9/8/08: Days in the Life

I’m up at Mr & Miss Mayweather’s watching the debut of the Rachel Maddow show on MSNBC. I figure I can’t complain about conservative bias in media if I don’t actually watch the liberals when they get a shot. It was a long day today. My cold is getting better.

The day job has been particularly excellent lately. Despite feeling under the already rainy weather today was an even better than usual workday. It would be nice if I made more money. I’m unbelievably broke at the moment but there’s a lot of that going around. I stopped at Super H on the way home and picked up some groceries. I suppose broke is a relative thing. I am grateful for what I have.

Wow. Maddow’s getting ready to introduce TD Jakes and she’s showing a video of Palin and her Pastor this summer. He’s talking about the End Days and how people from the Lower 48 are going to come to Alaska for refuge. And how it’s going to be soon. Now Palin is telling the congregation that the Iraq War is a Task From God. And how the Pipeline is God’s Will. Palin was there when David Brickner, the Executive Director of Jews For Jesus said that the terrorists who killed Israelis with bulldozers were God’s Punishment for Jews rejecting Jesus. Palin sat through it. In 2001 I went to an interfaith congress where a Muslim speaker began raving along similarly nutty lines. I walked out, and a number of people in the audience followed me. It’s not that difficult, really.

After I got home I idly surfed the web with Emma purring on my lap. I found an interesting post by a former Christian and Baha’i who has rejected religion entirely. I have a good friend who is Baha’i and I was interested to read this person’s take on the religion. I saw Janai at Netheria’s a few weeks ago and actually had an great conversation about her faith and Rainn Wilson. I began composing one of my typically ridiculously long comments when my phone rang. It was Netheria.

I had my headphones on and was listening to Lou Reed at maximum volume. I noticed the phone light up out of the corner of my eye. When I’m writing I tend to ignore the phone so as to not lose the flow but when I saw Netheria’s name pop up I picked up without thinking. She was in a very bad way. Since some of you know her I’ll keep the specifics to myself. We talked for about forty five minutes. I felt comfortable hanging up. Someone from her book club was coming over to play Scrabble. 

If you’re one of my friends with my phone number, always feel free to call me. Never feel weird about it. Especially if you’re in a bad place. My speciality is talking people off the ledge. I know about the ledge. I’ve studied the view. Don’t worry if you haven’t talked to me in a while. Really, I love all of you. If you could see yourselves through my eyes you would never feel bad about yourself.  

Rachel Maddow just spanked Pat Buchannan. Sweet. I think I’m gonna like this show.

6 Responses to “9/8/08: Days in the Life”

  1. “If you could see yourselves through my eyes you would never feel bad about yourself.”

    Please too remember that the other way around.

  2. I keep trying to think of something smartassed to say but instead I’ll just say thank you.
    Love ya baby,
    W

  3. With all due respect, it does not sound like Mr. Wilson “really” understands how things work in bahai. Celebrities like Wilson tend to live in a bubble in the bahai community, and are insulated from the creepy fundamentalists, weirdos and thought police that really run things in bahai.

    bahai is not a “progressive” or “liberal” religion, except on a superficial level. many people that believe in it are wonderful, altruistic, compassionate people, but the underlying religion is rotten, and is a failed attempt to graft a western/modernist paradigm onto a reformist shia/sufi framework that is full of outmoded and discredited metaphysics.

    I’ve known many of the counterculture bahais, dissident intellectuals, etc., for over 20 years that attempted to reform bahai (in the usa) into a more democratic, mystical religion, and am sad to say that many of them were viciously attacked by the forces of rigidity and bureaucractic orthodoxy in bahai.

    bahai was originally run by a cozy clique of insiders. who, from the 1930s, were dominantly upper class snobs and racists. like most organizations, it eventually became dysfunctional, and unable to engage in unvarnished, honest, open discussion of problems. as a result, a hardened, cultish attitude set in that is intolerant of nonconformists and critics. almost everyone I’ve known for 30+ years in bahai becomes very comfortable with marginalizing and demonizing anyone that asks real questions about the corrupt, inept bahai bureacracy. especially those that gets jobs in bahai, or marry into the “important” families. yes, racism is not unusual. whites can’t marry into the “important” persian bahai families unless they are from equally snobby white backgrounds.

    most of my good friends that are still members in bahai try to maintain some ethical integrity by avoiding the obsession that bahais have with “organization”, and just live by the mystical aspects, doing social justice stuff, environmental, etc., and avoid the spiritually vacant, but pervasive “administration” as much as possible.

    what happens with bahai administration is that it is almost invariably inept, and can’t get anything done. some critics claim that it is financially corrupt. in any case, similarly to other inept, dysfunctional organizations, it periodically engages in ridiculous attempts at distracting the “followers” from its failures by engaging in what I call “bureaucratic reinvention”. Some great new plan, method, etc., is developed, and all energy is put into “unifying” the followers around the new old thing. lots of money is spent on glitzy “PR”. hope springs eternal. renewal is in the air. eventually all of the bright promises of utopia dim and reality sets in. scapegoats are found to take the brunt of collective unhappiness. usually the scapegoats are the very nonconformists, dissidents and critics that could have provided better solutions in the first place.

    people’s hopes to belong to a group that is working for good, beauty and truth (world peace, justice, etc.) are dashed. they realize they have been exploited by the same kind of disgusting and morally corrupt religious leaders that they thought they had gotten away from. bahai becomes just another source of cynicism and hoplessness.

    to sum up: the organizational culture of bahai is sick and dangerous.

    bahai flubs evolution badly.

    it is completely missing anything like Jungian psychology/archetypes, and has a very bad model of human development.

