From cbuck@ccs.carleton.caMon Oct 30 11:51:49 1995
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 95 2:22:11 EST
From: Christopher Buck 
To: Ahang Rabbani 
Subject: Re: Number of Tablets

Dear Ahang:					      30 October 1995
	A splendid, informative post! In which issue of `Andalib was
this report reprinted, pray tell?

	Considering that the bulk of Baha'u'llah's revelation is
correspondence, do you or anyone on Talisman adhere to a *canon within
canon* perspective on these writings, in which the more formally
universal Tablets (Tarazat, Tajalliyat, Ishraqat, Bisharat, etc.)
clearly have a much higher relative importance?

	Among Baha'u'llah's untranslated Tablets, which would you consider
to be of comparable importance to the Tablets I've just mentioned?

	Finally, to the extent that Baha'u'llah is reiterative in His
correspondence, what is the likelihood that anything *new* in terms of
Baha'u'llah's teachings remains to be discovered? In other words, have
Baha'u'llah's Writings been sufficiently represented in the
translations we now have (such as the beloved Guardian's own
selections in _Gleanings_)?

	Or are we in for some major surprises?

	-- Christopher Buck


From mfoster@tyrell.netMon Oct 30 11:52:21 1995
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 01:28:16 -0600 (CST)
From: "Mark A. Foster" 
Subject: Reforms in Baha`i Admin. 


Robert Johnston wrote to
R>While on one level vituperative language does pursuade, on another it is
R>simply finger pointing at God. The question is: which level is more
R>scholarly?   Naive and puerile?   Hmmmm!

    Robert -
    I agree with you that name-calling does not contribute to genuine 
understanding. As I read the Guardian, the Baha'i administration 
contains elements of all the various political systems. It would no more 
be correct to say that the Baha'i administrative system was completely 
democratic than to say it was fully autocratic or monarchic. Certainly, 
however, many of the most admirable features of historical governments, 
and more, can be seen in the Baha'i world order model.
    From democracy, we have the emphasis on freedom of expression, of 
religion, and of the press - as well as the concept of one person, one 
vote. From monarchism we have the _principle_ of the hereditary Valiyat 
(Guardianship) as well as the promise of a resurrected kingship 
dedicated to the service of humanity (as one of the signs of our 
collective spiritual maturity). From dictatorial regimes, we see the 
stress placed on the freedom of conscience of the members of 
consultative bodies who are not bound to represent the agendas of any 
particular constituencies. From republicanism, we find the requirement 
that the elected institutions of the Faith familiarize themselves with 
the needs of the believers and take into consideration the diverse 
viewpoints of community members in their deliberations.  
    The Baha'i world order model is a part of Baha'u'llah's "new 
creation." However, as with many dimensions of the Baha'i teachings, 
aspects of existing systems can be observed within it. By the same 
token, the Baha'i order will be no mere representation of any particular 
governmental polity. It is a new, creative, and ever-evolving synthesis 
of *apparently* contradictory approaches framed in the Universal Mind.    
    Loving greetings,
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
*Mark A. Foster, Ph.D., Sociologist of Religion                              *

* UniQWK #2141* Structuralists Know the Lingo ;-)

From Oct 30 11:52:30 1995
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 20:46:44 +1300 (NZDT)
From: Robert Johnston 
Subject: formidable explosion

    [The following text is in the "iso-8859-1" character set]
    [Your display is set for the "US-ASCII" character set]
    [Some characters may be displayed incorrectly]


Earlier I wrote: "Did I not read somewhere that the two nuclear explosions
there were, effectively, an announcement of the Faith in Japan?"  OK, below
is the  passage by 'Abdu'l-Baha from which I inferred this.  I read the
passage nearly 20 years ago and -- clearly -- my "interpretation"  -- now,
equally clearly, only dimly remembered -- was imaginative.  But, I am not
yet ready to concede that it was not fundamentally correct!



"Japan Will Turn Ablaze!" Tablets of `Abdu'l-Bahá, Letters of Shoghi Effendi
and the Universal House of Justice, and Historical Notes About Japan,
compiled by Barbara R. Sims, pp. 38-39:
     (August 19, 1920. Translated by Azizullah Bahadur)

 "In Japan the divine proclamation will be heard as a
     formidable explosion , so that those who are ready will become uplifted
     and illumined by the Light of the Sun of Truth. (August 19, 1920)"

From Oct 30 11:52:35 1995
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 21:02:32 +1300 (NZDT)
From: Robert Johnston 
Subject: catastrophic reasoning?

Dear Terry,
          Good thing that most of America is asleep!  You wrote:

 "I dont want to presume to *know *
>the will of God" . ... [Adding that] "It is part and parcel of the age of
>maturity" [to accept personal responsibility] .

My response is this: It is function of my maturity to seek out the workings
of God in every aspect of my life, so that in my pain, I seek evidence of
God's chastisement; in my pleasure, evidence of His good-pleasure; in my
pain evidence of his good-pleasure; and in my pleasure evidence of his
chastisment.  Don't you do that?  Is this kind of activity a function of my


From Oct 30 12:01:13 1995
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 95 07:02:01 -0500
From: Ahang Rabbani 
Subject: catastrophe

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

I'm sorry I opened this can of warms.  My good intention was try 
to ally fears of calamity being around the corner and happening 
before the "lesser peace" stuff, which one hears too often and 
has a paralyzing effect on the believers, especially the youth.

But I think it would be helpful to note that actually two types 
of "calamity" or "catastrophes" are referred to in our writings.

1.  A continual degeneration of society, as John and Terry have 
discussed, which one many call "calamity as a process".

2.  A single event which Baha'u'llah emphasize to be "unforeseen 
calamity".  (Shoghi Effendi says it will take place in matter of 
few hours, you get up in the morning (if you get up in the 
morning!) and its over!) 

Clearly, as a Baha'i community we can impact the first type and 
try to lessen its effect.  This after all is the stuff related to 
the "minor plan of God" and gradually the influence of the Faith 
will impact it more.  But right now we all live with this 
continual calamity.

As far as the second single event is concerned, that's part of 
the "major plan of God" and there is nothing that humanity or the 
Faith can do about it.  Besides, I think discussing the specifics 
of something that Baha'u'llah refers to as "unforeseen" is 
basically a waste of time.  He does what He willeth.

While these two type of calamities (one as a process, the other 
as a single event) may be related in some intricate way, Shoghi 
Effendi shows that the first kind brings down the existing old 
world order, while the second one will serve the Faith -- how, I 
don't know, perhaps as he says through welding disjointed members 
of a world confederation into a federation.

Anyway, my point is that we should keep these two things separate 
in our minds and shouldn't also be so quick dismissing something 
that Baha'u'llah has so emphatically warned us about, i.e. some 
kind of world convulsion, but also recognize that it has really 
nothing to do with the next few generations and besides there is 
nothing we can do about it -- its in His Hands.

regards, ahang.

From snoopy@skipper.physics.sunysb.eduMon Oct 30 12:01:36 1995
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 10:04:13 -0500 (EST)
From: Stephen Johnson 
To: Ahang Rabbani 
Subject: Re: catastrophe

Dearest Ahang,

You said that calamities were of two types:

> 1.  A continual degeneration of society, as John and Terry have 
> discussed, which one many call "calamity as a process".
> 2.  A single event which Baha'u'llah emphasize to be "unforeseen 
> calamity".  (Shoghi Effendi says it will take place in matter of 
> few hours, you get up in the morning (if you get up in the 
> morning!) and its over!) 

There is also another calamity that the Blessed Guardian elaborated upon 
which touches even closer to home:

> Vicious criticism is indeed a calamity . But its root is lack of faith in 
> ^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
> the system of Bahá'u'lláh (i.e. the administrative order) and lack of 
> obedience to Him--for He has forbidden it. If the Bahá'ís would follow 
> the Bahá'í laws in voting, in electing, in serving, and in abiding by 
> assembly decisions, all this waste of strength thru criticizing others 
> could be diverted into cooperation and achieving the Plan. Keep on trying 
> to point this out to them! 		--Arohanui, by Shoghi Effendi p.52

Granted, this was written by one of the Guardian's secretaries and not by 
the pen of Shoghi Effendi himself...yet, it appears to me to shed some 
more light on to the topic of what a calamity is ... vicious attacks from 
*inside* the folds of the Faith...the believers themselves doing damage 
to the Faith.

Just a simple thought from this poor student of yours,


From LWALBRID@cluster.ucs.indiana.eduMon Oct 30 12:01:44 1995
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 95 10:01:40 EWT
Subject: Found Burl, but...

John's and Terry's postings on "the end of the world" were terrific.  I was
especially glad that Terry laid the responsibility on us and not on God to take
care of things.  People have been attributing everything to divine intervention
since the beginning of time and look what has happened.  The teachings in the
Baha'i writings are our guidelines.  Baha'i law says that we should shun drugs
and alcohol.  We don't have to wait for God to punish us for breaking these
laws.  We are simply hurting ourselves by doing so.  We are supposed to treat
marriage as a sacred institution and seek parents' consent for a marriage
partner.  If everyone were following such laws, we might not have teenagers and
college students mourning over the neglect they experience.  Students come to
me to tell me that there are no adults in their lives for them to speak to;
that their parents have disowned them, etc.  

To me there is a big difference between waiting for God to send the big
catastrophe and acknowledging that we are in the midst of creating it.  

As for responses to Tony's posting, I don't think that Tony is advocating
vituperative speech.  He made a good point.  We all have different styles of
speaking and writing.  Most Middle Easterners would think that the American
letter-writing style is a abrupt and ill-mannered.  We don't start off with
sentence after sentence of polite formalities, for example.  Most Americans
would see M.E. letter-writing style as appearing unctuous.  Within cultures
there is tremendous variation (as we can see on Talisman).  This obsession with
"tone" can really be a problem in allowing for expression of ideas.  Linda

From rvh3@columbia.eduMon Oct 30 12:02:28 1995
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 09:55:33 -0500 (EST)
From: Richard Vernon Hollinger 
Subject: Re: Catastrophes

I quite agree with John, the castrophe is here, not quite in the form we 
may have expected.  In my neighborhood in New York, almost every teenage 
girl has at least one child (it boosts their self-esteem, I am told), and I 
often wonder what will be the social consequences of this trend a couple of 
decades from now.

Although I have not systematically studies the Guardians words on the 
catastrophe(s), it does appear that his vision of this changed in 
response to changing socio-political conditions in the world.  At 
different times he stated (in pilgrims' notes, at least) that the 
catastrophe in America would consist of primarily material or mental tests.  
However, during the beginnings of the Cold War, he seems to have 
anticipated a nuclear war between the Soviet Union and the United 
States, as did other political observers of the time.  He told 
one group of pilgrims that the East and West coasts of the U.S. would be 
immobilized by Russian submarines, and at another time listed a number of 
U.S. cities that would be "evaporated" in during the conflagration.  
These were genuine possiblities in late 1940's and early 1950's, and 
other Baha'is seem to have been convinced of this outcome even before 
Shoghi Effendi.  Charles Mason Remey, for example, was in 1947-1948 
carefully transferring his investments out of companies whose assets were 
located on the coasts because he believed they would not survive the 
nuclear war he believed was coming.

Richard Hollinger

On Sun, 29 Oct 1995 wrote:

> If anybody is in doubt about the reality of a catastrophe engulfing 
> America, he should talk to our kids' teenage friends or read some of
> the papers I get in the course I teach on "The Pursuit of Happiness."
> A quite horrible ethical disaster has overwhelmed these kids, caused
> mostly by the moral choices of their parents' generation.  I can
> go through a stack of 25 papers explaining the student's view of 
> happiness, three quarters of them girls, and find none of them
> mentioning children or family as an ingredient of happiness, and 
> only one mentioning sex--and that as the closest image of true
> happiness, which that student held to be unattainable.  
> I think we can stop worrying about colorful disasters with nuclear 
> weapons.
> John Walbridge

From dhouse@cinsight.comMon Oct 30 12:03:34 1995
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 07:02:27 -0800
From: "David W. House" 
Subject: Re: reforms

Ahang, friends,

>Many times I've noted folks state that mathematically (or really 
>statistically!) incumbency is guaranteed in Baha'i electoral 
>system.  But, you know, I have never seen anyone offering some 
>statistical data to back it up. 

While I would not have it assumed that I am arguing against it (indeed I
hope this post by itself will not offer sufficient information to be able to
infer my thought about this) even data which demonstrated that all members
had died in office after repeated elections would not demonstrate the
propsition, for it would not be predictive. For example, I believe that, for
many years, it was true that the U.S. House of Representatives had a higher
degree of incumbancy than Britians House of Lords, which, as I understand
it, is essentially an appointative body. (My ignorance is vast: I am not
speaking as a result of my own studies, merely imperfectly parroting news
reports that I remember from years past.) However, this trend has been
recently shattered.

To offer another example, it should be clear that simply because a child
plays with toys everyday, and even if this tragic circumstance can be
statistically proven in a careful presentation replete with charts and
graphs, this would, as we all know, have a poor predictive value about the
child's future behavior.

>By the way, David and Terry, I'll try to write about Houston's 
>disastrous experience with entry by troops little bit later.  The 
>bottom line is:  teaching project is dead as a door nail and NSA 
>members came down a couple of weeks ago to perform the burial 
>service.  More later.

"Disasterous", regardless if they all died as a result, is simply
pejorative. Will the Blessed Beauty be more pleased (I am asking for
opinions, not farmans) with those who have taught and "failed", or those who
have never taught at all?

Further: Its Monday early morning as I write this. I had the great pleasure
of spending this weekend with a group of distinguished Baha'is (excepting of
course that I brought the average level of distinction down precipitously),
and Juana Conrad, member of the NSA, was among them. I was one participant
in a discussion during which she shared some information about Houston and
its EBT process. Her report, as passed on to you through this notoriously
unreliable reporter, was that the NSA met with the Houstonians and were most
emphatic about the thought that teaching must continue. Further the LSAs
should return to their chambers and consult about the sources of the
disunity which had recently risen, and decide what to do about it. Reports
of the death of this process (with apologies to Samuel Clemons), may be

One thing which should be clear regarding such processes as that occuring in
Houston is that experimentation is essential; if there were anyone in the
U.S. who had perfect knowledge regarding how to do EBT, we would have it. In
fact, however, this sentence implies something which is false, because EBT
cannot be the result of transferrable knowledge of the sort implied: rather
it must be the result of the maturation of local and national institutions,
and of the individuals involved in the process. 

For example, EBT is bound to be a messy process, occuring across
jurisdictional boundries, involving us in the problems that new believers
bring into the Cause with them, challenging previous ideas of the veteran
believers (particularly ideas those which awaited such circumstances before
they were of situational significance), and placing the whole system under
some pressure, at which point it will begin to leak in places it has not
previously leaked. 

As such, it is clear that the road will be rough, and problems will arise:
disunity will often be among these problems, and where present will
certainly exacerbate all of them. Whether EBT processes in various metro
areas founder and experience these problems is, therefore, not really open
to question: they will. Such teaching efforts will only stop, however, if we
allow them to stop. The paradigm, it seems to me, and barring only that the
local Institutions do not decide to stop it, is that the teachers and
administrators involved in the process *must* be willing to suffer,
unjustly, as the price to be paid to be part of such a glorious process.
Those who find themselves unable or unwilling to suffer, unjustly, will not
be a part of such processes, or may be insturmental in stopping them.

I would also say that we should be careful to provide attribution, even for
rumors and second-hand information, as I have tried to do above. It could
easily inhibit the processes involved if such rumors are given the patina of
authority and the presumption of truth by virtue of having come through a
computer. Please (and I know that some will gladly oblige my request) apply
these same caveats to this post: what I have reported may be wildly
inaccurate, and cannot be taken as gospel, and my opinions are guarenteed to
be flawed. Any truth they contain (purely by statistical accident due to the
number of words involved, I hasten to add) will be both over- and understated.

David William House (

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

From cbuck@ccs.carleton.caMon Oct 30 12:03:48 1995
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 95 9:52:52 EST
To: Ahang Rabbani 
Subject: Re: catastrophe

Ahang writes:
	As far as the second single event is concerned, that's part of
the "major plan of God" and there is nothing that humanity or the
Faith can do about it.
	The only text in which I've seen the beloved Guardian indicate
otherwise is, if memory serves, in _Messages to America_, in which
Baha'is may *hasten the Lesser Peace* and decrease humanity's
suffering thereby! (As I do not have *Refer* or *Mars*, I'm sorry that
I cannot post this text.) The significance of this passage, to me, is
that the Guardian speaks to an interrelationship between the Major and
Minor Plans of God, in which Baha'is have a potentially greater role
to play in the Major Plan of God than is usually thought.

	-- Christopher Buck  

* * *								 * * *
* * *	Christopher Buck	                   Invenire ducere est.

From TLCULHANE@aol.comMon Oct 30 12:03:55 1995
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 10:39:57 -0500
Subject: re: catastrophe

      Dear Aghang and all  ,

     As I recall Abdul Baha addressed the "unforseen calamity" issue and
links it to WW1 . I do not find any evidence of a single * event * that is to
occur . I am more than open to such evidence being provided . You have not
opened a can of worms . This isue does have a debilitating affect on youth .

 In a larger sense it has to do with ones interpretation of prophetic
statements.  I , obviously , do not interpret such statments as an event . I
think they are rhetorical -, in the best sense - they are allegorical as well
. They have profound spititual and ethical significance . There is a tendency
in the English language because of its penchant for subject, object ,
predicte structure to percieve what are essentially relationships between
phenomenon as discrete things or events . 

 There is also a long history among religious communities of millenial
thinking . The Shiite and Christian versions being perhaps most pronounced
and , of cousre , I would argue that intellectually the community has been
dominated by descendents of Shiites and Christians. These descendents have
carried in with them those respective understandings of how God operates in
the world .

 The millenial *event* has already occurred . Baha ullah has appeared on the
planet !  That humanity has failed to respond is cause for disappointment and
anguish . I do not see that it is cause for interpreting Bahau lah to mean
that God is going to send a  catastrophic *event * to wake up humanity when
the Presence of the Glory of God did not do so .  There is a point in the
Iqan which is relevent here . Baha ullah is addressing the Christian
symbolism of return in the cloude and so forth. It is in the conterxt of
tests and can br found about page 50 . In critiquing the literal notion of
coming on the clouds , He remarks that were this to happen noone would be
capable of believing o rnot believing . This , in turn , would be contrary to
the method of God . How could His true lovers be recognized ? that for me is
the real point . It is about lovers coming to their Beloved. 
      We can pursue this mattter further with swords when we meeet in the
capital of the sovereign country of Texas in November. As for special places,
Texas huh !   My hero Abdul Baha visited Omaha while in America .   I dont
think he made it as far south as  . . . ..    :)

 warm regards ,

From dhouse@cinsight.comMon Oct 30 18:32:30 1995
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 08:59:25 -0800
From: "David W. House" 
Subject: Re: Justice Belongs to Us

David ("beloved") Taylor,

At 03:52 PM 10/27/95 -0400, you wrote:
> Also, I do not use pseudonyms and have no reason to doubt that
>David House is a real person...

I have always thought of myself as such, but some of my friends would insist
that this merely proves the degree to which I am subject to vain imaginations...

In another post, you said:

>As such, the task of establishing justice falls to all of us, not just the
>institutions.  If justice is to prevail in the world, we must first create
>it at the grass-roots level, in our service to humanity, in our stewardship
>of the poor, in our kindness and love for those who 'Abdu'l-Baha would have
>ministered to.  As our vision of justice expands, then the institutions'
>vision can grow wider, too.  So for me, establishing justice is not the
>exclusive purview of the institutions, but comes directly from the justly-
>lived lives of each and every individual Baha'i.  In fact, to leave the
>establishment of justice to institutions guarantees its failure.  Leaders
>can only mirror the moral and spiritual maturity of the population they
>are chosen from, after all.

Clearly this is correct, and my short phrase ("Establishing justice is the
exclusive purview of the institutions..."), shorn from its context, should
be subject to such revisions. Its difficult to remember to use phrases which
stand well on their own.

Terry (Culhane?),

At 02:12 AM 10/30/95 -0500, you wrote:
>For better or worse I do *believe * we have free will . 

Wonderful post!

A common phrase you used has sparked a thought in me, however. "Free will"
is a facinating term, and one which, as time passes, makes less and less
sense to me, in a certain way. I refer to the idea that, in one very
important way, this apparent facility will be shorn from us when we enter
the next world. That is, the fact of the Manifestation will be as apparent
as the sun (forgive me for not being able to offer a reference for this
thought: I will try, if requested). The point is that we could say that we
no longer have "free will" with reference to this fundamental question after
death. Coupled with the idea that evil is a non-existance, lack, or misuse
of an existing capacity, and that all our virtues or existing capacities are
part of our soul and will be available to us after death, it is hard to see
how, if free will is an existing capacity, it could be "removed" from us.

I suggest that what we commonly refer to as free will is rather simple
ignorance, or veiling. If we know the stove is hot, and will cause us pain,
we won't touch it. If we understand that the source of happiness is virtue,
and that a lack thereof will lead to unhappiness, then surely we would make
the proper choice, when/if we attain to "certitude". If we understand the
nature of our Lord and our own nature, then to the degree that we
understand, we will act properly in relation to those realities, etc.

Mind you, Terry, I am not attempting to disagree with you. I hope this is
clear. Your point (if I understand it correctly) remains, which is that we
need to learn and grow, and as we do, we will, as you beautifully described
it "soar". 

David William House (

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

From Oct 30 18:33:08 1995
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 95 11:05:01 -0500
From: Ahang Rabbani 
Subject: Re: women

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

Dear LuAnne,

Thanks for your kind note in which you wrote:

> I am curious about the ratio of women to men enrolled in the 
> Faith in 1953 and 1988 and wonder if this might shed some light 
> on the numbers you posted for those years?

I'll be very interested in this data too, so, if anyone has any 
numbers to share, please help out.

I'm hoping that in not too distant a future, the World Centre 
would begin to share this type of information more readily as 
they are assembling a very rich Baha'i demographic database.  

>From the type of the Hands and more formally with the election of 
the House, all NSAs were required to report on semi-annual basis 
a whole bunch of statistical information, including the total 
number of believers in their community.  From 1979, they were 
asked to provide a great deal more details, such as divide the 
total number into:  adults (21 and over), youth (15-21) and 
children (under 15 yrs old).  Also to report this info by the 
States (and not just country totals).  In 1986, the World Centre 
went a step further and asked that from that point on, info be 
divided by male and female.

So, there is a great deal of Baha'i demographical information 
assembled by the World Centre on every country of the world.  But 
I don't know of any data that would help with LuAnne's query.

regards, ahang.

From derekmc@ix.netcom.comMon Oct 30 18:35:07 1995
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 10:03:28 -0800
Subject: Secret and Symbol Book Review ! a repost.

