Wednesday, April 22, 2009

Ridvan 2009

Eric Stetson, former Baha'i and frequent commentator on things Baha'i has written a commentary on the Ridvan 2009 message of the Universal House of Justice on his blog-- which I have responded in a short message, herewith shared with the readers of this blog:

"We had a short correspondence some months ago, and I did not respond to your last email, which proposed that Bahá’ís work alongside others who believe in the same ideals to effect positive change in the world. Inasmuch as you were proposing at the time that another "organization" be formed of these interfaith collaborators, and I had misgivings about that, I waited to see if I would come to a constructive engagement with your proposal.
Your commentary on the Ridvan 2009 message of the Universal House of Justice brings me back to your earlier proposal and invites comment.

"As you will no doubt recall from your membership in the Bahá’í community, not all enrolled Bahá’ís (that is, formal members of the community) are involved in the Plans that are issued periodically by the Universal House of Justice and elaborated by the National Spiritual Assemblies, the Regional Bahá’í Councils and Local Spiritual Assemblies. The Bahá’í institutions are well aware of this fact, and one of their aims has been to increase what they call the active core of the community, and it is for this purpose that the study circles, the training institutes, and in particular the Ruhi process have been established globally and with such focused determination. Shoghi Effendi articulated this objective as the carrying out of the Lesser Plan of God, which is the unique responsibility (and privilege) of enrolled Bahá’ís, while the execution of the Greater Plan of God is open to everyone on the planet. Every religious community has an inner as well as an outer dimension…it is not possible for any community to exist without investing in its own development. In the 1960s and 1970s, there was a considerable growth in numbers of Bahá’ís throughout the world, and especially in the developing countries and among indigenous peoples. This was deliberate, hoped for and intended, because the early efforts at mass teaching in Africa and elsewhere under the direction of the Hands of the Cause and with the approval of the Guardian had achieved particular success amongst this population.

"This surge in growth was followed by the Iranian Revolution and a tremendously intensified attack on the Faith in the land of its conception. Iranian Bahá’ís fled their homes in considerable numbers, and settled all over the planet. Many of them were shell-shocked, profoundly wounded by this experience. At the same time, we found ourselves unable to consolidate the large numbers of newly enrolled believers. The mood of the societies in which we lived had changed from the fermentation of the “counterculture” and we turned inward, and were less sure of ourselves, of our goals and our methods than previously. For thirty years or more Bahá’ís have been articulating a profound and enduring dissatisfaction with the status quo in the Bahá’í teachings, the Bahá’í community and the Bahá’í institutions. While Bahá’í intellectuals have been particularly vocal in expressing their concerns, if you have talked with those who do not identify themselves as intellectuals you will have heard many of the same issues brought up and wrestled with.

"The Universal House of Justice, aware of all of these trends, responded to them by calling for Bahá’ís to engage in social and economic development projects, in interfaith dialogue, and when there was little response from the Bahá’í community to either of those projects, it called for the change of Bahá’í culture, from a congregational model to a perpetual learning model. Integral to the implementation of that model was to motivate large numbers of Bahá’ís worldwide to experience collective learning, in a manner that would transform the way they actually lived. The process that was ultimately chosen effect the adoption of this new model is the Ruhi sequence of trainings, to which were appended and with which were integrated the core activities including classes for children, junior youth and youth, and devotional gatherings. As the Universal House of Justice has frequently reiterated, the purpose of cultivating this new culture of learning was to prepare Bahá’ís for the challenges of the present hour, not just as individuals, but as a community. This cultural shift was meant to bring about a renaissance in the vitality and growth of the Faith, not in one area of the world or among one population (such as the indigenous in Latin America or in India), but throughout the planet; not led by North Americans and Persians (as had been the case in previous waves of growth) but by each community in consultation amongst its own members.

"It is much too early to judge the effectiveness of this bold and determined initiative. But I would expect that you, as a former Bahá’í and a well-wisher of the Bahá’í community would want to encourage Bahá’ís to avail themselves of this process of change and would give it your support.While the active core of the Bahá’í community has been growing and has been undergoing this change of culture, there are many enrolled Bahá’ís who have continued to act out their convictions in other ways, whether as unique individuals or in groups of varying sizes and configurations. Some of them are intensively engaged in the Greater Plan of God, that is, in translating the Bahá’í teachings into action, as educators, as healers, as thinkers, as organizers, as artists, as scientists. Many are doing so as friends, as parents, as neighbors, as workmates and schoolmates. And some people manage to juggle service to both the Lesser and Greater Plans of God, and maintain their health, equanimity and good will. Not surprisingly, there is no clearing house for information about the vast range of attempts by individual Bahá’ís to live according to their convictions. We usually can track down what we need to know, because birds of a feather flock together.

