the growing health problems of clergy. I think it really highlights the wisdom behind Baha'i efforts to raise up human resources for spiritual leadership at the grassroots.
Often when Baha'is speak of the Baha'i Faith's practice of not having clergy, they describe it as the liberation of ordinary believers from the corrupt and over-domineering influence of priests, ministers, rabbis, imams, etc. But there's way more to it than that, to the extent that that's even a problem. Spiritual leadership is far too important to be placed on the shoulders of just a handful of individuals. When a community of many hundreds of people get the idea into their heads that one or two of them should be in charge of guiding the flock, then individuals do not develop the ability to take charge of their own spiritual growth or to help friends and family walk their own path of faith. Thus, the whole weight of the community falls onto the clergy. And as the New York Times article helps illustrate, clergy just can't keep up.
On another note, as I was searching online for a picture to use in this post, I came across this blog entry about the Roman collar. Before I joined the Baha'i Faith I was on the path towards the Catholic Priesthood. And as I read the post, and the quote from Pope Benedict XVI on the side, I realized the extent to which I still feel a personal connection to these issues. I'm a Baha'i to the core, but reading these sorts of things brings back a lot of fond memories.