They don’t like the aggression

July 16th, 2014

Kate Kelly’s excommunication letter, June 23 2014:

“The difficulty, Sister Kelly, is not that you say you have questions or even that you believe that women should receive the priesthood. The problem is that you have persisted in an aggressive effort to persuade other church members to your point of view and that your course of action has threatened to erode the faith of others. You are entitled to your views, but you are not entitled to promote them and proselyte others to them while remaining in full fellowship in the church.”

http://www.deseretnews.com/media/pdf/1365030.pdf

The Department of the Secretariat to The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of New Zealand, 19 April 2000:

“Mrs. Marshall has chosen to aggressively promote her misconceptions in defiance of efforts to provide her with essential Baha’i teachings which correct them. She has made a series of statements that stand totally in contradiction to the authoritative texts of the Baha’i writings. These assertions, which she disseminated to an international audience, were of such concern to a number of Baha’is that the matter was brought to the attention of the Universal House of Justice.”

http://whoisbahaullah.com/Alison/19-4-00.html

Born to be mild

July 7th, 2014

Easy Rider (1969) Credit: Columbia/Neal Peters Collection
Get your motor running
Head out on the highway
Looking for Baha’u’llah
In whatever comes your way

Horton hears a whoso

June 30th, 2014

Horton hears a who book coverSooner or later, every Bahai gets to hear a whoso. I heard quite a few in the Dunedin community just after Alison was removed from membership. Listen in, and you might hear one, too.

“The sacred and youthful branch, the Guardian of the Cause of God, as well as the Universal House of Justice to be universally elected and established, are both under the care and protection of the Abhá Beauty, under the shelter and unerring guidance of the Exalted One (may my life be offered up for them both). Whatsoever they decide is of God. Whoso obeyeth him not, neither obeyeth them, hath not obeyed God; whoso rebelleth against him and against them hath rebelled against God; whoso opposeth him hath opposed God; whoso contendeth with them hath contended with God; whoso disputeth with him hath disputed with God; whoso denieth him hath denied God; whoso disbelieveth in him hath disbelieved in God; whoso deviateth, separateth himself and turneth aside from him hath in truth deviated, separated himself and turned aside from God. May the wrath, the fierce indignation, the vengeance of God rest upon him!”
The Will And Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

When you hear a whoso, it’s because a sour kangaroo has objected to the small people having a voice.

“Humpf!” humpfted a voice. ‘Twas a sour kangaroo.
And the young kangaroo in her pouch said “Humpf” too.
“Why, that speck is as small as the head of a pin.
A person on that?… Why, there never has been!”
Horton Hears a who

Unnatural acts

June 7th, 2014

HSunburnt Caucasianomo sapiens emerged out of Africa. As the species spread, some populations became afflicted with abhorrent conditions such as light skin colouring. Today, billions of people have this aberration. We must turn off the gene that causes pale skin, so that people no longer need to “cover up”. Pastiness is highly condemned and often a great trial and cause of suffering to a person. Remember, there are no legitimate ways in which a Caucasian can express the wayward impulses of the sunbathing instinct.

As for those now afflicted, a Caucasian does not decide to be a problem human, but he does have decision in choosing his way of life, i.e. abstaining from sunbathing acts.

Love the Caucasian, hate the flagrant sunseeker.

Leaving the surf

May 17th, 2014

Surfing magazine cover, 2008
When I was a practising surfer, I briefly belonged to a nationally and internationally-affiliated surfing organisation. But I realised that I had no interest in organised group surfing activities and resigned my membership. Or “left the surf” as they say in surfing circles.

Actually, they don’t say that.

Surfers might ask why they haven’t seen you at club meets and competitions, but the idea that membership has anything to do with the way you surf would seem ludicrous to them.

When you stop tapping the energy of the ocean—that’s when you “leave the surf”.

A covenant

May 14th, 2014

Let me talk about a covenant.

No, I promise to make it interesting, and this isn’t Covenant with a capital C. It’s a covenant between the leaders and the rest of us. It’s an often-unspoken understanding that leadership involves doing a lot of listening, consulting and making changes as well as just plain making smart decisions.

The Baha’i Faith requires a lot of its followers. For example, there’s a requirement to wholeheartedly support a decision even when people don’t agree with it. So that’s one half of the covenant—an agreement by those who are led, not only to be obedient, but also to be supportive—even when they don’t buy the idea.

The other half of the covenant is that leaders must act like servants—”trustees of the Merciful One”, as Baha’u’llah puts it. He’s turned top-down into bottom-up: Leaders are charged with the responsibility of being responsive to the needs of the community and putting them first.

Radical, huh? Baha’u’llah seems to be saying, and I may be reading too much in here, LSA members should be less concerned about what the NSA thinks of a decision than what the community thinks of it.