"If you are frustrated with the pace of change, or some of the particular attributes of the Lesser Plan all I can say is “join the club”. Bahá’u’lláh was displeased with the lack of response of humanity to His teachings, and that was over a century ago. Jesus expressed the same displeasure over two millennia ago. We human beings are a piece of work. There are a lot of Bahá’ís who share your frustration…and hopefully most of us are learning to change that frustration into action, to learn from our mistakes and the mistakes of our fellows and move forward."

Sunday, October 19, 2008

Paul Lample on the role of the learned Baha'i

"A variety of metaphors help clarify the role of a learned Bahá’í in contributing to the progress of the Bahá’í community.

"The learned Bahá’í is not a “gatekeeper” or “priest.” While the effective work of trained, knowledgeable, and insightful individuals shed light on the context and meaning of the writings in many ways, the community of believers is not dependent upon a body of specialists in order to understand the meaning of the text. The Word of God is accessible to all believers, according to their capacity. The experience of the community derived from practice, the growing understanding of the implications and meaning of the text over time, and above all, the guidance of the Universal House of Justice contribute to shaping both the believers’ understanding as well as the perspective and direction of scholarly activity.

"The learned Bahá’í is not an “anthropologist” of the Bahá’í community. The purpose of Bahá’í scholarship is not merely to explain the community at a moment in history and present the resulting picture as its reality. Bahá’ís recognize that, at any point, the community is far from that which Bahá’u’lláh has envisioned. It is “less Bahá’í” now than what it will become in future.

"The learned Bahá’í is not an “archeologist.” The “true” meaning of the Faith is not lost somewhere in the past, to be recaptured by excavating layers of erroneous interpretation and practice. Such an approach is especially problematic if it is used to justify a search for the meaning of the Faith in Bahá’u’lláh’s writings alone, while ignoring the role of the authoritative institutions He established to guide His Faith.

"The learned Bahá’í is not an “artist” who is free to shape the teachings according to some criteria of personal choice or creativity. The teachings of Bahá’u’lláh have an intended meaning and an intended aim. Unity—even unity in diversity—emerges by seeking out and conforming to this meaning. One cannot select, rearrange, or craft from the teachings, according to subjective standards, a particular narrative or design. If such an approach were pursued, the Faith would become nothing more than an individual or cultural adornment.

"The learned Bahá’í is not an “impartial observer.” The resolution of important questions requires more than the application of methods of the natural sciences. It is not possible to stand apart from the community to study it without influencing it or being influenced by it.

"Perhaps the learned Bahá’í is more like the “scout” who helps to guide an expedition on a journey into unexplored territory. This is someone who participates actively in the journey, but whose specialized knowledge, skills, and experience informs various aspects of the struggle to make progress: constructive perspectives into the past, present, and future; insight and technical capacity for ongoing study of the text; problem posing and problem solving; the defining of culture and intercultural relations. On this journey, the learned individual/scout does not have authority, and, while making a vital contribution, like any other participant is fallible and learns over time." (tape) (text)

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Are all theologies equal?

Passages from Scriptures can be cited in favor of virtually any point of view. Theologians have been playing that game for centuries, indeed for millennia. If I am wrong, I would like to see more substantial grounds for admitting my error than those which have been suggested so far.

Twenty years ago it was proposed that Baha'u'llah approved of a diversity of points of view suited to the consciousness of varying individuals, and a single text was cited in support of that proposition. That text was excerpted from a Tablet addressed to Jamal-i-Burujirdi, which has been translated in its entirety by Dr. Khazeh Fananapazir and published in the “Baha’i Studies Bulletin” (5:1-2). It was pointed out that the Guardian translated an excerpt from this Tablet, in which the cited text is also found, and that he did not translate that text nor include it in Gleanings (V). In fact, in the excerpt he translated, we do not find any reference to theological disagreements among Baha'is. The Guardian strove mightily to clarify normative Baha'i doctrine. He did not tell Baha'is they were permitted to believe whatever they wished, unless Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha had not revealed any guidance on a particular question, and in such cases he indicated that there could be no normative Baha’i position:

