So last blog entry I dealt with the Beavis of reddit. Now it’s time to go after its Butt-Head!
Take a look at this:
I’ve been an inactive Baha’i since about college… 15 years or so? I married a non-Baha’i who is a lovely person and does his best to do right by his actions but is generally an atheist with some agnostic considerations. We have two young kids now (5 and 2) and this is about the time when I would have considered starting them in Baha’i classes if it weren’t for COVID… except…
There’s a reason I’ve been inactive. Ever since I was engaged to my husband of now 12 years, the Baha’i’s in the community I grew up in would immediately ask if he was a Baha’i – not how we met, or what our plans were, and when I said, no he’s not, their immediate answer was “Well, he will be one day.” And I was NEVER, ever out to convert my husband. I hate the Ruhi books – and I’ve done like four of them. I did the first book twice. And it all reeks of brainwashing as opposed to independent investigation of the truth. It felt more like a test than open and honest study of the texts.
My mom is Iranian and I’m like a seventh generation Baha’i on her side, and my dad converted from Catholicism to the Faith. My dad hates the Ruhi books and has pretty much become inactive too other than the occasional Feast. I’ve moved far away due to jobs and graduate school and ended up putting roots in a new, large city. And the community just puts me off. I never realized how unnerving being introduced as a new Baha’i to the community is. Immediately I was jumped upon to introduce myself, and my family, and to drag my non-Baha’i husband along and volunteer my home for events and join a Ruhi circle…
There was so much expectation that I shut down and never went back – and I’m an extrovert so this wasn’t me being overwhelmed by people in general.
What happened to practicing the Faith as opposed to just talking about it to other people? What happened to asking ppl in the community if they need help, and providing it, instead of asking for every ounce of free time a person has left? We’ve moved again within the same city and I’m afraid to reach out to the local chapter here incase I’m overrun. Or get voted onto the LSA, because I have no time or sanity for that – thank COVID for depression and anxiety and other issues.
I believe in most of the tenants of the Faith, but I find it harder and harder to be a “Baha’i” in things other than my own personal ethical and moral codes and behaviors. And if I try to bring it up with Baha’i friends from my childhood… they sort of just don’t know what to do with me and tell me to pray.
I miss having a community. I want my kids to know about the Faith and all the good things Baha’i’s do or at least did when I was a child. Maybe my eyes are just opening to it now, or maybe something shifted around the time I was in college… but I’m so disappointed in our communities and their overwhelming desire to convert rather than serve.
This was later cross posted to r/exbahai:
At the original post. a member named Any-Part4466 picked a fight with the one who made the OP.
NO one should say you have to do anything in order to be a Baha’i. You are free to not give to the Funds and free to not attend Feasts or meetings as you wish. NO one says you should devote excessive time to the Faith in service if you do not want to. That being said, I have learned from personal experience that there is a spiritual price one pays for being inactive and for having negative attitudes towards others and engaging in excessive criticism.
In my experience, most of the problems people have like yours relate to attitudes and expecting things from the community without offering anything in return. In my community, we focus on service to others, including local food banks and shelters for children for abusive homes and other groups as well.
A number of persons in my community do participate actively in the Institute process, of which Ruhi courses are only a part of not the whole, but many (most) do not have much time and some may, at most, attend a devotional or take a Ruhi course maybe once every couple of years. The Institute focus has been on devotional meetings, study circles (which do not have to be Ruhi and have included Kitab-i-Iqan and Will & Testament of ‘Abdu’l-Baha study), children’s classes, and home visits. There is less, not more, focus on conversion than in the past when I first became a Baha’i in the late 1980s and early 1990s, contrary to what you are suggesting.
First, I never have been in a Baha’i community where a Baha’i was expected to convert his/her spouse. There are often some few pushy or nosy individuals in any community (certainly were in the church I grew up in) but you have to just learn to look past them or forgive them or simply tell them appropriately it is not their business.
Second, I find your statements about the Ruhi books completely offensive and contrary to the experience of most Baha’is. There are some elements and statements at times in sections that I disagree with and express that appropriately. They mostly ask open-minded questions, allow for dialogue, emphasize service, and provide a perspective. I have no clue why anyone would feel that they are brainwashing. All materials in school and in a religious community come from a belief and perspective in my experience. In the Baha’i Faith and in the way Ruhi courses are supposed to be tutored, free and open discussion is allowed as long as it does not veer into criticism of others. My sense is that is just a pejorative term people use when they do not like or disagree with something and used far too often and inappropriately.
