Sen McGlinn is delusional and idiotic

In attacking the new Unitarian Baha’i movement, Sen McGlinn made the following absurd declaration:

http://senmcglinn.wordpress.com/2010/04/17/muhammad-ali-revived-2/

Do not be deceived: the latest attempt to rehabilitate Muhammad Ali is not due to some universal love and progressive ideas, or any great knowledge about Muhammad Ali: it springs from a desire to avoid the straight line that leads from authenticated texts by Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha, through inescapable reasoning, to the conclusion that the Universal House of Justice is the head of the Bahai community today. To avoid that conclusion, some people will bring forward anything, however implausible, that seems to offer an alternative.

Anyone who actually reads the Baha’i Faith section of this blog would know, if they were intellectually honest, that this claim is simply bogus postering. And there’s more:

http://www.uubahai.com/2010/03/ghusn-i-akbar-part-1-the-facts/

http://www.uubahai.com/2010/04/ghusn-i-akbar-part-2-his-significance/

Indeed, like most Baha’is, McGlinn takes at face value the profoundly one-sided narratives favored by the Haifan Baha’i Administrative Order about the conflict between Abdu’l-Baha (AB) and his brother Mirza Muhammad Ali (MA), never questioning them; never asking why, if MA was such a despicable man and AB was indeed so perfect in his ways, why nearly all the descendants of Baha’u’llah, even those descended directly from AB,  would reject the claims of AB and Shoghi Effendi and find themselves expelled from the Baha’i community rather than submit to the Covenant AB established in his Will and Testament. Also odd is that the mansion of Bahji, in which Baha’u’llah spent his last years, was lived in by MA after Baha’u’llah died, not AB! I’d think if AB was as highly favored by Baha’u’llah as the official Baha’i history claims, he would have been living in Bahji with Baha’u’llah and would have inherited it, but in fact, AB never lived there at all! Such logical gaps should be debated and worked over, not ignored and swept under the rug.

 People who operate like McGlinn have no business claiming to be reputable scholars on religion, unless they are promoting a scam.

And what is really ironic about this, is that McGlinn was actually expelled from the very Haifan Baha’i community he is still defending:

http://senmcglinn.wordpress.com/about/

In late 2005 I was removed from the rolls of the Bahai community, following a decision of the Universal House of Justice. I have put up some of the documents on a page here, in response to speculations about the reasons for the decision. I have applied to be re-enrolled periodically, and in the meantime continue as a believing and practising unenrolled Bahai. There are some informal reflections on being unenrolled in an email in my archive called ‘who belongs.

Why would anyone continue to defend an organization that no longer even wants him around? To me, that is idiocy, and I do not respect idiots.

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10 thoughts on “Sen McGlinn is delusional and idiotic

  1. Dale, you wrote: “McGlinn takes at face value the profoundly one-sided narratives favored by the Haifan Baha’i Administrative Order about the conflict between Abdu’l-Baha (AB) and his brother Mirza Muhammad Ali (MA), never questioning them; never asking why, if MA was such a despicable man and AB was indeed so perfect in his ways, why nearly all the descendants of Baha’u’llah, even those descended directly from AB, would reject the claims of AB and Shoghi Effendi…”

    I think one of the main reasons most of them rejected the claims of Abdul-Baha and Shoghi Effendi is because they weren’t interested in trading authoritarian Islamic religious leaders for authoritarian Bahai ones. They genuinely believed Bahaism was supposed to be something new and different, something much more progressive and compatible with a modern secularizing world, a spiritual path that sets people FREE from the rule of mullahs, popes, etc. AB and SE were interested in setting up something like a Bahai papacy. Most of Bahaullah’s descendants wanted nothing to do with it and had a totally different vision for the Bahai cause.

    As for Sen McGlinn, his actions in recent weeks have made it clear that he has chosen to cast his lot with the fundamentalist branch of Bahaism. This is indeed strange since the Haifan Baha’i Faith organization won’t even allow him to be an official member, because they consider some of his views too liberal (he opposes their cherished idea of a Bahai theocracy). I think McGlinn is attempting to persuade Haifan leaders that he is conservative and dogmatic enough in his Bahai beliefs to be allowed to re-enroll in the Haifan Bahai community; hence his recent fierce attacks on the revived Unitarian Bahai movement and on Ghusn-i-Akbar, the first Unitarian Bahai.

    I think history will show that McGlinn chose the wrong side. The Unitarian Bahai movement will become the main expression of liberal Bahaism, and will grow and grow, while the Haifan Baha’i Faith will be increasingly discredited as a fundamentalist religious organization unsuitable for open-minded intellectuals and anyone who values individual freedom of conscience and liberal values.

    It is worth remembering that truth and justice ultimately win if those who believe in these ideals are willing to stand up for their beliefs and not give up. Because the fundamentalist Haifan narrative of Bahai history that McGlinn promotes and defends is a one-sided polemical account, non-objective, in some cases even slanderous, and impossible to maintain in the light of real scholarly scrutiny, it will eventually be supplanted by a more accurate and balanced view of the historical development of the Bahai religion and the qualities and failings of the key figures involved. That is why it is so sad to watch Sen McGlinn go “all in” for a denominational narrative that will soon be on its way out as new scholars arise and study the Bahai faith from a more neutral perspective. He is actually in the process of destroying his scholarly credibility, although it will probably be a long time before he realizes that.

