Posted by Stuart Gilman (188.8.131.52) on November 19, 2002 at 05:38:10:
In reviewing the Five Year Plan I find that my approach to Baha'i studies is consistent with much that is written there.
In my understanding, part of the plan is to elevate the knowledge of all Baha'is as to the sacred texts, from the Bab's writings to letters and edicts from the House of Justice and everything else in between.
Since most of the Baha'is I know are "emotional" Baha'is, drawn to Baha by its sound and powerful universal and moral intelligence, I am finding that the study of texts poses a dilemma for some of them.
One Baha'i for forty years learns that Baha'u'llah had three legal wives. Shocked, this Baha'i dives into a spiritual depression and has to be brought out of it gently and slowly.
As for the writings of Shoghi Effendi, it is no secret that he was a brilliant writer and great Baha'i, but that his level of intellect is in numerous instances impossible to assimilate by the average Baha'i.
The mystical portions of the majority of the Manifestation's writings are easy to learn but difficult to understand. Thus, rather than deepen faith, many verses create questions as a natural cognitive reaction. This, in my view, is potentially counter-productive.
Raising the level of comprehension and education of Baha'is is a noble ideal. It is my opinion that the approach must be more clearly defined so as to take these and other issues into consideration. Finally, perhaps one of the most socially controversial areas:
Between 10% and 20% of the world's males are practising homosexuals or bisexuals. Yet, the Five Year Plan calls on us to "conquer the world" with the Faith. There are as many good, clean, law-abiding, geniuses and intellectuals among homosexuals as there are among Baha'is. This is a separate and special challenge. Since there is an original base of guilt and shame among young, latent homosexuals and the majority of homosexuals do not "come out of the closet" until between 28 and 35 years of age, we have an opportunity to reach them even greater than that of a teenage heroin addict.
When it is officially written that our Community disapproves of homosexuality being viewed as "normal" or as "an alternative lifestyle" (see both the five year plan and various letters from UHJ and NSAs), the alienation of the practising homosexual is practically assured. Those who are active, open homosexuals do not subjectively view themselves as "abnormal". This is a challenge in the context of our stated inclusiveness, tolerance and desire to create a world Baha'i Community, peaceful and tolerant. Are we willing, atthe very outset, to alienate as many as 10 or 20% of world's homosexual population. Even if the true percent is 5, we are left with a number that is approximately 150 million. Not a small number.
How many of you really know homsexuals? How many of you really know the sexual practises of homosexuals? I, as a heterosexual male, have had numerous homosexual patients and none have come to me for their homosexuality but for other problems. During the course of their treatment I have listened very uncomfortably to detailed descriptions of gay behavior. I have begged these patients to stop these descriptions but the average gay person is like the typical drug addict, he or she is compulsive regarding the behaviour and obsessive as to their addiction, with the obsessive component exhibiting itself by talk.
You do not want to be in my chair. (I, myself, do not want to be in my chair at those times.)
Yet, we are all in a way in that chair and how we deal with that challenge is difficult, perhaps impossible. I recommend a convention devoted entirely to this challenge.
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