Scholars beware, lest ye destory all that is good...

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Posted by Stuart ( on December 01, 2002 at 05:20:33:

In Reply to: Re: First and last public response to Stuart posted by Misagh on November 30, 2002 at 22:35:04:

Dear Misagh and others,

I thank you for your comments and accept the warmth of your spirit and generosity of heart. As one psychologist coined:

"Take nothing personally, especially yourself"

... which I have followed for many years.

While your quotes are relevant and heart-felt, they do not address portions of Sacred Text that make some uncomfortable:

33 ... The most despised of men in the sight of God are they who sit and beg. Hold ye fast unto the cord of means and place your trust in God, the Provider of all means.
- Kitab-I-Aqdas

37 ... Terrible, indeed, is God in punishing! - Kitab-I-Aqdas

170 Call ye to mind Karím, and how, when We summoned him unto God, he waxed disdainful, prompted by his own desires ... We bade him embrace the Truth. But he turned away until, as an act of justice from God, angels of wrath laid hold upon him. ... Kitab-I-Aqdas

These are some of the less distressing of the aspect of God that is of wrath and punishment. Apparently, God has "angels of wrath" in his company.

God is capable of despising.

And God is a terrible punisher.


There are hundreds of passages similar in the writings. The very act of excommunication is distasteful. The word alone is alienating. It implies a rigid set of religious laws or principles which when broken result in being sent to "hell" or to "nowhere" but certainly not to heaven. What greater punishment can there be?

Then there is The Pen's most severe warning: should anyone dare to claim "ere one thousand years" that he is a manifestation ...

So the Blessed Beauty laid claim to a chunk of time to rule exclusively as God's authority. And then passed that authority to one of his son's, who passed it to a son-in-law who passed it along to the Universal House of Justice. All this while we claim to be unlike organized religion, when, instead, when we possess every - every - major characteristic of every religion on earth.

But we are different because we are more tolerant that Mohammed, more forgiving than Moses, more sensible in our embrace of science and medicine, less superstitious than Buddha and Krishna unbelieving in reincarnation (one life then ascending heavens).

Now, there is nothing inherently wrong with any of this. The first and most important postulate of any religion is the most difficult and controversial - each major religion posits a God to which faith alone can testify. One is challenged fundamentally before one even begins to look into the details of a specific faith. This challenge alone is greater than any mortal can bear except by surrendering, for logic and science can - as I myself have written - suggest the existence of God, but cannot prove it. Ever. "Believe though thou canst not understand." "God, the unknowable". Believe.

All of which is fine because we come to Bahai through Faith in God and we come to Bahai through acceptance of the Covenant, and the Covenant is with Baha'u'llah, not with God directly, but by association with Baha.

Covenant Breakers suffer the worst punishments. We are also ordered not to listen to anyone who asserts that the House of Justice may not be the true embodiment of Bahai. While we can listen to billions who reject Bahai altogether, we select out for special loathing those who break the Covenant.

We are ordered to work, to have a craft or profession. In today's society, we inevitably associate with homosexuals, we must shake hands with gay men and women or have the courage to declare "I am a Bahai and I am forbidden to touch hands." If we were ordered into monasteries and chastity, forbidden to own material things, to live on the charity of non-monastic Baha‚is, then those who would be so isolated could follow all the Laws, possibly. But the frightening challenge of Bahai is that we are given written ideals that we must fail.

So the long obligatory prayer contains the most absolute confessional of sin and error imaginable. But we are spared reciting it publicly, in fact ordered to maintain a privacy of confession.

I declared my acceptance of Baha'u'llah too early. Not because I have doubts, but because I have questions and my questions are treated with scorn and insult. I should have waited until my vision was blurred and I did no longer see the punishments, the wrath, the vengeful angels, the egocentricity of the Faith that calls itself Universal and universally inclusive at the same time as declaring billions of humans as unclean who bathe in public pools whether chlorinated or not.

And I cannot sleep some nights asking myself if eating a blissful pizza with my hands and getting food all over my hands and splashes of tomato on my clothes is unholy or unpermitted. So I eat pizza with a knife and fork. And, to be safe, I use utensils when eating a hamburger. Of course, picking fruit from a bowel with my fingers presents a special challenge, particularly when the fruit is cherries. In fact, I actually squidge around in the cherry bowl looking for those cherries which really appeal to me. Alas, these terrible dilemmas!

This is why I have asked why we cannot "lighten up". If we cannot, if we can not find the very essence of Bahai and live its spirit sincerely and with absolute confidence in God's acceptance, then not only are we doomed but so is Bahai.

We are human persons living all over the world where customs differ. where circumstances force us out of our Bahai shell every day into actions that are forbidden or questionable. We are not shadows or imitations of Abdul Baha nor can we ever be. Therefore, Misagh, you rightly emphasize the positive, the wholesome, the encompassing, the tolerance, the compassionate and understanding. Scholars beware, lest ye destroy all the goodness and hope Bahai has given to this world.


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