"You have asked the exact meaning of the term 'Fear of God' mentioned in Bahá'í Sacred Writings; it often means awe, but has also other connotations such as reverence, terror and fear." "We have no way of knowing what science Bahá'u'lláh meant when He said it would largely eliminate fear; as no further mention of it was ever made in the teachings, the Guardian cannot identify anything with this statement. To do so would depart from his function as interpreter of the teachings; he cannot reveal anything apart from the given teachings." (Lights of Guidance, p. 237)

"Regarding your question about vaccination: these are technical matters which have not been specifically mentioned in the teachings, and consequently the Guardian cannot make any statement about them. No doubt medical science will progress tremendously as time goes by, and the treatment of disease become more perfect."
(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, December 24, 1943: Bahá'í News, No. 173, p. 3, February 1945; in Lights of Guidance, p. 292)

"We cannot be sure of the authenticity of the scriptures of Buddha and Krishna, so we certainly cannot draw any conclusions about virgin births mentioned in them. There is no reference to this subject in our teachings, so the Guardian cannot pronounce an opinion.
"As our teachings do not state Zoroaster is the connecting link between the Euphrates and the Prophets in India we cannot assert this. "Abraham and Krishna are two separate individuals, with no connection that we know of.
"We know no more about the prophets mentioned in the Íqán than what Bahá'u'lláh states in that Book." (November 25, 1950 to an individual believer; in Lights of Guidance, p. 503)

"Your question concerning Brahma and Krishna: such matters, as no reference occurs to them in the Teachings, are left for students of history and religion to resolve and clarify." (April 14, 1941, to an individual believer; in Lights of Guidance, p. 503)

"There are no dates in our teachings regarding the actual dates of the Prophets of the Adamic Cycle, so we cannot give any. Tentatively we can accept what historians may consider accurate. Naturally the dates referring to Muhammad, the Báb and Bahá'u'lláh we are sure of." (November 25, 1950 to an individual believer; in Lights of Guidance, p. 503)

What has not been discussed, in all of these years, and related to the text cited from this Tablet to Jamal-i-Burujirdi, are the circumstances surrounding its revelation. The Tablet was apparently revealed in response to the complaints of a Baha'i teacher about another Baha'i teacher. The former, called Ismu'l-lahu'l-Jamal by Baha'u'llah, and who is now generally remembered as Jamal-i-Burujirdi, claimed a certain station for Baha'u'llah in his extensive and much celebrated career as a Baha’i teacher throughout Iran. The latter, called Haji Akhund and whose given name was Mulla 'Ali-Akbar-i-Shahmirzadi, disagreed with Jamal-i-Burujirdi regarding the station of the Blessed Perfection. Baha'u'llah enjoined peace between them, writing "Nothing whatever can, in this Day, inflict a greater harm upon this cause than dissension, and strife, contention, estrangement and apathy, among the loved ones of God. Flee them, through the power of God and His sovereign aid, and strive ye to knit together the hearts of men in His Name, the Unifier, the All-Knowing, the All-Wise."

Baha'u'llah does in fact assert, in this Tablet, as has been often cited, "There are those who have attained to the highest levels of spiritual comprehension ( a`la marátib-i `irfán ) while others are different therefrom. For example, one person envisages the Unseen the Transcendent, the Inaccessible One ( God; ghayb-i maní` la yudrak) in the Person (haykal) of the Manifestation ( of God; zuhúr) without making any distinction (fasl; or division) or connection ( between them; wasl; or union). Others there are who recognise the Person (haykal) of the Manifestation (of God, zuhúr ) as the Appearance of God ([Himself or theophany, zuhúr'u'lláh) and consider the commands and prohibitions of the Manifestation (of God, zuhúr) to be identical with such as originate with the one True God. These two positions (maqám ) are both acceptable before the throne of God." Hence, a difference in perception among the believers is not only permitted but accepted as inevitable. However, He does not indicate in this text or anywhere else that ALL perceptions of the station of the Manifestation of God are accurate and acceptable. In more recent times, we have become well acquainted with scholars who have espoused perceptions of the station of Baha'u'llah which conform neither to one nor to the other of these two acceptable positions. We would do well, I suggest, to consider the association that historically existed between certain theological positions and the ultimate relationship to the Faith of the learned ones who espoused such positions. For example, do people who perceive Baha'u'llah as "just another prophet", or as a religious genius, or a spiritual philosopher, or only infallible in a metaphorical and mythical sense, do such people evince a willingness to sacrifice their lives, their belongings, their families even for the Cause of God?