    • I think one of the main reasons most of them rejected the claims of Abdul-Baha and Shoghi Effendi is because they weren’t interested in trading authoritarian Islamic religious leaders for authoritarian Bahai ones. They genuinely believed Bahaism was supposed to be something new and different, something much more progressive and compatible with a modern secularizing world, a spiritual path that sets people FREE from the rule of mullahs, popes, etc. AB and SE were interested in setting up something like a Bahai papacy. Most of Bahaullah’s descendants wanted nothing to do with it and had a totally different vision for the Bahai cause.

      Like Christianity, which was a rebellion against the hypocrisy and spiritual tyranny of Judaism, but degenerated into hypocrisy and spiritual tyranny too. Even Communism, which was supposed to liberate working people from the oppression of the capitalists, became instead a symbol of evil and dictatorships. Like that song by the Who, “Won’t Get Fooled Again” (Meet the new boss, same as the old boss).

      People just need to stop looking for “perfect” causes led by perfect people. THERE IS NO SUCH THING!

  2. Please excuse me for being a contrarian. Sen is really smart and knows a lot more than I do, anyway, about tons of things.
    I have the same concerns that you do, about totally buying one-sided versions of things, closing our minds, “shunning” and so on.
    Maybe Sen will surprise us – he’ll persuade the squares to let him back in, and then thumb his nose at them…
    Anyway, the existence of someone like Sen who is learned, devout, and apparently perfectly faithful to the “party line” – and they are still shamefully wretched toward him! – is in itself a condemnation of the whole “infallible authority” claim that is becoming increasingly hollow.

  3. Here is a testimony from a known descendant of Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha:

    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/unitarian-bahai/message/3015

    Hi Dale,

    I just read your post and thought I would just clarify some points: Firstly NONE of the descendends of Abdul’Baha rejected his Will and Testament…. Their expulsion and labelling as Covenant Breakers, years later, was Shogghi Effendis decision.

    Regarding the mansion of Bahji, it was not anybodys to be inherited. The mansion was rented by Abul’Baha for Bahullah to live in after his release from Akka prison. Bahaullah lived there until he passed away.

    After Abdul’Baha’s passed away, Shogghi Effendi decided he wanted to buy the property. By then the owner had died and it was inherited by several relatives scattered in various regions.

    Mirza Jalal Shahid was asked by Shogghi Effedi to find all the relatives, who would have a share of the inheritance, and to buy out their share. After several years of searching and finding, the mansion was bought in the name of the Community around 1929.

    Abdul’Baha did not live in Bahji for purely practical reasons! His day to day work involved dealing with authorities, pilgrims and visitors which all took place in Akka. Since there was no such thing as daily commuting in those days he therefore did not live there.

    Dale, these are facts and they come straight from my own direct family history. I hope it will shed some light.

    Parvine

    I then replied:
    http://groups.yahoo.com/group/unitarian-bahai/message/3016

    Thank you VERY MUCH for your explanations, Parvine!

    According the Adib Taherzadeh’s book The Covenant of Baha’u’llah, MA continued to live in the mansion for many years after Baha’u’llah’s death, and he so neglected to take care of it that the roof had caved in at several places and its rooms were largely abandoned, so finally MA asked Shoghi Effendi to repair the building. After the repairs were completed, Shoghi Effendi simply took ownership of the building and barred MA from it completely. Are you implying that MA wasn’t there at all after Baha’u’llah’s death?

    Also, Shoghi Effendi was supposed to have tried to “save” his relatives, but they were so rebellious and faithless that in the end he had no choice but to expel them. If that was not true, then the inability of him to appoint a successor to the Guardianship was entirely his fault, not the relatives!

    Can you add your testimony as a comment to my blog entry about Sen McGlinn?

    Dale Husband

  4. You may wish to consider that Sen McGlinn may have already been reinstated through the proverbial backdoor and has since been acting as an informant and online propagandist for the Baha’i Internet Agency (BIA). Steve Marshall likewise acts as informant and propagandist for the BIA, not to mention the site Bahai Rants.

    • “Assume nothing, be wary of everything.” That would seem to be a good policy. I do know that the Baha’is I have dealt with in iranian.com are as incredibly inept in debating as almost any other member of a religious extremist group. They prove by their responses to me that their religion is a complete failure.

  5. I would not be so condemning of Sen, but have wondered at his ongoing support of the Baha’i Faith after having been expelled in such a rude manner. Why would anyone want to be part of something authoritarian and cruel? Well, to each his own.

    I know you’re also not a fan of Christianity – but I experience it as a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and not as an oppressive religious organization. My church does not even have a membership roster.

    • “I would not be so condemning of Sen, but have wondered at his ongoing support of the Baha’i Faith after having been expelled in such a rude manner. Why would anyone want to be part of something authoritarian and cruel?”

      Here’s a possibility:
      “People who are kicked out of cults are commonly filled with grief and guilt. They are still very loyal to the group’s beliefs and its people, even though rejected by the group.”
      http://www.exitsupportnetwork.com/recovery/leave.htm

      I don’t know of reputable psycho-sociological studies on the matter, but as a casual observation, it doesn’t seem to be rare that people who are rejected by a person or organization still highly value said person or organization.

      After all, prior to being rejected, the person may have invested a lot of time, effort, money, and opportunities in order to have a relationship with that person or organization. Naturally, it’s hard to distance oneself from someone or something to whom one has made a substantial investment (even if that person or organization doesn’t value that investment).

      There might also be other reasons …

      • If what you said (or rather that blog entry you linked to) is accurate, then the process of expelling and shunning “covenant-breakers” by the Baha’i communities is so counterproductive as to be considered a spiritual atrocity.

        • It is certainly accurate for some people. One needs to look into the matter on a case-by-case basis to find out what is really going on.

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