Freedom from sectarian hatreds and other shackles

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Re: Freedom from sectarian hatreds and other shackles

Postby Fadl » Mon Apr 14, 2008 6:40 pm

jimhabegger wrote: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.


Dear Jim,

I just posted a rather large response in the other thread, and now I find this one by you here...I guess I've gotten confused since both threads seem very similar to me. Sorry. Perhaps Jonah could merge the two if you asked him? Might easier for all to follow and participate if they were the same thread.

Yes, I was referring to review policy, which, last time I checked, was one of the major concerns of certain proponents of "the movement."

I'll only respond briefly to a few or you remarks here, because I think my other post rambled on too much already, and perhaps is at least in part, already a response to some of what you have said here.

I can empathize with feeling "estranged from people who react defensively to anything uncomplimentary that anyone says about the Faith" and there are times when Baha'is could lighten up and realize that we need not act like God's trained pit bulls, or as if the cause of God is somehow vulnerable. But isn't that part and parcel to having a diverse community in itself? Some of us have different weaknesses, etc., but we give everyone some leeway to learn and grow as individuals, and make some mistakes. By the way, although you may think its bad for you if you say something uncomplimentary about the faith, don't try to say it against the movement. Some of those guys will rip you apart if you do, something I myself have experienced. Its part of what happens when a person becomes liberated from the shackles of moderation, non-backbiting, and others restraints such as courtesy and toleration. I'm not suggesting that you disagree with these principles, but I just don't want it to seem that Baha'is are in general over sensitive and intolerant, and those of the movement are the true embodiments of Baha'i virtue, because that is not the case.

As for your comments about the Guardian, I ask you to consider that the Guardian of the Baha'i faith made such an assessment from a particular vantage that only he could have from the perspective of being the head of the faith, and being empowered with that position by the covenant. There is a big difference, at least to me, if the Guardian made, or the UHJ makes, a statement about where we are deficient and where we need to go, than if an other individual or individuals, make such a determination. In other words, I don't think that the movement enjoys this vantage point or authority to make such determinations.

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Re: Freedom from sectarian hatreds and other shackles

Postby jimhabegger » Mon Apr 14, 2008 8:04 pm

Loren wrote:Perhaps Jonah could merge the two if you asked him? Might easier for all to follow and participate if they were the same thread.

Jonah, please, don't. I specifically created the other thread to dissociate the new horizons movement from the feud. I won't try to stop anyone from dragging red herrings across it, but I want my posts in that thread, at least, to be only about the movement, so that anyone who is interested in that topic can follow what I'm saying about it, without wading through my responses to red herrings.


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Re: Freedom from sectarian hatreds and other shackles

Postby RonPrice » Thu Mar 25, 2010 9:14 pm

It has been nearly two years since anyone posted on this thread and, so, let me draw attention of readers--should anyone come to this thread in future--to a book. I posted this book, an introduction to the paradigmatic shift in the Baha'i community, the new culture of learning and growth that is at the heart of this paradigm, over 32 months ago on the internet. I did this posting at several internet sites and have updated/revised that post in these last two-and-a-half years. It seemed like a good idea to give readers some specific steps on how to access this now revised article, what was originally an essay and is now a book of 160,000 words and 350 pages at Baha’i Library Online(BLO). The Association for Bahá’í Studies New Zealand in 2007 launched its open access, internationally oriented, peer reviewed electronic periodical OJBS: Online Journal of Bahá’í Studies, but in January 2009 that initiative was discontinued. One of its first issues would have been devoted to an exploration of this new paradigm.

In the time this book has been on the internet there have been many thousand views of this analysis, this statement on the new paradigm at the few sites where it has been posted. In addition to googling "Baha'i Culture of Learning and Growth" and accessing this article in the process at several internet sites, readers can find this piece of writing at BLO by clicking on the following: ... g_paradigm
Readers can also access the latest edition of this article at BLO by taking the following steps: (i) type Baha’i Library Online or Baha’i Academics Resource Library into your search engine; (ii) click on the small box “By author” at the top of the access page at BLO; (iii) type “Price” into the small box that then appears and click on the word “Go;” and then (iv) scroll down to article/document item #46 and (v) click on that item and read to your heart’s content. When your eyes and your mind start to glaze over, stop reading. The article can be downloaded free and you will then have access to a revised article, a 350 page, 160,000 word context for all this new paradigmatic terminology that has come into the Baha’i community in the last 15 years.

The statement is a personal one, does not assume an adversarial attitude, attempts to give birth of as fine an etiquette of expression as I can muster and, I like to think, possesses both candour and critical thought on the one hand and praise and delight at the process on the other. I invite readers to what I also like to think is “a context on which relevant fundamental questions” regarding this new paradigm may be discussed within the Baha’i community. It is also my intention to update this article in the months and years ahead. One of the advantages of the BLO site is the freedom it gives to a writer to update the article right on the site in an ongoing process as new insights from major thinkers in the Baha'i community and information from the elected and appointed institutions of the Cause comes to hand.

If time and the inclination permit, check it out. No worries, no obligation, just if it interests you. You may find the piece of writing too long as I'm sure many readers do. It is certainly a view from the inside. We each have a different experience on the inside of a paradigm, on the inside of this Faith or, indeed, living on the inside of our global society. You may also find this too personal due to the fact that I attempt to answer the question: “where do I fit into this new paradigm?” After a few paragraphs of reading, you will get the flavour of the exercise. Just keep reading if your mind and spirit are enjoying the process.
I have been married for 44 years, a teacher for 35, a writer and editor for 13, and a Baha'i for 53(in 2012). I have lived in Australia since 1971 & am now retired and on a pension.

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