From rvh3@columbia.eduTue Oct 17 00:07:52 1995
Date: Thu, 12 Oct 1995 15:19:43 -0400 (EDT)
From: Richard Vernon Hollinger 
Subject: Re: violence

On Thu, 12 Oct 1995 wrote:

  You have obviously personalized this matter.  Because you
> have gone through an unpleasant situation, you generalize to other men.  While
> I have very personal feelings about abuse towards women, I have not been the
> victim of abuse. I am not crying out because of a personal situation of my own,
> but rather because I see others in such desperate need.  
> I am - and always will - stand up for abuse against women. 

I have no problem with standing up against abuse of women--I am certainly 
with you on that.  But in your response to Burl you referred to the 
statistics he cited as "obscene."  I infer from this that you are not 
saying the statistics are inaccurate, but that they should not be cited 
because they can be used to justify violence against women.  It is this 
outlook I find disturbing, as it has resulted in evidence being ignored 
and removed from the discourse, skewing popular ideas about men and 

Let me me offer an analogy to help explain my thinking on this matter.
I do not think it undervalues the suffering of Jews during World War II to 
point out that there have been genocides in other places, such as 
Cambodia and the Soviet Union.  I do not feel it devalues their suffering 
to point out that there have been genocides in which no outside powers 
have intervened.  Nor do I think it devalues that suffering to say that 
the Holecaust should not be used to make generalizations about the 
character of the German people.  Finally, I do not think it would be 
appropriate to ignore atrocities of Israeli soldiers on the basis that 
this information could be used to justify violence against Jews. 

There is a tendency among advocates of any particular group of people to 
portray their own suffering as worse or more significant than others, 
thereby ignoring or devaluing the suffering of others. But violence is 
violence, suffering is suffering, no matter who are the perpetrators and 
who are the victims.  

The point I have been trying to make is that much 
of the discourse on domestic violence has been skewed by advocates for 
women, who have used evidence selectively and sometimes deceptively to 
acheive political ends.  For example, there was a survey about 
sexual activities done on college campuses a few years ago that asked 
the question: Have 
you ever had sex when you did not want to?  Most of the women answered 
yes, and activists on a number of campuses used this as evidence that 
there was an epidemic of rape that had to be addressed with new 
regulations and programs to protect women.  How was this deceptive?  
Well, they never bothered to mention that a higher percentage of men 
answered yes to that question than women, so if that was really evidence 
of an epidemic of rape, men were the primary victims.  Perhaps they would 
have said that such evidence was obscene, like the stats that Burl mentioned.
But I would suggest that such distortions, which skew popular 
views of a group (in this case men), are themselves obscene.


From JRuhl@tchmail01.tchden.orgTue Oct 17 00:13:32 1995
Date: Thu, 12 Oct 95 17:42:00 PDT
From: "Ruhl, Jordis" 
To: 'talisman' 
Subject: Three Fascinating Men: Farakhan, O.J. and My Brother

Linda wrote:

As for Mr. Farakhan being one of the organizers of this march, I say let it
I am not going to judge him by whether his views fit the feminist model or

Have to tell you a story passed on to me several years ago by a guide at the 
Wilmette House of Worship.  This man said that Louis Farakhan's mother lived 
near the House of Worship and enjoyed visiting it very much, so every time 
Mr. Farakhan was in town he would bring her to the Mother Temple.  This 
guide had met Mr. Farakhan and his mother, and was impressed by him as he 
had memorized all of Baha'u'llah's writings inscribed above each of the nine 
entrances -- and he gladly recited each and every one.  Hmm.

Regarding OJ and spousal abuse:  here at Children's Hospital in Denver, we 
see so many child-abuse cases and many of them are perpetrated by the 
boyfriend of the mother.  I don't have the percentages, but I can get them 
and will post them. Also, in almost all cases in which a baby is shaken to 
injury or death, the perp is the boyfriend or babysitter.

As to my final fascinating man, David Langness, let me say this.  This is 
the most dedicated Baha'i I've ever met.  Bar none.  He lives, breathes, 
eats and drinks the Faith.  You may write this off to sisterly love, but 
it's more than that.  I've seen him live his beliefs for nearly 30 years. 
 He patiently taught me the faith for 19 years before I declared.  His whole 
being is concentrated on teaching the faith.  He does have a bit of a 
tendency to rail against authority.  And this leads me to ask:  Why discuss 
personalities?  This is oh-so-pointless behavior.  It doesn't matter if I'm 
pedantic, and Joe is fruity and Sally is overbearing.  What matters is what 
we say.  If you have a problem with what people say, it's appropriate to 
address the content of the posting rather than their personality quirks. 
 Except Burl's quirks, of course...

While I'm up here on this cyber soap box addressing the dreaded TONE topic, 
I've noticed something I'd like to share with you.  When men on Talisman 
respond to women, they seem to respond with a different tone than they have 
with other men.  Have you noticed this?  Can someone explain this to me? 
  Just wondering...

Last idea.  Some time back, at the front end of the decentralization topic, 
there were several references to parents vs. children in relation to 
administrative bodies vs. individual believers, or LSAs vs. NSAs.  This 
struck me as all wrong.  IMHO (I've been dying to use that acronym), much of 
the stagnation here in the US re: teaching work and maturation of LSA/NSA 
has to do precisely with this mindset.  It is only when we can more closely 
mirror adult-to-adult interactions with our institutions and between 
institutions will we prosper.  Indulge me in an example:

In the 1980s, the Denver LSA was a mess.  Big mess.  National was called in 
to make the determination whether or not to disband the LSA.  The community 
was in shambles.  At Feast  (my first Feast as a Baha'i, BTW), a believer 
read aloud (over the protests of the LSA, much crying and wailing from the 
crowd) a letter to the LSA citing all their failures and laying blame at 
their feet.  From what I now know, the letter wasn't too far off.  The LSA 
cried foul, and I've never seen that letter-reading woman since.

The persons responsible for making the recommendation to National told me 
they were ready to recommend to disband.  Then something happened.  A new 
family moved into the community.  They had heard of the problems, but had 
the maturity to look beyond the din.   This new family got a large group of 
believers together and put on an elegant dinner and presentation to honor 
this embattled LSA.  Yes, that's right -- honor them.  The community started 
to heal.  The recommendation to the NSA was to maintain the LSA.  Since 
then, our community has seen tremendous fruits.

I can hear my dear brother groaning over this sweet, sweet story, and maybe 
many others of you as well.  But it's a strong message on the tremendous 
power of unity.  I don't ever recall 'Abdu'l-Baha using direct criticism to 
change behavior or build maturity.  I believe he intends us to love each 
other into submission!

But this honoring moves in both directions.  IMHO, whenever an institution 
or an individual counts someone in the community as bad, or inappropriate, 
or contrary, or rebellious, they are splitting good and evil, and projecting 
the bad outside/beyond them -- big time.  "I am all good and you are all 
bad."  David has much to offer this Baha'i world, and if National could 
embrace their critics and listen earnestly to them (not just those who spout 
party line) -- wow.  I see very clearly how David has become an embodiment 
of some fear of the NSAs.  Tough for David.  And tough for the NSA.  And 
tough for our national community.

My spontaneous, long and windy  thoughts.  Thanks for reading.

Jordis Ruhl

p.s.  One last word.  Re: the language used at the end of the letter from 
the NSA to David.  C'mon.  That was a slam if I've ever heard one.  It's 
obvious to me that someone struck a nerve.  But then again, if I had to read 
that word "spin doctor" one more time...

From TLCULHANE@aol.comTue Oct 17 00:13:59 1995
Date: Thu, 12 Oct 1995 19:50:56 -0400
Subject: re: violence 

     Come now gents .    Do you really want to argue that incidence of
violence toward men perpetrated by women  are commensurate with incidents of
violence  towards women perpetrated by men .
       I would like to see the "evidence " Burl cites for starters , not just
a reference to it but an actual citation , otherwise I must consider it
"hearsay " . 

      As for de-constructing  how about if we re - deconstruct  and suggest
that this argument sounds suspiciously like a conservative backlash argument
currently fashionable in America as blaming the victims . The privileges of
power do die hard . 
       We could treat this as an abstract subject and lose sight of the fact
we are speaking of real human beings. If anyone would like I will produce
names of real people and all the gory details , these are people i know . How
about a real life story of rape . I would bet e could find a man or two who
had been subjected such horror and then how many women do you suppose . . . ?
     The resort  to gee us guys are victims also  obscures the appalling
incidence of violence towards women . I am amazed that we would resort to a
form of argument that trivializes this issue . The college study cited as a
defense falls apart on its merits . If it was designed in an obfuscating
manner the responses of males cannot be considered as reliable as to draw a
conclusion that men are victims of rape .  One does not have to approve the
excesses of certain feminists to comdemn violent behavior . I am surprised
that an  argument would be made that the excesses of some feminmists be used
as a tool to obscure the violence directed towards women .  Somebody please
explain the relevence of Abdu'l Baha's praise of white abolitionists with the
equation of men as victims of violence needs to be condemned on a par with
violence to women . I would like a logical explanation of the link . The one
I find is Abdul Baha would today be praising those men who are staunch and
open advocates of ending violence towards women , I dont read it as a
justification of slavery and that we should conclude that the slaveowners
were some how victims of equal status  with the slaves.  
     If we want to condemn violence in general I am all for it . I want to
end the most apalling violence in the world perpetrated upon men and that is
war - not women . Having had some personal experience with the war issue and
its long term harm to men ,I would prefer to see men spend more time  saying"
hell no i wont go nor will my sons" and less time  trying to make a case that
the problem is women beating up on men .  

     I ll rest with the Universal House on this . They did not have a letter
written by the Secretariate condemning violence by women towards men . 

 warm regards,

From carl@grapevine-sys.comTue Oct 17 00:14:16 1995
Date: Thu, 12 Oct 1995 20:24:06 -0500
From: Carl Hawse 
To: Stephen Johnson 

I would like to see a slow read of the Hidden Words continue.  They are
already shredded into bite-size chunks, perfect for posting.  They contain a
wide variety of symbolic, cultural, and personal meanings.

It is easy for slow reads to get off track, though.  Here are some suggestions:

1)      Preface the subject line of every posting about a slow read with the
title of what is being considered:  "HW: Re[6] What it means to me", "KA:
Paragraph 4 Transliteration", etc.  Many email programs can sort by subject
and can group all the slow-read postings together.  Talisman is a busy
list--it helps to sort it all out.

2)      Pick a coordinator and post a schedule:  "October 14-20: Paragraphs
1-10, October 21-27: Paragraphs 11-20, October 28-Nov. ??: Catch Up and
Review", whatever.  The coordinator will take periodic votes to see if it is
reasonable to continue if interest seems to be diminishing.  No posting
topic should be farther ahead than the schedule, but topics from any week
should be free for comment.

3)      Establish an archive for those who join late or miss messages.
Store the English version, the Transliteration, The Latest Revised Schedule,
(maybe scans of the persian or arabic?!?), and all the messages to date.
Using the guidelines in (1), it will be easy to cull out and save the
messges.  Even if the slow reads DO die out, they'll be easier to start up.
And where IS the talisman WWW site?  ;>

Talisman fills up my in-box quickly.  If I miss checking messages for a
while, they build up so I delete the unread ones and start fresh.  If there
is a controversy or other hot topic (women on the house, etc.) then I may
skip over the slow-read stuff for a while.  That does NOT mean I'm not
interested.  Just distracted.

Carl Hawse

From Oct 17 00:15:38 1995
Date: Fri, 13 Oct 95 10:29:43 JST
From: "Stephen R. Friberg" 
Subject: Battering

Dear All:

My neighbor back in the barrios of Socorro was Linda Chavez, mother
of two marvelous children whom she battered periodically and who 
understood why and still loved their mother very much.  Linda's family
was the ultimate disfunctional family, which didn't keep them from
being totally charming and marvelously friendly.  Two of her brothers
were in the state penitentiary for murder, her dad and mom were long
divorced, she had been beat up by father and step father so many times
that she couldn't count them all, and had been in and out of so many
foster homes that she couldn't remember them all.

Two episodes stand out in my memory.  In one, the children came over
early in the afternoon to ask for my help.  Linda's brother was coming
to visit later in the evening and she was very worried that she would
be battered.  I was to stand by with a baseball bat in case things got
bad.  The reason things were expected to get bad was that Linda's
brother's wife had provoked him extremely by sleeping with his best 
friend and then telling everybody.  When macho is of such importance, 
this was punishment indeed.  But the brother, drunk and in rage,
couldn't find his wife.  So, Linda felt that she would be the one on 
the receiving end. Fortunately, my expertise with baseball bats was 
not needed that night!

The second episode was when Linda's father came one fine Saturday 
afternoon for a visit.  He did it in style, loping in on a fine, 
gentle, beautiful palomino which he tied up in front of my house
so that I could take the girls for a ride.  And what a marvelous
ride that was, ambling through the arroyos and people's backyards
with this wonderful horse, two excited and deliriously happy
children, and one excited and deliriously happy me.  

Afterwards, his daughter introduced me to her father, this old 
Spanish cowboy, and my head spun with a drunken understanding 
of the hardships, hopes and delights of 400 years of ranching on the 
upper reaches of the fabulous Rio Grande, that fantastic river 
of enchantment which knows no peer. And the afternoon sun poured
down in its golden, autumn glory!

Yes, I finally understood many things.  Why, at the Highway 85 Nite
Club, there were knifings every Saturday night.  Wild and free in 
the hills, walking the fence all week long, Saturday was the time to 
come into town.  The purpose was to fight.  Of course there had to
be knifings.  

Linda's mother cooked for us that summer at Langmuir Laboratories, 
on top of the nearby 4km high Magdalena mountains.  We caught 
lightning during the day, chased turkeys in the afternoon, ate
pinto beans, tortillas, enchiladas, tamales, menudo, and chicken
in the evening, waited for house calls from the racoon family
at night, and then exalted at the glory of the Milky Way before
falling asleep.  And Linda's mother, wise and caring, clucked 
over us and chided us, and made me stop chasing women.

How could I be the judge of these people?

Yours sincerely,
Stephen Friberg

From LWALBRID@cluster.ucs.indiana.eduTue Oct 17 00:17:04 1995
Date: Thu, 12 Oct 95 20:39:09 EWT
Subject: abusive relationships

Yes, Paul, we have all known of cases such as the ones you describe.  These
cases are often used to justify abuse against women.  All women really want to
be beaten.

In reality, women in every society are taught what is considered attractive in
a mate.  Most societies glorify the warrior/athlete type.  The most popular
guys in school are usually the football players.  This is only partially
"attraction."  There is a lot of social pressure on girls to "get" these guys. 
I remember how I went up in my girlfriend's esteem in high school when I dated
someone on the wrestling team.  (In fairness to me, I didn't have a clue that
he was an athlete until they told me.  With me, he stressed his interest in
music.)  If people want to address studies, there are studies going on now
about athletes and violence.  The link is still be debated, but it does seem as
if the very macho team sports promote violence, especially violence towards
women.  Example - women's genitalia are sometimes painted on punching bags. 

So, if women end up with guys who are abusive, it is not surprising.  They
don't go out with these guys so that they can get abused.  They go out with
them because they represent an image of the male that is admired in this and in
most societies.  I will not deny that there are women with masochistic
tendencies.  We are all different.  But, of all of the cases of violence
towards women that I know, masochism wasn't an issue.  None of the women I know
who have been abused knew that they were marrying an abusive man.  They simply
thought they were marrying a "manly" man.  The abuse came later.

Of course, the woman is just supposed to leave.  But, I would hope the case of
Nicole Brown Simpson would, once and for all, illustrate the dangers of that
strategy.  Also, if you were watching, you could see O.J.'s letters of apology
to her after he beat her.  A woman who loves a guy wants to believe that he is
going to reform; that he'll never beat her again.  Besides, he is probably the
father of her children.  What is she to do?  

I agree totally with Terry.  I guess what bothers me is that, by bringing men
into the picture as equal victims of domestic violence with women, we are
diminishing the horrendous suffering of women.  And by insisting on being
analytical is awfully difficult when you are watching the abused women.  You
want statistics.  Statistics don't mean a whole lot when you are confronting
bloodied, beaten women.  

Nicole Brown Simpson (while far richer than any of the women I know) is very
much the typical case of the battered woman.  She thought she was marrying a
gorgeous, charming "hunk" of a guy.  He seems to have started to abuse her
after she got pregnant and began to lose her figure.  He derided her for being
fat while she was pregnant.  After that he started throwing her around and
pounding on her (not to mention sleeping with other women in their own home.) 
She called the police but they did nothing until she absolutely insisted on
pressing charges.  The judge gave him a slap in the wrist.  The story is too
familiar.  There is a chorus of abused women out there saying "that is my

If these problems are so commonplace and severe for men, I wonder why
I have not witness any of this.  I am in as much contact with men as with
women.  Men frequently confide in me about their relationships.  None of them
has ever complained about being beaten by a woman.  They have told me that they
have contracted venereal diseases from them.  They have told me about their
wives' erratic or nasty behavior - usually in great detail.  But beaten - no. 
And I certainly have never seen them with black eyes, broken bones, etc., the
way I've seen women.

Part of my emotional reaction to all this has to do with what is going on in
other parts of the world as well.  The majority of refugees are women and
children.  The U.N. (I think it's the U.N., anyway) has produced some
incredible films about the situation in camps in various parts of the world.  I
viewed one of them, but it was all I could do to stay in the room.  I just sat
and cried.  As Terry said, these women have nothing to do with starting wars,
but women and children in modern warfare are becoming its worst victims.  

I would hope that once in awhile we could leave our cold world of statistics
and look at reality.  The majority of women in this world are really quite
helpless against male brutality.  When families fall apart, when society
becomes disordered, the women suffer immeasurably because they are left totally
unprotected.  Please don't belittle the situation.  Terry ended his letter
well by reminding us that the UHJ's letter specifically addressed brutality
towards women.   Obviously, they see it as a problem as well.  Linda

From Oct 17 00:17:46 1995
Date: Fri, 13 Oct 1995 15:05:14 +1300
From: Robert Johnston 
Subject: re: violence

Dear Terry,
          My intent in writing my letter was to suggest that certain forms
of discourse, while masquerading as "part of the solution" were in fact
part of the problem.  I argued for a more moderate form of argumentation.
Below I respond to your response to letters on this matter, including mine.

>     Come now gents .    Do you really want to argue that incidence of
>violence toward men perpetrated by women  are commensurate with incidents of
>violence  towards women perpetrated by men .

I think that many men might feel that a "men bad" - "women victim"
dichotomy is unhelpful in terms of presenting solutions.  Only the innocent
really have the right to make this case, and the Writings tell us that "all
are sinners".

>      As for de-constructing  how about if we re - deconstruct  and suggest
>that this argument sounds suspiciously like a conservative backlash argument
>currently fashionable in America as blaming the victims . The privileges of
>power do die hard .

Each argument must be examined without prejudice, and without recourse to
labels. Must we not avoid polarisation?

>       We could treat this as an abstract subject and lose sight of the fact
>we are speaking of real human beings. If anyone would like I will produce
>names of real people and all the gory details , these are people i know . How
>about a real life story of rape . I would bet e could find a man or two who
>had been subjected such horror and then how many women do you suppose . . . ?

It is rather presumptuous to assume that these stories are not generally known.

>     The resort  to gee us guys are victims also  obscures the appalling
>incidence of violence towards women . I am amazed that we would resort to a
>form of argument that trivializes this issue .

Why should we turn a blind eye to all injustice, except that of men?  Which
letter on this matter "trivialised"?

The college study cited as a
>defense falls apart on its merits . If it was designed in an obfuscating
>manner the responses of males cannot be considered as reliable as to draw a
>conclusion that men are victims of rape .  One does not have to approve the
>excesses of certain feminists to comdemn violent behavior.

This assumes you know where the line may be drawn between "the excesses of
certain feminists" and the blameless actions of other feminists.

 I am surprised
>that an  argument would be made that the excesses of some feminmists be used
>as a tool to obscure the violence directed towards women .

Again, who is obscuring what?  This could be read as a piece of offensive
presumption.  The main counter-thrust has been to broaden rather than limit

Somebody please
>explain the relevence of Abdu'l Baha's praise of white abolitionists with the
>equation of men as victims of violence needs to be condemned on a par with
>violence to women . I would like a logical explanation of the link . The one
>I find is Abdul Baha would today be praising those men who are staunch and
>open advocates of ending violence towards women , I dont read it as a
>justification of slavery and that we should conclude that the slaveowners
>were some how victims of equal status  with the slaves.

When we have writers openly and persistently attacking the real and assumed
behaviours of O.J. Simpson, we have a manifest breech of Baha'i standards
concerning relationships with and attitudes towards those who are assumed
to be morally inferior.  Again, where we have other [male] writers
appropriating to themselves positions of moral excellence in relation to
women we have the production of entirely illusory and useless posturing
that does not do anyone any good.  These positions promote the "men bad" -
"women victim" dichotomy.  These unjust and illusory arguments obscure the
fact that most Baha'i men are humbly and with great difficulty trying to
overcome their sexist heritage, and that these efforts are important.
Slavery occured in the American society as a whole, but critical to
emancipation were enlightened activities arising from within the oppressing
caste.   And yes: slave owners were victims, just as any person/group is
that clings to ignorance. The critical question is this: how should be best
enlighten the ignorant?  Moralistic preaching won't do it.

>     If we want to condemn violence in general I am all for it . I want to
>end the most apalling violence in the world perpetrated upon men and that is
>war - not women . Having had some personal experience with the war issue and
>its long term harm to men ,I would prefer to see men spend more time  saying"
>hell no i wont go nor will my sons" and less time  trying to make a case that
>the problem is women beating up on men .

I do not think that the "case that the problem is women beating up on men"
has been made on Talisman, and to to state that it has amounts to
mischievous hyperbole.  A few writers have, in moderate terms, expressed
the view that women ALSO beat upon men.  Which is true.  I think if
Talismanians were asked whether the matter of violence towards women was a
major issue in society, 99% would say it was.  So why preach to them?

>     I ll rest with the Universal House on this . They did not have a letter
>written by the Secretariate condemning violence by women towards men .

Perhaps that is where you should have begun, and left it at that.


From TLCULHANE@aol.comTue Oct 17 00:18:22 1995
Date: Thu, 12 Oct 1995 22:53:37 -0400
Subject: more questions Wadat al Wujud

    Dear Nima and Ahang ,
      I have it on good authority  ( a houri ) that She probably did direct
Her amanuensis to discard this commentary somewhere in the vicinity of the
Abode of Peace . Portions of it remain , however as part of the "Hidden
Treasure ". And we know whose love is the "key" to finding that Hidden
Treasure .  :)  Since the "earth " of our hearts has its counterpart in the
next world I strongly encourage you to go cruising the alam -i mithal in
search of it . No doubt you will attain your hearts desire .  I will meet you
at the "bridge "  or would it be the isthmus ? or maybe the Kwathar ? There
is a river there right ?  Now Ahang  we need you to come along  my sense of
the topography is easily confused .   I was wondering if it might be a
shortcut if we went via  . . The Road to Shiraz ? 

    Now back to the imaginal world and my questions . 

   Thanks for your earlier answers especially to the "Tajalli " question .
Since I have you could we discuss and you guys explain  the difference ( or
would it be similitudes) between  "Tajalli " as self-disclosure , fayd as
emanation , and mazhar as manifestation . Perhaps we could entice Prof.
Walbridge to join our expedition.  In regard to the latter two i have tried
to read Abdu'l Baha on this in SAQ and well  it makes my head hurt or explode
.  So as Arash said last spring  "use English dudes" .  :)  

      I am trying to put "rational concepts" to my "beliefs".  We all know
the Tajalli , the form  in which my Lord appears to me  or the God of my
faith .  I am trying to better understand what the heck is happening so I can
make some sense of it to myself and anyone else who sets out for the Abode of
Peace via the ...Road to Shiraz.  
        One more thought . I am intrigued by the relationship between Tajalli
and K1 of the Most Holy Book . Would it be safe to consider that this
inseperable twin "Irfan" and its inseperable "other" half  Observance are
somehow related to "Tajalli ", like first cousins maybe ?  Not be an Arabist
i dont know the geneology .   There seems to be something here , am I nuts ? 
 warmest regards ,

From dann.may@s-box.misc.uoknor.eduTue Oct 17 00:18:46 1995
Date: Thu, 12 Oct 95 21:20:23 -0500 (CDT)
Subject: Teaching christians

My Dearest Ahang,

January or February would be fine. I am sorry to hear about the disunit
over the success of the teaching project. 

As to posting information on teaching Christians, I will be happy to do
However, I must state several caveats. First, most of what you saw at t
Baha'i School and much of what I will post is discussed in great detail
Michael Sours books entitled "Understanding Christian Beliefs" and 
"Understanding Biblical Evidence." Secondly, my approach is decidedly 
apologetic and rhetorical (in the best sense of this term) -- those loo
for an historical analysis or a scholarly discussion of Hebrew and Gree
terms from the Hebrew Bible and Christian Gospels will be disappointed.
do not apologize for this approach. When teaching others of the healing
message of Baha'u'llah, the intent is to attract their hearts and allay
their fears, not to engage in philosophical hair splitting or historica
analysis -- I save that for my colleagues at the university! I can only
hope that such considerations will spare me from the inevitable critici
that will no doubt arise over the approach I take.

Warmest greetings, Dann May, Philosophy, OK City Univ.

* WR 1.31 # 669 * The truth is just an excuse for lack of imagination.

Warmest greetings, Dann May, Philosophy, OK City Univ.
 * WR 1.31 # 669 * ASCII to ASCII, DOS to DOS.

From richs@microsoft.comTue Oct 17 00:20:10 1995
Date: Thu, 12 Oct 1995 22:38:15 -0700
From: Rick Schaut 
To: "''" ,
Subject: I Want to Fix It! (RE: marginalized)

Dear Linda and Friends,

>To continue on the "David" theme for a moment longer, obviously there are
>extreme differences in the way we perceive David's letter and the NSA's
>response to it.  No doubt at all that our own histories with the 
>order color our readings.

I think it's more than just individual's histories with
various institutions.  As has been noted before, some of
us who might be viewed as siding with the National Spiritual
Assembly in this particular case have been kicked around ourselves.
Each of us brings some baggage to our perceptions of the
Administrative Order.  This baggage colors our perceptions as much
as the knocks and bumps we acquire as we attempt to interact with

If we attempt to understand the Administrative Order by overlaying
traditional notions of power on top of it, we've missed the point.
This doesn't mean that power doesn't exist within the Administrative
Order.  But the whole notion and purpose of consultation is to minimize
the extent to which any given individual has inherently more power
(power, in this sense, being the ability to affect or change policy)
than anyone else.  Moreover, the very structure of the Administrative
Order, with all _authority_ being vested in the hands of elected
institutions, serves to further minimize the extent to which any
individual can exercise power.

We have to realize that power is not, in and of itself, a bad thing;
this notwithstanding the old saw about power corrupting and absolute
power, etc.  The goal of any social order is to bring the exercise
of power in line with whatever principles are deemed to animate that
social order.  It would be worthwhile to contemplate upon the salient
features of the Administrative Order in light of this idea.  This
forum doesn't allow an adequate treatment of this subject, but I
believe these features promise the single most effective form of
social order in terms of maximizing the extent to which any exercise
of power conforms to principle.

The extent to which the Administrative Order lives up to this
promise is directly proportional to the extent to which each one
of use strives to adhere to the principles of the Faith.  If we,
as individuals, do not strive to reach that level of maturity
expected of us, then what right do we have to demand that those
who serve on institutions demonstrate a higher level of maturity?
We have no such right.  Indeed, to demand that the institutions
behave better is to fail to be on our own best behavior.

This is why I've repeatedly called for us to turn within ourselves,
to spend time thinking about our own attitudes and desires, and
make every effort to attempt to understand how our attitudes and
desires affect our perceptions.  When we read the National Spiritual
Assembly's response to David's letter, did we carry any expectations
with us into that reading?  If so, how did those expectations
affect how we felt about their response?

These are the questions we need to ask, and we need to ask them
over and over again.  Detachment takes on many different flavors.
Old ideas, ingrained attitudes, and what is referred to as the
Kingdom of Names, these are as much vehicles of attachment as
any physical comfort or material reward.  The mental tests to
which we can expect to be subjected over the course of the
development of the institutions of the Faith involve no less an
effort at detachment than that exhibited by our brothers and
sisters in the spiritual cradle of our Faith when they've had to
choose between death and recanting their Faith.

I've seen, on Talisman, a very healthy spirit--a desire to fix
whatever ills seem to plague our society or the functioning of
the institutions of the Faith.  This desire, however, must be
tempered with an equally strong desire to make our ideas and
our thoughts conform to the principles which have been laid
down in the writings, and to minimize the extent to which we
try to mold the Administrative Order to fit our views.

Juan's call for the establishment of Baha'i Courts epitomizes,
for me, what is, simultaneously, the best and the worst about
Talisman: great minds fueled by high-minded desires, but which
are not adequately tempered by a desire to understand the
deeper meanings of the principles of the Faith and the Covenant
through which those principles operate.  The end result is
a diffusion of energy into half-baked ideas about changes in
authoritative structure.

Yet, herein lies my quandry.  I am neither as eloquent nor as
intelligent as the rest of Talisman.  I have a great deal of
difficulty expressing things that I understand on a spiritual
level.  This can, at times, lead to a strident tone, because
I cannot adequately explain that which each of you are capable
of understanding if you put the same effort into studying the
teachings and self-examination that you put into expressing your
desires to fix things.

We can, in a way, continue this theme into the discussion of
California v. Simpson and the social impact of the jury's
verdict.  Again, I see the strong, and very healthy, desire to
fix things.  I understand that it is very difficult to see
suffering and not jump into the fray.  At the same time, I
think we're looking at symptoms and not the cause.  There is
a cancer beneath all this pain and suffering, and the cancer
is a failure to appreciate, to the fullest extent possible,
the principle of the oneness of humanity.  If people regard
their spouses as an integral part of themselves, if they
regard that spouse's welfare as equal to their own, then how
can they abuse each other?

If we really want to fix it, there are two things we must do,
and we must do them without delay: live this Cause and teach
it to others.  And we can do neither if we fail to strive,
in each passing day, to obtain a deeper understanding of its
mysteries and principles.  This we cannot do if we are
content to just kick at the dirt around the base of the tree.
We might discover a large root here or there, but we won't ever
understand the fullness of the system if we don't get those
shovels out and clear away the dross and dirt of our
preconceived notions.

From Oct 17 00:21:35 1995
Date: Fri, 13 Oct 1995 22:19:15 +1200
From: Robert Johnston 
Subject: utterly gentle yet all-swaying


Sometimes the mind moves swiftly and deeply, and it when it does, it is
very hard to capture its findings.  I have a few questions to ask, but
before I ask them, I will share a few of the thoughts which gave rise to
the questions.

Within the Writings, human beings are accounted to be distinguished from
animals through the existence of a rational soul, the foremost virtue of
which is the capacity to understand, though reflection. Reflection
(according to the Swiss psychologist jean Piaget, and the Russian
semiotician and psychologist Lev Vygotsky, et al) entails the formation of
mental concepts which enable us to make sense of *particular* things and
events.   Thus, this object upon which I am sitting, is a particular chair
in the category of chairs which includes a huge variety of particular
chairs, and sub-categories of chairs. Now, it is Aristotle who gave us the
first comprehensive account of the categories of things (and his viewpoint
is similar to 'Abdu'l-Baha's).  Aristotle's arrangement assumes that that
which is more universal is superior to that which is local, and that that
which more greatly reflects God's glory is superior to that which is less
illumined.  Thus we have a great hierarchy of being which extends from
minerals, though vegetables, to animals and humans, and then beyond.
Humans, as has been stated, are blessed with a rational mind. The mind not
only has a capacity for intellectual and ethical (that is: rational)
reflection, but it also incorporates the realities of all equivalent and
lower things.  Thus, mind understands through a process which is at once
objective and subjective; is at one with the ontology of the universe; and
operates in the same general-particular hierarchic fashion as that universe
which is at once both static and mobile, discrete and interconnected.
Through God's mercy the mind inevitably moves towards the universal (this
is illustrated by growth). Now, remembering that the mind functions through
conceptualisation, it may be stated that the mind moves towards a single
unitary concept which consciously incorporates all things. (Hence the
Greeks termed the Supreme "the Logos").

Moving along with these kinds of thoughts, is it not possible to attain to
a vision of  the meaning of contingency?  (The writer J.B. Priestly saw all
things as a flickering fire.  Another thinker might see them as dust.)
Anyhow, further, might not the vision of the  impotence of contingent
realities, lead the mind to assume the existence of that which is Potent?
Is it possible to "see" God as a Mighty Sun, utterly gentle yet


From rvh3@columbia.eduTue Oct 17 00:21:59 1995
Date: Fri, 13 Oct 1995 09:35:57 -0400 (EDT)
From: Richard Vernon Hollinger 
Subject: Re: abusive relationships

On Thu, 12 Oct 1995 wrote:

> So, if women end up with guys who are abusive, it is not surprising.  They
> don't go out with these guys so that they can get abused.  They go out with
> them because they represent an image of the male that is admired in this and in
> most societies.  [Stuff deleted]   None of the women I know
> who have been abused knew that they were marrying an abusive man.  They simply
> thought they were marrying a "manly" man.  

Exactly.  I think this suggests that there is something terribly wrong 
with our socially constructed ideas about masculinity.  The qualities 
that make men "manly" and often make them successful in public life (eg. 
agressiveness, ability to remain emotionally distant) do not necessarily 
make them good family members.  Changing this will require a different 
kind of socialization for men and women alike.


From TLCULHANE@aol.comTue Oct 17 00:23:48 1995
Date: Fri, 13 Oct 1995 10:39:24 -0400
Subject: re :Re: abusive relationships

     Dear Richard ,

        I could not agree with you more !  I too believe we have some deeply
flawed notions of masculinity and that these notions do a great deal of harm
to men . They  are , I believe , a form of spiritual violence .  I think we
see it on Talisman as well with the tendency of the males at times to out
macho one another intellectually. 

     My own struggles with this are a carryover from the Viet Nam war days .
Its been 25 years and I still work at repairing the psychic wounds.  I
entered the army as a CO non combatant and felt very keenly the pull of the
"uniform " and all it implied for masculinity. I think people sometimes
underestimate the damage the brutality  and gore of it all has on men.  The
physical experience ends, the psychic sights and sounds remain .  It is still
difficult for me to discuss this . 

      My salvation has been quite literally  Baha u llah and the Example of
Abdu l Baha as to what it can possibly mean to be a man in this dispensation
. The picture of masculinity and far too often humanity , of seperatness ,
autonomy , self sufficiency is terribly lacking in wholeness . I have reached
a point in my life where the pursuit of excelence has little to do with
competition and self -promotion . I work in a busines that is heavilly
oprganized around constant self -promotion competition to "prove " ones worth
and existence .  If you dont "produce " in increasing amounts you do not
 have value . Furthermore you do not exist in a recognizable way. This may
well be the male equivalent of the "erasure" that feminists speak of about
women .

 The presence of men , at least in this country , is tied to a materialist
ethos . If you want to have" being" its recognizable form  is in the capacity
for ever increasing material production and consumption in the marketplace .
The market defines the normative boundaries of human "being ".  Mr Mom
 notwithstanding men do not have an existential option  as normative to opt
out of all this . There are profounf internal and external pressures to
remain . Women can consciously or unconsciousle contribute to this stae of
affairs to the extent they are dominated by a materialist ethos .  I would be
quite pleased if Bahai communities were able to  offer men an alternative .
That being responsible and productive has to do with spirituality first , it
does not have to mean the size of the check you write . 
   In this regard  I find K1 of the  Most Holy Book valuable , you know , the
good old inseperable twins of recognition and observance .  Exploring those
twins  in terms of an emerging model of masculinity and by extension what it
means to be human might turn up some fascinating possibilities. 

  warmest regards ,

From pjohnson@leo.vsla.eduTue Oct 17 00:24:11 1995
Date: Fri, 13 Oct 95 10:38:38 EDT
From: "K. Paul Johnson" 
To: Ruhl Jordis 
Subject: Spiritual Disease

According to Ruhl, Jordis:
> But this honoring moves in both directions.  IMHO, whenever an institution 
> or an individual counts someone in the community as bad, or inappropriate, 
> or contrary, or rebellious, they are splitting good and evil, and projecting 
> the bad outside/beyond them -- big time.  "I am all good and you are all 
> bad."  David has much to offer this Baha'i world, and if National could 
> embrace their critics and listen earnestly to them (not just those who spout 
> party line) -- wow.  I see very clearly how David has become an embodiment 
> of some fear of the NSAs.  Tough for David.  And tough for the NSA.  And 
> tough for our national community.

This stimulates me to articulate a perception/judgment that has
been forming in response to reading the Taherzadeh book after
reading Miller, and reading Talisman all along.

My conclusion is that it is ABSOLUTELY true that
"Covenant-breaking is a spiritual disease."  However, I
disagree most strongly about the origin, nature, and proper
treatment of said disease.  The disease is one that afflicts
organizations, groups, entire cultures: the desire to
completely reject, deny, obliterate dissent by declaring the
dissenter a non-person, a wicked soul who deserves torment in
this world and the next.  The official explanation of the
expulsion of cbs is that they all tried to form new sects and
break up the unity of the Faith.  The fact, about the recent
ones in the Holy Family, is that they refused to allow their
son/brother/cousin to dictate who they could marry.  The whole
business of covenant-breaking being contagious is a means of
social control.  CONTROL is what it's all about.  Christianity
and Islam gave plenty of bad examples to follow, and Baha'i has
followed them to a degree that is appalling.  If you can't be
readily controlled, then you must be objectified, dehumanized,
publicly disrespected.  Words like "unconscionable" do exactly

The Theosophical Society is not immune to this disease, and
perhaps no religion is.  But no matter who the offender is--
the NSA, the TS President, the Pope-- treating dissenters as
"spiritually diseased" is itself a spiritual disease.

From LWALBRID@cluster.ucs.indiana.eduTue Oct 17 00:26:12 1995
Date: Fri, 13 Oct 95 11:03:58 EWT
Subject: communication

Dear Rick, you have no trouble communicating your ideas at all.  You always
come across as very reasonable and balanced.  You are probably a wonderful
person to be around.  I can't say the same for myself.  

I find that I seem to look at the world very differently than you and many
others on Talisman.  I feel that I am always being told to be docile and
accepting of the way things are and that they will somehow magically improve. 
You have intimated on a few occasions that you have had your own problems with
the Baha'i administration.  You have come to terms with matters in your own
way and are probably more at peace with yourself than some of us.  However, I
live by my own conscience.  When I see something wrong, I speak out.  I no
longer care who criticizes me for this.  I really don't care about the
consequences for myself at all.   

A vast majority of us, I believe, became Baha'is because we wanted to see the
world a better place.  A totalitarian approach to administration is not, to my
eyes, an improvement.  Alas, this is what I am seeing repeatedly.  You talk
about "elected representatives" but we have been over and over again the
process of elections.  We have seen that the process does not work very well in
allowing new people into administrative positions.  So, I cannot be placid
about the fact that the composition of the NSA really does reflect the voices
of the Baha'is.  

On other matters, I find it interesting that discussion of abuse towards women
is such a divisive matter.  Everyone on Talisman is quite willing to pay lip
service to the equality of men and women.  But, boy, when you get down to the
real issues, then it's into the trenches.  Those who have been on Talisman long
enough know that I have criticized "women's studies," that I am in my heart of
hearts do believe that mothers and fathers have different roles.  I am not
joined by all my Talisman sisters on these issues.  Yet, to me, it seems like a
very basic right of women to be free from the threat of physical abuse.  What
good is it to have a high paying professional job if you are just going to go
home to be slapped around by your husband?  

And, no , Robert.  This is not an attempt to dichotomize.  I was just involved
in a custody case where I testified for the father and took a strong position
against the mother because I saw her as unfit to care for her child.  I am
capable of being fair minded on such issues.  Yet, I refuse to water down the
issue of physical abuse against women by saying "men get beaten up by women
too."  How about rape?  Are you all going say, "men get raped by women too?" 

Stephen told a colorful story of a family.  It was very entertaining, but I
fear I don't quite understand the point.  But, it has inspired me to tell a
brief story as well.  

When I was in the hospital having my first born, I roomed with a beautiful
young woman with an exceptionally sweet disposition.  She and I had given birth
to the largest babies in the hospital.  We bonded quickly and she confided in
me about her life.  Her husband was nowhere to be found.  All through the
pregnancy he had beaten her.  He had not failed to hit her in the stomach
either.  When she had no money for food, she had to go find him one night.  She
found him in a bar.  He laughed at her, making fun of how ridiculous she looked
being pregnant.  

Her mother came to visit.  She said she had sent a  box of cigar's to the young
woman's husband.  I had to listen to the mother chide her daughter and
encourage her to forgive and forget.  She wanted her daughter to go back with
this man.  I haven't any idea what happened to this woman.  But, since then, I
have witnessed other women reliving her story.  

I guess I am very troubled by the fact that men seem so much in denial about
such matters.  I have accused none of you of beating your wives.  It never
occurred to me that any of you were doing so.  However, I would like to think
that some of you were a little more conscious of what many women go through on
a daily basis.  Maybe you can understand a little better why so many women
don't achieve a great deal in this world.  If there is the threat of being
physically beaten, a woman is psychologically whipped.  There isn't much for
her to do.  Sorry for the ramblings and all the typos.  Linda

From PIERCEED@sswdserver.sswd.csus.eduTue Oct 17 00:26:50 1995
Date: Fri, 13 Oct 1995 09:38:20 PST8PDT
From: "Eric D. Pierce" 
Subject: Locker Room Talk - ABS S.F. Mini-Report


Just a really quick note before I get back on the road to go
back to the ABS conference at the S.F. airport.

Yesterday was great: meeting Juan Cole, Tony Lee, David Langness,
seeing Rob Stockman and Mark Foster (who am I forgetting?). As
Dan Orey said, none of them look like what you expect! No one
complained about Burl's table manners, but I missed the talisman
lunch yesterday at the hotel, so I can't tell you anything specific 
about his table manners (I guess nobody slipped any peyote into 
his salsa, otherwise there would have been a real spectacle.)

I'm going to try to take snapshots of the talisman dinner 
participants, so if it works out, I may be able to offer copies.
I think that there was an official conference photographer,
maybe we can ask Sheila Banani about it later (she looked
incredibly in control considering what I guess are the
difficulties of organizing such a conference!).

There was a very entertaining presentation on the so-called
marriage tablet (it really *is* bogus), and a new unofficial
translation is available.

The Science/Tech section had a non-Baha'i speaker on evolution.
She heads a non-profit group that is one of the main clearing-
houses for anti-creationism information, very interesting!

Thats all, wish you all were at the conference for schmoosing!


From PIERCEED@sswdserver.sswd.csus.eduTue Oct 17 00:27:09 1995
Date: Fri, 13 Oct 1995 09:49:52 PST8PDT
From: "Eric D. Pierce" 
Subject: Re: bashing as such (in denial...?)


> Date sent:      Fri, 13 Oct 1995 10:40:13 +1300
> To:   
> From:  (Robert Johnston)
> Subject:        bashing as such

> ...  Remember: 'Abdu'l-Baha
> praised the white Americans who liberated slaves: He did not condone
> violence in ANY form.
> Robert.

Robert, you'll probably get lots of crapola for protesting the
strident howling and outraged posturing, etc., so perhaps the 
following is pertinent:

(Oh well, someone had to mention it it): In Taherzadeh's 
"Revelation" series, there are at least two instances where he 
documents Abdu'l-Baha publicy striking someone in order to save 


From dpeden@imul.comTue Oct 17 00:28:01 1995
Date: Fri, 13 Oct 95 19:36:43+030
From: Don Peden 
Subject: abusive relationships

I don't have a huge knowledge of the statistics for abuse in America,
Europe, or any other place in the world for that matter.  I do know what I
have witnessed, and been subjected to myself here in Africa.

