if it were brought to their attention. But it's going to be hard to sell the idea that *anything* Shoghi Effendi said, interpretation or not, was mistaken or is outdated.

The stronger argument for women on the House is the many, many things 'Abdu'l-Baha said about women's equality and how women would enter all fields of endeavor. And the fact that he himself changed his earlier ruling and allowed women on local and national "Houses of Justice".

There is a nice quote about from SE saying he is only 'human' and not to be compared to the Central Figures. I am sick of Shoghi Dogma that is being developed.

Well, I'm certainly with you on that one. Shoghi Effendi bent over backwards to present his station as not being anything like that of the Central Figures. I don't believe he expected to be Guardian past his own lifetime either. If he had lived a few more years to see the UHJ elected, and the issue of the lack of a legitimate successor was dealt with, I just can't see him accepting the idea that his writings would make up a "Guardianship" and that he would be a perpetual Guardian. This position does sort of make him a de facto Central Figure in Baha'i thinking -- a position he clearly rejected.

Do you know where the recent article is about Islam eventually falling due to its fundamentalism and adopting the BF? It seems the ME people almost never read the English translations and therefore have different orientations and a wealth of Baha'i Writings Westerner's do not. This means that Western BF orientation will fall into nothingness if Islamics adopt the BF. See what I'm getting at?

I've never heard of this article. Where did it appear? I wouldn't count Islam out just yet -- it's got a billion adherents, and it's one of the fastest-growing religions on the planet. I'm sure, however, that people with Muslim background have a different understanding of the Faith -- they can't not. In the West we are, in a way, cut off from a major part of our heritage. I know that through the years I was always running into things in Islam that was promoted among Baha'is as being unique to the Faith -- and it's just because Baha'is in the West don't know much about Islam.

In the future, the Western orientation of the Faith will have to diminish, just because the proportion of Westerners is diminishing. It'll take a while -- after all, Iranians still have a pretty strong influence even though they are a small minority of the world's Baha'is. But we have all these Third World Baha'is whose voices really haven't had an impact yet. But that's where the Faith is growing. I know that Baha'i teaching is pretty thin on the ground in some of these countries, and the converts are poor and uneducated a lot of the time -- but if trends continue, there are eventually going to be other perspectives on the Baha'i Faith that emerge, that are neither Islamic nor Western. That's my long-range prediction anyway.

Love, Karen

April 25, 2002
Forum: All Religions are One

It is undeniable that some religions have been more violent than others. Why?

If you're talking about the world's religions as a whole, I would beg to differ. All the great religions have had periods of violence, and periods of tolerance. Most of them uphold peaceful ideals. Religions get violent when they feel under threat somehow -- when they feel strong and confident, they don't resort to violence usually. That's why sectarian movements often tend to be more violent than larger religions -- they feel they are the only ones holding up the light against the darkness. I took a class recently about apocalyptism in religion, especially American Protestantism. Do you know that the homicide/suicides of cults is frequently related to internal and external stresses that threaten to destroy the group's cohesion? Part of the phenomenon of fundamentalism is the feeling of being threatened by modernity and secularism, which threatens to rob religion of its meaning to some people.

And this can happen in *any* religion. A friend of mine was at a gathering, speaking to a Hindu man, and mentioned it being "a tolerant religion" -- the man laughed at him, because of the Hindu/Muslim violence that has happened. The Baha'i Faith openly forbids resorting to violence to promote the teachings; the death penalty for apostasy, present in Islam, has been specifically abrogated in Baha'i scripture. It is completely against Baha'i teaching to use coercion in any way. Nevertheless, one prominent ex-Baha'i critic of the Faith was actually beaten up by Baha'is for being a "covenant-breaker". The peaceful ideals we hold, and the explicit scriptural prohibition was not enough to stop this when these people felt like their religion was being threatened.

So, I think it is a mistake to blame the violence present in religion on the nature of that religion itself -- it is a human problem, a result of human failing, not more inherent in one religion than another.

Love, Karen

April 25, 2002
Forum: talisman9

Doug Martin recently came to the US and repeatedly said that the notion of individual conscience is a Christian idea that is jettisoned in the Baha'i faith.