 Christopher Buck's new Book Symbol and Secret , is a 
marvelous balanced discourse on the Kitab-i-Iqan < The Book of 
Certitude > . Buck 
has walked the fine line between academic requirements and not 
compromising obvious 
deeply held beliefs in the Blessed Beauty station in a manner that 
warrants following .  
For comparison purposes he switches from Arabic to Persian to German 
and English 
Sources with flair and skill . Although the book contains technical 
terminology it reads 
well and should have a wider appeal than just an Academic audience . It 
is the first 
attempt to take a major work of Baha'u'llah and apply academic 
techniques to further 
our understanding it . The result opens up a whole new and different 
concept to this the 
second most important work of Baha'u'llah , by placing it in its 
correct historical and 
religious background . He outlines the type of methodology employed 
which enabled 
this Work to be regarded as lucid , challenging and informative . 
Taking the key verse 
from the Quran 33.40 , Buck points out the use of 33.44 with that verse 
opens up the 
way for the Islamic acceptance of the New Manifestations of God ,  in a 
new cycle of 
Fulfillment . To quote from the book : ' Here , the single most crucial 
verse in the Quran is overruled , in Baha'u'llah's exegesis , by 
another verse just four 
verses later in the same sura . This latter verse is glossed as the 
refraction of beautific 
vision realized in the " Manifestation of God " who is the 
eschatological "God" by 
proxy , even as Moses was said to be "as God unto Pharaoh." Such an 
exegesis is not 
found in Twelver Shi'i tafsir. Further in the book Buck explores again 
this theme 
referring to pages 169-170 in the Kitab-i-Iqan , he shows this is one 
of the more crucial 
passages in that."This explanation resolves the problem of 'voice' in 
scripture and in 
the theophanic locutions of the prophets of God. The passage is self-
explanatory...........The Islamic doctrine of revelatory finality is 
firmly predicated on 
verse 33.40. This is the most crucial verse Baha'u'llah  has to deal 
with . In effect , the 
entire Book of Certitude may be said to be an exegesis of Quran33.40."
Buck shows that from  academic and  theological standpoints the 
Kitab-i-iqan is a 
masterful work of redefining the way to interpret the meanings in 
Religion and 
therefore is a work of interpretation above all others . He makes the 
observation that 
Baha'u'llah chose to write this work in Persian not Arabic , thus it 
became the banner 
of the early believers . Armed with such knowledge they opened the door 
for a new 
way of understanding and following religion.

His choice of sources I found fascinating utilizing MacEoin < who is 
hardly a friend of 
the Faith > and Amanat < who regards the religion of the Bab as 
essentially a result 
of the social situation in Iran > with others . Dealing dispassionately 
with these two 
for example he is able to point out their contribution whilst 
dismissing the flaws in their 
augments . J. Wansborough's methodology for Quranic analysis as well as 
though to a 
lesser degree A. Rippon are the cornerstones of the academic 
scholarship of this book.

I have a strong feeling Symbol and Secret could cause the study of 
Islam to finally start 
in the Baha'i Community . This book demonstrates the need to have a 
firm grasp of the 
finer points of Islamic Theology and thinking and a Love for the Quran 
that is more 
than lip service. A very fine first book < if I remember correctly > , 
Buck has worked long and hard to bring a work to life that would add to 
our knowledge 
and understanding of this the Faith of the Twin Blessed Ones . I 
believe he has done 
just that and deserves every credit and thanks for doing so. A very 
well recommended 
addition for every Baha'i library and serious student of the Faith . it 
is type of Book 
that needs placing in University Libraries.
Symbol & Secret , Quran Commentary in Baha'u'llah's Kitab-i-Iqan .
Published by Kalimat Press Los Angeles
324 pages including bibliography and Appendix .
Price Hard Cover : $42.50 
         Soft  Cover : $32.50
Chritopher Buck is coming to the ABS Conference to present a paper and 
be available 
for Book-signings . The Book-shop is open Thursday through Sunday until 
1.30 pm tha 
afternoon. The Special Author signing and reception is on Saturday 
October 14th we have about 14 authors coming at the last count. 
Christopher is one of 
those who will be available to talk to people one on one about the Book 
at  : 
The Assocation of Baha'i Studies Conference
The Hyatt Regency Hotel 1333 Bayshore Highway Burlingame CA 94010 .
Next to highway 101 and right by the SFO airport.

Kindest Regards Derek Cockshut

From Oct 30 18:35:57 1995
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 95 11:57:01 -0500
From: Ahang Rabbani 
Subject: Re: reforms (fwd)

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

Attached note is from Rob Stockman which he meant for Talisman 
but sent only to me.  He asked for it to be forwarded.  ahang.


> ... the mathematics of a convention turning out any substantial 
> number of sitting members are almost impossible ...
If the information I have received from Canada and Britain is correct, in 
recent years there have been several spontaneous turnovers of membership on the 
NSAs in those countries.  Canada has 171 delegates, just like us; Britain I 
think has 95.  I think we can argue their electoral situation is analogous to 
ours, though perhaps not their Baha'i subculture.  But subculture is not where 
statistical impossibility can lie.

The more important question, I think, is how does the Baha'i turnover rate 
compare to the rate in elected bodies using western styles of election.  I 
believe I have heard the reelection rate to U.S. Congress is very high for 
those who run for reelection; about 95% or 98%.  This in spite of months of 
screaming, yelling, and smearing each other, and millions of bucks spent on 
image.  If the two systems' reelection rates are not substantially different, 
why bother with the disunity and silliness?  At best it undermines the public's 
confidence in their government; at worst, it generates ill feelings, 
grandstanding, and legislative gridlock.

Perhaps Arash is lurking and can give us his considered opinion.

                -- Rob Stockman

From Dave10018@aol.comMon Oct 30 18:36:17 1995
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 13:25:04 -0500
Subject: Re: Justice Belongs to Us--Naming Names!

In a message dated 95-10-30 12:15:29 EST, (David W.
House) writes:

>Subj:	Re: Justice Belongs to Us
>Date:	95-10-30 12:15:29 EST
>From: (David W. House)
>David ("beloved") Taylor,
>At 03:52 PM 10/27/95 -0400, you wrote:
>> Also, I do not use pseudonyms and have no reason to doubt that
>>David House is a real person...
>I have always thought of myself as such, but some of my friends would insist
>that this merely proves the degree to which I am subject to vain
>In another post, you said:
>>As such, the task of establishing justice falls to all of us, not just the
>>institutions.  If justice is to prevail in the world, we must first create
>>it at the grass-roots level, in our service to humanity, in our stewardship
>>of the poor, in our kindness and love for those who 'Abdu'l-Baha would have
>>ministered to.  As our vision of justice expands, then the institutions'
>>vision can grow wider, too.  So for me, establishing justice is not the
>>exclusive purview of the institutions, but comes directly from the justly-
>>lived lives of each and every individual Baha'i.  In fact, to leave the
>>establishment of justice to institutions guarantees its failure.  Leaders
>>can only mirror the moral and spiritual maturity of the population they
>>are chosen from, after all.
>Clearly this is correct, and my short phrase ("Establishing justice is the
>exclusive purview of the institutions..."), shorn from its context, should
>be subject to such revisions. Its difficult to remember to use phrases which
>stand well on their own.

Yes, sez I--the aforementioned David Taylor, a person of no importance but
some existence on the perilous east coast of the United States-- this is a
fine bit of writing and one, as I mentioned in the same post wherein I stated
that I am not David House, I agree with it too; however, I did not write it.
David Langness wrote it.He signed it this way"David (unity in Daversity)
Langness" In that post he quoted someone he seemed to think was me(I think it
may have been you, but I am not sure.) I replied that he had me confused with
someone else, and said, as above that I am not David House. Now, you quote
David Langness but attribute his remarks to me, even though he signed his
remarks with his full name! Argggh!!  

I hope that clarifies things.
David Taylor of Hartford, Connecticut

From Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nlMon Oct 30 18:42:10 1995
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 20:32:01 +0100 (MET)
Subject: response to dave taylor's post

In response to part of Dave's 23 Oct posting: 
Re you discussion of symbolism: "....-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."

The only that I could interpret this part of argument is to see it as an
argument for practising equality.

I can see the following part of your argument re: 
"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."

Yes this is a sound justification for the sexism in the language of the
Writngs, although since Talisman I am now seeing this sexism perhaps
lying more in the way the Writings have been translated into English
rather than what could be drawn from the Writings. By this I mean the
various references to the feminine and the principle of mutatis mutandi,
that I feel has not had much attention, but that could be becuase those
who do the translating are not so concerned about these areas.
I do not see how connections/lineage with religious history would be
destroyed by the use of gender neutral language, or by expressing
feminine aspects of the divine, any more than the claim of Baha'u'llah
as a new messanger does. 

"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."

This could be an argument for why there are no women on the
Universal House of Justice at the moment, and I think that that is
probably why, but in that light I see this more as a result of history
rather than being in the interest of continuity. 
I think the principle of equality is far more radical than whether women
may serve on the Universal House of Justice or not, which is why this
issue is such a puzzle.

"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." 

I don't see how there will not be prejudice against women if they are
not able to practice full equality, and I have seen lots of examples
inciting the 'station' of the female mother or a 'woman's emotional
states' used as justification for this one instance of inequality in the
principles of the Bahai Faith, and then justification for further
inequality such as that mother SHOULD be the ones to mother the
children, etc.

"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."

I interpret a rejection of sexism in a similiar light to a rejection of
racism. We are all racist and sexist and it is a matter of being conscious
of this and attempting to find ways so that we feel we are making some
difference to any situation where there is racism or sexism or injustice
of any kind. I believe this is a duty of every Bahai, (symbolically that
is!) while in practice the ways Bahais choose to do this are open and
diverse. My interpretation of progressive revelation is that change is
progressive. We move towards ideals, in practice (and symbollically).
So all I could say in repsonse to the above is that taking the male as
the norm (or worse, as the symbol of the divine!) is against the
principle of progressive relation. 
"New forms grow out of old forms in such a way as to preserve

As an artist I find this a funny idea. New forms grow out of old forms
because that is where the artist/writer or whoever, is coming from.
Artists such as Cezanne, Picasso, even van Gogh or to mention some
more contemporary artists, John Cage, Meret Oppenheim, Eva Hesse, or
Joseph Beuys were concerned with discovery and search not
continuation. If one is worried about continuation, one is likely to
reproduce what already exists, which is fine if you want to make art
like Matisse did. He said he wanted his art to relax a man in an easy
chair [-this is from memory. I would be unable to back this up with
finding the source as my books are scattered amongst houses in New
But I think you as an artist know how dangerous it is for creativity to
be dominated by a concern with retaining 'continuation'. Creative acts
are all about looking for the new, seeking, and moving on.
Here this is not to say seeking feminism or any other perspective would
necessarily be a 'new form'. In terms of 'forms' or 'symbolism' I don't
even know what feminist ones would be but rather for me, feminism is
a particular way of reading or looking, similiar to how I see the Bahai
Faith as a particular way of looking or reading the religious.
Of course it is then possible to see any form from a variety of
perspectives such as reading the Impressionist painter Mary Cassat as
painting women and children because that's all she had access to and 
representing an Impressionist concern with depicting ordinary
contemporary events. Or you could see her images as symbolizing a
conscious attempt to bring women, and children to the attention of the
world/art world, or at least to be serious enough material for her to
choose to paint them. Either viewpoint could be backed up although I
would side with the latter viewpoint as being more representative of her
own intentions because she chose this particular subject matter whereas
if she was unaware of the political (symbolic) implications of this she
would have been painting whole families in drawing rooms, preening
women (as Degas did) or dancing postitutes (as Latrec did). That the
way she portrayed these women as engaged and at the same time as
having a life force of their own, indicates to me that a femininst
reading of her work would be in tune with her own intentions, whether
or not she would've chose to identify with feminism if she could have. 
I see this being similiar to Tahirih who was not a suffragette but
certainly was working towards greater equality/or a voice for women.

But back to your point about continuity. Looking at Cassat's paintings,
it is clear that she is one of the impressionists because of the choice of
colour, use of loose brsuh stroke, etc. No one would have any question
locating her with the Impressionists except for the historians who just
happen to only refer to the male Impressionists, and you still find that
in any general survey. She and Berthe Morisot were as active (and
exhibited in the same exhibitions) as any of the 7 or 8 men who are 
usually listed as being the Impressionist painters. 

Ignoring the feminine or female presence in my view has been a mis-
representation of the practice of art history, so we are left on the whole
with the idea that artistic practice was a male domain and symbollically

 "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."
Symbol is a symbol, is a symbol, is a symbol (the thoroughly modernist
poet/art collector, Gertrude Stein, said 'a rose, is a rose, is a rose' and
these words have been up for grabs ever since). 

You could argue that the sovereign Lord is a carpenter's son, a
fisherman, a maiden, a ruah (feminine spirit), a flame, a bird. I think
there is a lot of choice, and choosing a symbol with male associations
means choosing to portray the masculine. I am not saying it is bad to
do this, but reusing old symbols without change only reinforces it's
usual meaning. It's the new forms that change the associations.

"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 don't see how having 9 men on the Universal House of Justice means
that we have to use patriarchal symbols, when there are so many
instances of the principle of equality in the Writings. Baha'u'llah was a
man but he used many titles, the nightingale being one of them.

"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."

I don't get what you mean here. A argument for
inconsistencies/misunderstanding as being ethically better than practices
that are consistent with belief? For me, and many I think, Prayer and
fasting is a VERY practical act and of use. The cause and effect may
not always be the same as dropping a ball but it is there, and certainly
is consistent with any principle of the Bahai Faith. 

"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. 
I think you mean spiritual instead of symbollic in this sentence. I agree
that there isn't a practical or rational reason that I can see at the
moment for the exclusion of women, but invoking 'symbollism' as a
reason seems like you are dressing a wolf in sheep's clothing. I really
don't know what you mean when you use the word, symbollic.

"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."

Interestingly, (thanks to Steve Scholl) it seems likely that Baha'u'llah's
references to the Creative Creator would likely to have followed the
Sufi practice of referring to a Divine She. It's present day Christianity
which focuses on a male God, not Bahai in my view. 

"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."

Since when has the quality of authority been solely a male preserve?
For me any use of maleness as a symbol for authority would be a
symbol of patriarchy. Surely this is not what you mean?
I interpret the word "rijal", as honoured ones, and you interpret this as
'men'. To argue which is the more accurate interpretation is an open
issue, and the source of much debate. It not clear which is the more
accurate. And that is why we have to look at other Bahai Writings (in
which the principles are imbedded just as concretely or symbollically
(choose your favourite abverb) as 'rijal' is.

"The male House of Justice is left as a final literal embodiment of the
image of Divine Father.(to be withdrawn someday?)"
If this is meant to mean that male members reflect a male God, then
there is nothing to support this view in the Writings as far as I know.
If this is your meaning, then I find this excludes me more than those
role-prescriptions which insist that, as a woman, I should devote most
of my energy to care-giving. At least a home-bound woman could pray
to Her for guidence.

"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."

If anything going on from what you have just written, it would make
more sense to say, "(I)n establishing the equality of men and women,
makes this assertion of God's greater power not gender specific". This
would follow on from an earlier point you made about not symbollizing
God anthropomorphically.

"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

From Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nlMon Oct 30 18:43:14 1995
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 20:46:03 +0100 (MET)
Subject: from sonja - civil discourse

Re: civil discourse.

The places where I have found civil discourse within the Bahai
community and the feeling of community that it brings with it, have
been a number of years in the Dunedin Bahai community where there
was a sense of open discussion on the LSA in 1984. That was a special
year for me. And since then I was shattered by the lack of this
concerning Dialogue and the Service of women paper in 1988/9, but
since around a year now there has been Talisman, and because we are
able to practise civil discourse here, I for one, not only have learnt a lot
but have also the feeling that here is a Bahai community where I can
freely express my views. This is not to say anyone would agree with
them, but that is not the point. The point is that we can all do this here
and while it is fine to disagree with someone's viewpoint, to criticize
them for making it or to suggest that they should not speak or write to
various institutions as has been suggested to Juan, to my mind means
that that writer 1) doesn't know what it is like to be told that your
opinion is wrong, when it was sometimes even backed up by the
Writings, 2)doesn't really value diversity, 3) is more concerned with
image than with truth or an attempt towards a just society.

I think to have the feeling that one can express oneself if one chooses
to is necessary for our health, and for the health of any organization.
There is a lot of rhetoric in the Bahai Fiath. I am not saying this
generated by any institution or individual in particular but it exists.
It has dawned on me in the last few months that one of the reasons that
I romanticize about my days in Dunedin is that I felt a sense of spirit or
worship in either the Bahai or Maori community and here in Holland
meetings appear to be administration focussed. It struck me, too, in
reaction to much of what I have read on Talisman, that our Faith is
really lop-sided. There is such a lot of pressure on administration and
teaching, and the other parts of Bahai community life are
underdeveloped such as worship, culture (however this may be
expressed-but I mean having fun together). 

I've been impatient and said things I've regretted, but I am more
dominated by a feeling of anger that I wasn't more assertive when an
issue was unjust. I regret all the times I did not walk out of an
assembly meeting here, and I have decided that I can not sit in silence
any more. But if there is an atmosphere of openness then these sorts of
feelings that I have just expressed would not be an issue, and nor would
I need to feel angry, because my voice, whether it was right or wrong
would be seen as part of everyone having a say, and then the group
decision would really be a group one. 

While I appreciate the point that we should aim to word our grievances
and joys in a language sensitive to the cultures of those concerned, I
find it sad that so often, this is also used as an excuse to avoid an issue
or that the words written so obliquely that I get the feeling someone is
trying to trick me. At the same time I get sick of letters that imitate
Shoghi Effendi's 1930 English, when then it the norm to use words like
he or men when the meaning was humanity or to include women as
Tone in language is important because it is what we pick up first, but it
shouldn't be used as an excuse to avoid any particular issue.
Tone in language is a thing of culture and if we only listen for tone,
then we'll only listen to the tones that homogenize with our own or
own our ideals. 
Email has already revolutionalized my world. If I want to hear warm,
sincere and reassuring stories I can tune into Bahai Discuss or any or
the other discussion group where you have to be a card carrying Bahai
to subscribe, or I can tune into Talisman.

I feel I may have hit on something to bring out the nurturing in our
sons. They have the idea of being mama dogs and now each night, just
before going to bed they sit breastfeeding their various mongrel babies
while listening to music. I told them that the music helps with the

From banani@ucla.eduMon Oct 30 18:49:38 1995
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 1995 13:03:55 -0700
From: Amin Banani 
Subject: Juan's reforms

Dear Juan (sent to Talisman),

My heart sank when I read the vehemence with which you stated your points
on "reform" and your assessment of the Baha'i administration.  Have you
reached the "end of your rope"?  Since you have chosen to say these things
on Talisman, in particular, what do you expect as a response, or don't you
care?  Love, Sheila

Sheila Banani

From banani@ucla.eduMon Oct 30 23:25:23 1995
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 1995 12:02:44 -0700
From: Amin Banani 
Subject: Re: Marion Woodman

Dear Carmen and other Talismanians,

Yes, Marion Woodman (Toronto, Canada) is married to a Baha'i, Ross Woodman.
We are trying to arrange for both of them to teach at Bosch this year
(probably not during the summer).  Wouldn't that be great?  Her health has
not been very good, but if she is coming to teach at Esalen it might be
possible to have them both over at Bosch.

Love, Sheila

Sheila Banani

From banani@ucla.eduMon Oct 30 23:27:06 1995
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 1995 11:46:05 -0700
From: Amin Banani 
Subject: Decoder rings

Dear Talismanians,

I have requested my Decoder ring (capable of working in the 1990's) for
many months now from various members of this netgroup (Derek, are you
reading this?) and, in spite of my pleadings and threats to "expose" all of
you who have not YET expanded on your accepted "abstracts" which were
printed in the ABS Program Book for the conference (and posterity) which
should be submitted for consideration for publication in THE JOURNAL OF
BAHA'I STUDIES, to this day I remain without the means to "de-code" what
most of you are talking about.  In case any of you think I am just joking,
you should know that I began my childhood in the era of radio, that is,
radio without television.  WHERE IS MY DECODER RING?
Much love,

Sheila Banani

From banani@ucla.eduMon Oct 30 23:27:54 1995
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 1995 13:19:51 -0700
From: Amin Banani 
To: "Joan L. Jensen" ,,
Subject: Juan's reforms

Okay, Juan--I guess we're all lucky that someone with a "cool" head, like
Joan Jensen, is on Talisman and was one of your first "respondents" to your
reforms post.  Love, Sheila

>Dear Juan,
>Your posting was very valuable and provocative, and for me it foreshadows
>the types of criticisms that we are *all* going to get as the Faith
>continues to move out of obscurity and is more closely scrutinized
>by those who would be friends of the Faith as well as those who would
>be detractors.  Talisman is a valuable forum for us to be able to
>think through answers to the issues you posted.
>> I really wonder whether we should not go to a system where NSA members
>> are banned from receiving salaries and perquisites, but where the
>> executive secretary and the secretary for external affairs, etc., who
>> have essentially full-time jobs, are *appointed*, extra-NSA posts with
>> appropriate salaries and budgets.  This would remove any material
>> incentive for anyone to want to be an NSA member.
>It would also remove the ability of anyone who was not independently
>wealthy and who had a family to support, from being able to serve or to
>serve as fully.  My guess is that the 'material rewards' for serving on
>the NSA are modest, and especially compared to the spiritual rewards of
>meeting with the friends, having time and resources to think about and
>explore spiritual solutions to problems, even [God forbid!] the thought
>that some members in some countries might like the appearance of power or
>authority that such a position confers.
>The issues are complex, and deserve frank and respectful discussion.
>I wonder what would be the best way to discuss the issues and find the
>balance between blunt honesty and preservation of unity.  My guess is
>that we need to proceed slowly, building the trust between us that
>we will be able to handle these issues without crossing into any
>concerns of 'brinkmanship', and that as the easier concerns are
>addressed successfully, the more difficult ones will either solve
>themselves, the answers will become more evident, or we will have
>the courage and strength we need to address them in turn.
>        Joan Jensen

From banani@ucla.eduMon Oct 30 23:29:33 1995
Date: Sat, 28 Oct 1995 14:17:51 -0700
From: Amin Banani 
To: Ahang Rabbani ,
Subject: Re: apologies

Dear Ahang,

What we "focus" on, I think, is the "unexpected" (your sexist comment).  We
all know that you are a noted statistician--by the way, why don't you post
your research results?  I certainly accept your apologies.   Love, Sheila

>[This message is converted from WPS-PLUS to ASCII]
>Deepest apologies to all for a very insensitive comment invariably made
>during a recent posting on statistical data re number of women on
>Baha'i institutions.  I deeply regret having said this inappropriate
>comment and hope no one was offended as none was intended.  It was my
>inept way of lightening up an otherwise extremely boring posting -- but
>clearly I failed.  I'll promise to be a lot more careful with my
>remarks in the future.
>Having apologies for my inexcusable comment, I find it ironic that
>those who claim to champion the cause of women in the Baha'i community
>focused on this one passing remark yet said nothing at all about the
>amazing data that I have assembled and offered to share!  They said not
>one word about wanting to see any real data on how many women have
>served on Baha'i institutions since the time of the Guardian.  This I
>find really amazing!
>I make no claims to be a great feminist promoter within the community,
>but to my knowledge, am the only person in the whole of Baha'i world
>who has gone through a great deal of trouble researching the exact
>status of women on all major Baha'i institutions to draw attention to
>the fact that a greater involvement by women on these institutions
>should not escape our consideration.  I can't begin to tell you the
>pain I suffered over collection of this data (starting in mid 1980's)
>and what a great victory a number of us felt when a very brief summary
>of it was published by the World Centre in a Baha'i International News
>Service issue which you all have seen quoted in the "Service of Women"
>It really is ironic that those self-proclaimed feminist supporters on
>Talisman failed to see the importance of what was being offered and yet
>took me to task over a poor joke.  Its interesting what people focus
>With apologies again, ahang.

