The Triumph of the Cause

The Party represents unity of will, which precludes all factionalism and division of authority in the Party.

Joseph Stalin, The Foundations of Leninism
Chapter VIII: The Party

The unification of our country, the unity of our people and the unity of our various nationalities — these are the basic guarantees of the sure triumph of our cause.

Mao Zedong, On the Correct Handling of Contradictions Among the People
February 27, 1957, 1st pocket ed., pp. 1-2.

Dear Mr. Ayatollah

Iran: Ethnicities and Sects


Dear Mr. Ayatollah,

Some time ago, a close Bahá’í relation of mine insinuated that I had encouraged you to persecute her fellow believers in Iran. This, I suppose, she did because I have often criticized her religion, having once been a Bahá’í myself. I was very troubled by this assertion of hers. I would hate to think that I had ever encouraged you to persecute anyone, so I am presently writing you to make certain that you have not misunderstood my statements on the subject.

To be frank, I consider your treatment of the Bahá’ís of Iran inhumane, unjust, and thoroughly detrimental to the social welfare of the people of Iran. I consider it divisive and counterproductive.

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Happy Entry by Troops Day!

Today — the 9th day of the 9th month of the 9th year of the New Millennium — must be a very special day. Any world cataclysms on the agenda?

Just curious. I don’t want to give anybody any ideas.

One day — maybe today — the people of the world will tire of the impotence of the established system that runs the world. It is inevitable. The state of world economies and politics will deteriorate, and the world will descend into a great catastrophe; perhaps a war or a worldwide economic collapse, forcing the people of the world to recognize the intrinsic superiority of God’s Administrative Order, and suddenly reject the world establishment and turn to us.

This revolutionary, utopian vision is the outlook that I inherited as a Baha’i child. It sounds remarkably similar to a Marxist outlook, only it adds God to the formula. We called this the day of “entry by troops.” The “troops” are the Bahá’í equivalent of the “workers of the world.”

A year ago, an international financial crisis caused the leadership of the Bahá’í Administrative Order to prepare for the long-anticipated catastrophe and call for great conferences around the world to prepare Baha’i communities for entry by troops. When I was a kid, I would have been surprised to find that it would take the world so long to recognize the superiority of our World Order. We expected something very big to happen by the year 2000, and probably well before that. Since then, The Bahá’í eschatological schedule has slipped, insurance policies extended, and mortgages refinanced, but the general outlook hasn’t changed. Some appear to expect something big to happen in the year 2012.

The Master (left)

The Master, praying for patience as an American follower tries to get his brown nose into the shot.

After all, that would be exactly 100 years since “the Master” came to America, and you know what the Mayans say about 2012.

But why wait till 12/12/12 when we can have the party on 9/9/9?

The Bahá’í “Administrative Order” is perhaps the single most distinguishing aspect of the Bahá’í Faith. It is a very bureaucratic religion, and it emphasizes unity above all, not permitting the slightest bit of factionalism. This aspect of the Administrative Order is described succinctly by the following passage from scripture:

The Administrative Order is the embodiment of the unity of God, unity incompatible with the existence of factions.

— The Master

Actually, I doctored that citation a little. The original passage reads as follows:

The Party [is] the embodiment of unity of will, unity incompatible with the existence of factions.

— The Monster (Joseph Stalin)

The Bahá’í Adminsitrative Order even has multi-year plans, you know, like the plans Stalin adored so much!

Anyway, it’s all about unity. And bureaucracy. Put them together and you have “the Party,” or as Bahá’ís say, “the Cause.” As I recently pointed out, the Bahá’í Faith is so bureaucratic, what they call “feasts” are actually committee meetings.

It being crucial that Bahá’ís know exactly what words to use when approached by the “troops”, a massive re-education program — code-named RUHI — has been initiated, and has been proceeding for 13 years now, in anticipation of that great day, expected sometime in the next dozen years. It is known to be a very simple program, tuned to focus on basic talking points of administrative doctrine.

I have lots more to say on this, but I need to post before civilization implodes. Now, where’d I put those boots?

Is Ahmadinejad the Bab?

There was once a town in Iraq called Babel. The name means “Gate of God” (Bab-El), and among Jews and Christians elicits all sorts of images of human arrogance and unholy ambition. Men strove to reach up to heaven, perhaps to be as God, and were swiftly scattered in chaos and confusion to the corners of the earth.

