1 Qudrat 165 B.E. (Baha’i Calendar)
Soundtrack in my head: The Pretenders, “Boots of Chinese Plastic”
Tonight I went to the Nineteen-Day Feast at the Baha’i Center. Baha’is hold feasts timed with the first day of each nineteen-day month on the Baha’i calendar. Lately, I’ve been a little more open about my feelings about the Faith, while acknowledging that they are feelings and not necessarily opinions. Whenever discussion at the Feast meeting has delved into growth of the Faith, particularly Intensive Programs of Growth, I’ve felt this resistance in me–I have just not quite felt right about it.
I don’t know why that resistance is there. A big part of expanding the Faith involves increasing the availability of study circles, devotionals held at peoples homes, and of course I see these things as good. And Baha’is are supposed to be more interested in just sharing about the Baha’i Faith than in actually getting people to declare themselves as Baha’is.
A lot of it probably has to do with an inherent distrust I’ve had of most organized religions. This skepticism was suspended for a few years when I was in Mahikari, but then I realized that I actually had great reason to be concerned about Mahikari and the way it treats its members–and after raising issues for years about it, I finally gave up and left the organization. A lot of times I find myself making a distinction between serving God and serving a spiritual organization.
But I need to keep reminding myself that the Baha’i Faith is different, that the path encourages people to independently search after truth. I know of no other religion that actually encourages children at the age of fifteen to explore what religion they wish to join. I don’t get the knee-jerk reactions I found in Mahikari whenever I question something. So yeah, maybe it’s just the ghost of old religions haunting me.
After the Feast meeting I pulled aside a member of the Local Spiritual Assembly and told her about the feelings of resistance I had. I told her that it very well may be something internal to me, or maybe it’s something that I perceive as lacking. I told her I didn’t know which it was, that I was open to it being either way, and since these thoughts have been going through my head through several Feasts. I said I thought I should share those feelings, even if I don’t know why I have them. She was very receptive to what I had to say and acknowledged that thinking about expansion of the Faith was a process and that everyone is in a different place when it comes to that process. I had a similar discussion with another LSA member last week, and the person was equally receptive.
I do like the Baha’is here in Madison. I think they are an intelligent and reasonable group of people. I see little in the way of fanaticism here. I will just continue to be open to what I see and hear, and hopefully I’ll either be able to explain my feelings of resistance or they’ll just simply go away.