My Way or the Baha’i Way

Yesterday I attended the monthly meeting of the San Diego Interfaith Ministerial Association—or SDIMA for short, which is hard to say without confusing your front teeth. The SDIMA meeting is my big outing of the month. I walk in, they all yell, “Gay! He’s gay! You’re gay!” And then I go home.

Get it? Cuz it’s an outing?!

That’s right: this blog is still free of charge. And I think we can all agree it’s worth it.

There’s certainly no denying that I am prodigiously artistic. I think those of you who’ve seen my awesome Muhammad Ali painting would agree: I’m pretty much color blind. And I think that helps. It’s tough to appreciate art when all those obnoxious colors are duking it out for your attention. Being color blind means I’m free to concentrate on substance, not, as you have to, form. So I’m better than you. Except at traffic lights. Then you’re better than me. So it all evens out.

Speaking of being spiritually color blind, at the SDIMA meeting I’m surrounded by people of “various faith traditions,” as we interfaith moguls like to put it. As a representative of the Christian faith, at these “meetings of tolerance” I take very seriously my moral imperative to at least try not to laugh at all the losers who aren’t smart enough to be Christian.

In our group we have no atheists. We have a Muslim, a Mormon, a Hindu, two Buddhists, three New Agers (or, as I call them, Manny, Moe and Aquarius, which always cracks just me up), a Baha’i lady (hint: waving and saying “Baha’i!” instead of “Good-bye!” apparently gets less funny each time you do it), a Jewish man so old I believe he learned to swim in the Flood, and a Catholic man with a voice so low God must borrow it when He wants to make a point.

At the SDIMA meetings we sit around and talk. I’m never quite sure what it is we’re talking about, but it usually seems to involve a flyer describing some upcoming event that I can never quite imagine. I don’t know. I hardly ever get a flyer, is the thing; they always seem to run out right when I’m supposed to get one. So I always end up having to guess where the SDIMA events are being held. And I know I was at the right location for last month’s event. I totally saw our Baha’i lady folding up her table and running away. At the meeting  yesterday she denied it, though.

Those Baha’iites. They’re a crafty bunch.

Well, I’m off to take a nap now.

Baha’i for now!

(Okay, just to be clear: I’m actually a true fan of the Baha’i way. And I really do believe in the interfaith movement. And I’m not color blind. And “Baha’i! See ya’ next time!” is funny.)

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About John Shore

John Shore (who, fwiw, is straight) is the author of UNFAIR: Christians and the LGBT Question, and three other great books. He is the executive editor of the Unfundamentalist Christians group blog.  (In total John's two blogs receive some 250,000 views per month.) John is also co-founder of The NALT Christians Project, which was written about by TIME,  The Washington Post, and others. His website is JohnShore.com. You're invited to like John's Facebook page. Don't forget to sign up for his mucho-awesome newsletter.

  • mm

    Funny stuff as always. If there was an atheist thoguh, it would just lead to a never ending discussion of whether atheism is a "faith" or not. And then you'd get nowhere. Better to just leave the atheists out of it, since their already going nowhere, right? See, that was my little joke.

  • Claudia S

    Hey, I'm an atheist. Why don't I join? I can make time for a good debate, about anything. Like for example the whole "going nowhere" thing. No, I know you were only joking MM, it's cool. I don't want to argue. Although I did see a sticker the other day that said "God made me an atheist – who are you to argue with His plan?" So do you think God made the atheists atheists? (Yes, that does make sense). I think maybe, if there does turn out to be a God, and all of us atheists turn out to be wrong, then if He turns out to be really cool God He may just give us credit for having the guts to NOT believe in Him. To tell you the truth there are many situations when it would be very comforting to believe in a personal God. I envy all religious people that sometimes, not only Christians. And yet I'm not ready to join you all. The fact that you are all out there though, believing, gives me hope and comforts me. So that's all right then.

  • Sam

    Just wanted to say "Baha'i ya'll."

    Must say "Baha'i, Baha'i" for now.

    -Sam

  • mm

    Claudia: I'm an atheist also. =) Totally Joking.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Thanks so much, Claudia! And … there was something else I was going to say to you, but … I just can't recall what it is. Bummer.

  • David Barach

    I think John wrote this when he was Baha'i.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    I don't get Baha'i. One reason is that I long ago misplaced my B'bong.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    Hah! Hilarious.

  • Mark Lattimore

    "Do the children trying to jab drinking straws into his head? No. And they shouldn’t. Those kids are ghouls, who should be in school. But Ghoul School, of course, has really long spring breaks. Which makes sense."

    From Mormons to young ghouls on spring break in four lines — that is both bizarre and impressive.