Dear X,

I don't know about Doug Martin's talks, but I remembered when I read your post seeing something along these lines before, so I dug it up. In that little series called "The Power of the Covenant" put out by the NSA of Canada this idea is repeated in Part 3: The Face of Opposition, on page 28. It says that the Christian idea of the Holy Spirit allows every individual to claim inspiration and therefore, opens the door to sectarianism. The passage continues:

"The result was to create in the minds of most Christians a vague assumption that, when the individual prays directly to God, he receives guidance through his private conscience. Many times, the promptings of conscience contradict the apparent meaning of Christian scriptures (as in the case of St. Paul's statements on celibacy) or the explicit teachings of a particular church (as with race relationships). Increasingly, however, it is conscience which is regarded as the reliable guide, a guide which has no objective check on it."

Even more striking on p. 30:

"This system of belief has had many admirable results in the individual spiritual life. Its unrestrained influence on social history, however, reveals many limitations. It permitted the growth of the conviction not only that personal conscience is the ultimate authority in life, but also that personal freedom is the highest good. The rise of a democratic political philosophy and democratic processes in the West gave the final blessing to this doctrine of individualism. "Christianity" and "Democracy" in time blended in the public mind as one vaguely defined, but immensely influential popular cult of individualism, embracing people of all religious denominations. Such a cult differs in several important ways from the Teachings of Baha'u'llah".

Can we assume that Martin had something to do with the writing of this?[Note: After writing this post, I discovered that Doug Martin was, indeed, one of the authors of this booklet. khb]

April 28, 2002
Forum: talisman9

Dear X, We are set up for that kind of disillusionment. Long before I came onto the Internet, I felt that it was one of the many sad ironies of the Faith that it is tailor-made for attracting people willing to think outside the box -- after all, it takes quite a leap in our culture to convert to a religion completely outside Christianity. Then it takes those same people and pushes them towards this narrow little mold. It doesn't work.

"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." -Doug Martin

Actually, the attitude that the UHJ speaks with the voice of God is "joining partners" in a major way. Baha'u'llah said clearly said that no one has a share in the Most Great Infallibility -- that has to mean treating "conferred infallibility" as something other than absolute. If someone other than the Manifestation is treated as absolutely infallible, then that sure sounds like a "partner" to me.

This idea that people who believe in the individual conscience are claiming that conscience is infallible is a huge straw man that I run into all the time. Even worse, I run into it, not so much among ordinary conservative posters, but among big wheels like Martin. There's even a UHJ letter that talks about unreliable individual conscience is as a guide. Nobody claims that their own individual conscience is infallible; however, the alternative of handing one's own conscience to someone else, letting someone else define right and wrong for you, is a nightmarish alternative.

Love, Karen

May 2, 2002
Forum: Unenrolled Baha'i

Dear G., Actually, the Baha'i Faith is rather unique in its insistence on equating belief in the Founder with acceptance of all policies that come down from the central authority. It's like saying that unless you believe the Pope is infallible, you don't really believe in Jesus.

It is precisely this that makes the discovery of how wrong things are in the administration such a faith-shaker. Nothing that happened locally, no matter how dysfunctional things were, could have made me send in my resignation letter. I'd finally gone inactive, our of sheer frustration, about six months before I resigned. But discovering that upper echelons could act in such a un-Baha'i fashion just blew me totally out of the water. But in the end, I couldn't walk away from Baha'u'llah, so I had to grapple with what it meant to be a Baha'i without the administration. It was really a struggle, and I still have my moments sometimes, but in another way it's quite liberating -- nothing they can do, now, can take Baha'u'llah away from me.

Love, Karen

May 4, 2002
Forum: Unenrolled Baha'i

Dear X and everybody, I don't think most people who embrace the Faith initially know much about infallibility as it is popularly seen in the Baha'i community. It's one of those things they get "deepened" into later. For me, as a new believer, I was so ga-ga over Baha'u'llah that the implications of a distant institution being infallible somehow didn't even really register.