Let us consider the fate of each of the two parties whose disagreement resulted in the revelation of this Tablet. The former, called "perfidious" by Shoghi Effendi for his ultimate disobedience to 'Abdu'l-Baha and abandonment of the Baha’i community he had spent so many years carefully teaching and encouraging, is among those who have, like Lucifer, assumed high office only to ignominiously fall to the depths of opposition. The latter was appointed a Hand of the Cause of God by Baha'u'llah, and gave his entire life in loyal service of the Faith. Is it not possible that the perceptions of the soul result in actions which either attract us to the Beloved or ultimately result in a weakening of such attraction and ultimately an estrangement? As was pointed out to me some years ago, what are the perceptions of those Baha’is who happily sacrifice their safety, their health, their possessions, and their lives for the Faith of Baha’u’llah? Can one make the ultimate sacrifice for One if we believe that His station is little higher than that of a common man?

Saturday, September 15, 2007

The Guardian was not a prophet

Several of the American pilgrims during the 1950s reported conversations with Shoghi Effendi in which he predicted the vaporization of certain major cities in the USA. Have Baha'is considered that perhaps the Guardian believed that this was a distinct possibility, and wanted to warn the believers ahead of time to leave these big cities and pioneer? During this same time, wasn't he urging for the decentralization of the community? If he believed that this was a real possibility, then he was in good company. Alot of people, including top advisers to several US Presidents believed that nuclear war was very likely to occur. Long after the Guardian had passed on, US Presidents brought into existence the ICBMs and President Reagan tried to get his Star Wars program enacted and funded and built to protect US cities from the very kind of disaster that the Guardian predicted. Well, if that was their expectation, then they were all wrong. Why would this cause a crisis of faith for a Baha'i? Shoghi Effendi was not a prophet of God, was not endowed with the prophetic powers of the Manifestation of God. If he warned us about something that failed to happen we should be happy rather than sad! Imagine if his prediction had come true, and millions of people had been vaporized...I thank God the predictions did not come true! I am not disappointed, I am heartened that the worse case scenario did not come to pass.

Monday, September 3, 2007

A Culture of Change

I've just read Dr. Moojan Momen's paper, "A Change of Culture" ( Since what he has alleged is that a major shift is happening before our eyes in the Baha'i community, it seems to me to be pertinent to discuss its implications. I have identified five topics that particularly interested me.

These unwanted traits include the passivity implied by the words "member of a congregation." Members of a congregation play a receptive role - receiving sermons, sacraments and advice from the priest. They are told what their scriptures mean and how to apply that to their lives. In some congregations, it is even considered to be within the priest's powers to hear confessions and pardon sins. Bahá'ís can no longer, in the new culture, play such a passive role. They must actively participate in their communities, study and interpret their scriptures for themselves, and work out their own salvation. Each Bahá'í must be his or her own priest.

While that was a figure of speech, I think it was an unfortunate choice of words. Baha'u'llah has abolished priesthood and priestcraft, the entire ecclesiastical order, including the monastic vocation for men and women alike. What He encourages His followers to do is to consult with one another and not just go off on their own. We are enjoined to consult with those of other religions, to consult with those of other nationalities, to consult with each other, and when we are selected to administer the affairs of the community we are required to consult with one another and arrive at concensus whenever possible in all of our institutional decisions. It is consultation and not individualism that are stressed throughout Baha'i literature. Perhaps this is what you meant to convey?

The second phrase in the above statement points to the fact that leadership and decision-making in the new culture should no longer be the prerogative of ambitious or learned individuals. We live in societies that are patriarchal -- where leadership is by a small number of individuals, mainly men. Such societies are hierarchical and, because men are inherently more aggressive and competitive, they tend to end up at the top of these hierarchies. And Bahá'ís have unconsciously imported these tendencies into their Bahá'í communities in many areas, resulting in a situation where a small number of individuals, usually men, run the community in those localities. It is clear, however, that the Bahá'í community should be one in which there are no hierarchies of power -- only a hierarchy of opportunities for service. Any situations of power or hierarchy that exist in the community, structures that inherently favour men who are more competitive and aggressive, must come to an end. Decision-making must be through consultative processes and collective leadership - a community structure that is more conducive to women and minorities playing an active part in the community.