Ugandan women, for the most part, are trained to "be attractive".  Even
their education is mostly seen as an asset to be re-imbursed come bride
price time.  Her worth will be reflected in the bride price she commands.
Even though as a Christian nation, monogamy is cited, a man will often have
one "presentable" wife, legally married in the church, and other traditional
wives (and children) on the side.  This is often with the knowledge of the
legal wife.  What can she do?  She has no financial alternative, as all land
and property belongs to the man.  Even what she earns herself,
traditionally, is seen as being under the man, and traditional councils will
rule that way, despite legal laws changing.  Who can find a lawyer, let
along afford one, especially when bribes are still a common problem in the
court system?

When legislature is passed to protect the rights of women, it still must be
implimented...whoops!  Guess who sits in the councils.

There are a handful of women lawyers trying to make precedent setting cases
on behalf of women.  They are not viewed kindly by many...troublemakers, you

My time spent in Kabale was such an eye opener.

We are focusing on one aspect of abuse, but the topic is still abuse of
humankind.  There are levels to this discussion.  The men I knew in Kabale
were themselves victims of hopeless poverty and tradition gone with nothing
to replace it.  For the most part, they had a sincere desire for a better
life, and often were willing to look at ideas which would bring about
change.  It was hard for them to accept the poverty they and their families
were condemned to, but at the same time, some of these new ideas (such as
making a will leaving your property and land to your wife instead of your
brother) were so radical in their view, that it was too far for them to go.
It will come, but not at the rate we might desire.  It will take generations.

Women use to have the protection of the clan.  When a woman was married, she
became a wife of her husband's clan, and her children were children of his
clan.  The clan would care and look after her at the death of her husband,
including providing her with her husband's brother as a new husband to
provide and care for her and her children.  They were given certain rights
under the clan system.

That has changed with war, with AIDS, with the church, etc., and there are
not yet attitudes and enough laws to provide women with the protection they
need.  They and their children are often left homeless (at the death of a
husband, the family of the husband can and often do come in and clean out
the house of all possessions, including the pots and pans, blankets, etc.),
as the land will pass to the brother.  If he is kind, he may allow the
previous wife to continue to live on the land, and perhaps have access to
the land.  On the other hand, he may not.  The wife has no recourse.

While in Kabale, I met all kinds of women, many of them which I tried to
encourage to form groups.  One group in particular I had a great deal of
contact with.  A good half of them were widows with children, or
grandmothers who had their grandchildren to raise (parents having both died
of AIDS)and no means to raise them.  One women, Irene showed me her broken
thumb; significant because it was her husband (who had taken a new wife as
Irene was unable to produce children) who broke it, forcing her to sign over
the rights to sell the land she was living on (he sat on the RC4 council for
the district, quite a high position).  He couldn't sell the land without her
thumbprint, because he had legally married her before she had produced, and
was therefore "stuck" with her until he divorced her.  The bible is still
cited here (as it is there, I suspect) as giving a man control of his wife,
and giving him permission to "discipline" her for the sake of her own
spiritual growth.

You read titles on the back page of newspapers like, "Man cuts off wife's
hand:  Didn't like dinner", or man beats wife to death.  You also read
headlines on the front page like, "Woman cuts off man's Penis, Doctors
miraculously reattach appendage."  Needless to say which gender the editors
of the newspapers are.

When you talk to men here, they want women to participate by "producing" in
the society.  Women should produce work, children, provide food for the
family, provide school fees, etc.  The name for woman in Ruhiga is
"Omokazi".  The word for work in Swahili is "Kazi".  Interesting connection,
don't you think?

The statistics globally for the amount of work women do (somewhere in the
region of 80%), and the amount of access they have to the income or benefits
of that work (something like 10%) tells a lot of the story.  Until their is
a gender balance on all levels, these statistics will continue to reflect
the distance we have to travel before we can start to see the fruits of
equality in gender.

Women of social status (ie., married to men of position and wealth), spend
much of their time looking good for their men.  Beauty parlours abound, and
a fortune is spent on imported clothing, perfume, and high heels.  These
womens' problems are quite different from the rural women.  The rural women
refer to them as "Miria".  When these women venture into the village, they
can be guilty of "talking down" to the rural women.  This goes for
university trained extension workers, big time!  The rural women hate it,
but if they complain, they may lose their opportunity.  It is such a
terrible circle.

The shining ray of hope here are those men and women (few as they are) who
have genuinely seen the situation, and are busy making changes in their own
lives, and in their professions, which reflect a much more positive,
enlightened approach.  They sometimes wear a label such as feminist, or
Christian, or Baha'i, but more often they just do it.  (I have a problem
with labels, did I mention that?)  

Like Steven, I have a hard time sitting in judgement on my friends and
neighbours.  I have seen what they have seen.  I could never possibly know
what they know.  My life experience is not theirs.  But I have shared in
their sorrows, rejoiced in their triumphs, been there when they give birth,
and helped prepare the body for burial.  I have caught a glimpse.

What DOES impress me is the undauntable human spirit which refuses to
subject itself totally to oppression of any kind.  They may make a gesture
of submission, but the minute the men are out of the room, or there is some
reason to meet, to laugh, to sing, to mourn, they are there giving vent to
the full pouring out of their hearts.  Despite the hardship, the women are
the first to welcome life into the world, despite the miserable
circumstances they know awaits the child, and the last to give service by
preparing the body for burial.  They are the ones to nurse, to keep watch,
to see the last sigh of breath leave the body.  In North America that is all
sanitized by hospital procedure.  (Here, you can often be born, die, and be
buried from the same room.  It is part of life.)  There is always hope that
tomorrow, something will happen; an opportunity will come up your path; God
will smile on you; and life will improve.  You will have a chance to do
something for yourself or your family which will help you.  (Collective
solving of problems is still very new here, and is still based on the
individual seeing real benefits to her/him from the collective experience.)
In the meantime, take tea with a neighbour, laugh, go to church and sing and
drum your heart out, rejoice that today, you are alive.  This spirit is what
gives me hope for the future. 


From Member1700@aol.comTue Oct 17 00:28:54 1995
Date: Fri, 13 Oct 1995 16:27:45 -0400
Subject: Re: From the Conference in SFO 

To all Talismaniacs: 
   The conference is now well underway.  It is really amazing how many
Talismanians are here.  We hang out together a lot, and it shows how the
virtual community can turn into a real community as soon as you can put faces
with names.  Nobody looks like a computer screen, so it is fun to see how
different we all are from what you had imagined.
   Rob Stockman is here, and Juan Cole, Jack McLean and Arash Abizadeh and
Amin Banani (three Talisman alumni), and Mark Foster, and Dan Orey, David
Langness, Carmen Mathenge, Derek Cockshut, and others.  Who am I forgetting?
    I was at our lunch on Thursday, and I am happy to report that everyone's
table manners were exemplary.  Everyone is keeping an eye on Burl, though.  
    Oh, I forgot Chris Buck--my roommate--who is out hawking his book at this
very moment.  
    Anyway, tonight is the big dinner.  I think we are going for Persian
food.  I will keep you posted.  If anybody burps, you will hear it here first
from me.  


From lua@sover.netTue Oct 17 00:29:38 1995
Date: Fri, 13 Oct 1995 19:55:32 -0400
From: LuAnne Hightower 
Subject: Abuse

Allah-u-Abha, friends!  I'm several days behind on the discussions, so bear
with me, please.  As a practitioner of body/mind therapies, I must attest to
the magnitude of the problem of abuse.  I daily work with women who were
violated by fathers, brothers, uncles, some of them when they were barely
walking.  I am also aware of the effects of physical abuse on children -
male and female alike perpetrated by both men and women.   And I
occasionally (most of my clients are women) encounter the effects on men of
neglect by mothers who were being or had been abused and of abuse by the
fathers that were beating their mothers.  And I think that all too often we
overlook the far reaching effects of verbal abuse by parents who carry
generations of rage and loss of dignity.

The legacy of abuse on any of us is woven into the very fabric of society -
it grows with each righteously indignant thought we have.  The legacy of
neglect is that it is often overlooked because there are no bruises - no
physical evidence - and so it is easier to deny and it easier for survivors
of such neglect to wonder why they are so angry and so full of grief, WHEN
they can get past the numbness that they inhabit most of the time

It is going take everything we have to teach the folks out there that this
is not okay no matter who perpetrates and who is the recipient of such
injury.  Can we get beyond picking away at whether men or women are more
guilty, self-righteous, etc., etc., etc.?  Can we get beyond our own outrage
enough to see that only our learning to love and teaching (by example)
others will save us? It's going to take everthing inside of us.

[I must admit that it occurred to me in the midst of reading all the
postings on abuse that (gulp) if I see a man with a black eye, for instance,
I am probably more likely to chalk it up to a brawl with the guys than
physical abuse by his wife/girlfriend/mother...I'll think again next time.]

Warm Regards,

"Lovingkindness is drawn to the saint,
as medicine goes to the pain it must cure.
Where there is pain, the remedy follows:
wherever the lowlands are, the water goes.
If you want the water of mercy, make yourself low;
then drink the wine of mercy and be drunk
Mercy upon mercy rises to your head like a flood."

                                Rumi, Mathnawi, II, 1938-40

From Oct 17 00:31:37 1995
Date: Sat, 14 Oct 1995 15:44:59 +1300 (NZDT)
From: Robert Johnston 
Subject: Re: communication

Dear Linda,
                A response to your letter.

>I find that I seem to look at the world very differently than you and many
>others on Talisman. I feel that I am always being told to be docile and
>accepting of the way things are and that they will somehow magically

Foucault writes of the modern cultural construction of "docile bodies", and
some feminists (eg., Valerie Walkerdine, who might have interesting ideas
re. girls and maths for Mary Day) have taken this idea on board. In the
male hegemony the womans voice is compelled into guilty silence... So
Linda, your resistance to docility is probably most praiseworthy. When I
first came onto Talisman I found your voice quite intimidating, I must say.
It had the power to send me into shock! Maybe it still does... But now,
even in my [yesterday] disagreement with you [and Terry], I have come to
find beauty in the encounter. Perhaps I have become stronger, or perhaps
you have come to better appreciate the weakness of my ear drums and have
moderated your tone a little... God forbid that you should ever become

>On other matters, I find it interesting that discussion of abuse towards
>women is such a divisive matter. Everyone on Talisman is quite willing to
>pay lip service to the equality of men and women. But, boy, when you get
>down to the real issues, then it's into the trenches.

As one of the combitants in this discussion, I must say that I feel that
the letters of today have *felt* much better than earlier ones. Richard,
Terry, John H, Steve [with his tale of innocence and compassion] and Bev
[who has added a great new dimension to Talisman!] -- as well as you --
have widened the discussion into a broader consideration of the issues. No
one has mentioned again, for instance, that it might me a good idea to
castrate sex offenders... The tone has become more moderate, and the range

Yet, to me, it seems like a
>very basic right of women to be free from the threat of physical abuse.

Yes. I am certain that no one is unaware of your position on this. And I am
equally certain that no one disagrees.

>How about rape? Are you all going say, "men get raped by women too?"

It has happened, and psychologically it is fairly common.

The main issue for me is this: in view of the competing facts that we live
in an increasingly criminal world AND adhere to the belief that humanity is
one and whole, what are the best strategies for dealing with waywardness?
Simplistic solutions won't work. Let me give an instance. In New Zealand
about 50% of gaol populations are Maoris (our indigenous people) and yet
Maoris amount to only about 15% of the total population. Simplistically, it
might be assumed that Maoris are a degenerate people in need of
extermination (or castration for sex offenders). But this kind of solution
represents a serious failure of thought. [If O.J. Simpson's community is
corrupt, what real basis has it for establishing his guilt?] I have no
heart for continuing with the analysis, because I am sure that you can see
what I mean. But I must add this: in view of the fact of the one-ness and
wholeness of humanity, can Baha'is not expect to eventually share muffins
and tea with "criminals", including sex offenders? [I mean: how many saints
do we enroll?] If they cannot, then if they don't want to live in [Baha'i]
communities in which "anything goes", must they not try to promote
strategies which will enable them to both feel secure in the midst of
degeneracy and help remedy that degeneracy? And in this, might they not be
damned if I am too caught up in the faults of the "other"...?

Male violence, it must be remembered, feeds on antagonism and I think that
it is mainly for this reason that I am advocating discursive moderation.
Both the shrill and the docile help perpetuate the cycle, it seems to me.

Yes Linda... I ramble too....


From belove@sover.netTue Oct 17 00:32:30 1995
Date: Sat, 14 Oct 95 11:20:19 PDT
Subject: RE: RE , Marginaliazed 

"It is my considored opinion any male who beats a woman is not 
worthy of 
being called a man. I do not regard any male whom I know has 
engaged in 
physical and sexual abuse of women and children as worthy of my 
consideration and friendship until they have shown a marked 
in their behaviour ." 

Please. Which Bahai principle is being exemplified here? 


I think there is an important difference between taking steps to 
control men who are out of control -- very necessary 

... and abusing them in the name of teaching them something. 

. These guys who abuse are beaten down enough without our adding 
to it

I think we have to be more clear headed about this. 

We must guard against becoming like cops who take such pleasure 
as they 
talk about "scum bags" whom they have to control

Of course, this is the nature of abuse.

Abuse tends to attract abuse. Abuse is so hideous that it tends 
to make us want to abuse the abuser by punishing him (or her.)

 I think the better response has just as clear and decisive, but 
 more disciplined.

Name: Philip Belove
Date: 10/12/95
Time: 16:12:50

This message was sent by Chameleon 
Things should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler -- 
A. Einstein

From jwinters@epas.utoronto.caTue Oct 17 00:33:38 1995
Date: Sat, 14 Oct 1995 16:03:15 -0400 (EDT)
From: Jonah Winters 
To: talisman 
Subject: Deconstructionism and the Qur'an ??

Greetings, friends. Please forgive this non-Baha'i use of Talisman... 
Please tell me if you can help me with this research project. I am taking 
a class of tafsir and we are assigned a paper examining different ways in 
which Orientalists have approached the study of the Holy Qur'an. I'm 
having difficulty finding out if and where the deconstructionist 
methodology of postmodernist discouse has been used to analyze the 

I'll briefly describe the issue, in case it isn't clear what I'm getting 
at. As I understand it, deconstructionism, especially that of Derrida, 
declares that all language is but a system of interconnecting signs, none 
of which express true reality. Briefly, this method holds that all words 
merely point to other words, and no matter how closely you examine a 
text, all you will understand is the words used and their interrelations, 
not what the text actually refers to. Obviously, this will not work for the 
Holy Qur'an as believed in by orthodox Islam, in which the (recited) 
language of the Qur'an represents the *exact* utterances of God, with not 
one phoneme missing. Here the phonemes, or "signs," of the Qur'an *do* 
signify a transcendent meaning, albeit one beyond the ken of most humans. 
In the jargon of deconstructionism, they are signifiers with a definite 
and real signified. (Yes, I am aware of the hadith that there are
multiple meanings for every ayat of the Qur'an, but that doesn't negate 
how absolutely orthodox Islam accepts the semantic reality of the text.)

What I am looking for is any references that I can find in which this 
approach, or something like it, has been applied to the study of the 
Qur'an, for I see hints of there being a fascinating tension here. If you 
have come across anything, please let me know. Thank you very much!

-Sincerely, Jonah

Jonah and Kari Winters 

From LWALBRID@cluster.ucs.indiana.eduTue Oct 17 00:34:32 1995
Date: Sat, 14 Oct 95 15:04:44 EWT
Subject: communication

Dear Robert, I do appreciate your open and frank message to me.  Me,
intimidating?  (I've only been told that a few times before in my life - by an
ex-marine, a tribal Afghani honcho, a few Lebanese Shi'ite men...  So, I don't
know where you are getting this idea about me.)

I suppose I was getting overheated.  I tend to become very involved with the
people in my life and respond strongly to their suffering.  I am no model of
detachment by any means.  I agree with the idea that we are all in this world
together and that it is difficult to divide up the world into good and evil. 
That was not my point.  

I have noticed a trend in American society, though, for relations between men
and women to have deteriorated.  I am hardly the only one to have noticed such
things.  For example, I met a young black woman in O'Hare one day and we struck
up an instant friendship.  One of the first things she asked me was whether I
thought that things were getting worse between men and women.  This was
obviously something preying on her mind.  Many women are troubled by this and
for very good reason.  Women and children are especially vulnerable when things
go awry socially.  At this point, I am not blaming any one group.  I think a
number of factors came together that contributed to this deterioration - not
the least of them being the sexual liberation movement.  

When we intellectuals talk about the equality of men and women, we often refer
to education, job opportunities, career advancement, etc.  However, while some
women are definitely benefitting by societal changes, others have been left in
the dust.  It's really hard to advance in a job or get a good job to begin with
if you are abandoned by your spouse (or the father of your children) or being
beaten.  The statistics are out there.   A healthy percentage of people living
in poverty in the U.S. are single women and their children.  Because women are
tied to children in a way that men are not, women's life experiences are
extremely different from those of men.  Even if women were viewed as equal
competitors in all jobs, they still would be at a tremendous disadvantage just
because they are not free agents.  They face pregnancy and are generally the
ones responsible for child care.

Now, I seem to be going off on another tangent.  But, actually, I see the abuse
of women and the desertion of women as being very tightly connected.  A man is
far more of a free agent than is a woman.  A man is far less vulnerable than a
woman.  There are reasons to address women's problems separately from men's. 
It is not because I want to portray men as evil and women as victims.  It is
just that it muddies things way to much if you don't sort out the distinctions. 
In fact, I am very much opposed to some feminist thinking because I believe
that some of the more vocal feminists have done a disservice to so many women
in this world by not focusing on some of the very basic problems that women

Man hating is not my message. Rather, it is an expression of hope that men (and
other women, women who are more privileged) will become sensitized to the
particular problems that women face.  Robert, you talked about psychological
rape.  Have you ever spoken to a woman who has actually been raped?  Do you
listen to the words of the Bosnian Muslim women who have been raped by the
Serbs?  Believe me, I would much rather be killed than go through what they
have gone through.  Then, only my body would be destroyed.  But rape destroys
the soul.  

I really have said far more on this subject than I had ever intended to here on
Talisman.  It is funny.  I had this feeling after the O.J. verdict that men -
the kind of men I like, sensitive kind ones, the ones' I imagine Talisman men
being like - would go out on the streets and protest the abuse of women after
they saw what O.J. had gotten away with.  I am now marveling at my naivete. 
However, I do appreciate a forum where I could express my feeling about a
subject that is of such great concern to me.  Thanks all for your patience.  I
realize I was a bit strident.  Linda

From mcfarlane@upanet.uleth.caTue Oct 17 00:35:09 1995
Date: Sat, 14 Oct 1995 14:59:48 -0600
From: Gordon McFarlane 
Subject: Re: The Baha'i Faith and Mental Illness

Dear  Friend
        I thank you for your post and pray that it will stimulate some in
depth consultation on the issue of Baha'i attitudes towards mental illness
and not just a flurry of patronizing cliche's and recitals of the "6
Requisites for Spiritual Growth".  
        Such illness is indeed a burden and as Baha'is I believe we can do
much much more than simply "hope that scientist will find better and more
permanent cures."  I myself plead guilty to frequently avoiding, not only
those individuals who are so afflicted, but the issue itself, even though I
suffer frequent and sever depressions during which nothing gets me more hot
under the collar than some pompus individual patting me on the shoulder and
telling me, in their most condescending and pretentious
"thank-you-for-sharing-that-with-me" manner, that If I said my obligatory
prayers with "pure hearted devotion", read the Baha'i scriptures daily "with
reverance attention and thought", taught the Faith etc. etc. etc., that God
will "dispel (my) sadness, solve (my) difficulties and remove (my)
afflictions."   I do not doubt the truth of Baha'u'llah's words!  I do doubt
that the purveyors of platitudes among us have any deeper understanding of
them than I. 
        Several years ago I read a transcript of a talk by one of the
counsellors (I can't recall the name and would appreciate somebody posting
the exact quote) who stated that the tests faced by the North American
Baha'is would be as great if not greater than those faced by the Persian
Baha'is - but that they would be psychological tests. I see the evidence of
this all about me. 
        There is an exellent article dealing with mental illness "The Black
Dogs of Depression"  by John Bentley Mays in the November '93 issue of
Saturday night magazine. (If you are unable to locate it I would be happy to
send you a photocopy)  In it, he makes the statement . . "The beauty of the
Beloved hides itself, perhaps for our sakes: for ony the hardiest souls have
been able to live continuously in the vicintity of that furnace". (pg. 97)
Mays is referring, of course, to his own Christian faith, but I find this an
interesting idea to reflect upon.  Who are the hardy souls?  Are they the
serene, unflapppable, unflinching,  all-molasses-no-beans types, or are they
the burden bearers? I'm certainly not the judge!
        Another interesting quote from Mays - 
        "We live and draw up the plans for our existence within a fabric
being snatched to shreds by incomprehensible economic booms and busts,
instant fashions, corporate and private greed, self-serving desire, and the
spectacle of consumption. And all this, under the aegis of a vague  moral
relavitism and social pointlessness,  paraded under the name of "liberalism"
or "freedom" that resembles every depressive's terrible, individual
experience of the world. You really do need a doctor if you think you can
live in a high capitalist urban culture - stepping over the bodies of
homeless people sleeping on the streets on your way to buy a $400 toaster
you don't need - and be cheery  - or if you somehow imagine that Eli Lilly
and Company won't do whatever it takes this year to boost its Prozac sales
over the 1.2 billion it racked up last year on that product alone!"

            Bud, I am pleased to hear from you and I am pleased to hear that
you are working as a freelance writer.  I personally believe that writing is
about the best therapy of all. As W.O. Mitchel put it,  "You've got to write
the crap out."  Keep writing! Eventually the well will come clean. 
        I noticed you posted this on  I have
taken the liberty of cc'ing this response along with your posting to     I would be interested in reading the responses and
insights of some of the Baha'is on that mailing list.  Thanks again for
bringing up this issue - and hang in there! We need you!

Loving Baha'i Greetings

P.S.   "To Merit the madness of love, man must abound in sanity" (whatever
that means) -The Seven Valleys.
           Several years ago I attended a National convention near Orillia
Ontario. Dr. Hossaine Danesh (a wonderful  man and great entertainer)  was
elected chairman on the first day and during the break, my room mate, who
was a prison psychologist, said   "Leave it to the Baha'is to hold a
convention and elect a psychiatrist with a name like 'Who's sane?'  as their

>Dear friends,
>	I am 45 and have been a Baha'i since 1970 -- for 25 years.  For
>even longer, 27 years, I have had bipolar disorder (manic depression).
>After a recent nine day hospitalization following a three month manic
>episode, I am reflecting on the relationship between our Faith and
>mental illness.
>	From a letter on behalf of the Guardian, April 12, 1948:  "Let
>us hope in the meantime that scientists will find better and more
>permanent cures for the mentally afflicted.  But in this world such
>illness is truly a heavy burden to bear!"
>	I have lost jobs, had marriages fail and become disabled to the
>point that I can no longer hold a regular job.  I now work, however, as
>a freelance writer.
>	My illness is, indeed, "a heavy burden to bear."  My sixth
>psychiatrist finally diagnosed my illness four years ago.  So I suffered
>for 23 years without knowing why.
>	I have found little help or solace from the Faith.  My bipolar
>disorder and the Faith seem to be mutually exclusive.  Yet we are told,
>"Very little is yet known about the mind and its inner workings.  But
>one thing is certain:  Baha'is can and do receive a very remarkable help
>and protection in this world, one which often surprises thier doctors
>very much!"  (from a letter on behalf of the Guardian, April 9, 1948)
>	Despite earnest prayer and study of the writings, such help and
>protection has not been forthcoming.  Why doesn't it work for me?  There
>are times -- forgive me -- when I rage at and curse God because I am so
>frustrated.  I am thawrted in what I might accomplish in the world and
>in service to the Faith.
>	We are taught that no soul is tested beyond its endurance, but
>when I lay me down at night I have manic depression.  And when I awake
>in the morning I still have manic depression.  An episode of depression
>or mania could start today, another hospitalization at anytime.  Just
>how much and how long must I be tested?
>	When one person in a family has a mental illness, every member
>of the family suffers.  I have seen this in my own family and in other
>families.  How do I explain my behavior to my six-year-old son?  And my
>daughter who is 14 worries that she will have bipolar disorder.
>	I had no income during my three month bout of mania.  We had no
>money, not even a nickel, for the past two weeks.  We went to the food
>pantry for emergency food and got poor relief to pay for all my
>medications.  So my family suffers anxiety and uncertainty.
>	Then there is the social stigma that comes with mental illness.
>I am shunned or mistrusted by some people.  And I am sorry to say that I
>have been rejected or ignored by Baha'i "friends" when they learned of
>my condition.  And some Baha'is tell me I should pray more and harder or
>be a better Baha'i and my condition would improve.  God forgive them
>their ignorance and lack of compassiion.
>	Mood disorders and schizoprenia probably have genetic triggers
>and are certainly biochemical in nature.  Do we expect a diabetic to
>pray away their illness?  I do not understand what 'Abdu'l-Baha meant
>when he said, "Sometimes, if the nervous system is paralysed through
>fear , a spiritual remedy is necessary.  Madness, incurable otherwise,
>can be cured through prayer."  ("Throne of the Inner Temple, p.  70)
>	I hope that Baha'i mental health professionals, Baha'is with a
>mental illness and those with a mentally-ill family member can begin to
>discuss these issues.  If you do not wish to post to this newsgroup,
>email me if you like.  It is time that we start to develop an approach
>to mental illness and to those so afflicted in our community.
>In His Service,

Gordon McFarlane            e-mail:
Public Access Internet
The University of Lethbridge

From Alethinos@aol.comTue Oct 17 00:36:02 1995
Date: Sun, 15 Oct 1995 00:43:47 -0400
Subject: Re: Spiritual Disease

Mr. Paul Johnson:

I have to wonder if you have actually met and dealt with a covenant-breaker?
Have you ever met a soul so egocentric that is unable to conceptualize the
world apart from themselves? 

You are right. It is all about control. And it is certainly true that in the
name of preserving the status quo people seeking truth have been branded
heritics, covenant-breakers etc. Certainly Jesus was marked as such. So was
Muhammad and Moses and the Bab.

But the control rests in souls so super-saturated with their ego's pathetic
world-view that they cannot stand the thought that they may be in error. They
are sick. If you have ever met someone such as this you would know. 

I have met covenant-breakers and dealt with them, sometimes by the dozens.
But I have also met people within their ranks that never were *baha'is*. They
ended up following one of these personas without ever really investigating
the Faith.

And I have met other people - who have nothing to do with the Faith, who have
these same traits. And we can see some of these same types nightly on the
news and on the front pages of our newspapers.

The disease begins in a soul, and spreads - looking for others pre-disposed
to this *warping*. A perfect example would be Hitler and his inner circle. 

jim harrison

From Oct 17 00:36:21 1995
Date: Sun, 15 Oct 1995 18:24:02 +1300 (NZDT)
From: Robert Johnston 
Subject: Re: communication


Both Linda and John H. have written on the subject of rape and fairly --
surely --  represent it as something hideous.  Recently in New Zealand a
man from South  Auckland, tagged "The South Auckland Serial Rapist" was
caught, convicted and sent to prison.  The victim count was -- well, I
can't remember what it was, but maybe it was in the hundreds.  At the time
of his apprehension I felt, rather dispassionately,that it would be best
for all concerned if he were put to death.

The story came out the he came from an especially troubled childhood
environment.  So it goes...

I recall hearing [something like] that human suffering is one of the three
mysteries that we can never comprehend in this world (don't ask me what the
other two are), and my mind boggles whenever I think about it.  What can I
say?  May God protect us all from violent tests.  Somehow we are not to be
sorrowful and grieved.  Nor to focus too much on the negative things of

Linda, you wrote:

  Thanks all for your patience.  I
>realize I was a bit strident.

Perhaps this is the way your story needs to be expressed.  Who knows.  So
we continue...


From TLCULHANE@aol.comTue Oct 17 00:36:47 1995
Date: Sun, 15 Oct 1995 14:54:57 -0400
Subject: re: communication 

      Dear Friends,

       Gee we are experiencing a posting traffic I can absorbe . Maybe we
need more frequent  ABS conferences  . :)

      John and Robert have both touched on something that hits home deep in
my soul . John commented on his sense of " repulsion " at rape and sometimes
feeling mad at himself for not " distinguishing myself from my own gender ."
 Robert touched on the not  being  " sorrowful and grieved " and not focusing
" . too much on the negative things of life ." 

   I share with John that inner tension of the behavior of many of my gender
and how to distinguish myself from it . How does one offer an alternative
sense of what it means to be a man .  I think many of us feel a deep sense of
revulsion and yet know that we looking for something more to offer than our
anger or at times despair . 

    Robert  spoke of focus on what negativity or  . .?  .  So often I have
seen within myself and communities the spiritual tension involved with this
being reduced to a "happy guys" kind of escapism .  I think here of Abdu l
Baha saying  "be happy " and Baha u llah in the Fire Tablet or the Tablet of
Ahmad with  . ." remember My days during thy days and My distress and
banishment in this remote prison ."   I wonder if in our secular
sophistication we have missed something of the truth of an older Christain
sense of Atonement and Redemption.? In the Aqdas there is a passage I am
particularly drawn to it is K158 Say: Because He bore injustice , justice
hath appeared on earth , and because He accepted abasement , the majesty of
God hath shone forth amidst mankind ." 

 Might not this reality begun in the Siyah Chal have something to offer to
the world . In the face of the horrific oppressions of the human story I draw
comfort and strength from Bahau llah s suffering . I find in the Siyah Chal
experience a model of redemptive suffering  that gives humanity some of the
most beautiful  mystical prayer/poetry I have ever encountered. This awe
inspiring  devotion of the lover for the Beloved . There also is the going
forth armed with this love and challenging the Rulers of the world .

 Somehow . somewhere in His life there is a model for , if not resolving the
tension I think Robert and John seem to begetting at, at least teaching us
how to live and work with it all the while bathed in the Grace of the All
Merciful .  I don tknow how all this works or even how to respond to it all
that well on a daily basis but I thank Linda and John and Robert for raising
it in such a humanly honest way.  Maybe the honest recognition of the sorrows
and wounds we have all encountered wil show us a way forward past the pain to
a better way of "being " and acting in the world .  Would it not be
"meaningful " to offer the suffering Baha ullah to the victims of violence
and oppression ? I dont know  but in my own case it is what "saved" me from
the presonal experience of the horrors of war .  

    warmest regards ,

From LWALBRID@cluster.ucs.indiana.eduTue Oct 17 00:37:08 1995
Date: Sun, 15 Oct 95 15:55:59 EWT

This is wonderful.  Now we can really talk.  I too want to thank John and
Robert for their comments, but also want to add Terry's name to the list.
John's comments about men in bars and rape really does open a can of worms, and
I cannot, as usual, resist taking a peek inside (without letting all those
creepy worms out).
I remember when I read someone or another writing about rape and declaring all
men potential rapists and, in fact, declaring all heterosexual sex rape.  (Oh,
puhlease!)  What an insult this was to the men in my life - my gentle husband,
my dear brothers, my father, my father-in-law, my sons, all my male friends!
I still maintain that none of them could commit rape.  Yet, I also have had to
come to terms that the world probably can't be divided into
[End of file]
come to terms that the world probably can't be divided into
rapists/non-rapists.  The situation in Bosnia, of course, has thrust the issue
before our eyes, but, while the scale and the rationale of the rape in this
case makes it (I hope) unusual, rape is and always has been a part of warfare.
And the soldiers who are raping are also brothers, fathers, husbands, lovers.
I remember reading Solzhenizen's Prussian Nights which ends with a rape by a
$ v
soldier.  While S. is not justifying it, he is giving it a human dimension, yet
one that is very hard for a woman to understand.
Every so often I read of an account of a rape that is unusually chilling.  A
man stopped to help a woman with a flat tire one night.  He said that he really
did intend to simply help her.  But, then, he was suddenly overcome with
something - rage, passion, whatever - and raped her.
 Interrupt 9_tBx|<=WOePt zh
Rape and the threat of rape is one of those things that deeply divideds males
and females (though I do know that men are raped in prisons and that boy
children are raped).  In general, though, rape is an act by a man against a
woman.  Even the discussion of the issue divides us.  It is very hard for a
woman to understand why a man would rape and, I think it is hard for many men
to understand how devastating it is to a woman.
For me, talking about the equality of men and women is very complex.  Perhaps
what I find most important is understanding each other's perspectives on things
so that we can appreciate each others' value.  

Just one other little note.  John and I were walking through the woods today
and we talked about Talisman.  I said I had come to understand better why we
should avoid labeling one another through the process of writing on Talisman. 
How many times have I read things and thought to myself, "that guy's comments
are outrageous!" , only to tune in a day or two later and find that that same
"jerk" has some really interesting insights to share.  

Anyway, if anyone wants to comment on my musings, I'd be interested.  Linda

From Oct 17 00:38:06 1995
Date: Mon, 16 Oct 1995 12:16:35 +1300 (NZDT)
From: Robert Johnston 
Subject: like a lonely walker in deep snow


When I read the postings from Linda and Terry today, I almost wept, though
I am in a room in which there are other people. I must say this discussion
has sobered my mind.  I am slowed, like a lonely walker in deep snow.  I
stop and think like a lost traveller at the fork in a road.

I am rather afraid to write anything more.  Searching my mind, a fragment
of thought shows itself.  It has an historical slant....

When Linda writes of men as rapists, given is an extreme instance of the
corruption of the reality of men as rulers.  Men, through centuries --
millenia -- of  patriarchy have ruled, sometimes justly, oftentimes not.
History is history of bloodshed.  Even in those times when men have ruled
unjustly, however, God did not withdraw their right to rule.  Until today,
when sexual equality is God's decree.

Given the limitations inherent in patriarchy, and the present chaotic
period of transition between two vastly different universal paradigms, the
presence of men as rapists, though not at all excusable, ought not be all
that surprising. Afterall his is the hour in which good and evil are
enjoined in their mightiest battle.  What an amazingly mixed blessing it is
to be alive in the world in this hour!

 I think Terry hit the mark when he pointed to the need for happiness to be
something more profound than the excessively jolly and nerve jangling
"happy guys" variety.  The apprehension of suffering, as he says, gives us
the occasion to go more deeply into ourselves, to establish more secure
foundations for whatever it is that is happiness.  Linda has brought to our
attention an inescapable thought, which has men oppressing women in a way
which is utterly degenerate.  Yet, in doing so, she -- in the context of an
open-minded and frank discussion -- has  enabled us (the sexes) to get
closer, I think.  Maybe this is something of a miracle.  Time will tell.
May God protect us all.


From PXQ00435@niftyserve.or.jpTue Oct 17 00:38:49 1995
Date: Mon, 16 Oct 1995 09:09:00 +0900
From: "K. BABB" 
Subject: It happens in Japan, too

Absolutely, Linda!  I for one can't even begin to fathom 
rape, an act that not only does physical harm, but can
literally destroy the psyche and soul of another human
being.  Taking a gun and killing the person would be
far more merciful.  And to think that rapists have no
concept of this.  It must take a sick man to do such a
thing, or at least someone whose wires are a bit crossed

I don't know if it has been in the U.S. news, but last
month THREE American soldiers on Okinawa raped a Japanese
junior high school girl, (not that nationality or race is 
the issue.  Or maybe it is!).  My husband's reaction startled 
me (he too is such a gentle guy).  He said, "They should be 
castrated.  No question about it.  I'd see that EVERYTHING
was cut off."  To think, three huge physically trained men 
against a small defenseless girl---it's sick!  What goes on
in such men's heads?  In their hearts?  Personally, I think 
castrating is too good for them.  

The Japanese government wants to bring them to trial, but 
(lucky for the GIs) the Status of Arms Agreement with the U.S. 
doesn't permit it.  Needless to say the government here is 
trying hard to change that.  I doubt that I've ever seen the 
Diet move so quickly (except in the case where they hurried 
to push through a vote to send Peacekeeping troups to the 
Gulf---involvement in war is constitutionally prohibited).  

I don't know what the Japanese punishment is for rape.  Thank 
God it's something that happens so infrequently here!  I feel
perfectly safe walking down the streets of Hiroshima at night
or having my daughter out on her own.  But I know of other
foreign women, living in the larger cities like Tokyo or Osaka,
who don't feel the same, who have actually had bad experiences.
I count myself lucky.  

This whole issue of the weak and the strong reminds me of a
climatic scene from A FEW GOOD MEN.  After receiving the
verdict of dishonorable discharge for accidentally causing the
death of a fellow Marine, Dobson (one of the accused) turned
to Harold (who was higher in rank, and his fellow perpetrator)
and says,  "Why?  I don't understand why?  We were just doing
our job."  (They had been ordered by their Leiutant to harrass
a fellow Marine, who was trying to get a transfer to a different
unit, because he had health problems that the doctor and his
commanding officers didn't want to acknowledge.)  Harold, much 
wiser than Dobson, replies.  "No, we didn't do our job.  Our job 
was to protect the weak who can't protect themselves.  It was our 
job to protect Willie."  I have thought about this over and over.  
Yes, it's everyone's job, everyone's responsibility under God to 
protect those weaker than themselves.  It is sad that a lot of
people don't realize this.  

Sorry for "dwelling on the unpleasant things of life."  

Lovingly, Kathleen 

From dpeden@imul.comTue Oct 17 00:40:32 1995
Date: Mon, 16 Oct 95 07:50:36+030
From: Don Peden 
Subject: violence 

A word keeps coming to mind, and it finds confirmation in each letter I

Baha'u'llah allowed himself to be vulnerable during his suffering...he
certainly had the power, had he chosen to enforce it, to have things happen
differently...yet he allowed his vulnerability to stand.  It allowed
humankind the opportunity to respond.

Women are vulnerable, for the most part, as are children, weak inmates in
prison, defeated nations, and other victims of violent acts.  

So, what is it in our history/make-up/training, etc., which makes us despise
and attack vulnerability?  What is it that makes us wish to rush to the
forfront to defend the vulnerable?  What makes us "flex" our invulnerability
(the bar scene and other senerios) and deny what is vulnerable in us?  

When you take the discussion to this level, we again go beyond gender  and
return to a human condition, and perhaps get to something we can get a
handle on.  Women also build up defenses against is the
pack mentality...and women are very capable of attacking another women
verbally, mentally, and even physically.  I have seen it, experience it, and
even been part of it.  Shunning, name calling, despising, vindictiveness,
gossip, enjoying the misfortunes of another because they "deserve it", even
beating...are these not a woman's way of committing "rape"?  Soap operas
abound and are going global!

Sure, the act of raping a woman is one of the pinnacles of manifestation of
this phenomena, but perhaps our response to the extremes are causing us to
overlook some of the root causes, and perhaps our own vulnerability
(although I have been touched and moved by the courage of the men in this
discussion to be vulnerable).

Vulnerability is not a four letter word.  It is neither manly, nor womanly,
and yet we give it a gender.

In many of the mystical passages of Baha'u'llah, he keeps referring to a
relationship so intimate as to be sexual.  If it were not for vulnerability,
(to be explicit, a woman's willingness to allow penetration) the act of sex
can not occur except with violence.  There are great and wonderful secrets
to be discovered in Baha'u'llah's use of this analogy.  He doesn't do things
by chance.  

Could it be that vulnerability itself is one of the pre-requisites for
spiritual communion?  How can we be participants in a spiritual communion if
we do not allow ourselves to be vulnerable?

And then, how do we put that vulnerability into play in our "outside" lives?
If we are to "live" what we believe, what form does that take?  Because as
we all know, if you allow your vulnerability to show to others, they'll
often respond in a negative way.  Yet, how can the Faith possibly spread
without us taking that risk?  

I'm not offering answers...I'd be rich and famous if I could.  But when I
think of "healing", when I think of "future", I think of mankind in intimate
exchange with each other, vulnerable, compassionate, loving.  I think of a
humankind in intimate exchange with God, or the Manifestation, in a position
of vulnerability, loving, submitting to penetration, and then turning around
and lavishing the afterglo of such an exchange on their waiting and loving
"family".  (Yes, I've been told I am a romantic, but then I think
Baha'u'llah had that quality too.  It's hard to have a vision without it.)

For that matter, how can we encourage that spiritual quality of
vulnerability if we continually "rape" each other with our words within the
Baha'i Community?  Is our need to be "right", to "condemn the ideas of
others", to "sit in judgement" on who "is or isn't" a reflection of the pack
mentality?  The early Gnostics had the same difficulty with the early
Christian church.  The early Christians wanted to use Christ's words as a
club or a sword to define membership, and enforce a code of behaviour to
that membership so it could be "distinguished" from others.  (It is what has
made me withdraw from the Baha'i community.  Until I can come to terms with
this phenomena, I can not be part of a Baha'i community, and can not call
myself a Baha'i.  But that is my own personal struggle.)

And where is the balance between avoidance of using words and condemnation
(no matter how polite) as a tool to commit violence on the soul of another,
and using language as a legitimate tool of enquiry after truth?

We gloss over it with nice words, but, again, unless we can change the way
we view some of these issues, we are repeating history.  If it happens in
other communities, and we all come from other communities, and are still
part of other communities (ie., the academic community, previous religious
communities, governmental communities) who are engaging in political and
power based decision making, how do we change things around?  What are we
missing in our models?  (There have been some models presented which use the
US Judicial system as a model, and although it may have it's good points,
there are some gapping holes in that model that a train could drive through.
I'm not convinced that is what Baha'u'llah had in mind.  I'm holding out for
something a bit fresher.)

Don, my husband has a question.  He's not quite ready to sit down and write,
but he asked me to take his question to you.

"What is the difference between the "Baha'i Cause" and the "Baha'i
Community"?  And please, no retoric.  We've had 25 years of that.

From Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nlTue Oct 17 00:41:32 1995
Date: Mon, 16 Oct 1995 12:39:58 +0100 (MET)
Subject: Re:copyright & divorce

FROM Sonja van Kerkhoff

Re: copyright and Talisman:

David, I have found all your postings inspiring and often insightful, 
thanks for sharing so much so honestly.

Sometimes, something posted on Talisman is something that I wish to 
print in ARTS DIALOGUE, and it never occured to me to ever print
anything, however little it was without the author's permission.

I see it more a matter of courtesy and striving to be professional. I
think it is a pity that the NSA didn't first ask your permission to print
the letter, because I don't see any reason why they didn't, except that
perhaps it was an oversight, and we all do that. 

So while Talisman is public in that any one may participate, listen,
copy and pass on, I still view the 'ownership' of the words as remaining
with the authors.