The word “Bab” is an old semitic word for “door”, “gate”, or entrance” that is commonly seen in Arabic place names. Twelver Shi’a Islam has used this term to represent the divine messengers who in past times facilitated communications between the Mahdi (the 12th Imam) and the believers.

Amazon: Ahmadinejad

164 years ago, Sayyid ‘Ali-Muhammad Shirazi claimed to be the latest Bab, then claimed to be the Mahdi as well. His embattled crusade eventually evolved into the religion that I was raised in, whose adherents, along with homosexuals, are chief targets of persecution in Modern Iran.

I mention all this because I was reminded of it today by a Terry Gross interview with the author Kasra Naji on the May 13 episode of Fresh Air. I was stunned to hear the guest say:

Ahmadinejad has been on the record, saying to various people that he believes that by the end of his term in office the Mahdi will return, and he has to hand over power to the Mahdi.

This should sound familiar to Baha’is. Naji continues:

And only a few days ago, he said in a speech in northeast Iran that, in his belief, the Mahdi is managing the affairs of the State, and he is only doing the legwork—if you like—that he is representing the Mahdi, the Mahdi is in charge; Mahdi is managing the affairs.

It sounds as though Ahmadinejad may see himself as a kind of “Bab” to the Hidden Imam.

According to Naji, Shi’ites in general do not expect the Mahdi to literally return:

Many people in Iran, many Muslims, many Shi’ites around the world take that as an abstract idea, that justice will prevail in this world; so there’s no literal belief that somebody is going to come tomorrow …

But there are those, such as Ahmadinejad, that take the Mahdi prophecy quite literally. That doesn’t mean that everyone that shares that belief are allies. To the contrary, it puts them in direct opposition if they should happen to disagree on the specific details of the Mahdi prophecy. It seems to follow that those in opposition to the dominant representative of the Mahdi—those Shi’ites who claim to have their own Bab, may be in mortal danger. Hopefully, the Baha’is of Iran will be spared the full wrath of Ahmadinejad’s millenarian zeal. They are already suffering through yet another surge of persecution.

How far will it go? It’s hard to know just how sincere Ahmadinejad is in his fanaticism. Sincerity, in this case, could be a very dangerous thing.

Just call me Bubba

Last weekend, we finally cracked and gave Bubba Gump a try. I can’t think of a more cynical Hollywood spinoff, but we were hungry, and the Aquarium restaurant was stuffed. Bubba’s food was not bad. The kids actually ate—there’s something to blog home about.

What struck me was one of the myriad bits of nostalgia: a map of the Beaufort, South Carolina area.

praise house

When I was a little boy, my family lived in five South Carolina towns in the space of less than three years. The first one was Frogmore, near Beaufort. You are unlikely to find it on a map, because they renamed it to Saint Helena, after the island that the village rests upon. Kind of a shame. At least you can still find Frogmore stew.

Source: the North by South Project

The town has a long, peculiar history. This was the place where Laura Matilda Towne and Ellen Murray moved to serve the former slave population and establish the Penn School in 1862.

By the time we arrived, 104 years later, not much had changed. We had modern conveniences like plumbing, though ours was backed up into the bath tub when we arrived. The place was still isolated. Blonde hair was still a novelty among the island children.

I was of course too young to remember our residence in Frogmore. According to Mom, my life there consisted mostly of being bitten by sand flies in my crib. There were also occasional walks outside with my oldest sister Duska, and I’m guessing I was brought along for some of the proselytizing.

It may be rightly said that Frogmore was the Geneva of the South in 1966, though I’m told that Joe Frazier, himself a Beaufort native, called it the slum of the South. It was in Frogmore, at Penn Center, that Martin Luther King Jr., Andrew Young, Jessie Jackson, and the Southern Christian Leadership Conference met every year. Locals, including our family, were invited to attend the November 1966 conference, during which, I’m told, much debate took place regarding the pros and cons of nonviolent activism. I have read that it was at this conference that King expanded his vision from civil rights to human rights.

Laura Towne and Ellen Murray spent the remainder of their lives serving the islanders—a combined 85 years. We couldn’t hold on quite that long, and returned to California in early 1967, though we did visit Frogmore when we returned to South Carolina several years later. I remember spirituals being sung in a hall there. I remember one particular Baha’i song called “We Are Soldiers In God’s Army”. I haven’t heard it in a long time. I can tell you unequivocally that it most certainly rocked!

I also remember my brother Al catching a hammerhead shark and a ray off the pier. That could be a manufactured memory, but I remember it vividly.