Sheila Banani

From banani@ucla.eduMon Oct 30 23:29:56 1995
Date: Sat, 28 Oct 1995 14:10:11 -0700
From: Amin Banani 
To: Don Peden ,
Subject: Africa lives!

Dearest Bev and Don (Peden) and fellow Talismanians,

Since I have just returned this week to Talisman, after being "away" for
about 4 months, and finding the current "conversations" quite depressing, I
was seriously considering removing my name again from this list, until I
read Bev's wonderful message today.  THANK YOU FOR BEING ALIVE IN THIS
WORLD, Bev.  And, as an added thrill for me I learned that you are in
Kampala, a place dear to the heart of my family (Banani).  I send you lots
of love,  your sister, Sheila

>Dear Talispeople:
>I guess I lost something in the discussion.  In terms of Assembly maturity,
>would someone please tell me what is gained by constant criticism?  Or
>perhaps I am not understanding the term "criticism".  Then again, not being
>terribly unique, I wonder how many of us do understand the term criticism,
>and then again, who gets to assign the definition?
>There is a difference between criticism and problem identification.  It
>falls in the category of "intent", and manifests itself in "the delivery".
>Although our intent may be pure, our delivery leaves a bit to be learned.
>There are plenty of new ways which can be tried to put the Writings into
>practice in our communities, but  "criticism" can only be destructive.
>Again, I am sure that no one on talisman wishes to handicap the assemblies,
>obviously, from your dialogue, you all wish the Faith to manifest its
>best...but folks, we ain't there yet!  Teleporting is something from the
>Star Trek series, we haven't been able to invent it.  But keep studying
>those mystical scriptures!  I'm sure the key lies in there somewhere, and
>all those mathematical combinations are probably secret codes for the
>teleporting of our physical matter into an order which reflects our
>spiritual state (now there's a thought!)
>One case I would like to share was when I was serving as an Auxillary Board
>Assistant in Canada.  I was "handed" an Assembly which wasn't functioning.
>My "mission impossible" was to get it functioning.  I did a lot of
>listening, and realized that every member of that Assembly was a capable,
>loving individual, well deepened in the Writings, and each trying to serve
>as best they could.  I'm sure that is a familiar picture all over the world.
>Each individual had their strengths, and their short comings (as I had my
>own, and felt completely inadequate for the job at hand).  I was under
>constant pressure from well meaning fellow Assistants to "get them teaching;
>that will solve their problems".  I chose to ignore the advice, because I
>just didn't see it as being the answer in this case.  (Teaching, to my mind,
>is a product of joyful intercourse between individuals and the Writings.  It
>is a natural by-product of a creative process.)
>Being very unsure of what to do, I asked them, "What do you think?".  What
>came out was a series of events in which they were accused, abused, and left
>feeling paralyzed to do anything for fear of making "more" mistakes.  As a
>result, they would often make decisions and deliver them in an
>"authoritarian" manner.  I'm no psychologist, but I have been in the
>position enough times to recognize a defense mechanism when I see one.  So,
>after consulting with the Auxillary Board member I served, the message I
>started to feed back to them was "You're okay; you're exactly where you
>should be in this stage of your development as an Assembly; mistakes are
>part of learning; what do you need as an Assembly;  where is the next
>step?".  That Assembly started to see itself in a different light, to claim
>their right to struggle and make decisions which also implied the acceptance
>of risk taking and making good decisions and decisions which would change
>and evolve as their experience and understanding changed and evolved.  They
>claimed the right to be less than "process", and the right to
>freely consult with the community, stating that the decision that they were
>making was an experiment, open to change and making a commitment to open
>dialogue with community members.  If a community member got up at a feast
>and was critical of a decision, the Assembly members listened carefully, and
>the chairman of the Assembly would verbally confirm the validity of that
>person's concern, and invite that individual to attend the next Assembly
>meeting to discuss their ideas.  It did not always result in an immediate
>change of the Assembly decision, but the individual did not feel put down,
>PLACE...NOT A FORM OF VERBAL MANIPULATION!  Often they came away accepting
>that even if they didn't agree with the path chosen, they would follow it to
>see where it lead, and that their idea was duly noted for adaptation,
>implementation, etc.  Also, this Assembly delegated everything they could,
>and kept a constant dialogue with the community members about progress or
>They began their experiment by responding to a community request for a
>deepening on Marriage.  We did not exclude those not registered as Baha'is,
>but made them welcome and part of the discussion.  Using Fortress for Well
>Being, we went through quote by quote, taking the time to go round the
>circle and get comments from everyone, even if it was "no comment at this
>time".  People felt free to engage or not, but the expectation of some
>participation was implicit.  Two marriages were started on solid footing,
>two new declarations were received.
>This community became so confident and "centered" in their love and
>devotion, they were able to move out into their community and interact in a
>very genuine way with participating in interfaith functions, warm exchange
>with the clergy, the rabbis and the wickkens of our community, (not without
>its humorous moments) always looking and "dialoguing" with the positive in
>each.  They never failed to introduce the Baha'i consultative principles
>into the dialogues (without attaching the name Baha'i; it was already
>recognized as being Baha'i because it came from the Baha'is) and having
>those principles unanimously and enthusiastically adopted instead of Roberts
>Rule of Order.  They have been able to keep up with new additions (sometimes
>grumpy or contentious) to the community, and have struggled to ensure that
>their children and youth are growing in a loving environment within that
>community. I hope they continue to take chances.
>I'd like to point out that I did not do anything to achieve this...they did.
>All I did was say "It's okay, relax, don't beat yourself up.  You're okay,
>and right on track for your development."  The basis of encouragement is "to
>give courage" (taken from the dictionary of Bev).  Why not?  The worst that
>can happen is nothing.
>This was a small community, but does not the same principle apply to the
>National Spritual Assemblies, and even to the Universal House of Justice?
>Perhaps my understanding of the process is not complete, or even worse,
>naive.  The Universal House of Justice is the final place to rest our hearts
>and spread out our concerns, and we often don't allow ourselves the time to
>absorb what they respond to us, and to experiment with its application.
>I wonder about our use of the word "committees".   To my mind, it is a
>cop-out, usually fixing an image in our mind that "someone else is doing
>it".  Perhaps a new designation which implies individuals who are catalysts,
>enabling others to function in certain areas is needed to help change our
>mind-set.  We need a lot of collaboration between groups.  And we need to do
>it without everyone suffering from what I call "Baha'i meeting syndrome".
>(Did I mention that I have a problem with large groups, crowds, and the hype
>of "meetings" of any kind?)
>Or perhaps the key is trying to identify what is the component which changes
>when numbers are increased (especially in communities where there are large
>influxes quickly.)  I wonder about this attitude of "just teach and all will
>be fixed".  Do we have the right application in mind?  The right sequence of
>I guess I'm rambling, but it is my personal opinion (and I do stress
>personal), that "criticism" leads no where.  And I need to be one of the
>first to apply this principle in my life (here I am being critical of
>criticism...Catch 22).  Even "constructive criticism" is often not taken as
>constructive, but can be damaging.  Our institution need as much
>encouragement as we do to be able to feel confident to try, to grow, to make
>choices, to accept the consequences of those choices, to learn from the
>consequences, and to move on.  We need to let go of our attachment to what
>we have been trained to think of as "constructive criticism", be it academic
>or other, and find a new line of questioning.  (I know there is a month of
>Questions, but there is not a month of Criticism.)  That questioning needs
>to be sensitive to the receptor.  You don't put a 1000 watts through a 60
>watt amplifier and expect it to function after.  Our questioning needs to be
>sensitive to its receptors, and we are a world of delicate souls, with all
>kinds of protective walls around our hearts, and needing encouragement to
>"come out and play".
>With all due respect to the academic institutions of the world, so many
>disciplines seen to center around a process of "getting a new angle on
>something" and then "defending it" while other academics (advisory
>committees and such) try to poke holes in it to make sure that it stands up.
>Then you "defend" your tenure and claim to fame from new "upstarts" who are
>busy trying to change the status quo and make their name.  Kind of a funny
>system, don't you think?  I wonder if that is what Baha'u'llah had in mind
>for our supposed "Baha'i Universities".  Don Quiote, move over and hand us
>all a new lance for the next windmill!
>I don't have answers, just questions.  And maybe I am way off base in my
>assumptions about criticism.  But what if there is a grain of truth to this
>idea?  Is it not possible to use our collective knowledge and search for a
>new way of problem solving which does not involve criticism?  There must be
>a way.  What do we have to lose by looking?
>Think about it, please.  As one delicate soul, I sure need some kindness
>when spoken to, or I disappear real fast.
>Listen to me!  I should get a higher soap box.  Never mind.  After this
>little tirade, I had better think about the steps needed to re-instate my
>membership, roll up my sleeves, and do something.  I wish I could tickle the
>place which is holding me back.  I wish we were in a place where we could
>participate in a non-pressured deepening of some kind where someone would
>NOT ask me about baptism.  I wish ostrichs could fly too...second thought,
>I'm grateful they don't...the droppings would be more than my windscreen
>could cope with.  God knew what he was doing.
>I feel I am drawing closer, and I do thank Talisman for that.
>P.S.  Oh yeah!  Introduction.  I am an artist with no letters after my name,
>but a long trail of dripping paint, shredded and reassembled canvases and
>drawings, and bits of drying cellulose stuck to my elbows from the
>papermaking vat.  I also have my car battery out on occassion to etch plates
>for printing on my "toy" press.  Last week my business partner and I opened
>a framing business and artists gallery/craft shop in Kampala.  If we don't
>go broke, it will be a lot of fun to be part of for the small time remaining
>to our family here.  Don's contract will finished in April, and we are faced
>with job hunting and new opportunities.  (He is a scientist in the
>discipline of research and development, agroforestry and related sciences,
>systems ecology, and supervision of graduate students.  If any of you
>academics out there know of any job coming up, PLEASE let us know.
>I have to be pretty inovative in my approaches to my work because of
>restrictions on available materials and technology.  It's a great challenge.
>I will never be famous, the Tate Gallery will never want to "collect me".
>I'm okay with that.   My work is fair for the most part, full of colour,
>with a real gem of a canvas appearing about every two years.  I believe
>strongly in cycles.  For about the past two years I've been using the
>"classical" method of destroying an assembled work, and incorporating pieces
>of it into new work as it seems a fitting way of working considering my
>life:  There is always a new understanding changing the old picture, and I
>need a new way of looking at things.  So, by cutting up old work, gluing it
>on to new canvas, using it as a starting place, I'm always
>dissassemble/reassemble/dissassemble/reassemble).  There has been some good
>work appearing lately.
>My main school has been the school of life.  I can type because I was
>"programmed" in high school into the secretarial course, since this was
>"appropriate work for young ladies waiting to get married, and would carry
>us if our husband died without leaving us a fortune".  (I have refused to do
>secretarial work  since I married).  It has been a great school, and I guess
>I'll always be in student mode.  I've had brushes with University and an Art
>College for a year, and was greatly interested and inspired until the
>"programming" started.  I kind of value the process of discovery, and don't
>like to be deprived of it.  I'm probably dysfunctional when it comes to
>authority, but I don't worry about it too much...just one of those warts one
>lives with.
>We have lived in East Africa since 1978 with a three year soujourn back in
>Canada. Africa has opened my heart, and my heart belongs to Africa.  I have
>learned about love here.  I don't know what I'll do when we have to
>leave...I guess I'll just live with it, and grow from the separation.  I'll
>go forward, I hope.  (But, then again, I'll probably do my spiritual shuffle.)
>I have loved deeply, and been loved deeply.  I am grateful.
>I have had the opportunity to be creative, and I am grateful.
>I have felt intense pain and grief, and I am grateful.
>I have had the opportunity of nursing and companioning a close friend to her
>death, and performing the final service of preparing her body for Baha'i
>burial.  (A common experience here, but new to me.)  And I am profoundly
>I'm a mother of four boys aged 11 years to 25.  They are humans I am happy
>to have contributed to.  They did not fulfill my dreams for them (they were
>suppose to be the perfect leaders of tomorrow and change our terrible war
>filled world).  They are surpassing the limitations of my dreams by being
>their own selves as honestly as they can, and I am grateful.
>I've been married for twenty years to a wonderful man, full of love,
>compassion, encouragement, the willingness to struggle, a desire to learn,
>and the ability to say "sorry" and all the rest of these wonderful
>attributes we call human, including warts on his soul; I am grateful.
>I bear all the emotional scars of an abusive childhood, dysfunctional family
>and all that good stuff, and I am grateful.  It has given my "roots and base
>trunk" wonderful twists and turns, knots and bumps which have given my
>character its "sculptural" form.  I love my twisted side as much as my
> has created compassion.  I have survived (thanks to wonderful
>friends) and moved forward (I hope).  And I am grateful.
>I am not everyone's choice of a friend, but I have friends for whom I am
>I am alive, and I am grateful.
>Love, Bev.

Sheila Banani

From mcfarlane@upanet.uleth.caMon Oct 30 23:30:17 1995
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 16:36:39 -0700
From: Gordon McFarlane 
Subject: Re: two types of catastrophe

Dear Friends:
Ahang wrote:

But I think it would be helpful to note that actually two types 
of "calamity" or "catastrophes" are referred to in our writings.

        Regarding the two types of of "calamities".   It's my understanding
that Baha'u'llah has also distinguished between "irrevocable" and "impending
decrees".   It is an irrevocable decree, for example, that every one of us
will eventually grow old and die.   That we will die at an early age of
unnatural causes,  is an impending decree, the likelihood of which is
increased or decreased by our own  behavior  and lifestyle.
          The House of Justice says, repeatedly, "Whether future
accomplishments are to be reached after  unimaginable horrors or embraced
through an act of consultative will, is the CHOICE before all who inhabit
the earth.   I infer from this that "unimaginable horrors",   a phrase which
sounds rather ominous and catastrophic, suggest an impending, rather than an
irrevocable decree. 
        If a doctor tells us that we must change our eating habits, our
lifestyle, get more exercise etc. or we'll die of coronary heart disease,
cancer, or some other nefarious ailment, it's not wise to assume that his
prognosis is an irrevocable decree and continue living as before.    Nor
would the doctors predictions be the cause of the resultant afflictions with
wich we may be assailed.  On the other hand, even if we do make the
prescribed changes but live in the expectation  that we are going to get
sick anyway,  chances are it'll happen.  
        Similarly, if we life in constant fear and anticipation of
catastrophe and calamity, we will no doubt percipitate one. 
         Shogi Effendi, in the last para of "Call to the Nations", reminds
us that "ours (is the duty), however confused the scene, however dismal the
present outlook, however circumscribed the resources we dispose of, to
labour serenely, confidently, and unremittingly, to lend our share of
assistance, in whichever way circumstances may enable us, to the operation
of the forces which, as marshalled and directed by Baha'u'llah' are leading
humanity out of the valley of misery and shame to the loftiest summits of
power and glory".  
         It's been my own experience that speculating on the the nature of
the multitude of impending calamities,  unimaginable horrors and
limb-quaking catastrophes  that might befall mankind,  disrupts my serenity,
weakens my confidence, obscures my vision, saps my energy, diverts my
attention from the summit of glory to the valley of misery and shame and
quickly begins to transform me into a depressed, morose,  immobile,
impotent pillar salt. 
        PLEASE NOTE  - I am in no way implying that others who discuss this
subject on Talisman  are depressed or depressing, morose, imobile, impotent
pillars of salt.  I am refering exclusively to the effect that contemplation
of the subject has on me. 

>Received: from by (MX V4.1 VAX) with
>          SMTP; Mon, 30 Oct 1995 07:45:19 MST
>Received: (from daemon@localhost) by (8.7/8.7/1.10IUPO)
>          id IAA29239 for talisman-outgoing; Mon, 30 Oct 1995 08:57:38 -0500
>          (EST)
>Received: from (
>          []) by (8.7/8.7/1.10IUPO) with
>          SMTP id IAA15376 for ; Mon, 30 Oct 1995
>          08:57:31 -0500 (EST)
>Received: by; id AA28551; Mon, 30 Oct 95 08:57:01
>Received: by; id AA15048; Mon, 30 Oct 95 08:56:54 -0500
>Received: from umc by via MR/ESVAX with
>          conversational-MRIF;Mon, 30 Oct 95 08:56:54 -0500
>Message-ID: <91847003015991/5710629@BMOA>

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

From PIERCEED@sswdserver.sswd.csus.eduMon Oct 30 23:30:30 1995
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 14:29:06 PST8PDT
From: "Eric D. Pierce" 
Subject: Re: apologies (Sheila's late messages)


I got got this message on Monday October 30, 1995 at 2:28 in 
the afternoon (California, USA). Is anyone else getting the 
messages from Sheila's email server 2-3 days later than they
were sent?

There have been scattered reports of slow messages on other
parts of the internet, maybe the catastrophy will be when
email is wiped out due to a massive system failures? :)



> Date sent:      Sat, 28 Oct 1995 14:17:51 -0700
> To:             "Ahang Rabbani" ,
> From:  (Amin Banani)
> Subject:        Re: apologies

> Dear Ahang,
> Sheila Banani
> 2320 Alta Avenue, Santa Monica, California 90402
> Tel  (310) 394-5449
> Fax (310) 394-6167
> E-Mail:  Banani@UCLA.Edu (Sheila)

From Oct 30 23:30:57 1995
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 1995 11:44:59 +1300 (NZDT)
From: Robert Johnston 
Subject: Re: Found Anon, but...Tone[-e]

Dear Linda (& Sonja, I suppose),

You wrote:

 This obsession with
>"tone" can really be a problem in allowing for expression of ideas.

Isn't it ironic that someone who wrote the word "ass" [as, like a donkey]
-- and called upon Bakhtin for validation -- should express reservations
about the tone of a certain letter?  Maybe!  But then ... maybe he was
instructed by the ensuing outrage and threats of talismanic extermination.
But if it is OK now to say anything one likes in whatever manner, maybe he
should write according to the rhythms and utterances of a South Taranaki
dairy farmer on a grim spring morning calling abuse to his wayward and
evil-eyed  mongrel dog.  Would that be OK?  I mean that is his culture...
Would you like a sample, to test?



From Oct 30 23:31:59 1995
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 1995 11:49:58 +1100
From: Ahmad Aniss 
Subject: Re: reform

Dear Talismanians,
Dear Juan,

Sheila wrote:

>Dear Juan (sent to Talisman),
>My heart sank when I read the vehemence with which you stated your points
>on "reform" and your assessment of the Baha'i administration.  Have you
>reached the "end of your rope"?  Since you have chosen to say these things
>on Talisman, in particular, what do you expect as a response, or don't you
>care?  Love, Sheila
>Sheila Banani

I say:

Me too! 
To add, in your posting there were certain acquisitions and innuendoes that I can not
believe you can substantiate with any kind of proof.  Reforming the administration to a 
level where it has no resemblance to what was intended in the writings of our founders, 
is not much less than indulging perversely to harm the Faith.  However, there have 
been enough postings showing falseness of your acquisitions.  So, I rest it there.

With Love and Fellowship,
^									^
^ Dr. A.M. Aniss,			Tel: Home   [61(2)] 505 509	^

From KOLINSSM@hcl.chass.ncsu.eduMon Oct 30 23:32:31 1995
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 20:06:53 EDT
From: Steven Kolins 
Subject: Re: fundamentalism

> Having critically examined the underpinnings of my philosophy of right on 
> a large number of occasions and over the course of 22 years, I have 
> concluded that many aspects of current Baha'i administrative practice and 
> belief are pernicious and desperately need to be reformed.  Now what?  
> Those who have had these experiences and yet still cling to a theory of 
> Baha'i institutional inerrancy seem to me to be closer to courting the 
> epithet "fundamentalist," though why don't we avoid labels altogether and 
> give this word a rest?

Agreed.  I am reminded of a few more contexts in which some kind of 
conflict needed to be worked out in the Faith. My first association 
was concerning Louis Greogry's support as a traveling teacher 
associated with another Hand of the Cause's election ( of course 
before he was a Hand) to the NSA and suddenly the NSA yanked support 
of Mr. Gregory. The other thought was of Tahireh's unveiling at 
Badasht with Quddus standing sword in hand.


All I need is Freedom of spirit, Chastity of soul, and Purity of 
heart. A pov is not even secondary. 

From jmenon@bcon.comMon Oct 30 23:33:42 1995
Date: 31 Oct 1995 02:01:51 GMT
From: Jonathan Menon 
Subject: Re: Re: Reforms in Baha'i Administrations 

Hi everyone,

I am a bit behind on reading my messages so I hope this reply isn't
redundant. Tony wrote:

"Of course, criticisms of the institutions should be delivered in the most
polite and
gentle language that the individual can muster at the time.  But, then we can
all agree (can we not?) that no one is ever going to do that perfectly, and
that most will do it quite imperfectly.  And  so, of the tone of the
criticism is always going to be the issue and not the substance, we will
never get anywhere--because everyone's style, tone, language, choice of
adjectives, etc., etc. will always be open to criticism.  
    And so, to say that criticism can only be directed at the institutions of
the Faith when it is expressed perfectly, is precisely the same thing as
saying that it cannot be made at all."

I hope I don't offend anyone with the following comments, because I really am
interested only in the issues involved. Also, I am trying to get this done
quickly since the television coverage on the Quebec Referendum begins in five
minutes. I mean only to add to this discussion constructively with what I am
about to say.

I agree completely with Tony's point, but I think it brings to light an
interesting and complex problem, because the same thing can be said about the
Institutions of the Faith, which are not fully mature yet, and, like each of
us, are not yet able to express their guidance or make decisions which are
perfect (Universal House of Justice excepted). So, they receive criticism
because of it. I think the need to be tolerant of the imperfect style, tone
and content of the views of individuals is basically the same as the need for
us to be tolerant, kind and encouraging to the Institutions, even when
decisions they make might upset us. So often, we feel that we as individuals
should have our views tolerated and our criticism listened to while we find
it a bit difficult to extend that same courtesy to the Institutions of the
Faith. Since, to borrow Tony's very well-written phrase: we can all agree
(can we not?) that no Institution is ever going to do that perfectly (except
the UHJ), and that most will do it quite imperfectly.

Of course, this is a natural part of learning to build a new world order with
all the promises we have for it in Baha'u'llah's Writings. So, I think we
have to learn and grow together, realizing that we must be tolerant of each
other and that no one but the Universal House of Justice is going to be
perfect in their views or decisions. Just as we need encouragement to
develop, so do the Institutions, and this has to come from us, otherwise the
growth and maturity of the Institutions themselves will be stunted.

Yes, the Institutions should be tolerant of the views of the community, as
the Guardian writes. But it works both ways.

In terms of a venue for civil discourse (and now some of you might call me
naive, but there is nothing I can do about those views so, so be it) the
Baha'i community is supposed to have that in the institution of the Feast.
The reason some feasts maybe don't quite live up to this standard yet is tied
up with the points above--neither the friends nor the institutions have
attained a level of maturity where it can be accomplished. What it takes to
create this is for all of us to do our best to put the principles into
action, then, step by step, this forum for civil discourse will develop. In
addition to this, I remember a quote from the Guardian which states
(paraphrased): the Baha'i adminstration now is only the first step in what
will come in future to be considered the life and laws of community living.
So civil discourse is enshrined in the principles of the Baha'i community.
But we all have to focus our attention on living up to the principles of the
Faith if it is to develop properly.

Thanks, gotta go,

Hamilton, Canada

From eleka@leonis.nus.sgMon Oct 30 23:35:53 1995
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 1995 09:32:41 +0800 (SST)
From: Anjam Khursheed 
To: talisman 
Subject: new member

Hello, I would like to subscribe to your network. I was given
your network address by One world publisher at Oxford, England.