I've talked about how I see infallibility before, but I'm not sure if I have on this forum, so I'll do it again. As Juan mentioned, the Arabic word for infallibility means "protected". If I understand correctly from what he and other Arabists have said, this is a *moral* quality, and doesn't have anything to do with being factually inerrant. So if, for instance, 'Abdu'l-Baha said something that is not scientifically or historically accurate, it is not really necessary to turn all kinds of logical flip-flops in order to make him be correct. That he is incorrect is such matters does not detract at all from his "infallibility".

Secondly, Baha'u'llah was very clear that no one has a share in the Most Great Infallibility. Everybody other than the Manifestation has the lesser sort that is called "conferred" or "acquired" infallibility. Now, fundamentalists tend to treat infallibility as an absolute, sometimes actually saying "You can't be more or less infallible." That leaves virtually no difference between the essential infallibility of the Manifestation and the conferred infallibility of the authorized interpreters -- except as a kind of theoretical thing, a sort of lip-service given to the difference in station between them. But as a practical reality, it puts the statements of the authorized interpreters and the House of Justice on pretty much the same plane, and I think that's wrong. To me, the only thing that makes sense is that "infallibility", that "protectedness" is limited, compared to that of the Manifestation.

It is also worth noting that 'Abdu'l-Baha explained "acquired infallibility" as being a quality of "every holy soul" i.e. you don't have to be a person named in scripture as being the Faith's authorized interpreter in order to be "protected from error". It is one of the divine qualities that souls can acquire.

When it comes to the "infallibility" of the Guardian and the House of Justice, I think that it is limited to their respective spheres -- interpretation for the Guardianship, and legislation for the House of Justice. There's a whole lot of things that Shoghi Effendi said that wasn't really interpretation. And there's almost nothing that the UHJ has ever done that fits in the sphere of legislation. And even in those areas, there's lots of questions: Are a Guardian's interpretations meant to stand beyond his lifetime? How can we draw the line between interpretation and legislation without an authorized interpreter? Anyway, I think it's pretty evident that the House of Justice is not "error-free" in the sense most Baha'is believe it is.

Love, Karen

May 7, 2002
Forum: Unenrolled Baha'i

Dear X,

Well, I think the vast majority of disillusioned Baha'is don't get that way because of some big, dramatic event. It happens because all these little things collectively start gradually getting to you, like a dripping faucet. Then something snaps. You feel like if you have to endure one more pointless meeting, or one more inane letter you'll scream or barf or something. Or you hear the phrase "entry by troops" and you realize you don't believe it's going to happen anymore. For me, it was standing on a front porch where there was supposed to be children's classes, but nobody was home. Something snapped; I finally didn't give a damn anymore. I wasn't going to try anymore. So I went inactive.

And part of what I felt when I found out the coercive tactics used to suppress information and opinions was that "I put up with this bullshit for years, and those people upstairs are just a bunch of big liars and the whole system is a farce." I felt ripped-off.

[short snip] Also, I appreciate reading a Ridvan letter or feast letter or a UHJ message every now and then in a posting, since I don't receive any Baha'i news at all (because they don't know where I am at present). I share your sense of gloat in the general malaise gripping Baha'i at present, not because I (or you) want to see the movement fail, but because we believe the status quo has to bottom out before a reawakening and a renewal of the movement can begin.

Yes, I think it is healthy for people to react with disgust to things that are disgusting. The problem is we lose them, instead of them being a force for change. You know, people just don't expect to work that hard at being in a religion. It's supposed to be a comfort, not a great big headache. I just hope there's enough Baha'is who recognize the problems, but are willing to hang in there. It's hard. I look at what's happening locally, and wonder sometimes if I could have made a difference if I'd stayed in, knowing what I know now. Probably not; I'd have just got myself in trouble. Certainly with the stuff I've done on the Internet, I'm pretty certain that if I were on the rolls, I'd be next in line to be booted off them. I don't know if you're on Talisman, but we've just had word today of another Baha'i liberal that's having the screws put on him.

These stories about the travails of communities and LSA's bring back so many feelings that were suppressed when I participated in the AO, thinking that the endeavor, though depressing and exhausting, would be rewarded from On High, or at least validated by a steadily increasing Baha'i influence on the world scene. Uh, no, I don't think so. Not then, not now, and not in my lifetime. Of course,God's Plan doesn't end with my earthly existence. So there's probably still hope down the generational line.