RE: Divorce:
Linda I was one of those teenagers that badly needed the feeling of
security seen in a 'normal' family, and my parents were living (and
fighting) in the same house.
I was lucky that there were a few caring parents of friends of mine who
made all the difference at the time. One in particular, herself a divorced
woman who was clearly lonely herself, let me stay whenever things got
too violent, and I'll never forget her kindness, even though I probably
stayed around 5 or so days in total, and I was so grateful that I cleaned
her house for her whenever I was there (I am looking forward to this
when my sons bring their friends to stay).
So, coming from my background, I don't see divorce per se as a bad
thing, although who knows what affect it would have had if that had've
happened. Out of the 9 children only 2 are in long term relationships
and I am surprised that I am one of them. 
>From this perspective I think there is a lot of luck in marriage, 
but it is true I rarely see happily married couples, and feel this really
diminishes heaps of things. It seems almost to be the norm that
happiness is just getting by. 
I agree Burl, that attention should be given to childrearing, but it's not
only women who do this (we been through all this before, so I'll give
that a rest), and although you were probably referring to the majority of
families, I think that the focus should be on the education in principle
in order to move beyond any said situation.
While Sen & I were in New Zealand we participated in a weekend
marriage workshop along with 6 other couple which was fantastic. We
got to see each other differently as well as to relate intensely with
another man or women, since many exercises were done with different
partners. I think this sort of thing would be great for everyone (not only 
those who were married as this workshop was for), for I see the issue
as being more one of learning to develop caring relationships, etc. 
I also participated in a marriage workshop that Agnes Ghavzani did
(this was by pure chance actually because I usually run a mile from
anything at a Bahai event with such a title), and we all had to choose
partners to discuss how we would live together. Later everyone shared
with the group what was decided. It was very telling, and actually I
think a good exercise, even though I cringed when it was taken for
granted by most couples that the women would stop work. Well, Agnes
and i were partners and we decided that we were too busy to have

From Quanta@bwc.orgTue Oct 17 00:41:43 1995
Date: Mon, 16 Oct 95 14:06:06 IST
To: talisman 
Subject: greetings

Loving prayers and greetings from the Holy Land
to you all.

Quanta Dawn-Light

From LWALBRID@cluster.ucs.indiana.eduTue Oct 17 00:44:23 1995
Date: Mon, 16 Oct 95 10:29:42 EWT
Subject: vulnerability

I probably shouldn't post anything this morning.  I haven't really gathered my
thoughts since reading Farzin's, Bev's, and Sonja's postings - all of which
were extremely interesting.  They have sent my thoughts off on many tangents. 

I will limit myself for the moment to a reflection or two on the themes of
suffering and vulnerability.  I don't think one can be a parent without
thinking of these things frequently.  I have a a very close friend with a son
facing eight years in prison and a daughter who is acting out in various ways. 
The words "vulnerability" and "suffering" are two words that come up frequently
as we chat over coffee.  Ideas of "self-fulfillment" and "achievement" seem to
dominate my conversations less and less as our children and their friends face
these critical years of adolescence.  I thought as they grew older I would feel
freer to set fix my sights on my own goals and let them live their lives, but
that is not how it is.  

Motherhood is a constant process of self sacrifice from the day of conception. 
I don't think that can ever change and I don't think it really should ever
change.  Someone has to be relied upon to be "always there" for the child. 
This generally falls to the mother (while I allow that there are cases where
someone else can play this role.)  But the image of "the mother" as the stable
force in the family who gives uncondtional love is an important one for
children to hold in their minds.  I think it is a vital image for children to
carry into adulthood.  It is a model that they can use for their own actions
later in life.  Self sacrifice and vulnerability tend to go hand in hand, at
least in my mind.  You can't put up walls of defense to protect yourself if
your main concern is the lives of others.  

I want to clarify that it is not "suffering" and "vulnerability" that I see as
bad.  My harangues of the last week or so have been against unnecessary
brutality - taking advantage of someone who is weaker.  Bev's comments about
the verbal brutality of women are well taken.  I have been the brunt of this
myself and know its pain.  I also think that much of the ill will women feel
towards each other is conditioned by the degree of competition we feel exists
among us.  If a man is allowed more than one partner, for example, is it
surprising that women would feel threatened by another woman as a competitor
for her man's affections.  When women feel secure in a relationship, their
attitudes and behaviors towards other women tend to be far more healthy and

You all have raised many more issues than the ones I am addressing.  

Bev, you asked about the Baha'i Cause vs. the Baha'i community.  For me,
religion is very much a human endeavor.  It is what we make of it.  Scripture
and action can't be neatly sorted out.  We are always in the process of
interpreting and acting upon our own interpretations and having to deal with
the interpretatons and actions of others.  The scripture provides a certain
world view and parameters within which to work, but even these are constantly
in the process of being widened or narrowed depending on the previous
experiences of groups and individuals.  Perhaps this does not adddress your
husband's question at all, but it sent my thoughts going in this direction.

Love, Linda

From lua@sover.netTue Oct 17 00:46:53 1995
Date: Mon, 16 Oct 1995 12:26:26 -0400
From: LuAnne Hightower 
Subject: Sorrowful and Grieved

Dear Ones,

Robert wrote:
>Somehow we are not to be sorrowful and grieved.  Nor to focus too much on
>the negative things of life.

I believe the quote is "I will no longer be sorrowful and grieved..."

If we interpret this to mean that we are at no time to feel our sorrow or
our grief, then what's the point of saying daily "Thou seest, O my God, how
my tears prevent me from remembering Thee and extolling Thy virtues..."?
Seems to me that there is an appropriate response to injury and loss -
sorrow and grief.  The hard part is to know when these feelings are in
response to real suffering or the false suffering that covers over our real
hurts.  The writings are replete with references to the suffering and
anguish of the central figures of our Beloved Faith.  If they are not immune
to such feelings, how can we believe that we, lowly as we are, are being
called upon not to feel.  Where and when we give vent to our emotions and
our intention in so doing is the point.  Some of the best "venting" I've
ever read is in the Fire Tablet.

Personally, if I am made to feel that I shouldn't be feeling such and such,
how can come to terms with the feelings?  I find the the accessibility I
have to my own feelings makes me much more available to sit with others in
their difficult times, to be compassionate, to remained detached from my own
issues in the face of theirs.  The more we repress and deny our own
emotional reality, the more triggered we can be by the emotions of those
around us.

There are times when it is entirely appropriate to focus on the unpleasant
things of life.  We can't ask for release from negative attributes if we
never get to the point of identifying them.  The whole exercise of trying to
mirror forth the attributes of God brings me repeatedly in touch with their
negative aspects.  Just try for a while to be accepting of EVERYONE, and see
how many judgements you still hold in your possession.  Isn't this part of
the Bounty of God?  How can we polish the mirror when we refuse to look at
the tarnish?  We should avoid getting swallowed up in examining the tarnish,
or using it as an excuse, but becoming acquainted with it, after all, gives
us impetus for prayers.

As for our attitudes towards those who do harm, may they come to know the
Mercy of their Lord.

Loving Regards,

From Dave10018@aol.comTue Oct 17 00:47:33 1995
Date: Mon, 16 Oct 1995 12:44:05 -0400

In a message dated 95-10-12 21:27:16 EDT, (Carl Hawse)

>while, they build up so I delete the unread ones and start fresh.  If there
>is a controversy or other hot topic (women on the house, etc.) then I may
>skip over the slow-read stuff for a while.  That does NOT mean I'm not
>interested.  Just distracted.

Carl's observations and suggestion seem very to the point. Many times I have
had thoughts about the slow read but never got them out. The slow read always
seems too fast!  Perhaps we could go through a "fast" slow read, adding
historical context, which people like Juan and Stephen and Christopher have
at the ready, and then circle back for more "subjective" responses. The
slow-read of the long obligatory prayer, for example, went by like a freight
train. I would like to try to catch that one again!  It seems to me whatever
we look at we will find the issues we need to thrash out. The Iqan would be a
good subject as well as the Hidden Words. It seems a a good metaphor for the
Revelation would be a hologram, as in a hologram every part contains a
representation of every other part.

David Taylor

From mfoster@tyrell.netTue Oct 17 00:48:43 1995
Date: Mon, 16 Oct 1995 12:34:12 -0500 (EDT)
From: "Mark A. Foster" 
To: "Stephen R. Friberg" 
Subject: Re: violence

Talismanians -

First, hello to all of you I had the pleasure and blessing of meeting 
face to face in San Francisco. None of you looked anything like I 
expected! Ah, well, it is the heart that really matters .

Second, Re: the differences between the Baha'i community and the Baha'i 
Cause, as I see it the Cause of God is God's Causing of creation. It is 
one of the three conditions (at least) of the plane of Manifestation or 
"the divine Appearance and heavenly Splendor" which distinguishes the 
rational soul of the Prophet from that of regular humans. If one 
considers the reported statement of `Abdu'l-Baha's that nothing can be 
accomplished without "knowledge, volition and action," then, as I see it, 
the knowledge of God is the Word (the Logos), the Will (Love or Covenant) 
of God is divine volition, and the Cause (Law) of God is divine action. 
The Cause of God is a sequence of origins in the world of human reason.

OTOH (on the other hand), the Baha'i community is the sui generis (of its 
own kind) grouping of those who have committed themselves to the Covenant 
(Will or love) of God. Certainly, there is a connection between the Cause 
of God and the Baha'i community. For example, Paul identified the 
resurrected body of Christ with the church, while the Master said that it 
referred to the Cause of God.

Loving greetings,

   Mark Foster 

From Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nlTue Oct 17 00:51:24 1995
Date: Mon, 16 Oct 1995 22:09:49 +0100 (MET)
Subject: no to violence -from Sonja


Thanks to Terry for stressing the need to educate sons (and
I would add daughters) to say no to violence.
My childhood experiences and the other instances of
violence that I fortunately only ever heard about second-
hand, stress to me that the real issue is power. 
Many women are powerless, particularly when they have
children to care for. 
When society is such that women (and of course men, but
it is usually women who are in this predicament) get
support to move out of violent situations and when the
violators are punished by society at large. That is, that
people will not accept this sort of behaviour. And it is
often a women who feels powerless who puts up with such
abuse. Then there will be less domestic violence. My
mother was as physically strong as my father but she was
financially dependent on him.
I have forgotten how many times that I have been
reprimanded, by well meaning women usually, for
travelling alone at night. Once I was even told that it
would be my own fault if someone (a man) attacked me,
for putting myself at risk. Society should not accept that it
is ok for a man to go out at night while it is not safe for a
women. OK, OK I am not advocating being unwise, etc,
but my point is that many women are fearful of travelling
alone, and for good reason too. And what surprises me is
that so many people seem to either accept this or are
resigned to this.
It is an issue of educating girls (and boys) to feel secure
mentally and physically. If women are empowered by
knowing that they can physically (and mentally look after)
defend themselves that is not advocating violence, but
rather enpowerment (and freedom).
regards, Sonja

From mcfarlane@upanet.uleth.caTue Oct 17 00:51:50 1995
Date: Mon, 16 Oct 1995 15:34:57 -0600
From: Gordon McFarlane 
To: Don Peden 
Subject: Re: violence & vulnerability & questions

>So, what is it in our history/make-up/training, etc., which makes us despise
>and attack vulnerability?  What is it that makes us wish to rush to the
>forfront to defend the vulnerable?  What makes us "flex" our invulnerability
>(the bar scene and other senerios) and deny what is vulnerable in us?  

Dear Friend:
        I love this question and will have to restrain myself from going on
and on. Excuse me if this sounds nuts.  (1st admission of vulnerability. I
am fearful of displaying my ignorance among this esteemed group of scholars
and having my flimsy facade of knowlege penetrated by the slings and arrows
of those more knowledgeable than I)   Ahh yes! we men hate our own
vulnerability,  and love it in others - ("Not to go on all fours.  Are we
not men? That is the law!") .    The irony is, that the more we try to hide
it in shame, the more we try to portray ourselves as invulnerable -  the
more vulnerable we become.  We flaunt and magnify our strengths in order to
ignore our weaknesses and in so doing, leave our secret parts unguarded.
Could it really be that male violence is a manifestation of our irrational
fear of our own weaknesses?  It's certainly an interesting place to start a
discussion.  And where does this convoluted notion that vulnerability is a
shameful and terrible attribute for men to possess and a virtue in woman?
Ours is the duty to protect and defend, "are we not men".   And what on
earth do we do when we're told by "ungrateful" women or children  - "We
don't want your protection! we don't need your defense!"   My goodness, what
an affront! 
                "I testify, at this moment, to my powerless and to Thy
might, to My poverty and to Thy wealth".    Male or Female, old or young,
rich or poor,  learned or unlearned, weak or powerful, we are all admonished
to recite these lines daily.  What is the noon prayer if not a confession of
our vulnerability.
        In '84, the family service agency I was working with attempted to
initiate a support group for abusive men.  This was suggested by several
clients. My job was to develop a brochure on the program and promote it. I
made the mistake of sending the information to a radio talk show host who
used it as an excuse to launch a harrangue about "cowards wimps and scumbags
who abused their faimilies and then tried to justify their behavior with the
flimsy excuse that they 'couldnt communicate or express their feelings any
other way' ".   A venomous and violent barrage of calls followed and
continued for a full week. Practically all the callers agreed with the host.
The few that were courageous enough to take issue with his remarks were
rudely dismissed as purveyors of nonsense.    No men showed up for the group
and the program was scrapped.  In this case, a few men testified to their
powerlessness, acknowledged their vulnerability, sought help and were
violently rebuked.
        Please don't get me wrong. I loathe abusive behavior as much as any
of you and consider rape and child abuse to be the most loathsome and
cowardly acts of all. And yet I recognize the chained demon lurking within
every one of us.   And I fear it. 
        Testifying to our powerless, our vulnerability,  may well be the
first and most important step we can take in order to empower ourselves to
become fully human. 
       Similarly, testifying to our ignorance, may well be the first and
most important step we can take on the path of knowledge. 
        Forgive me for my long windedness and anecdotal style but I'm
something of a knit-wit in that my wits are so inextricably "knit" together
that I can't display a sample of the fabric without pulling our the whole
damned bolt. 
       What finally persuaded me to accept Baha'u'llah and enroll in this
wonderful Faith,  after a year of investigation and many hours of reading
and discussing, was the name of a month on the Baha'i Calendar: Masa'il
        Pointing at the calendar on the wall, I asked my host, "Why do you
have all these wierd names for months of the year - Soverignty, Dominion,
Words, Questions?"
        He wasn't really sure of his answer, but explained that as far as he
understood, the names of the months were also names of the attributes of God.
        "So why," I asked, "Would 'questions' be considered an attribute of
an omniscient, omnipresent, omnipotent God? Why, in heavens name, would he
need to question anything."
        My host laughed heartily and replied, "That's a damned good question
        That was the shortest, most important, and probably the most
misinformed "fireside" I had attended.  
        The proper exercise of our capacity to question requires
acknowlegement of our lack of knowledge and intelligent use of our
ignorance. It requires acknowledgement of our powerlessness and weakness,
our vulnerability. It is a capacity that allows us to become receptive to
the outpourings of God's knowledge, mercy and love.  
        Well, there are many thoughts flooding my mind at the moment and I
see I'm taking off into space here so perhaps I should leave it at this.
Thanks to Bev Peden for an interesting, stimulating and enjoyable question.


P.S. The Cause is the answer. The Community is the poorly phrased question.
- Is that rhetoric? 

Gordon McFarlane            e-mail:
Public Access Internet
The University of Lethbridge

From Oct 17 00:52:29 1995
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 1995 11:32:12 +1300 (NZDT)
From: Robert Johnston 
To: LuAnne Hightower ,
Subject: Re: Sorrowful and Grieved

Dear LuAnne,

>Robert wrote:
>>Somehow we are not to be sorrowful and grieved.  Nor to focus too much on
>>the negative things of life.

Reading your letter I am persuaded that you are completely right in your
analysis of sorrow and grief.  When I wrote the above sentences I was
struggling to overcome a deep sense of disturbance that I was feeling over
the issue of rape, and -- somehow -- the lines from the prayer come into my
mind.  I did not write them as exact quotations.  And they were not
intended as a cure-all for sorrow and grief.  Rather, I used the
a specific context...

It was Plato who said that the unexamined life is not worth living.  What
role -- if any -- do you think cognition plays in sorrow and grief?



From haukness@tenet.eduTue Oct 17 00:52:40 1995
Date: Mon, 16 Oct 1995 17:37:32 -0500 (CDT)
From: John Haukness 
To: Robert Johnston 
Subject: Re: communication

Allah-u-Abha Friends: Robert, I see the Aqdas as moving away from  
permissiveness, this, if true, would affect many more behaviors than 
rape. What I would ask men to join in is distancing ourselves from 
bar-room type macho man thinking, innocuous statements of male 
aggressveness towards women need to be stamped out because underneath a 
certain element of male thought is, I beleive, the breading ground of 
justification for rape. BTW I am equally appalled by the incidence of 
false accusation of rape, this phenomena is something I believe the other 
wing must stamp out.
2015 Bay St. N. 
Texas City, TX 77590
voice/fax 409-948-6074
One planet one people please!

From Oct 17 00:53:29 1995
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 1995 12:41:00 +1300 (NZDT)
From: Robert Johnston 
To: Gordon McFarlane ,
Subject: Re: violence & vulnerability & questions

Dear Gordon,
             You wrote:
"Excuse me if this sounds nuts." and   "The Cause is the answer. The
Community is the poorly phrased question."

Cashews (roasted), Brazils (at festivals), macadamia...  I sure that Eric
Pierce knows more[, and I wish he would give us a "tell-all" about SF.  And
what's Burl up to?  Sleeping Colean dreams, probably!]

Ohh......Gordon: I thought your letter was great!

Many years ago (1980)I went to a post-hippie gathering where Baba Ram Das
(Dr. Richard Alpert, sometime friend of LSD guru Timothy ["Turn on, tune
in, drop out"] Leary, author of "Be Here Now"), was a guest speaker. After
he had spoken he allowed space for questions. Because it was a gathering of
spiritual seekers (I suppose) I wanted to mention the Baha'i Faith, but in
view of the fact that everyone was speaking against the Judeo-Christian
tradition I felt that it would be unwise to be too direct.  So I asked an
indirect question.  Was there any religion that he knew of that
incorporated the realities of the other religions? Or something like
that... As he answered (he thought that there were some people in Israel
who were trying to get a synthetic religion going, or something like that)
he looked at me, and in my anxiety (and so on) I guess I was staring hard
at him...  As he finished, he said, "Does that answer your question?"   And
a strange thing happened.  My mind went blank and I HAD to lower my eyes.
But as I lowered my eyes, my mind came back to life again...  I said, "
Yes, I think you aswered my question as best you could."

[Afterwards, I went up to him, in order to tell him that I had been
thinking of the Faith when I asked the question.  The weather had been very
wet and the ground was muddy.  He was standing on a bank and he reached
down to give me a hand up.  I told him what was on my mind, and he said he
knew of the Baha'i Faith, though it wasn't his path.

Where's that dude now?  Anybody know?]



From TLCULHANE@aol.comTue Oct 17 00:53:59 1995
Date: Mon, 16 Oct 1995 19:43:55 -0400
Subject: Cause and Community

      Dear Bev and Don , 

      What follows is my attempt to answer your question about the
diffference between tthe Cause of Baha u llah and the Bahai Community . 

         In the _World Order of Baha u llah _ letters of Shoghi Effendi he
makes a frequent distinction between the The Faith , Cause and Revelation of
Bahau llah and the Bahai community .  The best single description of the
Cause of Baha u lah for me is in Epistle To The Son of The Wolf pages 12 -45
.  In that section we find a series of passages where Baha u lah describes
His purpose as  . "to quench  . .the fire of enmity and hatred which
smoldereth in the hearts of the peoples of the world  ."  . .That the diverse
communions of the earth, amd the manifold systems of religious belief, should
neverbe allowed to foster the feelings of animosity among men , is, in this
Day , of the essence of the Faith of God and His Religion ."   He continues
with  . ." O peole of Baha that happly the tumult of religious disension and
strife that agitateth the peolpes of the earth may be stillled , that every
trace of it may be completely obliterated.  ."  . . " consort with all men ,
O People of baha , in a spirit of frienliness and fellowship. "  " We ,
verily , have come to unite and weld together all that dwell on earth. "  ."
ye have been forbidden to engage in conflict and contention . " " beware lest
ye shed the blood of anyone " " We have abolished the law to make holy war
 against each other "  " Mine aim hath ever been , and still is , to suppress
whatever is the cause of contention amidst the peoples of the earth , and of
seperation amongst the nations . " 

     In a nut shell the Cause of Baha u llah is about ending  divisions and
conflicts between human beings based on race , religion , class and gender -
in a word literally everything and anything which has been a source of
conflict . This courgae and motivation to do this is in the recognition of
every human being as a sign of the knowledge and love of God . The surest and
mightiest means for getting there is  "justice ". 

  The Bahai community is in a nutshell the conscious and *voluntary* attempt
on the part of human beings to live in such a fashion that , as a community,
it becomes a*sign* of *Hope* for humanity that such a vision as Baha u llahs
is possible . 

  Given the ages old divisions among and between human beings it should come
as no surprise that as individuals become touched by the vision of Baha u
llah that they will still bring into a Bahai "community" all the human
baggage that constitutes sources of "division and conflict . The more painful
and frustrating v carry over of this baggage is the one , Ihave in the past ,
called the reduction of Baha u lla to another *tribal god * . It has been
characteristic of human beings for thousands of years to asume that their god
was *God* . That Bahais would give such an exclusivist  interpretation to the
claims of Bahau lah and confuse the Prophet with the community is also not
very surprising . It is the manner in which we have all been reared for
countless generations to understand the call of the Prophet . The Cause of
Baha u llah  is precisely to get at the root of that kind of division in
human life .  Bahau llah belongs first to humanity and then to the Bahai's .
It is difficult to let go of exclusivist claoms . It is even difficult to
consider what could Baha u lah possible mean . We humans seem to have a
tendency to dominate .  The extent to which a Bahai community reflects a
devotion to universal love and justice is the extent to which it can clain to
of "The People of Baha" in my view . Do,not underestimate the magnitude of
the struggle that is going on here within the human pysche and society . 

  In a broader sense the Cause of Baha u llah is much larger than the Bahai
community. This is why Suzanne Criosant and I have argued for thre notion of
Bahai "civil saints" , Susan B. Anthony being an American example . She lived
a life devoted to what constitutes the Cause of Baha u llah . It is in this
same context that I argue that Martin Luther King was a martyr for the Cause
of Baha ullah .  I believe when we can see this larger context we can
incorporate the Bahai community into the the Cause of Baha u llah and begin
to  become the sign of hope, the symbol of human possibilities emerging from
within the womb of humanity.  In so doing we can begin to model in a more
profound manner the  elimination  of the sectarian divisions which  the Cause
of Bahau lah represents .  The community becomes the emerging expression of
the *house * of Oneness .  

 warm regards ,

From derekmc@ix.netcom.comTue Oct 17 00:55:09 1995
Date: Mon, 16 Oct 1995 17:18:40 -0700
Subject: ABS SF Conference . Talisman 

I would point out that only Mark Foster was disappointed in how we all 
looked , Dan Orey thought everybody including himself was better 
looking than he had thought from Cyberspace. Burl changed Christopher 
Buck for ever creating a monster for us all to deal with.The Talisman 
Dinner was a brillant affair . David only throwing one napkin at my 
good-self , I naturally threw two back . One sour note Rob Stockman 
failed to buy dinner for us all , he qualifies therefore as the meanest 
host in Talisman history . We had the now mandatory silent toast to the 
Founder , all Talismanians stood in silence empty glass in hand and 
toasted the Founder. We then speculated on how Bruce Burrill as our 
resident Buddhist would considor that piece of Tally Myth. Burl spent 
the entire weekend trying to find Juan's twin cousins and smoking 
Luckies . Juan refused to dress in leather as a matter of principle .
He did give I hear a wonderful address on Human Rights and afterwards 
told me he owed it all to Sherman dont we all. There are more stories 
which of course will be posted.
 One serious note I have to say the fellowship I felt at ABS ,  from 
the people that I have had connections with on this Forum was warm and 
caring. You all may be a mess but it is a nice mess to be part of.
Kindest Regards Derek Cockshut.

From Oct 17 00:55:57 1995
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 1995 14:02:51 +1300 (NZDT)
From: Robert Johnston 
To: John Haukness ,
Subject: Re: communication

Yikes, John...

                ...we are all relatively firm/infirm in the Covenant, and I
don't think there is any avoiding some sort of contact with a fairly wide
spectrum of Baha'is, here or elsewhere, as long as one stays in the Faith.
Some are going to be good friends, though, and others are going to be
somewhat more distant.  Only Covenant breakers are to be totally avoided.

I don't know how long your honeymoon with Linda will last.  These past few
days have been rather mind-blowing for me, with the voices of women being
raised in very interesting ways.  Bev Peden, Sonja, Kathleen, LuAnne, Linda
(etc) have all contributed stories from "embodied" people -- which women's
stories characteristically (excuse stereotying) are.  Their stories have
been about suffering -- the suffering of women and domestic suffering.
Collectively, these stories are different from the rather more aerial and
cerebral stories which we men usually tell, and to hear them is to be
humbled, I think.  Terry and you and one or two other men have been good
support singers, and I have tried to  play triangle in the wings.  Is it
not very important that a forum like this have more than only/mostly men
contributing?  Too often I have heard women taking a slice of this
cyberspace somewhat defensively, like they were pinching the lollies off
the fat boy.  These postings have been different though.  The stories have
been straightup, to the point...and DIFFERENT.  Well, that's my view
anyway. I am hopeful that if we men continue to listen to these stories,
the largess of their authors will become more obvious to us, and the
intellectual strengths of the other wing become more abundantly manifest

Let's hope the ice holds.


PS: Thankyou for the generous evaluation of my character.

From PIERCEED@sswdserver.sswd.csus.eduTue Oct 17 00:57:21 1995
Date: Mon, 16 Oct 1995 18:35:34 PST8PDT
From: "Eric D. Pierce" 
Subject: silly misc: pigherders, nuts and Baba (be here now) Ram Das 


> Date sent:      Tue, 17 Oct 1995 12:41:00 +1300 (NZDT)
> To:    (Gordon McFarlane),
> From:  (Robert Johnston)
> Subject:        Re: violence & vulnerability & questions

> Cashews (roasted), Brazils (at festivals), macadamia...  I sure that Eric
> Pierce knows more[, and I wish he would give us a "tell-all" about SF.  And
> what's Burl up to?  Sleeping Colean dreams, probably!]
> Many years ago (1980)I went to a post-hippie gathering where Baba Ram Das
> knew of the Baha'i Faith, though it wasn't his path.
> Where's that dude now?  Anybody know?]
> love,
> Robert.

How about pistashios and walnuts (actually walnuts are persian, 
not english, the english just brought them to europe, they 
didn't invent them), pecans are a delight, chesnuts (castanas) 
the fabled king of the old mediterranean mountain village pork 
culture (yes, I used to collect obscure ethnobotany and 
ethnopharmacology articles).

Anyway, I got caught up in escorting the in-laws around so much 
(we went to Stanford Univ. to visit the chapel that Abdul-Baha 
spoke in, and saw the Rodin sculptures) that we got snarled in 
horrid traffic and I missed the talisman dinner and photo op and 
book signings. We missed saturday and sunday due to the 
bambino's 2 year birthday party, oh well, when is ABS coming to 
the USA west coast again?

I'm sure that most of the coference participants are just barely 
getting over the usual travel exhaustion after getting home, and 
will post their impressions before the glow is off. Of course 
you'll have to physically show up at one of the gatherings to get 
the full benefit of the juicy banter around the lockers in the 
smoke filled back rooms! Generally, the expected full spectacle 
and fashion show of a Baha'i conference was in bloom, very nice 
well behaved crowd from what I could see, everyone was well dressed 
except me (jeans). I got lost several times looking for Dickie's
barber shop. He seemed like such a nice hard working fellow in the
bookstore, I don't know why someone mentioned that the next time 
Dereck excoriates someone on talisman, maybe he'll be punished by 
not being allowed to post any "critter stories" for a month! Perhaps 
it's too harsh a punishment.

Paul Johnson has a hilarious idea about a totally cool game where 
we pass around guesses about the appearance of the mailing list
participants, so I don't want to spoil the fun too soon.

Re: Baba. He is rumored to be involved in a fairly respectable
new age type religious community in the Santa Cruz mountains, I
think Dan Orey had heard something more recently about Baba. A 
while ago, I was really impressed reading a transcript of a Baba
talk about the need for detachment from the outer form and social 
aspect of religious practice, I think he called it "spiritual 
materialism", nice resonance with Baha'i concepts of detachment,
maybe it will emerge as part of our healing and evolving community 
development process...



From burlb@bmi.netTue Oct 17 00:58:23 1995
Date: Mon, 16 Oct 95 18:33 PDT
From: Burl Barer 
Subject: Guilty!

  With all contrition, I must confess. I did it. I am guilty. I corrupted
Christopher Buck.

He came to the ABS with his marvelous new book and, I am sure, every
intention of maintaining his soft spoken, unassuming, personna.   Then came
the test: Chris was placed next to me and my blatantly worldly true-crime
adventure, MAN OVERBOARD.  Of course, I caught flak from several of the
"friends" (Baha'is, silly, not Quakers) who asked, "What is a book like
*this* doing in a Baha'i environment?" To which I replied, "Selling quite
briskly, thank you."

Well, Christopher maintained his dignity in an exemplary fashion as long as
humanly possible...and then I guess he just snapped.  At 11pm Saturday
night, much to my drop-jawed amazement and absolute delight, I overheard him
proclaim, with great enthusiasm, a broad smile and demonstrative body
language: "AND! If you silk screen the book cover, it makes a marvelous
t-shirt! One more reason you too will be proud to own this beautiful first
edition.." (or words to that effect).  It was, for me, one of the great
highlights of a memorable conference.  I think between Chris and I , Derek
could have made a fortune if he would have only stocked Ginsu Carving
Knives, Miracle Juicers, and Bamboo Steamers.  

The conference itself was quite dandy, with the requisite number of
presentations guaranteed to shock the ultra-conservative ( "Early Baha'is of
the West Who Never Heard of O.Z. Whitehead"  "Five Ways to Irk Rhuhiya
Khahnum"   "Community Anonymity: How to Stay on Your LSA Forever" ).

I shared a room with Juan Ricardo Cole .  He either  snores in several
languages or indulges in spontaneous nocturnal chanting.  The Talisman
dinner was a big deal -- we raised our empty glasses in a toast to our List
Owner (Note: if Bruce Burrill is reading this, the glasses were not
ABSOLUTELY empty) and praised  John's beloved, docile, spouse :-).

Back in Walla Walla, I am 

From derekmc@ix.netcom.comTue Oct 17 00:58:41 1995
Date: Mon, 16 Oct 1995 18:56:28 -0700
Subject: Re re Marginalized 

When I was at ABS , Philip queried what Baha'i Principle was invoked by 
my statement that I personally would defend any child and woman being 
subjected to physical abuse . I find that a surprising question but I 
would refer Philip to Baha'u'llah : ' upholder and defender of the 
victim of oppression'; Gleanings CXXX , the Master; Some Answered 
Questions ;The Right Method of Treating Criminals ,section relating to 
Siyyid Manshadi . The letter of the Universal House of Justice on 
Sexual and Physical Abuse of Women and Children . There are others if 
Philip wishes me to continue I would be happy to do so.
There can be no justification for abuse on any level , except I would 
suggest for a person to know of abuse and allow it to continue could be 
as bad if not worse than actual person who was abusing. I repeat I will 
stop any abuse I find against any child or woman and affirm that is 
based on scripture . I am tired of hearing that the abusers of this 
world had terrible childhoods and that is why they abuse. When do we 
propose this cycle of violence will end if we do not expect an adult to 
be responsible for their actions and stop working out their warped 
minds on innocents.
Kindest Regards
Derek Cockshut.

From Oct 17 00:58:54 1995
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 1995 16:07:30 +1300 (NZDT)
From: Robert Johnston 
Subject: Re: Re re Marginalized


The individual can solve some of the violence problems in his/her immediate
life, but the widespread violence of contemporary life can only be remedied
by a general reformation of society through the establishment of a just
order.  I heard a black American poet speaking at the university yesterday.
He said he did not know whether O.J. Simpson was guilty, but he DID know
the LAPD was was. On TV last night I heard a black professor from George
Washington University avocate the black juries find black defendants
not-guilty, as a matter of course.  Shocking, isn't it!

I do not mean to deter Derek from his interventions though...


From dpeden@imul.comTue Oct 17 00:59:12 1995
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 95 06:10:34+030
From: Don Peden 
Subject: Re: violence

>> "What is the difference between the "Baha'i Cause" and the "Baha'i
>> Community"?  And please, no retoric.  We've had 25 years of that.
>Dear Bev:
>Any chance to get you to start the ball rolling by putting down some
>of your ideas?  That way, the rest of us will know what you consider
>rhetoric, and will then be less afraid to say something that you might
>critical of.
>Dear Steve:

We are not interested in being critical of anything someone might offer as
their understanding.  We had been Baha'is for nearly 25 years; we have heard
(and used) all the normal lines.  They aren't bad, just no longer
satisfying.  Perhaps rhetoric was a poor choice of words, and I apologize
for it's use.   We are looking for something beyond the usual statements and
assumptions about the Baha'i Cause, and the Baha'i Community.  We question
whether our collective assumptions are based in the writings, or whether we
bring our ideas of community in with us. Perhaps both. 

The question came up in Don's mind because there is a passage in the short
Tablet of Visitation where 'Abdu'l-Baha asks God to assist him to serve "Thy
Cause and Thy servants".  Don partially answered his own question while
driving to the bank this morning when it struck him that one can think of
the community as being  a set of individuals who strive in some way to serve
the Cause.   A couple of things struck him when he read that prayer.  One is
that how few times in the prayers and the Writings  that 'Abdu'l-Baha refers
to the community, but how how often he refers to the Cause.  We need to
check a few references first, but these are the lines of exploration we are
inquiring about.  'Abdu'l-Baha asks to serve the Cause, and then to serve
the servants.  Was this distinction deliberate?  What, then, is the Cause?
And what is community.  Often we make the assumption that if someone is not
serving the community (especially in the ways we think they should), or is
questioning the community, they are not serving the Cause, and questioning
the Cause.  Leaves a lot of room for misunderstanding, don't you think? 

We don't have answers.  If we did, we wouldn't need the Writings.  But we do
have lot's of questions, hopefully until the day we leave this plane of
existence, and maybe beyond.

From Oct 17 01:00:41 1995
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 1995 16:08:32 GMT=1200
From: Mary Day 
Subject: violence

Dear Talismans,

The Justice Department of the New Zealand Government commissioned a 
major research project in which 2000 randomly selected NZ men were 
surveyed about the abuse of women by their male partners. The report
 was published 
at the beginning of August this year. What makes this research 
different from most other research in this area is that men were 
asked about it and not women as has been the case more often. The 
results were even more shocking than was expected. What follows is 
just a very brief overview of some of the findings.

Physical and psychological abuse are aspects of the same underlying 
behaviour and are often found in the same abuser.

Socio-economic, education, personal income levels give no clues to 
the typical abuser. He is just as likely to be a high profile business 
man as unemployed.

Men who reported at least one abusive act in the past year are more 
likely to be unmarried, younger and to score higher on anger scales.

Physically abusive men are more likely than other men to blame it on 
the woman's behaviour, and to have witnessed a man hitting a woman.

Though only 2% of the men say it was OK for a man to hit his partner, 
when shown 20 different circumstances that might spark abuse - such 
as that the kids keep crying all the time, she's spent too much 
money, she won't stop nagging, she makes fun of him sexually- only a 
quarter of the men thoroughly disapprove of hitting in all of the 20 
circumstances given - 10% approve of hitting in a least one of them 
and 56% don't strongly disapprove of hitting in at least one of them.

The occasion most likely to bring out some sort of approval for 
hitting women is "He is catching her in bed with another man" closely 
followed by "She is physically abusing their child" and ""in an 
argument she hits him first". 

At the other end of the scale there are men who think it is ok to hit 
a woman when he is drunk, and some who only slightly disapprove when 
a woman is hit for offending the man's friends, or because she 
refuses him sex all the time or if he can't find a job, or he's 
worried about money.

AN overwhelming number think alcohol is not a cause but a trigger. 

Highest on the list of causes given are the dynamics of the 
relationship and economic problems, followed by general stress and 
the individual man's personality.

Nearly all the men say domestic abuse is a problem whatever their 
own behaviour. They don't think the problem of battered women has 
been grossly exaggerated and most reject myths such as that women 
like being hit.

10% didn't know that hitting a woman was a crime.

21% reported at least one incident of physical violence to their 
partner in the past year.

The most abusive men had the highest levels of anger and were most 
likely to blame women themselves for being abused.

The more serious the abuse the more likely the men were to agree with 
the statement "Women should concentrate on being good wives and 
mothers rather than on their rights."

I wish to reiterate only a quarter of the men thoroughly disapproved 
of hitting their female partner in the 20 scenarios given. That of 
course means that 75% did not thoroughly disapprove in all the given 

Some more from one of the authors of the report, Dr Leibrich "Our 
society expects men to be in charge of things, when a man feels he 
is not in control of what is happening to him, he can lose face, feel 
powerless and angry. He looks for a way to get some control into his 
life and often the best option is to try to be the boss at home. This 
need to feel in control of his partner can also lead directly to loss 
of self control and that's when the abuse begins"

This seems to me to tie in very closely to the discussion that has 
taken place here about vulnerability. But like most social phenomena 
there is not a single cause or explanation. Men's socialisation away 
from expressing their vulnerability is an important aspect but I have not 
found any better explanation than that offered by the Universal House 
of Justice in the peace message:

"The denial of such equality [of men and women] 
perpetrates an injustice against one half of the world's population 
and promotes in men harmful attitudes and habits that are carried
 from the family to the workplace, to political life, and
 ultimately to international relations. There are no grounds, moral,
 practical, or biological, upon which such denial can be justified."

It is the denial of a spiritual principle that lies at the core of 
these "Harmful attitudes and habits."
This allows us to get away from the labelling of all men as abusers 
and at the same time not being deflected away from the problem.


From jrcole@umich.eduTue Oct 17 10:05:16 1995
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 1995 01:38:34 -0400 (EDT)
From: Juan R Cole 
Subject: Baha'i Courts

A warm welcome to all I just saw in SF and all I didn't.  I agree with 
Derek about the warm fellowship we all experienced at the conference, 
which was deepened in the instance of Talismanians by our experiences in 
this virtual community.  I was only stricken that I did not actually get 
to meet my hero, Sherman.  :-)

Brent's thoughtful reply to my suggestion about a National Baha'i Court 
arrived after I was already airborne.

I would just say in reply that the beloved Guardian speaks in the 1950s 
of "establishing" a "national Baha'i court" in a number of Muslim 
countries, and cannot possibly be referring to a process of merely having 
NSAs recognized as judicial bodies by their governments.  The NSAs were 
already "established."

I think it clear that Baha'u'llah and the Guardian both expected a Baha'i 
judiciary to exist that was differentiated from the elected institutions, 
but which drew its authority from them.  In Questions & Answers appended 
to the Aqdas, no. 98, even divorces are to be registered by the Baha'i 
qadi/judge, who is appointed by the "Trustees of the House of Justice."  And,
as I say, it seems to me clear that a separate judiciary was a goal of the 
10 year world crusade.

Even had Baha'u'llah and Shoghi Effendi not spoken of such an 
institution, it could be legislated into existence by the Universal House 
of Justice if the latter thought it needed.  Flexibility in meeting the 
changing needs of a growing and maturing Baha'i community was the 
explicit reason for which Baha'u'llah endowed the Universal House of 
Justice with the authority to legislate.  In this instance, however, the 
mandate of the Holy Figures seems added to the exigencies of Reason.

I do not agree with Brent's finding of some sort of Baha'i principle that 
one never recuses one's self.  I think the text to which he referred is 
far narrower than that, and may in any case have referred to a specific 
stage of the growth of the Faith.

Actually, I find myself at a loss to understand why anyone would in 
principle support the right of any institution in human society to sit in 
judgment of its own accusers and to sanction them for launching an 
accusation.  This practice seems to me so clearly unjust and unethical 
that it boggles my mind that spiritual, thinking persons should find it 
acceptable.  Moreover, I know for a fact that the practice resulted in a 
profound injustice being done the Dialogue editors in the late 1980s, and 
I am beginning to form a considered opinion that an even more egregious 
injustice may have been done more recently.  I can only repeat what I 
have said before, that I have profound respect and admiration for those 
members of the US NSA whom I know, and I am sure that those I know would 
not knowingly do anything wrong.  But the current situation, wherein they 
cannot recuse themselves even where they might think it appropriate, puts 
them in an impossible situation.  

I can only draw my learned friends' attention to the law of unforeseen 
consequences.  Catholics in modern Spain and Italy who were spiritual, 
prayed, worked for community esprit, and unquestioningly accepted the 
teachings of their priests and their Pope saw themselves as striving for 
a godly society.  Yet their attitudes and practices in fact became 
profoundly intertwined in the 20th century with Fascism of the Franco and 
Mussolini varieties (ditto for Maronite Catholicism and the Phalange).  
The habit of obedience, of forbidding the questioning of authority, of 
exalting patriarchy, of valuing corporate solidarity over individual 
rights, all of this fed into political Reaction.  Many Catholics may not 
have desired this outcome consciously, but it did occur.  Joseph 
LeMaistre, the 19th-century arch-conservative, in many ways foreshadowed 
the rise of fascism, as Isaiah Berlin argued.

Baha'is have a triumphalism and exceptionalism that makes them think 
themselves immune from the law of unintended consequences.  But after 23 
years I have seen too many instances of its functioning to question it.  
And I fear I see the practice of allowing the NSA to be both judge and 
defendant, whether with regard to accusations against it of malfeasance, 
or with regard to supposed attempts at campaigning, as a chilling 
foreshadowing of future tyranny.  Like the Spanish Catholics who ended up 
in Franco's camp, we may not start out desiring such an outcome from our 
tearful prayers and love of Mother Church and obedience to our 
institutions; but such a result is entirely possible.  Only by endowing 
our institutions with checks and balances such as an independent 
judiciary and opening them up to public scrutiny through a free Baha'i 
press can we avoid injustice.  And I seem to remember something about 
Justice being our Beloved's best-beloved.

cheers   Juan Cole, History, University of Michigan

From Oct 17 10:24:43 1995
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 95 16:47:55 JST
From: "Stephen R. Friberg" 
Subject: Buddhist Covenant Breaking

Dear Paul and others:

I looked up "covenant breaking" in Buddhism, and found the story of
Devadatta, the Buddha's cousin and brother-in-law. He tried to kill the
Buddha three times:

    Devadatta, one of the Buddha's cousins, an ambitious man of 
    ability and guile, was his rival from early days. He too 
    joined the order but was never sincerely devoted to the Master. 
    He became popular and influential with some people, however, and, 
    about eight years before the Buddha's death, Devadatta conceived 
    the idea of becoming the Buddha's successor and suggested to him 
    that the leadership of the sangha should be handed over to him in view
    of the Master's approaching old age. The suggestion, however, 
    was rejected.

    After being rebuffed in this way, Devadatta vowed vengeance. He made
    three cleverly designed attempts on the life of the Buddha, all of which
    failed. Devadatta next tried to bring about a schism in the sangha, taking
    with him a group of newly ordained monks to establish a separate community.


     . . . strengthened by his friendship with the Crown Prince of
    Magadha, Ajatashatru, Devadatta proposed formally at a meeting of 
    the sangha that the Buddha retire and hand over the leadership to 
    him. This proposal was rejected, and Devadatta is said to have 
    successfully instigated Ajatashatru to execute Bimbisara, his aged
    father, the King of Magadha, and to have made three abortive
    attempts to bring about the death of the Buddha--by hiring
    assassins, by rolling a rock off a mountain-side at him, and by 
    arranging for a mad elephant to be let loose in the road at the 
    time of the collection of alms. [The quotations are all from the 
    online Encyclopedia Britannica.]

I think this (and other examples) show that attempts by family members of the
founder of a new religion and others close to him to try to take control of
the new religion are not uncommon.  You can say that it is due to
dysfunctional families, but this explains little.

You are not happy about the fact that some of those in Baha'u'llah's family
who broke the covenant were (seventy or more years) later described in a book
as spiritually dead. This was possibly true, don't you think? 