I am a bahai living in Singapore (University lecturer),
and my name is Dr Anjam Khursheed. Please let me know the
prcedure for joining your network.



From gpoirier@acca.nmsu.eduMon Oct 30 23:37:39 1995
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 19:01:14 -0700 (MST)
From: "[G. Brent Poirier]" 
To: Talisman 
Subject: It's the law.

The following, taken from my recent law office experiences, are, to me,
absolute proof that (a) the Old World Order is rapidly collapsing and
(b) God, or somebody, has a weird and sometimes delicious sense of humor.

#1.  From the US Dept. of Labor, Dallas, Texas
    (First-Class letter from the Division Head)

    Dear Mr. Poirier:

    We cannot approve the Form ETA-9035 you recently submitted.
    Federal Regulations 20 CFR 223.24(a)(c)(ii) require that you
    submit TWO copies of Form ETA-9035; you only submitted one
    copy.  If you submit TWO COPIES OF FORM ETA-9035 your
    application will be processed.

	[n.b. from Brent:  Form ETA-9035 is ONE PAGE LONG and as
	a rule is submitted by fax!  I re-sent the fax, this time 
	faxing the page twice and it was immediately approved.]

#2.	(From the State Department of Taxation and Revenue)
	Dear Mr. Poirier:  Since you have incorporated your law practice,
	you must now pay State Unemployment Tax.

	Dear Department of Taxation and Revenue:  
  	I am the sole shareholder, sole director, and sole employee.
	Do you mean that I have to pay unemployment tax in case
	I fire myself?

	Dear Mr. Poirier:
	It's the law.

3.	(From a Judge in an adoption case I handled in another part
	of the state some time back)
	Dear Mr. Poirier:
	I cannot issue the Decree of Adoption until the parental rights
	of the natural father of the adoptee have been terminated.

	Dear Judge:
	The natural mother of the adoptee is a prostitute from Juarez,
	Mexico.  The natural father was one of her clients.  The child is
	now 12 years old.  The natural father probably has never set foot
	inside this country, and probably does not speak English.  He surely
	does not read the Legal Notices in the local paper.  Please 

	Legal Notice published as a result of the Judge's decision:
	[Published 4 times, one time per week, in the local paper]
	To the unknown father of "A.B.", a child born in Mexico.
	Mr. and Mrs. "L" have filed a petition to adopt your child.
	Unless you file an Answer within 20 days of the last date of 
	publication, your parental rights may be terminated ....

#4.	[From the Adoption Division of the Department of Children,
	Youth and Families of the State of New Mexico, Santa Fe, NM]

	Dear Mr. Poirier:
	We cannot approve the recent adoption papers you have filed.

	Dear Adoption Persons:
	Why Not?

	Dear Mr. Poirier:
	Because the Social Worker Certification from the Department of
	Children, Youth and Families was not included with your
	paperwork.  You must send us a photocopy of this certification.

	Dear Department:
	Where do I get this copy:

	Dear Mr. Poirier:
	From the Social Worker, of course.

	Dear Department:
	Where does the Social Worker get the certification?

	Dear Mr. Poirier:
	From us.


I've been out of touch for a couple of weeks.  Not only with these
jollies, but I'm also connecting with the Dept. of Philosophy to re-work
my part-time Master's program to include some philosophy, theology, and
other fun stuff, and dropping most of the MBA coursework.  So, I have over
1000 messages to wade through and I'll apologize now for my tardy comments. 


From jjensen@welchlink.welch.jhu.eduMon Oct 30 23:38:38 1995
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 21:02:29 -0500 (EST)
From: Joan Jensen 
Subject: "styles in conflict"

Dear Talismanians,

As I read the various postings to Talisman, I am reminded again of two 
different styles of communication that Deborah Tannen described in _You 
Just Don't Understand: Women and Men in Conversation_.  Although the 
style she describes as being women's voice does not exclusively belong to 
women, and visa versa, still reading about these different styles gives 
me a better feeling about the postings that seem more critical or 
confrontational in tone.
	"It may seem at first that conflict is the opposite of rapport
	and affiliation.  Much of what has been written about women's
	and men's styles claims that males are competitive and prone
	to conflict whereas females are cooperative and given to 
	affiliation.  Although it is true that many women are more
	comfortable using language to express rapport whereas many
	men are more comfortable using it for self-display, the
	situation is really more complicated than than, because
	self-display, when part of a mutual struggle, is also a kind
	of bonding.  And conflict may be valued as a way of
	creating involvement with others.

	To most women, conflict is a threat to connection, to be
	avoided at all costs.  Disputes are preferably settled
	without direct confrontation.  But to many men, conflict
	is the necessary means by which status is negotiated, so it
	is to be accepted and may even be sought, embraced, and

	Because their imaginations are not captured by ritualized combat
	women are inclined to misinterpret and be puzzled by the
	adversativeness of many men's ways of speaking and miss the
	*ritual* nature of friendly aggression... (pp. 149-150)

There is much more, and whole chapter, and whole book.  Reminding myself 
of these differences makes it easier to follow 'Abdu'l-Baha's 
twin admonitions: 
	"Let not your heart be offended with anyone."
and in the same passage.
	"Beware!  Beware! lest ye offend any heart"
	(Promulgation of Universal Peace, P. 453)

It is also a joy and delight to participate in Bahai-Women-Converse, 
which overflows with the gentle and strong words of support, assistance, 
rapport, subtle humor but most of all love.  I know it was created for 
Baha'i women only, for now, and I think this is appropriate, because I 
cannot imagine this level of love-in-discourse occurring in another 
forum (that is, a forum that included men) at this stage in our 
development.  I hope that one day we  will all become bilingual, 
able to understand the language of the other gender, able to converse 
in either language, and appreciate the different strengths each brings 
without being misunderstood, offended, or offensive.

Joan Jensen
Baltimore, Maryland

From mfoster@tyrell.netMon Oct 30 23:39:22 1995
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 19:57:29 -0600 (CST)
From: "Mark A. Foster" 
Subject: Baha`i Administration 


    I wanted to say that I was quite surprised by the recent posting on 
the subject of institutional problems. It stuck me as unneccesarily 
confrontational. I also wonder about the meaning of equating Baha'i 
institutional inerrancy (presumably of the Universal House of Justice) 
with fundamentalism and about what seemed to me to be a reference to 
a selfish intent among the House of Justice members in continuing the 
practice of literature review. 
    I would think that most of us might agree that the infallibility of 
the House is contextual. They are, like the beloved Guardian, not 
omnipotent and make decisions on the basis of the information available 
to them. However, I do not see how this condition alters the fact that 
the decisions of the Universal House of Justice are under the infallible 
protection of the Twin Manifestations. They are, after all, the channel 
of God's Will on earth at this time.
    Peter Khan is very dear to me. He was the auxiliary board member for 
New York State when I lived there, and I got to meet him on a few 
occasions. Yesterday, I read the text of his talk in Wilmette and was 
impressed with his statement that, as he looks across the table at his 
colleagues, he has come to realize that *they* are not the Universal 
House of Justice - the members of the Supreme Institution, yes - but not 
the House itself. To hear a sitting member of that body make such a 
statement was quite moving to me. 
    IMHO, just like the resurrected (arisen) body of Christ was, in one 
sense, the church, the Universal House of Justice is the resurrected 
Temple (or body) of the Manifestation. As the Bab and Baha'u'llah 
operated through Their physical bodies, or temples, when They were on 
earth, These Holy Souls, inseparably connected with the condition of 
Manifestation, function now through these nine men. To me, that is the 
Universal House of Justice. It is God's appearance in the world - moving 
among us and guiding us toward the time of global consummation.   
    Personally, I think that we need to be cautious of reductionism. The 
House of Justice exists as a social reality sui generis (of its own 
kind). It is not composed of personalities. These men are only the 
instruments of God manifested. If I can be so presumptuous, the 
responsibility of the "men of Baha" is to practice justice - to 
independently investigate the reality of any situation presented to them 
and to base their deliberations on the information they collect. It is 
the synthesis - the decision - which is, within the context of available 
data, guarded from error. 
    However, it is not our job, as I see it, to question the wisdom of 
the Supreme Body. If we feel that we have a piece of information which 
could be of help to the House, we can, in the spirit of servitude, 
present it to them. However, we can then forget about it. We are free! 
We no longer need to be concerned. It is in the hands of God.
    Finally, to my way of thinking, unless scholarship serves the House 
of Justice and its needs, it is *not* Baha'i scholarship. If we want to 
know what *is* Baha'i scholarship, we need to study what the House, the 
Guardian, etc. has said about it. What else is there?
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
*Mark A. Foster, Ph.D., Sociologist of Religion                              *

* UniQWK #2141* Structuralists Know the Lingo ;-)

From 72110.2126@compuserve.comMon Oct 30 23:40:25 1995
Date: 30 Oct 95 21:47:21 EST
From: David Langness <>
Subject: Baha'i Elections [1st of 3]

Dear Talismanians,

Requests for the following information have snowballed during the
past few days, so here it comes, for the delectation of all.  I
will post it in three installments, as it covers three specific
areas:  1) membership on The North American Baha'i Temple Unity and
the pre-1924 US/Canada National Spiritual Assembly; 2) membership
on the US National Spiritual Assembly 1925-current; and 3) the
membership of the International Baha'i Council 1961-1963 coupled
with the membership of the Universal House of Justice 1963-current.

I will also post a list of those who have left the US NSA without
finishing a particular year, their reason for doing so, at least as
far as I know one, and their by-elected replacement.  Any and all
corrections and additions will be highly appreciated.

I.  Baha'i Temple Unity & pre-1924 National Spiritual Assembly

Arthur Agnew        |XX|XX|XX|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
William Ashton      |  |  |  |XX|XX|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
Zia Bagdadi         |  |  |  |XX|  |  |  |  |  |XX|XX|  |XX|XX|  |
Louise Boyle        |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |XX|XX|  |  |
Ella Cooper         |  |  |  |  |  |  |XX|XX|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
Frederick D'Evelyn  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |XX|XX|  |  |  |
Helen Goodall       |XX|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
Louis Gregory       |  |  |  |XX|  |  |  |  |  |XX|  |  |  |XX|XX|
Albert Hall         |XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|  |  |  |  |  |  |
Joseph Hannen       |  |XX|  |  |  |  |XX|XX|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
Emogene Hoagg       |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |XX|XX|  |  |  |  |  |
William Hoar        |XX|XX|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
Horace Holley       |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |XX|
Bernard Jacobsen    |XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
Allah Kalanar       |  |  |  |  |XX|  |  |  |XX|  |  |  |  |  |  |
Edward Kinney       |  |  |  |  |  |XX|XX|XX|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
George Latimer      |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |XX|  |  |
Alfred Lunt         |  |  |  |  |XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|
May Maxwell         |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |XX|XX|XX|  |  |  |
Mountford Mills     |XX|XX|XX|XX|  |XX|  |  |  |  |  |XX|XX|XX|  |
Harlan Ober         |  |  |  |  |  |  |XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|  |  |  |  |
Anna Parmerton      |XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
Agnes Parsons       |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |XX|  |  |  |  |  |XX|
William Ralston     |  |  |  |  |  |XX|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |
William Randall     |  |  |  |  |  |XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|
Charles M. Remey    |XX|  |XX|  |  |  |  |  |  |XX|XX|  |XX|XX|XX|
Corrinne True       |XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|
Albert Vail         |  |  |  |  |  |  |XX|XX|  |  |  |XX|  |  |  |
Roy Wilhelm         |  |XX|XX|XX|XX|  |  |  |XX|  |XX|XX|XX|XX|XX|
Percy Woodcock      |  |  |XX|  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |  |



From 72110.2126@compuserve.comMon Oct 30 23:43:35 1995
Date: 30 Oct 95 21:49:11 EST
From: David Langness <>
Subject: Baha'i Elections [2nd of 3]

Dear Talismanians,

I supplied you the last chart in table form, but due to its length,
this one transmits better electronically if I compress it slightly
and simply cite years of service, inclusively, for each member. 
Again, any additions and/or corrections humbly and wholeheartedly

2.  Membership:  US National Spiritual Assembly, 1924-1995

Dwight Allen             66-74; 80-84
Elsie Austin             45-53
Dorothy Baker            37-53               Hand of the Cause 1951
Richard Betts            74-79
Ellsworth Blackwell         55; 58-60
Wilma Brady              81-85                             CBC 1985
Mathew Bullock           52-53                          Knight 1953
Magdalene Carney         71-82                             CBC 1983
Hugh Chance              60-62                             UHJ 1963
Ken Christain            46-53                          Knight 1953
Amelia Collins           25-32; 38-43; 45-50 Hand of the Cause 1951
Juana Conrad             88-95
Arthur Dahl              58-68
William Davis            85-95
Alberta Deas             83-95
Tod Ewing                91-93
Nellie French            28-37
Soo Fouts                76-86
Amoz Gibson              60-62                             UHJ 1963
Elizabeth Greenleaf         24
Louis Gregory            27-31; 39-45        Hand of the Cause 1951
Paul Haney               46-57               Hand of the Cause 1954
Lawrence Hautz           53-54
Robert Henderson         82-95
Horace Holley            24-60               Hand of the Cause 1951
Leroy Ioas               32-45; 49-51        Hand of the Cause 1951
Daniel Jordan            63-82
Borrah Kavelin           50-62                   IBC 1961, UHJ 1963
Firuz Kazemzadeh         63-65; 68-95
Ali Kuli Khan            25-26
Chester Khan             82-88
Franklin Khan            69-81
George Latimer           33-38; 41-48
Charlotte Linfoot        53-75
Kevin Locke              88-91
Patricia Locke           93-95
Al Lunt                     24; 27-36
May Maxwell                 24: 27-28
William Maxwell, Jr.     74-76; 84-88
Florence Mayberry        59-60                             CBC 1968
Jack McCants             69-70; 86-95
Margery McCormick        53-58
Allen McDaniel           25-45
Robert McLaughlin        53-57
Mountford Mills          24-26; 35-37
Glenford Mitchell        68-81                             UHJ 1982
Florence Morton          24-27
Dorothy Nelson           69-95
James Nelson             77-95
Harlan Ober              38-40
Agnes Parsons               24
Sarah Pereira            60-73                             CBC 1973
Paul Pettit              64-68
Robert Quigley           63-67
David Ruhe               60-67                             UHJ 1968
Carl Scheffler           25-37
Siegfried Schopflocher   24-26; 29-34; 38-43 Hand of the Cause 1952
Mamie Seto               51-53
Velma Sherill            61-63                             CBC 1973
Phillip Sprague          44-49
Edna True                46-68                             CBC 1968
Katherine True           56-59
Allen Ward                  82 (elected, never served)
Roy Wilhelm              24-45               Hand of the Cause 1951
Charles Wolcott          53-61                   IBC 1961; UHJ 1963

The current US NSA has an average length of service, per member, of
15.11 years.  Sixty-five people have been elected to the US NSA
since its inception.

This chart below indicates reasons for members who did not finish
a year's term, and names those who replaced departed members:

Year      Original Member          Why            Bi-elected

1945      Roy Wilhelm              Illness        Elsie Austin
1953      Elsie Austin             Pioneer        Lawrence Hautz
 "        Dorothy Baker            Pioneer        Charlotte Linfoot
 "        Mathew Bullock           Pioneer        Margery McCormick
 "        Ken Christain            Pioneer        Robert McLaughlin
 "        Mamie Seto               Pioneer        Charles Wolcott
1960      Ellsworth Blackwell      Haifa          Hugh Chance
 "        Horace Holley            Haifa          David Ruhe
 "        Florence Mayberry        Haifa          Sarah Periera
1961      Charles Wolcott          IBC            Velma Sherill
1974      Dwight Allen             ?              William Maxwell
1981      Glenford Mitchell        UHJ            Wilma Brady
1982      Daniel Jordan            Murdered       Allen Ward
1982      Allen Ward (election nullified by NSA)  Robert Henderson
1984      Dwight Allen             ?              William Maxwell
1985      Wilma Brady              CBC            William Davis
1986      Soo Fouts                ?              Jack McCants
1988      William Maxwell          CBC            Kevin Locke
 "        Chester Khan             ?              Juana Conrad
1991      Kevin Locke              ABM            Tod Ewing
1993      Tod Ewing                ABM            Patricia Locke



From 72110.2126@compuserve.comMon Oct 30 23:45:02 1995
Date: 30 Oct 95 21:52:11 EST
From: David Langness <>
Subject: Baha'i Elections [3rd of 3]

Dear Talismanians,

Below you will find post #3, which charts membership on the
International Baha'i Council and the Universal House of Justice
from 1961 and 1963, respectively, until the current date.  Years in
parentheses indicate members whose election came at a bi-election,
either as the result of a death or a resignation.  Total number of
voting NSAs are listed in brackets above the election year.

                    IBC    UHJ
                          [56] [81] [113][123][133][132][165]
                    1961  '63  '68  '73  '78  '83  '88  '93
Farzam Arbab        |    |    |    |    |    |    |    | XX |
Hugh Chance         |    | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX |    |
Hooper Dunbar       |    |    |    |    |    |    | XX | XX |
Hushmand Fatheazam  |    | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX |
Amoz Gibson         |    | XX | XX | XX | XX |    |    |    |
Lutfu'llah Hakim    | XX | XX |    |    |    |    |    |    |
David Hofman        |    | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX |    |    |
Sylvia Ioas         | XX |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
Borrah Kavelin      | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX |    |    |
Peter Khan          |    |    |    |    |    |(87)| XX |    |
Douglas Martin      |    |    |    |    |    |    |    | XX |
Glenford Mitchell   |    |    |    |    |(82)| XX | XX | XX |
Mildred Mottahedeh  | XX |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
Ali Nakhjavani      | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX |
Ethel Revell        | XX |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
Jessie Revell       | XX |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
David Ruhe          |    | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX |    |
Ian Semple          | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX |
Adib Taherzadeh     |    |    |    |    |    |    | XX | XX |
Charles Wolcott     | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX |    |    |

Sixteen men have served on the Universal House of Justice to date.
None have ever failed to return to office via the voting process. 
The average length of service for the current UHJ membership is 16



From burlb@bmi.netMon Oct 30 23:45:55 1995
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 95 19:30 PST
From: Burl Barer 
Subject: Derek, Linda, and America's Medicated Destiny

        Derek, after a rampant display of UK wit, suggested:

 Do take the cigarette out of the 
>coffee before you drink it please.

Burl says:

  Why?  A recent study of anti-depressents and anti-anxiety drugs and those
who use them (not a Rikki Lake program) found that being "sick" and having a
"condition" is very stressful and causes depression and anxiety.  It was
also found that people who were on these medications were *not having any
fun* and were so stressed out over combating their illness that they were
making themselves miserable! So, guess what they "discovered"?  Many (not
ALL) of these medicated folks did a complete turn around when (a) told that
they were ok, (b) taken off the meds, and (c) given coffee, cigarettes, and
chocolate!!! TRUE!  (c) worked so well because they were "simple pleasures"
that the folks associated with relaxing and enjoying life -- and all three
have pharmacological components that were of benifit to the patient more so
than the meds! See...Woody Allen was right -- cigarettes are one of the best
things for you!

[one more reason to leave my camel in my coffee, Derek)

If you think I am making this up, see the feature story in Sunday's Oregonian.

[NOTE: This is *not* meant as an attack on psychiatrists, pharmacists, drug
dealers, or users -- follow the advice of your dr. and do not play games
with your meds)

I am thrilled that Linda ordered, as opposed to requested, my book. I love
taking orders from strong, assertive women who will put me in my place --
the bookshelf, after a through reading from cover to cover.  

Some silly Baha'is in Oregon have convinced me to teach a five hour class on
the Destiny of America! HA! Those fools!
Can you imagine Baha'is so naive that they would trust me with 5 hours of
thier precious time? Now, they can trust me with two hours, the approx. time
to read MAN OVERBOARD (another subtle plug for my new book), but five hours
of me engaging them in a comprehensive interactive experiential event
regarding the Destiny of America is a bit much.  Besides, everyone knows the
Destiny of America: relentless airplay on oldies stations.

As it doesn't take five hours to say "America: Teach it or Leave it",  there
will be plenty of padding -- perhaps I will reconstruct the Obediance to
Authority experiments from the '60s.  "Go ahead, give him 450 volts every
time he mispronounces Baha Allah...[note new Encyclopedia Britanica
spelling] I accept complete responsibility, you are only following orders.")

Burl (drove the Chevy to Levites but the Levites were gone) Barer

  Order MAN OVERBOARD, the new book by Burl Barer today!

From Oct 30 23:46:29 1995
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 95 13:32:30 JST
From: "Stephen R. Friberg" 
Subject: Please, no ganging up.

Dear Friends:

Many have expressed concerns over too critical messages, and I have been
among them.  

But these too are criticisms, and now we must take care not to wound 
any more. 

Yes, I am extremely worried about tone.  We need to support and 
encourage acceptance of scholarly work like Chris's new book.  
And we need to support Kalimat press.  To do this, I believe, 
we should exercise moderation and care to avoid needlessly 
antagonizing people against Baha'i scholars and scholarship.  
To me, this means avoiding an accusatory and inflamatory tone.

But, as Tony Lee and others have eloquently pointed out, in doing this
we should not silence voices that should be heard.  Talisman is a
special place in part because we can voice our concerns and
criticisms.  It has been structured to allow this! 

Sometimes, maybe now is such a time, moderation and balance is
only achieved by offering our unconditioned love and support for
our esteemed Talismanian friends, especially those who challenge
us so much!

Yours sincerely,
Stephen R. Friberg

From carl@grapevine-sys.comMon Oct 30 23:47:14 1995
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 23:38:51 -0600
From: Carl Hawse 
Subject: Re: Spanking the Baha'is

>The Baha'is were told not to allow any trace of "the dust of despondency" to
>stain the heart of Shoghi Effendi.  Trace? Gee, whiz! Read the Priceless
>Pearl where the author states in her diary something to the effect that "The
>Baha'is are killing Shoghi Effendi."
>It is because of direct violation of the Will and Testament of Abdul Baha
>that we have been/are being "punished" by the additional challange of these
>problems -- problems which have their solution in, I believe, essentially
>reversing the process :-). 

I see two other ways of looking at it, based on maturiometry (ok, so I made
that up...):

1) The Guardianship became an inappropriate vehicle for advancing the cause
(hence was eliminated) because the Baha'i community was too immature to
receive the messages.  (dRevelation/dt > dMaturity/dt).  Hence, the
Community was popped back in the oven and the heat was turned up to increase
maturity (more crises! more crises!).  Eventually the function of the
Guardianship will be filled some other way if the community still needs it.

2) The Guardianship became an inappropriate vehicle for advancing the cause
(hence was eliminated) because the Baha'i community was blessed with such
effulgent guidance (Shoghi Effendi worked overtime) that there was such a
great acceleration of the rate of maturation that a hereditary guardianship
was made obsolete in one Guardianship cycle. (dMarutity/dt)/dt > CriticalRate.

With this whole crisis/victory thing, it's hard to tell rewards from
punishments anyway.  If it's tough to handle, it can be food for the soul.
What if we are being "rewarded" by the additional challenge of more problems?

Attributing any particular event to a specific act of divine will is a
dangerous step towards predestination, even if the act of divine will is a
reaction to a human-caused stimulus.  There's an unknowable essence between
cause and effect which is impossible to psychoanalyze or outsmart.  If we
could figure it out, it wouldn't be an act of god.