Well, God's plan is God's business, I figure. Each of us individually has to contribute what we have in the time we have, and hope for the best.

Love, Karen

May 21, 2002
Forum: Zuhur19

>There was a discussion back on talisman1 initiated by research Ahang >Rabbani was undertaking at the time. You might want to look in the >archives on Juan's site. To make a long story short, the Bab saw both >Quddus and Tahirih as practically co-equal manifestations. > >Nima Dear X,

Y and I have been talking about this a bit off-list, which may very well be the blind leading the blind, since so little of the Bab's Writings are available in English. But I ran into a passage in the Selections from the Writings of the Bab, when the Qurratu'l-Ayn addressed in the Qayyum'u'l-Asma is pictured in clearly feminine terms. Now, I know the official explanation is that this title refers to the Bab Himself, and that the phrase is actually masculine in the original Arabic. But on p.52-53, Qurratu'l-Ayn is told to "deliver the summons" to "the handmaids among Thy kindred"; is called "The Mother of the Remembrance", and called upon to "recognize the station of Thy Son", and furthermore says that this figure has been "immortalized" as "the Mother of the Faithful".

Either we've got some major gender ambiguity going on here (which is possible; it's in Baha'u'llah's Writings as well), or the Bab is addressing a female figure other than Himself, with the name of Qurratu'l-Ayn.

So, am I onto something here, or am I way off base?

Love, Karen

May 21, 2002
Forum: Zuhur19

I agree. If we can make Baha'u'llah the Most Great Beauty and the Maid of Heaven, there's no reason we can't make the Bab into the Solace of Mine Eyes. If the two pictures we have of Him are authentic, He is definitely foxy in a traditional, Middle Eastern sense.

Well, maybe. After all, elsewhere the Bab says "I am the Maid of Heaven begotten by the spirit of Baha". A friend of mine was firmly convinced that Baha'u'llah's houri was really the Bab. (But he's never seen the Houri tablets.)

However, the Bab also just happens to have a prominent female disciple, with the name of Qurratu'l-Ayn, who carried considerable spiritual charisma of her own, to the point that some Babis believed she was a Manifestation. The official story is that she is not being addressed in the Qayyum'u'l-Asma, but these days I think it's good to question official stories. :-)

Love, Karen

May 21, 2002
Forum: Zuhur19

But my conclusion stands, drawn from almost two score as a Western Baha'i, that I don't understand 19th century Persian/Baha'i culture at all. And most of the rest of us don't either.

Dear X,

It's that lack of understanding that makes me hesitate to jump to absolute conclusions. I picked up from somewhere that this whole chapter in the QA is called "The Surah of the Houri" -- and we don't have the whole thing in English. I don't know about you, Cal, but I don't even know what all this stuff means yet, much less do I feel comfortable saying anything absolutely about it.

I spent a little time last night looking up "Qurratu'l-Ayn" statements in the QA, and there aren't any absolute answers there, either, at least among the passages that are available in English. What I don't know is why they're so darn sure that it *doesn't* refer to Tahirih.

Love, Karen

May 22, 2002
Forum: Zuhur19

[snip]

Karen, Tahirih was a manifestation...so were heaps of people claiming to be getting divine messages at that time....S/HWGWMM - It was the new Spirit of the Age. Love, Karen

May 25, 2002
Forum: Zuhur19

Hi Karen, the reply you got from the US NSA sounds like a badly written release from a second-rate politician's PR office. It is both ludicrous and tragic. There's one question I'd like to ask you and the other Zuhuristas: why would it have been so wrong if A Modest Proposal had been circulated among the Baha'is?

Dear X,

That's the thing -- they changed the rules. There is nothing in the Writings or even Shoghi Effendi that prevents circulation of this kind to delegates.

Were there any precedents?

Yes. In the 1960s a paper concerning race relations was circulated among the delegates at Convention.

Why would it be wrong for the believers to petition the NSA or the UHJ on any matter? Wasn't the Huquq introduced after some American Baha'is petitioned for it?

