Freedom from sectarian hatreds and other shackles

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jimhabegger
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Freedom from sectarian hatreds and other shackles

Postby jimhabegger » Tue Mar 25, 2008 6:43 am

Freedom from sectarian hatreds and other shackles
http://www.geocities.com/netsofwonder/freedom.html

Freedom from sectarian hatreds and other shackles

In the foreword to "One Common Faith," the Universal House of Justice wrote:

. . . the disease of sectarian hatreds, if not decisively checked, threatens harrowing consequences that will leave few areas of the world unaffected.

. . . the concern of Baha'is must be with their own responsibility in the matter.

. . . the accelerating breakdown in social order calls out desperately for the religious spirit to be freed from the shackles that have so far prevented it from bringing to bear the healing influence of which it is capable.


The best response I see for Baha'i is, as the document states "the culture of systematic growth taking root in the Bahá'í community."

In my understanding, in addition to that, the responses will also include a variety of individual initiatives, including initiatives that directly address sectarian hatreds, and other shackles on the religious spirit, among Baha'is.

One example I see of sectarian hatreds among Baha'is, which I've tried to address, is a kind of Hatfield-McCoy feud on the Internet that has stifled and defamed a liberal movement in the Baha'i community. The feud is most visible in the talk.religion.bahai Usenet newsgroup, but it lurks in every Baha'i forum on the Internet, and stifles discussion of vital social issues, including issues raised in "One Common Faith" and in The Advent of Divine Justice. It can also be seen in a few books, magazine articles and academic papers, and in numerous Web pages and blogs. I've also seen it off line in the efforts of a few Baha'i celebrities and members of institutions to stigmatize some people associated with the movement.

Since I learned about the feud in 2001, I've responded to defamation campaigns from both sides in a variety of ways. One way I've responded to campaigns from the liberal side has been by providing a counter-example to their caricatures of followers of the House of Justice. Another way has been by inviting people to read what the House of Justice itself says about the reasons for its actions.

One way I've responded to campaigns from the defense side has been by writing "Glimpses of the dialogue/Talisman chronicles," a story about my personal experiences with some people associated with the liberal movement: Wahid Azal (formerly Nima Hazini), Karen Bacquet, Juan Cole, Fred Glaysher, Susan Maneck, Alison Marshall, Steve Marshall, Michael McKenny and Dermod Ryder. I wrote the story to help people relate to them personally, but as I was writing it, it evolved into a prelude to some wonderful possibilities I see in the liberal movement, to help free the religious spirit from its shackles.

In an article about the Talisman discussion list, Karen Bacquet wrote:

Old-time members of Talisman describe those early days as a time of excitement and wonder . . . Outspoken feminists found themselves corresponding with old-fashioned Middle Eastern men; legalistic administrators talked to mystics; scriptural literalists went head-to-head with scholars using academic methods.

http://www.angelfire.com/ca3/bigquestions/talisman.html


Jonah Winters wrote:

I personally found it a most liberating experience. Like a large room full of multiple conversations, some corners of the room had conversations which I found distasteful and sometimes bitter, but most conversations I found engaging, enlightening, exhilarating, enthusiastic, and even the occasional epiphany.

http://bahai-library.com/forum/viewtopi ... =9010#9010


That summarizes what I think of as the spirit of the movement at its best. I see the same spirit in a mysticism conference which took place at Bosch Baha'i School in 1996.

"From February 23 through 24th, a remarkable conference took place at Bosch Baha'i School, Santa Cruz, California. Envisioned as the first in an annual series of conferences focusing on the mystical teachings of the Bab, Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l Baha, the Baha'i Mysticism Conference enabled the 97 participants to develop a greater sense of devotion and mysticism in their personal lives, and to explore ways to enrich the devotional aspects of Baha'i community life in general. Although mysticism has always been part of the religious experience, until Islam it existed at only the individual level. With the rise of the Sufis (Islamic mystics) mysticism became a major flow of thought pursuing the knowledge of transcendent truth through meditation and prayer. By chanting verses from the Writings, the presence of God is invoked. Musical repetition of sacred verses sets up a rhythm which naturally unites people, uplifting them so that they are more receptive. Borrowing from this Sufi tradition, one of the highlights of the Mysticism Conference was its use of zikr (chanting sacred verses) in the devotional portions of the program. The program itself was an eclectic combination of scholarly presentations and uplifting experiential activities such as group zikr, song, art, nature walks and meditation."