In theory, the Bahai Faith has a very devolved decision-making process. In theory, ideas expressed

  • at the feast, or
  • to a local assembly, or
  • to delegates to national convention,

filter up through the system—some reaching as far as the House.

In theory, an individual will have opportunities to appeal any decision, because it will come from their local assembly, or occasionally their national assembly—and thus can be appealed at least once, but usually twice.

Unfortunately, the Baha’i Faith has become very top-down and one-size-fits-all:

  • Feast has become a vehicle for the NSA to promote its latest programme,
  • Bahais are removed from membership by the House with no recourse to appeal, and
  • any ideas that don’t fit the current narrow Ruhi framework don’t get anywhere.

Result: Individuals feel manipulated and disempowered. I think it’s because the covenant (the little one) has been somewhat forgotten.

What would Shoghi Effendi do?

January 1st, 2014

An extract from an interview Bob Dylan gave to Mikal Gilmore of Rolling Stone magazine:

Rolling Stone magazine coverMikal: I’ve brought up the subject partly because of something you said the night he was elected: “It looks like things are gonna change now.” Do you feel that the change you anticipated has been borne out?

Bob: You want to repeat that again? I have no idea what I said.

Mikal: It was Election Night 2008. Onstage at the University of Minnesota, introducing your band’s members, you indicated your bassist and said, “Tony Gamier, wearing the Obama button. Tony likes to think it’s a brand-new time right now. An age of light. Me, I was born in 1941 – that’s the year they bombed Pearl Harbor. Well, I been living in a world of darkness ever since. But it looks like things are gonna change now.”

Bob: I don’t know what I said or didn’t say. As far as Tony goes, yeah, maybe he was wearing an Obama button and maybe I said some stuff because right there in the moment it all made sense. Maybe I said things looked like they could change. And maybe they did change. I don’t think I could have predicted how they would change, but whatever was said, it was said for people in that hall for that night. You know what I’m saying? It wasn’t said to be played on a record forever. Or did I go down to the middle of town and give a speech?

Mikal:It was onstage.

Bob: It was on the streets?

Mikal: Stage. Stage.

Bob: OK. It was on the stage. I don’t know what I could have meant by that. You say things sometimes, you don’t know what the hell you mean. But you’re sincere when you say it. I would hope that things have changed. That’s all I can say, for whatever it is that I said. I’m not going to deny what I said, but I would have hoped that things would’ve changed. I certainly hope they have.

On time, on budget, and on land

November 28th, 2013

New Zealand's mashriqI live on the continent of Zealandia which is mainly underwater. Years ago, my community considered building an underwater temple. Scuba diving is a big tourist drawcard in New Zealand and the new temple, “Unity in Divers’ City”, would have been a magnificent and prestigious addition to the pantheon of continental Baha’i Houses of Worship. However, the cost, the poor acoustics and losing an entire choir on their first rehearsal, put us off. We settled for a second-hand temple that was intended for the continent of Antarctica and we haven’t looked back.

Print-your-own pilgrimage?

July 3rd, 2013

Gary Matthews suggests that any pilgrimage site missing in action could conceivably be recreated using new printing technologies:

It goes without saying that every last detail of the building is meticulously documented, that Baha’is will one day regain possession of the property, and that it will be rebuilt in precise detail. My guess is that emerging technologies for 3D printing mean that even the exact corrugations and indentations of the original stones will be replicated, whenever this happens.

Ultimately, that might allow print-your-own pilgimages in the comfort of your own home. However, I prefer to do pilgrimage the old fashioned way. I plan to travel half way across the world to join a group of pilgrims for a once-in-a-lifetime experience that is both personal and communal; intimate and intensely social.

For that reason, I’m saving my money for the opening of Holodeck Haifa, and the Authorised House of Baha’u’llah Experience.

holodeck

Flexibility about orientation

July 1st, 2013

News came through a few days ago about the destruction of the House of Baha’u’llah in Baghdad. This is big news for Bahais because Baha’u’llah designated that house, and the House of the Bab in Shiraz, as the two places on the planet for pilgrimage. Since access to those two places has been cut off, current pilgrimage consists of visitations to the holy places around Haifa.

I think it’s wonderful that, even with a really big deal like pilgrimage, which is based on a clear message from Baha’u’llah, we adapted. A great deal of flexibility is evident in the Bahai system, allowing it to adapt to changed conditions.

The Bahai Faith is not simple, unchanging and black-and-white — it’s dynamic and adaptive. I don’t hear people making a fuss about the new realities regarding pilgrimage, and I don’t see why we can’t get used to the new realities regarding sexual orientation. In fact, I think we are doing just that.