Yes, but I remember Y (I think) telling a story about how the whole thing was rather staged. Of course, it's a different thing when Baha'is are saying "Please, please let us pay you more money" and when Baha'is are saying "Maybe we should establish term limits". I guess you're only supposed to petition them to do things they want to do anyway.

I tend to think that what the authorities really objected to was the content of A Modest Proposal, but they could not say that aloud, and had to make up an excuse. Pretending to object to the "method", they had an easy escape from looking into the content (and, most of all, they hoped to have nobody else look into the content).

Yes, the official stance is that the content was irrelevant, but that's pretty hard to believe. However, I think even more than the content, it was that the authors were members of the "LA group" and were already suspect. If the *right* people, with the *right* ideas had done exactly the same thing, they wouldn't have gotten into trouble. If you are an insider, you don't get accused of being "partisan".

Besides all of that, the charge that *A Modest Proposal* had been circulated is completely bogus. The idea was discussed, but it didn't happen. The only delegates who saw it were the two from LA.. However, I'm not sure what they mean by "distributed". They could be sticking to the story that it was circulated to the delegates, but also the UHJ claimed that, because the article was submitted with seven co-authors, that this was equivalent to "circulating a petition". Also, why are they saying that the "question of review was raised" only *after* this supposed circulation took place? I mean, all of Dialogue's articles went through review, so what the hell are they talking about? They, of course, did not at all address the question of why it was necessary to publicly denounce this article and its authors. As "uninformed" as I am, I'd sure like them to explain *that* in terms of "Baha'i principles"!

Love, Karen

May 27, 2002
Forum: Zuhur19

Yes, it's amazing that a Faith that prescribes consultation on the most futile things should stop people from circulating documents over weighty matters.

Dear X, I guess the theory goes that there shouldn't be any public community discourse -- it's all supposed to be within the confines of proper channels. Of course, those channels also allow anybody who wants anything to be changed to be isolated and ignored. You could have a thousand Baha'is bring up the same issue at Feast, or write the Institutions, and they could all be given little pat answers and told to "Shoo!" That's probably why they fear anything that looks like a group or faction -- they'd actually have to pay attention.

I dug out my copy of "Principles of Baha'i Administration" -- brushing off the cobwebs, and blowing away the dust -- since looking at administrative stuff was never my favorite pass-time, even while I was enrolled. I was trying to find where this very restrictive view of "going through channels" came from. I mean, Shoghi Effendi said that individuals have the right to set up independent Baha'i magazines, calling such an effort "praiseworthy" -- presumably such publications would address community issues outside "channels". Now the whole "channel" thing has been elevated to a "fundamental Baha'i principle".

I've never been to Convention (thank God), but in my experience people at large meetings cannot be expected to make sound decisions on delicate matters, unless they have had the time to get informed, think it over, ask questions, hear what others have to say etc. That cannot be done in one day.

Well, National Convention is better than Unit Convention. I only went that once, of course, but things were very well orchestrated, and there was this cheerleading atmosphere. It would be tough to bring up a "delicate" matter. Somebody did mention, while I was back there, how difficult it is to change anything, when delegates don't even know who to vote for, and this person wanted to see who else was getting enough votes to be "in the running". I suspect this question comes up a lot, because it was handled very deftly. The issue was put at the end of the agenda, and by time we got there the whole mood of the place had changed. There had been this earlier suggestion that we all spend time upstairs, praying for entry by troops, so by time the issue of perpetual incumbancy came up Henderson got up there and said "Friends, do we really want to talk about this, or do we want to go upstairs and pray for entry by troops in this country!" Well, hell, by that time everybody was all primed for that, and somehow the voting issue seemed sort of mundane and unimportant, so we all flocked upstairs, and the issue was dropped. I don't know how that change of mood happened exactly, but Henderson's a guy who knows how to work a crowd.

Karen(previously): Yes. In the 1960s a paper concerning race relations was circulated among the delegates at Convention.

What happened to it and the people who had proposed it?

One of them got elected to the UHJ! See what I mean about the *right* people with the *right* ideas?

Karen(previously): Besides all of that, the charge that *A Modest Proposal* had been circulated is completely bogus. The idea was discussed, but it didn't happen.

