My own private Malietoa

Yesterday was the funeral for Malietoa Tanumafili II. When I was a Baha’i, I felt very proud of him. He was the only living monarch in the world who recognized Baha’u’llah. There are several passages where Baha’u’llah extols those monarchs who embrace his cause. Here is one:

How great is the blessedness that awaiteth the king who will arise to aid My Cause in My Kingdom, who will detach himself from all else but Me! Such a king is numbered with the companions of the Crimson Ark, the Ark which God hath prepared for the people of Bahá. All must glorify his name, must reverence his station, and aid him to unlock the cities with the keys of My Name, the omnipotent Protector of all that inhabit the visible and invisible kingdoms. Such a king is the very eye of mankind, the luminous ornament on the brow of creation, the fountainhead of blessings unto the whole world. Offer up, O people of Bahá, your substance, nay your very lives, for his assistance.

Every time I read that, I thought of Malietoa Tanumafili.

So it’s a little weird to hear that he’s died. Not that it’s tragic. He has lived a full life and is in a better place now. But it’s weird because even after I left the Faith, in the back of my mind I was still aware of him. It was almost like he was a little piece of my old Baha’i life floating around out there. But not anymore.

It’s like that for all the little bits and pieces of the Baha’i world I inhabited. The Baha’i world I knew, and will always know, was pretty much the Baha’i world of the late 1990s and early 2000s. It’s been almost four years since I went inactive and left the community. In those four years I’ve changed, and the Baha’i community has changed too. They’ve added new administrative stuff (clusters). The emphasis on Ruhi seems to have increased. The personnel in the various institutions has changed a bit. In future decades even the Baha’i culture will evolve as the demographics shift and as my cohort grows older. With each passing year the Baha’i world that I knew fades slowly away.


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