- from the Talisman archives
( http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jrcole/t96mar10.htm )


An appendix to my story discusses that spirit, and the possibilities I see in the movement. Another appendix links to some Web pages of people in my story, other people involved in the feud, and other people involved in the liberal movement. Another appendix links to some documents related to the feud and to the movement.

I see the spirit of the liberal movement at its best living on in some of the initiatives of people who were involved in it. I see some of the networking possibilities being carried on in the Baha'i Library Online, the Baha'i Association for the Arts, and Educators for Social and Economic Development.

I'm hoping that Moojan Momen's article, Marginality and Apostasy in the Baha'i Community, will help popularize the liberal movement as a topic for study, and that my story with its appendixes will help inspire research that highlights the best possibilities it represents.

Glimpses of the dialogue/Talisman chronicles
http://www.geocities.com/geotalk/glimpses/

Jim

(edited to change "liberation movement" to "liberal movement")

BruceDLimber
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Re: Freedom from sectarian hatreds and other shackles

Postby BruceDLimber » Wed Mar 26, 2008 7:14 am

jimhabegger wrote:. . . that has stifled and defamed a liberation movement in the Baha'i community.


A fine example of use of SLANTED LANGUAGE to paint what is--at best!--an extremely questionable "movement" as something noble and praiseworthy when it is, apparently, an attempt to undermine and subvert the Baha'i Covenant by introducing extraneous goals not supported by it.

There have been attempts to overturn the Baha'i Covenant in the past.

And like it or not, at least part of what this bunch wants to do amounts to yet another effort at doing the same sort of thing--and yet another attempt at promoting division.

IMHO calling it a "liberation movement" in no way qualifies as an honest description.

Unfortunately, as is common with Big Lie techniques generally, if you repeat the falsehood often enough, any sufficiently naive folks may start believing it.

(You will forgive me, I trust, if I remain unimpressed.)

Bruce

jimhabegger
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Re: Freedom from sectarian hatreds and other shackles

Postby jimhabegger » Wed Mar 26, 2008 11:15 am

BruceDLimber wrote:There have been attempts to overturn the Baha'i Covenant in the past.

And like it or not, at least part of what this bunch wants to do amounts to yet another effort at doing the same sort of thing--and yet another attempt at promoting division.


Let me see if I understand you correctly. You're saying that Susan Maneck, Jonah Winters, Amin Banani, Erika Batdorf, Terry Culhane, Sandra Fotos, Amir Haghighi, LuAnne Hightower and Sonja van Kerkhoff are all trying to overturn the Covenant and promote division?

Jim

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Postby jimhabegger » Fri Mar 28, 2008 5:29 am

I've decided to change "liberation movement" to "liberal movement" in my essay. Out of context, "Baha'i liberation movement" might be misunderstood as Baha'i involvement in a revolutionary political movement.

Jim

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Postby BruceDLimber » Fri Mar 28, 2008 7:42 am

I named no names in my post, and indeed I have great respect for at least some of the individuals you named! Others I am not famliar with.

But my point holds that certain individuals (not necessarily those you named) are unfortunately trying to promote division.

And as the House and the US National Spiritual Assembly have pointed out repeatedly, there is no such thing as a "liberal" or "conservative" Baha'i, and use of such terms is merely yet another attempt at division.

Bruce

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Postby jimhabegger » Fri Mar 28, 2008 11:32 am

BruceDLimber wrote:But my point holds that certain individuals (not necessarily those you named) are unfortunately trying to promote division.


I've seen all of the people in my story campaigning against the House of Justice, if that's what you mean, but that isn't the liberal movement I'm talking about. That's part of the feud that has stifled and defamed the movement.

Jim

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Postby British_Bahai » Sat Mar 29, 2008 12:37 pm

jimhabegger wrote:
BruceDLimber wrote:But my point holds that certain individuals (not necessarily those you named) are unfortunately trying to promote division.


I've seen all of the people in my story campaigning against the House of Justice, if that's what you mean
,
but that isn't the liberal movement I'm talking about. That's part of the feud that has stifled and defamed the movement.

Jim

I may have the wrong end of the stick here, but if you are aware of their actions why do you support such people? Bahais MUST respect/follow/abide decisions made by the Universal house of justice.... :ai13

jimhabegger
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Postby jimhabegger » Mon Mar 31, 2008 5:20 am

Thank you, Richard. Um . . . I think I agree with you?

