Friday, January 07, 2005

Have Website, Will Travel

I just discovered that the very first essay I ever wrote on Baha'i issues, my own story of why I resigned membership in the Baha'i Faith appears in a syllabus for a religious studies class on NRMs -- specifically in a unit on leaving these religious groups.

This story was really my first introduction to Baha'i cyberspace; I actually wrote it just to get it out of my system I really had no notion that very many people would read it. My website began as a required project for a computer literacy class I had to take as part of my teaching credential.

But I contacted Juan; he put the story on Talisman and it circulated all over the place. By the time I started posting on talk.religion.bahai, people were already familiar with it.

I still get emails about it sometimes -- which I have mixed feelings about because I've traveled so far since then. It was, after all, written more than five years ago, and people who have just discovered it will write me as if I had just resigned last week. But I suppose that's inevitable; I know I initially formed an impression of Juan based on early stuff he wrote right after his resignation. Life goes on, but what you've said remains in cyberspace forever -- unless you get embarrassed about it and delete it.

I actually don't like deleting my earlier stuff; it has been part of my development, and reflects who I was at the time, even if it looks a little uninformed or simplistic now.

I wonder if any enterprising students in that class took a look around to discover the "story after the story". It is, after all, not really a tale of leaving a New Religious Movement. I left the organization, but maintained belief; I wonder how common that is, or if that's a phenomenon that has been studied.

But, for sure, when you send something out into cyberspace, you never know where it might end up. My story ended up as required reading for Learning Activity #4 in Religion 265.

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