In practice what seems to be coming into existence is a dictatorship of the bottom line and a careful avoidance of any appearance of conflict. I have personally been in communities which were as thoroughly dominated by women as others have been by men. What characterized all of these dominations was a community-wide perception that nothing should be said or done that might possibly offend anyone, and that conflict of any kind should be assiduously avoided, including disagreement. No clash of differing opinions from which the spark of truth will out. In practice I have found this kind of decision-making to disempower virtually everyone. Everyone tries so hard to be "nice" that in fact nobody is being honest, except of course for those who are dominating...even they may be disempowered because they may feel that they must continue to do what they have launched. So often a kind of emotional paralysis and governance by guilt replace the spiritual dynamics of Baha'i consultation.

The third element in the statement of the Universal House of Justice signals that it is no longer sufficient, in the new culture, for Bahá'ís to fit in their Bahá'í activities into odd nooks and crannies of their lives. Their participation in the community must become a central feature of their personal and family lives. This may be the most difficult of the three elements for Bahá'ís in the West to implement, with the enormous and never-ending materialistic demands that modern life places on the individual.

The Central Figures of our Faith, the Guardian and the Universal House of Justice have been counseling Baha'is from the outset to consecrate their entire lives to the Faith. The Universal House of Justice rallies us with virtually every letter to rededicate ourselves to service to the Faith. What may be distinctive about the new culture is that the Universal House of Justice has identified activities which can indeed occupy the believers in a level of effective service to the Faith that may transcend what they experienced earlier. Whereas before they may have served on committees, given firesides, taken part in deepenings, travel taught, pioneered, taught children's classes, in practice few Baha'is had time to do all of the above. Those few experienced what? Burn-out. In fact, most believers did the very minimum. Now with the establishment of the core activities, it is likely that most believers will become actively engaged in at least one of these paths of service, and since all are integral to the development of a healthy and sustainable community, they will be making an integral contribution by doing so. It is no longer all or nothing. This is a healthy change of culture. Together we can create an integrated community, instead of having a few individuals do all the community stuff and the rest of us looking on with amasement or horror. Those who agitated for years about the need to establish the Mashriqu'l-Adhkar can devote themselves to devotional gatherings. Those who agitated for years about the need to raise our children as Baha'is can teach children and pre-youth and youth classes. Those who agitated for years about the need for Baha'is to read the Baha'i writings and internalize the Baha'i teachings can serve as facilitators and tutors. There are many avenues of service, and each community is in need of all of them. There is no hierarchy, because all are integral to the health and wholeness of the community.

The new culture of the Bahá'í community is one in which the individual and the family take a much more central role.

The old culture of the Baha'i community with which most of us are familiar was one in which the individual had a great deal of liberty...perhaps too much liberty. We made alot of mistakes because we tried to do alone what is meant to be done by a community. The family was central to virtually every Baha'i endeavor. Firesides and deepenings and in most communities feasts and holy days were commemorated in family homes. Now there are Baha'i centers popping up all over, and the family has been replaced as the center of Baha'i community. This is very difficult for many Baha'is to adjust to. It doesn't feel comfortable and natural and normal for alot of us. While this new culture may not be intended to be congregational, the existence of Baha'i centers and their replacement of various important social functions furnished in earlier generations by families has given many Baha'i communities more rather than less of a congregational identity than in the past. Perhaps the guidance of the Universal House of Justice, calling for the Baha'is to forsake congregational culture for a new kind of culture is in response to the proliferation of these Baha'i centers? Without such advice, Baha'i communities were indeed becoming increasingly like churches, synagogues and mosques--we had our community centers, our feasts and holy days chaired by the chairman of the Spiritual Assembly (whether male or female, assuming a kind of clerical role), our administrative and devotional procedures (like the liturgies and rituals of other communities of faith). It all seemed so familiar--so comfortable for some of us, and so uncomfortable for others. But apparently this is not the culture that the Universal House of Justice wants, this is not the culture Baha'u'llah envisioned and which it is their responsibility to bring into existence and protect.

"Fear of failure finds no place. Mutual support, commitment to learning, and appreciation of diversity of action are the prevailing norms." In other words that the support coming from these transformed communities mitigates any fears that the individual may have and the "culture of learning" that has been instituted means that every teaching effort that is made becomes an opportunity for learning and so, even if it fails, it is not a wasted effort.

