Wednesday, February 16, 2005

Introductory Website on Baha'u'llah

My friend,Alison Marshall has just put up a brand-new website with an introduction to Baha'u'llah and Baha'i teaching. For those of you not in the know, Alison is a Baha'i mystic who was thrown off the Baha'i membership rolls in March 2000 because the administration didn't like her internet postings. She has gradually become less engaged with Baha'i email lists, focusing on her own spiritual endeavors. To me, it's just amazing that she can continue to focus on teaching the Faith, something that most Baha'is who have been treated badly by the system have a tough time with, even if they retain belief in Baha'u'llah.

There really isn't anything that is overtly unorthodox about this new site; I don't think anyone would guess at her background, if they weren't already aware of it. She isn't spending space in this website for criticisms of the current state of the Baha'i community. However, it does differ in the style of presentation from most introductory material about the Baha'i Faith. There is more emphasis on Baha'u'llah, and the spiritual aspects of his teaching, and less on the social teachings. The familiar list of "Baha'i principles" is missing; instead she refers to Baha'u'llah's writings that deal with social issues. Her history page stops at Baha'u'llah, and does not go into the accounts of the ministries of 'Abdu'l-Baha', Shoghi Effendi, and the Universal House of Justice that one would usually find in a Baha'i introduction. She also links to academic material and unofficial translations that would be unlikely to show up in a more conventional Baha'i website.

Anyway, I think she's done a good job here. I have always said that the only way to "win" the Baha'i Wars between liberals and fundamentalists is to "out-Baha'i" the opposition i.e. to be better Baha'is than they are. I can't think of anyone who demonstrates that better than Alison.


Anonymous said...

Yeh, but does it honestly make sense to still preach a religion from which you are disaffiliated, for whatever reason? I am a lapsed, estranged, very non-practising Catholic, and could hardly see myself teaching basic Catholicism on the internet! lol

Then again, maybe the Baha'i faith (in its spiritual, not institutional dimensions) will actually benefit by this democratization/cybernization... Is "cybernization" a word? Yikes! lol

Karen said...

No, you might not find yourself preaching Catholicism, but you might find yourself preaching Jesus. Just because you are disillusioned with the organization doesn't mean you have ceased to believe in the Founder. Fundamentalists want the two to be inextricable, but the lived reality of faith for a lot of us is that we believe in Baha'u'llah, we just have major problems with the current administration's policies.

And, yes, the openness that has come about because of the Internet will, in the long run, be healthier for the Baha'i Faith -- even if painful in the short run.

Anonymous said...

I'm very interested in becoming a Baha'i mystic. tell me, what are the qualifications? Must I have my voting rights taken away or can i be in good standing? Can I disagree with the HOJ and realize there are more important battles to fight or must i bow to fundamentalism like a martyr?

do i have to experience a huri or just know they exist?