Sunday, September 12, 2010

An Apology or an Explanation

Some of you have commented that I seem to be all over the board here. Especially lately. Sometimes I write about very personal things, and other times about randomly silly thoughts about the Faith. Well, yes. That's true.

Some have observed that there are times where what I write is very systematic and organized, following some sort of an outline, continuing a thought process for a few paragraphs. Ok, I'll grant that, too, except for the outline part. I rarely do that, and I think it shows. When I look at a piece of the Writings, that piece is my outline, but aside from that, I just sort of free-form it.

Some of you have complained about, while others have said that they really enjoy, my various asides and odd thought tangents that seem to occur at random points. Well, that's just my style. If you like it, I'm glad. If not, I like pizza. (Especially a good deep-dish stuffed Chicago-style pizza.)

You see, what I tend to do is get a thought about the Faith and then just begin writing. I like to see where my thoughts lead me. I especially like to see where my thoughts on the Faith lead me. Unfortunately I sometimes get distracted and lose a train of thought. That occurred the other day when I was writing about feminine qualities and met my friend, Char. Sometimes I'll go back and try to recapture that train of thought, but other times I just let it go. (With spinach.)

There are some things I try to regularly include in my work, such as a bit about the Administration, an analysis of a sentence in the Writings, a study of a prayer, a contemporary issue, and so on. Many times it is just whatever catches my attention at the moment.

Most of the time I'm writing in public, usually at a coffee shop while making my artwork, other times in my living room. This allows me to watch the world around me, but also allows the world to interupt. Hence the derailed trains of thought. (And extra cheese.)

Also, I began writing this for Baha'is, as I used to say over and over, and it still is written in that style, but it seems that many of you are not Baha'i. A lot of you have written to say that you like reading the "inside scoop", and not to prettified version for "outsiders". Well, that's cool. I was concerned about using slang (hmm, not quite the right word, but I can't think of it just now, the word that describes terms that only "insiders" would know - jargon! got it) or jargon, but you have responded saying that terms I thought were jargon are not.

Oh, here's an aside, but it's actually relevant. (And mushrooms and olives.) I have had the pleasure of attending numerous Baha'i gatherings in which the presenters talk about jargon, and the effect it can have on our teaching. They would really drill into us the fact that we have to use words that people understand, otherwise we just lose them. (Perhaps that's why I use common language when writing.) Then to emphasize the point they often ask the audience to make a list of "Baha'i" terms. I just love this part. There are some standards that always come up:

Covenant
Counsellor
Assembly
ABM (auxiliary Board Member, not automated banking machine)
Neighbourhood
Cluster
Devotional Gathering
World Centre
Aqdas

And the list just goes on and on. There are usually about 50 before the audience gets tired of this exercise. I know. I've counted.

But let's look at this list again. Counsellor? That's not jargon. It's English. Anyone with half a brain, or a page from a dictionary, can figure out what the majority of the functions of a Counsellor are.

Neighbourhood? Any child who grew up watching Mr Rogers knows that one. Even if they didn't, I'm sure they can figure that one out, too.

Devotional gathering? "Oh, you mean when you get together and say prayers." Duh.

Covenant? Every Jew in history knows what a covenant is. Most Christians do, too. This is a standard English word found all over the place. Even though we refer to a specific one in the Baha'i community, the idea is not strange. And the word is certainly not jargon.

And this observation that you, dear Reader, have made has led me to reconsider my audience. You are not, as I originally thought, an audience of Baha'is. You are an audience of people. From all over the globe.

You, dear Reader, have expanded my view of the world, have shown me things about myself that I never dreamed of learning. You have put me, a simple guy tapping a few keys on a keyboard, in touch with people all over the planet. You have gotten me to check out the maps at the bottom of the page and look at the stars or circles that represent your homes. I have gone to google Earth to see what your city, town or village looks like. I have learned the names of countries and islands I had never heard of before, and you have shown me the names of places I now long to visit. I have checked out tourist board sites of your neighbourhoods and countries, and have even looked into the export statistics of that tiny fishing village made up of no more than 50 houses (how on earth did you ever find this site?).

You have shown me that you are people from Vanuatu, Tuvalu, China, Iran, Iraq, Iceland, United States, Argentina, Democratic Republic of Congo, the Aland Islands, Canada, Australia, Indonesia, the Philipines, Bahrain, Maldives, Haiti, Latvia, Martinique, and even the Holy See. You come from Huanuco, Peru, and Louis Trichardt, South Africa. You have visited from Dauphin, Canada, Daegu, Korea, Agra, India, Zapopan, Mexico, Catania, Italy.

You have made me feel a welcome member of the world community. Earlier I would have said the world Baha'i community, but you have corrected my vision on that. You have shown me a broader world out there, and warmly embraced me.

Thank you.

And so, if I lose my train of thought, I apologize. Please just bear with me. If there is an article that you want to see expanded, just let me know. I'll be happy to try and oblige. If there is a topic you would like me to try and address, I'm always happy to give it a shot. If there is a format that you prefer, just let me know.

And if not, always feel free to order me a pizza.

1 comment:

  1. I'll take a deep-dish Chicago style pizza on me whenever you come back to Chicago and visit. I loved your article cousin. As you know we are similar in some of our thoughts and let the world not just distract us, but make sure that we are integrated in life and don't let it just pass us by or bye depending upon how you want to take that one. Thanks for the article.

    Your proud cousin.

    Steve.

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