Your main concern may be that Baha'is shun covenant breakers. But have you
compared this, which is all that Baha'is do, with what happens when other
institutions respond to attempts at undermining, manipulating, or grabbing
control?  The usual response, throughout history, has been to kill the
perpetrator, and then maybe to liquidate his family and his followers. This
is true for royalty, the military (its called treason), etc. Or, feuds and
prolonged fighting lasting centuries breaks out. Consider the
struggles between the early Christian sects.

All institutions have to protect themselves from predators with selfish
designs, or even sincere interlopers with self-righteous manners, and they
have adapted many ways to do it throughout history. The Baha'i method seems
particularly simple, effective, and kind. All that is done is to cut the
person off from contact with the Baha'i community. No persecution. No
lawsuits. No contact. That's all. And the person has to have done something
quite directly aimed at undermining the authority of the Faith for this
action to be taken. 

Perhaps you are concerned about the issue because of its obvious relationship
to issues concerning authority in a community, formal vs. informal
institutional structures in religion, suppression of unconforming 
views, etc. I do agree that these issues are well worth exploring 
in depth, especially because of the widespread distrust of
institutions that is now troubling the world.  

Yours respectfully,
Stephen R. Friberg

From burlb@bmi.netTue Oct 17 10:26:04 1995
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 95 01:05 PDT
From: Burl Barer 
Subject: Sonja Henie

Skating on thin ice, Minister Farakahn came about as close to laying claim
to a Revelation as one can get behind bullet-proof glass....did you catch
that in his speech? Of course, he did mention Sir Isaac Newton ("Gavity: Not
Just a Good Idea, It's the Law") before he began comparing himself to Moses,
Jesus, Mohammad and other well-known spokespersons for the Almighty with
character defects (the spokespersons, not the Almighty).

Is Farakahn aiming to be God's own demagogue?  Locally, his anti-Semitic
rhetoric is infectious and is beginning to be parroted by otherwise sane
individuals. At the ABS I was surprised (a dainty, accepting way of saying
shocked and offended, but I maintain such a friendly demeanor that my fellow
Baha'is cannot tell that they are sitting with the Baha'i contingent of the
JDL) by the number of Baha'is who had *no problem* with his anti-Semitism
because "he does so much good work for Black men, especially in prison."
Uh-huh.  And Hitler built some damn good highways and look at how many young
white men he put to work in the concentration camps.  If David Duke got a
million white guys to march on Washington chanting "If its all white its all
right" and calling Islam or Christianity a "gutter religion" I don't think
my fellow Baha'is would be so "understanding."

In Seattle, an elderly Jewish couple who survived the Holocaust moved into
the predominantly black central district and opened a little dry cleaning
business and became part of the local community.  The man was blown to bits
by a bomb planted in his shop to rid the community of "blood suckers." 
Maybe they thought the number tattoed on his arm was the number of his swiss
bank account.

Reminds me, [for no rational reason] of a particular episode of "Family
Feud" in which the contestant was asked to "Name a Famous Jew."
Musolini? Leonardo Di Vinci?  
The host, Richard Dawson (himself a correct answer) was stunned by the
contestant's inability to name even *one* famous Jew. 

Burl Barer (Winner of the Taylor Trophy for Best Student in Hebrew Class, 1957)

From snoopy@skipper.physics.sunysb.eduTue Oct 17 10:30:02 1995
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 1995 09:31:05 -0400 (EDT)
From: Stephen Johnson 
To: Cyn Massey 
Subject: Re: KI: The survey results

Sorry friends...

I was unaware that the survey results I posted might be unreadable by they are again.

Dearest Talismanian Friends,

The results of the survey for the slow read on talisman are in.  The call for
a response was sent last Thursday.  I have waited till Monday for the 
straglers.  The following are the results:

Re:  Do you want to see a talisman slow read?

See Talisman slow read:  26
Not see talisman slow read: 0
Don't care: 1
Wants more information concerning the process: 1

Re: What text would you like to use first?

Iqan:                           7 1/3
Aqdas:                          3 5/6
Prosperity of Humankind:        3
Secret of Divine Civilization:  2 1/3
Some Answered Questions:        1
Hidden Words:                   1
World Order of Baha'u'llah:     1
Tablet of Unity by Baha'u'llah: 2/3
Seven Valleys:                  1/2
Advent of Divine Justice:       1/3

No Preference:                  5

As you can see, no one openly opposed the idea of a talisman slow read so
we may begin as soon as possible with the reading of the Iqan.  One 
insightful person has voiced concern over exactly how this reading will
proceed seeing as the previous 'slow-read's on talisman have stopped
short of their goal.  I believe part of this is due to lack of time on
the part of the poster (ie Ahang needed to leave talisman for a short time
to further the Cause in Houston) and part of this is due to a lack of 
organization.  Therefore, I would like to assure everyone that I will
not stop posting the section of the Iqan to talisman since I am a 
student in nuclear physics with two years to go -- so I'm stuck in front
of this computer for quite some time (forever?) -- I can't get away...
even if/though I want.

Concerning the topic of organization, however, another insightful poster
has responded providing the following outline which I will use (assuming
noone disagrees):

> 1)      Preface the subject line of every posting about a slow read 
with the
> title of what is being considered:  "HW: Re[6] What it means to me", "KA:
> Paragraph 4 Transliteration", etc.  Many email programs can sort by subject
> and can group all the slow-read postings together.  Talisman is a busy
> list--it helps to sort it all out.

The heading will now be KI:  ... please use this heading when responding to
this topic.

>2)      Pick a coordinator and post a schedule:  "October 14-20: Paragraphs
>1-10, October 21-27: Paragraphs 11-20, October 28-Nov. ??: Catch Up and
>Review", whatever.  The coordinator will take periodic votes to see if 
it is
>reasonable to continue if interest seems to be diminishing.  No posting
>topic should be farther ahead than the schedule, but topics from any week
>should be free for comment.

I have volunteered to post the sections of the Iqan to talisman -- the
postings will begin once our friends return from the SF conference and
can join whole-heartedly.  I will begin the first posting with a schedule
(please contact me with any suggestions) and some introductory works
concerning the Iqan (like the paragraphs in God Passes By).  I currently
plan on posting a couple pages every couple days -- trying to keep the
topic consistent from post to post.  Again, contact me with any suggestions.

>3)      Establish an archive for those who join late or miss messages.
>Store the English version, the Transliteration, The Latest Revised Schedule,
>(maybe scans of the persian or arabic?!?), and all the messages to date.
>Using the guidelines in (1), it will be easy to cull out and save the
>messges.  Even if the slow reads DO die out, they'll be easier to start up.
>And where IS the talisman WWW site?  ;>

Dr. Waldbridge is already providing a talisman archive for us.  If others 
like a complete archive of all postings separate, then I would appreciate
if someone would volunteer the bytes...I may not have enough here...

Also if someone can offer the Persian/Arabic transliteration that would
be great...though it may take more time than one person could manage.

Thank you all for your responses...the slow-read will begin with an 
introduction this Friday (after the SF conference) and the selection from 
the Iqan will commence the following Monday (the 23rd).

I look forward to our foray in the depths of the Ocean of His Utterance.

God Bless,

Your friend,

stephen johnson

From cbuck@ccs.carleton.caTue Oct 17 10:39:47 1995
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 95 10:27:30 EDT
From: Christopher Buck 
To: Burl Barer 
Subject: Re: Guilty!

	Burl Barer is dressed in lean jeans, a Levis blue collar
shirt beneath a sofa-soft blazer--a professionally informal touch that
made me feel like a penguin in comparison, stiff and beaky.

	Burl is hawking his book, MAN OVERBOARD, which I just started
to read to my wife last night after returning from SF via the Air
Canada *Red-Eye* flight I had to take after my noon flight had been
oversold. Burl is sitting next to me last Saturday in Derek's
conference Bookstore. A pulchritudinous Persian woman passes by, her
eyes transfixed on the cash register straight ahead. No eye contact
with Burl. Chaste indifference.

	But Burl catches her attention. He flashes an embossed and
tactile cover of *Man Overboard* for her perusal. She stares at Burl,
fascinated by his audacity, reaching across the metre-wide gulf of the

	Burl proceeds to tell her that, if she reads his book, she'll learn
how to fake her own death, print counterfeit U.S. currency, fabricate a
Cayman Islands drivers licence, and how to fulfill her glacially-proper
life as an adventurer.

	To which this impeccable Persian pearl set-in-velvet replied:
*Are you really a Baha'?* 

	Christopher Buck


From s0a7254@tam2000.tamu.eduTue Oct 17 23:05:39 1995
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 1995 10:22:17 -0500 (CDT)
From: Saman Ahmadi 
To: talisman 
Subject: Re: Sonja Henie

Dear Burl and All,

I caught some of Farakhan's speech also - he is filling a
void that probably we should be filling.

On another note:

I was on jury duty last week: Federal District Court in
Houston. They call some 200 people and place them on
call for six days - they choose some 40 for each trial;
if one does not get picked he goes back in the pool. They
pay $40.00/day plus parking and travel & lodging if you 
live more than 50 miles away.

It was an interesting experience - I went to two trials
but was not picked.

The first one made me feel kind of weird: we walked in
the court room and sat down. To the left sat three men
in suits: two white and one black. To the right sat
two men in suites and two women: all white.

I did not know what kind of case it was. Waiting for
the judge to arrive, I was trying not to assume that
the defendant is the black person.

What seemed like three hits of a gavel sounded and the
judge walked in. The defendant was charged with filing
false income tax returns. The judge then intorduced 
the parties and asked each to stand. It turned out
the defendant was one the white men on the right - later
we were informed that he was a Methodist minister.

In the second trial the defendant was charged with
conspiracy and carrying a weapon. After the judge, and
this time the lawyers, asked their questions from us, they
asked a few people to stay - they wanted to ask us some
questions in private. When they called me in, the judge
said that I had written in my questionare that I was
born in Iran, and I said yes. He then asked if I was
a citizen, and I said yes. 

The question was a bit peculiar since the jury
was called from those voted in the last election, I had
said so on the questionare and the jury orientation included
the requirements of being a juror. It was the prosecution
who wanted the question answered - it is me or was that a
bit strange (or normal)?


From caryer@microsoft.comTue Oct 17 23:06:30 1995
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 1995 07:59:06 -0700
From: "Cary E. Reinstein" 
To: 'Burl Barer' ,
Subject: RE: Sonja Henie

Thus saith Farakhan (let them hang by their own words, sez Cary):

Monday October 16 1:46 p.m. EDT

Report: Farrakhan Aide Warns Jews of War

CHICAGO (Reuter) - An aide to Nation of Islam Minister Louis Farrakhan 
has said Jews should ``go to hell'' and be prepared for war, the 
Chicago Tribune reported Monday.

``I say to Jewish America: Get ready .. knuckle up, put your boots on, 
because we're ready and the war is going down,'' the newspaper quoted 
Quanell X, national youth minister for the Nation of Islam, as saying.

``The real deal is this. Black youth do not want a relationship with 
the Jewish community or the mainstream white community or the 
foot-shuffling, head-bowing, knee-bobbing black community,'' he added.
The newspaper also quoted Minister Khallid Muhammad -- who was 
suspended by Farrakhan last year for six months because of racist 
comments -- as telling one of its reporters:

``The so-called Jew is a parasite who comes into our community and 
takes out trailer and tractor-loads of money on a daily basis.''
The comments were made prior to a rally Saturday night in Washington in 
advance of Monday's Million Man March organized by Farrakhan.
The reporter, the only white at the meeting, was later tossed out, it said.
The story said Quanell told the cheering rally ``All you Jews can to 
straight to hell.''

The newspaper also said Muhammad, in the interview, said of President 
Clinton leaving town to give a speech on race relations:
``It seems opportunistic for the cracker to go now when God's man is in 

Of Monday's march he said ``this is the time of the black man's rise 
and the white man's demise.''

From: 	Burl Barer[]
Sent: 	Tuesday, 17 October, 1995 1:05 AM
Subject: 	Sonja Henie

Skating on thin ice, Minister Farakahn came about as close to laying claim
to a Revelation as one can get behind bullet-proof glass....did you catch
that in his speech? Of course, he did mention Sir Isaac Newton ("Gavity: Not
Just a Good Idea, It's the Law") before he began comparing himself to Moses,
Jesus, Mohammad and other well-known spokespersons for the Almighty with
character defects (the spokespersons, not the Almighty).

Is Farakahn aiming to be God's own demagogue?  Locally, his anti-Semitic
rhetoric is infectious and is beginning to be parroted by otherwise sane
individuals. At the ABS I was surprised (a dainty, accepting way of saying
shocked and offended, but I maintain such a friendly demeanor that my fellow
Baha'is cannot tell that they are sitting with the Baha'i contingent of the
JDL) by the number of Baha'is who had *no problem* with his anti-Semitism
because "he does so much good work for Black men, especially in prison."
Uh-huh.  And Hitler built some damn good highways and look at how many young
white men he put to work in the concentration camps.  If David Duke got a
million white guys to march on Washington chanting "If its all white its all
right" and calling Islam or Christianity a "gutter religion" I don't think
my fellow Baha'is would be so "understanding."

From cbuck@ccs.carleton.caTue Oct 17 23:08:13 1995
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 95 13:07:08 EDT
From: Christopher Buck 
Cc: Christopher Buck 
Subject: Protection of Baha'i Authors

	I saw the new Baha'i review system take effect in a way I had
not anticipated at ABS last Saturday. Baldly stated, the review system
serves to protect the Faith. (I will not rehearse here the pros and
cons of review.) The review system is *new* in this respect: Not only
does review serve to protect the Faith, it serves to protect the
author as well.

	At Derek's conference bookstore, a young man came up to me. He
opened a display copy of _Symbol & Secret_ and pointed to a statement
in which I wrote: *Baha'u'llah endeavors to prove...*. Suddenly, I was
shocked by a litany of accusations leveled at me. As I looked into the
eyes of my well-meaning critic, I sensed that I was staring into the
mouth of a double-barreled shotgun. The trigger was cocked.

	I was accused of selling out to secular academic discourse, of
compromising the integrity of the Faith, of demeaning and devaluing
the Manifestation of God, of failing to state at every turn of phrase
that these were merely my opinions, that somehow I was a *rising
star* such that there were people starting to look up to me in terms of
how I was presenting the Faith, and what a danger there was in such
discourse being offered up as a model, of how Juan Cole was being
touted as a great scholar at ABS, yet daring to compare Baha'u'llah with
Enlightenment theorists. In fine, I should be ashamed of what I had
done. In disgust, my critic tossed the book back onto the unsigned
stack of shrink-wrapped copies--a plastic but temporary prophylactic
against inevitable future criticism.

	I staggered in shock. I suddenly felt as though I was being
perceived as an enemy of the Faith. To my opponent's credit, he did
listen when I told him of the phone call I had received from the House
(via Hooper Dunbar) in the Spring of 1991, assuring me that nothing
was wrong with my Masters thesis, and not to worry.

	Derek Cockshut and Robert Stockman knew what had happened.    
Derek took me aside to advise me on how to handle such criticism in
the future. The act of Derek sitting me down to help me regain my
composure and self-respect was, for me, one of the private
highlights of the ABS conference.

	Robert Stockman came by later. Very quietly, he told me that he
would have a word with the young critic.

	Robert is in charge of Baha'i review in the States. He has long
expressed the conviction that the review system should serve to
protect the author who has complied with and passed review. I saw this
in action for the first time. The head of Baha'i review put the
currency of his policy where his mouth was. I no longer saw rhetoric.
I saw authenticity. 

	I am not saying that Baha'i authors should not be vulnerable
to criticism, although I am not exactly sure if critical reviews are
really possible or productive in the context of Baha'i publications.
But I do think that, just as the *Dialogue* editors should have been
protected during review (which they weren't), Baha'i authors should be
protected after review (which they are now, thanks to Robert

	Christopher Buck 

From Oct 17 23:10:47 1995
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 1995 13:50:14 -0500 (CDT)
From: Mark Foster 
Subject: Louis Farakhan


Just a few thoughts on Louis Farakhan: As most of you probably know, my 
parents are Jewish, and I was bar mitzvahed, etc. 

Before I moved to Kansas City, I lived in a predominantly Black 
neighborhood in Macon, GA. One day, about three years ago, two members of 
Farakhan's Nation of Islam knocked at my door, obviously expecting a 
Black person to answer. When I opened the door, I smiled and asked how I 
could help. They told me that Louis Farakhan's assistant was going to be 
speaking over the weekend on the subject of Malcolm X, and that they were 
selling tickets for $10.00. I asked if a White person would be welcomed. 
They assured me that all could attend. So, knowing that Farakhan's group 
(based on the ideas of Farad Muhammad, Elijah Muhammad, et al.) felt that 
Whites had no souls (an example of how what I call counter-racism often 
mirrors the institutionalized racism of the majority), I purchased a ticket.

I arrived and, no surprise, I was the only White person in attendance. 
But instead of speaking about Malcolm X, the speaker instead went on a 
three-hour litany against White people (and specifically myself). I 
suppose he was trying to drive me out. But I loved it. I felt - what a 
wonderful opportunity - to be able to get a taste of the horrible abuse 
to which African Americans have been subjected to throughout their 
400-plus-year history in North America. IOW, I tried to empathize with 
this fellow.

I am not excusing this sort of behavior, and I agree with Saman that 
Farakhan is filling a void which could be filled by the Faith of Baha. I 
listened to most of Farakhan's talk on C-SPAN last night and was 
impressed with his unusually conciliatory tone. I know that Farakhan, at 
least for the sake of polemics, would probably hate me for my Jewish 
background. However, as a Baha'i, I can still love him. I can recognize 
his views as the product of centuries of oppression and can see how even 
those who might not fully agree with Farakhan can see in his leadership 
something which, from one perspective, may allow even a Black person with 
little racial prejudices to attend the Washington march and even show 

Therefore, although I recognize in Farakhan a sort of prejudice which 
should not be excused; to me, the issues are more complex. Shared 
oppression sometimes creates unlikely bedfellows, and people may be 
willing to sacrifice what is perceived as the less important for what is 
of regarded as of greater importance.

Loving regards,

Mark Foster

From s0a7254@tam2000.tamu.eduTue Oct 17 23:11:57 1995
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 1995 15:32:36 -0500 (CDT)
From: Saman Ahmadi 
To: talisman 
Subject: Malcom X & Farakhan

Dear Friends,

What became of Malcom X's organization, "African Unity" 
(I may have the wrong name)?

I do wonder what would have become of Malcom X if he had
lived - did he have any contact with Baha'is?

I saw Spike Lee's movie about him (I have not read
Alex Haley's [?] book though) and I think it was pretty
accurate on the most important thing: Malcom X's
transformation. The Baha'i Faith just seemed like
the eventual place for him.

Farakhan is, to say the least, a peculiar fellow -
his brand of Islam holds some rather unique beliefs
about the origin of man and the fossils and such.

His anti-semitism is, I think, somewhat related to
Islam - reading the Qur'an one gets the distinct
impression that God was not happy with the Jews. 
Ofcourse Baha'u'llah lays the responsibilty on the
shoulders of the divines.

Is Farakhan's offensive words balanced by his clean
suits and the crowd of clean cut young black men in
bow-ties? Probably not. 

A reporter said last night that Stevie Wonder observed 
that the "Million Man March" was bigger than any one man.
Whatever the fate of Farakhan, he did come up with the
idea and darn catchy name for it - lets see where it
goes. There is a prayer from Baha'u'llah, I think, that
says that whatever is past has been forgiven.


From Oct 17 23:17:31 1995
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 09:46:56 GMT=1200
From: Mary Day 
Subject: slow down the slow reading

Dear Talismans

I am the person who wanted to discuss the process before we launched 
into another slow reading. Yesterday Stephen asked me to expand on 
this and today the results are presented and a decision appears to 
have been made. What is the big hurry here?

Those living in the US may not have stopped to think about the 
effects of time differences on email communication. Perhaps I can 
explain it best by saying in the lab where I work we can tell when 
you are all getting to work in the morning, because my computer 
starts beeping madly as the new days mail comes in. In mid afternoon 
here it must be time to go to work yesterday in lots of parts of the 
US. So if you ask me to respond you need to allow more time for 
people all around the world to enter the right time frame for them.

I have been involved in decision making processes on other email 
groups I belong to and also am currently invovled in a slow read in 
another group. [not Bahai] The decision making processes seem to me 
to be most successful when much more time is taken and deadline is 
set. EG please reply the deadline is... a week away. This gives time 
for people being away from their computers, time differences, 
different public holidays in other parts of the world, etc and gives 
time for people to think and make a considered response.

In the other slow read I am involved with it is just that, a very 
very slow read. Days go by and no one responds, then someone offers 
extremely insightful thoughts and another few days go by.

I would like to say loud and clear. THERE IS NO HURRY!!! THIS IS A 
SLOW READ!! IF we don't get to the end of the book for 20 years it 
doesn't matter. Each word is a mother word.

There are other topics people will want to discuss on talisman along 
the way that are not relevant to the slow read so people might get 
distracted at times. That too is fine.

If it is going to be a slow read let us make it SLOW.


From PIERCEED@sswdserver.sswd.csus.eduTue Oct 17 23:18:13 1995
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 1995 13:56:47 PST8PDT
From: "Eric D. Pierce" 
Subject: Re: Louis Farakhan (more contradictions)


> Date sent:      Tue, 17 Oct 1995 13:50:14 -0500 (CDT)
> From:           Mark Foster 
> Subject:        Louis Farakhan
> To:   

> Talismanians,
> Just a few thoughts on Louis Farakhan: As most of you probably know, my 
> parents are Jewish, and I was bar mitzvahed, etc. 

Incredible! Thanks for the interesting story Mark. I completely 
support the condemnation of anti-semitism, and hope that we can 
put things into the appropriate perspective. I would expand on 
the suggestion made here by others that Baha'is have historically 
failed (generally) to heroically champion the cause of race unity 
in such a way as to address the compelling challenge made by 
members of the Nation of Islam to white society. Have we forgotten 
Abdul-Baha's instructions to be sensitive to the suspicion 
(mistrust) blacks have of whites?

Anyone that wants to rail at the Nation of Islam should probably 
read the autobiography of Malcom X (especially the pilgrimage
story) to see how involvement in the Nation of Islam community can 
be an evolutionary point on a spiritual path that *may* eventually
lead to an enlightened Baha'i-like viewpoint. At the time Malcom X 
was saying stuff like we see now from Farakhan and his aides, he was 
similarly denounced, but he was a most vigorous (and from the little 
I know) accurate voice explaining the horrors and oppression of 
blacks that white america wanted to forget.

Clearly, there are many contradictions in the Baha'i community, we
have a ways to go in how we deal with our own fundamentalist 
tendencies. How many protests were publicly entertained when some 
of our most highly visible members were groveling and licking the 
boots of Ronald Regan on national TV for our own self-serving 
interests while he was advancing some of the most perverse and
oppressive anti-human-rights foreign policies we have seen in a 
long time (death squads in Nicaragua, El Salvador, etc.), and
many others were parroting the absurd celebration about how the 
cold war had been "won"?

Is it too much to hope that we can at least be consistent?


From s0a7254@tam2000.tamu.eduTue Oct 17 23:18:33 1995
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 1995 16:43:54 -0500 (CDT)
From: Saman Ahmadi 
To: talisman 
Subject: Speed of the Slow-read

Dear Mary and All,

I have a suggestion along your thoughts: lets let the 
"read" go as fast or slow as it wants. That is, there are 
certain passages (whatever book we choose) on which many 
want to comment and which by their nature take longer to 
digest - there are others which will take less time to 

But, I think, we do need a general outline and a
rough time table. The moderator could then decide
the actual speed of the study.

Another suggestion: how about once we decide on the
book, give everyone one month to read it - just to
get an idea of what is there or to refresh one's
memory if he/she has read it before. This might make
the consultation go more smoothly.

sorry for posting too much today,

From richs@microsoft.comTue Oct 17 23:19:32 1995
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 1995 13:37:38 -0700
From: Rick Schaut 
To: 'Juan R Cole' ,
Subject: RE: Baha'i Courts

Dear Juan and Friends,

From: 	Juan R Cole[]
>Actually, I find myself at a loss to understand why anyone would in 
>principle support the right of any institution in human society to sit in 
>judgment of its own accusers and to sanction them for launching an 
>accusation.  This practice seems to me so clearly unjust and unethical 
>that it boggles my mind that spiritual, thinking persons should find it 

While we all have a sense of justice, we should recognize the fact that
none of us has a "perfect" sense of justice (were this not the case, then
`Abdu'l-Baha's grounds for interpreting the Law to prohibit bigamy is
completely unfounded).  If we recognize this, then, whenever we see
some aspect of the Administrative Order which violates our sense of
justice, then our very first act must be to question our understanding of
what constitutes justice.  Because none of us has a perfect sense of
justice, it would be completely improper for any individual to seek to
bend the the Administrative Order to fit our own sense of justice.

I could launch into a lengthy discussion of whether or not Juan's
notion of injustice is congruent with the principles of the Faith and
the Administrative Order, but there's really an easy way to find out:
Submit the suggestion to the Universal House of Justice.  If it is a
good idea, if, indeed, it is impossible for justice to obtain without
the existence of Baha'i courts, then I would expect the Universal
House of Justice to legislate for their implementation.  Surely, this
is what is meant by the Universal House of Justice being guarded
from error, is it not?

So, Juan, I suggest you make your recommendation to the Universal
House of Justice.  If, however, you feel you want to develop this idea
before sending it to the Universal House of Justice, then I should think
the appropriate way to proceed would be to validate this notion of
justice in terms of the Writings and not merely base it upon your
personal feelings or even upon your understanding of history.  Start
from the principles themselves and build from there.  As you do this,
keep in mind Baha'u'llah's counsel in the opening paragraphs of the
Kitab-i-Iqan.  In other words, divest yourself from any attachment to
this notion of justice before you attempt to validate it based upon the
Writings, because any such attachment will weaken the extent to
which you will be able to judge the validity of your own arguments.

Warmest Regards,
Rick Schaut

From burlb@bmi.netTue Oct 17 23:20:39 1995
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 95 15:28 PDT
From: Burl Barer 
Subject: Jew Bashing

Burl is, despite his good humour, still a bit irked -- not ABSOLUTELY irked
-- but irked none the less at those in the Baha'i community, and the
community at large, who are so comfortable with anti-semitism.  Oh, yeah,
well....ya know, its just Jews and they make good scapegoats and its so easy
to pick on them and its been going on for centuries and its probably just a
phase that these Jew haters, Jew bashers, and Jew blamers are going through
and if we overlook their manifest religious and racial prejudice they will
get over it and gee, they might be Baha'is.  

Yes, they might be Baha'is someday -- them and David Duke and Mr. Aryan
Nation and Mr. KKK will all serve on the same LSA and cook up a mean batch
of fajitas at the race unity day picnic -- but in the meantime I am getting
the  impression that anti-semitism, like some mythical computer virus, is
eating into the mental hard drive of millions of people, Baha'is included.  

The Baha'i position on religious prejudice is not the least bit ambiguous. 
If you are comfortable with anti-semetism, if you think maybe all those
stereotypes are true, if you figure that probably there *is* an
international Jewish a therapist.  There are a few on
line here at Talisman who probably could help ya out.

Remember, Marvin Gaye was convinced that "the homosexual midgets of America"
were plotting against him.  The homosexual midgets couldn't stand up for
themselves, and if they did, no one would notice.
There is a moral somewhere, but good morals are hard to come by.


From derekmc@ix.netcom.comTue Oct 17 23:21:31 1995
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 1995 15:41:02 -0700
Subject: Regional Committees and Baha'i Courts

As we seem to be starting a long thread on decentralization , which I feel is of the 
utmost importance , we might want to consider what is happening in the UK. I 
shared this with Ahang a few days ago and he suggested I posted it but in the rush 
over ABS , I forgot.
I was back in the UK for a visit in March / April and attended one of the 
meetings there arranged by the NSA to have consultation on the form 
decentralization should take. About 3 years ago the NSA at the repeated 
requests of the friends in Scotland had turned to the House of Justice regarding 
some form of decentralization . Over a period of 18 months the NSA managed 
to meet about 75% of the Baha'is in Scotland . I believe the NSA from these 
face to face meetings forwarded 15 proposals to the House of Justice . This 
included  NSA of Scotland , the House replied that a Committee should be 
appointed to handle everything except external affairs and administrative rights 
. at least that is what I recall . I am sure Wendi Momen can give more details if 
required . Then the House told the UK NSA to continue the process with 
Northern Ireland , Wales and England Baha'i Communities . These sister 
committees have just been appointed in the UK , so the whole of the UK has 
now in place a decentralized system .
On the matter of the forming of a separate NSA the letter offered very 
interesting background on the standards that must apply before that can happen . 
As I left my copy of that letter in the UK , it would be of value if Wendi or 
Moojan could post those details. What remains firm in my mind is that true 
standards had to apply in all form of change . A separate NSA must have a 
proper basis to it , geographical barriers , legal and political systems. It also 
appears that although political considerations must be taken into account , the 
well-being of the Baha'i Community is essential part of the consideration.It is in 
that light we should consider the future Regional committees here in the USA . 
I mention separate NSA;s , because we have several in the area known as the 
geo/political USA .The USA NSA has decided on using the format from the 
Tablets of the Divine Plan .I believe this action by the NSA shows a 
commitment to return to basics which is praiseworthy. I am of the view that 
although initially there will be duplication of function in that the National 
Center will carry on their current tasks as the Regional Committees develop 
expertise and credibility, such functions will then naturally devolve to the 
Regions that are relevant to their mandate . Clearly such tasks will not be 
carried out from the National Office . I think one candidate for devolving would 
be Education ,another  membership and records . However contrary to popular 
myth there is not enormous departments at the center waiting to be axed to save 
oodles of lovely monies for the Fund . I think what we need to look for is a 
much higher level of service and response from a regionalization of the USA 
Baha'i Community , not a cost-cutting exercise. If the service and response is 
greater then it should enable communities to grow quicker by being able to call 
upon resources that are available .  If we explore how that can happen then I 
suggest we are moving in the right direction . 
As far as Baha'i Courts are concerned , it seems to me that they need to develop 
as a separate arm of the Faith .This could or should fall under the functioning of 
the Universal House of Justice . I think the correct procedure should be  
appointed certainly in the commencement of such an Institution .  As you all 
know the Local House of Justice will have a religious judicial office attached . 
So some of the duties you might have thought would go to a Baha'i Court I 
believe will still fall under the direction of the Local house of 
Justice . However with a body that will be elected from the peoples of the world 
operating at an International level although under the House of Justice , that 
body should clearly have the power to function for the benefit of all , not just 
Baha'is . Also the Baha'i Courts must also have that type of mandate to operate 
for the benefit of all . I would surmise that the International 
representative body 
would be replicated at national and local level as would the Courts. 
I am dubious of the value of trying to directly transpose one type of 
court into a Baha'i mould . Islamic Courts although they have built up 
over the centuries , one can make the same augment for the various 
legal systems and codes . I do not believe the answer lies in one or 
the other , 
but rather in creating a new method of Justice for society based upon 
Kindest Regards 
Derek Cockshut
PS In Scotland they have 3 verdicts a jury can bring in Guilty , Not 
Guilty and 
Not Proven . I wonder what verdict would have come in had the Jury in 
the OJ 
Simpson Trial had the third option .

From Oct 17 23:21:58 1995
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 11:52:58 +1300 (NZDT)
From: Robert Johnston 
To: Saman Ahmadi ,,,
Subject: Saman-Farakhan [Samarkand?]

Saman wrote:
>sorry for posting too much today,

Baha'is are cautioned against letting words exceed deeds, but I cannot
think of a time when I thought Saman too verbal.  I am very glad that
Talisperson is busy today.  Over the weekend, when many were at SF and when
things are quieter anyway, there was a powerfully poignant string of
letters which seemed to demand responses.  It seemed to me that silence
would have been blameworthy.  (Confucius said that one could be just as
blameworthy in silence as in speech, and I agree).  However, to engage in
sincere correspondence takes lots of time and energy, so  -- as I have said
-- I am glad to see others contributing...
[write on, Saman!]

I saw the Farakhan rally on TV last night (several times).  Wow!  I can see
my amigo John waving his copy of "Citadel of Faith" in the air; and I
reckon Burl is about don his sandwich boards with "The Hours is Nigh!" on
one side and "Sinners Repent" on the other, and set off up Main Street...
Even in New Zealand, the value to people of colour of a white life is
diminishing...  And, just to think: when I was growing up in the 50s we
used to proudly say there was no racism in New Zealand.


From Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nlTue Oct 17 23:23:48 1995
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 00:01:54 +0100 (MET)
Subject: From Sonja -mental illness &the arts

Re: sorrow, mental illness and the arts

Until I was around 19 years old I used have weekly bouts
of depression.
I'd feel very unhappy and helpless about getting myself out
this state, but nevertheless I would function because I had
I started art school (which had always been a dream of
mine) and suddenly these depressions diminished so when i
was 24 and suffered a bout it took me by surprise and I'd
forgotten what the bottomless pit felt like. That bout took
me 3 months to recover from but since then I've never had
another, although I've had times of feeling powerless,
useless etc, but never with that feeling of being unable to
get myself out it.
In retrospect I am grateful for these experiences, for I'd
never undermine mental illness nor would I ever assume it
is someone's fault or that a person should 'just get themself
out of it'. I have also had close friends who are maniac
depressive, and have been able to be of assistance without
being patronizing. 
Here is a case of where sorrow/grief has been of use to my
cognition, in the way it has taught me to more human -that
is compassionate. While I use a piece of the personal to
illustrate a point, this does not necessary make the point a
personal one. 
Abdu'l Baha mentions something somewhere about sorrow
being necessary. I believe that some sorrow- that is
compassion- is a sign of involvment, whether the actual
incident is first hand or not, and Linda's postings on
violence, are an example of this. I too have strong emotions
about issues and there is no need to apologize for feeling
deeply an expressing this. 
Linda, your apology was not necessary. You showed your
feelings and I feel rightly so. Violence against women is
unjust and is a reality for many.

I wonder, how much affect being an artist has had on my
mental health and actually I believe that involvement
(whatever form this takes- being actively involved does not
mean someone has to hold a brush in one's hand just as
holding a brush in one's hand does not mean that someone
is being creative) 
in the arts is necessary for everyone's sanity.

Related to this thought, are my experiences of teaching
drawing and painting to psychotic/mental patients in
institutions where I've seen changes (although most were
only temporary changes-but still worthwhile) that were
pretty dramatic, because the arts are so wholesome and
involve the mental/physical and the spiritual, without the
unheathly idea of one 'right' way of doing something.

love Sonja

From burlb@bmi.netTue Oct 17 23:24:06 1995
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 95 16:01 PDT
From: Burl Barer 
Subject: Jew Bashing II

Quick point of clarification: when I said "you"  or "ya" in the previous
post on this topic I was using an imaginary "you" and I was *not* referring
to anyone on this forum, nor accusing my fellow Talsimaniacs of having
anti-semitic views. My comments were sparked by a luncheon conversation at
the ABS and other recent conversations with Baha'is regarding this topic.

Sorry if I gave anyone the "wrong impression"


From 72110.2126@compuserve.comTue Oct 17 23:26:43 1995
Date: 17 Oct 95 20:23:47 EDT
From: David Langness <>
Subject: ABS Conference Notes

Dear Talismanians,

Greetings to all in the post-ABS conference glow.  For those
Talismanians who went; it felt like we gained a new sense of unity
and an appreciation for the uniqueness of each person that it's
probably not possible to achieve on the net.  Also, it's harder to
diss anyone you've broken bread with...

It seemed like attendance hovered somewhere around the 1,000 mark,
and many sessions were full to overflowing.  Some of the conference
sessions stood out dramatically.  Amin Banani's learned paper on
Tahireh's poetry and feminism -- soon to be a Kalimat Press book,
if what Amin tells me about it being on "the front burner" holds --
was simply outstanding.  Chris Buck's work, brilliant as usual,
dazzled many.  Penetrating presentations by Tony Lee, Susan Stiles
Maneck, Peter Terry, Mark Foster and Bradford Miller(who, btw,
Terry, did a paper on his new book on Seneca Falls) all drew crowds
and much praise.

Three sessions generated the most response from the large audience. 
The Local Community Challenges Seminar(put together by Sheila
Banani, as was the entire conference) did something very unusual,
wherein several mayors, chiefs of police, school board heads and
other non-Baha'i officials recounted their quite Baha'i-like
efforts to infuse their communities with a new sense of unity and
commitment.  This seemed to break new ground for the efforts of
Baha'is, which were also presented and showcased.

But the two papers that really generated serious approbation came
from Dr. Susie Clay and our own Professor Juan Cole.  Clay
recounted the heroic and literally death-defying efforts of one
Baha'i working with the educational system in Guatemala to further
the education of girls.  Her presentation stirred the intellects
and moved the hearts.  Juan's well-researched, insightful and
eminently scholarly presentation on The Equal Rights of All:  Human
Rights and the Baha'i Faith made cogent patterns of fundamental
support for human rights from the Central Figures of the Faith, and
tied them together masterfully in a tightly-woven argument for
further commitment to human rights both within and without the
Baha'i community.  His presentation resulted in sustained waves of
warm, enthusiastic applause that must have gone on for five full

If we could get Juan to post his talk, we might be able to
discuss it here -- it raises some extremely important points about
the governmental aspects of the Faith and their relationship to
"western liberal democracy."

As for events, the Talisman dinner, which might in the future be
titled the Annual ABS/Talisman Persian Pigout, generated much fun,
conversation and consultation.  No food fight resulted, either.  We
may have even talked a few ex-Talismanians (Roxanne? Peter? Jack?)
into  rejoining us.  Many other meals were shared, too, and Burl
hawked his book mercilessly, causing us all to buy it.  One
spontaneous event took place in the halls -- many Talismanians
gathered, ready to go to lunch on Saturday, and realized that ABS
had foisted blue ribbons upon all speakers, attached to name tags,
that showed "speaker" status as opposed to mere attendees with
ribbon-less tags.  In a rebellious mass movement, all decided to
rip the blue ribbons off their name tags at once, decrying the
attempt to impose a hierarchy and opposing the pride of learning in
scholars...  We wanted to place a little pile of blue ribbons on
the ABS registration table and set them afire, but our stomachs
took precedence and we went to lunch.



From 72110.2126@compuserve.comTue Oct 17 23:27:20 1995
Date: 17 Oct 95 20:25:50 EDT
From: David Langness <>
Subject: The Father of Violence

Dear Talismanians,

This thread about abuse, battering and male tendencies toward same
has extreme resonance for me, and at the ABS conference in San
Francisco, wove its way through two presentations by guests: 
former California Supreme Court Justice Frank Newman and Dr. Betty
Reardon, the Director of the Peace Education Program at Columbia

Both Newman and Reardon commented on violence against women and
explored its roots.  Reardon spoke passionately about the link
between aggression in the training of young boys and the eventual
violence against women that can result.  And both speakers, to
their credit, named the father of all violence against women:  war.

For me, ever since my year and a few months in Vietnam, that truth
has come home again and again.  War first teaches malleable boys to
kill; they learn to sublimate their natural problem-solving
abilities and use violent means to address all difficulties; and
then eventually, if they are lucky, they return home, all of that
horror and violence stored inside.  They train their sons in
aggression; teach them that a quick fist will fix things; and build
a culture of anger in their families and in their societies.  And
as long as society continues to wage at least a war per generation,
the vicious cycle continues.  So, if you'll permit, I'd like to
take a look at this issue from a little different perspective, that
of a male veteran who believes that war causes much domestic

That dynamic, in some ways, forms the ultimate war crime.  Just as
civilian women and children generally suffer the most in theatres
of war; so they also suffer when the warriors return.  War serves
as the best graduate school for violence and abuse; and even worse,
a warlike culture reaps the harvest of its own rage.

Certainly, in America, we can see this hideous story being played
out in the post-Vietnam era.  We send a generation of boys off to
Southeast Asia to kill, training and equipping more than four
million of our youth with the world's most advanced weaponry and
most effective techniques for causing pain, suffering and death;
and then we bring these newly-made-savage and highly efficient
killing machines back into society with nary a moment of detox or
retraining or counseling and ask them to fit in.  Their
inarticulate anger has reached a white-hot rage; they have acquired
various substance-abuse problems to medicate their inner agony; and
the survivors almost universally harbor the experience of avoiding
their own deaths by hurting or killing someone else -- problem
solved, lesson learned.  Conflict resolution by lead poisoning, the
grunts used to call it.

These veterans then attempt to fit into some semblance of family
life, and inevitably conflict arises.  Foreign violence transmutes
itself into domestic violence.  We need to ask ourselves -- what
resources have we given these men?  And even if they never served
as soldiers, what have they learned from their older brothers,
their friends and their fathers?  And beyond that, what does a
culture that wages war teach everyone who lives in that culture? 
I'm convinced that the root cause of most violence, against women
and children and other men too, comes directly from the mega-
message we all get when our society wages war.

Let's talk about crime, too.  Exporting war, we import its effects. 
We bring home the war-makers and the war-like attitudes permeate
our entertainment and our cultural life and our art and our
discourse, and the violence rises.  Is this a big surprise to
anyone?  Since the late '60's and early '70's, our society has
undoubtedly undergone a surge in violence and crime that shocks
most people, and yet few look back to the causes and think long-
term about the effects.

Dr. Reardon said quite clearly that eradicating violence against
women and children on the micro level requires eradicating war on
the macro level.  This seems so patently obvious that I wonder why
it isn't common knowledge.  I find myself wishing, as well, that
some of the wisdom we can glean from "outside experts" might find
its way into our thinking and expand our vision of what impact our
Faith can have on the violence in society.



From gpoirier@acca.nmsu.eduTue Oct 17 23:29:29 1995
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 1995 19:50:17 -0600 (MDT)
From: "[G. Brent Poirier]" 
To: Juan R Cole 
Subject: Re: Brother:

Well, I stepped into a spiritual (unspiritual, actually) mud puddle, and 
mud splashed onto my glasses and obscured my sight.  While I personally 
cherish friends who puncture my bubble, who refuse to let me be haughty, 
who point out my foibles, I do not myself feel that very often I can 
properly approach my friends when I perceive a mote in their eye.  So as 
I regained some semblance of a proper outlook, I realized it was crazy 
to view you as running for a nonexistent office.  But, when one's 
perceptions are distorted, one doesn't see the vafa of logic.

Much love

From s0a7254@tam2000.tamu.eduTue Oct 17 23:29:59 1995
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 1995 21:03:05 -0500 (CDT)
From: Saman Ahmadi 
To: talisman 
Subject: Re: Saman-Farakhan [Samarkand?]

Dear Robert and All,

Actually if I remember my geography right, the Samanians (900-1000 A.D.)
ruled in the region of Samarkand. Ofcourse nobody talks about the 
Samanians - almost all people have heard of are the Sassanians; so what 
if they lasted a few more centuries - I ... we ... they ... gave you 

Now if people would just realize that I should be king
everything would O.K. My first decree would be that everyone
should use a Macintosh (and I know that at least I have Chris
in my corner). What was all that hoopla about Windows95? Talk
about a "Million Man March". But you can not separate the man
from the message - I get a royalty for every Mactinosh purchased
by a Talismanian (we could bundle it with Burl and Chris' books?).