Jim

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Postby British_Bahai » Mon Mar 31, 2008 9:40 am

british_bahai wrote:
jimhabegger wrote:
BruceDLimber wrote:But my point holds that certain individuals (not necessarily those you named) are unfortunately trying to promote division.


I've seen all of the people in my story campaigning against the House of Justice, if that's what you mean
,
but that isn't the liberal movement I'm talking about. That's part of the feud that has stifled and defamed the movement.

Jim

I may have the wrong end of the stick here, but if you are aware of their actions why do you support such people? Bahais MUST respect/follow/abide decisions made by the Universal house of justice.... :ai13

:forbidden2: hi jim, you didnt answer my question...

jimhabegger
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Postby jimhabegger » Mon Mar 31, 2008 10:47 am

british_bahai wrote:hi jim, you didnt answer my question...


In my very first post, I explained my reasons for what I'm doing. I've learned from painful experience that it's worse than useless to try to answer questions from someone who ignores the answers I've already given.

If you can find the reasons I gave in my first post for what I'm doing, and repeat them back to me, I'll try to answer your question. Also, I will need to know exactly what I've said, with exact quotes, that you call "support."

Jim

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Postby brettz9 » Wed Apr 02, 2008 1:50 am

"There are two main principles which the Guardian wishes the friends to always bear in mind and to conscientiously and faithfully follow. First is the principle of unqualified and wholehearted loyalty to the revealed Word. The believers should be careful not to deviate, even a hair-breadth, from the Teachings. Their supreme consideration should be to safeguard the purity of the principles, tenets and laws of the Faith. It is only by this means that they can hope to maintain the organic unity of the Cause. There can and should be no liberal or conservatives, no moderates or extremes in the Cause. For they are all subject to the one and the same law which is the Law of God. This Law transcends all differences, all personal or local tendencies, moods and aspirations.

"Next is the principle of complete and immediate obedience to the Assemblies, both Local and National. It is the responsibility of these Bahá'í administrative bodies to enable the community to acquire, and increasingly deepen in, the knowledge and understanding of the Cause. Doctrinal unity and administrative unity, these are the two chief pillars that sustain the edifice of the Cause, and protect it from the storms of opposition which so severely rage against it."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to the National Spiritual Assembly of India and Burma, September 5, 1936: Dawn of a New Day, p. 61)


I should bold the whole quote as it is all relevant, but I wanted to pay particular attention to the part about liberals/conservatives, since that has been brought up here.

There are no sides or feuds here, no liberal or conservative camps within the Baha'i paradigm. The only possibilities for those within the Faith are Baha'is who seek to adhere to the Baha'i Administrative Order, those who are yet unaware of the teachings on the subject, and those individuals who try to subvert the faith to their own ends (whether they become Covenant-breakers, leave the Faith, become inactive, or return to the Faith). This Faith, even more so than any before it, has an ultimate authoritative voice on what is or is not allowed, as well as who or who is not a member, so it cannot be compared to Christian or even Muslim sects where the passing of the Founder led to unclarity about the rightful Succession.

By the above, by the way, I of course don't mean that individual Baha'is who belong to and seek to obey the Administrative Order are incapable of becoming drawn into argumentation, or of trespassing the bounds of courtesy, etc. We can all surely mind these words of the beloved Guardian

It ["rectitude of conduct" "which the American believers must...strive to promote"] must be demonstrated in the impartiality of every defender of the Faith against its enemies, in his fair-mindedness in recognizing any merits that enemy may possess, and in his honesty in discharging any obligations he may have towards him.

(Advent of Divine Justice, p. 23)


But if they did so vocally enough to be a disturbance, I'm sure the institutions would be brought in to deal with it, so there is no need for us to do so here.

While new or even uncommon interpretations of the Writings which do not dispute the institutions ought to be most welcomed, for this "Baha'i" Discussion Board, dwelling on supposedly liberal "movements" (whatever their aspects) which obviously contradict its explicit teachings (by those who are no longer Baha'is no less), have, I would say, little purpose here.

If by a liberal movement you are indeed not referring to such criticisms which go against the explicit teachings of the Faith, why don't you raise those points for discussion (and give an actual chance to the ideas themselves), rather than associating liberality with persons attacking the Faith, and also in place of trying to conjure up a nostalgia for events which are not familiar to many, and if so, may be interpreted by some as being emblematic of their negative aspects.

Persons who actively oppose the Faith, while their rights are to be respected and are not to be engaged in argumentation, are not considered in the same light as others:

"To be the enemy of the enemies of God is a good characteristic. We are not against them personally, just as any intelligent man is not personally against a man who has a dangerous contagious disease. But he carefully isolates the sick individual so that the contagion will not spread. So we shun the spiritually sick, wishing for their cure, but keeping clear of them."

