Subject: [Fwd: Unit 4]
From: Lee & Kamyar
Date: Sat, 27 Aug 2005 08:53:34 -0400

Actually, I left off one more question for 28  --  How is our faith different from the Unarians? (not in a superficial way, but in a real one - one that relates more to the process of being religious than the practice.)  [ I saw a brief clip on a TV show on "faith" tonight - "Weird America"]  This may seem like a strange question, but I mean it in a serious way.  Perhaps it's my atheist/agnostic background that has me extra wary that Baha'is aren't simply following the pattern of religious proselytizing (conversion) that has marred the luster of other faiths.

(Later Clarification)

My apologies for what may have been unclear communication on my part with the "Unarian question".  I was not attempting to encourage an analysis of the precepts and teachings of the Unarians as compared to the Baha'i Faith -- it's pretty clear there are major differences.  What I was hoping to encourage reflection upon is the "process" of coming to have faith in something.  I thought Unarians were alien enough (pun intended!) to really engender deep reflection on the subject - more so than pondering the same question using Baptists as the comparison (though that could be done just as easily).  It's a highly personal process (coming to believe/faith), I know, with as many variations as there are people, but how is OUR claim to faith distinct from, more authentic than (if it is), more grounded in reality than theirs?  And if we conclude that there is a distinction to ours that allows us to dismiss theirs, on what authority do we make that claim?  Here are some procedural similarities I've picked up on with just a cursory glance:
   1.  They had a man appear at a point in history
   2.  With a positive vision for a "utopian" society [harmony, unity, humility, and end to fighting and hatred] to teach to those who would listen
   3.  Acheiving this vision requires personal disciplines and upright behavior on behalf of the believers, to affect change in the world at large.  (service toward a glorious promised day)
   4.  A person comes across this vision,etc., and it resonates with them
as beautiful/truthful enough to devote themselves to.

My concern is, that if we are to truly champion the Cause of God in our day, we cannot fall in to the traditional religious rut of "I'm right because my God says I am."  Just because we don't have clergy (or I guess, more acurately, we're ALL "clergy"), doesn't mean were any less immune from establishing (in our minds at least - which is the most dangerous place for it to be) that "parallel authority" (37) in the heart of our religion that has lead to the crippling/stultifying of the civilizing effect of religion on society (35 and 51).  We must be daily vigilent in our religious practice to ensure that we will not travel down the path of "joining partners with God" (37), and the Writings exhort us countless times [I think I need to re-read Tablet of the Holy Mariner now] NOT to make the same mistakes as past religious communities have.  From my perspective, this is a central question to wrestle with.