    A much better alternative is Integralism, which is a movement that seeks to develop a transrational/holistic culture, or paradigm, which integrates spirituality and science.

    The integral approach to “spirituality and evolution” is far better than the silly (historically untenable) bahai “principle” of “progressive revelation”.

    Progressive revelation assumes prophetology, which is, as Ken Wilbers says, is a “middle man scam”. that scam plagues most western religions.

    what has happened to bahai critics, nonconformists and dissidents over the last 20 years is very similar to what happened to the Cathars in Spain/France 900 years ago. The high church sent crusaders against the “heretic” Cathars (who dared to openly accuse the high church of corruption), the only crusade against europeans.

    bahai is perfectly happy to have people whose ideas about religion, spirtuality and social change are warm, fuzzy, feel-good and superficial, who will never ask questions about the authorities.

    all of that is perfectly reflected in the “interview” of Mr. Wilson. It is vacuous, and is empty of meaning, at least to anyone that has seen how things really work in bahai culture, where being obsequious, groveling and obsessive about “saving face” are paramount.

    bahai is just another example of a bad religion full of dysfunctional people that has absorbed the worst of postmodern culture.

    have a nice day!
    Eric P.
    Sacramento
    XL-ex-bahai (after 30+ years)

  4. Eric in Sacramento, hello,

    Since Rainn Wilson was a Bahai before he was an actor I don’t think his situation is the same as celebrities who join Scientology but I take your point.
    Any person who puts on a hat and claims to be infallible is not worth listening to regardless of what they are saying. All religions are based upon some irrational premise that allows abuse of power by its authorities. Whether a person is ‘good’ cannot be determined by the office they hold or what metaphysics they profess, but rather only by their actions. Individual popes, bishops, priests, nuns, rabbis, gurus, imams and people who have worn countless other holy costumes have all committed dire sins against humanity and the Divine while shouting hosannas in every conceivable tongue. This post was certainly not an endorsement of Bahai or any other religious belief system. After my link to the Wilson interview I linked to a long comment I left on a post by another ex-Bahai who has since become athiest. I will include a snippet of it here:
    “A fundamental spiritual truth is that we are all flawed and imperfect. Anyone who insists their own wisdom is perfect does not grasp this simple truth and all their teachings are but pretty words designed to make you love them, or at least obey them. This doesn’t mean that there isn’t great wisdom or teaching to be found in holy books or religious traditions. I have a very close friend who is a Methodist minister that I respect immensely. He is one of my spiritual touchstones that keep me grounded. I told him that I thought most religions were like the Ark of the Covenant:great gilded containers that held at their core a sacred truth. The job of Christians from the Gospel writers on (as well as the job of Buddhists from the original Bodhisattvas on) was to transmit the teachings of the Master Teachers. It never was to claim their authority or wisdom for themselves. Dressing in a costume and chanting words does not make anyone holy or infallibly wise.
    That religions are fallible human creations does not mean that this world is all there is or that the human condition can only be understood through rational science. Our enlightenment is our own and cannot be transmitted through the fiat or proclamation of another. There is no single test that determines our spiritual condition other than how we live our lives unfolding in each moment.”

    We can find wisdom in others; it’s the best place to look for it. But this does not mean that any individual other has the market cornered on wisdom. It can be a comforting illusion that someone sitting in an impressive chair knows better than we do and has figured out the universe completely, but it is an illusion that obscures our own enlightenment from us. When we look to the lives of Jesus or Buddha it is significant to note that neither of them found their enlightenment in a pew or had it delivered to them by human authorities; why should we expect to attain our own in these ways?

    Thank you very much for your comments;
    Winston Delgado
    (walking the short path since 1996)

  5. Winston,

    I agree with everything you say. You are the best kind of healer, you strive for end to suffering by detaching from that which is false, and opening to that which is real. May you be blessed with compassion, happiness, sufficient prosperity, and love.
    Eric

    | “There is, monks, an unborn, unbecome, unmade,
    | unconditioned. If, monks, there were no unborn… no
    | escape would be discerned from what is born, become,
    | made, conditioned. But because there is an unborn…,
    | therefore an escape is discerned from what is born,
    | become, made, conditioned.”
    | ~ The Buddha
    | Ud 8:3
    |
    | Translator: Bhikkhu Bodhi
    | Udana 8:3
    | In the Buddha’s Words, Bhikkhu Bodhi (ed), Wisdom
    | 2005, p. 366.

  6. Eric-
    You may not be the most punctual correspondent, but you certainly are have lovely manners. I can’t fault anyone’s tardiness in any case.
    That’s a particularly interesting quote, by the by. The philosophical implications are quite staggering.
    -Winston

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