If the community can and will treat all of its members this way then this will be a great transformation. But what I keep hearing from other Baha'is, and what I keep feeling myself is that since the establishment of this new culture, a new stratification of the community has resulted. There are insiders, those who are actively engaged in one or more of the core activities, and there are outsiders, who are not engaged in any of them. The insiders may give one another "mutual support", might show a "commitment to learning" and "appreciation of diversity of action"...but do they show the same to outsiders? I have my doubts, and so do others.

These may be purely subjective reflections, and in the light of objective study, it may be that all of your depictions of the new culture are accurate and that my reservations are unwarranted.

Sunday, July 8, 2007

Erich Fromm on Universal Religion (4)

Hello again,

A possible page error in the original quotation I received brings this further clarification on Fromm, despite my “last foray” comment.

When I checked the page reference in my paperback copy of Fromm’s The Sane Society, it comes from the concluding passage in the last chapter, on pp. 305-306, not on p. 352 as the original email I received indicated.

But the quotation is correct.

By the way, I can’t take credit for finding this quotation. As mentioned, it was forwarded to me by Carol Rutstein and Rob Stockman. I don’t know where it all started. If I once read it in Fromm, I had forgotten it.

I realize that Ismael’s report based on Hugh McKinley’s assertion does not amount to “proof” as the notion exists, say, in the exact sciences or in historiography. So the sceptical “it’s all speculation” comment is perfectly justified. We know from David Piff’s book, Baha’i Lore, that some Baha’i hearsay is accurate; other hearsay is pure invention.

I know that from personal experience. I heard the most bizarre stories about how Dizzy Gillespie had become a Baha’i, but it wasn’t until I sat down with Bethy McKenty, who taught John Birks the Faith, that I realized everything I had heard was nonsense. But even documentary evidence can be fabricated, and all documents have point of view, which is a type of bias.

But the textual parallels are just too similar—to my mind at least—to be coincidental. I am obviously not attempting to impose a viewpoint, which usually proves futile in any case, unless one is predisposed to accepting it. In a court of law, there are possibilities, plausibilities and probabilities. There the jury decides based on the evidence. If we apply the legal criterion , “beyond a shadow of a doubt,” then Mr. McKinley’s assertion would not pass. If we found documentary evidence from either Eric Fromm or Hugh McKinley, that would be a different story.

In “the court of scholarship” one makes an argument and it is either accepted or rejected. I frankly don’t know what the consensus is on this one.

Jack McLean

Erich Fromm on Universal Religion (3)

Hello again,

This will be the final foray into the remarkable Eric Fromm quotation. One of the respondents to my message was scholar, Ismael Valesco (Spain), who offered the following explanation for Fromm’s quote, which is so strikingly similar, if not entirely identical, to the main lines of Baha’i theology. If Ismael’s source is correct, it would be a very plausible, if not probable, explanation of why Fromm’s statement is identical to Baha’i teaching. Could such a close textual resemblance be entirely coincidental? You decide. (By the way, possibility, plausibility and probability in law and in science show ascending degrees of certitude).

Ismael tells me that the source is “kosher.” He heard it form Hugh McKinley himself. I don’t doubt that Hugh was able to change Fromm’s mind. This is not to say that he turned him into a theist, but I think it seems clear that Mr. McKinley convinced EF to see religion in a new light, one that agreed with his progressive, socialist mind-set. And I should add, that if all this is true, Hugh did a very good job and Eric Fromm was a very perceptive and articulate student. The time frame, as Ismael has pointed out, also fits since The Sane Society was published in 1955.
Of course, the whole theory would fall down if Hugh McKinley arrived at his pioneering post after 1955. So perhaps Ismael, or some other enterprising soul, could check that date.

Jack McLean

Here is Ismael’s comment:

“I believe that it may very well be that it was a Bahá'í who was responsible for that passage by Fromm. One of the Knights of Bahá'u'lláh for Cyprus, Hugh McKinley, lived on a little Greek island and wrote a literary column for the Athens Daily Times. He reviewed new books and took the opportunity to correspond with authors, striking solid friendships with great figures such as Kathleen Raine, Helen Shaw and May Sarton. One of these exchanges took place with Erich Fromm, in which Hugh questioned Fromm's dismissal of religion, and engaged him in a debate that led Fromm to change his treatment of the subject subsequently. For years I have been meaning to look for the passage in question, and I believe the quote you shared, coinciding perfectly with the timescales involved, is a prime and highly probable candidate. It explains the seeming anomaly of such a Bahá'í description of world religion, precisely in those dates, from an otherwise consistent dismissal of the subject.”

With love and gratitude,

Ismael [Velasco]