Monday, October 06, 2008

Wasteland to Abha Paradise

Conference and Tablet

By John Taylor; 2008 Oct 06, 09 Mashiyyat 165 BE

Sexuality and Homosexuality Conference

This weekend my daughter Silvie and I attended the spirituality and sexuality conference officially named "Spiritual Identity as a Path for Transcending Differences" at McMaster University. I blogged the announcement for this meeting on the Badi' Blog already at

Another Canadian blogger has provided more information on the upcoming annual meeting of BNASAA, one of the groups who sponsored this conference, which will take place in Louhelen at:

All during the weekend I thought that BNASAA (Baha'i Network on AIDS, Sexuality, Addictions and Abuse) was an American group, but to my surprise I found out, on visiting their website that they are a committee of the NSA of Canada. The website is new and very much, as they say, a work in progress. They can be contacted at:

The speaker for the entire time was a psychotherapist, Mary Kay Radpour, of Chattanooga, Tennessee. She made some impressive points about sex and homosexuality, much of which was new to me. Her anecdotes about the harrowing experiences of sexual abuse that some of her patients courageously suffered had us in tears. I especially liked her story about the fear of God, as explained by a Hand of the Cause -- I think it was Mr. Khadem -- who lived in her community when she was a Baha'i youth. Though she was shy, he encouraged her, saying that she would make an excellent teacher. Can you imagine anything better to put on a Baha'i teacher's resume? Of course it puts pressure on us, her listeners too. If you were to say, `No, the Hand of the Cause was wrong, I did not get anything out of what she told us,' immediately suspicion of denseness would fall on you, not on her or the Hand. Fortunately, I can say that I did get a great deal out of the meetings.

Dr. Radpour made use of a full blown shrink's vocabulary and I periodically had to lean over to explain to my daughter the meaning of words like "cleavage" and "pedophilia," usually followed by an embarrassingly loud "Eeeuww!" or "Yuck!" I wondered how much she got out of it until, on the evaluation form, she wrote: "It exceeded my expectations!"

Tablet of Baha'u'llah: "Preference and Distinction have laid waste the world..."

The conference distributed a handout from BNASAA (pronounced "bunasa"), most of which is to be found in the blog entries and websites that I linked to at the start of this post. One quote from the Writings of Baha'u'llah that they use as a headpiece is not there. I had come across it before, but in the context of homosexuality and abuse it seems particularly apt. It is from an "untranslated tablet," which was evidently not translated until 1979 -- very surprising in view of its force, universality and importance in understanding the Baha'i principle of equality. Here it is, in the earliest appearance I could find:

"And amongst the realms of unity is the unity of rank and station. It redoundeth to the exaltation of the Cause, glorifying it among all peoples. Ever since the seeking of preference and distinction came into play, the world hath been laid waste. It hath become desolate. Those who have quaffed from the ocean of divine utterance and fixed their gaze upon the Realm of Glory should regard themselves as being on the same level as the others and in the same station. Were this matter to be definitely established and conclusively demonstrated through the power and might of God, the world would become as the Abha Paradise.

"Indeed, man is noble, inasmuch as each one is a repository of the sign of God. Nevertheless, to regard oneself as superior in knowledge, learning or virtue, or to exalt oneself or seek preference, is a grievous transgression. Great is the blessedness of those who are adorned with the ornament of this unity and have been graciously confirmed by God." (Unpublished Tablet, cited in "Elucidation of Baha'i Teachings on Ranks and Stations," 27 March 1978, Universal House of Justice to all NSA's, Messages 1963 to 1986, 206.3a, 206.3b, pp. 376-377)

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I loved May Kay Radpour's story from her childhood you passed on in this post. Her mother Edie was my spiritual mother, and lived right across the street from where my dorm room was during my freshman year at the University of Illinois. Mary Kay was already married then and out of the nest, but I remember Edie talking lovingly about her daughter. It was Mr. Khadem who resided in that community for a time.