Carl Hawse

From richs@microsoft.comTue Oct 31 00:14:16 1995
Date: Sat, 28 Oct 1995 10:08:44 -0700
From: Rick Schaut 
To: 'Talisman' 
Subject: Justice and Baha'i Courts

Dearest Talizens,

Having acquired a bit more sleep since my last post, and having 
given these issues more complete thought, I feel I'm in a 
position to more completely state my position.

The argument in favor of the establishment of Baha'i courts can 
be succinctly states as: there have been injustices, sometimes 
grave injustices, in the past, and in order to reduce the 
instances of these injustices we should institute Baha'i courts 
which would handle those cases under which injustice is deemed 
most likely to occur.

While I remain unconvinced that Shoghi Effendi's intent was to 
implement Baha'i courts as an element of the Administrative Order 
(it seems clear to me that Shoghi Effendi's intent was to 
establish the institutions of the Faith as "courts" which would 
perform the civil function of applying Baha'i Law in countries 
where religious courts were the norm), this is not my primary 
objection to this line of argument.

My primary objection to this line of reasoning is with the 
premise as it has been stated and supported.  What is required is 
an objective standard by which we can determine whether or not 
injustice has occurred and by which we might be assured that the 
addition of Baha'i courts would be an improvement in these 
circumstances.  Lacking such an objective standard, this 
evaluation is reduced to one of popular vote.  (I can't imagine 
the proponents of democracy would advocate an elitist, or 
republican, form of governance.)

Now, one might ask, what's wrong with a popular vote on this 
issue?  Doesn't the quest for an objective standard negate the 
God-given sense of justice each of us has?  The answer to the 
first is that the institutions of the Faith are not answerable to 
the wants and desires of their constituents.  This has been 
stated by Shoghi Effendi in no uncertain terms.  Moreover, 
because consultation is the foundation of the Administrative 
Order, as asserted by `Abdu'l-Baha Himself, the decision of an 
institution is more than just the collective summation of the 
subjective values of an institution's members.  The answer to the 
second question is that our God-given sense of justice suffices 
to guide our own moral choices.  It should not, however, be used 
as standard by which to judge the decision of an institution.  
Some other standard must be used.

I realize that this can give rise to the question of 
dysfunctional consultation, but that question is really 
of little help.  Do we have any reason to believe the consultation 
amongst the members of a Baha'i court would be any less 
dysfunctional?  No.  As I believe I have demonstrated with my
response to Juan's hypothetical conundrum, you cannot measure
the absence or presence of the Evil One merely by someone's
recusal, or lack thereof, from discussion and decision on an
issue in which that person has an interest.

Rather than propose some objective standard for evaluating any 
given decision of an institution, the proponents of the 
establishment of Baha'i courts have presented hypothetical 
circumstances which are unlikely, or were misunderstood, in light 
of the principles of the Faith, and have stated personal 
conclusions which, at their very heart, require a judgment of 
someone else's motives based upon evidence which can be 
adequately explained under a presumption of more pure motives 
(or, worse, based upon evidence which should never have been 
considered valid in the first place).

The unconscionable nature of this argument is made even more 
evident by the fact that an objective standard based upon the 
principles of the Faith has been proposed and has languished 
unanswered and unused.  No similar proposal has been offered in 
its place, and no discussion of its merits has ensued.  The 
proponents of the establishment of Baha'i courts have persisted 
in pressing their own, subjective, and, I might add, almost 
completely undefined, standards by which they have judged the 
decisions and motives of people for no evident reason other than 
that these people happen to be in positions of authority in which 
they did not ask to be and have made decisions which were not to 
the liking of these proponents of Baha'i courts.

It has been suggested, or, at least, hinted, that the attitude I 
have expressed in this line of reasoning amounts to blind 
obedience to the institutions of the Faith.  I think I might take 
exception to this, particularly as it appears I'm being asked to 
blindly follow the dictates of some individual's conscience, but 
I think I shall only point out that obedience is not always 
blind.  I have a trust in the assurances of Baha'u'llah, `Abdu'l-
Baha, Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice, a trust 
which is based as much upon my own experience as it is based upon 
a reading of the Writings.  This is no blind obedience.  It is 
certainly no more blind than one's obedience to the dictates of 
one's physician.

And that, dear friends, lies at the very core of this entire 
discussion.  I can choose to dance to the tune of a few 
disgruntled souls, or I can dance to the Tune which has resonated 
in my heart since I was but a small child.  And to those 
disgruntled souls: if I could give you my heart, I would do so in 
an instant.  I know where you stand because I've stood there 
myself.  I now see it as a prison, but a unique prison; a prison 
one can leave by simply letting go of its bars.

Warmest Regards,
Rick Schaut

From Oct 31 00:51:37 1995
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 95 09:27:01 -0500
From: Ahang Rabbani 
Subject: Tablets of Baha'u'llah

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

Dear Chris,

In your usually penetrating way you cut through the smoke and 

> In which issue of `Andalib was this report reprinted, pray 
> tell?

I really don't know as I don't have some of issues of `Andalib 
for the past couple of years, but recall that a number of months 
ago, Juan mentioned that such a statistical statement was made in 
Andalib.  Perhaps either Juan or others can help here.

Also, if anyone has the text of the Archives brochure distributed 
at the last International Convention, please share.  Thank you.

> Considering that the bulk of Baha'u'llah's revelation is
> correspondence, do you or anyone on Talisman adhere to a *canon 
> within canon* perspective on these writings, in which the more 
> formally universal Tablets (Tarazat, Tajalliyat, Ishraqat, 
> Bisharat, etc.) clearly have a much higher relative importance?

Based on God Passes By, clearly the Guardian thought there was a 
definite hierarchy in the Writings of Baha'u'llah, for example, 
he thought these 10 Works were on par with the Aqdas and 
supplement its Text.  I personally like the term you've coined:  
canon within canon. 

> Among Baha'u'llah's untranslated Tablets, which would you 
> consider to be of comparable importance to the Tablets I've 
> just mentioned?

I can't cite chapter and verse here at my office, but do recall 
the House stating that major Works of Baha'u'llah which had 
universal implications were all available now in English.  (Was 
it in Introduction to the Aqdas??)

> Finally, to the extent that Baha'u'llah is reiterative in His
> correspondence, what is the likelihood that anything *new* in 
> terms of Baha'u'llah's teachings remains to be discovered? In 
> other words, have Baha'u'llah's Writings been sufficiently 
> represented in the translations we now have (such as the 
> beloved Guardian's own selections in _Gleanings_)?

> Or are we in for some major surprises?

I think it depends on what one means by "teachings".  If the 
definition is matters related to the development of the 
Administrative/World Orders and condition of the world, then 
pretty much everything of import has been translated.  

But, I think there is a world of "new" things yet to be 
discovered in His untraslated Tablets and many major surprises 
lies ahead.  (As an example, weren't we a bit surprised when we 
learned that Baha'u'llah ranked Quddus to be a Manifestation and 
claims the He Himself is the spiritual return of Quddus?   Here 
is another one:  Baha'u'llah says that Vahid-i Darabi is the very 
essence of the Qur'anic and Bayanic Dispensations and is the 
point round which these two Dispensations revolve.  More on this 
at the Austin ABS conf.)

By some estimates we have only less than 10% of Baha'u'llah's 
Tablets translated into English, so obviously there is a wealth 
of new things in these remaining 90% that remains to be 
discovered.  The typical comment that you hear in the community 
is that, well, these other Tablets are personal correspondence 
saying to the effect:  "Thy gift of Persian rug arrived.  May My 
glory be upon thee."  There is nothing further from the truth.

The importance of these remaining Tablets, while they may not 
have that much in them for the administrative development of the 
Faith, is in topical research.  Again, as an example, if someone 
is writing on Quddus then Baha'u'llah's 3 Tablets of Visitation  
revealed in His honor is of prime importance, even though the 
general community may not be affected by these Tablets.

But what we really should do, is to invite Juan Cole to comment 
on this question.  I think everyone is aware that he is finishing 
a book on themes from Baha'u'llah's Writings and without any 
question is the best read person on the Revelation of Baha'u'llah 
in the north America.  Long before the rest of us learned 
anything about the Faith, he was engaged in reading primary 
sources and Tablets and we would certainly benefit from his deep 
insights on this issue -- or any other topic.  

Juan, don't deprive us.

much love, ahang. 

From Oct 31 01:53:11 1995
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 95 11:57:01 -0500
From: Ahang Rabbani 
Subject: Re: reforms (fwd)

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

Attached note is from Rob Stockman which he meant for Talisman 
but sent only to me.  He asked for it to be forwarded.  ahang.


> ... the mathematics of a convention turning out any substantial 
> number of sitting members are almost impossible ...
If the information I have received from Canada and Britain is correct, in 
recent years there have been several spontaneous turnovers of membership on the 
NSAs in those countries.  Canada has 171 delegates, just like us; Britain I 
think has 95.  I think we can argue their electoral situation is analogous to 
ours, though perhaps not their Baha'i subculture.  But subculture is not where 
statistical impossibility can lie.

The more important question, I think, is how does the Baha'i turnover rate 
compare to the rate in elected bodies using western styles of election.  I 
believe I have heard the reelection rate to U.S. Congress is very high for 
those who run for reelection; about 95% or 98%.  This in spite of months of 
screaming, yelling, and smearing each other, and millions of bucks spent on 
image.  If the two systems' reelection rates are not substantially different, 
why bother with the disunity and silliness?  At best it undermines the public's 
confidence in their government; at worst, it generates ill feelings, 
grandstanding, and legislative gridlock.

Perhaps Arash is lurking and can give us his considered opinion.

                -- Rob Stockman

From jrcole@umich.eduTue Oct 31 10:58:15 1995
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 1995 00:51:22 -0500 (EST)
From: Juan R Cole 
To: Ahang Rabbani 
Subject: Re: Tablets of Baha'u'llah

Friends:  Sorry, I've been out of town.  In answer to Chris and Ahang's 
question, an English insert entitled "Baha'i Archives" appeared in 
`Andalib [Nightingale] no. 48, volume 12 (Fall, 1993), pp. 48-49.

It includes the following information:

		Items in Archives	Estimated total items

Baha'u'llah		 7,160			15,000

`Abdu'l-Baha		15,549			30,800

Shoghi Effendi		16,370			30,100

All of the items by Shoghi Effendi held in the archives have been 
described by fields in a database at the World Centre.  The Tablets by 
Baha'u'llah and `Abdu'l-Baha presumably are being or by now have been 
catalogued in a similar way.  It is expected that eventually all of the 
texts of the original Tablets will be digitalized, allowing vast keyword 
searches.  One of our Talismanians is playing a key role in this crucial 

As for Christopher Buck's question about whether there are any 
significant Tablets by Baha'u'llah that have not been translated, I would 
personally say "yes, large numbers."  But these Tablets are certainly not 
on the same level as Bisharat & etc.  Many have read and studied more of 
Baha'u'llah's Tablets than have I, including Habib, Ahang, Steve Lambden, 
and others, and they are better able to comment here.  Having, myself, 
read and taken notes on only a few thousand pages of the 
original Arabic and Persian Tablets of the Blessed Beauty [remember, 
these books run about 300 pages, so ten would be 3,000 pages], I 
would say that what remains untranslated falls into five categories:  

1) significant Tablets treating at length a particular theme (as 
with Essence of the Mysteries or the Tablet of the City of Radiant 
Acquiescence [which I haven't reached yet :-)];  

2) Letters to individuals on specific subjects, such as Jesus or the 
interpretation of the Tablets, or the history of philosophy, etc.

3)  Letters to individuals that contain important historical, ethical, 
or other theological passages, but which are largely pastoral in nature.

4) Letters to individuals that are almost pastoral, evoking spiritual 
images of billowing oceans and fragrant gardens, and which contain only 
occasional sentences or phrases that might be important to a historian or 

5)  Pastoral letters to individuals that contain only stock images and 
phrases, and which were probably intended simply to establish contact 
with a particular family and give them a precious heirloom;  these often 
short letters might be seen as something equivalent to the Manifestation 
giving His "autograph" to an admirer.  It appears to be the case that 
Khadimu'llah wrote many of these on Baha'u'llah's behalf.  Of course, 
even these are nice to meditate on and contain many luminous images.

The vast majority of 7,100 extant Tablets of Baha'u'llah fall into 
category number 5.  On the other hand, only by reading each Tablet can a 
historian or theologian be sure it does not fall into one of the other 
categories.  I read a Tablet last summer that, I found to my excitement, 
commented on the overthrow and suicide of Sultan `Abdu'l-`Aziz in 1876 (I 
suspect the Tablet was written around June of that year, right after 
these events).  Now, most people would not get as excited about this 
passage as I did, but for me it made this Tablet a "4" rather than a "5".
Then there is a Tablet on the British destruction of Alexandria, Egypt, 
on June 11, 1882, which I would put in category 2 but others, not 
historians of Egypt, might see as a 4.

So, I guess I just would not put the question the way our esteemed 
Christopher did.  The fact is, there is a wealth of historical, ethical 
and theological information and teaching in the untranslated Tablets of 
Baha'u'llah, even though none of these Tablets can compare to the 
Bisharat or Tajalliyat.

cheers   Juan

From cfarhoum@osf1.gmu.eduTue Oct 31 10:59:00 1995
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 1995 01:22:46 -0500 (EST)
From: Cheshmak A Farhoumand 
To: Carl Hawse 
Subject: Re: KI:5-7

Dear Carl,   Allah-u-Abha.  i am not by any means an expert on the 
Quran.  In Dr. Ghadimi's Baha'i class in Toronto when we studied the Iqan 
we came across the verse you mentioned about the sura of Hud.  So, we 
read the sura and it has to do with recognition of the oneness of God, 
and how noone should block the path of faith and belief.  THen the sura 
speaks of the different messengers who were sent to different people at 
different times to educate them.  i guess this is sort of progressive 
revelation.  THey came at different times and taught different people by 
their message was the same:  "Worship Allah:ye have no other God but 
Him...Turn to Him for my Lord is always near, ready to answer."  Sura of 
Hud verse 61.  And although the people were not always comfortable with 
the paradigm shift, the prophets turned them toward God.  So, in my 
humble opinion, the Sura of Hud sufficeth because it confirms progressive 
revelation, the fact that the Prophets all come to teach the oneness of 
God and to share his desire for his creation and to demonstrate that 
opposition is a natural consequence of this paradigm shift but that those 
who search will find.  I am sure this is not a complete answer, but i 
hope it helps the discussion.

In peace,
Cheshmak Farhoumand

Master's Student
Institute for Conflict Analysis and Resolution
George Mason University

From nima@unm.eduTue Oct 31 11:04:11 1995
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 1995 23:23:53 -0700 (MST)
From: Sadra 
Subject: wAjid/misc.

Dearest murtajimin & especially Moojan-i GerAmee--

Just got back from Berkley this morning having attended the Ninth 
Annual Muhyiddin Ibn `Arabi Society symposium over the weekend. I got 
together with Bill Chittick and discussed the Shaykh al-Akbar's 
terminology in some depth. The active participle "wAjid" is in fact 
used by the Shaykh al-Akbar in a few sporadic places throughout the Futuhat 
al-Makkiyya as "possession," but dArA'i isn't quite how he would 
gloss it. I think it is fair to assume that this is uniquely 
Baha'u'llah's. Needless to say, however, that wAjid is one of the 
Shaykh's most important terms in other contexts, i.e. superlatively, God 
is al-wAjid. It seems Ibn `Arabi uses wujud, wAjid and wijdan in 
the same sense as the sat-chit-ananda of Vedanta - I find this a 
fascinating development, as I'm sure you all do. Moojan, if you haven't 
already, Chittick suggested you might want to look into Su`ad Hakim's 
_al-Muljam as-Sufi_ Dandara (Beirut: 1981), which is the most 
comprehensive study to date on Ibn `Arabi's technical terminology.

  The symposium itself was one giant love fest of sorts if you're an Ibn 
`Arabi fanatic like yours truly. The papers were one and all great, to 
say the least. Mansur Vincent Cornell gave a brilliant presentation on Ibn 
Sa`bin ("Is there a practical side to Ibn Sa`bin: Gnosis without Mystery") 
tracing this Murcian's Hermetic Neopythaporeanism - Cornell is re-opening the
whole "School of Almeria" debate with his thesis on Ibn Sa`bin's 
non-Sufism, comparing him to Shankara, etc. As I mentioned to John 
Walbridge in a private message, Ibn Sa`bin is the closest we're going to 
get to an Islamic version of radical Spinozian monism - Ibn Sab`in insists
on eliminating every category in the God-world relationship. This is an 
extreme version of Latin Averroesian Peripateticism: the whole world is 
an Intellect and all intellects are nothing more than various refractions 
of the one Intellect. David Winston, the editor/translator of the Paulist 
press volume on Philo of Alexandria, did his presentation on the 
hermenuetic similarities in Philo and Ibn `Arabi's exegetical styles. 
Su`ad Hakim, a lady of illimitable grace, class, knowledge and foresight, 
gave a highly illuminating paper - in French but with simultaneous 
English translation and text - on the Tariq al-Wilaya fi ash-Shaykh 
al-Akbar. Denis Gril of the Sorbonne did his presentation on "In the 
Presence of Being in the Recitation of the Fatiha." His elucidation of 
Ibn `Arabi's mystical exegesis on the opening verse of the Quran kept 
reminding me of the Bab - i.e the whole Fatiha (and especially the 
opening Bismillah) being a symbolic representation of the Haqqiqat 
Muhammadiyya (or in our case the Mashiyyah al-Awwal), etc. - and once 
again I'm left wondering why the Bab's caustic antipathy towards the 
Shaykh and his school!? There was one graduate Berkley Shi'itist there, 
can't remember his name but a real Corbin freak, who said he thinks Ibn 
`Arabi stole this from Shi'i esotericism - I think not! Finally, William 
Chittick gave the most stupendous presentation of all: "From Absence to 
Presence." I'll say this about it: once published this will forever 
banish any and all accusations of pantheism, existential monism, ittihad, 
hulul and other such verbiage leveled against Ibn `Arabi throughout the 
last 8 hundred years to the "trash heap of history," to use a Marxian 
locution. I'll say one more thing: after Chittick's paper I am 
categorically convinced, beyond a reasonable doubt and to a moral 
certainty that the theological metaphysics of the Baha'i Faith has much 
more in common, in every possible way, with that of the Akbarian school than 
anyone realizes - I think Alessandro Bausani was the first person who saw 
this through and through. The theophanology of the Baha'i Faith, 
to use the phrase Juan coined, is Akbarian (period). But even more 
importantly, it's in Ibn `Arabi and Baha'u'llah's notions of fana where
we find strikingly close parallels. Ensha'Llah, one day in the future 
I hope to be able to write the first in-depth book on the subject, that 
is, if Stephen Lambden doesn't beat me to it :-)

   Anyway, that's my status report from Ibn `Arabi Land here in 
nA-kojA-AbAd Albuquerque, New Mexico, overlooking Mt Qaf. Sorry about 
all the hyperbole in my post, can't help myself :-)

O God, cause us to see things as they really are - Hadith

From jrcole@umich.eduTue Oct 31 11:07:28 1995
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 1995 01:53:00 -0500 (EST)
From: Juan R Cole 
Subject: election turnover

I wanted to thank all those who replied, in whatever tone and whether in 
agreement or disagreement, to my message on "reforms."  I'm back after 
being out of town, and just want to say that I am not interested in 
"winning" any argument about these issues, only in seeing them 
discussed.  I'm especially grateful to Rob for taking the time to comment 
at such length, even though I remain unconvinced by some of his arguments 
(and we both know that he can argue some of these issues from either side).
And thanks to Stephen Friberg and Joan for pouring oil on troubled waters.

It is important, as many have said, to be balanced.  And I should say 
that clearly many things do work in the Baha'i community, where much good 
consultation takes place and many have sacrificed much.  I admire very 
much the statement on, and work on,[against] racism that the US NSA is 
responsible for, and I presume much credit goes to Mr. Henderson for 
this.  I have enormous admiration for the epochal work the NSA (and 
especially Firuz Kazemzadeh and the Nelsons) performed with regard to 
Baha'i human rights and to the ratification of the UN Convention against 
Genocide by the US Congress in the 1980s.  I'm grateful to the NSA for 
establishing the Baha'i Research Office and hiring so wise and learned a 
person as Rob Stockman to head it.  As for the Universal House of 
Justice, it does not need my praise.  But the Peace Statement, and the 
impulse to community development in the global South, are both favorites 
of mine, and I am sure it humbly carries out many, many other 
praiseworthy initiatives about which we do not even hear (likewise with 
the NSAs).

There are, as I said, a few issues about which I am not happy.  I am not 
happy with the way the Baha'i Encyclopaedia has been derailed.  I am not 
happy with the NSA judging cases in which it or its members are 
interested parties.  I am not happy, in general, with the Baha'i 
electoral system at the national and international levels.  Nationally, 
we in the US have virtual lifetime incumbencies; some NSA members are on 
salary, and therefore worry about not being reelected; they therefore see 
all criticism as "negative campaigning;" and this all results in an 
*American Baha'i* that is unsatisfactory and results also in constant worry 
about Baha'i discourse, who is seen at conferences, etc.  At the 
international level, we are not supposed to have a nominating procedure, but it appears that 
one is developing and I am opposed.  Any small group will nominate 
persons it thinks will agree with it and "fit in."  

The statements made that US NSA long-term incumbency is no different from 
the US congress are silly.  In 1992 alone there was significant turnover 
among the 1/3 of HR seats that fell open.  The Senate may be more stable.  
Is the %97 return of incumbents figure for *incumbents that run in any 
one election*?  If so, in a decade, 15% of incumbents will have been 
defeated in HR elections (and, of course, many more decline to 
run again).  This has to be compared to 0% of NSA members who have run 
and not been returned to office during the past 10 years of *annual* 
elections (equivalent to 20 years of biannual elections to the House of 
Representatives, so that one could expect a 30% defeat rate if the two 
were equivalent).

But the reason for the frequent return of incumbents in any one election 
is the corrupt US political/financial system, where lobbyists' money goes 
to incumbents, to in turn be spent on television advertising.  The point 
of the Baha'i system is surely to *avoid* this sort of problem.  Instead, 
in the US (and also at the international level) guaranteed incumbency is 
even a worse Baha'i problem than it is a congressional one.  I suspect it 
has to do with the vastness of the US and the difficulty any one Baha'i has 
in becoming nationally well known, in the absence of campaigning.  In 
essence, incumbency itself then becomes a form of perpetual and subdued 
"campaigning," producing a bias toward incumbency just as lobbyists' money 
does in the US congressional elections.

Guaranteed perpetual incumbency defeats the entire rationale for 
elections given by `Abdu'l-Baha in Secret of Divine Civilization, that 
elected officials are made more just toward their consituencies if they 
fear being unseated.  Remember that Baha'u'llah says reward and 
punishment are the pillars of human society.  Elections should involve 
this element, but ours do not (it would be difficult for most thinking 
Baha'is to even know what the policies of their elective officials are, 
so as to judge them).

I don't have any solutions, and am only thinking out loud about the 
problems.  I'm sorry this has been called "sour grapes," because the 
latter phrase implies thwarted personal desire.  I really don't have any 
thwarted personal desires with regard to the Baha'i system.  It just 
seems to malfunction regularly and spectacularly, and I think it needs a new 
carburator or something.  I say this only as someone who dearly wishes he 
could watch it race along gracefully at high speed rather than careening 
off the containment walls and occasionally smashing our friends flat.