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, November 22, 1951)


Note that such passages are not confined to those formally described as Covenant-breakers.

Brett

jimhabegger
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Postby jimhabegger » Wed Apr 02, 2008 7:19 am

Thank you, Brett.

You wrote:

. . . dwelling on supposedly liberal "movements" (whatever their aspects) which obviously contradict its explicit teachings (by those who are no longer Baha'is no less) . . .


Let me see if I understand you correctly. Are you saying that Susan Maneck, Jonah Winters, Amin Banani, Erika Batdorf, Terry Culhane, Sandra Fotos, Amir Haghighi, LuAnne Hightower, Sonja van Kerkhoff, and Steve Marshall are no longer members, and that what they are doing obviously contradicts the explicit teachings of the Faith?

Jim

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Postby jimhabegger » Wed Apr 02, 2008 7:21 am

I've re-written what I posted at the beginning of this thread, to remove the word "liberal," which can too easily be used to divert attention from what I wanted to discuss.

----

Freedom from sectarian hatreds and other shackles
http://www.geocities.com/netsofwonder/freedom.html

In the foreword to "One Common Faith," the Universal House of Justice wrote:

. . . the disease of sectarian hatreds, if not decisively checked, threatens harrowing consequences that will leave few areas of the world unaffected.

. . . the concern of Baha'is must be with their own responsibility in the matter.

. . . the accelerating breakdown in social order calls out desperately for the religious spirit to be freed from the shackles that have so far prevented it from bringing to bear the healing influence of which it is capable.


The best response I see for Baha'i is, as the document states "the culture of systematic growth taking root in the Bahá'í community."

In my understanding, in addition to that, the responses will also include a variety of individual initiatives, including initiatives that directly address sectarian hatreds, and other shackles on the religious spirit, among Baha'is.

One example I see of sectarian hatreds among Baha'is, which I've tried to address, is a kind of Hatfield-McCoy feud on the Internet that has stifled and defamed a movement in the Baha'i community to free the spirit of the Baha'i Faith from its shackles. The feud is most visible in the talk.religion.bahai Usenet newsgroup, but it lurks in every Baha'i forum on the Internet, and stifles discussion of vital social issues, including issues raised in "One Common Faith" and in The Advent of Divine Justice. It can also be seen in a few books, magazine articles and academic papers, and in numerous Web pages and blogs. I've also seen it off line in the efforts of a few Baha'i celebrities and members of institutions to stigmatize some people associated with the movement.

Since I learned about the feud in 2001, I've responded to its defamation campaigns a variety of ways. One way I've responded to campaigns against the House of Justice has been by providing a counter-example to their caricatures of followers of the House of Justice. Another way has been by inviting people to read what the House of Justice itself says about the reasons for its actions.

One way I've responded to campaigns from the other side of the feud has been by writing "Glimpses of the dialogue/Talisman chronicles," a story about my personal experiences with some people associated with the dialogue/Talisman movement: Wahid Azal (formerly Nima Hazini), Karen Bacquet, Juan Cole, Fred Glaysher, Susan Maneck, Alison Marshall, Steve Marshall, Michael McKenny and Dermod Ryder. I wrote the story to help people relate to them personally, but as I was writing it, it evolved into a prelude to some wonderful possibilities I see in the dialogue/Talisman movement, to help free the religious spirit from its shackles.

In an article about the Talisman discussion list, Karen Bacquet wrote:

Old-time members of Talisman describe those early days as a time of excitement and wonder . . . Outspoken feminists found themselves corresponding with old-fashioned Middle Eastern men; legalistic administrators talked to mystics; scriptural literalists went head-to-head with scholars using academic methods.

http://www.angelfire.com/ca3/bigquestions/talisman.html


Jonah Winters wrote:

I personally found it a most liberating experience. Like a large room full of multiple conversations, some corners of the room had conversations which I found distasteful and sometimes bitter, but most conversations I found engaging, enlightening, exhilarating, enthusiastic, and even the occasional epiphany.

http://bahai-library.com/forum/viewtopi ... =9010#9010


That summarizes what I think of as the spirit of the movement at its best. I see the same spirit in a mysticism conference which took place at Bosch Baha'i School in 1996.