I am trying my hand at the style which could be termed Burlesque (Burl, 
it's probably not original but I think it qualifies as an independent 
invention). But don't tell me, I know: I should get 

                            MAN OVERBOARD    
              You won't believe it's written by a Baha'i

take care,

From 76101.3361@compuserve.comTue Oct 17 23:30:59 1995
Date: 17 Oct 95 22:20:17 EDT
From: Habib Riazati <>
To: "K. Paul Johnson" 
Cc: Talisman 
Subject: Adib Taherzadeh's Covenant of Baha'u'llah

Dear Mr. Johnson; Allah'u'abha

I read your concerns and feedback on the book called " The Covenant of
Baha'u'llah" by Mr. Adib Taherzadeh. I sincerely thank you for sharing
your feelings so openly and would like to share few humble thoughts in 
regards to some of the issues that you raised in your Electronic letter.

As you know very well, the revelation of God in every age and under
whatever name can be liken to an Ark which is sailing on the waters of
The Mariner of this Ark is none other than the manifestation of God and then
whosoever He appoints as the head of the faith after Him. The ones who 
reside on the ark are none other than the ones who have felt in love 
either with the Mariner or the Mariner's Cause , or have become
attracted to the ship itself and yet another reason might be that they 
have found a way to express their hidden motives and desires during the 
course of their rid in this Ark.
It is needless to say that, those who have been with insight , would 
see that among the riders of this ship, those who forsake their own 
will and desires  and instead cling to the captain of the ship would
secure their own well being both during the journey as well as their
ultimate goal of attaining to the shore of salvation.

Mr. Taherzadeh's book is nothing more than a description of the above
mentioned journey. It explains the goal of the travel which is none 
other than becoming the manifestations of God's virtues, to reflect
the heavenly qualities that God have given to each and every human 
Every one, takes this journey sooner or later and needs to face the
tests that exists on the way before reaching the shore of the beloved.
You mentioned that the author (* Adib *) bases his statements on the 
emotions rather than the evidences in describing those who broke the
In my humble opinion, all the statements that Mr. Taherzadeh makes in
this book can be verified by many other historical and theological
sources inside and OUTSIDE the Baha'i faith.
I read this book twice, and felt that the Author is simply gathers the 
facts as IT HAPPENED and presents them in a related manner for the
variety of different readers. Yes I agree with you that the primary
readers of this book is assumed to be the people of Baha but that is not
to say that the FACTS have been COLORED or TAILORED by the AUTHOR in
a manner which can become attractive to the readers. It's contents state
the FACTS as they happened without any concern about making a personal 
judgement on the part of the author himself.
There are many tablets of His holiness the Bab and Baha'u'llah that can
testify to the truths that are disclosed in this mighty work of it's 
humble and selfless author (Adib Taherzadeh ). Please read the Tablet 
of Holy Mariner and then try to link it's contents to the points raised
in this book.

The Primary points in this book are the following facts:
1) The essential qualities that one needs in this world is detachment 
from his egos and desires. Without this quality there is no way to 
attain to any reality. " Die in Me that I may live in thee" defines 
our freedom to be in " Obedience to His commandments" as Baha'u'llah
has indicated in Aqdas.

2) It does not matter who we are in relation to the manifestation of
   reality. It means ,that being His son, daughter, father ,... does not
   have any impact on your relation to the Manifestation of God.
   The only thing which counts is the degree of detachment that one has
   from his/her will and living by the will of the prophet. That means 
   that if we are closer to the light we need to be more watchful of our
   words and deeds. This important fact has been pointed out by Mr.
   Taherzadeh in this book and easily can be linked to many tablets of 
   Baha'u'llah, one of which is a tablet that He speaks on the meaning
   of Branch being NOT the one who  ONLY links with Him through Blood alone rather more 
   importantly the Branch is the ONE who LINKS with Him in Spirit and 
   That means, If you happen to be the Son, Wife, brother, father, mother 
   of the Manifestation of God, that does not have any effect on your
   personality unless you have been TRANSFORMED by His Message.
   This also means that this revelation is not about who do you know and 
   what institutions do you belong to, rather this revelation is about 
   becoming free from the bondage of Self by obedience to His commands.
   In short we can easily say that this revelation is about being a
   servant who has no desire but to serve his fellow human by first being
   obedience to his " Unconditional Friend " who is the Head of the 
   Faith at any given time. 
   That also means that we ARE NOT to make an IDOL of anyone nor allow
   anyone to make an IDOL of us. since we are all human and all the good things
   that we have is from Him and all the bad things that we ALL have is 
   due to our failure to obey by His Commands. 

3) Another very important point in this book is the manifestation of the
   fact that there is no such thing as " I MADE IT " or " I AM a BAHA'I"
   rather being a Baha'i seems to be A PROCESS of BECOMING .
   That means  as Baha'u'llah has advised us in the Tablet of Wisdom, we
   need to make a daily progress on BECOMING the one whom we NEED to BECOME
   which is NONE other than a TRUE servant to Baha'u'llah and then as a result
   a True SERVANT to our fellow human. That means that there is no
   guarantee for anyone to remain a faithful Baha'i except through
   his/her CONTINUOS/CONSTANT obedience to the covenant that he has
   made with his Lord. No wonder that Baha'u'llah in a tablet
  (* reveled after the Kitab-i-Aqdas*) mentions STEADFASTNESS to become
   the most important thing after the recognition and obedience. 
 This steadfastness never comes to us unless we " Yearn for DEATH if 
 you are of those who are Truthful" as Mohammed commanded us to do in
 Quran. This Death is " To die in the Will of God and His Manifestation "
 as the Bab indicates in the Persian Bayan. This Death is a FAST which
 Baha'u'llah Has ORDAINED for Us. A FAST from the worldly desires. 
 We need to FAST at all times (* steadfast *) by watching our deeds,
 thoughts and all things between them. 

If Steadfastness is the main point , then we easily can see that
 " No one knows" what " His END SHALL BE " as Baha'u'llah points that
 out in Iqan. It means that Habib Riazati today MAYBE worthy to be a 
 Since STEADFASTNESS is the issue and nothing else.

4) The last point that I will mention about this mighty work, is the
   fact that majority of humans create VEILS between themselves and 
  their beloved and then they become the victims of their creations.
   Some are veiled by the positions that they have, others by the NAMES
  that they are called, such as TEACHERS, SCHOLARS and so on.
  They become so in love with their own selves that they miss the goal 
  of their yearning. The knowledge which is suppose to act as a LIGHT
  and to help them to see better will instead BECOME a VEIL and a
  TOOL which they can play out their FANCIES.              
 No wonder that Baha'u'llah in a tablet commands us to detach from the
 " Kingdom of Names" and also in His last Major work describes Baha'is
  to be the ones who have Passed THE KINGDOM of NAMES.
 The Goal of all these are  to make us to become more of service to all 
 and not become BETTER than others. It is based on this fact that many
 of the relatives of the Manifestation of God and His appointed 
 successors fail to remain with Him until the end.
 Is not the Guardian or the Master excommunicates them, Nay rather they
 EXCOMMUNICATE themselves. If they return unto God , He will surely
 forgive them. Consider the acts of Yahya Azal the one who caused
 Baha'u'llah the worse of all things?
 Yes it is true that after many warnings Baha'u'llah excommunicated him. But
please note that, this did not mean that he was ETERNALLY CONDEMNED by
Baha'u'llah, No that is not true because Baha'u'llah has NOT COME to
CONDEMN any one rather TO EDUCATE the people. He has come to MAKE US 
HAPPY by helping us to manifest those HIDDEN TREASURES within us as He
indicates in the Tablet of Maqsud. 
If we RETURN unto Him, by doing the right thing HE will forgive us. He
Does want us to Do the GOOD from NOW ON and He shall assure us in the
 Kitab-i-Ahd that God will forgive our past wrong doings.
The Best example is His statement to Yahya Azal in Aqdas addressing 
him saying " Turn unto Him and fear not because of thy deeds". That 
means we all can change and transform but Time is the essence  as it is
stated " Seize thy chance "  a chance which we shall lose if we ignore 
the command of " bring thyself to account each day " .
So my dear brother, if we read the book of the beloved Mr. Taherzadeh
with the eye of insight we shall recognize that it's aim is not to put
down a group or to glorify others since this types of remarks only can
be made by Him who is the Creator of all things. Instead the author
 tries to lay before us the history of those who accepted the light and
 those who rejected it and let the people of insight to judge for

Please forgive my lengthy comments. I beg for your prayers.
With warmest regards; Habib Riazati

=======================  Your Mail ==================   
Author: " K. Paul Johnson " 
Date:      10/09/95 11:55 AM
BCC:  Alex Habib Riazati
Subject: The Covenant of Baha'u'llah

Thanks to Derek Cockshut for sending me a copy of this book,
which I just completed an initial reading (skimming).  Although
there were bits of information on the family of Baha'u'llah
that I hadn't seen before, I did not come away with many of my
questions answered.  In particular, I wanted to know something
about the excommunications of Shoghi Effendi's relatives and
the reasons given for them.  But on pp. 358-9 I find:
"It is beyond the scope of this book to go into all the details
of the activities of Shoghi Effendi's brothers, sisters,
cousins, aunts and uncles, or to describe some of their
reprehensible conduct.  We cannot estimate the measure of agony
Shoghi Effendi must have undergone when he had to expel his
brothers, sisters, and aunts from the faith."
Oh, well.  Guilty as charged, who needs evidence?  Poor Shoghi
Effendi, to be forced to excommunicate all his relatives!  

The book is overwhelmingly dominated by feeling rather than
thinking.  After reading it, one is quite familiar with the
way Baha'is despise, disparage, demonize, etc. the alleged
covenant-breakers, but hardly has a clue about what they were
really like and what they did.

The author's mindset is clearly established in passages like
this (p. 125) "The rest of the family... all became darkened
and perished spiritually; they sank miserably into ignominy and
oblivion."  And (re the Kitab-i-Ahd) "Those who remained
faithful to its sacred provisions rose to exalted realms of
certitude and entered the ark of salvation.  Those who violated
the provisions were spiritually cast out of the community and
returned to the deadly abodes of self and passion."(p. 150)

Basically, the book serves well as propaganda for true
believers and one must presume that was its main purpose.  As
for revealing anything much to the outside inquirer, it mostly
reveals the horrendous emotional baggage Baha'is must carry in
the wake of generations of excommunications.  Taherzadeh piles
on abusive language, ad nauseum, in his references to all these
people.  The exalted language used for the "good guys" is
equally inappropriate to an objective account.
One can only doubt the reliability of an author who is so
explicit in his sectarian motivation.  I'm sure I know a bit
more now about the facts.  But not enough to justify wading
through all that ugly, abusive language directed at people
who seem doomed to be punching bags from here to eternity.

From jrcole@umich.eduTue Oct 17 23:31:35 1995
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 1995 23:16:25 -0400 (EDT)
From: Juan R Cole 
Subject: women and Muslims

This is the tenor of the discussion on women's rights among young Muslim 
engineers at the University of Michigan.  I thought Talismanians might 
find it interesting for comparative purposes.

-  Juan Cole, History, University of Michigan

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 1995 16:39:56 -0400 (EDT)
From: a.m. 
To: M.A.

If you think that saying "Men are superior to women is equivalent to 
saying that women are inferior to men then I think I'm richer by ten bucks."
I never said that Quran grants the permission to men to beat up their 
wives unconditionally but it does grant them the premission to beat them 
up.I will quote you the Surah and the Ayats within a day.

On Tue, 17 Oct 1995, M.A.

> Salaam,
> 	This is my first post on this net so go easy on me :)
> > 3)Stopping other men from beating up their wives even though in the Quran 
> > it is explicitly mentoioned that Men have the right to beat up their wives.
> > 
> > 4)Refusing to believe that women are inferior to men even though Quran 
> > says that they are.
> I take issue with the above two statements.  If you can show me anywhere 
> in the Quran where it says Men have the right to (unconditionly) beat up 
> their wives.  Or where the Quran says women are INFERIOR to men, I'm 
> prepared to give you $10.00 for each statement.
> You are attributing to the Quran that which it does not say.  (hey that 
> actually sounded good:)
> But any way, Atleast we all agree that a TRUE Islamic revolution would be 
> good for Pakistan.
> Salaam

From Oct 17 23:43:21 1995
Date: Fri, 6 Oct 1995 21:29:34 +0100
From: Stephen Lambden 
Subject: International Auxiliary Language & Script

    [The following text is in the "iso-8859-1" character set]
    [Your display is set for the "US-ASCII" character set]
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Learned Tarjumanites,

        What follows is a literalistic provisional translation of a Tablet
of Baha'u'llah commenting on that verse of the *Kitab-i aqdas* concerning
the selection of an international auxiliary language and script. The
translation first appearned in BSB 4:3-4 (April 1990), p.28ff. It has been
slightly revised since then. Having originally done this translation with
Farzin Furughi in the course of my attempting to teach him Arabic errors
are my own.

        The largely Persian text of the tablet translated above is printed
in at least two volumes; namely, [l] Ishraq Khavari's *Ganj-i shayigan*
(BPT:Tehran 124 Badi`/1967-8), 210-213 and [2] the volume *Nafahat-i quds*
(New Delhi, n.d.) 5-8. It is obvious that the tablet is to be dated after
the time when
the *Kitab-i aqdas* was completed and before Baha'u'llah's passing; between
c.1873 and 1892. Judging by the known dates of other tablets which contain
similar material, it is most probably to be dated within the last few years
of Baha'u'llah's life. As an untitled tablet, I am not aware of the
identity of the addressee[s].

A Tablet of Baha'u'llah commenting on that verse of the *Kitab-i aqdas*
concerning the selection of an International Auxiliary Language and Script.
Provisional Translation

 Stephen Lambden

     We revealed in the Most Holy Book,

     "O members of the parliaments throughout the world! Select ye a single
     language for the use of all on earth, and adopt ye likewise a common
script. God, verily, maketh plain for you that which shall profit you and
enable you to be independent of others. He, verily, of a truth, is the Most
Bountiful, the All- Knowing, the All-Informed.' [Kitáb-i-Aqdas,  para. 189]

     This irrevocable decree hath been revealed from the immemorial
dominion for the peoples of the world in general, and for those in
government (ahl al majális) in particular, since the execution of the
commandments, ordinances and precepts revealed in the Book (Kitab-i-Aqdas)
hath been entrusted to the men of the divine houses of justice (rijal-i
buyut-i `adliyya'-i ilahiya).  This ordinance is the greatest means for the
accomplishment of unity and the supreme instrument for the establishment of
social intercourse and loving fellowship between the peoples of different


     It is evident that most people, on account of the dispersion of the
languages of the inhabitants of the world, are deprived of social
intercourse, friendship and the acquisition of knowledge and wisdom from
one another. It is thus the case, as a result of the Divine Bounty and
Grace, that all have been commanded to select a language -- whether newly
created or from among the existing languages of the earth -- that everyone
may converse therein. When
this comes to pass the whole earth will be seen as one city on account of
the fact that all will comprehend the language of one another and
understand their respective intentions. This will be the cause of the
promotion and the elevation of the world. Should a person emigrate from his
native land and arrive in any other city it would be as if he had arrived
back in his own homeland.


     Hold ye fast unto this directive [of the Kitab-i-Aqdas],  O members of
parliaments (ahl al-majalis )  and civic authorities (al-mudun)!   Should a
person ponder a little upon this directive he would readily come to
understand that what hath been revealed from the Heaven of the Divine Will
is an expression of the Divine Bounty, the benefit of which encompasses
all. Yet, it is the case, that some servants suckle at the breast of
negligence and ignorance in such manner that they transgress that which is
beneficial -- the excellence of which is both rationally and traditionally
obvious and clear. Such servants, with the hypocrisy of wayward souls, have
and will continue to veil their eyes from that wisdom which is the basis
and the cause of the progress of the world and the elevation of its
peoples. Wherefore, verily, are they in manifest loss.


     Every community speaketh its own language; the Turk, for example, in
Turkish; the peoples of Iran, in Persian and the Arabs in Arabic. In
addition, the people of Europe speak their own diverse languages. Such
multifarious languages are traditional among, and specific to, these
aforementioned communities.


    Yet, a further language hath been decreed such that all the people of
the world would converse therein; so that all will understand one another's
language and be capable of achieving their respective intentions. He,
verily, is the Gate to love and kindness and to fellowship and unity. He,
verily, is the Most-Great Translator [or `Interpreter' tarjuman-i a`zam]
and the very Key to the Ancient Treasury.

     How many the souls who are observed spending all their time in the
acquisition of different languages! What a great pity that persons should
spend an whole lifetime -- the most-precious of worldly assets -- in this
manner. The purpose of such an individual in these endeavours is the
acquisition of the knowledge of different languages so that he might
understand the intention of other peoples and what lies within their
domain. Now if mankind would carry out
what hath been commanded of them, it would suffice all alike -- since they
would free themselves from numerous impediments [separating them].


    That proposition which is especially beloved, when presented before the
Heavenly Throne, is that all should converse in the Arabic language. This,
inasmuch as it is the most comprehensive of all languages (absat az kull
al-lughat). If a person were to become truly aware of the comprehensiveness
and the broad scope of this most eloquent language, they would assuredly
select it [over other languages as an international language of the future


     The Persian language is extremely sweet. The tongue of God in this
dispensation hath revealed in both Arabic and Persian. However, Persian
doth not, and will never have, the magnitude of Arabic. Indeed, relative to
it, all languages have been, and will remain, circumscribed. This is the
most-gracious state of affairs which hath been mentioned. The purpose
however, is that the people of the earth should select a single language
and that all humanity converse therein. This is that which hath been
ordained by God and is that
which will benefit all mankind if they did but know.


     Likewise, in place of the particular scripts of diverse peoples, a
single script should be adopted and all mankind write therein. Thus will
all scripts ultimately be seen as a single script and all languages a
single language.


     These commandments will jointly be the cause of the oneness of the
hearts and the souls of the peoples of the world. He teacheth you that
which is best for you. Take ye firm hold thereof, for He assuredly, is the
Exhorter, the Counsellor, the Expounder, the Director, the Gracious , the
All-Knowing, the All-Wise.


     All languages and scripts will ultimately become one and the diverse
territories of the earth be seen as a single clime. Otherwise, therein thou
shalt see moral obliquity, as opposed to peaceful tranquillity.

                                * * * * * * * * * *

Stephen N. Lambden

From mcfarlane@upanet.uleth.caWed Oct 18 11:52:37 1995
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 1995 22:16:42 -0600
From: Gordon McFarlane 
To: Mark Foster 
Subject: Re: Louis Farakhan

>I arrived and, no surprise, I was the only White person in attendance. 
>But instead of speaking about Malcolm X, the speaker instead went on a 
>three-hour litany against White people (and specifically myself). I 
>suppose he was trying to drive me out. But I loved it. I felt - what a 
>wonderful opportunity - to be able to get a taste of the horrible abuse 
>to which African Americans have been subjected to throughout their 
>400-plus-year history in North America. IOW, I tried to empathize with 
>this fellow.
>I am not excusing this sort of behavior, and I agree with Saman that 
>Farakhan is filling a void which could be filled by the Faith of Baha. I 
>listened to most of Farakhan's talk on C-SPAN last night and was 
>impressed with his unusually conciliatory tone. I know that Farakhan, at 
>least for the sake of polemics, would probably hate me for my Jewish 
>background. However, as a Baha'i, I can still love him. I can recognize 
>his views as the product of centuries of oppression

Dear Mark:
        I sincerely wish more of us had the same attitute and courage. I
believe that everyone in the dominant culture could benefit greatly from
receiving a bit of the same medicine we have so liberally doled out to
others (no political pun intended).
        I have had similar experiences, though perhaps not as uncomfortable
as the one you describe) among First Nations People in Canada.  As a matter
of fact when I  met the woman who is now my beloved wife, she was active in
AIM and detested whites.  While she espoused her views on "Euro-North
Americans"  and recited a litany of injustices perpetrated by "my people"
upon hers I fell hopelessly in love with her. Figure that!  We've had a
wonderful, stable and creative 23 year marriage (16) as Baha'is. We've
worked together on a cross cultural courses and seminars and I'm currently
helping her  with a Native Human Resouces Development Program for the
Lethbridge Community College.  She still grumbles about Euro- Americans from
time to time, but what the heck! so do I. 
        Uh, don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting you should marry Louis
Farrakhan but I admire your attitude and your understanding.  

Gordon McFarlane            e-mail:
Public Access Internet
The University of Lethbridge

From dpeden@imul.comWed Oct 18 11:54:03 1995
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 95 07:13:13+030
From: Don Peden 
Subject: Jew bashing

Dear Burl:

I agree with you wholeheartedly.  Baha'is can not remain complacent about
prejudice of any kind, especially if it is with the attitude of "Gee, maybe
they'll become Baha'is".

Perhaps some of those psychologists out there could lend a hand and talk
about the need for intervention in extreme cases of abuse before treatment
can begin.  How would we appropriately apply this in a larger context  for a
nation/planet?  I think Baha'is do need some practical tools to help them
deal with such issues (and individuals).  Lovingly, yes, but love can also
be a firm "no", as any parent knows.  Perhaps the reluctance of Baha'is to
take a firmer stand against such prejudice is not born of apathy, but rather
of not knowing what to do, or how to handle it.  Perhaps it is a good topic
for some conference.  Although you can understand how such a prejudice has
developed (i.e., the poor black in America syndrome) and can develop an
empathy, you still must say "NO".  The question is one of how; what tools.

There is one thing guaranteed about the scapegoat theory.  When they
slaughter the first scapegoat, they'll be looking for the next.  Wonder when
they'll get to the Baha'is?


From 73074.1221@compuserve.comWed Oct 18 11:54:42 1995
Date: 18 Oct 95 00:44:40 EDT
From: "Mary K. Radpour" <>
To: Talisman 
Subject: Systems theory (LONG)

Dear friends,
	When I began writing the following, I had not read all the postings on
violence, but upon reflection think that what follows touches on that theme as
	Bev asked if someone with a concordance might look for a passage like the
	"Magnified be Thy Name, O my God. I testify that if Thy servants were to
turn towards Thee with the eyes Thou didst create in them and with the ears Thou
didst endow them, they would all be carried away by a single word sent down from
the right hand of the throne of Thy majesty. That word alone would suffice to
brighten their faces...."    Baha'u'llah, Prayers and Meditations, p. 190-91.
	I think that this passage is remarkable in which it ties the power of the
Word of God to the receptivity, and specifically to the sense of justice and
fairmindedness, remaining in the souls of His servants......A beautiful thought,
and a weighty one for us, responsible as we are for fairmindedness.....
	I had also been asked to say a word about family systems theory, which is
IMV directly related to the above passage, and to offer some bibliography.....
	As for the bibliography, this field of study is so vast and the titles so
numerous I only try to mention here a few key thinkers such as Murray Bowen, the
originator of the theory, Carl Whitaker, Gus Napier, Peggy Papp, Olga
Silverstein, Monica McGoldrick, Rabbi Ed Friedman, etc. Bowen is brilliant but
not an engaging writer....The clearest and most readable summary of the
theorical perspective I have ever found is in a book written by Friedman for
rabbis and clergymen entitled "Generation to Generation: Family Process in
Church and Synagogue." Written for clergy who wish to facilitate the maturation
of their spiritual communities, I think it should be required reading for every
	What is family systems theory?  It is an effort to take thinking about
families out of the old model of linear cause and effect (It was his mother's
fault that he is who he is!) to another way of looking at information about a
family (why does that family need a rebel?) , focusing more upon emotional
process (arguments always occur just before sex....) than upon symptomatic
content (ie. money),  seeing effects (like scapegoating) as integral parts of
family structures rather than simply as outcomes (as, for example, a family's
way of dealing with overwhelming fears about death, illness, etc.), eliminating
symptoms by modifying structure (ie., finding aging grandmother a friend and
age-peer) rather than by trying to change the dysfunctional part (hypochondria)
directly, and predicting how a part is likely to function (ie., how successful a
man will be in his marriage) by observing its position in the system.(noting his
relationship with his mother).....
	What is the practical advantage of such a theory?  Bringing about rapid
change with strategically focused interventions rather than relying on the old
psychoanalytic method with its commitment to years of therapeutic encounters and
"insight," which is known to be effective only with those of an analytic bent of
mind. For example: imagine a family which is asked to notice that Junior only
acts out when Mom is sick. Mom has had a heart attack, but no one talks about
it. It totally changes the way in which the family views Junior if they all
begin to understand that Junior is serving the family by trying to take
everybody's mind off of Mom's sickness but that everyone, including Junior, will
benefit from speaking more directly about their fears.
	I find that having a systems perspective causes me to distance from any
conversation in which there is a labeling of Persecutors, Rescuers, and Victims,
because I believe that these are not useful constructs when it comes to solving
a problem. They may make me feel better because I now know what bad behavior
looks like or how virtuous I am by contrast, but discussing them seems to me to
set in motion the same forces which Baha'u'llah decried when He called
backbiting the most grievous of errors. They demonize certain people to the
point that I am not any longer willing to relate to them personally and to
challenge them to change. They delude me into thinking that the Persecutor holds
all the cards. They encourage me to try to be a white knight without really
knowing the whole picture. And they cause me to be so sympathetic to the
victimized that I no longer hold them responsible for making wise choices which
will assist them not to be victimized again . None of these reactions promotes
justice nor facilitates constructive change.
	Why do I suggest discussing this theoretical perspective on Talisman?
Because Baha'u'llah places a great deal of emphasis on new structures and
processes as a way of transforming humanity and suggests that the old ways of
thinking must be abandoned -- "the obscuring dust of acquired knowledge", as
well as habits and belief systems based upon satisfying only the ego and the
body --"the illusions of the embodiments of satanic fancy."   In a way, the
entire Revelation of Baha'u'llah can be seen as a strategic plan for world
transformation as well as a theoretical formulation about this process. The
teachings outline a relationship between the transformation of individuals and
the transformation of the systems they inhabit which sees these as interactive
and reciprocal. I believe Baha'u'llah also defines the kind of character a
person must have in order to exercise leadership for change in a system, and
this description is elaborated beautifully in family systems theory.
	In systems theory, there is a hypothetical construct called
"differentiation of self."  This refers to "the capacity of a family member to
define his or her own life's goals and values apart from surrounding
togetherness pressures, while simultaneously remaining emotionally connected to
the family, to say "I" when others are demanding "we," to maintain a relatively
nonanxious presence in the midst of anxious systems, to take maximum
responsibility for one's own destiny and emotional being."  This construct is
not the same as autonomy or narcissism. In fact, it can be evidenced in even
those who sacrifice themselves to transform a system, such as in the
Manifestations of God.  It is measured by the ability to have the freedom of a
wide repertoire of responses in a crisis,  and thus to have a position of
leadership in any system.  This concept seems to me to be exactly what the
Baha'u'llah calls the station of the True Seeker, who has abandoned both love
and hate, what the Master refers to when He says "Faith is conscious knowledge
and the practice of good deeds; as your faith is, so shall your powers and
blessings be....." A 'non-anxious presence' in an 'anxious system' is like a
stepdown transformer in an electrical system, essential to the regulated flow of
power. . It contains and directs the energy. It is creative rather than
predictable. It invites every soul to a higher standard of relationship, one
which is cooperative rather than competitive. It also becomes a lightening rod
for opposition.
	Peter Khan's talks also describe a systemic process in which there is a
relationship between righteous acts and their spiritual influence in the world.
He describes what happens to each of us when we align our thoughts, attitudes,
and behaviors with God's will and they become magnets for Divine Confirmation,
leading to growth, change, and tests, which, if passed, lead to new
configurations which then become magnets again for a higher degree of spirit,
etc. I have heard him argue that this systemic process is manifest not only in
the spiritual realm but also is the operating principle in the material world.
It seems to me that he is describing in another language the kind of power we
observe in those who effect significant change. Indirectly, he also addresses
how we can block change even when we are eager to see it occur.
	As I have studied systems theory and reflected upon the difference
between optimally functioning systems and dysfunctional systems, I have been
struck again and again about the wisdom of this Divine system.   It is a
wondrous balance between the needs of the larger system and the health of the
individuals which make it up. In our teachings it is clear that human beings
bridge the animal world, (which is governed by the principles of reward and
punishment, just as the behaviorists argue) and the spiritual world, in which
humans transcend the influences of both their personal and their collective
history due to the overwhelming love of the Manifestation of God and His
Revelation.  The animal self is the horse, the spiritual self the rider. When
the animal has been brutalized, or even left in its natural state, it is very
difficult to control.  In one very interesting passage, Abdu'l-Baha defines the
"worldly thoughts" which can only be overcome by the power of the Holy Spirit --
"anger, passion, ignorance, prejudice, greed, envy, covetousness, jealousy and
suspicion,"  Those seem to me like the history of oppression, recorded in the
bodies of us all.   And yet in the passage above, Baha'u'llah suggests that One
Single Word could transform humanity, though this transformation is dependent
upon justice. I think that this is an extraordinary statement, inasmuch as it
suggests that, strategically speaking, the most important factor in effecting
change is fairmindedness. When it is present, change occurs. When it is not, it
becomes itself the obstacle to change. 
	I would suggest that justice is the structure in which personal
transformation becomes possible, the creation of a Divine Fortress in which
human beings are protected from being brutalized and made lower than the
animals, or, to put it another way, I would argue that in a world is full of
injustice so many injuries occur to human beings that they become reactive, or
"undifferentiated"  and are thus severely limited in their capacity to be lifted
out of their personal history, even when they no longer experience the original
oppression which handicapped them.  In a strange way, this internalized
oppression becomes part of the greater system and can be seen as perpetuating
the very system which leads to one''s own oppression. How else can we explain
the incest victim who is the child of an incest victim and the mother of two
daughters who have been sexually abused? Or the woman who seeks a long string of
husbands, all of whom are abusive? Or why is it that some people learn from
their mistakes and others do not?  Those who do not appear to be grandiose: they
are habituated either to looking totally outside themselves for responsibility
for the mistake or paradoxically, totally within themselves for responsibility
for things going wrong. Either kind of grandiosity is crazy, but develops as a
coping strategy for the pain of oppression.. This is not to say that such people
are not in actual fact abused. They are. But they are somehow party to the abuse
until they begin to claim their power to really see things as they are, to try
to change what is amenable to change, and to work for reasonable change in
creative ways. 
	Linda's comments here about the abuse women have experienced are
illustrations of the above.  All parts of the system, men and women, must work
to change it. Women must be unwilling to tolerate being abused or seeing others
abused. Men must not tolerate other men being abusive. But I am concerned that
we must be able to see abuse to recognize it and set limits on it.  We tend to
overlook abuse when it is in its developing form, when it is just embarrassing,
like when we see a vicious mother reaming out her child in a store.  And we even
celebrate certain kinds of cynicism which deaden our capacity to recognize
abuse. I feel that we should give much closer examination to our habits of
language, to the kind of combatative discourse which creates a culture of
competition, discounts feelings, and ultimately leads to direct acts of
oppression. In a certain way, it suggests the we here on Talisman can begin to
protect women from abuse by simply working to attain the qualities which
Baha'u'llah says are essential for speech to have influence: purity of heart,
moderation, and use of the Word of God itself. (my paraphrase of the Tablet to
Siyyid Mihdi-i-Dahaji) I think that this is both a hopeful and a strategicallly
accurate point of view, for it suggests that peacefulness is made by
peacefulness and that within the atom, Lo! the sun!
	The creation of a new, more healthy system is an evolutionary process; it
requires, on the one hand, the creation of new structures which produce more
differentiation of self in individuals, and on the other hand, more
differentiation of self in individuals in order to implement higher order
structures. What is important is not so much the stage in the evolutionary
process, but the direction of change. If things are getting better, they will
get better and better. If they are getting worse, they will get worse and worse
until the crisis which offers the opportunity to change the direction. "all are
His servants, and all abide by His bidding...." 
	I am sure you can all see the interesting potential in this theoretical
perspective for examining evolving Baha'i institutions and the individuals who
make them up. I look forward to your comments.
Love, Mary K

From TLCULHANE@aol.comWed Oct 18 11:56:09 1995
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 01:28:35 -0400
Subject: re: Father of all Violence

     Dear David and all ,

      May I second your thoughts here . It is wonderful to see another make
this link . I guess this was one of the points i tried to make last week on
this topic . It is also very meaningful to me personally to know there is
another Talismanian who has experienced all this . 

     I was *released * from service in 1970 and it took me several years to
detox myself . My entre into the army was as a medic via non combatant
conscientious objector  status  .  I was spared some of the harshest training
in violence and de-humanization that goes with what is euphamistically called
character building  because of going directly to Ft . Sam Houston as a C/O
 well almost directly .  I was inadvertantly sent to Ft Lewis Washington - a
screw up in the files where it took me two weeks to convince the Company
commander that  as a C/O I was to be elsewhere . In the meantime I had a
training Sargaent who beat the crap out of me twice trying to provoke the c/o
kid from So Dak . into an act of violence .   One of the kids who came to my
rescue was my friend Dave from Houston ( the one I mentioned a few weeks ago
) who had the misfortune to later follow me to the sandy shores of S. E Asia.
    The real point I want to make is the link between domestic violence and
war . The intent of military training is to strip you of your humanity and by
extension allow you to reduce others to a less than human category . It makes
it easier to kill them that way . Training is also meant to distinguish those
who are real men from the sissies ( they use other words ) in short to not be
like a women . The prize one recieves for this rejection of human dignity and
implicit degradation of women is the physical pleasure of women , if not
their adulation . I sometimes think it is a situation where if a young man is
wiling to submit to psychic and spiritual rape it excuses him to engage in
the physical act of rape . Is it not an act of rape to be deliberately
stripped of your dignity and respect .  At any rate a clear connection is
made in miitarytraining for war between "manliness " and "femininity" which
is to be ridiculed scorned and despised in any man worthy of the name .
  Being a fairly sensitive kid (and not to big physically) my horror was
acted out in  more personal depression than acts of aggression toward others
. Perhaps this is why the *happy guys * variety of love and unity in the
Bahai community  never meant much to me.  It still is difficult . The memory
of Dave  still haunts me .  

      This evening I was lstening to the tape of Mr. Kahns talk in Wilmette
 and the "mental " tests Bahais face. I could not help but think the three
issues he described are not nearly my mental tests or maybe they are ?  Mine
is attempting to remain sane in a world that  systematicaly brutalizes human
beings and then turns them loose on their friends and families. My test is
being a Bahai and somehow having to remain quiet about the horrors of war
because it is so unpleasant. Would not it be a logical step for a Bahai ,
given the apalling injustice meted out to Baha ullah to be in the forefront
of human thought and action to abolish war as a practice of statecraft ?
  Maybe one of the human rights we need is the right to say  no to the father
of violence - war .    
      I want and * hope* Abdul Baha was right when he said when women gain
equality they will refuse to send their sons to war . Having been sent off to
war you can understand my passionate  concern about this equality thing .  My
mother wanted to see her son in uniform. Perhaps the past 25 years have been
my sacrifice towards the day when the mothers of the world just say no . 

       It is still a struggle .  but the Maid of Heaven has more than once
 whispered  Mc Cartneys words " . . In my hour of darkness there is still a
light that shines on me . ."   and I "know "  . ." Mother Mary comes to me
speaking words of wisdom  .let it be  .. let it be .  " 
      Thanks David ! 
 warm regards ,

From Member1700@aol.comWed Oct 18 11:57:26 1995
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 01:39:30 -0400
Subject: Re: Malcom X & Farakhan

The group that Malcolm X formed after he left the Nation of Islam was the
Organization of African American Unity.  It was never very strong, had no
money and few followers and simply disappeared after his death.  
   I very much recommend the Autobiography of Malcolm X, which after all has
become an American classic.  I have all my classes read it, even if they are
just taking American history.  And it is a good read, anyway.  
    For a more scholarly view of Malcolm's life, there is Bruce Perry's
 Malcolm: The Life of a Man Who Changed Black America.  Also recommended.  

   As to Farakhan, he is a wretched leader--an ignorant bigot and a
calculating anti-semite.  He managed to clean up his act a bit for his
two-hour rambling speech at the Million Man March, but that will not last
long.  He is interested only in promoting himself and not much else.  
    On the other hand, the march itself was very positive.  I can't remember
the last time I saw the media portray any group of black men on the street in
a positive light--it was probably back in the days of the Civil Rights
Movement.  Unfortunately, without a structure to contain all that good
feeling, it will come to nothing.  


From derekmc@ix.netcom.comWed Oct 18 11:58:07 1995
Date: Tue, 17 Oct 1995 23:06:39 -0700
Subject: Father of Violence .!!!

David Langness in his wonderful posting went directly to the crux of the dilemma 
that faces humanity in creating a new concept of Life on the Planet.
Men as boys are brutalized into believing that killing without remorse is manly thing 
to do . War films glory the noble dead and wounded . Martial music is regarded as 
patriotic . As a young boy I was told by my father < who was in many ways a gentle 
soul> ; that for the last 500  hundred plus years in every war the eldest born of our 
family had died a glorious death for King and country . I was his only son and child , 
and he loved me dearly ,but he told me if the War comes you must go and die 
because that is your duty . I never thought I would live to have a family and watch 
them grow into maturity . David is so right , war is an obscenity that has blighted 
this fair world too long ruining lives in so many ways.  Baha'is need to make the 
Stand on the need for Peace . Because the war is now in our streets and homes, and is 
not just fought by soldiers in uniform inflicting mayhem on innocent civillians . God 
help us all . 
David may the blessings of the Twin Blessed Ones fill your heart with Love and 
Kindest Regards 
Derek Cockshut

From TLCULHANE@aol.comWed Oct 18 11:58:25 1995
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 02:07:14 -0400
Subject: re: Jew Bashing 2 and Farakahn

     Dear Burl , 

      I am hopelessly politically uncorrect  . Since Mr. Farakahn claims to
be a "minister" i find the following of Baha u llah applicable to him or
anyone else who is a race baiter . The fact Mr. Farakahn is of African
descent is no excuse , in my view , any more than are the foul smelling words
of a Pat Robertson whose self -serving hatred is also in need of
       " The Divine Messengers have been sent down , and their Books  were
revealed , for the purpose of promoting the knowledge of God , and of
furthering unity and fellowship amongst men .  But now behold , how they have
made the Law of God a cause and a pretext for perversity and hatred . "  ESW
p 12 

   warm regards ,

From rvh3@columbia.eduWed Oct 18 12:00:34 1995
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 09:41:08 -0400 (EDT)
From: Richard Vernon Hollinger 
To: Rick Schaut 
Cc: 'Juan R Cole' ,
Subject: RE: Baha'i Courts

On Tue, 17 Oct 1995, Rick Schaut wrote:

> While we all have a sense of justice, we should recognize the fact that
> none of us has a "perfect" sense of justice (were this not the case, then
> `Abdu'l-Baha's grounds for interpreting the Law to prohibit bigamy is
> completely unfounded).  If we recognize this, then, whenever we see
> some aspect of the Administrative Order which violates our sense of
> justice, then our very first act must be to question our understanding of
> what constitutes justice.  Because none of us has a perfect sense of
> justice, it would be completely improper for any individual to seek to
> bend the the Administrative Order to fit our own sense of justice.

While I agree that there are varying understandings of what justice 
means, if we define it simply as whatever is done by Baha'i 
administrative institutions, the the countless exhortations 
to strive for justice in the writings lose their meaning.  Why are these 
exhortations necessary, if justice is, by 
definition, whatever these institutions 
decide?  One element of justice, according 
to `Abdu'l-Baha, was absolute equality 
before the law.  Although this standard itself is subject to different 
applications and interpretations, it does give us something fairly 
specific to strive for.  It does seem unlikely, given the traits of 
human beings, that this standard could be upheld to the highest degree in 
the scenario(s) Juan described.  Shoghi Effendi, as I 
recall, allowed individuals on elected 
institutions to remove themselves from 
consultation (and voting) about issues in which they 
were an interested party, but stated that 
an assembly could not require them to do 
so.  Such voluntary recusal could be used 
by entire institutions, I presume, and 
would, in my view, be in the best interests 
of those institutions since it would protect 
their reputation and honor.  I know 
of one instance in which an outside mediator 
was brought in by an NSA to resolve a dispute 
in which it was a (peripherally) interested party, 
so this issue has not been entirely ignored by 
the elected institutions.                             


From 73074.1221@compuserve.comWed Oct 18 12:00:53 1995
Date: 18 Oct 95 10:07:03 EDT
From: "Mary K. Radpour" <>
To: Talisman 
Subject: suffering

Dear Terry,
	Thank you for a beautiful posting. I too believe that Baha'u'llah's
suffering is redemptive, as is our own when seen in the light of His. My mother
shared with me that when she began studying the faith, she believed that
Baha'u'llah's own statements about His suffering were a kind of whining.
Clearly, this was a reaction to her own whining, about which she was
uncomfortable because she intuitively knew that it somehow kept her captive and
treated poorly by others, but unable to transcend. When she finally began to see
that His comments were an education and a life-instruction for her, she stopped
resisting and transformed herself from a complainer into an activist. 
	There is a wonderful passage in Gleanings  (p.314) which addresses how we
might be transformed by listening to the sufferings of others:
	...."Flee not from the face of the poor that lieth in the dust, nay
rather befriend him and suffer him to recount the tale of the woes with which
God's inscrutable Decree hath caused him to be afflicted. By the righteousness
of God! Whilst ye consort with him, the Concourse on high will be looking upon
you, will be interceding for you, will be extolling your names and glorifying
your action. Blessed are the learned that pride not themselves on their
attainments; and well is it with the righteous that mock not the sinful, but
rather conceal their misdeeds, so that their own shortcomings may remain veiled
to men's eyes."
	Thanks, Mary K


From LWALBRID@cluster.ucs.indiana.eduWed Oct 18 12:10:58 1995
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 95 10:44:07 EWT
Subject: welcome back?

The "beloved, docile wife" of the Listowner would like to welcome back all of
those who are now slopping up our computer screens with gooey sentiments about
bonding in San Francisco.
While you were off listenting to Juan snore in Urdu, or whatever, those of us
left behind were doing some bonding of our own.  Robert and I have vowed not to
throw pots and pans at one another (at least until things get dull, then we've
vowed to break our oath) and John H. and I are honeymooning - in cyberspace, of
Most importantly, we have opened up an excellent discussion on the issue of
violence.  Obviously, many of the women on Talisman see a need to discuss this
issue.  and I am indeed grateful to David, Terry, and Derek for their input and
lack of fear about discussing men and violence.  I could not agree more that
the ideal of the male warrior and the promotion of warfare in a society is a 
major contributing factor in violence of men towards women.  Napoleon Chagnon's
work among the Yanamamo tribesmen certainly substantiates this opinion.  The
image of the male warrior is carried over into other, supposedly non-military
fields, as well.  Our police force is built on a military model which pervades
all the language we use when discussing police work.  Team sports - which we
glorify in our society - also work to build the same type of thinking about
aggression and anti-femininity as the military does.  
One other comment, then I must get to work.  Rick, I don't understand why you
resist learning from the lessons of history on the issue of justice.  Certainly
the ideas that came out of the Enlightenment were a great advance in our
attitudes towards the rights of the human being and ideas of human dignity.  We
know that government that accept these ideas are far more tolerable than those
who don't.  We also know that the Baha'i administration was shaped by ideas
prevalent in the West, particularly in the U.S.  Look at all the influence
Horace Holley had in devloping our administrative system.  He didn't just look
at the Baha'i writings.  We aren't expected to be blind to the world.  If you
are advocating that our only true source of knowledge be scripture, then you
are reiterating the words of the nineteenth century clergy that persecuted the
Babis and Baha'is.  
Must run.  Linda
P.S. We did miss the wisdom of Sherman the Cat.  Although his prejudice against
dogs is quite inexcusable, we do find that he has some interesting points to
make from time to time.  We are all such a complex combination of good and
evil, aren't we?  

From Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nlWed Oct 18 12:13:26 1995
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 16:52:29 +0100 (MET)
Subject: cause and community

Dear Don, 
re Cause and Community:
First thought only, but I guess the Baha'i community is the group
of disciples of Baha'u'llah who thus have a potential - and more
or less realized - common-[point-of]-unity. The Bahai cause is
the project which Baha'u'llah has set out for this community: to
foster peace and unity & the development of human society, and
to aid souls in their journey towards their spiritual destinies. The
Baha'i Cause is abstract, uncertain in many details, and in
principle (relatively) perfect. The Community is individuals
whom we can love and cherish, or not, and is necessarily
imperfect. Any 'good cause' in the abstract is dangerous to the
extent that it reduces emphasis on real individuals and their needs
(or even justifies disregard for them), but some such cause is
necessary to define the ethical framework beyond the people
whom we personally encounter. Thus loving and cherishing the
people whom I know does not justify placing their interests
above people I do not know, becuause of the abstract principle of
the unity of humanity. 
    Neither cause nor community is entirely Baha'i, but to be a
Bahai is to discern a certain Baha'i architecture underlying the
growth of human communities in general. There is a community-
&-cause polarity at all sorts of levels. Not going to Feast because
my children need a book to be read is placing community
(family) over cause (development of Baha'i community). Going
to the (non-Baha'i) neighbourhood meeting to discuss playground
plans, instead of staying with the family, is placing cause
(development of society) over community (family) - but the
cause will improve the environment for the community. 
Hope this helps


Sen McGlinn    

From burlb@bmi.netWed Oct 18 15:30:28 1995
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 95 09:30 PDT
From: Burl Barer 
Subject: Re: welcome back?

>.  Team sports - which we
>     glorify in our society - also work to build the same type of thinking
>aggression and anti-femininity as the military does.  

      As I said about a month ago in one of my sweeping generaltities:
      P.E. Teachers are Nazis.

From rstockman@usbnc.orgWed Oct 18 15:31:49 1995
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 95 07:00:12 
From: "Stockman, Robert" 
Subject: Malcolm X

     A Baha'i met Malcolm X not too long before his death and had a very 
     brief, passing conversation with him about the Faith.  I think the 
     Baha'i asked him if he had heard of the Faith and the response 
     apparently was he had, but didn't know anything.  I am recalling this 
     from memory but have a letter from the Baha'i (who is an American, now 
     serving on the Brazilian NSA).
     I have also done a bit of research on Martin Luther King.  He even met 
     Ruhiyyih Khanum briefly when she was in Atlanta, about 1966 or 1967.  
     By coincidence, they both were eating in the same restaurant at the 
     same time.  I have some brief oral history of the meeting from someone 
     (Sarah Pereira, I think).  The weekend he was shot the NSA, in its 
     meeting, decided to seek a meeting with him (a meeting that didn't 
     happen, of course).  Afterwards Nancy Jordan (Dan's wife) and Beth 
     McKenty went to help the family handle the pressure of work connected 
     with the funeral.  King also knew very little about the Faith.
     I have also determined that Baha'is did participate in the march from 
     Selma to Montgomery.  But otherwise Baha'is worked very much at the 
     fringes of the Civil Rights Movement, because of ambiguous feelings 
     about the issues of breaking the law.  I believe the House ruled that 
     Baha'is should not flagrantly and intentionally break local laws to 
     get them changed even if they had been ruled un-Constitutional, but 
     were still on the books.
                -- Rob Stockman

From rstockman@usbnc.orgWed Oct 18 15:33:44 1995
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 95 07:00:13 
From: "Stockman, Robert" 
Subject: Protection of Baha'i Authors

     I'm not sure if I was that effective at protecting you, Chris.  First 
     of all, I did not see the incident you describe, but I know Mr. X., 
     and he's a polite Persian who does not throw books.  Surely your 
     description is a bit colored by the trauma you felt?
     The other, inevitable consideration is this: if review didn't exist 
     and Mr. X bugged you, you could tell him to buzz off.  But otherwise 
     review does serve the valuable service to authors of giving them a 
     shield--sometimes--from critics.
     The problem Chris Buck had with Mr. X is, if anything, growing at the 
     moment.  If one takes complaints about Juan's "Problems of Chronology 
     in the Tablet of Wisdom" article as a measure of "conservative" 
     feelings in the community, then these feelings are on the increase.  
     In the last year I have heard two people complain about that 15 
     year-old article; more than I usually encounter in two or three years. 
     I think it is safe to say Juan's article is the strongest ongoing 
     controversy over scholarship the American Baha'i community has 
     experienced.  Mind you, the complaints are not coming from prominent 
     people in the community.  But I think they are symptomatic of a 
     growing segment in the community.  I regard it my job in the Research 
     Office to foster conservative perspectives on Baha'i scholarship as 
     much as anyone else's.  The Research Office, within reason of course, 
     must be impartial to different types of Baha'i scholarship.
     I think the solution to the differences, to some extent, is education. 
     Chris mentioned that Mr. X was upset by his statement that 
     "Baha'u'llah endeavored to prove. . ."  This language is understood by 
     many in the Baha'i community to deny the existence of revelation.  Yet 
     no one who uses this sort of language denies the existence of 
     revelation in Baha'u'llah's experience; rather, they have a different 
     view of the nature of revelation.  I have been thinking lately about 
     how to write an article about the relationship between divine and 
     material causes in the life and teachings of a Manifestation of God, 
     for obviously both play a role.  I'd greatly appreciate suggestions 
     from others on Talisman about this matter.  I think it is VERY 
     important not to ignore this issue; rather, a careful and constant 
     effort to educate must be initiated.  Otherwise the pressure from some 
     to try to force scholars to use "pious" language will increase.  Juan 
     will maintain this is just a Wittgenstenian language game, and I think 
     this is largely true (I say "largely" because obviously there are 
     major differences in theological perspective that the language 
     reflects).  But many do not think it is a language game issue.  They 
     need help to understand what the language of scholars mean.
                -- Rob Stockman

From s0a7254@tam2000.tamu.eduWed Oct 18 15:34:13 1995
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 12:26:21 -0500 (CDT)
From: Saman Ahmadi 
To: talisman 
Subject: Re: Malcolm X

Dear Robert and All,

Even though I asked the question, I now remember hearing
Nat Rutstien, a Baha'i and author of "To Be One", say that
when he was in broadcasting, he interviewd Malcom X - I
don't know if Nat Rutstien was a Baha'i at the time.


From Oct 18 15:37:03 1995
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 95 10:44:01 -0400
From: Ahang Rabbani 
Subject: Baha'i Justice System

[This message is converted from WPS-PLUS to ASCII]

With a great deal of interest, I've been following the discussion 
on this topic and am totally amazed at Juan's cogent and 
brilliant arguments in favor of such undertaking -- as well as 
other excellent contributions.  I for one have learned a great 
deal by all postings and am very grateful for the time and energy 
gone into them.

A couple of minor thoughts/suggestions:

1.  I think obviously writing to the House of Justice is the 
right thing to do and will happen eventually, but its too early 
now.  Perhaps its best for this discussion to continue for a 
while longer here on Talisman in hope that a more mature proposal 
is developed for eventual presentation to the Supreme Body.  
After all, we really have just began exploring this theme.

2.  I also don't think that its useful to view this discussion as 
one undermining the authorities vested in the NSAs or alleged 
distrust of the Institutions.  Such arguments are primitive at 
best and development of Baha'i judicial system is an important 
consideration in its own.

3.  I agree with the comments that appointment of Baha'i judges 
by the NSAs is a potential conflict of interest.  Hence propose 
the Appointed Branch (and more specifically the Protection Board) 
as the potential candidate for this service.  Allow me to 

As Juan had insightfully pointed out, Baha'u'llah, Q&A 98, 
anticipated the Baha'i judges to be appointed by the trustees of 
the House of Justice -- note singular.  As such, this implies 
either creation of a whole new appointed branch by the House of 
Justice or utilization of the existing one.  I favor the latter.

Last winter we were discussing ways to upgrade the Appointed 
Branch's functioning, especially the protection Board.  It seems 
to me that on the national level, the Continental Counselors 
could serve both as coordinators of the ABMs (which is their main 
function today) and Baha'i judges reviewing national cases with 
the protection ABMs rendering the same service at a local level.

There might be several advantages to this approach:

1.  its consistent with May 19th letter (and thousands of earlier 
letters) where the House of Justice has called for closer working 
relationship between the appointed and elected branches -- which 
is mostly absent today;

2.  it defines the purpose and sphere of this collaboration -- 
again it takes it beyond the present vague statements on 
promoting teaching work, etc.;

3.  a system of appeal is already set up in the appointed arm -- 
if a LSA is unhappy with an ABM's ruling, then the Counsellor 
could review the case which can even be sent up to the 
International Teaching Centre and ultimately to the House of 
Justice as the final arbitrator.  In other words, much like the 
Courts of Appeal in the US, the appointed branch is already 
configured with a check and review process by a higher level.

4.  It provides a reason to keep the present appointed branch 
around for a very long time (possibly to the end of 
Dispensation).  Quite frankly, under the present circumstances, 
its hard to imagine why the appointed branch, with its present 
focus on propagation and protection, should exist much beyond the 
next couple of decades since with the maturity of the Assemblies 
this work will be shouldered by them.  Hence to convert the 
present appointed arm to the Appointed Judicial Arm will give 
reasons to extend its existence into the future.

If we consider the work of the 4 (out of 5) Hands of the Cause 
that Baha'u'llah appointed, is actually mostly judicial in 
nature.  They spent most of their time settling disputes between 
the friends and as such *protected* the community's unity.  In 
the absence of functioning Assemblies, they also engaged in the 
teaching work and external protection.  The House of Justice 
brought into existence the office of Counsellors (1968), 
assistants to ABMs (1971) and eventually the International 
Teaching Centre (1973) in order to extend this work into the 
future.  Presently, to a large degree the work of the appointed 
branch remains undefined and only outlined broadly in the 
Master's Will and Testament and letters/memos of the House of 
Justice.  I think through a reformulation of their function with 
a view towards establishment of the Baha'i Judicial system, it 
could then serves the purpose anticipated by the Founders of the 

lovingly, ahang. 

From Oct 18 15:57:46 1995
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 13:53:27 -0500 (CDT)
From: Mark Foster 
Subject: The Nation of Islam

Talismanians -

Thanks to all who responded so kindly to my recent post on Louis Farrakhan.

A few additional thoughts: It seems to me as though the Nation of Islam 
(one of the two largest groups to succeed to Elijah Muhammad - the other 
being the more Islamically orthodox World Community of al-Islam under 
Wallace Deen Muhammad) has been able to generate such good will, even 
among those who are not members, because of its focus on community 
development. It saddens me that Farrakhan's separatism (which has led him 
to actually cooperate with certain White separatist organizations), a 
product of the failure of White America to successfully come to terms 
with the oppressive opportunity structure which it itself has largely 
created, has to some extent succeeded because it is focused on the 
development of strong intraracial communities and neighborhoods.

In that respect, I think that Baha'i teaching, consolidation, and service 
projects can benefit from a knowledge of the methods used by the Nation 
of Islam. I am not advocating that we copy exactly what Farrakhan has 
been doing. Obviously, the Baha'i approach differs in several important 
respects from that of the Nation of Islam, and a simple imitation would 
be pointless. However, we can learn from what are clearly a successful set 
of techniques and adapt these techniques to the Baha'i hermeneutic 

One of the major elements, IMO, would be an appreciation for the local 
human resources - looking to them for leadership rather than attempting 
to impose it from the outside. Inner city and poor communities have a lot 
to offer. Unfortunately, the "White man's burden" concept is still very 
much with us.

Loving greetings,

    Mark Foster

From PIERCEED@sswdserver.sswd.csus.eduWed Oct 18 15:59:50 1995
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 12:27:13 PST8PDT
From: "Eric D. Pierce" 
Subject: Re: Baha'i Justice System (my misconceptions?, Rulers/Learned)


> Date sent:      Wed, 18 Oct 95 10:44:01 -0400
> From:           "Ahang Rabbani" 
> To:   
> Subject:        Baha'i Justice System

> With a great deal of interest, I've been following the discussion 
> on this topic and am totally amazed at Juan's cogent and 
> brilliant arguments in favor of such undertaking -- as well as 
> other excellent contributions.  I for one have learned a great 
> deal by all postings and am very grateful for the time and energy 
> gone into them.

Me too.

A simple question: at some point I got the impression that
the writings state that in the future there would be two 
pillars (or branches, or ...?) of society, the Rulers and 
the Learned, and that a particular characteristic of Baha'i
society would be that part of the role the Learned would 
take on would be "guruing" (a sort of parental role as a
spiritual teacher/guide), in the context of a far different
conception of both intellectual and spiritual lifelong 
education than currently exists.

Not sure how the above (if it is accurate at all) relates to 
the evolution of the existing appointed and elected branches 
of administration (help!).

I've been reading Sen's draft paper on separation of church 
and state (yummy), so I would expect that these are complex 
issues given his rejection of a Baha'i system in which 
separation of church and state is completely eliminated.



From Peter_Tamas@bcon.comWed Oct 18 23:37:07 1995
Date: 18 Oct 1995 21:19:09 GMT
From: Peter Tamas 
Subject: External desc. of administration

I'm hoping that there are a few external descriptions of the nature and
operation of the Baha'i administrative system.  All I've found so far is
sketchy reference in "The Gardeners of God"

-Peter Tamas

From Oct 18 23:42:00 1995
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 09:53:10 +1300 (NZDT)
From: Robert Johnston 
To: "Mary K. Radpour" <>,
Subject: Re: Systems theory

Dear Mary,
            You wrote:

"I find that having a systems perspective causes me to distance from any
conversation in which there is a labeling of Persecutors, Rescuers, and Victims,
because I believe that these are not useful constructs when it comes to solving
a problem. They may make me feel better because I now know what bad behavior
looks like or how virtuous I am by contrast, but discussing them seems to me to
set in motion the same forces which Baha'u'llah decried when He called
backbiting the most grievous of errors. They demonize certain people to the
point that I am not any longer willing to relate to them personally and to
challenge them to change. They delude me into thinking that the Persecutor holds
all the cards. They encourage me to try to be a white knight without really
knowing the whole picture. And they cause me to be so sympathetic to the
victimized that I no longer hold them responsible for making wise choices which
will assist them not to be victimized again . None of these reactions promotes
justice nor facilitates constructive change."

In view of the above, what role, if any, do you think discussion of [say]
one's [absent?] partner's [apparently] blameworthy attributes [etc] in a
therapeutic situation?


From richs@microsoft.comWed Oct 18 23:43:27 1995
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 11:58:38 -0700
From: Rick Schaut 
To: 'Richard Vernon Hollinger' 
Cc: 'Juan R Cole' ,
Subject: RE: Baha'i Courts

Dear Richard and Friends,

From: 	Richard Vernon Hollinger[]

>While I agree that there are varying understandings of what justice 
>means, if we define it simply as whatever is done by Baha'i 
>administrative institutions, the the countless exhortations 
>to strive for justice in the writings lose their meaning.

[Linda says I have no problem communicating my ideas.  To quote
Sherman T. Potter, "Horse hockey!"]

I would say that justice is perfectly manifested in whatever the
Universal House of Justice decides, but this stems from the form
of infallibility conferred upon the Universal House of Justice.  This,
by no means, applies to any other instititution within the
Administrative Order.

Secondly, I was referring to a proposed change in the structure
of Baha'i administration; a proposal based upon a particular sense
of justice which hasn't been adequately defined in terms of Baha'i
principles.  In fact, absolutely _no_ attempt has been made to
show that this sense of justice has _anything_ to do with the
principles of the Faith.  (Note: I'm not saying that the particular
sense of justice here employed is not congruent with the
principles of the Faith.  I'm only saying that it is incumbent upon
the advocates for change to show that it is.  That is, I believe,
an attitude that is likely to be adopted by the members of the
Universal House of Justice if this proposal is ever put to them.)

But, even if I had said what you say, the injunction would still have
a great deal of meaning if we apply it to ourselves rather than spend
a lot of time trying to figure out whether or not other people or
institutions have been just.  All of the exhortations tell us to _be_
just.  Not one of them tells us to demand justice of others.

In other words, there is a significant difference between applying an
imperfect and evolving sense of justice in judgements regarding our
own actions and applying that same imperfect and evolving sense of
justice to conclusions about the _structure_ of the Administrative

Lastly, how do we come to believe that any particular decision made
by an institution of the Faith is a just decision?  Do we do so by
measuring that decision against our own sense of justice?  I don't
think so.  I think we measure it against the extent to which principle
has been applied in the decision-making process.  To do anything
else is to pit our own, imperfect, sense of justice against a collective
sense of justice developed amidst nine members of an institution
through the process of consultation.

Now, if justice is relative to the extent to which a decision is based
upon principle, does it really matter who makes the decision?  I find
it very difficult to answer that question in the affirmative.  Moreover,
I believe this notion adequately encompasses the principle of
equality before the Law that Richard pointed out.

It would be difficult to fully discuss this notion in terms of all of the
guidance we've received regarding the operation of the Administrative
Order, but I would like to point people to the sections of _Developing
Distinctive Baha'i Communities: Guidelines for Local Spiritual
Assemblies_ on Appeals and the short discussion therein on Due
Process.  I think this notion is wholly compatible with the principles
and ideas there stated.

Warmest Regards,
Rick Schaut

From derekmc@ix.netcom.comWed Oct 18 23:44:06 1995
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 14:42:57 -0700
Subject: Fwd: Protection of Baha'i Authors

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Date: Wed, 18 Oct 95 07:00:13 
From: "Stockman, Robert" 
Message-Id: <>
To: Talisman@Indiana.Edu
Subject: Protection of Baha'i Authors
Precedence: bulk
My Dear Rob
As I was standing close at hand , taking monies from the intellectual 
wealthy of the ABS . I can vouch for the tossing of the Book . I fixed 
on the young offender the infamous bookshop glare at the committing of 
a dastardly crime to a book . What Christopher did not mention is the 
person in question had not even read the book , and as such his 
comments were out totally out of line. As far as Juan's Essay on the 
Tablet of Wisdom , I would suggest you refer people to the Rosenberg 
Tablet from the Master and let them take up their complaints with 
Abdu'l-Baha . The Rosenberg Tablet is printed in full in the new George 
Ronald Book on Ethel Rosenberg . 
Kindest Regards Derek Cockshut

     I'm not sure if I was that effective at protecting you, Chris.  
     of all, I did not see the incident you describe, but I know Mr. 
     and he's a polite Persian who does not throw books.  Surely your 
     description is a bit colored by the trauma you felt?
     The other, inevitable consideration is this: if review didn't 
     and Mr. X bugged you, you could tell him to buzz off.  But 
     review does serve the valuable service to authors of giving them a 

     shield--sometimes--from critics.
     The problem Chris Buck had with Mr. X is, if anything, growing at 
     moment.  If one takes complaints about Juan's "Problems of 
     in the Tablet of Wisdom" article as a measure of "conservative" 
     feelings in the community, then these feelings are on the 
     In the last year I have heard two people complain about that 15 
     year-old article; more than I usually encounter in two or three 
     I think it is safe to say Juan's article is the strongest ongoing 
     controversy over scholarship the American Baha'i community has 
     experienced.  Mind you, the complaints are not coming from 
     people in the community.  But I think they are symptomatic of a 
     growing segment in the community.  I regard it my job in the 
     Office to foster conservative perspectives on Baha'i scholarship 
     much as anyone else's.  The Research Office, within reason of 
     must be impartial to different types of Baha'i scholarship.
     I think the solution to the differences, to some extent, is 
     Chris mentioned that Mr. X was upset by his statement that 
     "Baha'u'llah endeavored to prove. . ."  This language is 
understood by 
     many in the Baha'i community to deny the existence of revelation.  
     no one who uses this sort of language denies the existence of 
     revelation in Baha'u'llah's experience; rather, they have a 
     view of the nature of revelation.  I have been thinking lately 
     how to write an article about the relationship between divine and 
     material causes in the life and teachings of a Manifestation of 
     for obviously both play a role.  I'd greatly appreciate 
     from others on Talisman about this matter.  I think it is VERY 
     important not to ignore this issue; rather, a careful and constant 

     effort to educate must be initiated.  Otherwise the pressure from 
     to try to force scholars to use "pious" language will increase.  
     will maintain this is just a Wittgenstenian language game, and I 
     this is largely true (I say "largely" because obviously there are 
     major differences in theological perspective that the language 
     reflects).  But many do not think it is a language game issue.  
     need help to understand what the language of scholars mean.
                -- Rob Stockman

From Oct 18 23:46:10 1995
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 11:30:47 +1300 (NZDT)
From: Robert Johnston 
To: "Joan L. Jensen" ,
Subject: Re: violence and war

Dear Joan,
          There is so much squeamishness and other forms of confusion about
power and I think your letter provided very helpful insights into the
matter.  Here are a few more thoughts.

Earlier [much] Dann Mays wrote [ref. Derrida] of violent cultural
hierarchies from a Baha'i perspective and in doing so enabled a perception
of the possibility of hierarchies existing that weren't violent.  In a
postmodern [that is: contemporary] context positional privileging is viewed
apprehensively -- though not always honestly.  Academics, for instance,
often buy into a [simplified form of] Foucauldian analysis of knowledge and
power, and quite happily speak and write of the regimes of oppression which
come with the scientific gaze, while -- at the same time --
positivistically assessing students and determining futures...

The Greeks associated knowledge with virtue  where virtue is comparable
with what the Soloman Islanders [and shamans, etc] unabashedly call power
-- also associated with the acquisition of knowledge.

>First, I have only discussed this book with women.  What different insights
>or perspective can men offer on these ideas?  Can you identify with the
>things described in the book?  Are they reminiscent of what you
>yourselves have experienced in your own childhoods or lives (the examples
>given on experiences in the military are very pertinent here)?   Does a
>person who experiences the world through the Power Over model even
>realize there are other ways to feel power, to banish forever the
>childhood demons, pain and fear?

The brief answer [as a Baha'i]  must be yes.

>Second, what is the transition experience for people from a Power
>Over mentality, towards a Personal Power point of view?  Are there others
>on this list who can help me understand what is necessary or what
>facilitates that transition?

Keeping Faith....


From Oct 18 23:46:28 1995
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 12:00:44 +1300 (NZDT)
From: Robert Johnston 
Subject: Re: From Sonja -mental illness &the arts

Dear Sonja,

            I thought I would chance my armn and respond to your letter

Mental illness arises where there is psychological immoderation in contexts
of which the individual is a vulnerable part.  This flux of indulgence and
repression becomes internalised in that individual, and comes to
characterise their approach to the world.  Causal is worldiness [the
Writings are clear about this] in the ruling element[s] of the context.  .

Art -- and I think Aristotle is great about this -- is a reasonable
project, just like science.  Aristotle held that the way out of the flux of
immoderation [ie mental pain] was though study  -- that is, the acquisition
of a reasonable project.  Such an effort entails rising above the the
world: becoming eternal.  ['Abdu'l-Baha Said similar stuff]

Now, if a person who has mental illness moves towards art rather than
science, it may be that art "kicks in" to reasonableness more mercifully
than science in that it is more accessible and more primitive.  I know that
my daughter's early painting were much more interesting than the stuff she
does now, when her talents are more literary; and da Vinci proceeded [with
regret] from art to science...

I feel that you may manifest resistance to the view that art is a
reasonable project, and I accept that my explanation of this is a bit
sketchy.  However, I feel that the view I have expressed is consistent with
the Baha'i perspective.  For instance, didn't 'Abdu'l-Baha Say that the
spiritual secrets could be uncovered through art...?  What I mean by
reasonable is more about "that which civilises' than with economic
rationality or Freudian ego-defensive rationalisation.  It may include
speculative and intuitive thought.


From hwmiller@ccnet.comWed Oct 18 23:47:19 1995
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 15:43:27 -0600
From: Henry Miller 
Subject: Selma-Montgomery,etc.

Dear Robert,
   I missed meeting you at the ABS Conference, but attended on Friday and
Saturday. I subscribed to Talisman upon my return, and today noticed your
comment about the Selma-Montgomery march in Spring, 1965.
   I attended that march along with Diane Taefy (her maiden name at this
time I have momentarily forgotten) and Dan Connor.  We lived in Chicago
area at that time and spent a week, stopping in Atlanta and Birmingham
before joining the march on its last day - from the outskirts of Montgomery
to the capitol, with its Confederate flag flying at the very top of the
capitol dome.
   The night before the last day of the march we were driving around to see
what was going on (young, enthusiastic, and game as we were-I would have to
add "naive" as well).  The Montana license plate on Dan's car was enough to
attract notice, and we were soon being bullied by two carloads of young
white residents (I presume they were local).  I was driving and we went
this way and that way, around this corner and that.  When they blocked our
way we scooted down another street, not having the slightest idea where we
were.  Finally we arrived back at the main highway, along which were posted
the National Guard soldiers.  I pulled into a gas station, stopped the
car.......trembling from head to toe.
   The next day we three made our sign which we took turns carrying in the
march.  It read JUSTICE FOR ALL on one side, and ONENESS OF MANKIND on the
other.  We had many Baha'i pamphlets and taught as we went.
     A day later we left the city going west through Selma.  Along the road
were the police, etc. checking for evidence related to the shooting of
Viola Liuzu from Detroit, one of the casualties of that march.  She was
shot as she helped to drive particpants to the march.
   Dan Connor was later deputized and opened the Turks and Caicos Islands.
Diane married Fakhradin Taefy and they went pioneering to Venezuela (I
think they may still be there).  My wife, Fereshteh, and I, subsequently
went to Honduras for a time.

   P.S.  Another note of interest about that time period......I graduated
from the Univ. of Rochester and went to study Comparative Religion at
Chicago Theological Seminary and the Divinity School of UC.  In my class
was a certain Jesse Jackson, already very active in his work in urban
Chicago for Dr. King.  I became a Baha'i in December of 1964 and then left
school about a month later.  When I was leaving the school, I saw Jesse at
the steps of the Student Union, and he asked why I was leaving.  I told him
I had become a Baha'i - a follower of Baha'u'llah.  He told me he had
friends who were Baha'is back in South Carolina where he had gone to school

Regards,  Henry

Henry W. Miller

From jjensen@welchlink.welch.jhu.eduWed Oct 18 23:47:28 1995
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 19:58:39 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Joan L. Jensen" 
To: Robert Johnston 
Cc: "Mary K. Radpour" <>,
Subject: Re: Systems theory

On Thu, 19 Oct 1995, Robert Johnston wrote:
> ... what role, if any, do you think discussion of [say]
> one's [absent?] partner's [apparently] blameworthy attributes [etc] in a
> therapeutic situation?

My experience tells me that people have to be heard, and have their pain 
acknowledged, before they can begin to heal.  A wise therapist can listen 
and acknowledge the pain of the client without bemoaning or blaming the 
partner.  A wise therapist can also ask questions, gently, so that the 
client can acknowledge for him or herself their own contributions to the 
painful relationship, and thus explore the systems at work.  Even if the 
client did not "do" anything wrong, and all blame could be assigned to 
the partner, still the client chose that partner and remained in that 
relationship, and thus contributed to that partner remaining stuck in 

Does it make any sense to the rest of you that Baha'u'llah's passage 
in Gleanings (CXLV), speaking of the abased or the down-trodden, 
might also be referring to the emotionally abased persons, 
and the rich ones as those who are emotionally healthy and able to hear 
the tales of woes, without the whole process degenerating into "pollute 
not your tongues by speaking evil of another." ('Abdu'l-Baha, 
Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 453)?  Am I stretching too far here?

	"If ye meet the abased or the down-trodden, turn not away
 	disdainfully from them, for the King of Glory ever watcheth 
	over them and surroundeth them with such tenderness as none 
	can fathom....  O ye rich one of the earth!  Flee not from 
	the face of the poor that lieth in the dust, nay rather 
	befriend him and suffer him to recount the tale of the
	woes with which God's inscrutable decree hath caused him 
	to be afflicted.  By the righteousness of God!  Whilst ye 
	consort with him, the Concourse on high will be looking 
	upon you, will be interceding for you, will be extolling 
	your names and glorifying your action."

From Oct 18 23:47:44 1995
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 13:40:11 +1300 (NZDT)
From: Robert Johnston 
To: "Joan L. Jensen" ,
Subject: Re: Systems theory

Dear Joan,
          Do you know of any instance where a therapist has absolutely
refused to allow the adult client to engage in blame laying, event where
the pretext is "the need to be heard"?

A thought or two.  In the instance of an estranged couple, it is a unity
that is in jeopardy.  Now, if that unity is unable to explore
reconciliation together, in a mood of humility and mercy, then -- it seems
to me -- that each of the the components of that unity may need to address
the healing of their individual unity separately.  Individual unity might
be termed  "self before God."  In either instance of unity (as a couple or
separately) is their license to backbite and gossip, even if these are
called something else?  Further, do you think this view is at odds with the
intent of the passage  -- highlighted by yourself --  from Baha'u'llah's

Yes, wealth is essentially spiritual and not material.


From Member1700@aol.comWed Oct 18 23:52:14 1995
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 23:43:32 -0400
Subject: Re: San Francisco Conference

Sorry, Linda.  The gooey postings about San Francisco are not over quite yet.
 It really was wonderful.  
   Not the conference itself so much.  That was the usual mix of mediocre
papers with the occasional bright spot.  But, meeting and getting to know the
other Talismanians for the first time was a transcendental experience.
 Imagine being able to see someone for the first time, and be able to launch
directly into a meaningful discussion.  Imagine the exhilaration of discoving
that no one looks like you thought they would look like.   
    Rob Stockman is certainly to be congratulated on putting together an
excellent Religion Section on Thursday on very short notice.  The room was
filled to overflowing, and the crowd definitely knew that is where the action
was.  Next conference, demand a bigger room, Rob.  Susan's paper on hikmat
and Juan's paper on The Secret of Divine Civilization were both current and
controversial.  They were also important.  
    As to the other sessions, I have to confess that I spent most of my time
schoozing in the hallways and in the coffee shops--and of course the
bookstore.   By the way, the bookstore itself was a triumph.  Why it was
shunted away in a side hallway is beyond me.  It should have been right out
there in the lobby--again the room was much too small.  
     Saturday night was amazing!  After listening to the San Francisco Baha'i
Choir (I forget its official name), I was ready to go home.  Their uneven
harmonies were awfully hard to sit through--though I must say that
African-American culture saved the day at the end when they allowed a couple
of black singers to lead them in some rousing spirituals, clapping hands and
raising arms.  Anyway, Juan's intro to Amin Banani was very sweet, as was
Amin's gracious reply asking the whole audience to bear witness that Juan had
discharged his Aqdas duty to include him among his interitors.  Nice touch.  
     Amin's talk on Tahirih was balanced an insightful.  His recitations of
her poetry were electrifying.  Especially, "Look! The dawning light .  .  .
 "  Then her poetry was perfomed by Muhtadia Rice.  Wow!  Extremely
effective.  Kalimat is supposed to do a book of Tahirih's poetry with Amin,
and I hope it is half as effective as this evening was.  
     The other highlight of the weekend was Juan's stunning paper on the
Baha'i Faith and Human Rights.  Here there was no hesitation is deducing
universal principles of democracy and human rights from the writings of
Baha'u'llah himself.  Quite exciting.  
     Of course there was more.  We were shamelessly campaigning for Talisman
and I hope we picked up a few more subscribers.  Anyway, I can't wait until
the next conference.  


From Alethinos@aol.comThu Oct 19 00:30:25 1995
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 01:33:48 -0400
Subject: Re: Baha'i Courts

Dear Juan:

I agree with Rick S. Put your concern in a carefully crafted question the
Universal House of Justice. It certainly would be interesting to see the

My question is - since we begin this enterprise with a healthy level of
distrust (for the national body) and they would be the one appointing the
judges how will we trust the judges? Or will this all come about after some
sort of purging of National? But then who will do the purging? Us? How would
we go about that? Set up a committee? 

I am poking at the ribs a bit because, while I feel it may be a set in the
evolution of the Faith's Administrative Order to have a Baha'i judiciary I
don't feel it should be done in the spirit of (the Baha'i version) of
Bastille Day. I have already commented twice (with little notice) that if we
wish to solve the present difficulties of the American community we won't do
it be continuing to reinvent the Administrative Order, or re-interpreting it,
or acting as if we have some huge pressing reason to expand it. We have less
than 100k population in this country and the Faith is at a standstill. If we
deal with THAT problem a lot of these others will be blown right out the back
door . . .

jim harrison

From jrcole@umich.eduThu Oct 19 00:36:57 1995
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 00:30:11 -0400 (EDT)
From: Juan R Cole 
Subject: Re: Baha'i Courts

Just a couple short replies to a number of issues

1.  With regard to a national Baha'i court, I just wanted to say that my 
suggestion has been made quite explicitly with the hope of helping the 
community function more smoothly, not with challenging any institution or 
any particular decision.  I would personally be quite happy to have the 
NSA appoint the judge or judges, *if* the appointment was for life and so 
the judge would not be liable to retaliation for a decision that was not 
popular with the NSA.  Or the Universal House of Justice could appoint 
the national Baha'i court.  It could be made up of Counsellors, as Ahang 
suggested, or not, as Derek did. I am not concerned with its form (though 
I will say that I think Derek's approach of the judiciary as a third and 
separate Arm of the Faith is probably better.  For instance, it seems to 
me desirable that the judge have a law degree of some sort, and perhaps 
some knowledge of Arabic, which few Counsellors do).  The reason for my 
suggestion is multiple; but among the reasons is a desire to create a 
space for conflict resolution within the Faith where the NSA is an 
interested party and therefore not likely to be accepted as a good-faith 
arbitrator.  I bring up the Dialogue affair, where accusations of 
campaigning were made against magazine editors, or other instances, where 
persons have been sanctioned for raising questions about the ethics of 
individual NSA members, only to give concrete examples of the problem I see.

2.  Rick, I would just suggest that the Baha'i Writings say quite clearly 
that human reason and judgment are *among* the ways that justice might be 
recognized.  This is clear in Secret of Divine Civilization as well as in 
Lawh-i Ra'is.  That human reason can recognize moral good and bad, and 
that God cannot do wrong, are principles of the medieval Muslim 
Mu`tazilite school that were absorbed into Shi`ite theology and accepted 
by the Bab and Baha'u'llah.  
   But it seems to me that the question can be settled less abstractly.  
I put it to you, Rick Schaut.  Let us say that you were serving on the 
NSA of country X.  And let us say that you were personally accused of 
misusing Baha'i funds.  And let us say that the issue was not black and 
white, but ambiguous, that the expenditures were a judgment call that 
some might indeed find ethically questionable, but which you felt you 
could defend.  Now let us say that the NSA members as a whole were 
outraged by your accuser having spoken out, and had decided to remove his 
administrative rights.  Let me just ask you.  Would you feel right about 
participating in this meeting and voting on your accuser's rights?  Would 
you?  Do we really need to find a letter from 1924 before we can tell if 
your participation would be a right or wrong action?  A yes or no answer, 

3.  I am very sorry to hear about Christopher Buck's brush with a direct 
form of literary cricicism.  Mirza Abu'l-Fadl at one point in *Miracles 
and Metaphors* quotes an Arabic proverb:  Man kataba kitaban, fa'stahdaf 
("Whoever writes a book makes himself a target).  Such encounters with 
persons who hold entirely different views than your own, and who are 
deliberately attempting to intimidate you, can shake you in a way that I 
think non-authors can never understand.  It is one of my life goals to 
provide a support network for young Baha'i scholars to protect them from 
this sort of intimidation.  As for Baha'is who are offended at academic 
discourse, they have two choices:  to avoid it or get used to it.  
Avoiding it is easy enough; for instance, if you hate academic 
scholarship, you might not want to go to a meeting like the Association 
for Baha'i Studies conference.  And no one is making you buy 
Christopher's book, or even discuss it.  The other possibility is to get 
used to it.  Because Baha'i academics are not going away, and are not 
going to allow themselves to be silenced.  And that was what this person 
was doing to Christopher, was attempting to silence him; that individual 
is welcome to his views, but he is not welcome to attempt to control the 
views of others.  The other people I've met with this sort of mindset 
have been followers of Khomeini in Iran.  How sad, that any Baha'i would 
think in a similar way.  Academics are often called "arrogant" or 
"prideful;" it is too often forgotten that there can just as easily be 
arrogant ignoramuses.

4.  I endorse Tony's accolades to Rob Stockman for organizing a very 
successful Religious Studies seminar at ABS; although I could only attend 
for half a day, the quality of what I saw was on the whole quite good.

cheers   Juan Cole, History, University of Michigan


From straz@itsa.ucsf.EDUThu Oct 19 01:07:01 1995
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 21:53:10 -0700 (PDT)
From: John or Katherine Straznickas 
To: Talisman 
Subject: New Convert

	I am a new member of this charmingly diverse and articulate group. 
Yes, yes, a convert from the ABS conference.  I was deeply moved by
several of the talks, particularly Susan Maneck's discussion of Hikmat
(Wisdom, Unwisdom, and Dissimulation), and hoped that Talisman would prove
to be a way to continue talking about the important ideas of our
	It feels right to be here.
	Warmly, Katherine Akhtar Straznickas

From richs@microsoft.comThu Oct 19 11:17:06 1995
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 19:34:43 -0700
From: Rick Schaut 
To: "''" ,
Subject: Lessons of History (RE: welcome back?)

Dear Linda and Friends,

Sent: 	Wednesday, October 18, 1995 3:44 AM
Subject: 	welcome back?

>Rick, I don't understand why you
>resist learning from the lessons of history on the issue of justice.

You keep proving your earlier remark to have been quite wrong.  If you
think I'm refusing to learn the lessons of history, then I must not be
communicating my thoughts very well--not very well at all!

I'm not rejecting the idea per se.  I'm rejecting the model being used to 
the change.  There is a very subtle difference.

There are some aspects of Juan's proposal that just haven't been
adequately developed.  An appeal to the notion of unintended
consequences, for example, might convince the readers of
Talisman, but I rather doubt it will have a significant impact on
the members of the Universal House of Justice because unintended
consequences are irrelevant to their model of the system. (I can
hear them now, "Unintended consequences for a Divinely ordained
Administrative Order!?  Precisely what consequences would not be
the Will of an All-Knowing, All-Powerful Creator?!")

>Look at all the influence
>Horace Holley had in devloping our administrative system.  He didn't just look
>at the Baha'i writings.

His development of those ideas, however, were squarely grounded
in the principles of the Faith and not in his own subjective perceptions
of what constitutes justice or fair-mindedness.  Remember the story of
the lamp?  It's the light that matters, not the vessel.

>We aren't expected to be blind to the world.  If you
>are advocating that our only true source of knowledge be scripture, then you
>are reiterating the words of the nineteenth century clergy that persecuted the
>Babis and Baha'is.

I'm advocating that our only _sure_ source of knowledge is the Revelation.
Again, the difference is subtle.  Truth can be found outside the Revelation,
but those ideas always have to be measured against the Revelation itself
and not against our own ideas.

This means that we have to rethink some very fundamental ideas--ideas we
have come to hold very dear.  To bear the mantle of "Baha'i" demands
nothing less.

Warmest Regards,
Rick Schaut

From gpoirier@acca.nmsu.eduThu Oct 19 11:17:33 1995
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 23:36:14 -0600 (MDT)
From: "[G. Brent Poirier]" 
To: Talisman 
Subject: Protection of authors

It's moments like Chris mentioned that help me to understand how 
important the office of review is.  To me, I'm grateful Rob is there for 
his balance, and knowledge, and overall good work.  But to authors, I see 
that there is a whole other dimension of how important he is in folks' 

I worked one summer at the NTC office in Wilmette as travel teacher
coordinator.  I had a very tangible sense of being assisted by the world
of spirit.  I had a no less tangible realization that the guidance was
specific to that task; I spoke of it as being attached to the desk.  I
realized that this sense would end when I left at the end of the summer,
which it did.  

I say this because I wish to suggest something.  While I wholeheartedly
support Rob's work in that office, I suggest that the attachment be to the
office, and not to its occupant.  Rob could be gone tomorrow, or
hopefully, be there for a long time to come.  It's the spirit that flows
through him, which is not unique to him. 

While he is setting a standard that will be hard to match, there's no use 
setting up ourselves for a sense of void in the future.

From CMathenge@aol.comThu Oct 19 11:22:14 1995
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 02:50:16 -0400
Subject: Re: ABS and ASTROLOGICAL Curiosities

Dear Talismanians,

I enjoyed meeting several of you at ABS--it was quite amazing to find so many
brilliant people collected in one place.  Unfortunately I missed the
dinner--nobody told me about it, and therefore I suspect you of being an Old
Boys Network!!  8-)   (Even though some of you are a lot younger than I had
imagined!)  OK, let's come clean here--how many women were at that dinner?
 (Just curious.)  And at a conference where one of the major themes was the
advancement of women, too.  

Well, and I was hoping to have an opportunity for an inside glimpse of Burl's
table manners . . . you know, to investigate truth for myself rather than
listening to all this backbiting . . . for those of you who are interested in
such trivia, Burl's even better looking in person than on the book jacket,
JRC has a baby face concealed by a beard and looks like a junior lecturer
attempting to disguise himself as a professor, David Langness is kind of mild
and mannerly for somebody with such passionate convictions, Chris Buck and
Dan Orey are barely dry behind the ears, but charming, and I can't comment
about Tony Lee as I've known him since he was 18 and am still surprised
whenever I notice he's grown up--for some reason, I have the same reaction
when I look in the mirror--it's a nasty shock!  

Now.  At the risk of being laughed off the net by skeptics, I recently read a
very fascinating astrological article on the WWW entitled *Jupiter's Exact
83-Year Cycle: Part I*, by Mark Lerner.  I will give you permission to sneer
at astrology, but only if you have seriously studied it for at least several
years and have read the major humanistic and Jungian astrologers such as Dane
Rudhyar, Liz Greene, Stephen Arroyo, Richard Idemon, and Karen
Hamaker-Zondag.  Surely all you erudite types would not reject any subject
without having investigated it--especially after ‘Abdu'l-Baha Himself
pronounced it a subject worthy of investigation!  

The afore-mentioned article is about the author's discovery that Jupiter,
which is always said to have an 84-year cycle, in actual fact has an almost
exact 83-year cycle.  Why should this be of interest to Baha'is?  It seems
that throughout 1995, Jupiter, the planet which is reputed to have to do with
religion, philosophy, travel, education, and--oh, whatever represents
expanding one's horizons--is in the same sign (Sagittarius, incidentally the
sign ruled by Jupiter) on the same degrees, on the same dates (within a few
days) as it was on the corresponding dates in 1912.  As you may recall, 1912
was the year when ‘Abdu'l-Baha TRAVELLED to the U.S., spoke at institutions
of EDUCATION as well as churches and synagogues around the country about the
new RELIGION, and certainly broadened the horizons of all with whom He came
in contact.  Could this have something to do with the fact that in 1995, EBT
seems to have finally begun in earnest in several parts of the country?  No?
 Ah well, perhaps it's just a coincidence.  It's also a coincidence that when
the Oklahoma City bombing occurred on April 19, 1995, Jupiter was within less
than one degree of the exact placement where it was found on April 15, 1912,
when the sinking of the Titanic happened.  Several other interesting
parallels which have already occurred between events 83 years apart are
pointed out in the article, having to do with Northern Ireland, Cuba, Mexico,
and the Balkans.

This is only indirectly related to the article, but immediately following the
new moon of November 22, there will be a conjunction of seven planets in
Sagittarius, culminating right around--hm, the Day of the Covenant!  What
does this mean?  I dunno.  But it's worth noting that the last time there was
a conjunction of several planets (six I think? in Capricorn in January 1994),
we had the Los Angeles earthquake.  Perhaps we can expect a "spiritual
earthquake" this time. 

