A few months after I married my college sweetheart, the Okie, in 1972, she decided to become a Baha’i. She said that I ought not to have been surprised, since she had been thinking about it for seven years. This I did know.
In Persia, modern-day Iran, there was a guy named The Báb (1819-1850), who was a John the Baptist-like herald of the faith. “In the middle of the 19th century, He announced that He was the bearer of a message destined to transform humanity’s spiritual life.” That second messenger was Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892), the “Glory of God”, “the Promised One foretold by the Báb and all of the Divine Messengers of the past. Bahá’u’lláh delivered a new Revelation from God to humanity.”
Indeed, I was intrigued with the notion of “progressive revelation,” among them Abraham, Krishna, Zoroaster, Moses, Buddha, Jesus Christ, Muhammad, the Báb, and Bahá’u’lláh, who were Manifestations of God” for different times.
“In His will, Bahá’u’lláh appointed His oldest son, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá (1844-1921), as the authorized interpreter of His teachings and Head of the Faith. Throughout the East and West, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá became known as an ambassador of peace, an exemplary human being, and the leading exponent of a new Faith.
“Appointed Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá, His eldest grandson, Shoghi Effendi (1897-1957), spent 36 years systematically nurturing the development, deepening the understanding, and strengthening the unity of the Bahá’í community, as it increasingly grew to reflect the diversity of the entire human race.”
The most famous Baha’is you might have heard of was the singing duo Seals and Crofts, who the Okie and I saw perform on November 12, 1971 – Bahá’u’lláh’s birthday! – in New York City, with the then-unknown group Boz Scaggs opening for them.
Seals & Crofts put out several albums, with many of their songs – notably Year of Sunday [LISTEN] mentioning the Baha’i teachings. Interestingly, proselytizing was antithetical to Baha’i beliefs, but the duo had found a way to both make popular music and share their faith.
Well, until they released the song Unborn Child, which was both commercially toxic and, though the faith discouraged abortion, was chastened by some Baha’i body – the Universal House of Justice, perhaps – since this song was too preachy; the faith allows for abortion in VERY limited circumstances.
Ultimately, I never became a Baha’i, primarily because the Okie was proselytizing to ME. As an isolated member of the faith, she’d missed that lesson. I MIGHT have spent more time looking at this iteration of faith. Instead, I moved to an even more agnostic state of mind.