"From February 23 through 24th, a remarkable conference took place at Bosch Baha'i School, Santa Cruz, California. Envisioned as the first in an annual series of conferences focusing on the mystical teachings of the Bab, Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l Baha, the Baha'i Mysticism Conference enabled the 97 participants to develop a greater sense of devotion and mysticism in their personal lives, and to explore ways to enrich the devotional aspects of Baha'i community life in general. Although mysticism has always been part of the religious experience, until Islam it existed at only the individual level. With the rise of the Sufis (Islamic mystics) mysticism became a major flow of thought pursuing the knowledge of transcendent truth through meditation and prayer. By chanting verses from the Writings, the presence of God is invoked. Musical repetition of sacred verses sets up a rhythm which naturally unites people, uplifting them so that they are more receptive. Borrowing from this Sufi tradition, one of the highlights of the Mysticism Conference was its use of zikr (chanting sacred verses) in the devotional portions of the program. The program itself was an eclectic combination of scholarly presentations and uplifting experiential activities such as group zikr, song, art, nature walks and meditation."

- from the Talisman archives
( http://www-personal.umich.edu/~jrcole/t96mar10.htm )


An appendix to my story discusses that spirit, and the possibilities I see in the movement. Another appendix links to some Web pages of people in my story, other people involved in the feud, and other people involved in the movement. Another appendix links to some related documents.

I see the spirit of the dialogue/Talisman movement at its best living on in some of the initiatives of people who were involved in it. I see some of the networking possibilities being carried on in the Baha'i Library Online, the Baha'i Association for the Arts, and Educators for Social and Economic Development.

I'm hoping that Moojan Momen's article, Marginality and Apostasy in the Baha'i Community, will help popularize the dialogue/Talisman movement as a topic for study, and that my story with its appendixes will help inspire research that highlights the best possibilities it represents.

Glimpses of the dialogue/Talisman chronicles
http://www.geocities.com/geotalk/glimpses/

Jim

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Postby brettz9 » Wed Apr 02, 2008 10:01 am

Are you saying that Susan Maneck, Jonah Winters, Amin Banani, Erika Batdorf, Terry Culhane, Sandra Fotos, Amir Haghighi, LuAnne Hightower, Sonja van Kerkhoff, and Steve Marshall are no longer members, and that what they are doing obviously contradicts the explicit teachings of the Faith


Umm... no. Not sure how you could drew that conclusion from what I said...

Brett

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Postby jimhabegger » Wed Apr 02, 2008 10:44 am

brettz9 wrote:. . . dwelling on supposedly liberal "movements" (whatever their aspects) which obviously contradict its explicit teachings (by those who are no longer Baha'is no less) . . .


Jimhabegger wrote:Are you saying that Susan Maneck, Jonah Winters, Amin Banani, Erika Batdorf, Terry Culhane, Sandra Fotos, Amir Haghighi, LuAnne Hightower, Sonja van Kerkhoff, and Steve Marshall are no longer members, and that what they are doing obviously contradicts the explicit teachings of the Faith


brettz9 wrote:Umm... no. Not sure how you could drew that conclusion from what I said...


Those people are all part of the movement I've been dwelling on.

Maybe I misunderstood. Were you talking about some other supposedly liberal movement that someone else was dwelling on?

Jim

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Postby jimhabegger » Wed Apr 02, 2008 11:53 am

Brett, you've brought up some writings and some issues that I see as very relevant to what I've been doing.

Three of them are in your quote from The Advent of Divine Justice.
1. Recognizing any merits our enemies may possess.
2. The way we're advised to treat our enemies.
2. What Shoghi Effendi calls "the more serious deficiencies" by which the American Baha'i community "is being handicapped in the discharge of its task."

I'm out of time for now. I'll be back later to discuss those issues, and some other ones you raised.

Jim

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Postby jimhabegger » Wed Apr 02, 2008 2:33 pm

Brett, I'd like to discuss some issues you raised in an earlier post, which I see as very relevant to what I've been doing. You quoted this:

It ["rectitude of conduct" "which the American believers must...strive to promote"] must be demonstrated in the impartiality of every defender of the Faith against its enemies, in his fair-mindedness in recognizing any merits that enemy may possess, and in his honesty in discharging any obligations he may have towards him.

(Advent of Divine Justice, p. 23)


That brings up three issues for me:
1. Recognizing any merits our enemies may possess.
2. The way we're advised to treat our enemies.
2. What Shoghi Effendi calls "the more serious deficiencies" by which the American Baha'i community "is being handicapped in the discharge of its task."

I'll discuss each one in a separate post.