If Rawls is right that justice consists of designing a system optimally 
*if you did not know what position within it you would ultimately 
occupy*, then I would certainly not design a system such as we currently 
have.  It has far to many opportunities for the abuse of power, an abuse 
that occurs far too often, despite all the good and dedicated people in 
elective office.

cheers    Juan Cole, History, University of Michigan

From cbuck@ccs.carleton.caTue Oct 31 11:08:49 1995
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 95 2:56:33 EST
From: Christopher Buck 
To: Juan R Cole 
Subject: Re: election turnover

	Regarding reforms, at heart I'm a coward.
	But I marvel at the courage and moral responsibility of those
who are forthright in their candor about the need for change, and who,
at the same time, are steadfast in their commitment to work within the system.
	After all, the most devastating critique of the Faith's state
of affairs that I've ever read was MacEoin's two infamous letters in the
L.A. Baha'i Deepening Newsletter, shortly before the House and NSA
censored it. MacEoin opted out of the system.
	It's important to me that criticism is followed by
constructive, positive proposals for reform. Especially in a forum
such as Talisman. (Sheila, please stay! I don't read the poetry, I'm
afraid, but, to me, you are the heart in the mind's eye of this
virtual community.)
	Now what I propose is this: Each *reform* could form a single
thread. Below are five threads that have seem to have emerged so far
(doubtless I must be overlooking a few). 
	(1) 	The Baha'i Encyclopedia Project. 
	(2)	The Baha'i Review System.
	(3)	Baha'i Elections.
	(4)	Baha'i Justice (Courts).
	(5)	Individual Rights (NSA By-Laws, etc.)

	In discussing these issues, I really wish that the principles
(pro and con) could be tallied and archived as we go along. That would
give me a sense of a cumulative discussion. 

	For instance, I was politely reminded that a Science and Religion
thread had been going on for a long time. So what was the good of
starting it over? What more, if anything, could I contribute?
Criticism accepted.

	Archiving principles that have been identified in these
discussions could be very useful in preventing dissipation of effort
and redundancy.

	The structure, and sequence, of consultation on reforms might
be adumbrated by these three "P"s: (1) Problems; (2) Principles; (3)

	One example of a compromise proposal in terms of Baha'i review
might be a *Three strikes and you're out* principle: If a Baha'i
author willingly submits to review, passes it three times, then he or
she should enjoy the confidence of the system and should no longer
have to submit work for review. Thus, review becomes a *temporary*
measure in an author's own lifetime.

	If, in the unlikely event that a consensus on any given
proposal should emerge, this could be spelled out in a policy paper
and presented in other fora as well as to our institutions as well.

	(Of course, the Administration would need to define what it
perceives as lobbying versus legitimate group consultation, so that no
one gets sanctioned again during review, like the *Dialogue* editors

	(I'm sorry to say this, but here is a case where I think the
Administration should reopen the file to see if justice was served or
injustice was done, and respond accordingly. Certainly, this was the
most damaging result of a breakdown in the review system, and the
Faith, instead of being protected, was compromised in the eyes of
non-Baha'i intellectuals.) 

	My posts never change anything, but there, I've had my say. My
dream of reform in the Baha'i Faith remains private at this point,
because of my yellow stripe, but I will be vocal about the process.

	-- Christopher Buck 

* * *								 * * *
* * *	Christopher Buck	                   Invenire ducere est.

From banani@ucla.eduTue Oct 31 11:12:24 1995
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 1995 01:30:13 -0700
From: Amin Banani 
To: David Langness <>,
Subject: Re: Baha'i Elections [3rd of 3]

Dear David,

Glancing over your XX's for members of the House of Justice, I noticed that
Peter Khan (who was elected after my father died in 1987) is not shown to
have been elected in 1993 which, of course, he was as well as in 1988.  Did
I mis-read your chart?  love, Sheila

>Dear Talismanians,
>Below you will find post #3, which charts membership on the
>International Baha'i Council and the Universal House of Justice
>from 1961 and 1963, respectively, until the current date.  Years in
>parentheses indicate members whose election came at a bi-election,
>either as the result of a death or a resignation.  Total number of
>voting NSAs are listed in brackets above the election year.
>                    IBC    UHJ
>                          [56] [81] [113][123][133][132][165]
>                    1961  '63  '68  '73  '78  '83  '88  '93
>Farzam Arbab        |    |    |    |    |    |    |    | XX |
>Hugh Chance         |    | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX |    |
>Hooper Dunbar       |    |    |    |    |    |    | XX | XX |
>Hushmand Fatheazam  |    | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX |
>Amoz Gibson         |    | XX | XX | XX | XX |    |    |    |
>Lutfu'llah Hakim    | XX | XX |    |    |    |    |    |    |
>David Hofman        |    | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX |    |    |
>Sylvia Ioas         | XX |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
>Borrah Kavelin      | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX |    |    |
>Peter Khan          |    |    |    |    |    |(87)| XX |    |
>Douglas Martin      |    |    |    |    |    |    |    | XX |
>Glenford Mitchell   |    |    |    |    |(82)| XX | XX | XX |
>Mildred Mottahedeh  | XX |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
>Ali Nakhjavani      | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX |
>Ethel Revell        | XX |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
>Jessie Revell       | XX |    |    |    |    |    |    |    |
>David Ruhe          |    | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX |    |
>Ian Semple          | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX |
>Adib Taherzadeh     |    |    |    |    |    |    | XX | XX |
>Charles Wolcott     | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX | XX |    |    |
>Sixteen men have served on the Universal House of Justice to date.
>None have ever failed to return to office via the voting process.
>The average length of service for the current UHJ membership is 16

Sheila Banani

From dhouse@cinsight.comTue Oct 31 11:15:56 1995
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 1995 06:55:15 -0800
From: "David W. House" 
To: Juan R Cole 
Subject: Re: election turnover

Juan, friends,

>The statements made that US NSA long-term incumbency is no different from 
>the US congress are silly.  In 1992 alone there was significant turnover 
>among the 1/3 of HR seats that fell open...

I appreciate Juan's comment, which supports and expands on the information
that I tried to provide on this subject. As I mentioned when I brought up
the long record of incumbancy in the U.S. House of Reps, this record had
later been broken, but I could not remember when this had changed: Juan has
provided that information.

If I remember correctly (and corrections are appreciated; as I said this is
not my area) there were a great many voices raised prior to '92 which
insisted that structural changes were needed in the method of election of
the House of Reps; whereas it turned out that this was not a structural

David William House (

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

From LWALBRID@cluster.ucs.indiana.eduTue Oct 31 12:55:47 1995
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 95 11:25:58 EWT
Subject: resisting temptation

A South Taranaki dairy farmer on a grim Spring morning calling abuse to his
evil mongrel dog?  Oh, Robert, how could one refuse such an offer?  I always
say, if one is going to be abusive and vulgar, he/she should at least be

(P.S. But I really think you misunderstood my meaning about "tone.")  Sweetly,

From lua@sover.netTue Oct 31 12:59:02 1995
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 1995 11:52:06 -0500
From: LuAnne Hightower 
Subject: Feast

Ingredients for Feast:

1)      Always - fresh red rose (or roses)

2)      Candlelight - even in daylight

3)      Carefully selected and individually typed readings

4)      Music (since I'm a musician, it's usually live OR something unusually
          connotative of  longing like the Erguner Brothers on ney and drum)

5)      Spirit of generosity/hospitality/propriety/reverence (adab?)

6)      The best selection of goodies I can imagine - my favorite cookies, etc.

7)      Love, love and more love.

All of this makes ME look forward to hosting.  It's like planning a romantic
evening (afternoon) for the friends.

Loving Regards,

From Oct 31 13:02:21 1995
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 95 10:38:01 -0500
From: Ahang Rabbani 
Subject: Baha'i elections

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

I am against term limits, but I favor voluntary retirement age on 
Baha'i Institutions.

The recent discussion on incumbency has helped clarify in my mind 
that actually I believe incumbency is a good thing and I fail to 
understand why people argue against experience.

Those that argue against incumbency, I noted, come mostly from 
academia where they should be used to tenure system.   In fact, 
its ironic that the most vocal opponent of incumbency in Baha'i 
system on Talisman, is a tenured professor -- one doesn't see him 
arguing against the university system which gave him this 
lifetime appointment or as a matter of principle, torching his 
tenure papers  ;-}

While having certain drawbacks, the tenure system has done the 
university systems a lot of good by providing mature experience 
hands to continue guide the research activities and teachings and 
much the same way, in the Baha'i system, I think experience of 
service in administration is an important asset.

The fact is, associated with every job, there is a learning curve 
and service on Baha'i institutions is no exception.  We all have 
been on institutions or heard about situations where a it took a 
long time to educate new member(s) on the history of issues and 
align them with the overall goals and objectives of the new 
institutions.  As a matter of fact I think that it shows maturity 
on part of delegates in both national and international 
conventions to recognize that experience is a valued commodity 
and hence bring back a large percentage of the experienced 

When a group of people work closely with each other over a period 
of years, they grow enormously in unity and efficiency in their 
deliberations -- one reason why the House of Justice can deal 
with 30 or 40 agenda items a day when some of the newer 
Assemblies have a difficult time taking care of just a few items 
in a meeting.

Recently, for a deepening activity, I closely reviewed all the 
published statements of the Guardian, and found nothing in there 
that would encourage turnover in Baha'i elections simply as a 
good thing in its own.  As such, I'm against term limits on 
Baha'i institutions and much rather see experienced hands 
continue to serve in these capacities.

What I like to see though is a better accountability of the 
members and better information about their performance on these 
Institutions, (all except the House of Justice).  I like to see 
better information about members attendance at meetings, service 
contributions, evaluation of performance on assigned tasks, etc., 
being discussed openly at the national Conventions and local 
annual meetings.  

I'm also in favor of regular publishing of the minutes of the 
LSAs/NSAs (with personal cases removed).  Also, I favor having 
open meetings of Assemblies (exclusive to the topic of teaching) 
where the community can silently participate at the meetings.  In 
short, I favor doing everything that we can to remove an air of 
secrecy surrounding the meetings of Institutions while preserving 
a sacred atmosphere where the deliberations take place without 
undue influence.

One last thought on incumbency:  While its true that no member 
has failed to be re-elected at a normal election in the US 
national convention, we must not forget that there are other 
mechanisms in place to bring about a change.  For example, (and 
I'm being hypothetical here), it is not outside to realm of 
possibilities that a member which did not work out for some 
reason on the NSA was then asked to serve as an ABM (a face 
saving excuse).  Again, I emphasis that this suggestion is purely 
hypothetical, but such possibilities are imaginable.  Therefore, 
change does not necessarily come only through the election, and 
that the Baha'i system is more complicated than that.

Baha'u'llah in the Kitab-i Aqdas Has designated 70 as the age of 
exemption from devotional laws such as fasting, obligatory 
prayers, etc.  In the same spirit, I would favor an age limit of 
70 for membership on Baha'i Institutions.  However, again in the 
spirit of Aqdas, I would not favor mandatory retirement and would 
leave it to individuals and each institution to exercise 
retirement as they see fit.

The reason that I favor a flexible approach towards age limit, is 
partly that experience has shown that an older member must 
continue to serve to ensure certainly continuity.

For example, its no secret that when Dr. Lutfullah Hakim was 
elected to the House in 1963, he was in a very advance age and 
not in the best of health.  A member of the House once told me 
that from early on but especially during the latter years of his 
service on the House, Dr. Hakim was so frail that in the course 
of consultation he would put his head down and go to sleep.  But 
then miraculously at the most crucial moment in the consultation, 
he would sit up straight and with a brief comment provide the 
wisdom that was needed and resolve the issue.

I would be against any system that would deprive the service of 
the likes of Dr. Hakim and I pray that some members of the House, 
even though in their 70's, continue serving on that Body for a 
long, long time to come. 

By the same token, we all have seen members who are at the end of 
their rope, so to speak, and its not fair to ask them to carry 
the burden of the service any longer.  At the present there is no 
mechanism for the institutions to accept such resignations -- 
possible exception being the House of Justice.  Hence, I think 
its a good thing to have 70 as the retirement age from service on 
Baha'i institutions, but at the discretion of the institution 

best regards, ahang.

From s0a7254@tam2000.tamu.eduTue Oct 31 13:02:54 1995
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 1995 11:38:38 -0600 (CST)
From: Saman Ahmadi 
To: talisman 
Subject: Baha'i Elections

Dear Friends,

I wonder, again, if the way we practice the Baha'i electoral
process is exactly as Shoghi Effendi envisioned and therefore
if we shouldn't reform *back* to what the Guardian outlined.

It seems to me the way we vote in Baha'i elections today is
the same as the way people vote in political elections - we
vote for well-known people, often without knowning them

People become well-known in the Baha'i community by being
appointed to committees, by being invited to speak and the
such. I can see Juan's point about how this can be looked
at campaigning in a way - an Assembly chooses a person whom
it judges to be qualified. 

But it is the electorate's responsibilty to think about the
characteristics that Guardian lists and vote in a prayerful

Lets take the example of the district convention in which
all Baha'is can cast a vote: in most cases, district convention
is the only time when we see the rest of the Baha'is in our
area. Even if we have periodic district-wide gatherings [which
we usually don't], there is still no adequate time to know another 
person to the degree to which one can decide if he/she posses the 
necessary qualities.

Therefore I think each voter should pick among the people
that he/she knows well. I think it is safe to assume that
if person A judges someone, person X, as being wise, mature, etc., 
if I came to know this person X as well as person A, I would come
to basically the same conclusion. If everyone voted in this manner, 
we would end up with people who have the right and same qualifications. 

Another trait of secular elections which I think creeps in
the Baha'i process is the fact that we tend to vote for
people with whom we agree. I am not sure that this is always
good - there are people with whom I disagree yet I admire. Plus
I don't want 9 people who always think the same way to sit
on an Assembly - where would the clashes come from?

I think once we practice the process correctly, whatever
that is [I am not saying that my view is necessarily the right 
one], then the names of the elected individuals, whether 
well-known or not, and the number of votes that each
received, are not important - the elected institution has a 
100% mandate.


From Dave10018@aol.comTue Oct 31 15:53:23 1995
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 1995 13:23:46 -0500
Subject: Re: Mental Illness and polarities, materialism, etc

Robert, I should leave this alone but I feel compelled to make a few
 comments in response to a few of your remarks whichd I reproduce here out of
In a message dated 95-10-28 03:42:02 EDT, (Robert Johnston) writes:
 I said  -- in brief --  that the rise of psychiatry coincided
>with  the secularisation of mental healing.  That is a simple historical

It's a tautology, of course to say that  medical specialists and a  medical
specialty came into prominence at the same time as treatment of illness(newly
defined as such) came to be medicalized or "secularized." For mental illness
this happened about a hundred and fifty years ago. Of course this was more
than  100 years after such asylums as the Bethlahem Asylum(known as Bedlam)
had been founded and about a hundred years before the first useful
medications came to be developed, after world war 2.  The major mental
disorders were not even classified until Krepalin's work at the beginning of
this century. He interviewed and observed hundreds of patients and described
schizophrenia (which he called "dementia precox" ) "manic depression" and
other syndromes which form the basis of modern diagnosis. Admittedly, medical
doctors found, as did psychoanalysts, that they could not do much to improve
the condition of psychotic patients before the discovery of major
tranquillizers. They tried many treatments which were painful and subject to
cruel misuse by caregivers at institutions which tended to devolve into their
historic status as human warehouses and prisons. For instance it was thought
that the mentally ill would benefit from being strapped regularly into
gadgets and spun around rapidly until they passed out.  (Strangely, putting a
depressive patient into shock by administering insulin proved sometimes
helpful. This was replaced by electro-shock, which is still used today when
medication is ineffective. )Still, with the belief that mentally ill people
were not demons (or saints) or beset by demons, humane ideas did begin to
influence treatment.For instance, in the 1820's a few asylums, such as the
Hartford Retreat, began to be heated! This was an innovation because prior to
that time it had been assumed that "lunatics" were insensitive to heat and
cold. Also, patients were given exercise,"occupational therapy"  and even a
degree of privacy. It was noted that this imrpovement in treatment did have
some good effect, especially on depressive patients, who sometimes
recovered.Still, many treatments were tried which could be cruel, such as
various forms of restraint including wet-packing, which involves wrapping
someone who is having an emotional outburst in wet sheets for several hours.
Many people  mostly women, were turned over to institutions for rejecting
their assigned social roles, something which did indeed happen a lot in the
nineteenth century, when feminism was medicalized along with mental illness.
As mental illness  was described with more rigor and as feminists won women
the vote and more voice, these practices declined though it could still
happen in the 1950's. Did you see the film about the American actress who was
apparently mistreated this way, Frances Farmer,"Frances"? As I recall, she
was given a lobotomy, a practice used often in the '40s.  State hospitals,
with large and hopeless populations and ill-trained and ill-paid staff  could
still be like the hospital in the 1940's film "Snakepit." Of course, Robert,
I hope you've seen that great German Expressionist  silent horror film, "The
Cabinet of Dr. Caligari."

>Oh?  Military strategists were/are qualified to prescribe napalm, etc. I
>have less faith in "experts" than you, it seems, especially where the
>metaphysical is discredited.

Napalm, as I recall, was an effective agent of death, as intended. We can
agree that this was an evil visited on civilian populations but I fail to see
the "logical" connection to the use of medication as an agent of improved
quality of life. There has been throughout history considerable trouble
sorting out authentic mental illness and disability from nonconformity and
even prophecy. Muhammad, after all, was said by some to be mad although not
by psychiatrists. Research into physical treatments and causes of the major
mental illnesses has tended to make this kind of misdiagnosis more difficult
as, beginning in the 1950's treatment became more effective and average stays
in psychiatric hospitals began to become shorter and shorter.

>Thank you for your vote of confidence.  I am glad that you do!
Yes, I do know what I am talking about. 

>In passing I must note that I have stated that I think that there is a use
>for drugs in the treament of mental illness.  The main trust of my argument
>is that this use is currently excessive, primarily because of the
>materialism of psychiatry.

What is "materialism", Robert? My impression is that this term is
tremendously overused by Baha'is who think everyone else is guilty of it. We
seem to forget that when Abdu'l Baha spoke to His Western audiences about
"materialism" He did so because the people He spoke to were also concerned
about it. Opposition to materialism was a popular concern as well as a
concern of many intellectuals of varied stripe at that time.  Certainly the
Christians and Theosophists that Abdu'l-Baha addressed so often were opposed
to "materialism" before He spoke to them. I think that as much as we need to
understand the Islamic context of Baha'u'llah's life, we need to understand
the context of Abdu'-Baha's and Shoghi Effendi's encounter with the West. 

>And pharmaceauticals are the answer?  The high level of mental illness in
>society reflects the failure of these things.  I am trying to be logical

 Community based social support is necessary to maintain especially
schizophrenics outside the hospital, which,unfortunately, has never in the US
been given the resources needed to reach all the people being released from
the hospital in need of services, with the result of more and more actively
psychotic people roaming around medicating themselves with alcohol and other
street drugs.There are not more schizophrenics however. Epedemiological
studies have consistently found schizophrenics throughout the world, in all
manner of societies, at the level of one percent.>
>The cult of the "expert", especially in matters pertaining to the mind, is
>something that I am extremely cautious of.  I follow the Socratic position
>that we really must become better aware of our own minds, and be less
>reliant on these people, whose track record is rather dreadful.  Did you
>see "One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest"?

I don't know about Ahang, but I did see it, as well as "Hair" which was by
the same director,Milos Forman.  "Cuckoo's Nest" was based on  the book by
Ken Kesey.  Kesey used his own experience, I believe, but his main thrust was
to parody the conformism of American society as a whole and to dramatize his
typically American outlaw version of heroism which included of course the
ingestion of psychoto-mimetic drugs such as LSD.  Have you read Kesey? Is
that your best source on mental  hospitals. Have you seen "Awakenings"? 
Lithium's psychoactive effect was discovered by accident around 1948 by an
Australian phyjsician who thought it might make a good substitute for table
salt.(It is too toxic to replace salt but does help people calm down.) Soon
after,L-dopa was found effective for Parkinson's disease and thorazine was
found to be  effective enough for schizophrenia that patients who had been
consigned to back wards could actually be released from the hospital. L-dopa
boosts the level of dopamine in the brain while thorazine lowers it.Side
effects of thorazine include tardive dyskinesia, a disfiguring tremor or
spasm that is in essence medication- induced parkinsonism. A
medication,cogentin, is prescribed to alleviate the side-effects, but
patients have found nicotine, and to a lesser extent, caffeine, helpful with
the unwanted sedative effects, and nearly all schizophrenics taking
medication smoke, usually alot.(hi Burl!) When thorazine, stelazine,et cetera
were introduced in the fifties they were often prescribed for long periods of
time at high levels, inducing a shuffling gait and zombified apearance in
patients who were, after years in a psychotic state and with the decrease of
cognitive function charecteristic of schizophrenia  as well as years of
institutionalization, bewildered and passive.Also, mental hospitals are, by
design, bland places and promote conformity. Also, these "major
tranquillizers" while effective against some symptoms of schizophrenia are
less effective than others. A new generation of drugs that is more effective
is being developed, but unfortunately these drugs have to be administered
very carefully as they can cause sudden death. Perhaps as the mechanisms
which cause the chemical imbalences and whatver else is wrong with the brains
of schizophrenics and manic-depressives et cetera are better understood not
only new drugs but other treatments, perhaps dietary, may be developed. But
talk prayer or wishful thinking is no answer. And sound treatment is not

David Taylor 

From dhouse@cinsight.comTue Oct 31 15:56:47 1995
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 1995 10:50:53 -0800
From: "David W. House" 
Subject: Re: election turnover

Juan, friends,

>The statements made that US NSA long-term incumbency is no different from 
>the US congress are silly.  In 1992 alone there was significant turnover 
>among the 1/3 of HR seats that fell open...

I appreciate Juan's comment, which supports and expands on the information
that I tried to provide on this subject. As I mentioned when I brought up
the long record of incumbancy in the U.S. House of Reps, this record had
later been broken, but I could not remember when this had changed: Juan has
provided that information.

If I remember correctly (and corrections are appreciated; as I said this is
not my area) there were a great many voices raised prior to '92 which
insisted that structural changes were needed in the method of election of
the House of Reps; whereas it turned out that this was not a structural

David William House (

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

From dhouse@cinsight.comTue Oct 31 15:57:17 1995
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 1995 10:50:59 -0800
From: "David W. House" 
To:  Talisman 
Subject: Arguments

Dear friends,

I note that some of us have been discussing argumentation, criticism, etc.
recently. I wonder if it seem to any of you to be valid that the tendency to
argument and criticism (which I share) is an expression of our belief,
nurtured culturally, that God will not establish justice; therefore its up
to us to do so.

That is, if we had certitude, would we not realize that we should:

    Consort with all men, O people of Baha, in a spirit
    of friendliness and fellowship. If ye be aware of a
    certain truth, if ye possess a jewel, of which others
    are deprived, share it with them in a language of
    utmost kindliness and good-will. If it be accepted,
    if it fulfill its purpose, your object is attained. If
    anyone should refuse it, leave him unto himself, and
    beseech God to guide him. Beware lest ye deal unkindly
    with him. A kindly tongue is the lodestone
    of the hearts of men. It is the bread of the spirit, it
    clotheth the words with meaning, it is the fountain
    of the light of wisdom and understanding.