Question:  At what point--uh, if ever--does it become more illogical to
believe in "coincidence" than to accept the existence of a connection, or at
least an "acausal" synchronicity?  Exactly where do those lines intersect?
 Just wondering--

With loving Baha'i greetings,


From burlb@bmi.netThu Oct 19 11:24:14 1995
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 95 00:06 PDT
From: Burl Barer 
To: Robert Johnston 
Subject: Famous Flames (was:Therapy vs backbiting)

Robert Johnston said: "womens' epistemology
>demands concrete instances"

Burl says:

Well, I caught hell again tonight for something I did about eight or nine
years ago -- it must be a concrete example of my basic male cruelty:  I was
producing a TV commercial and we, for some reason which is unimportant,
needed the audio on cassette tape *immediately*.  The only tape I could find
was my beloved, docile, spouse's double length tape of James Brown. So, I
grabbed it and recorded a :30 audio track on it -- yes, thirty seconds out
of an hour of "sex machine" ad infinitum.  A few months later she decided to
listen to the tape-- oooops! Just as the godfather of soul was takin' her to
the bridge to drop her off, she was assaulted by a screaming hard-sell
commercial for a waterbed store! 


 Well....I confess to recording over James Brown. I have said I am sorry 100
times. Tough. I will be brow beaten and brutalized for my stupidity
obviously far far into the future.

 Now, here is the basic point:
Being a male, I reason like this -- Considering the amount of flak I have
caught for erasing thrity seconds of James Brown, and the resultant
emotional drain, I have to rate the punishment as relative to the crime. In
doing so I have a major regret. If I had known that I was going to suffer so
much for what I considered a minor thougtless act, I would have committed a
major thoughtless act that was enjoyable.

  If the reaction is 8 on a 10 scale, I might as well do something that's an
8 on a 10 scale.  Hey, for the same amount of berating, I could have
violated many of the better known laws of the Aqdas! 

The James Brown Episode has transcended its own reality and voyaged into the
mythic, becoming a touchstone for the reality of my thoughtlessness, a
deathless example of what's wrong with me, a time-cop re-run of recycleable
error guaranteed to communicate the essence of my failures in the field of
human relations.   

It has reached the point where she need not even reference the entire
episode. She doesn't have to say "This is just like the time you erased my
James Brown Tape!".  No, now all she has to do is drop to one knee and cry
out "Please Please Please!!!"  or go "HUH! Get on the scene! " and I grasp
the subtle hint.

So, ladies of Talisman blessed with clumsy, thoughtless men-folk, keep this
in mind: Had Hugh Grant known he was gonna get in so much trouble with his
girlfriend for picking up a professional sex technician on Hollywood Blvd
would he have erased a James Brown tape instead?  Or would it work the other
way around? 

As they said in that important, spiritual film "The Devil in Ms Jones," :
If you'r going to go to hell, you might as well go for a reason.

I don't want to go to hell just yet. I have to give a Fireside in the Lapwai
Reservation October 19th, celebrate the Birth of the Bab, and attend the Dr.
Muhajir Teaching Conference in Moses Lake on the 21st (Mrs. Muhajir will be
there, too!).  So, no hell today. And I am not going to cruise Hollywood
blvd, and Walla Walla does not have an equivelent -- unless you count that
field of sheep down the block (not an uncommon error in this part of the
state).  I won't even drown my sorrows in a bottle of Woolite. But as sure
as I know that James Brown is the hardest workin' man in show-business, I
know that I will be hearing about this episode in this world and in the
world to come. It is one of the elements of certitude, the glue of
discontent that adds an air of predictabilty to a relationship -- the
distorted security of familiar insults from the ones you love.

I bet God wonders why I keep saying forgiveness prayers about this incident.
He probably forgave me long ago, but as long as I have to keep hearing about
it, He has to keep hearing about it too. I promise not to mention it on
Talisman again -- now, was this backbiting, therapy, or confession?  

Burl (give the drummer some) Barer

From Member1700@aol.comThu Oct 19 11:25:44 1995
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 03:27:29 -0400
Subject: Re: Protection of Baha'i Authors

Well, I am not sure that Baha'i authors need protection.  Especially from the
rude public attacks of uninformed Baha'is.  Such attacks should simply be
calmly answered, and no matter how unpleasant to the author concerned, I
think that such answers can be effective.  
   I suppose, however, that I am being naive.  As long as we have a review
system, any attack on the ideas that a Baha'i author has expressed carries
the implication that--by publishing such ideas--he has violated Baha'i law,
and therefore should be subject to sanction.  To have such views gain
currency in the community is to go beyond the unpleasant, as several
Talismanians know from personal experience.  So, Rob, I guess that part of
your job will have to be protecting liberal authors from fundamentalist
attack.  Naturally, you should also protect the fundamentalists from roving
liberals on the loose at ABS conferences, but I don't think that is such a
    Actually, I am sorry that I did not witness the little incident in the
bookstore.  I would have liked to have defended Chris myself.  I find that
such discussions can be fruitful.  Actually, it is a little soon to have
people complaining about Symbol and Secret.  My experience is that such
complaints peak about a year after the book comes out--so get ready, Rob.


From Alethinos@aol.comThu Oct 19 11:26:10 1995
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 03:47:44 -0400
Subject: Re: Baha'i Courts


You wrote:

>I would personally be quite happy to have the 
>NSA appoint the judge or judges, *if* the appointment was for life and so 
>the judge would not be liable to retaliation for a decision that was not 
>popular with the NSA.  Or the Universal House of Justice could appoint 
>the national Baha'i court.

This makes sense to me. Thanks for clarifying the point. 

jim harrison

From Member1700@aol.comThu Oct 19 12:15:10 1995
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 04:47:46 -0400
Subject: Re: Justice and Baha'i Courts

On Tue, 17 Oct 1995, Rick Schaut wrote:

> While we all have a sense of justice, we should recognize the fact that
> none of us has a "perfect" sense of justice (were this not the case, then
> `Abdu'l-Baha's grounds for interpreting the Law to prohibit bigamy is
> completely unfounded).  If we recognize this, then, whenever we see
> some aspect of the Administrative Order which violates our sense of
> justice, then our very first act must be to question our understanding of
> what constitutes justice.  Because none of us has a perfect sense of
> justice, it would be completely improper for any individual to seek to
> bend the the Administrative Order to fit our own sense of justice.

You know, such a position really reduces Baha'i principle to a travesty.  It
means, in effect, that the Baha'i Faith is not here to establish justice in
the world, but only to set up an administrative structure and then label
whatever they do "justice."  This position actually substitutes the
Administrative Order for the principles of the Faith, making it an end in
itself which has no higher goal.  This is precisely the position that the
beloved Guardian warned us was to be avoided.  


From Oct 19 12:17:17 1995
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 95 18:30:27 JST
From: "Stephen R. Friberg" 
Subject: Turning The Other Cheek in Socorro

Dear Friends:

I've soaked up excitedly the news from San Fransisco.  Did anyone here
the talk by Sandy Fotos, or her mother Barbara Sims?  Sandy, one of the 
few women foreigners to have an important professorship at a major Japanese
university, has brought a strong empirical bent to studies of language
learning and retention.


Chris's story of his brush with better-than-on-line criticism and
Mark's story of white-demonizing at a Black Muslim meeting made me 
think back to my childhood in Socorro, New Mexico

I didn't understand it at the time, but I was a member of the
privileged elite.  My dad was a professor at the college and
we lived with the other professors and their Berkeley/Princeton
wifes on a hill overlooking the town.  "Snob Hill" is what I later 
learned they called it.  It was away from the rest of the town,
right next to our school's eighteen hole golf-course, swimming pool,
tennis courts, and library.  Landscaped, of course.  The town's major
income source was New Mexico Tech.  Teachers fawned over us, businessmen
smiled at us, and the watermen who showered the golf course in the
evenings took us out on merry children's adventures.  We could do no

One day, while playing fort (you know, you build a rock fort and
someone else builds a rock fort, and then you play guns), we strayed
far away, past the protestant cemetery, almost past the catholic
cemetery.  A fine hill had been found, ideal for digging caves, the
kind that your parents always warned you against. Delighted digging 
commenced . . .  

But, oh no, something was wrong.  Stones.  STONES!  Flung down on us.
Oh no!  We were being chased.  Away.  Big kids, tough spanish kids, 
the ones that called you 'cavrone' or 'puto', or Jew.  We ran away, 
defeated!  Oh no!

Later, we went to school with them.  We, with our National Honor
Society badges, our German classes.  But something happened.  We
fell in love with their sisters or our sisters fell in love with
them, we cruised main street together, and ate chili fries, the 
kind that make your nose water, at Shirley's Drive-In.  

And, soon, we partied together.  Beer and then later marijuana, 
were the great social equilizers.  Senior class, we prided our 
selves on skipping out in the middle of the day, going and 
buying six-packs, and getting plastered in the middle of the 
desert.  What a crew we were.  Townies, schoolies, farmers, 
ranch boys, anglo gals, hispanic, black, all partying together 
at South Tree with a keg down by the river.   It was tradition,
and we loved it, especially piling into our cars after getting
drunk, and driving as fast as we could.

This was equality, I thought. And because of it I became a Baha'i.  
But I still didn't understand.  It wasn't until later, when I was 
24, 25 and had found the Faith after six years of remorseless, 
deadening search, and then went back. Now, I saw what was happening 
to my friends.  Many of them dead, speeding on the highway,
drunk, car wrecks, families torn apart, suicide in all but name,
stuck, depressed, living on glue, lost!  

And then I understood my privileges: college, a career, 
travel, success.  They were all mine just for the asking.  It was
all laid out for me.  All I had to do was try.  And for many of my
friends?  Nothing.  Or a car wreck at a 100 miles an hour coming
back from National Guard camp at Fort Hood in El Paso.


"Why are you writing this?" I can hear puzzled questioning.  Because 
all of you on Talisman are the elite, college-educated, brilliant 
scholars, family women, authors, students, harbingers of intellectual 
Baha'i excellence.  And then I hear you talking about those 'anti-
intellectual, fundamentalist' Bahai's with 'deepening' 
understanding. Oh no!

And how upset you are that they are throwing stones.  Oh no! Oh no! 


Yours sincerely,
Stephen R. Friberg

From a003@lehigh.eduThu Oct 19 12:35:12 1995
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 08:03:37 EDT
Subject: Violence/Destruction/Death

Dear Talisman:

    Not wishing to be misunderstood as a "supporter" of violence, but as one
    who has had a long history of struggling to control my own violent nature,
    perhaps it is useful to see violence in a deeper and wider sense.

    When young, my anger was like the tide;  it came and went, creating giant
    waves of emotion that often did damage to my surroundings.  Pain nor
    destruction was an issue, to myself or others.  Understanding was not part
    of the consciousness.  Violence was organic.

    After years of losing friends and trust, my mother interceded in a way
    that it was possible to hear her.  I attempted to "control" my temper.
    But this was of little use in actually stopping the onset of violent
    attacks.  It only made me guilty afterwards.

    It wasn't until the onset of the `80's and all that psycho-babble that
    someone finally said to me (or at least I finally heard someone say)
    Bill, don't you realize that anger is not a primary emotion.  It's a
    secondary one which results from having been hurt.  I finally realized
    that if I could understand where the pain was coming from and pinpoint the
    real emotion that I was feeling--fear, shame, embarrassment, loneliness,
    humiliation, physical pain--the anger and violence subsided.  I also
    became a much more conscious human.  (Generalization!)

    But the ability to kill, to destroy, was still married to my psyche, part
    of my identity, an essential element of what it means to be a man.  In
    Hamlet, we see the story of a young man attempting to grow up in the face
    of injustice and moral turpitude.  To be a man, the ghost of his father
    calls on him to kill his stepfather...he hesitates;  but in the end he
    manages to do it.  The last lines of the play remark that he is now
    worthy to be King of Denmark.  Hamlet is a coming-of-age play which
    teaches the prerequisites of what is involved to be a real man.

    We all must deal with reality.  The problem is how to touch or be touched
    by it.  I was once walking on a vast smooth lawn with a radiant and
    beautiful young woman in the early dawn.  As we walked, the beauty was so
    great that it excited us both.
    She danced.
    As did I.
    But finally,
    after swooping along the carpet of verdure,
    I leapt into the air and came
    into the soft ground
    with the hard heel of my boot,
    digging a deep dent into the earth,
    and touched.
    One cannot touch without changing that which one touches.
    One cannot love without pain.
    One cannot live without the constantly dyeing.

    Perhaps none of this has anything to do with domestic violence, but on the
    other hand, perhaps it has everything to do with it.  Men must understand
    themselves and, in my opinion, the inherently deadly nature of their
    purpose in life--and to realize that this is creative--that it is not to
    be feared or shunned.  It is not to be made impotent and denied.  It is to
    be loved and cherished, exalted.

    With love and best regards,


From TLCULHANE@aol.comThu Oct 19 12:37:23 1995
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 09:06:26 -0400
Subject: Freud, houri's and The Houri

     Dear Robert ,

        No Freudian slip here quasi or otherwise . You dont think I
occasionally wax mytho -poetic for nothing :) . Actually it is quite
conscious and deliberate this equating of the Maiden and Mc Cartneys "mother
Mary ."  Then there area couple of houri who have befriended me . 

         It grows out of a larger project of mine the past 3-4 years, with
the youth of Omaha,  of looking in popular music for symbols,images,
allegories - you name it- the stuff of which culture is created and thereby
identity - and sort of re-appropriating it for Bahai use. perhaps I could say
taking it back to its Source in *Irfan * .   As I try to demonstrate to teen
-agers the "Revelation " is in the air  and speaking of air here is one from
a song by a goup called Live.   
         " . . the Angel opens her eyes  . .
         Ohhh  I feel it comin ' back again 
         like a rollin thunder chasin' the wind . . .    I can feel it ,  .
 yes I can feel it   ( slowly to a rising rocking passionate bluesey voice )

       You don't suppose ( just betwen us celtic poets ) the the houri that
brought the writer this song is any relationship( first cousins maybe ) to
 The Houri that brought us the The Song  -  the soaring revelation of the
Best Beloved of the Worlds and the Desire of the Nations .?
   warm regards ,

    p. s. you should see what i do with Bon Jovi and Sting . But i am getting
through to the teen -agers  - little by little,  day by day . Now I think
somebody famous said that.  

From osborndo@pilot.msu.eduThu Oct 19 12:38:17 1995
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 10:37:30 -0400 (EDT)
From: Donald Zhang Osborn 
Subject: Thiam (1991) _Le Bahaisme..._

Allah'u'abha!  I just encountered the following publication in our library's
on-line catalogue and was curious to know if it has been reviewed in any
Baha'i journals (JBS, Pense'e Baha'ie, etc.).  I have not seen the book, since
it has just been acquired and is "out to bindery."  From the title, it would
seem the author has the same sort of approach that Udo Schaefer responded to
in one of the pieces in his _Light Shineth in Darkness_ compilation (the
notion promoted by some German clergy the the Baha'i Faith was a "religion
`made to measure'").

    Thiam, Nazirou-Alpha.  1991.  _Le Bahaisme ou l'art de cre'er une
            re'velation_.  Paris:  Pense'e Universelle.

Also, is anyone familiar with the author (his family name appears to be
Tukolor, an ethnic group of Senegal and neighboring countries in West Africa)
or the publisher?  Thanks in advance.
                                Don Osborn
                                Michigan State University

From Oct 19 13:06:26 1995
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 11:50:01 -0500 (CDT)
From: Mark Foster 
To: "Eric D. Pierce" 
Subject: Re: The Nation of Islam (cinnamon rolls)

Hi, Eric,

By oppressive opportunity structure I mean one which is, in a sense, the 
opposite of a true meritocracy (not that I think that a meritocracy would 
be ideal either). If one has a society in which those in the upper fifth 
of income earners limit what those in the lower fifth can achieve - hoarding 
the wealth and then blaming the lower fifth for not achieving what they have 
been systematically deprived of, one has an oppressive opportunity structure.

The tripple stereotypes of the Black woman as mammie, matriarch, and 
welfare mother have served to justify society's continuing to blame her for 
the problems of African Americans as a whole. IMO, Lewis Farrakhan was trying 
to address these problems. In reality, poor Black (and white) families are 
not primarily oppressed by a culture of poverty. They are victims of a 
a systematic racism and classism which prevents them from obtaining jobs. 
The real solution, in this sense,is both economic and spiritual - or, 
really, a bringing together of the economic and the spiritual through 
economic justice and equity.

In teaching the Baha'i Faith in inner city areas, IMHO, the key is in 
demonstrating hope through community building and local resource generation. 
Farrakhan, at least to some extent, succeeded Monday because he has provided 
some of that commodity to many African Americans - something which few Black 
leaders have been able to do. True, he does it divisively - but his words 
are, as I see it, not primarily intended for the ears of White people. 

Farrakhan uses myths, i.e., the myths of the creation of Whites in the 
test tube of a mad scientist - but so is all ideology myth-based. The key to 
understanding that the significance of myths comes not from dialoguing with 
literal text - but in recognizing the role of words as pointers to symbol 
vehicles - directing people to action. The significance of saying that 
Muhammad was Black is similar to that of painting Jesus as a 
blonde-haired-blue-eyed European. The goal is identification, consciousness 
generation, and behavior modification.


Mark Foster

From jrcole@umich.eduThu Oct 19 14:29:50 1995
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 13:05:43 -0400 (EDT)
From: Juan R Cole 
Subject: class and consciousness

Stephen Friberg has raised an important issue about social class and 
world-view, and I fully support his plea for tolerance.  There is no 
doubt that theological literalism tends to correlate with lower levels of 
education, whereas theological "liberalism" correlates with high levels 
of education.  Thus, the average number of years of education of Southern 
Baptists is lower than of Unitarians.

However, I think the picture is *much* more complicated than he presents 

First of all, the incident that sparked our current discussion did not 
have to do with "fundamentalist" views versus "liberal" ones.  It had to 
do with the attempt by an educated, bilingual, articulate individual who 
could afford to be at the Hyatt Regency at the San Francisco Airport to 
intimidate someone with whose views he disagreed.  The issue is not who 
is right, but whether it is right to be so downright rude.

Second, the poor and the working-class may take their religion straight 
rather than over the rocks, but they are not necessarily intolerant.  Nor 
should it be assumed that Talismanians are all from the same  class 
background.  My maternal grandfather was from 
Appalachia; he had a little strip of land in Star Tannery, grew a few 
crops and some chickens, but could not have survived as a farmer, and 
worked for the local magnesium mining company.  My paternal grandfather, 
a Catholic Pennsylvania Deutsch dairy farmer whose family had moved south 
to Nothern Virginia, was slightly better off, but only in kind and land, 
not in liquidity.  My father spent much of his life as an enlisted man in 
the US Army, though by native intelligence he gained training as an 
electronics engineer that ultimately allowed him to enter the middle 
class, only after I had left the nest.  My uncles are carpenters and 
policemen, and my summer jobs were as busboy and then carpenter (some of 
you may know my work, as in the Foxhall building in Washington, D.C.).  I 
fear I know which side of the divide, between snob hill and stone-throwers, 
we would have fallen in 1962.

But here is what is remarkable.  When I became a Baha'i, the folks up in 
Appalachia did not accost me for deserting the Gospel of Jesus Christ.  
Oh, my maternal grandmother's Lutheran minister was perplexed.  But the 
family clearly recognized my right to go where my conscience led me.  
These are people with, often, less than a high school education, 
practical people who work with their hands and never had much.  But they 
are not militantly narrow-minded.  They respect independence of mind.  

On the other hand, I have sometimes felt the heat of anti-intellectualism 
and demand for conformity glow most brightly within the Baha'i faith among 
rather well-off persons with higher degrees.

So, some of us who did not grow up on snob hill didn't get squashed on 
the freeway, either.  And we still don't much care for snobs of the sort 
that accosted Christopher.

cheers   Juan

From Member1700@aol.comThu Oct 19 14:30:14 1995
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 13:23:26 -0400
Subject: Re: Baha'i Cause/Baha'i Community

Even though I don't have any time this morning, and so this will probably be
incoherent, I can't resist responding to the questions of the difference
between the Baha'i Cause and the Baha'i community.  
   It seems to me that the Baha'i Cause is an abstraction.  It is an idea.
 It can be articulated, as was done perfectly by the Manifestation and by his
successors--but it can never be fully grasped.  Sometimes we flatter
ourselves that we understand it, but our understanding is constantly changing
and expanding.  It is a concept that animates us, but it can never become
    Now, when we are talking about the Baha'i community, we are talking about
human beings.  And human beings come first.  Therefore, in my view, the
Baha'i community is more important than the Baha'i Cause.  It is first and
foremost a community of human beings that we must identify with and become
committed to--and, hopefully, that community embraces all mankind.  It is
only on that basis that we can hope to pursue a course that will benefit
    The other view I have seen among Baha'is makes the Cause more important
than the community.  And that always results in making ideas more important
than people--so you can then hurt, destroy, and even exterminate people to
protect an idea.  I have to reject that position.  It is the foundation of
fascism.   Our commitment should be to real human beings--both actually (in
terms of those who are Baha'is) and potentially (in terms of those who are


From Dave10018@aol.comThu Oct 19 14:31:41 1995
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 13:38:36 -0400
Subject: Re: Replies to "Symbolic Patriarchy";a further attempt at definition(long)

A few months ago I wrote about the question of women on the House of Justice.
I received a few replies to which I wanted to respond. I apologize for the
long delay and as well for the length of this post.  I felt the need to try
for greater clarity in view of the responses I got. Not that I feel I have
"the answer", but in the interest of clarifying the ideas I put forth and my
reasons for doing so, both of which I feel were misunderstood to one degree
or another in all the replies.  The question I am trying to look at, by the
way, is not whether the rule of membership on the House can or cannot be
changed, or even whether it --should-- be changed. As to whether it can be
changed, that is beyond my competence and I am resolutely nuetral. As to
whether it should be changed, I believe that if it is possible to change the
rule it probably should be changed, at some point. If such a rule could be
changed by legislation, then it might be that its meaning would be fulfilled
 by its elimination but even in that case the mere fact of our discovering
that the rule can be changed would not by itself exhaust the rule's meaning.
The full range of its meaning must be sought. 

  Ahmad's was lengthy, including my whole post with point by point
discussion, so I began this post as a reply to him, but as I got into it I
found I was developing a lengthy restatement of my perspective and so began
to include in it references to the other replies I recieved. At the same
time, as Ahmad reacted to my post by comparing my ideas as he saw them to his
"seed of creation" idea, I have made some reply to that in what follows. If
this is confusing and makes you curious, I will send my original to anyone
who asks for it or repost it to Talisman, if there is interest.  I ask those
interested to read this post with openness and care. I know this is a
provocative subject. Try to read the whole thing through before you react! 

I wrote in my original post
>>I do not write to"support" the rule as it now stands, as in fact I believe
the House, if it
>>finds itself able to change the rule, probably should."
n a message dated 95-09-27 10:49:57 EDT,
(Ahmad Aniss) writes:

>Subj:	reply to heirarchy concept
>To say that "I do not write to "support" the rule as it now stands", 
>has great implications.  One would be that, you then can not accept 
>the statement of The UHJ that states the law is embedded in the 
>text and that no speculation can be made now and in future.
Actually, the "implications" of this opening statement are  small and not
what Ahmad suggests.  To be clearer, I did not write this statement  to
support -- or to attack either-- the rule as it now stands. Rather,  I wrote
to explore some possible implications of the rule, -- whatever its
duration--, to attempt to understand it. The House's letter of May 1988
leaves little room for doubt that the rule can be changed and discourages
speculation about changing it, but it was not and is not my purpose to enter
that discussion (about whether the rule can be changed) one way or another.
If such a reasonable and erudite scholar as Juan Coles can find some room for
doubt, he can make his case.  The House of Justice can decide on its merit,
either to accept or reject or leave it for another time. My stance toward
that discussion is one of  sympathy and "detachment." 
In Abdu'l Baha's word's, the limitation of membership of the House of
 Justice to men, while unclear at present, would one day be "as clear as the
noonday sun."  He did not try to explain it in terms of either the conditions
or concepts of His contemporaries. 
In order to understand how this rule might be understood in future, we must
imagine a time free of our own prejudices and see if such a rule could have a
meaning as a --symbol--  outside of them. This is doubly difficult.  On one
hand, we resist seeing our own prejudices. Prejudices are prejudgements which
color our perceptions and so appear to us as "facts." Since the Writings, in
asserting that men and women are equal, also point out that men and women are
not identical,   Baha'is must be careful not to presume that they can easily
and fairly see what those differences are.  We can still  be confused by our
own prejudices and to use the Writings to justify our own prejudices is
certainly a misuse we should try to avoid.  Attempts to "rationalize" the
rule barring women from membership on the House usually turn on some
assumption that women are "unfit" for membership on the House.(as does
Ahmad's "seed of creation", see below)  This is certainly contrary to our
principles, as the House of Justice itself wrote in its 1988 response to the
"Service of Women" paper.   

On the other hand, if this rule of exclusion of women from membership on the
House of Justice has no practical justification, then it -- is--  the kind of
arbitrary restriction that we have rejoiced to see fall in every  other area
of life, incuding Baha'i administration, as women make progress in their
struggle to "go neck and neck with the men."  The Baha'i International
Community's booklet describing the teachings of the faith on women and  the
status of women in the Faith released for the Beijing conference concludes
with a study demonstrating the prominence of women in every position open to
them in the Administrative Order without once mentioning that women may not
serve on the House of Justice. The Baha'i International Community in this
important position paper did not defend or even admit the fact that women are
barred from membership on the House of Justice, although anyone looking into
the Faith must eventually be told so. Was the Baha'i International Community,
which represents the House of Justice in public relations, being disingenuous
in its representation of the Baha'i view of women?    If it does not
represent an incapacity on the part of women the rule must have some symbolic
purpose that, somehow, does not otherwise limit women or privilege men, but
then it must be, in practical terms, arbitrary in that it is regardless of
women's qualifications. Such an arbitrary restriction is obviously hard to
accept in a time such as this, when women still struggle for basic rights all
over the world.  Restrictions on women which are held, by the male
or"male-identified" powers that be, to be practical for all  but are in fact
antithetical to female interests are still common. Such restrictions are not
practical but lose their legitimacy when they are exposed as arbitrary
restrictions as they have no meaning for presentday society but the
oppression of women.  Nevertheless, without question, the authority of the
Center of the Covenant in His Religion extends even to the imposition of
arbitrary restrictions. Our faith requires us to seek for these restrictions
some other meaning. This leads us to considerations of symbolism.

The meanings and use and reason behind symbols and  the need to use symbols
is hard to talk about, to "unpack" or "deconstruct," as with-it folk say.  We
look to expressions of the Divine to express "the changeless faith of God."
The Manifestation is a Symbol, Who uses language which must be used by His
followers as we import His Word into our various cultural and individual
contexts. We believe and can express our faith in our lives because we find
Baha'u'llah and His Teachings meaningful to us--in other words the  symbolism
of the faith must move us at the deepest levels("touch our hearts").
 Whatever practical effect a law or rule may have, it functions as a symbol.
Symbolic function may even take precedence over practical effect, as the
symbolic aspect is very important, even primary.  Our Faith is rooted in the
lineage of the Semitic religions of the Middle East, the lineage of Abraham
and Moses, of Jesus and Mohammad, and this continuity is emphasized in the
Kitab-i- Iqan and many other places in the Writings.The Faith is making use
of and reshaping a system of symbols that is thousands of years old, through
which the idea of the Divine has become more and more abstracted from literal
conceptions while retaining our devotion. Its continuity is one of its most
basic features, symbolizing, for example, continuity of purpose for human
history and the ageless nature of Divinity Itself. (Thus Baha'u'llah refers
to Himself not only as "this Wronged Youth" but also as the "Ancient Beauty")
It is the interest of this continuity that significant remnants of earlier
customs and expressions linger in religion. Customs which have come to seem
barbaric are not simply abolished but replaced by less barbaric practices
which echo in their form the earlier practices. Thus instead of killing his
son Abraham slaughtered a lamb.( Joseph Campbell provided many examples of
this sort of evolution of symbols in his well-known popular account of
comparative religion,  " The Masks of God.") As religion develops,these
symbolic forms must be preserved in some way  without the prejudicial
meanings which have been attached to them owing to the incompleteness of
human development. Religious symbols thus grow organically. Earlier forms are
contained and expressed in later forms. The impulse to throw out all
symbolism tainted by sexism is understandable, and many have symbolized
 their devotion to feminism (a good cause!) by attempting to do so, but this
impulse runs counter to this organic method of  development.  New forms grow
out of old forms in such a way as to preserve connection.  As humanity
matures, our use of symbolism becomes more conscious. This means that we
continue to use ancient symbols but with greater awareness of their
symbolic--non-literal--nature. The image of the sovereign lord, the king,
remains, for example, as a symbol pointing to the nature of God, without it
being literally embodied any more in the ruler of every walled city. 
 . In any case the King of Glory has given us the task of using these
patriarchal symbols, including, apparently and at least for the
present,probably for much longer,  a male House of Justice. I know it strikes
many as odd to refer to the "real" restriction which creates a House composed
of nine"real" men as having a symbolic purpose (as Sonya pointed out),  but
questions of meaning involve symbolism  and one of the basic functions of any
religious system is to priviledge questions of meaning above "practical"
considerations. Any religious system must have at its core  symbolic
statements which involve sacrifice and which are priviledged above practical
considerations.  Baha'is love to talk about what they see as the practical
benefits of their religion, as if even prayer and fasting were merely
practical measures, but they are not. Their importance is symbolic. If
nothing else, at least we can admit that martyrdom is not practical!  To view
the rule barring women from the Universal House of Justice as practical (the
term I used in my earlier post was"rational") is to imply that some
incapacity of women or some inability of men in the presence of women
prevents a body with women on it from being effective at that level. Since,
as the House itself pointed out in the '88 letter, women do serve on the
international level and may serve on Baha'i international courts et cetera
 and in light of the clear teachings about the great capacity of women, not
to mention the achievment by women of growing levels of leadership in all
fields,  I conclude that the reason for the exclusion of women from serving
as members of the House is not practical which is not to say it has no reason
at all, only that the reason is a matter of symbolic discourse rather than
practical necessity.   In seeking its meaning in its symbolic value, I
suggest it makes sense to consider this rule in the context of patriarchal
symbolism which refers to the Creator as Lord and King.

 The tremendous difficulty we all, or nearly all of us, have with this idea
is we see the symbolic meaning of "patriarchy" as being nothing but the
domination and oppression of women by men. The domination of women by men has
been a fact of history which has been intertwined with the patriarchal
metaphors and male institutions of monotheistic religion. (though it is
interesting to note that misogyny in the West appears to have worsened
enormously during the explosion of capital and pseudo-science of the19th
 Century. See for example Bram Dijkstra's study,"Idols of Perversity,
Fantasies of Feminine Evil in Fin-de-Siecle Culture",Oxford,1986)
 Baha'u'llah has declared that oppression of women by men must end  and has
emphasized a non-anthropomorphic conception of the "Unknowable Essence" and,
in a manner reminiscent of the Jewish image of the Shekinnah, has personified
the spirit of revelation as a sacred Maiden of whom he has spoken with great
love--but in speaking of the names and attributes of God, He has used
patriarchal metaphors again and again. He likens the Diety to  a father, to a
lord or a king. These are patriarchal metaphors. In addition to speaking of
the "Men of the House of Justice" He mentioned a preference for
constitutional monarchy, saying that kings should not have arbitrary power
but still desiring the institution to continue because "the majesty of
kingship is one of the signs of God." The persistence of patriarchal
symbolism   in the Writings is by itself enough to arouse the skepticism of
many  who feel that as long as such language is used men are priviledged
above women, but the intent of such patriarchal language in the Faith, I
would suggest, is to retain its authority as a symbol of the authority of
that Inacessable Essence we call God.  What is needed is for us to understand
that only God is King. Thus the patriarchal heirarchical imagery is retained
but removed from all but the highest reference, the reference to the
Divinity, which is of course its most abstract reference. The male House of
Justice is left as a final literal embodiment of the image of Divine
Father.(to be withdrawn someday?) In this sense it --may perhaps-- be seen as
a remnant of patriarchal symbolism. Why not the Divine Mother in preference
to the Divine Father? This is, it seems to me, the  heart of the question.
  I suspect that as an archetypal relationship the father-child relationship
is more abstract, more remote than that between mother and child.The image of
the father seems to have been associated strongly with monotheism as opposed
to polytheism. This, at any rate, is the way the worshippers of Ishtar and
Baal were seen by the worshippers of YHWH--the Hebrews.   Also, the physical
power of men and their historic domination of women have been throughout
history answered by the Prophets by their assertion of God's greater power.
Baha'u'llah, in establishing the equality of men and women,  continues this
assertion of God's greater power.   Much as in His great Glory He withdraws
glory from its historic association with warfare, retaining the idea of glory
for Himself, so   He withdraws kingship and lordship from the world,
retaining the idea of sovereignty for Himself.  The constitutional monarchy
which Baha'u'llah favored and the male House of Justice are tokens on earth
of this heavenly Source of Power. Now, this continuity of imagery at a
greater level of abstraction, this progressive --disembodiment-- is, Terry,
what I take to be transformative. Ancient images are retained and their power
used to support the new order, to assert its continuity as an unfolding of
the spiritual heritage of humanity. Of course, Juan tells us that patriarchy
is dead. He wrote: "As for patriarchy, get over it guys.  It's over.  When
power was vested 
in swords and armor, you wanted a large male to fight for you.  But now 
power is vested in control panels and informational systems (the 'mode of 
information'); and guess which gender tends to do better at working 
control panels?" Of course I agree.  I recognize in his comment a casual
precis of Abdu'l Baha's statement that in the past force was dominant but
that the new age would be one in which  more feminine qualities of
cooperation and compassion would be more important. Why would I not agree
with that? This enormous conceptual and structural framework we have taken to
calling "patriarchy" is passing away. The assumption of male superiority and
the fact of male power are on the way out.  It is precisely because this
enormous change is occurring that I think we need not be surprised to find
patriarchal symbolism in the faith as a --remnant-- of this ancient order. I
would suggest that the preservation of such remnants is important to our
sense of continuity. The Symbols in our dreams change slowly.  On the ground
of such remnants are new meanings constructed. Ritual drinking of wine has an
important place in Jewish and Christian liturgy and wine is retained as a
symbol of the intoxicating experience of the Divine by Moslem mystics and by
Baha'u'llah Himself in the Kitab-i-Aqdas. Martial imagery also has a place in
the Revelation. I am only suggesting that perhaps the Universal House of
Justice retains the restriction of its membership as a symbol of this
continuity with our past,as a mark of the sovereignty of the Ancient Beauty.
Such a symbol can only be clear in its meaning precisely when women have not
only taken their place in society but actually transformed it.  Then the
all-male House will stand out as a --remnant--, one might even say a
throwback. It will thus have the appearance, the resonance, of a very ancient
institution. For the sake of this appearance, this aesthetic effect,  the
House is put to the inconvenience of needing to be careful to represent women
without women being members. In the future, we will probably have more
confidence that we can elect at least some males capable of thinking like
women, but  in any case they are not prevented from talking to
women.Certainly women's views and needs will be expressed and known to the
members of the House! Whether in the future the  rule against women serving
as members on it is retained or not retained, this will be in recognition of
 the rule's merely symbolic nature.  As we move into the Golden Age, memory
will be important. We might suppose, for instance, that precisely because we
are moving into an age of unprecedented peace that the age of war is coming
to a close with unprecedented brutality and with photography, cinema, video
et cetera, all these technologies and arts of memory developed so we can
record and remember.   When the fear and trauma are ended we can contemplate
anew these stories of life and death.  No sacrifice is forever without

Now a few  final notes for Mr. Anise.:

Ahmad, with  your "seed of creation" theory you take a reading of the
--symbolism-- of male revelator and describe the imagery of impregnation
sometimes used to describe the force of revelation as literal fact. There is
a difference in saying that such and such symbolic relationship has meaning
for us on deep levels and such and such symbolic relationship must be held
--literally-- true. First of all, by claiming that this symbol must be taken
literally and offering this metaphor as a literal explanation for why, in
your view, the House must be male, you are not advancing the cause of reason
because you are simply basing your thesis on an unprovable axiom, exactly
like your proposal that the universe was born from a definitively unknowable
substance which you call "ether" simply to provide a literal correspondence
for a term mentioned by Abdu'l-Baha.( There was a lengthy discussion of the
concept of "ether" on Talisman last spring.)  This is neither "rational" nor

Secondly, your literal reading of this metaphor treats the members of the
House of Justice as not members of a consultative body but as  undergoing a
mysterious kind of unconscious process. Neither  Baha'u'llah, Abdu'l Baha nor
Shoghi Effendi nor any House member has ever described the activity of the
House of Justice in such magical and passive terms. The Gaurdian, for
example, writes,in World Order of Baha'u'llah, page 153,"They may, indeed
they must,  acquaint themselves with the conditions prevailing among the
community, must weigh dispassionately in their minds the merits of any case
presented for their consideration but must reserve for themselves the right
 of an unfettered decision.  This does not suggest an unconscious or
involuntary process. It is a process of consultation. "You write:> This
process is an intercourse.  It needs male and 
>female entities to manifest itself.  As such men (only the elected 
>nine) are playing a female role and get pregnant with Godly ideas 
>and Heavenly guidance.  This could only put men in advantage, if 
>you consider that women are in an advantage to men, because they 
>can give birth to a child.

Last but not least, --of course-- this comparison in which, according to you,
women give birth to children but men give birth to "godly ideas"  is
demeaning to women!  Women certainly can be inspired with all kinds of ideas
as much as men and rightly do not view childbirth as equivelent to
intellectual labor. A mother can write a book as easily as a father, and
childbirth in no way exhausts her creative potential.  And women serve on all
other Baha'i consultative institutions.  You should also be aware that this
comparison of supposedly male intellectual creativity to female childbearing
has often been used by male chauvinists, especially in  the nineteenth
century when male writers reported as scientific fact their belief that
intellectual activity would have a detrimental effect on female fertility. 

Ahmad Anise wrote:>  But you are wrong to say 
>that to see this as a pattern of creation would impose limitations on 
>the capacity and rank of women.  Functionality again has no bearing 
>on their equality. I have explained this by the example of the flight of 
>the bird and its two wings.  Functionally the wings are different but 
>they are equally important.
We do disagree here, Ahmad, and simply to refer to Abdu'l Baha's wonderful
metaphor about the wings of a bird does not resolve the disagreement, as you
have not shown thereby that He was talking about the same notion you are
putting forth! His purpose was to say that women must develop their
capacities to the same degree as men.In my view your use of this statement to
emphasize difference is contrary to His intent. In other passages Abdu'l Baha
emphasizes the importance of motherhood, but also says that women must be
educated and "take part in all affairs."  

  The Institution of UHJ 
>as far as I know is a new concept established by Baha'u'llah as a 
>safeguard for the Faith.  It can not be a remnant of patriarchy.

Yes, the Universal House of Justice is a new institution. Does this mean it
can have no elements in common with institutions of the past? Clearly new
institutions retain elements of old institutions within them.  For instance,
all nine members of any spiritual assembly must be human beings!  
The ability to retain living links with the past is crucial to the vitality
of human institutions. 

I wrote in my last post on this subject:
  The restriction of its membership can in practical terms be regarded
>as a handicap accepted for symbolic purposes, a preference of symbolism over
>practical considerations, and this symbolism must be understood not in
>contemporary terms but as an ancient symbolic ordering preserved in spite of
>our tendency in the modern world to want government to represent the People
>through democratic representation.

Ahmad replied:
To consider this as a handicap, one is implying that the structure is 
imperfect and requires perfection.  How could an institution that is 
endowed with spiritual powers could be considered imperfect.  
There is no symbolism, it is just part of the pattern of Creation.  It 
is perfect in all its aspects.

Ahmad, to say that a structure creates difficulty does not mean it is
imperfect! For instance,  the Manifestation of God accepts suffering for love
of humanity. Abdu'l Baha endured suffering as did also the Gaurdian. Further,
every human soul is born into this world for its potential spiritual
development, and we must all endure pain and suffering, but this is the
perfect place for our spiritual development! Everything has its symbolic
aspect, because the world is full of meaning.  To describe this rule in terms
of symbolic meaning rather than trying to explain it as you have done is to
see its meaning as relative to a symbol system rather than absolute. In this
way it can be accepted as an arbitrary expression which is not to br
reflected, as you say, "at all levels." 

At any rate, tomorrow is another day!  ;-)


David Taylor

From gpoirier@acca.nmsu.eduThu Oct 19 14:34:57 1995
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 23:14:29 -0600 (MDT)
From: "[G. Brent Poirier]" 
To: Juan R Cole 
Subject: Re: Baha'i Courts

Juan, in Q & A 98 is the term in the original text "qadi?"

Muchissimas gracias

From MBOYER%UKANVM.BITNET@cmsa.Berkeley.EDUThu Oct 19 16:57:21 1995
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 95 13:51:45 CDT
From: Milissa 
Subject: Dave's post

Hey David Taylor--

Thanks for posting your thoughts about the women/UHJ issue on Talisman.
I really enjoyed your insights!

However, I bet you five bucks you are going to get an email from someone
telling you to shut up. But please don't!!! Even if everyone else on the entire
planet gets sick of this issue, I won't.

Milissa Boyer

From richs@microsoft.comThu Oct 19 16:59:35 1995
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 11:44:08 -0700
From: Rick Schaut 
To: "''" ,
Subject: RE: Baha'i Cause/Baha'i Community

Dear Friends,

Tony writes of putting the community before the Cause
vs. putting the Cause before the community, and I find
this a curious idea.

I think of the Cause as a message and the community
as the medium through which that message gets
expressed.  In that vein, how can one be deemed
more important than the other in either direction?

Warmest Regards,
Rick Schaut

From pjohnson@leo.vsla.eduThu Oct 19 22:33:50 1995
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 95 17:26:55 EDT
From: "K. Paul Johnson" 
Subject: Farewell

Now that Initiates has been out for almost three months, I
guess it's safe to assume there's no groundswell of interest in
discussing it on Talisman.  Recently I've been hanging out here
just in case the book stimulated questions, but it's getting
time to move on.

Although I like and admire many of you, my scholarly and
personal interest in Baha'i is limited.  At present I'm
starting to plan and research a new book on a completely new
topic-- Edgar Cayce-- so am cutting back on Internet commitments
in order to concentrate.

Email communication is welcomed from all Talismanians who would
care to keep in touch.  I'll be sending notes to many of you
from time to time.

Keep up all the good work.


From dhouse@cinsight.comThu Oct 19 22:37:25 1995
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 15:47:54 -0700
From: "David W. House" 
Subject: Re: Justice and Baha'i Courts

>> ... our very first act must be to question our understanding of
>> what constitutes justice.  Because none of us has a perfect sense of
>> justice, it would be completely improper for any individual to seek to
>> bend the the Administrative Order to fit our own sense of justice.
>You know, such a position really reduces Baha'i principle to a travesty.  It
>means, in effect, that the Baha'i Faith is not here to establish justice in
>the world, but only to set up an administrative structure and then label
>whatever they do "justice."  This position actually substitutes the
>Administrative Order for the principles of the Faith, making it an end in
>itself which has no higher goal.  This is precisely the position that the
>beloved Guardian warned us was to be avoided.  

I wonder, Tony, if you would please put a quote to that warning...

It would seem to me that an overarching concern with justice among
individuals is a reflection of our history of religion: e.g. mankind has
never had anything like the lesser Covenant before, and thus all religious
institutions of the past were creations, albeit well-meaning, of men (not
"people"), which inevitably suffered from human failings. People (not just
men) have throughout history been concerned with justice-- still, it has not
yet taken firm root on the earth. This would tend to provide strong evidence
that our concern for justice, based on our own understanding of what that
is, will not bring it about. Rather, we *require* the lesser Covenant.

