jimhabegger wrote:This is a response to Loren's post to me in the thread "A movement to help free the Baha'i spirit from its shackles." My response could lead to discussions that might divert attention from what I wanted to discuss there.
Loren, I was very happy to see such a sympathetic and thoughtful response from someone who has concerns about what I'm doing. Thank you very much for posting!
I'm trying to take a break from Internet discussions, but I didn't want to leave you in suspense.
"However, one area I would critic your approach, is that you seem to exhibit at least a small bias for the 'movement' as you call it, verses the 'non-movement' (for lack of a better word)."
Yes. I feel more estranged from people who react defensively to anything uncomplimentary that anyone says about the Faith, and who continually defame it with their behavior, than I do from people who are openly campaigning against it. That sneaked up on me while I wasn't looking. I'm trying to recover from it now.
In case you're wondering, I don't have any disagreements with the House of Justice, or any grievances against it. I love the goals and plans it's promoting. I study its messages eagerly, asking myself "what can I learn from this?" and "what can I do about it?" I've studied again and again what it says about responding to attacks on the Faith in Internet discussions, and I've done my best to put it into practice.
I got the word "shackles" from the message "One Common Faith," and in my understanding it applies to all religions, including the Baha'i Faith. Below are some of the shackles I see discussed in the message. The numbers are paragraph numbers.
- Fixed conceptions inherited from a distant past (Foreword 1)
- Misconceptions which severely inhibit the most intelligent and well-intentioned efforts at human betterment (22)
* About human nature and social evolution
* About religion, especially, in virtually every one of its aspects
- Conceptual walls of separation and conflict (36)
- Theological thickets around religious understanding (39)
- Doubts about the possibility of unity (54)
Some other shackles would be the three vital issues discussed by Shoghi Effendi in "The Advent of Divine Justice," what he calls "the more serious deficiencies" by which the American Baha'i community "is being handicapped in the discharge of its task."
Some other shackles would be a variety of popular prejudices and forms of psychological abuse, that demoralize people and stifle individual initiatives, and impair the functioning of the divine institutions.
Some other shackles would be attitudes towards the House of Justice that get in the way of learning from it and serving its interests, and attitudes towards divine institutions in general, that get in the way of using them for what they're for.
"Are we shackled because of the Administrative Order?"
I imagine some of the shackles are administrative, but that isn't what I'm thinking of.
"Are we shackled because, as a unified faith, our institutions ultimately get make decisions about what official Baha'i belief or doctrine is?"
Are you thinking of the review policy? I don't have any problem with that.
I just posted a rather large response in the other thread, and now I find this one by you here...I guess I've gotten confused since both threads seem very similar to me. Sorry. Perhaps Jonah could merge the two if you asked him? Might easier for all to follow and participate if they were the same thread.
Yes, I was referring to review policy, which, last time I checked, was one of the major concerns of certain proponents of "the movement."
I'll only respond briefly to a few or you remarks here, because I think my other post rambled on too much already, and perhaps is at least in part, already a response to some of what you have said here.
I can empathize with feeling "estranged from people who react defensively to anything uncomplimentary that anyone says about the Faith" and there are times when Baha'is could lighten up and realize that we need not act like God's trained pit bulls, or as if the cause of God is somehow vulnerable. But isn't that part and parcel to having a diverse community in itself? Some of us have different weaknesses, etc., but we give everyone some leeway to learn and grow as individuals, and make some mistakes. By the way, although you may think its bad for you if you say something uncomplimentary about the faith, don't try to say it against the movement. Some of those guys will rip you apart if you do, something I myself have experienced. Its part of what happens when a person becomes liberated from the shackles of moderation, non-backbiting, and others restraints such as courtesy and toleration. I'm not suggesting that you disagree with these principles, but I just don't want it to seem that Baha'is are in general over sensitive and intolerant, and those of the movement are the true embodiments of Baha'i virtue, because that is not the case.
As for your comments about the Guardian, I ask you to consider that the Guardian of the Baha'i faith made such an assessment from a particular vantage that only he could have from the perspective of being the head of the faith, and being empowered with that position by the covenant. There is a big difference, at least to me, if the Guardian made, or the UHJ makes, a statement about where we are deficient and where we need to go, than if an other individual or individuals, make such a determination. In other words, I don't think that the movement enjoys this vantage point or authority to make such determinations.