        EttSotW, p 15

In other words, if we act differently, if we carry the matter too far, is
this not a clear sign that we believe it is up to us, not only to voice the
truth as we see it, but to establish it, to conquer the hearts of others?
Whereas God seems to have given each of us a due measure of sovereignty,
which no one can remove or gainsay.

    And now, added to all these tribulations, these miseries,
    these enemy attacks, there hath arisen a dust cloud of ill-will
    amongst the believers themselves.  This in spite of the fact
    that the Cause of the Ancient Beauty is the very essence of
    love, the very channel of oneness, existing only that all may
    become the waves of one sea, and bright stars of the same
    endless sky, and pearls within the shell of singleness, and
    gleaming jewels quarried from the mines of unity; that they
    may become servants one to another, adore one another,
    bless one another, praise one another; that each one may
    loose his tongue and extol the rest without exception, each
    one voice his gratitude to all the rest; that all should lift up
    their eyes to the horizon of glory, and remember that they are
    linked to the Holy Threshold; that they should see nothing
    but good in one another, hear nothing but praise of one
    another, and speak no word of one another save only to praise.

        SftWoAB, p 229

The above passage has a rather wonderful context, as you know. Its worth
reviewing in the process of renewing our understanding.

In any case, the fundamental question I wanted to ask is above: what is the
thought about the reason for this tendency? As someone pointed out herein
(forgive me for lacking attribution) we should not criticize the
criticizers; what I am wondering about rather is what any of you have found
in your own meditations regarding your actions in this regard.

David William House (

From dann.may@s-box.misc.uoknor.eduTue Oct 31 15:58:54 1995
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 95 11:32:13 -0600 (CST)
Subject: KI:5-7, Surah of Hud

Carl wrote: What is the Surah of Hud?  Can anyone post it?

THE SURAH OF HUD (Quran, Chapter 11)

"To them that are possessed of true understanding and insight the Surah of 
Hud surely sufficeth. Ponder a while those holy words in your heart, and, 
with utter detachment, strive to grasp their meaning." (KIQ 5, Part 
1: Paragraph #5)

	Although the Surah of Hud is traditionally placed in the Quran as 
surah 11, it was probably revealed during the late Meccan period as the 
77th surah. Consequently, it would have been revealed shortly before 
Muhammad and His followers were forced to flee to Medina in 622 A.D. (1 
A.H.) in order to escape the growing and often brutal persecution in Mecca. 
This became known as the Hijira and marks the beginning of the Muslim 
calendar. The Kitab-i-Iqan was revealed in 1862, a year and a half before 
Baha'u'llah publicly announced that He was the Promised One foretold by the 
Bab. Shortly thereafter He was exiled to Akka, Palestine and throw into the 
"Most Great Prison." Thus both works seem to foreshadow the periods of 
intense persecution that would soon follow.

Both works, starting with the Prophet Noah, discuss the persecution of a 
number of ancient Prophets of God:

Prophets of God Mentioned in the Surah of Hud:

Introduction: Muhammad has been sent to warn and to bring glad tidings. The 
nature of God's bounties, His mercy, patience, and compassion are 
described. God's dealings with humanity are contrasted with humanity's 
ingratitude and love of falsehood and vanity.

1.	Noah (vv. 25-49)
2.	Hud (vv. 50-60)
3.	Salih (vv. 61-68)
4.	Abraham (vv. 69-76)
5.	Lut or Lot (vv. 77-83)
6.	Shuaib (vv. 84-95)
7.	Moses (vv. 96-110)

Prophets of God mentioned in the Kitab-i-Iqan (pp. 5-257)
1.	Noah (7-8, 1:7-8)
2.	Hud (9, 1:9)
3.	Salih (9-10, 1:10)
4.	Abraham (10-11, 1:11)
5.	Moses (11-12, 1:12)
6.	Jesus (17-19, 1:17)
7.	Muhammad (20-221)
8.	The Bab (221-254, 2:145-181)

Selected Verses from the Surah of Hud (Quran 11)

1. These are some of the stories of communities which We relate unto thee: 
of them some are standing, and some have been mown down by the sickle of 
time. (20)

2. This is a Book with verses basic or fundamental, further explained in 
detail, from One Who is wise and well- acquainted with all things. It 
teacheth that ye should worship none but God. Say: Verily, I am sent unto 
to you from him to warn and to bring Glad tidings. (1-2)

3. To the Ad people We sent Hud, one of their own brethren. He said: "O my 
people! worship God! Ye have no other god but Him. Your other gods ye do 
nothing but invent." (50)

4. They said: "O Salih! Thou hast been of us! A center of our hopes 
hitherto! Dost thou now forbid us the worship of what our fathers 
worshipped? But we are really in suspicious doubt as to that to which Thou 
invitest us." (62)

5. When Our decree issued, We save Shuaib and those who believed with him, 
by special Mercy from Ourselves: But the mighty Blast did seize the 
wrong-doers, and they lay prostrate in their homes. . . . (94)

6. All that we relate to thee of the stories of the Apostles, with it We 
make firm Thy heart: in them there cometh to thee the Truth, as well as an 
exhortation and a message of remembrance to those who believe. (120)

Warmest greetings, Dann May, Philosophy, OK City Univ.
 * WR 1.32 # 669 * The truth is just an excuse for lack of imagination. Gara

From dhouse@cinsight.comTue Oct 31 15:59:43 1995
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 1995 11:37:52 -0800
From: "David W. House" 
To:  Talisman 
Subject: Arguments, addendum

Dear friends,

Forgive me for posting on the heels of my previous post on this subject, but
its lunchtime, and since I am not currently chewing gum, I had some free
attention and began to think through the matter further.

Baha'u'llah says:

    Whoso ariseth among you to teach the Cause of
    his Lord, let him, before all else, teach his own self,
    that his speech may attract the hearts of them that
    hear him. Unless he teacheth his own self, the words
    of his mouth will not influence the heart of the
    seeker. Take heed, O people, lest ye be of them that
    give good counsel to others but forget to follow it
    themselves. The words of such as these, and beyond
    the words the realities of all things, and beyond these
    realities the angels that are nigh unto God, bring
    against them the accusation of falsehood.

        Gleanings, p 277

Let me use the first person, below, to make my point: 

Now, it seems to me, that such promises, as well as such admonitions as
"bring thyself to account each day" should strongly indicate to us that
whenever I make a mistake in posting in this forum (speaking harshly, using
undue criticism, engaging in "tactics"in argumentation as contrasted with
searching for the truth. etc.), then I myself have the capacity to realize
the mistake. Of course, if I should not wish to discover the mistake, it
will remain hidden from me. Given this dynamic, what should my (Baha'i)
friends do about my mistake?

Surely, they should quote the Word, gently, "in my presence" as it were;
there would generally be no need to make a glaring connection with my
misbehavior, as this might violate the standard of the "sin-covering eye". 

    A27. O SON OF MAN!
    Breathe not the sins of others so long as thou
    art thyself a sinner. Shouldst thou transgress
    this command, accursed wouldst thou be, and
    to this I bear witness.

If my mistake is egregious, perhaps a private word would be in order. Public
postings which point out the errors of others, even when sent with the best
of motives, tend to make a different point than the same postings sent

Please note that I am referring above not so much to matters of substance,
but rather more to matters of tone and presentation.

Beyond this, if I have advanced an argument (a matter of substance) which is
flawed or incomplete, then surely in the spirit of consultation that can be
addressed-- and again I would reccomend using the Word, the only sure
foundation for human unity. (Failing that we are discussing a matter of
principle, then we can present facts and their sources, as possible.) The
discourse in this area can and should be vigorus.

Mind you, I am not proposing "rules". I have no authority to do so; I am
clearly a Johhny-come-lately. (I would claim to be a David-come-lately, but
that may stir up too much name anxiety among us, and my Decoder ring
counsels against it). 

In sum, however, I would think that even our discussions would-- indeed
must-- strive to mirror the very high standards of Baha'u'llah, or how can
we claim to be advancing the cause of Baha'i scholarship? The only valid
question (my opinion only, and I would put you on notice that I picked up a
stick of gum) is what are those standards, and how can we apply them hereon?

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 Oct 31 16:03:06 1995
Date: Wed, 1 Nov 1995 09:31:16 +1300 (NZDT)
From: Robert Johnston 
Subject: pumpkins and mongrels: colourful

Dear Dave,
          Again your depth of knowledge has me staggered.

1) Mental Illness etc:

Clearly my letter had a high emotive quotient, and while I have strong
resistance to psychiatry I feel that your argument is basically OK enough
for me to say  that I have no adequate riposte right now.   No, I haven't
read Kesey and no I didn't see the Frances Farmer movie or the German
Expressionist  silent horror film, "The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari", nor
"Awakenings".  See you are right: I am a pumpkin!  Which brings me to you
other letter.

2)  Somehow I knew you would know who wrote the poem I learned at primary
school, and I was not disappointed.  When the day comes, can I be in your
Kingdom Quizz Team?  Vachel Lindsay.  What a great name!

Dear Linda,

You (sweetly) wrote:
 'But I really think you misunderstood my meaning about "tone."'

As David has correctly pointed out I am a pumpkin!  [I once grew one which
weighed 94 kg! And we got our picture in the newspaper!]

And yes, "colour"  indicates the presence of love -- albeit excessively
passionate love -- in abuse.  Who said that evil was banal?

Robert [walking crab-wise from the room] Johnston

From Oct 31 23:59:07 1995
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 95 15:28:01 -0500
From: Ahang Rabbani 
Subject: Baha'i elections data

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

On everyone's behalf, a very warm thanks to David Langness for 
the wealth of information he so generously shared.  Very useful 
indeed and obviously fruits of a lot hard work.

A quick question:  do I recall correctly that US/Canada NSA was 
first elected at Ridvan 1925?  If so, do we need to adjust 
anything on Table 2 accordingly?

Also, for Mag Carney, I thought she was re-elected in 1983, but 
in May pulled to serve on ITC?

Should there be a column for Ridvan 1924 in Table 1 ?

Should Allen Ward be dropped from the list since that election 
was nullified?

Don't go through any trouble, but do you have the year of passing 
of the members of the House that passed away in office?

Appreciate any light you can shed, David.  And thanks very much 

much love, ahang.

From Oct 31 23:59:43 1995
Date: Wed, 1 Nov 1995 12:20:18 +1300 (NZDT)
From: Robert Johnston 
Subject: Where's Jeff? & Not Uncouth Like That


I must say I am enjoying the new House music.  ...but before I start on my
topic-de-jour  [How's that for poetic?  Eat your heart our David Taylor
>}>], a brief story.

Many years ago, my friend Ian and I went to a 21st birthday party at Wanaka
[well: up in the mountains, I suppose] with -- you wouldn't guess who in a
zillion years -- Sonja [! ]
-- a few years before she married Sen --  and her friend Nina [female: not
Nima].  We drove there in Nina's old [green] Rover [90?] and stayed the
night. During the afternoon and evening we attended the party which was
pretty-much a fish-out-of-water situation.  We were odd-balls: they were
bourgeois conservative.  The boys flew helicopters and aeroplanes and about
three of them were called Jeff.  Sleep time came and we four shared a cabin
at the side the house.  I think Ian and I slept on the floor and les femmes
slept in bunk beds.  [A chaste and sweetly pc bunch we were!]  Then
sometime around [say] 2am I awoke to hear someone starting a lawnmower and
the sound of drunken shouting.  Shortly afterwards a hugely lurching fellew
burst into our cabin and demanded to know where Jeff was.  Y'you: "Where's
Jeff!.. WHERE"S JEFF!.(etc)"  Long after he had gone off, continuing  on
his bewildered search, the lawnmower, abandoned, continued to roar into the
lonely night.

Now you'll have guessed why I have told this story.  Yes: this "David"
business has brought it to mind.  In Wanaka asking for Jeff might be like
asking for Mac in the engine room of a ship or David on Talisman...  There
are a couple of Roberts here of course, and my father was a
stockman....[stop now fool!]

Now... there's been a lot of talk about "tone" here. With much confusion.
My friend Linda says that I don't understand what she means, and I think
Juan doesn't understand what I mean, and Tony may think that I am just
mean, and that's that, so there!  I like David House's letter of today,
though it is not the only one that for me has hit the mark.

I want to add a simple pumpkinly thought to the stew of ideas.  And the
thought stems from this: if I had a real problem with one of my parents --
say my father -- would it be seemly to air this problem on Talisman?
Further, would it be helpful, especially when my tone  was severely critical?  Now I am not the first to use the parental
metaphor in relation to the Institutions of the Faith.  The W[w]ritings use
the same metaphor. In brief, then, I am saying that -- for me -- that it is
as extremely painful [where painful is given the widest meaning possible]
to witness the denigration of the Institutions of the Faith as it is to
listen to someone badmouth their father [even in the very presence of the
father]. If I am going to be uncouth [and I am, as is well known, even here
{ask Sonja}] I would prefer to  not be uncouth like that.  I'd rather run
around  on the lawn in the mountain air at 2am starting lawnmowers and
looking for Jeff...

Sweet as butternut,


From cybrmage@niia.netWed Nov  1 00:00:24 1995
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 1995 05:13:37 +0000
From: Bud Polk 
Subject: Why can't we talk about the issues?

Dear friends,

Since I posted to Talisman and soc.religion.bahai regarding mental 
illness and the Faith, there have been a large number of responses.  
These have fallen into three categories:

1. a few glib, flip, patronizng replies (I will leave metaphysics to 
alchemists, sorcerers and metaphysicians.)

2. quite a number of sympathetic respones (Thank you, but that is not 
why I posted.)

3. a few scientific replies (We need more.)

I received also a large number of E-mail messages.  Among those are 
about 15 from Baha'is who have one kind of mental illness or another 
and wished they could be public about it in our community.  That, 
friends, is the heart of the heart of the issue.

I said in my first post to Talisman that regarding mental illness the 
Baha'i community is:

1. ignorant
2. prejudiced
3. patronizing
4. lacking in compassion
5. full of "happy" and empty platitudes
6. in denial

The public and private responses to my postings have illustrated to
me, once again,  all six.  Our problem is multi-dimensional.  

I was deeply moved by a post here on Talisman from a man whose now
ex-wife had a very serious mental illness and the havoc it played in
his life.  When one person in a family has a mental illness, the
whole family has it.  It may take an entire villag to raise a child
but if one person in that village is mentally-ill everyone in the
village suffers.

How can the Baha'i Faith help the individual, his/her family and the 
local community?

Can we talk about the six points I raised, and more importantly, do 
something?  Or should I just slink quietly away into the darkness?

Best regards,
Bud Polk  

From jjensen@welchlink.welch.jhu.eduWed Nov  1 00:01:15 1995
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 1995 18:36:30 -0500 (EST)
From: Joan Jensen 
Subject: Re: Arguments

Dear David House (I carry my decoder ring with me at all times);
Thank you for your precious, timely and tactful discussion on tone and 
consultation, as well as the selection of quotations supporting your 
themes, and raising questions for us as individuals.
On Tue, 31 Oct 1995, David W. House wrote:
> The fundamental question I wanted to ask is...:
> what is the thought about the reason for this tendency? 
> As someone pointed out herein (forgive me for lacking attribution)
> we should not criticize the criticizers; 
> what I am wondering about rather is what any of you have found
> in your own meditations regarding your actions in this regard?
> the very high standards of Baha'u'llah 
> what are those standards, and how can we apply them hereon?
I am reminded of a time in my life when I was very critical of fellow 
nurses at work.  I had been working for two years on a unit where the 
"culture" was to be extremely critical of other nurses.  Any mistake or 
omission, no matter how small, was subject to censure.  It seemed almost
a matter of survival to perceive and attack the smallest deviation from 
the standards of care.  Justification was that we were upholding 
the standards of nursing practice.  However, the cost was very high.
The attrition rate within that unit was above 30% per year, and 
working there was excruciatingly stressful.  Although compared 
with the other nurses I felt I was very positive and supportive, 
nevertheless when I left this position and returned to a previous job, 
I brought this critical attitude with me.  After only a few weeks 
back at my previous job, the charge nurse took me aside and counseled 
me on my attitude.
The point of this story is that we each have baggage carried into the 
Faith from our world, and this seeping-in of attitudes is an ongoing, 
never-ending process.  In academic circles here in the Hopkins School of 
Public Health, for example, it is expected that all should challenge 
the methods, data, analysis, and conclusions of others.  To survive 
and thrive in that environment, one begins to take on those 
characteristics.  I choose my committee to consist of all women, 
thinking thereby to bypass this tendency.  But they were harder on me 
than if there had been men in the group, I think because 
(1) they were successful at Hopkins, therefore they had learned 
the critical techniques, 
(2) they were 'performing' for each other, and 
(3) perhaps because they wanted me to be skilled or practiced 
in surviving the criticism I could expect in the academic world.
To be free from these attitudes requires constant vigilance on my part, 
renewing my understanding of the meaning of true consultation.  We have 
the wonderful Compilation on Consultation, as well as the quotations that 
David shared.  For me, the answer must be regularly renewing or 
refreshing my own understanding of the Writings on this topic, 
and asking myself what are the implications for action in my current 
In my situation above, the admittedly lower standard of nursing care 
at the hospital I returned to was not improved by my criticism.  My 
responsibility in this case would have been to consult with the 
nurses I was working with, perhaps asking for or setting up 
inservices on the standards of care expected by the profession, 
and above all creating an atmosphere of love and harmony, empowering 
the nurses in their own professional growth.
Or maybe the tone on Talisman is simply a matter of male bonding, 
creating involvement with others, negotiating status, ritualized combat 
and display, as per my earlier quotation from Tannen.  You tell me!
Still learning, still striving, still trying to understand,
 	Joan Jensen

From banani@ucla.eduWed Nov  1 00:01:46 1995
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 1995 15:50:40 -0800
From: Amin Banani 
To: Ahang Rabbani ,
Subject: tenure & Baha'i elections

Dear Ahang and fellow talismanians,

Academic "tenure," as I understand it, came about as a "protection" for
faculty not to be subject to "firing" as a reprisal by the administration
because of their political views, etc.  I believe that is also why Federal
judges (in the U.S.) are "tenured" (have lifetime appointments).  Both
positions (academic and legal) are "appointments," not "elected" positions
as our Baha'i elective system is constituted.  That may be why the
Universal House of Justice has made "terms" for their appointments of
Counselors and, in turn, the Counselors' appointments of auxiliary board
members.  In this way, the "appointments" are subject to revision, for a
variety of reasons, "blending" some of the salutary effects of
"appointments" with "elected" posts.   love, Sheila

Sheila Banani

From Nov  1 00:02:31 1995
Date: Wed, 1 Nov 1995 13:11:39 +1300 (NZDT)
From: Robert Johnston 
To: Bud Polk ,
Subject: metaphysician, alchemist and sorcerer

Dear Bud,
         Sounds like you are feeling more squash than pumpkin, less spring
than fall, more molehill than sand dune, less New Hampshire than Somalia.
You wrote of metaphysical responses to your letter[s] on mental illness
belonging among the

 "few glib, flip, patronizng replies"

Well Bud, buddy [!] that's me yer writing about and them's fighting words.
I hereby invite you to virtually jelly wrestle with me, anytime any place,
so as we c'n sort out who's more of a man and who's less.  I'll give you an
advantage by allowing my good friend David to umpire.  Your ability to pen
lines like "Or should I just slink quietly away into the darkness?"  will
ensure his support.

Yours for the playfight,

Robert [metaphysician, alchemist and sorcerer] Johnston

From banani@ucla.eduWed Nov  1 00:02:48 1995
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 1995 16:52:06 -0800
From: Amin Banani 
To: Robert Johnston ,
Subject: Re: metaphysician, alchemist and sorcerer

Yes, Joan (Jensen)--I guess it IS a male bonding sort of thing going on on
talisman.  love, Sheila

>Dear Bud,
>         Sounds like you are feeling more squash than pumpkin, less spring
>than fall, more molehill than sand dune, less New Hampshire than Somalia.
>You wrote of metaphysical responses to your letter[s] on mental illness
>belonging among the
> "few glib, flip, patronizng replies"
>Well Bud, buddy [!] that's me yer writing about and them's fighting words.
>I hereby invite you to virtually jelly wrestle with me, anytime any place,
>so as we c'n sort out who's more of a man and who's less.  I'll give you an
>advantage by allowing my good friend David to umpire.  Your ability to pen
>lines like "Or should I just slink quietly away into the darkness?"  will
>ensure his support.
>Yours for the playfight,
>Robert [metaphysician, alchemist and sorcerer] Johnston

Sheila Banani

From Nov  1 00:03:26 1995
Date: Wed, 1 Nov 1995 14:27:39 GMT=1200
From: Mary Day 
Subject: mental illness

Dear Bud,

I think you need to add a seven to your list: frightened. Often 
Bahai's just like other people, are frightened of mental illness for 
a variety of reasons. Sometimes the ill person themselves can be very 
frightening in moments of crisis. Sometimes people are frightnend 
about their own mental health. Sometimes people are frightened 
because they do not know what to do and how to handle a person 
suffering from mental illness. Part of the reason for this is the 
difficulties in dealing with mental health professionals when that is 
necessary. Other times people are frightened that people will get a 
bad impression of the Faith. Some mentally ill people 
can hold great sway in a community and people unwittingly get caught 
up in the craziness. Sometimes it can be very difficult for a 
community to consult in the presence of the ill person because of 
that person's behaviour and nobody knows what to do, nobody knows how 
to deal with it without hurting the sick person and without upsetting 
the functioning of the community. Sometimes some people don't think 
the ill person is ill and therefore they don't allow the problem to 
be dealt with which is pretty frightening.

I have no solutions to offer I am afraid. I have no expertise in this 
area but I wanted to suggest an addition to your list. No criticism of 
any person or illness is implied.


From TLCULHANE@aol.comWed Nov  1 00:05:43 1995
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 1995 21:05:12 -0500
Subject: May 19 Letter pt.1 

     Dear Friends , 
       Since we have been discussing Bahai Administration , reform and
elections and over several months made reference to the May 19 , 1994 letter
from the House of Justice I thought It may be useful to post it a couple of
paragraphs at a time for our consultation  regarding these issues.  This is
the letter Robert Henderson called the most significant communication from
Haifa to the Bahai 's of America since the Advent of Divine Justice .