Third, most Baha’i communities are welcoming in my experience having moved around quite a bit in my Baha’i life of 30+ years. Most Baha’is once they get to know each other are helpful and friendly. Perhaps the real issue is how you present yourself, verbally or non-verbally to other Baha’is and your attitude.
Fourth, there is no “local chapter” in the Baha’i Faith. There are Local Spiritual Assemblies and local communities or groups where no Assembly exists. All LSAs are organized on a citywide basis, not within a city. In larger cities, they sometimes divide the city into clusters for certain Feasts and meeting in order to make for smaller and more friendly, personal feasts and less travel but those are not LSAs. So, therefore, some of what you are saying does not make any sense in the context of the Baha’i community. If you are in a larger city, then worrying about being elected to the LSA with the attitudes you expressed seems strange and odd.
She replied as follows:
My words have certainly struck a cord with you, and I apologize if they have conveyed any sense of an attack on the Faith. It is both possible for me to love the Faith and struggle at the same time. I am hurt and lost and have been brushed off by those in my local and extended communities when I’ve talked about these struggles with the Faith, so I brought them online where I thought maybe I could get more perspectives than quotes from the texts or pressure to do Ruhi. I don’t mean to criticize so harshly, but I do see how my words read as such.
I am regretful my experience with Ruhi has not been yours – I truly wish it had been. But the way the classes I specifically took were run did not lend me the feeling of study but rather of reciting and writing an answer that we were guided to, rather than formed ourselves.
I would like to defend myself that I never said the community demanded these things of me. Expectation and disappointment can be unspoken and no less heavy a burden. A community can be warm and friendly and engaging – and most Baha’i communities are – but even then to be so eager to welcome you that they overdo it. I have also been a part of online Baha’i communities – a Baha’i mother group on FB – and some of them said such nasty things about politics and the LGBTQ community that I had to leave. I’ve known Baha’i’s who beat their spouses and children (I myself was a child at the time).
No community is perfect, and I strive to recognize this in my own community as well as myself – I have not been an exemplary example of a Baha’i since becoming inactive. I give back to my communities in my own way – I serve by teaching when people ask me about my Faith of their own free will, I serve my local community through volunteering and helping my neighbors when they need help with kids or food or rides to healthcare. I don’t often remember my daily prayers and I definitely need to get back into giving to the Fund.
My apologies for not using the word cluster – I couldn’t remember it as I have been inactive for some time so used the next best word choice to describe the smaller communities in a large city. Our local clusters have LSA’s. Maybe not in the cities you have lived in or visited, my birth city only has one LSA, but where I currently live, yes, that’s how it is.
I’m not trying to attack the Faith. I am trying to find someone, anyone to talk to that isn’t going to tell me to pray my struggles away. Your response makes me feel more isolated, more alone, as though as a Baha’i I am not allowed to show any weakness in my Faith. If you are so offended by my struggles, please just don’t respond.
He ignored her pleas and kept attacking her, prompting me and others to confront him.
Of course, this prompted another battle. And then…..
Free speech that promotes disinformation and is just hatred and insults is not worthwhile. It is just sick and degrading.
So you believe in worthwhile (as judged by you) speech and reserve the right to deem others as sick much like DBO. You don’t believe in or support free speech.
I don’t know exactly what DBO believes. I’m not DBO as you have imagined and demonized him.
You can’t complain about free speech and then participate in a subreddit that purports to have no rules, does not apply the rules of reddit consistently, and regularly blocks and bans free speech when the mods don’t like what is being said. Two of the three mods on the exbahai subreddit do not tolerate free speech because they have banned numerous persons there over time, most on false pretenses because they committed far fewer offenses than the exbahais regularly commit. So, the whole subreddit is basically a sh$$ show, hypocrisy, and a lie and has gotten worse over time in that regard.
As a Baha’i, Baha’u’llah warned against an excess of speech and clearly indicated some speech is not worthy. That does not mean that I believe in strict censorship, just that a lot of what is said is really offensive and disrespectful and disinformation. We should regulate what we say. Sometimes, I push the limits myself admittedly.
Whoops, he made a boo boo!!!! LOL! DavidBinOwen (aka Any-Part4466) was sockpuppeting, no doubt to get around that so many of us had blocked him!
Which led to this post:
And of course, even after being exposed, the idiot kept on lying.
I hope you realize that your post about DBO’s post was bait by him. It just drew attention to my posts and his. It does not really serve you very well in the end. It only exposes further the hypocrisy and inconsistencies on the exbahai forum which bans such content. Also, to the extent a number of the individuals on the exbahai subreddit use multiple accounts at times (and they do), they are being silly.
All the chest beating and bragging is also a riot. Now I’m laughing.