1. Recognizing any merits our enemies may possess.
Some examples of that would be:
- Fred Glaysher's poetry, and his promotion of the UN in radio interviews.
- Possibly, Wahid Azal's intellectual capacities.
- Karen Bacquet's promotion of Baha'i writings, her compilation of resources for teachers, her courtesy and moderation in Internet discussions, and her work with people recovering from abuse.

Jim

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Postby jimhabegger » Wed Apr 02, 2008 2:36 pm

Brett, another issue related to what you quoted from The Advent of Divine Justice is the way we're advised to treat our enemies.

Another example of how to treat our enemies, from the Will and Testament of Abdu'l-Baha:

O ye beloved of the Lord! In this sacred Dispensation, conflict and contention are in no wise permitted. Every aggressor deprives himself of God's grace. It is incumbent upon everyone to show the utmost love, rectitude of conduct, straightforwardness and sincere kindliness unto all the peoples and kindreds of the world, be they friends or strangers. So intense must be the spirit of love and loving kindness, that the stranger may find himself a friend, the enemy a true brother, no difference whatsoever existing between them. For universality is of God and all limitations earthly. Thus man must strive that his reality may manifest virtues and perfections, the light whereof may shine upon everyone. The light of the sun shineth upon all the world and the merciful showers of Divine Providence fall upon all peoples. The vivifying breeze reviveth every living creature and all beings endued with life obtain their share and portion at His heavenly board. In like manner, the affections and loving kindness of the servants of the One True God must be bountifully and universally extended to all mankind. Regarding this, restrictions and limitations are in no wise permitted.

Wherefore, O my loving friends! Consort with all the peoples, kindreds and religions of the world with the utmost truthfulness, uprightness, faithfulness, kindliness, good-will and friendliness, that all the world of being may be filled with the holy ecstasy of the grace of Baha, that ignorance, enmity, hate and rancor may vanish from the world and the darkness of estrangement amidst the peoples and kindreds of the world may give way to the Light of Unity. Should other peoples and nations be unfaithful to you show your fidelity unto them, should they be unjust toward you show justice towards them, should they keep aloof from you attract them to yourselves, should they show their enmity be friendly towards them, should they poison your lives, sweeten their souls, should they inflict a wound upon you, be a salve to their sores. Such are the attributes of the sincere! Such are the attributes of the truthful.

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Postby jimhabegger » Wed Apr 02, 2008 6:37 pm

Brett, another issue related to what you quoted from The Advent of Divine Justice is about what Shoghi Effendi calls "the more serious deficiencies" by which the American Baha'i community "is being handicapped in the discharge of its task." I see those as examples of the shackles that the House of Justice says the religious spirit needs to be freed from.

Of these spiritual prerequisites of success, which constitute the bedrock on which the security of all teaching plans, Temple projects, and financial schemes, must ultimately rest, the following stand out as preeminent and vital, which the members of the American Bahá'í community will do well to ponder. Upon the extent to which these basic requirements are met, and the manner in which the American believers fulfill them in their individual lives, administrative activities, and social relationships, must depend the measure of the manifold blessings which the All-Bountiful Possessor can vouchsafe to them all. These requirements are none other than a high sense of moral rectitude in their social and administrative activities, absolute chastity in their individual lives, and complete freedom from prejudice in their dealings with peoples of a different race, class, creed, or color.

(Shoghi Effendi, The Advent of Divine Justice, p. 21)


He elaborates on relationships between races, and I think we still have a lot of work to do on that, but now the House of Justice has highlighted sectarian hatreds as the most urgent issue. It writes of "harrowing," "unthinkable" consequences if the disease of sectarian hatreds is not decisively checked.

Part of what that means for me is to work on my own prejudices, and on sectarian hatreds within my own community. I see some sectarian hatreds in the Baha'i community infecting scholarly discussions, books and articles, blogs and Web pages, and every Baha'i forum on the Internet. I've also encountered them off line. My first post in this thread explained how I've been responding to those sectarian hatreds.

Jim

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Postby jimhabegger » Wed Apr 02, 2008 6:50 pm

Brett, another issue related to what you quoted from The Advent of Divine Justice is about my honesty in discharging my obligations to enemies of the Faith.

I see campaigns by some Baha'is to poison people's minds against some of our enemies, and to influence other Baha'is to shun them. In my understanding, as a witness to those campaigns I have a responsibility to do what I can to counteract their harmful effects. Publishing the story of my personal experiences with some of them, and inviting people to read it, is one way I've thought of to do that.