    To the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United

Dear Baha'i Friends,

We recall with much joy and deep gratitude to Baha'u'llah your
presence in the Holy Land only a short while ago during the month
of the Fast.  Your urgent request to which we acceded by meeting
with all nine of your members in intensive consultations over a
period of three days - a new fact of history in itself-initiated
another phase in the evolution of your Assembly and reinforced the
bonds that bind the American Baha'i community to the World Center
of the Faith.  Our hearts were touched by the candor, courage, and
sincerity with which you members presented you concerns, as well as
by the spirit of optimism you displayed despite the overwhelming
challenges and burdens which prompted your request for a meeting
with us.
   Having considered the various points and queries you raised, we
are now able to respond to those which fall under the broad
categories of teaching, relations between your National Spiritual
Assembly and the Continental Counselors, and the functioning of
your Assembly.
   Regarding your "Vision in Action" initiative you reported
evidences of a tremendous response, some movement, and some
expansion; furthermore, the stimulus of the recent Atlanta
conference spearheaded by the Continental Counselors caused a
marked acceleration of activates.  In sum, the friends have seldom
been more visibly active, but growth is slow; you feel the
community has for some time been on the threshold of a breakthrough
which remains elusive.  The degeneration of society, as manifested
by the breakdown of moral standards and the alarming increase of
violence, you feel, is exerting a debilitating effect on the
individual believer.  You yearn for a way to free the teaching
potential which to a large extent is locked up in the individual in
the face of these dreadful circumstances.
   We feel that an over-anxiousness on your part about a
breakthrough and an undue worry over the state of society can be
counter-productive.  While there are opportunities for greater
growth than is occurring, neither your Assembly not the friends
must burden themselves with feelings of failure at every
disappointment, for such feelings are self-fulfilling and can
easily cause stagnation in the expansion of the Cause. The tendency
toward frustration, sometimes induced by a desire for instant
gratification, must be resisted by an effort to gain deeper
appreciation of the divine process.  In exhorting the individual
concerning the spiritual obligation resting upon him "to make of
the mandate of teaching, so vitally binding upon all, the all-
pervading concern of his life," Shoghi Effendi said that "every
believer of the Message of Baha'u'llah should consider it not only
an obligation but a privilege to scatter far and wide the seeds of
His Faith, and to rest content in the abiding knowledge that
whatever by the immediate response to that Message, and however
inadequate the vehicle that conveyed it, the power of its Author
will, as He sees fit, enable those seeds to germinate, and in
circumstances which no one can foresee enrich the harvest which the
labor of his followers will gather." You may rest assured that your
particularly blessed community will not be denied a triumphant
expansion if its members remain constant and confident in their
teaching activities.   

        _  to be continued _ 

     T. C.  ---   I am struck by the  the contrast in the first couple of
paragraphs  with the reference to the " . .  breakdown of moral standards   .
exerting a debilitating effect on the individual believer ..  " a concern
apparently expressed by the NSA and the response of the House  that " .  an
over anxiousness on your part  . ." as counterproductive .   I find in this a
lighten up message .  You should be encouraging the friends not blaming them
 for being no better than the world around them . I think this is echoed  in
the remark about not burdening " .. them selves  " nor the friends " with
feelings of failure . " This becomes a self -fullfilling prophecy and causes
the Cuase to stagnate .  The House critiques immediate gratification and I
find in these paragraphs a call to a new kind of leadership .  I would think
one which empowers and uplifts the believers. Asc i recall the "Vision of
Victory"  meetings had a pretty good dose of the believers as the problem .  

  Any thoughts ?


From Nov  1 00:32:55 1995
Date: Tue, 31 Oct 95 17:50:01 -0500
From: Ahang Rabbani 
Subject: Houston's teaching project

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

Despite of repeated requests for information on Houston project, 
I've been putting off commenting as my own feelings have not been 
sorted out as yet.  I can't even tell if the project is still 
alive, dead or just changing its color.  I think I stand too 
close to it, so perhaps its best to hear about it from others.  

However to fulfill my obligation for info requests, I'll share a 
few thought after I quote from Riaz Masrour's informative posting 
of a few months ago which he kindly forwarded me again today.  
Back when we were in the heat of the project, Riaz wrote:

> Most of the friends wished to know more about the details of 
> the process and how it could be replicated elsewhere. So here 
> is a brief description of what has been happening here and how 
> it all started.

> Some six months ago a former member of Taiwan's NSA, Mr. Saeed 
> Khadivian spoke to a group of Persian friends on the subject of 
> Entry by Troops and how it was achieved in Taiwan and how it 
> also could be achieved in Houston or anywhere else for that 
> matter. An excitement was created that has only grown 
> ever since. All 12 LSAs in the area consulted and approved the 
> idea. These assemblies were divided into 4 groups(each 
> comprised of a number of assemlies, not necessarily equally)and 
> each group became responsible for teaching activity in the area 
> of their jurisdiction.Each assembly assigned three of its 
> members to a committee called Intercommunity Assembly Council
> for Teaching( i think that is right) or in brief IACT giving 
> them authority to decide on most matters

> Teachers, both long term and part time were invited both 
> locally and from all over the country to come to Houston to 
> teach the Faith. A budget was approved for each group of 
> assemblies  which would cover a new Baha'i Center, an 
> apartment for the teachers and the cost for subsidizing(we 
> call it deputizing) of the teachers.

> Miraculously, it was done. Four Baha'i centers were 
> established; apartments for the teachers were leased and 
> teachers, ranging in age from 13 to 60 came to Houston carrying 
> enough enthusiasm and excitement to teach the whole country. 
> They came from Houston and many other cities around the 
> country.  They are coming in droves. You would be stunned at 
> the number of people who just love to teach this Faith, just 
> thrive on it, as if it was the only pleasure in their lives, as 
> if rejection was a complement and 96deg. F and 85% humidity was 
> heavenly climate.

> Each team comprises a team leader and three teachers, all of 
> whom must attend a one day orientation meeting where they learn 
> how to talk to people and exactly what to say. They get up in 
> the morning, pray, consult and go out and teach in streets, 
> malls, restaurants, university campuses and wherever the
> spirit moves them. Their food and lodging are provided and each 
> one receives a daily allowance for other expenses. It is heaven 
> for those who want to teach. There are consolidation meetings 
> every night at all 4 Baha'i centers, there are weekly and 
> monthly deepening classes and there is a profusion of love, 
> sacrifice and sacrifice and love and love and sacrifice and 
> oceans of tears of joy and dead tiredness and pain for those 
> who teach and those who contribute in a hundred different ways 
> and an all pervading happiness for having done something right 
> and having finally obeyed the Beloved of the world to their 
> heart's content.

> As i write the whole thing is becoming computerized. The 
> friends provided the computer, the printer the beds the 
> furniture and a thousand different items to start three Baha'i 
> center (the Houston Baha'i center is pretty well established) 
> and homes for teachers. Friends gave up their cars so that the 
> teachers could go where they wished when they wished.

> The actual teaching activities started June 1.  So far the four 
> teams have spoken to 1000 people, offered the enrollment card 
> to some 700 people and actually enrolled 170 individuals. The 
> goal is to retain at least 10% of the group.

ahang speaking again:

This project went full force from June to August and then ran 
into severe problems which I'll to try to touch upon.

1.  The approach was enrollment oriented and in that regard was 
spectacularly successful since in 3 months yielded over 700 new 
declarants.  What was missing, especially during the first couple 
of months, was consolidation element.  Very little real effort 
was placed on deepening the new converts.  Later when bonds of 
friendship were established with some of them, they begin to 
become part of the community and begin to learn what the Faith is 
all about.  As SE/UHJ have said (only a few thousands times):  
expansion and consolidation must go hand in hand.

2.  It is a gross mistake to assume that all Baha'is are mass 
teaching oriented -- we learned that the hard way.  A tremendous 
amount of disunity surrounded this effort from day 1 (really 
before!) since many of the friends were distrustful of any mass 
entry undertakings.  I am glad to report that of these naysayers 
a large percentage (over half) were won over during the course of 
the project.

3.  Its a great mistake to involve NTC with such projects.  Our 
perception is that when there was a great deal of enthusiasm and 
positive publicity, NTC was more than happy to get involved 
(really to hold up the banner and claim all the credits, as if 
they actually had anything to do with the project!), but at the 
first sight of troubled waters they begin to act like fine 
bureaucrats that they are and put as much mileage as they could 
between themselves and Houston.

4.  Sa'id Khadivian contributed both in an extremely positive way 
and negative way.  We know of *no* other person in the north 
America that can enthuse a community to arise and undertake entry 
by troops.  We simply have no such person.  No Counsellor, ABM, 
NSA member, no one can do what he can do and further no one has 
the experience and credibility that he has.  Through Sa'id's 
efforts in Taiwan, that country became the only developed nation 
that had a successful mass teaching effort -- which thrilled the 
House of Justice and in numerous communications the Supreme Body 
showered its praise upon that community.  To a large degree that 
work was due to Sa'id's labors and in short, if you have not met 
him, he has a God-given talent to take a absolutely dead 
community and bring them to zenith of activity and teaching.

However, along the way he became so singularly focused on this 
project that he neglected his business and some other things 
which is best for me not to comment.  At any rate, because of 
"compelling personal reasons" he is no longer involved with 
teaching activities anywhere.  As I said, I do not wish to 
comment on his personal situation, and suffice it to say that he 
singularly launched entry by troops process in the United States 
and was the heart and soul of this effort.

5.  To quite the rumors circling the globe, what burnt down a few 
weeks ago was not one of our (4) Baha'i centres, but Sa'id's 
place of business which also served as our headquarters for entry 
by troops project.  Sadly, not only his entire business burned, 
but all the EBT's records and equipment (computers, fax, copier, 
etc.) burned too.  The matter is still under police 

6.  One of things that we learned along the way was the 
importance of having our LSAs involved with the process.  Even 
though from day 1, all of our 12 LSAs were involved and approved 
the process, but their actual day-to-day involvement varied some.  
After a couple of months into the process, though, all of our 
LSAs were discussing nothing by teaching work and entry by 
troops.  I have never seen a group of Assemblies mature faster 
and assume their responsibilities towards teaching the cause more 
readily than what I observed during this period.  Bravo!

7.  There are several Baha'is who from mid-August started to 
battle against the project under various pretexts.  In short they 
couldn't stand seeing Sa'id and other believers becoming so 
amazingly successful with teaching, where they had failed 
themselves, and as such launched all kinds of campaigns to 
discredit entry by troops process and anyone associated with it.  
Actually this is not the amazing part, because this sort of 
trouble makers are found in all Baha'i communities.  What was 
disheartening was to see how inept Baha'i institutions (more 
national than local) are in dealing with these naysayers.  I 
can't begin to tell how discouraged so many Baha'is are over the 
incompetent way that this situation was handled and the fact that 
these people are allowed to continue poisoning the mind of 
friends against mass teaching efforts.  In fact, because of 
certain statements of NSA secretary, they are led to believe (and 
have announced so at the most recent Feast in Houston) that they 
have won and entry by troops is dead!

8.  On two occasions Bob Henderson visited Houston (the second 
time accompanied by Juana Conrad) to deal with the disunity 
problems (see 7.) which had totally polarized the community.  
Universally, the friends are deeply disappointed with these 
visits.  Not once did he meet with a single LSA to hear their 
concerns.  Many members of Assemblies have told me how incredible 
they think it is for the NSA representatives to visit a locality 
to deal with the problem and not meet with the Assemblies!  And 
when there were meetings (general ones where everybody came) of 
course people were not going to discuss *real* problems in front 
of several hundred other Baha'is!  I am sorry for saying this 
(and I hope someone will share a copy of this posting with 
responsible folks in national), but in the course of their 
comments, it became manifestly clear that Wilmette is thoroughly 
uninformed of the issues and the depth of problems caused by the 
campaign of disunity by these few individuals.

9.  May 19th letter and hundreds before it discuss the 
collaboration that must exist between the appointed and elected 
arms.  From my perspective, during the past few months, it became 
clear as "noon day sun" that the appointed branch is simply not a 
player in these projects -- and I say this as an assistant ABM 
for protection.  Not once did our ABM for propagation visit this 
area during this entire process.  When finally ABM for protection 
came, poor person had no clue what was going on.  And now the 
Counsellor is coming next weekend, and I'm sure she knows even 
less.  The point is, as the House of Justice say, these 
individuals can do their job if the Assemblies (both local and 
national) take them in their confidence and share their problems 
and concerns with them so they can advise them properly.  None of 
that is taking place here in Houston.  This is a real learning.   
There has to be *close* relationship between these two arms if we 
want to be able to work through the problems and go forward.

Well this post has got much too long, and my kids demand that we 
go trick-or-treat (its Halloween) so I better go and leave the 
problems of the world to abler minds.  I must emphasize that the 
above is based on my very limited perspective and I certainly 
would welcome corrections/upgrades from Riaz Masrour or other 
Houstonians.  Others may ask questions.

I just read over the post and realized how much remained unsaid, 
specially what we are doing now and where we stand.  That must 
await later.  Now, pillow case in hand, we go collect candies.  
Wish me well ;-}

much love, ahang.

From dpeden@imul.comWed Nov  1 00:33:23 1995
Date: Wed, 1 Nov 95 07:37:55+030
From: Don Peden 
Subject: Re: Why can't we talk about the issues?

Dear Bud:

Please don't slink anywhere...we need you.  The problem you are describing
has run the gambit of everyone taking a poke at it (pun intented, sorry).  

On the serious side, you are right.  The Baha'i community is not
educated...and is no better than the rest of society.  So, the question then
comes to how to educate the community, especially when many are in denial,
don't know what to do, don't want to know what to do, are afraid to engage,
and even step into the nether world of confusion and agony surrounding
mental illness.  

I haven't seen anyone posting a quotation from Baha'u'llah which tells us to
seek the advice of a physician when we are ill, and a divine physician when
we are spiritually ill.  It seems to me that the controversy centres around
knowing which is which.

Clearly, science has demonstrated that some mental illness is caused by
physical imbalances in the brain, and can be controlled with chemical
substitute.  To berate someone for accepting such help is unfair, and
bordering on superstition.

On the other hand, there are a lot of charlatans running around in the robes
of healer which should be avoided, and perhaps too many doctors who resort
too quickly to medication when the symptoms are caused by experiences rather
than physical causes.  It is an easy "out" and can put the patient on "hold"
while the "doctor" can fill his waiting room even fuller with waiting/paying
patients.  Mental disorders, and societal dysfuntion has become a lucrative
business, to alarming proportions.  We suffer from people being misled, and
we also suffer from people only too happy to claim ownership of some
"reason" for why they are like they are, and use it as a cop-out for making
the necessary changes in their own life.  They get hung up on the
"diagnosis", and languish in their "illness".  They neatly avoid the part
which calls for change which can enable moving forward.  

It is not difficult to make a few enquires as to the functioning credibility
of a healer, or the soundness of thinking patterns in self help books.
Perhaps one service the Assemblies in a community could play is to keep on
file a list of credible institutions and healers where families trying to
deal with mental disorders can turn to.  It would also be useful to include
lectures and question and answer sessions from some of these
institutions/individual healers in the communities on the subject of mental
disorders, and ways that we can be genuinely helpful to our community
members who are trying to deal with this illness.  I would even suggest that
Assemblies themselves consult with these experts about ways they can serve
individual/family/community.  Good counsellors will be happy to assist.
When a community is having difficulty consulting, don't hesitate to bring in
a facilitator...just because people sign a card does not mean they are
effective problem solvers, communicators, or know how to consult.  The
second step is that the Assembly/community/family/individual needs to be
willing to follow the advice given, even if it seems hard.  As you have
experienced, Bud, you really have to work at it. As far as those who wish to
stay in denial, well, what can you do, but leave them to themselves?

Also, talispersons, please don't belittle the role of the traditional
healer.  I'm not about to go to a shaman to treat cancer, but I have seen
traditional healers (good ones), accomplish much, especially when the
illness is caused by environment rather than physical disability.  I know
there are a lot of people who believe strongly in the spirit overcoming
physical ailment, but I just don't know enough about it to put my faith in
it.  I have survived cancer, and although my faith helped me to accept what
was happening...and whatever would happen...I certain am grateful to those
lovely doctors with their efficient knives and knowing hands.  I thank God
for guiding their choices of treatment.

Bud, we need people like you in Baha'i communities, and in the world.  Thank
you for your courageous dialogue, and DON'T STOP.


>Since I posted to Talisman and soc.religion.bahai regarding mental 
>illness and the Faith, there have been a large number of responses.  
>These have fallen into three categories:
>1. a few glib, flip, patronizng replies (I will leave metaphysics to 
>alchemists, sorcerers and metaphysicians.)
>2. quite a number of sympathetic respones (Thank you, but that is not 
>why I posted.)
>3. a few scientific replies (We need more.)
>I received also a large number of E-mail messages.  Among those are 
>about 15 from Baha'is who have one kind of mental illness or another 
>and wished they could be public about it in our community.  That, 
>friends, is the heart of the heart of the issue.
>I said in my first post to Talisman that regarding mental illness the 
>Baha'i community is:
>1. ignorant
>2. prejudiced
>3. patronizing
>4. lacking in compassion
>5. full of "happy" and empty platitudes
>6. in denial
>The public and private responses to my postings have illustrated to
>me, once again,  all six.  Our problem is multi-dimensional.  
>I was deeply moved by a post here on Talisman from a man whose now
>ex-wife had a very serious mental illness and the havoc it played in
>his life.  When one person in a family has a mental illness, the
>whole family has it.  It may take an entire villag to raise a child
>but if one person in that village is mentally-ill everyone in the
>village suffers.
>How can the Baha'i Faith help the individual, his/her family and the 
>local community?
>Can we talk about the six points I raised, and more importantly, do 
>something?  Or should I just slink quietly away into the darkness?
>Best regards,
>Bud Polk  

From jrcole@umich.eduWed Nov  1 01:15:23 1995
Date: Wed, 1 Nov 1995 01:10:49 -0500 (EST)
From: Juan R Cole 
Subject: reforms and solutions

Christopher asked for a solution-oriented approach to the problems I had 
brought up before.  I'm glad to provide solutions, and don't think they 
are hard to come up with if the problems are recognized.  The difficulty 
is that the problems frequently are not recognized; or the problems 
derive from policies that benefit elected Institutions but not the rest 
of the community.  Unfortunately, the Baha'i system is extremely 
top-heavy and centralized, and getting change is therefore very hard.

A.  Problem 1:  Lack of civil society; the lack print space for frank and 
open discourse; censorship practices.

    Solution 1:  In my view, if Review is abolished, everything else can 
follow.  The presumption that the institutions of the faith have a right 
to tell an individual what she can and cannot publish encourages fiasco 
after fiasco, and is implicated in the derailing of the Encyclopaedia.  
Another part of solution 1 would be to open up organs like the American 
Baha'i to community input and genuine journalism about the state of the 
Faith, rather than retaining AB as an amen corner for Wilmette.

Habermas says civil society arises in a public sphere that is neither 
governmental (i.e. the Baha'i institutions, here) nor private (family and 
friends' private conversations).  E-mail discussions are such a public 
sphere.  But for it to flourish, the governing institutions must withdraw 
from censorship practices and agree to press freedom, uncensored stage 
plays, and so forth.  

B.  Problem 2:  Derailing of the Baha'i Encyclopaedia for silly reasons 
like insisting on its diction sounding like *God Passes By.*

    Solution 2:  Allow it to be published as is.

C.  Problem  3: Widespread community rumors about NSA salaries and 
    Solution 3: Why not just be open with the Baha'i community and 
publish the details of NSA salaries and perks?  It is not a huge budget 
item.  As a state institution, the University of Michigan's staff 
salaries are public knowledge; we all know how much the President and 
Provost make, and all the faculty salaries are published.  I live with 
it, so could NSA members.  I have done some fairly intensive digging on 
this issue, and I am convinced it is overblown.  But I think the Baha'i 
public does have the right to know.  The information given in the letter 
replying to David Langness was quite frankly so couched as to be 

D.  	Problem 4:  Widespread disgruntlement with the NSA judging cases 
where it or its members are interested parties.

	Solution 4:  Institute a National Baha'i Court that could settle 
cases where the NSA cannot be seen as an impartial judge.

E. 	Problem 5:  Baha'i individuals who have their rights removed do 
not have the right to see the evidence against them; do not have the 
right to confront their accusers; and, indeed, have no rights at all 
except that of appeal (which the NSA insists be done through it!).

	Solution 5: A bill of rights for Baha'i individuals needs to be 
devised and appended to the NSA by-laws.

F.	Problem 6:  The Baha'i electoral system does not work very well 
and tends to produce a sort of elective dictatorship.  All criticism of 
policy is cast as "negative campaigning," leading to a virtual ban on 
creative thinking.  Very long-term incumbencies are common; at least in 
democracies incumbents do have to contest elections, but in the Baha'i 
system contenders are forbidden and remain unknown and so incumbency itself 
becomes a sort of "campaign."  It is rather like the bon mot that 
"celebrities are people who are famous for being famous."

	Solution 6:  I have no idea.  But I do know that this outcome is 
*not* what Baha'u'llah envisaged in His extensive comments on community 
democratic consultation.

cheers    Juan Cole, History, University of Michigan

From jrcole@umich.eduWed Nov  1 01:16:17 1995
Date: Mon, 23 Oct 1995 12:14:48 -0400 (EDT)
From: Juan R Cole 
Subject: further investigations and clarifications 

---------- Forwarded message ----------
Date: Sun, 22 Oct 1995 18:07:48 -0400 (EDT)
From: Juan R Cole 

Subject: further investigations and clarifications

Dear [X]:  I had long been aware of some sort of extravagant use of 
money in 
Wilmette, and people who ought to know put it in the "pension" language.  
I got nervous, as a historian, about only having a limited number of 
sources for this, and the vagueness of the details, and had a long 
conversation today with someone best informed.

Apparently the issue is not one of legalities, but of gauche-ness.

The $250,000 figure is money set aside for NSA salaries and perquisites.
This includes a salary for the Secretary, of about $75,000 per year, 
exclusive of free lodging in a large 9-bedroom house that would probably 
cost $5,000 per month to rent, and free lawn care and upkeep provided by 
Baha'i volunteers.  At one time or another as many as 4 other NSA members 
were paid salaries.  This included Jim Nelson and Firuz Kazemzadeh, both 
of whom should have rather good incomes from their day jobs.  The 
$250,000 also includes liberal airfare for NSA members, not only to 
meetings in Wilmette (which seems to me reasonable) but also to many 
conferences and gatherings, which appearances my friend characterized as a 
form of campaigning.

Three or four years ago the secretary stated publicly that even should 
those members then getting a salary retire or fail to be reelected, this 
would not necessarily stop their salary, since they might continue to 
consult for the NSA.

It was this latter remark that started the "pension" scandal, since it 
appeared that the salaried individuals were being prepped for a lifetime 
stipend.  My friend says that the NSA accounts are audited annually by a 
CPA firm and that the House takes a look at them as well, and that he 
does not believe that anything strictly illegal is going on with pension 
accounts (the lawyer in charge of them is very honest and meticulous).

So, I regret alarming you.  I think the issues are whether highly-paid 
professionals should be taking a salary for NSA work, and whether that 
salary should continue after they retire or are turned out.  There is 
also an issue in whether quite so liberal a provision of airfare is 
equitable.  (I myself am not upset about the secretary's salary; it seems 
commensurate with the budget he oversees).  My friend thought that the 
number of members on salary is less now.  He does not know whether there 
is still any plan to keep retired or unseated members on a retainer.

With regard to the World Congress, my friend felt that the NSA was 
fleeced by the travel agency, which did charge high prices; that the NSA 
was unwise to have used it; and that the personal connection of one NSA 
member with its executives may have clouded her judgment.  It does not 
appear there was malfeasance.  But it is still outrageous that the same 
NSA which was accused by an individual should sit in judgment of his 
administrative rights.

So I don't think there is anything here on which action is warranted.

cheers   -    Juan

Date: Thu, 26 Oct 1995 00:57:00 -0400 (EDT)
From: Juan R Cole 
Subject: Re: painful - gay issue setback to be published? (private email)

Sorry, I had not heard of this letter and have no way of accessing it.  
But do remind D. for me that the 19th-century Popes issued a large 
number of encyclicals condemning modernity and all its works, including 
the idea of human rights; but that JPII just waxed eloquent last month 
about the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (filled with articles his 
predecessors a century ago excoriated).  Even infallible institutions 
change, given time.

cheers   Juan

  • Return to Talisman

  • Translation Page

  • Baha'i Studies Page

  • J. Cole Home Page

    WebMaster: Juan R.I. Cole