Yes, I know. I did not mean to say that it WAS circulated. What I meant was: "and what if it had been?", but I know it was NOT. That's one of the reasons why the NSA did not answer your questions. The more I think about it, the more I think their reference to "circulation" is to the fact that there were co-signers. Look at what they said: "the question of review was raised only after the statement had already been circulated to Baha'is". This can't possibly be referring to the delegates at Convention, because the paper was already in the review process by then. The whole statement here is confusing, because all of Dialogue's article's passed through review -- it wasn't imposed just on that one article. These people are incapable of expressing themselves clearly -- it's just amazing. They need to hire themselves a good writer.

Love, Karen

June 19, 2002
Forum: Unenrolled Baha'i

But what I wanted to mention was a very good reliable Baha'i friend told me the other day that seminars are to be held for the Baha'is to tell them how they should deal with information on the internet. I have no idea how they think they can control a person's private moments but they are going to try.

Dear X,

I don't know what they are doing these days, but I know that in 1997 they were telling Baha'is to stay off the Internet completely. A friend of mine did a brief stint as an Assistant, and he was told this at the training. They seem to have backed off some of these extreme statements -- and this is an impossible thing to control anyway. But it would not surprise me that they are still trying to inoculate people against the ideas and information they find out here.

One thing they have already been told is that if they happen to run into a CB in a chat room they don't have to leave but MUST NOT engage in any conversation with said person. An impossible task they have set for themselves I should think. Have any of you heard of this?

I've heard that the "official" stance exactly what you said. In fact, if a seeker is present, they are definitely *not* supposed to leave, but address only the seeker and not the CB. But it is impossible. Some people are so emotional about covenant-breakers, and so keen to "protect" the Faith that they end up doing more harm than good. Over on Beliefnet, I saw a seeker driven straight *toward* the Remeyites, because of the hysterical reaction of fundamentalists over there. Then, she disappeared, probably figuring Baha'is weren't people she wanted to be around.

You are right, it is impossible to avoid covenant-breakers in cyberspace, unless you stick to lists that require you give your Baha'i i.d. number to get on it. Even if you exclude known CBs, they can always hang around under a pseudonym. My own policy is to ban discussion concerning claimants to the Guardianship; it's off-topic for a list like this anyway. On sites that are run by non-Baha'is, you can't exclude them at all. After you are in cyberspace for a while, you discover they don't really have horns and hooves; in fact, most aren't even very interesting. If you don't want to get tangled up in conversation with a CB, you just don't respond. Interestingly enough, the people who seem to have the toughest time staying away from them are the protection-minded types I mentioned before. They can't seem to resist saying "Hey, look over here! Yoo-hoo, I'm shunning you!" :-) Or they have to make big cautionary statements to anyone who might be passing by that these folks aren't really Baha'is, or to warn Baha'is not to talk to these people. This kind of behavior makes Baha'is look really bad.

They can't put the genie back in the bottle -- Baha'is of all kinds are going to be out here, saying their piece. Personally, I think the openness out here is healthier -- CBs, negativity, and all. It sure beats running scared and being afraid of ideas.

Love, Karen

June 22, 2002
Forum: Unenrolled Baha'i

Thanks, everyone, for your thoughts on this. Looking back, I find myself wondering why I didn't take the whole CB thing as a red flag. But I didn't. I was told about them as a starry-eyed new believer, but it was something so remote, and CBs were presented as being so unreasonable and perverse that somehow it didn't click what it all really meant.

However, I always was uncomfortable with the notion that they were things I wasn't supposed to read, and when I had the opportunity, I read CB literature. I never ran into an actual person who had been named a covenant-breaker until I came into cyberspace -- and when it comes down to treating another human being badly, without even knowing them, I just didn't have the heart to do it. I rarely talk to them because I'm not interested in getting into extensive arguments about the Guardianship, not because I fear some kind of contamination.

The saddest thing of all is that this whole fear of covenant-breakers turns what Baha'u'llah tried to do on its head. There wasn't supposed to be a category of "unclean" people; He said that whatever leads us all to shun one another had been abolished. It's just the way Baha'i history played out. Love, Karen

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