  • http://www.johnshore.wordpress.com John Shore

    I've waited my whole career to have anyone, EVER, actually diagrammatically analyze one or two of my sentences. Bless you, Mark Lattimore. Because of you, I can now die happy.

  • Lety

    Funny! When my sister told our mother that she had converted, she said, "Mom, I'm Baha'i" and our Catholic mom said, "You mean you like girls too?" I wonder how many people that has happened too.

  • http://www.gettingluckyateighty.com lifeaftereighty

    Love your humor. Keep channeling.

  • Claudia S

    Here I am, being the first to comment again. My timing is excellent. And your comedy is excellent John. Loved this one – really hilarious! And such a nice birthday surprize. Not that I want to go around shamelessly plugging my own birthday in hopes of getting even more good wishes, in fact, let’s pretend I never even mentioned that today is my birthday. Seriously though, brilliant comedy, as always. It’s why we keep coming back.

  • Ruben

    When David Letterman retires, I am voting you in !

    Anyway, next time extend the SDIMA invitation to the voodoo priests. They will surely bring some voodoo dolls for those kids and one for keeps for JohnShore for sure !

  • Linda Chimienti

    John, San Diego has definitely found the man for the job. I never knew you had adjustable ears. How cool is that? A real must-have if you’re going to be representing Christians at any kind of faith-themed pow-wow. Color-blindness is good too and don’t forget the poker-face-while-laughing-at-you trick. Top it off with the “event GPS” and Inspector Gadget has nothing on you! No wonder you’re on the cusp of literary fame….soon to be America’s favorite comedic word-smith. (I think my hyphen key is worn out.)

  • http://kauilucas.wordpress.com/ Kaui

    Ah, only the ignorant. And as Buddah said, ignorance is the greatest sin, so karma will handle it.

  • http://soiledwings.com Sherry Meneley

    "Interfaith Ministerial Association" – oooh I likie, it's kinda Unitarian, but still holding your own. Clearly I skipped past the funny (although I did get it, I did) and was more interesting in this whole group thing.

    John, what go you started on doing this, was it an invite, and if so why were you chosen, etc… Mighty interested in more.

  • Valerie Smith

    What don't you get about Baha'i, John? (she asks, having been a Baha'i for almost 38 years)

  • Muslim

    Well I'm a Muslim and I hear statements like those all the time – that God is the one who drives us astray. Islamically, this is not entirely a wrong statement.

    But it should be understood that Allah can never be unjust. He won't make anyone an atheist unjustly. He gives every human a simple sense of what is right and wrong. If you feel you know that praising God is right and you try to do so, then Allah will guide you, knowing your intentions. If, however, we are misguided, Allah is not to blame.

    Study Islam, my friends. The struggle won't disappoint you.

  • http://www.preventpimplets.net Art Erickson

    Great article. I loved it. Thanks.

  • Amber

    Well thank goodness (not god) I was considering starting a WordPress blog today and happened to see your site right there on their page. Because I, an atheist, need a good laugh. Not because I am an atheist but because I am spending many months in Italy and as you've heard, it is true, the people here are crazy.

    Ever been here? Have any good material on Italians? That would be awesome.

    Baha'i now.

  • http://bitscomic.wordpress.com neurotype

    Now I know why Baha'i isn't the top choice for religion among the intelligentsia–their name is too silly! Someone should tell them :D

    Atheists take their faith too seriously to participate in an interfaith discussion.

  • Kaui Lucas

    Namaste Upanishad, what an Ignatius Mormonic salaam. Maybe this will gospel you to Pharisee more Jesuit.

    http://bahai-library.com/file.php?file=stockman_c

  • Valerie Smith

    That may be, but being a religion starting with "B", we're always at the top of the list. :-}

    Hopefully the intelligentsia will catch on; I'm sure that's why we have the Association for Baha'i Studies.

  • Valerie Smith

    Amber: I'm sure Elizabeth Gilbert would have good material on Italians, judging from the phenomenal success of Eat Pray Love.

  • http://larinamcclain.wordpress.com Larina McClain

    Hi I have just set up my own blog and I noticed that you have a donate button on yours. I have that button from paypal and I have the html code but I have not been able to get it to work. I wanted to ask how you did it? Sorry to bug you

  • Valerie Smith

    Did you truly mean to say Ba'al worshipers? If so, I can't comment on that.

    If you meant to say Baha'i worshipers, the response is about 6 million worldwide.

  • http://www.bradzimmerman.co.nz Brad Zimmerman

    John, you're awesome.

  • Kaui

    Yeah, not too many Ba’al worshipers around.

    I’m sure the intelligentsia will catch on. After all, how many Judean and Roman scholars were interested in yet another wacko Jew, (a working class carpenter at that) claiming to be the Messiah 166 or so years AD?