Reality has never been subject to popular vote, or the earth would today be
flat. Alternatively, one may say that our perception of existing things does
nothing to alter them, at least by the mere act of perception. Likewise, we
may not be aware of something, but this does nothing to alter its existance.

The Covenant is a real thing, existing outside of our perception, but in
fact more powerful than any force in "sensible" reality (c.f. SAQ, p 83). Of
this wonderful gift to mankind, our beloved Master said:

     "O ye League of the Covenant!  Verily the Abha Beauty
    made a promise to the beloved who are steadfast in the
    Covenant, that He would reinforce their strivings with the
    strongest of supports, and succour them with His triumphant
    might.  Ere long shall ye see that your illumined assemblage
    hath left conspicuous signs and tokens in the hearts and
    souls of men.  Hold ye fast to the hem of God's garment,
    and direct all your efforts toward furthering His Covenant,
    and burning ever more brightly with the fire of His love,
    that your hearts may leap for joy in the breathings of
    servitude which well out from the breast of Abdu'l-Baha."
        (SFTWAB, p 85)

These are not mere words, as you no doubt know, but undoubted promises
concerning real things. In the spirit of independant investigation, although
it is not for the servants to question, we can demonstrate this reality to
ourselves by fervently following the advice; we will see, then, the promise
unfold in our own lives.

Five minutes experience suffice to demonstrate that much of existance is
devoid of what we think of as justice; yet God is the All-Knowing, the
All-powerful. How can the dilemma thus posed be resolved? That is, God is
well able to change any condition, and no condition can exist without Him;
why then is the world in such a sorry state?

I would think that there are only a few conclusions that can be reached.
Among them: God does not exist; He is not all powerful or not all knowing,
or both; or we don't know the whole story.

By this latter I mean that we cannot judge the worth of struggle until we
know the prize; we cannot understand the value of an education until after
it is obtained; we cannot imagine what it means to be an adult until we have
been one for a while, etc. Despite repeated evidences of our own lack of
understanding, and the clear fact that the end cannot be known (those who
have obtained to the last valley excepted) in the beginning, our natural
tendancy seems to be to assume that we understand situations, we can
recognize and establish the standard of justice, we are capable.
While we must, in all cases, attempt to act according to justice, and speak
to the tyrant of his misdeeds, by my experience we more often need to bow
down and accept what we cannot fully understand. The guidance is crystalline:

       "O thou who art turning thy face towards God!
    Close thine eyes to all things else, and open them to the
    realm of the All-Glorious.  Ask whatsoever thou wishest of
    Him alone; seek whatsoever thou seekest from Him alone.
    With a look He granteth a hundred thousand hopes, with
    a glance He healeth a hundred thousand incurable ills, with
    a nod He layeth balm on every wound, with a glimpse He
    freeth the hearts from the shackles of grief.  He doeth as He
    doeth, and what recourse have we?  He carrieth out His
    Will, He ordaineth what He pleaseth.  Then better for thee
    to bow down thy head in submission, and put thy trust in
    the All-Merciful Lord."
        (SFWAB, p 51)

Be well,

David William House (
Computer Insight
23022 Yeary Lane N.E.
Aurora, OR 97002-0167 USA
(503) 678-1085 voice
(503) 678-1030  fax

"Well is it with the doers of great deeds." Abdu'l-Baha

From jjensen@welchlink.welch.jhu.eduThu Oct 19 22:42:34 1995
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 19:08:27 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Joan L. Jensen" 
Subject: Re: Dave's post

I also appreciated David Taylor's discussion about women and the 
Universal House of Justice.  We are all going to get grilled on that 
topic in the coming years, and for that reason I have actually 
down-loaded the discussions from this and other newsgroups, and plan to 
save them for those challenges.  Of course none of the discussions explain 
the reason for the law, but there may be enough there to tide a sincere 
seeker over until they can fall in love with the rest of the Faith, and 
accept this one instruction on faith.
Thanks again.

From hwmiller@ccnet.comThu Oct 19 23:05:33 1995
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 16:26:04 -0600
From: Henry Miller 
Subject: Introduction

    [The following text is in the "iso-8859-1" character set]
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Hi friends,
   My second posting, but I see after receiving  List Rules for New
Subscribers, that I should make a brief introduction.
   I have been a declared Baha'i since 1964.  I am an educator, working
presently with "seriously emotionally disturbed" pre-teens in a special
center in a public school district in California.  I have taught 5th,
7th-12th grades....English, etc. and while pioneering in Honduras in
1971-74, taught in La Escuela Americana in Tegucigalpa, Honduras.  "Pues,
estoy, por lo menos, un cuarto "catracho," ójala.
   I have some degrees, but the one that pleases me most is my M.A. from
John F. Kennedy University in Orinda, California, where I concentrated in
Transpersonal Psychology in the Department of Consciousness Studies.  This
makes the question of the "how" of the underlying harmony of science and
religion of main interest to me.  What, where, and how can we image and
integrate the APPARENT contradiction between these two spheres of inquiry?
This question, guided by a mid-life healing crisis - still in progress -
entailing therapy, bodywork, Bach Flower Remedies, and much ongoing burning
away of projections, dross, ego,  trauma, abuse, and fear from the past
(going back to when.....conception?), has brought me to the study of what
is most often known as "kundalini."
   This topic, that of the how of self-transformation, is,  I believe,
related to the severe mental tests which we, apparently, must face in this
American community.  Through prayer and meditation the heat of our devotion
and steadfastness must reach a point of enkindlement whereby crisis turns
and resolves into a higher level of consciousness.  The "spirit of faith,"
must, my experience suggests, mount the steed of "pain," and journey
through the Valley of Love while the fire burns.
      This is way more than a brief introduction.  I am glad to be on
Talisman, and it took the ABS Conference to get me here.  Burl, I enjoyed
meeting you....I have yet to buy your book, but I intend to asap. I met you
briefly while you and John and my brother, Brad, were out in the Lobby with
your books Saturday evening, afternoon? I'm glad we are near Bosch with
Derek and Sima's service at the wonderful café and bookshop which is part
of the Bosch's easy to obtain books and tapes, etc.
     Warm Baha'i greetings,  Henry
P.S. Have a wonderful Holy Day!

Henry W. Miller

Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 11:13:49 -0700
From: an assistant for protection
To: 'Juan R Cole' 
Subject: RE: Baha'i Courts

Dear Juan,

I'm sending a separate message in private because I'd like
to just be certain that there is no ill will between us. (I don't
know if there is, I just want to be sure that there isn't any.)

If it helps you to think of me as a devil's advocate on this
issue please do so.  Though, my purpose in wading in on
this discussion has a bit more complex than simply to
play devil's advocate.

To be perfectly honest, I think that if you went to the
Universal House of Justice with this proposal, their
response would be a rather polite, "Not now."  This is
only my own impression, but it is, however, an impression
based upon the issues that the Universal House of
Justice has emphasied over the past several years in
their Ridvan messages and the more recent compilations
they've published or had the research department

My goal, then, is not to simply shoot your idea down.  If
I had wanted to do that, I would go though all the writings
myself and put together the line of reasoning I have in
mind.  My goal is to put you in a position of having to
research the issues yourself.  I think you would benefit
much greater for having done the research yourself than if
I do the research for you. Moreover, your proposal is only
that much more strengthened by your having done the
research and acquired the ability to relate the proposal
more directly to the principles of the Faith.

Warmest Regards,

From lua@sover.netThu Oct 19 23:19:11 1995
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 21:03:25 -0400
From: LuAnne Hightower 
To: Robert Johnston ,
Subject: Cognition?

Allah-u-Abha, Robert.  My lack of response to date is mainly due to my lack
of clarity on the nature of your question.  What do you mean the "role of
cognition in sorrow and grief."  Consciousness?  Thought?  Intuition?

In turning the question over a few times, it strikes me that I would be hard
pressed to separate the process of assimilation from the feelings
themselves.  In other words, since we are always (aren't we?) thinking while
we feel, feeling while we think, intuiting while we analyze, etc., can we
truly separate these aspects our experience into boxes and shut one off
while the other is being activated?  My own experience of sorrow and grief
are that as much awareness (consciousness?) as I can bring to the emotions,
the better.  In other words if the process of "unveiling" is too heavily
weighted by emotion, I can find myself quite literally swallowed up by such
states.  If, however, I rely too heavily on the intellect, I find myself
trying to minimize the import of the feelings, or even judging them.  This
applies to any process which seeks to heal the breach between these various
aspects of human experience.

For instance, if I do dhikr and focus on consciously keeping track of how
many "Allahs" I am saying, I remain remote from the state of nearness to
God.  If I don't bring some sort of anchor, like prayer beads or practicing
awareness of my own state, or being aware of my posture, I can get really
'spaced out' and even attached to this altered state of being.
Consciousness serves to bring presence into any situation or experience, so
that we can integrate, assimilate our relationship to the experience in a
way that is inclusive - so that we can bring as much of ourselves as
possible to our interactions with the world(s).

The tricky part is not to dwell too much on the mechanics of the process -
to trust it AND to test it.  To question, but not to the point of obsession.
For instance, do the constructs I have just fleshed out around a particular
issue FEEL TRUE when I give them voice?  Am I hiding something (emotional)
from myself underneath the rhetoric?  Am I keeping some valid insight from
surfacing by wallowing in my emotions?  Am I really looking for the truth in
this matter, or hiding from it?  In this light consciousness can be the
mediator between cognitive processes and emotional states.  It can help us
evaluate our own process and integrate the experience of it.  But only is we
take this business of transformation seriously and approach it honestly.

Perhaps some of this rambling addresses the question you posed.  If I am
unclear in my understanding of your question, please let me know.

Warm Regards,

From Oct 19 23:20:02 1995
Date: Fri, 20 Oct 1995 14:46:30 +1300 (NZDT)
From: Robert Johnston 
To: LuAnne Hightower ,
Subject: Re: Cognition?

Dear LuAnne,
           A brief note only, because I agree with what you wrote. Yes, you
understood my question well enough; yes, I did contrast cognition with
emotion; yes, thought and emotion are not mutually exclusive.

In his account of actualisation, Maslow gave prominence to "peek
experiences" which he discovered mainly in artistic people.  He became
aware of the meaningfulness of this mystical experience when interviewing
people about their sexual lives.  His psychology and the peek experience
are often thought of "in the same breath".  How many of the other nearly 20
qualities of self actualised persons can anyone name?

However, near the end of his life he said that peek experiences weren't
nearly as important as he had first thought.  He said that "the plateau
experience" was more important.  The plateau experience, as I recall, was
reckoned to be less chaotic [cosmic?!] and more serene -- and more
"conscious".  Whereas the peek experience could be had through drugs, the
plateau experience required work. Was it Plato who wrote that the
unexamined life it not worth living?

Now I don't quite know what this adds to the topic, but I thought I would
write it anyway.


From TLCULHANE@aol.comThu Oct 19 23:21:30 1995
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 22:35:11 -0400
Subject: re: justice and Bahai courts 

       Dear Friends,

        The postings by Rick S. and David House have intrigued me especially
due to the issue of the Covenant .

        First a quick comment on Revelation and truth and where it can be
found from Ricks post .  my understanding of this is ifluenced by Baha
u'llahs discussion of the various revelations in the Book of Certitude -
specific , general etc .  It is also influenced by  the folowing passage in
 the Kalimat  "  . . the scrolls which depict the shape and pattern of the
universe are indeed a most great book. Therein every man of insight can
perceive that which would lead to the Straight path and would enable him to
attain unto the Great Announcement ." 
     As I read Straight path it is a reference to ethical actions and the
great announcement being the truth of Baha ullah's revelation .  It would
seem to me Baha u llah is saying *nature* and by extension culture could
 lead one to, an ethical life and be a source of attaining unto the knowledge
of God . 

      I do not know if reality is subject to a popular vote but it seems
clear that or perception of it is socially constructed. To even spaek of
*Reality * is to invoke culturally received concepts . It seems reasonable to
assume that any understanding of *Covenants or reality are going to be
mediated by culturally received categories of thought .  Ss for our
perception of  existing things not alter them - well the revolution in
physics has ,  i thought, dispelled that notion . The act of perception is an
active process not a passive one . the work of Francesco Varela, Humbarto
Maratana and George Wald , among others ,    has elaborated at lenght on the
world creating nature of perception . 

      I am glad david distinguished between the *jesser covenant* and the
greater one. It seems to me the greater covenant frequently gets lost in the
shuffle . If the *greater * did not exist it would be fairly meaningless to
speak of lesser covenants . the greater covenant seems to me to set the stage
by asking in thr Quran " Am I not your Lord ' yes I testify that thou art . "
 This is first of all an act of *Remembrance* . I believe this was such an
important topic that Baha u llah wrote an entire book devoted to this subject
- The Book of Certitude .  

   There seems to be an assumption that the lessor covenant is equivalent  to
the Administrativre order .  The quote provided  which begins " O ye League
of the Covenant " seems to refer to the greater Covenant that is the
"Remembrance of God ". I dont see anything in that statement which has to do
with administration per se .  It seems to me steadfastness has to do
fundamentally with the Remembrance of the Merciful a la the closing
statements of the Book of Certitude .  Furtgher it seems likely to me that
the holding up of the Administrative Order as the supreme reality and as
equivalent to the Covenant is close to a form of idolatry . 

   I would further think with regard to justice  that clearly progress has
been made in human affairs over the past several  thousand years . To suggest
otherwise would appear to contravene the very notion of "progressive
revelation " and assume no good has appeared on earth until recently . A
little hubris in that for a human being it seems to me . 

   As for the last statement from Abdul Baha this clearlt apears to be a
reference to "submission" to God . Again I fail to find any reference in that
about administration . I am not aware of anywhere Baha ullah speaks of
submission in the context in which Abdul Baha is atating it in this pasage
  as having to do with administration .  Baha u llah sleaks of submission or
heart surrender in the Iqan with respect to the Divine Beloved and with
regard to the manifestation in such capacity . I cannot imagine the
"submission sooken of by Abdul Baha here or Baha u llah in the Iqan or the
Aqdas having anything to do with institutions . I can support . carry out
actions even at times Obey the administrative institutions if nothing else .
I surely cannot * submit * to them .  In my view to do so would be to join
partners with God . 
     The one place Baha u llah sems to speak of faithfulness to the covenant
in a contingent way  in the Aqdas is with regard to reciting the verses of
God morning and evening.  I an unable to find anywhere that he states such a
comparable condition with respect to institutions . 

     As for Administration as lessor covenant I must say what happened to the
Mahriqu ; Adhkar  what the Guardian has described as the  ."  as one of the
 noblest institution "  ordained   by Baha u llah . If Admin was an end in
itself or the central point of the covenant why would the Guardian have said
that the efforts of the those who administer the affairs of the Faith  :  .
can not fructify and prosper unless brought into close daily contact with the
energies radiating from the central shrine  . ' ( of the Mashriq ) . How can
we begin to speak of covenants lessor or greater when we tend to idolotrize
administration and ignore the indispensable link the Guardian makes between
the development of the Cause of Baha u llah and the Mashriqu 'l Adhkar ?
 Furthermore Abdul Baha has said with regard to the Mashriq  that its
founding marks "  . the inception of the Kingdom of God on earth . "  I have
always understood the "kingdom of God " as having to do with the reign of
justice and the fulfillment of the Divine promise  - with The Covenant of God
.  I am unable to find Abdul baha making the same type of statements with
regard to administrative institutions . Administration is a means to an end
and that end is unity. It wil always be up to us imperfect beings to
implement justice through a set of divinely ordained institutions.we will in
all liklihood do it imperfectly in this world . 

      I remain in Her service,

From Oct 19 23:50:09 1995
Date: Fri, 20 Oct 95 12:31:22 JST
From: "Stephen R. Friberg" 
Subject: Turning the other cheek: class consciousness

Dear Juan:

Thank you for your response!  Your words ring very true.

Perhaps I should say my motivation for my story.  Chris's
story touched my heart. But also, it made me see how 
unprepared he was to defend himself.  He didn't know how
to deflect the attack, or to respond in such a way as 
to turn the situation to advantage for Baha'i Scholarship.   

Juan, you have shared with us your vision of the importance
of Baha'i Scholarship.  Not just the inspirational kind, but
the modern critical kind that will invite appreciation and 
regard from scholars and academics.  And, you want thinking,
considerate Baha'is, able to throw off the shackles of 
prejudiced, outdated, unscientific thought.  I think that
many of us have that same dream. 

What I am concerned about, and I have been concerned about
ever since I signed on to Talisman, is the bitterness.  
To me, this bitterness is a poison that attacks and will
kill the dream.  It is so painfully clear to me.  With this
bitterness, the vision can not become a reality.  The dream
will end in ashes.

Without the bitterness, we can share with everybody.  We don't
need to throw stones and name enemies.  Rather, the real work
can begin: enthusiastic scholarship attracting dedicated young
thinkers without a chip on their shoulder, works of scholarship
not only aimed narrowly at Baha'i audiences but stirring a real
appreciation in the broader world.  And yes, an end to review.

And Chris would be fighting off admirers! 

Yours respectfully,
Stephen R. Friberg

P.S.  The Socorro story, being true, is not as simple as you think.  
On one hand, Talismanians are the academics, being envied for their
articulatedness and command, their prominent position in the
conference proceedings, their intellectual acumen and attainments.  
Many of you simply don't understand how you are typecast when 
people don't know who you are.  
      On the other hands, the Talismanians are the ones throwing stones,
demanding to be paid attention to, envious of the elite, aware and 
afraid of their own poverty, and in danger of being squashed 
on the highway.

From jrcole@umich.eduThu Oct 19 23:50:44 1995
Date: Wed, 18 Oct 1995 00:09:21 -0400 (EDT)
From: Juan R Cole 
Subject: Re: Protection of Baha'i Authors

It was a very great pleasure to meet you.  Your paper is 
positioned next to my easy chair, and is first on my list of things to do.

Please do not let narrow-minded ignoramuses bother you.  The world is 
full of them, including the Baha'i world.

And please do not tout Review as protecting us from them.  It does not, 
and besides, we do not need that protection.  Just tell them to jump in a 

Doug Raynor came up to me and tried to intimidate me, as well.  Since 
I've dealt with Hafez al-Asad and hands of the Cause, I was unimpressed.

warmest regards,   Juan

From jrcole@umich.eduThu Oct 19 23:50:44 1995
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 00:30:11 -0400 (EDT)
From: Juan R Cole 
Subject: Re: Baha'i Courts

Just a couple short replies to a number of issues

1.  With regard to a national Baha'i court, I just wanted to say that my 
suggestion has been made quite explicitly with the hope of helping the 
community function more smoothly, not with challenging any institution or 
any particular decision.  I would personally be quite happy to have the 
NSA appoint the judge or judges, *if* the appointment was for life and so 
the judge would not be liable to retaliation for a decision that was not 
popular with the NSA.  Or the Universal House of Justice could appoint 
the national Baha'i court.  It could be made up of Counsellors, as Ahang 
suggested, or not, as Derek did. I am not concerned with its form (though 
I will say that I think Derek's approach of the judiciary as a third and 
separate Arm of the Faith is probably better.  For instance, it seems to 
me desirable that the judge have a law degree of some sort, and perhaps 
some knowledge of Arabic, which few Counsellors do).  The reason for my 
suggestion is multiple; but among the reasons is a desire to create a 
space for conflict resolution within the Faith where the NSA is an 
interested party and therefore not likely to be accepted as a good-faith 
arbitrator.  I bring up the Dialogue affair, where accusations of 
campaigning were made against magazine editors, or other instances, where 
persons have been sanctioned for raising questions about the ethics of 
individual NSA members, only to give concrete examples of the problem I see.

2.  Rick, I would just suggest that the Baha'i Writings say quite clearly 
that human reason and judgment are *among* the ways that justice might be 
recognized.  This is clear in Secret of Divine Civilization as well as in 
Lawh-i Ra'is.  That human reason can recognize moral good and bad, and 
that God cannot do wrong, are principles of the medieval Muslim 
Mu`tazilite school that were absorbed into Shi`ite theology and accepted 
by the Bab and Baha'u'llah.  
   But it seems to me that the question can be settled less abstractly.  
I put it to you, Rick Schaut.  Let us say that you were serving on the 
NSA of country X.  And let us say that you were personally accused of 
misusing Baha'i funds.  And let us say that the issue was not black and 
white, but ambiguous, that the expenditures were a judgment call that 
some might indeed find ethically questionable, but which you felt you 
could defend.  Now let us say that the NSA members as a whole were 
outraged by your accuser having spoken out, and had decided to remove his 
administrative rights.  Let me just ask you.  Would you feel right about 
participating in this meeting and voting on your accuser's rights?  Would 
you?  Do we really need to find a letter from 1924 before we can tell if 
your participation would be a right or wrong action?  A yes or no answer, 

3.  I am very sorry to hear about Christopher Buck's brush with a direct 
form of literary cricicism.  Mirza Abu'l-Fadl at one point in *Miracles 
and Metaphors* quotes an Arabic proverb:  Man kataba kitaban, fa'stahdaf 
("Whoever writes a book makes himself a target).  Such encounters with 
persons who hold entirely different views than your own, and who are 
deliberately attempting to intimidate you, can shake you in a way that I 
think non-authors can never understand.  It is one of my life goals to 
provide a support network for young Baha'i scholars to protect them from 
this sort of intimidation.  As for Baha'is who are offended at academic 
discourse, they have two choices:  to avoid it or get used to it.  
Avoiding it is easy enough; for instance, if you hate academic 
scholarship, you might not want to go to a meeting like the Association 
for Baha'i Studies conference.  And no one is making you buy 
Christopher's book, or even discuss it.  The other possibility is to get 
used to it.  Because Baha'i academics are not going away, and are not 
going to allow themselves to be silenced.  And that was what this person 
was doing to Christopher, was attempting to silence him; that individual 
is welcome to his views, but he is not welcome to attempt to control the 
views of others.  The other people I've met with this sort of mindset 
have been followers of Khomeini in Iran.  How sad, that any Baha'i would 
think in a similar way.  Academics are often called "arrogant" or 
"prideful;" it is too often forgotten that there can just as easily be 
arrogant ignoramuses.

4.  I endorse Tony's accolades to Rob Stockman for organizing a very 
successful Religious Studies seminar at ABS; although I could only attend 
for half a day, the quality of what I saw was on the whole quite good.

cheers   Juan Cole, History, University of Michigan

From jrcole@umich.eduThu Oct 19 23:50:46 1995
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 23:18:10 -0400 (EDT)
From: Juan R Cole 
To: an assistant for protection
Subject: RE: Baha'i Courts

  Oh, please *never* think that an intellectual discussion on my 
part entails any personal ill will.  

I am afraid I do not think this issue, of morally corrupt practices on 
the parts of NSAs, is going to be settled by research; but in bringing up 
the suggestion, I do hope to get knowledgeable friends . . .
thinking about them.

I am afraid that the rules of Baha'i discourse (backbiting, negative 
campaigning, etc.) make it impossible for me to level with you about all 
the corruption I have seen come out of the current system, and which my 
suggestion is aimed, in part, at ending.  As for going to the House, of 
course they would say no if a single person wrote them with this idea out 
of nowhere.  But if a large number of Talismanians gave serious thought 
to reform, grounded it, as you say, in the Writings, and continued to 
show interest in it, the idea would become more plausible.

I don't mean to keep setting you ethical conundrums.  But what would you 
do if you lived, say, in Paraguay.  And you discovered that NSA members 
there had fiddled with accounts so as, let us say, to divert resources to 
themselves.  And let us say that you had gone to the House with this 
information, and the House had replied, "The Paraguayan friends must make 
the change themselves."  What recourse would you then have?  If you told 
anyone what you knew (and let us say you knew it unequivocally), that 
would be negative campaigning.  Are you saying that in such a situation 
the only recourse is to go on in silence, working for the Cause in 
Paraguay, but knowing what you know?  [*Please* do not assume that I am 
speaking of a real situation, though obviously such things have happened, 
especially in the Third World.  I am trying to show you why I think we 
need some sort of structural change.]

very warmest regards     Juan

From jrcole@umich.eduThu Oct 19 23:50:47 1995
Date: Thu, 19 Oct 1995 23:49:49 -0400 (EDT)
From: Juan R Cole 
To: "Stephen R. Friberg" 
Subject: Re: Turning the other cheek: class consciousness

Stephen:  I admire your holistic approach and desire to be inclusive, and 
share the latter.

Just to say that Christopher *was* surrounded by admirers, and that many, 
many Baha'is at that conference bought and admired his book.  :-) 
especially once Burl corrupted him and taught him how to hawk it.:-)  The 
one incident he mentioned was atypical, though it surely cast a pall.  
One thing that intrigues me is that you focus on Christopher's 
unpreparedness, and inability to defend himself, as if this character's 
behavior was normal or to be expected or something.  

Perhaps it is, again, my non-genteel background, but where I come from it 
is not considered bitterness when someone acts like a jerk and you point 
it out.

cheers   Juan Cole, History, Univ. of Michigan

From Oct 20 10:27:58 1995
Date: Fri, 20 Oct 1995 16:55:58 +1300 (NZDT)
From: Robert Johnston 
To: "Joan L. Jensen" ,
Subject: Re: brief bios

      I think Joan's idea is an excellent one.  These personal pieces are
sooo interesting.  Who did not get pleasure from Steve Friberg's posting of
today, and from Juan's spirited response?  And one of the great charms of
Burl ["sulking in the waterbed"] Barer is his ability to speak

There a several new voices on Talisperson and -- especially given that the
list is a year old  -- why should they tell us about themselves and net get
something in return?  Joan's idea of spreading these out over a couple of
months is a good one.

I'll [re]post mine next week, sometime...


From Don_R._Calkins@commonlink.comFri Oct 20 10:28:48 1995
Date: 19 Oct 1995 22:15:35 GMT
From: "Don R. Calkins" 
Subject: Re: class and consciousness

Juan said
> the poor and the working-class may take their religion straight 
> rather than over the rocks, but they are not necessarily intolerant.

I agree.  But I have experienced more *anti* intellectualism from these
people too.  From my experience, there has been greater tolerance among the
working class and aloof condescension among the upper classes.  Among the
upper classes and intelleigentsia, I would say that the intolerance stems
from an assumption by the individual that because they are educated and/or
intelligent that they already have the correct answers.  I have seen all
three reactions among Baha'is, tho' there have been only a few incidents of
what I perceived as anti-intellectualism.

Don C

From dpeden@imul.comFri Oct 20 10:35:07 1995
Date: Fri, 20 Oct 95 08:04:29+030
From: Don Peden 
Subject: Bon Jovi, Sting, Baha'i Community

Dear Terry:

Where were you when we needed you?  

Our boys like to listen to rock music (must be a left over from their
mother), and in a well meaning Baha'i community, instead of using it as a
path to teach them (as my third born son kept pointing out would be a way to
teach the Faith), the music was condemned as being Satanic (and probably our
children), soul polluting, and degenerate (didn't Hitler make a few
statements like that?).  Then they went on to try and mould the children
into "good Baha'is".  They never took the time to help them analyse the
music and develop a skill for distinction.

As a result, four kids who loved and respected the Baha'i Community have
responded thusly.  One has decided that the ideals of the Faith are far too
lofty for him to aspire to, and that Baha'is don't practice what they preach

The second born is confused, and was nearly suicidal as the Baha'i community
in question encouraged him to report on the activities of his younger
brother (for his own good).  He, having been taught to respect authority,
did so, and was just about torn apart by guilt, because he knew he was
betraying his brother, something we had instilled in him never to do.  But
by twisting things, the community had convinced him to "rat in the name of
the Faith".  It took sessions with a psychologist to sort that one out.  

The crime that he had been asked to "rat" on was perpetrated by our third
son, who questioned the ethics of the community.  He said that he did not
recognize this "good Baha'i" stuff as anything he had grown up with in
Africa.  With such a wide barn door presented to him by that particular
community, he decided to follow his instincts and challenge it.  He grew his
hair long (horrified everyone), listened to rock music (the more flack he
got, the more "decadent" it became), refused to take part in what he saw as
an elitist group (I have no idea where he gets these ideas from) and was
outspoken about questioning what he was seeing.  He was not particularly
tactful in his rebellion (who in grade 9 is?).  He offered ways past the
barriers by offering to set up a band who could use rock music to help teach
youth the idea which was quickly rejected.  The message he kept
getting was "conform or be damned", he chose the latter.  When asked "your
parents will be sooo disappointed", he replied "My parents will understand!".

When I was told my son was going astray, and threatening other youth with
his questions, (and by this time, acting out) and needed to be immediately
removed, I was relieved.  (We were pioneering in a place where there were no
schools).  He came with us and finished his schooling by correspondence.  He
tried to "make it" again in that same community during the next year, (he
felt he had failed and wanted to try again) and he tried to comply with
their expectations.  He even cut his hair.  But after one month, he just
couldn't make it.  Acted out completely (told the major domo that "This
place sucks!"), and came home.  His "expulsion" process from the said
community bore all the same hallmarks of their earlier sensitivity.

I was approached by the same "major domo" at the time my son returned for
the second try (against my wishes), and asked "Aren't you so pleased!"  I
replied "No."  This was met with silence, and then "Why?"  I replied
"Because I don't believe this environment has the capacity to meet my sons
spiritual needs."  I was immediately called to a meeting where I was asked
"We are concerned about your loyalty."  I replied that in this instance, my
loyal was with my son.

This for me was the clarion call to wake up and question what was going on
around me in the name of the Faith.  It precipitated my resignation, as this
community was a very high profile one being touted as "an example of the
Faith worthy of emulation globally", but several Baha'i sources.  It
fulfilled the desire of all those Baha'is who look for a sheltered place
removed from the world where they can live, retire, and feel good about
their goodness.  I decided that if this was the direction humankind was
taking Baha'u'llah's revelation, we were finished before we had begun, and I
had better go look under some rocks and in the dirt for some answers.

This "questionable" son followed the strength of his convictions, teachings
he had learned here, that all people were equal in the sight of God, and
worthy of love.  He did not accept that approval was a goal under those
circumstances.  Today, he is graduating high school, he still listens to
rock music, is happy, sensitive, straight, (except for the odd beer on
Saturday night), loving, fun and healing...the scar shows whenever anyone
mentions religion of any kind and the Baha'i Faith in particular, or other
ways of imposing corporate identity.  The trajedies are many, but the most
prominent one in my mind is that he is one of the most spiritual oriented of
all my children.  He thinks deeply, loves deeply, hurts deeply, and responds
deeply.  He still enjoys being around anyone, including the Baha'is, as long
as they don't talk religion.  He jokes about "identity" stuff, and is
happily moving from teenagehood to adulthood (his words, not mine).  He is
playing in a band, often acting as "guru" to his friends by spending time
listening to them, and encouraging them by helping them see their strengths
and beauty...he doesn't have a romantic interest himself because he hasn't
found anyone who he is willing to make that kind of committment to, etc.
I've watched him for two years now, growing, healing, learning and loving,
and learning to trust again.  The Baha'i community threw away one of their
brightest gems.

And my son taught me a great lesson about what being a Baha'i means.

The last born (11 years now) wants to know why the Baha'is think they have
all the answers and are better than other "churches".  He wants to know how,
if we take that attitude, are we different from any other fundamentalist
group (and he has met and lived with quite a few here).  We are trying to
explain to him the difference between having possession of the words of a
Revelation, and understanding them.  We are trying to explain that Baha'is
are human, and make many mistakes, and that his challenge is to grow beyond
those mistakes,  to stay focused,  keep asking questions, and help provide
leadership for a new way of seeing ourselves and our world.

And it leaves me a little less than enthusiastic about putting my faith in
the Baha'i Community, with all due respect, Tony.  As my "wayward" son says,
"Been there...done that!".  I think I'll take my chances with that ever
changing revelation bit, as it seems more constant.  You're right, the focus
on "idea" over "people" may be facist.  Not being a great scholar of
political systems, I don't know...wouldn't know if it bit me on the ankle.
But I do know what is in my heart...sometimes.  The challenge as it is
shaping up seems to be one of being a Baha'i inspite of the Baha'is, not
because of them.


From 72110.2126@compuserve.comFri Oct 20 11:06:18 1995
Date: 20 Oct 95 04:53:05 EDT
From: David Langness <>
Subject: Turning Point for All Nations

Hey, Talismanians,

Why, Carmen, I've never been so insulted in all my born days -- mild and
mannerly, indeed! ;-)

On another subject entirely, does anyone yet have, either in easily
postable or E-mailable form, the new Baha'i International Community
document entitled Turning Point for All Nations, and if so, could I
get a copy?

This simply revolutionary new message from the BIC, and approved by the
Universal House of Justice, sets new standards for Baha'i political
involvement in the life of the world and in its international
institutions.  It calls for significant reforms in the way the UN and
other international bodies do their business, beginning with a
very specific suggestion to start the process of electing each nation's
UN representatives.  Also, and perhaps especially exciting for
Talismanians, it calls for a worldwide standard of human rights to 
be applied to every nation's internal actions before they can be
admitted to or considered a member in good standing of the United

Brad Pokorny kindly sent me a copy of the document, but in my rash
excitement (mild!  Bah!) at the ABS conference I hallucinated that
I'd bought more and gave away my copy.  I'm speaking at the UN day
celebration in Santa Fe this weekend, and would like to quote from
this wonderfully exciting document, so whoever out there's got it,
I'd appreciate it mightily if you could post it.  And besides that,
we maybe oughta talk about it, eh?



From belove@sover.netFri Oct 20 11:06:52 1995
Date: Fri, 20 Oct 95 09:20:47 PDT
Subject: Power vs power-over

I want to take a shot at the personal power vs power-over 

On the surface, the distinction seems self explanatory.  Why should 
there even be a confusion between the power for me to do with me as I 
wish and the power to make you do what I wish. They would seem to be 
so clearly separate. 

But I think in relationship, they tend to blur. Perhaps it is because 
in relationships, a third party emerges. It is no longer "his" and 
"hers." Now it is also "ours."   

But it think it is very difficult to rearrange thinking to accomodate 
this third party, the "ours."  

And this is where power struggles emerge.  

At times I speculate that the next Manifestation will not be a single 
Man or Woman but will be a Couple. Then the rest of us can spend time 
studying how they love and care for each other while at the same time 
each being effective in the world. We would study their lives as we 
now study the lives of the prophets. 



Name: Philip Belove
Date: 10/20/95
Time: 09:20:47

This message was sent by Chameleon 
Things should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler -- A. 

From jjensen@welchlink.welch.jhu.eduFri Oct 20 11:07:41 1995
Date: Fri, 20 Oct 1995 09:40:26 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Joan L. Jensen" 
Subject: Re: Bon Jovi, Sting, Baha'i Community

Dear Bev,

Your letter about yours sons moved me deeply.  I have two daughters, ages 
9 and 13, and they listen to Pearl Jam, Nirvana, GreenDay, Weezer, 
basically the alternative rock groups.  Initially I was very upset, 
because at their ages I was listening to folk groups and pop, which seemed 
very harmless to me then (although now when I listen to 'oldies' on the 
radio, there sure is a lot of sex, and the treatment of women as less 
than equal).  Fortunately I was at Greenacre last summer, and spoke with 
the mother of some older teens who were very active Baha'is.  She advised 
me not to make waves at all, and said that one of her sons was now in a 
Baha'i rock band and teaches the faith to his peers through this medium.

Well, I don't leave them alone entirely about their music.  Ariann 
(my oldest, and turns out her name means 'chaste and holy' which we 
didn't realize when we conferred the name upon her, but gives me chills 
now to think of it) listens to the music in the car.  So I listen very 
carefully to the lyrics, try to think of good things to say when a song 
comes on that talks about emotional or spiritual things (and actually 
these themes are rather common in the songs she likes), or when there is 
a particularly interesting chord or harmony...  and she apologizes and 
changes to another (alternative rock) station when there is a song whose 
words she recognizes as destructive or basically not in harmony with 
Baha'i principles.  Even more important, the Baha'is smile and don't 
dwell on the whole thing, don't make a big deal out of it.  Your 
description of the actions of your Baha'i communities is absolutely 
chilling to me, and I think I would have whipped a letter off to the 
NSA or the House of Justice so fast (with great respect and reverence for 
the dignity of all the Institutions) the ink on my printer might have 
caught on fire.  I know that nobody knows what they will do 
in a situation until they are in it themselves, but I just want to weep 
for the Faith and for all of us for the loss of your wonderful sons' 
devotion to the beloved Cause.  I recognized the lyrics that Terry quoted 
as being in a song Ariann listens to a lot, sings along with, and I sing 
along too, on occasion.  

Is it even possible for you to move to a community that has youth, who 
are willing to listen to this music, not just tolerate it but support 
the youth in finding the good in it, for the sake of your youngest son?

Sincerely, Joan 

From jjensen@welchlink.welch.jhu.eduFri Oct 20 11:24:06 1995
Date: Fri, 20 Oct 1995 10:21:59 -0400 (EDT)
From: "Joan L. Jensen" 
Subject: brief bio

Warning: I'm write this anti-chronologically.

I am currently writing my dissertation (or rather, not writing it while 
I play this new game called Baha'i newsgroups on the internet) for a 
degree in International Public Health.  Since I am in the social 
science track, I am using both qualitative (anthropological/textual) and 
quantitative (survey) data.  Topic: Infant feeding decisions among 
low-income African-American women in Baltimore city (eg; breastfeeding 
vs formula feeding).  I also work nearly full time in Labor and 
Delivery at Johns Hopkins Hospital, and I have been working as a 
consultant for a FIMR here in Baltimore city, which has one of the 
highest Fetal and Infant Mortality Rates in the US.

We moved to Baltimore from Oregon, and to Oregon from Alaska, and to 
Alaska from Oregon...  and before that I lived in Guadeloupe in the 
French West Indies, and before that I went to nursing school in Chicago, 
and before that went to College in Minnesota, and before that lived my 
youth and childhood in Oregon.  Its been amazing reading messages in the 
newsgroups from friends that I have met in these meanderings, becoming 
reacquainted with people who I haven't seen for 20 years or longer.

My daughters are 13 and 9.  I remember when I was 13, I thought my own 
mother's youth took place in the 'olden days', but it seems like 
only last week that I was struggling through adolescence.  I heard about 
the Faith when I was 15, before I had developed too many destructive 
habits.  What a protection that was!  And yet the tests that God has been 
gracious enough to allow me to experience make it possible to reach out, 
touch, identify with people who otherwise would say to me "Sure, you can 
say thus and so, but you just don't understand."  I remember at Firesides 
in the '70s when I talked about Baha'u'llah's laws forbidding the 
use of street drugs, seekers would shrug my words off.  But when other 
Baha'is talked about their experiences with drugs before becoming 
Baha'is, and their own stories about no longer using, the seekers would 
sit up and take notice.  Similarly, as a labor nurse before I had my own 
children, my clients would also shrug off my advice and suggestion about 
ways to cope because I didn't know what it felt like to go through labor.
After the birth of my children they listened to me with an attitude of 
respect and tried the things I suggested, even when they were the same 
things I had been suggesting all along!  So all these agonizing tests 
serve not only to strengthen us spiritually and to give us empathy and 
patience, but also the bonus of credibility the the eyes of seekers.

From Peter_Tamas@bcon.comFri Oct 20 15:15:36 1995
Date: 20 Oct 1995 05:00:37 GMT
From: Peter Tamas 
Subject: Bio etc.

as was pointed out to be proper custom
a short bio

Peter Tamas

Ottawa, Ontario (more or less)

Currently doing courses in political economy and may wind up with another
masters in that or women's studies.  Current interest is the development of a
grammar suited to the proper description of our administrative system.  Best
I've come up with so far is a grammar which does not implicate the atomistic,
and often egoistic, rational and reasonable individual as the primary agency
in political analysis.  Alternative I see is attempt to abstract from the
relationships which characterize the family...It would, after all, seem to
make sense to live in a world where the interaction skills learned in the
family are transferable to the public sphere no?

Masters in philosophy with a heavy emphasis on the family as the foundation
of the state as found in the big 4 (Analects, Mencius, Mean, Great Learning),
John Rawls and Robert Filmer.  Passing emphasis on Machievelli and Plato
(Statesman, Parts of the Republic, Soliloquy on Love in the Symposium) and
Aristotle's poetics (grammar).  Necessary competence with Sociobiology and
Philosophy of Science (esp. change in scientific knowledge structures and the
nature of causation)

Batchelors of Environmental Studies.  Spent most of my life doing research
methods, conflict theory and trying to figure out why most of the field
spends its time chasing solutions for insoluble problem definitions rather
than examining alternative, and potentially soluble, definitions.  Came up
with abhorrence of discomfort. 

Oh trying to figure if I want to build musical instruments or spend
the rest of my life in school. 

That's all


From osborndo@pilot.msu.eduFri Oct 20 15:32:39 1995
Date: Fri, 20 Oct 1995 13:49:08 -0400 (EDT)
From: Donald Zhang Osborn 
Subject: Women & UHJ: Reframing the Question

Thank you Dave for your thoughtful consideration of the issue of
why women are not allowed to serve on the Universal House of
Justice (UHJ).  I would like to suggest, however, that your
conclusion that "the reason for the exclusion of women from serving
as members of the House is not practical" is premature, and that
there are practical issues relating to the gender composition of
the UHJ that have not yet (to my knowledge) received much attention.

The frequent discussion on the limitation of membership on the UHJ
always seems to focus on individual qualities:  If women are the
equals of men, as the Faith so clearly and unequivocally states,
then why can't they serve on the highest Baha'i administrative
body?  The discussions sometimes come up with some interesting
possibilities, such as symbolism, but fail to uncover others that
might be found by considering the group characteristics of the
institution of the UHJ.

Often in research on and contemplation of difficult to understand
issues it helps to step back an reframe the question.  In the case
of the UHJ, you have heard perhaps a couple of humorous efforts in
this direction, such as:  The question is really why women are
exempted from having to serve on the UHJ?  The point of reframing
the question (in a more serious manner) is to open up new areas of
thinking and potential data/information that may help us arrive at
new solutions.

In this instance I suggest reframing the question as:  Why are
women and men not allowed to serve *together* on the UHJ?  A follow
up question is then:  Why is the UHJ all men rather than all women
or both men and women?  These questions open up a couple of
different lines of inquiry which seem to be absent from all
discussions I've heard on the topic.  It would be helpful to
exhaust these lines of inquiry before concluding that an all male
UHJ has only symbolic value.

1) What different group dynamics do all-male, all-female, and mixed
male & female groups have, and how would these be advantageous or
disadvantageous in the UHJ's work?  This does not imply that one of
the three compositions is in any way superior to any other, just
that the particular strengths of one composition may more closely
match the strengths needed of the UHJ during this dispensation.
This is only a line of inquiry and I am not implying that this is
The Reason for a male-only UHJ, but given the ample research in
social psychology on the different characteristics of groups with
different gender composition, it would seem to be an important area
to investigate.

2) The second line of inquiry relates to the infallibility of the
institution of the UHJ and the fallibility of humans that serve in
it.  Here we are obliged to consider possible male-female dynamics
between individual members of a mixed gender UHJ, and how this
might affect the functioning of the institution (I've been given to
understand that one major LSA in a major country was tainted by
such allegations a few years ago and had to be suspended by its
NSA).  Perhaps more importantly, a single-sex UHJ may be a way to
guard against any suggestion within or without the Faith that there
is any undue influence or impropriety among members of the opposite
sex in that highest administrative institution.  (Then we come back
to the question of why all men rather than all women?)  Again, I am
only suggesting this as another line of inquiry to consider.

Don Osborn
Michigan State University

P.S.- Bio forthcoming as time permits...

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