Jim

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Postby jimhabegger » Wed Apr 02, 2008 8:36 pm

I'd like to try to explain more about my reasons for writing my story, and for discussing it here.

I originally wrote the story partly in response to defamation campaigns against the people in it, and partly in response to defamation campaigns against the House of Justice. It would take a lot of time to try to explain how I thought it would help, and it isn't necessary for my purposes. I will just say that I'm hoping my story and its appendixes will eventually be read by people whose minds have not already been poisoned one way or another. I'm also hoping that if anyone besides me wants to address those sectarian hatreds, my story and its appendixes will help them do so.

Jim

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Postby BruceDLimber » Thu Apr 03, 2008 7:24 am

jimhabegger wrote:Brett, another issue related to what you quoted from The Advent of Divine Justice is the way we're advised to treat our enemies.


The great problem here, of course, is the travesty of calling other Baha'is "enemies" in the first place! :-(

I, for one, would never so use such a term!

Bruce

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Re: Freedom from sectarian hatreds and other shackles

Postby brettz9 » Sat Apr 05, 2008 6:54 pm

Sorry folks, but work and the like may keep me from responding for a little while...

Brett

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Re: Freedom from sectarian hatreds and other shackles

Postby brettz9 » Sat Apr 12, 2008 12:45 am

The great problem here, of course, is the travesty of calling other Baha'is "enemies" in the first place! :-(


I'm not sure whether you're objecting to the fact of "calling" someone else an enemy or whether you object to the possibility of there being "enemies".

"Enemy" belongs to a special category of words which can sometimes indicate a mutual relationship and sometimes not. It is also used in the Writings both in a sense such as a categorization to avoid:

Let them see no one as their enemy, or as wishing them ill, but think of all humankind as their friends

(Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, sec. 1)


yet the word is also used to describe a condition of opposition by at least one party:

This revelation have We given thee in Our holy Tablet, lest thou sorrow for what hath befallen Our House through the assaults of the enemy

(Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, section 58


Numerous and powerful have been the forces that have schemed, both from within and from without, in lands both far and near, to quench its light and abolish its holy name. Some have apostatized from its principles, and betrayed ignominiously its cause. Others have hurled against it the fiercest anathemas which the embittered leaders of any ecclesiastical institution are able to pronounce. Still others have heaped upon it the afflictions and humiliations which sovereign authority can alone, in the plentitude of its power, inflict.

The utmost its avowed and secret enemies could hope to achieve was to retard its growth and obscure momentarily its purpose. What they actually accomplished was to purge and purify its life, to stir it to still greater depths, to galvanize its soul, to prune its institutions, and cement its unity. A schism, a permanent cleavage in the vast body of its adherents, they could never create.

(World Order of Baha'u'llah, p. 195)


"...the believers need to be deepened in their knowledge and appreciation of the Covenants of both Bahá'u'lláh and `Abdu'l-Bahá. This is the stronghold of the Faith of every Bahá'í, and that which enables him to withstand every test and the attacks of the enemies outside the Faith, and the far more dangerous, insidious, lukewarm people inside the Faith who have no real attachment to the Covenant, and consequently uphold the intellectual aspect of the teachings while at the same time undermining the spiritual foundation upon which the whole Cause of God rests.

(In a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 15 April 1949 to an individual believer, published in "The Light of Divine Guidance", vol. 2, p. 84)


This certainly would never justify calling someone an enemy nor feeling any personal animosity toward them, but it should indicate that there certainly can be persons who oppose the Faith, either internally or externally. For the internal cases, we know that these can never cause any permanent schism, but they can certainly cause temporary disruptions if Baha'is are not well-deepened and responsive, both as individuals, and more importantly, the institutions charged to deal with any internal challenges.

I object to Jim's referring to "defamation campaigns" against persons who left the Faith (there's certainly no doubt, as their webpages will testify, that some former Baha'is have sought to smear and denigrate Baha'is and its institutions, however). Besides Jim not offering proof of this, I believe if there were such actions as this, they should be reported and dealt with by our institutions, as our institutions would certainly never countenance it. "Campaign" implies some kind of orchestrated activity, and I'd like to see one shred of evidence of there existing such a campaign. The House of Justice's focus on sectarian hatreds was certainly not, from anything I have seen, targeted to Baha'is as though there is actually some serious bitterness among those within the pale of the Faith (nor real hatred directed to those outside of the Faith). While Baha'is, as with anyone else, have to overcome prejudices, and we can certainly improve in our relations among fellow Baha'is and non-Baha'is, and while we are told to be fair-minded to even those who actively oppose us, we should not get drawn into heated arguments, and our institutions have encouraged us not to draw lines between Baha'is and non-Baha'is, this is a far cry from implying there are serious sectarian hatreds affecting the Baha'i community.