    And yes, it’s a run-on sentence.

  • Audrey

    I love this. I aspire to do this. Off topic of you being better than me… I want to start my own blog and your's was the first one I clicked on on this website. Any quick tips? You're a captivating writer!

  • http://mylivefriendspacebookster.com J.R. LeMar

    Well, I'm an atheist, who happens to be ex-Catholic (raised), ex-Muslim (5 years), and ex-Baha'i (2 years), so it sounds like I'd fit right in!

  • http://Google Kirpal singh

    Dear Sir – I am Indian so at the outset I thank you. I have gone through your writing. It seems humerous. Many people commented it – mentioning GOD and some sort of relgious. Criticism should always be welcome otherwise the writer would not be able to reform himslef/herself.

    Fuurther I request you to kindly go through my articles and send your comments. These are lying in my article blog. in blogger.com I always like healthy criticism.

    Again thank you

    Kirpal Singh

  • http://www.brightpk.com/blog/ world news

    Well this is a concept, so no one should expect all the details to be there. And only 1st year work?

    Awesome.

  • http://mindyscurls.wordpress.com/ Mindy

    OK, so if you are a believer of one stripe or another, how about this: Since God/Allah won’t make an atheist unjustly, and said atheist is leading an ethical, compassionate life, isn’t it possible that by following his/her convictions, the atheist actually *is* being guided by God and pleasing Him? She doesn’t acknowledge, let alone praise, Allah/God outwardly, yet lives as is prescribed in holy texts – a just and compassionate life. Isn’t that quite possibly the honoring of God, merely differently?

    Religious folk participate in a variety of rituals, ceremonies, habits and behaviors that are required by their particular belief system, but which differ from faith to faith, even within each faith, right? Not all Muslim women cover their heads, not all Christians partake in Communion at each service like Catholics, etc. etc. That makes it fairly clear to me that God/Allah is cool with a variety of ways of being honored. He’s flexible, let’s say.

    These same religious people, then, from up and down the faith spectrum, who debate with atheists and agnostics rather than simply “preaching to the choir,” as it were, are likely strengthening their faith as they contemplate a counter point of view.

    These discussions, if we are all thinking individuals, *should* encourage each of us to examine our own beliefs more closely, ascertain why we believe as we do. Those who come away from these discussions more grounded in their faith-of-choice will have benefited greatly from the atheist’s point of view, no? It is through disagreement that we often see our own position more clearly. We learn, we grow and we listen and we teach. So with open minds, the faithful listen and through the conversation find themselves even closer to Allah/God. And the atheist/agnostic is given food for thought. Sometimes, faith may enter his life through these conversations. But even if that doesn’t happen, the atheist has served his fellow human beings through valid, respectful conversation.

    Seems to me God might be darned pleased at that. So should the atheist be wrong, and upon dying, be met by Allah, I just don’t think that will result in eternal damnation. I imagine God saying, “Told ya, dude! You are a stubborn one, aren’t you? I gotta give you credit for standing up for your beliefs, even if you were dead wrong. Now, as penance, you gotta get your spirit-butt back down there and convert a dozen atheists before you get to party with us. But c’mon back when you’re done – just don’t get all defensive when I give you a buncha crap in front of the others!”

    Or something like that. It might sound far more Shakespearean, but you get the gist.

  • http://www.facebook.com/Kathyascot Kathy Curtis Anderson

    Good thinkin Mindy! may I suggest that everything has it’s time under the sun as in Ecclesiastes Chapter 3 makes clear. Not wanting to know God means that the time given on Earth will be your time. The second birth and new life is a gift that must be accepted on a one on one basis as it is personal and of the highest degree.

  • Anonymous

    I think DB was referring to the time you were a Bahai’i sexual.

  • http://www.facebook.com/people/Mary-W-Lukens-Goodson/100000194585042 Mary W. Lukens Goodson

    Hmm…. I guess it’s a “guy thing”… my hubby (60 years old!) still laughs at 3rd grade potty-humor sort of jokes too, so I probably shouldn’t be surprised that you laugh at the word “Baha’i”.

    BTW, it comes from the Arabic “Baha”, which means “Glory”. So a Baha’i is a Follower of The Glory of God. Basically, Baha’i means one who worships the Glory of God.

    And the name “Ann”? In Farsi the word that sounds like that name means the more vulgar term for “fecal matter”. So the next time you introduce a friend named Ann to anyone of middle eastern descent and they grin extra hard, you’ll know you just said, “And this is my friend, Sh!t!”

  • Peet

    I’m not an atheist, but I do a very good impression, and will be happy to serve as an Interim Atheist until you find a real one….


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