The House of Justice has referred to continued association with those who have attacked the Faith as being potentially "spiritually corrosive". I also don't think going out of our way to glorify such persons has any merit whatsoever. While Shoghi Effendi was willing to describe Mirza Yahya in God Passes By as "good-natured yet susceptible to the slightest influence", I don't think you'll find any dedicated tributes to the positive qualities of opponents of the Faith within his writings!

As with any human being facing someone who is actively opposing them, it might be tempting to make broad strokes against them, yet we are told in no uncertain terms to avoid doing so, and on the contrary, be willing--where called for--to indicate an enemy's merits (again, by "enemy" I am being descriptive, not indicating we should look at others as our enemies, besides acting under the statement I cited earlier about the need to be an "enemy" of the enemies of the Faith in the sense of not being content to let them spread untruths or create disruptions).

Often those will masquerade under the banner of "unity", when their intention is solely to disrupt, create doubts and divisions and nothing short of "vigilance" can avoid the commotion caused by those intent on deliberately raising havoc.

Brett

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Re: Freedom from sectarian hatreds and other shackles

Postby richard » Sat Apr 12, 2008 11:21 pm

jimhabegger Posted: Mon Mar 31, 2008 5:20 am

Thank you, Richard. Um . . . I think I agree with you?
Jim

Thank you, Jim, but... Um...I don't remember what i said; and, my posts from this site have, alas, apparently been banished to that part of this Cyber Kingdom known as the great Void of Spamdom... :-(



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Re: Freedom from sectarian hatreds and other shackles

Postby jimhabegger » Mon Apr 14, 2008 10:39 am

This is a response to Loren's post to me in the thread "A movement to help free the Baha'i spirit from its shackles." My response could lead to discussions that might divert attention from what I wanted to discuss there.

----

Loren, I was very happy to see such a sympathetic and thoughtful response from someone who has concerns about what I'm doing. Thank you very much for posting!

I'm trying to take a break from Internet discussions, but I didn't want to leave you in suspense.

"However, one area I would critic your approach, is that you seem to exhibit at least a small bias for the 'movement' as you call it, verses the 'non-movement' (for lack of a better word)."

Yes. I feel more estranged from people who react defensively to anything uncomplimentary that anyone says about the Faith, and who continually defame it with their behavior, than I do from people who are openly campaigning against it. That sneaked up on me while I wasn't looking. I'm trying to recover from it now.

In case you're wondering, I don't have any disagreements with the House of Justice, or any grievances against it. I love the goals and plans it's promoting. I study its messages eagerly, asking myself "what can I learn from this?" and "what can I do about it?" I've studied again and again what it says about responding to attacks on the Faith in Internet discussions, and I've done my best to put it into practice.

I got the word "shackles" from the message "One Common Faith," and in my understanding it applies to all religions, including the Baha'i Faith. Below are some of the shackles I see discussed in the message. The numbers are paragraph numbers.

- Fixed conceptions inherited from a distant past (Foreword 1)
- Misconceptions which severely inhibit the most intelligent and well-intentioned efforts at human betterment (22)
* About human nature and social evolution
* About religion, especially, in virtually every one of its aspects
- Conceptual walls of separation and conflict (36)
- Theological thickets around religious understanding (39)
- Doubts about the possibility of unity (54)

Some other shackles would be the three vital issues discussed by Shoghi Effendi in "The Advent of Divine Justice," what he calls "the more serious deficiencies" by which the American Baha'i community "is being handicapped in the discharge of its task."

Some other shackles would be a variety of popular prejudices and forms of psychological abuse, that demoralize people and stifle individual initiatives, and impair the functioning of the divine institutions.

Some other shackles would be attitudes towards the House of Justice that get in the way of learning from it and serving its interests, and attitudes towards divine institutions in general, that get in the way of using them for what they're for.

"Are we shackled because of the Administrative Order?"

I imagine some of the shackles are administrative, but that isn't what I'm thinking of.

"Are we shackled because, as a unified faith, our institutions ultimately get make decisions about what official Baha'i belief or doctrine is?"

Are you thinking of the review policy? I don't have any problem with that.

Jim


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