In Shíráz an “earthquake" July 1850

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jenniferatemple
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In Shíráz an “earthquake" July 1850

Postby jenniferatemple » Sun Jul 13, 2014 4:56 am

What does "earthquake" mean in this quote from "God Passes By" (pg 53 my copy / pg 37 online PDF)
"In Shíráz an “earthquake", foreshadowed in no less weighty a Book than the Revelation of St. John"
There are no earthquakes recorded for Shíráz in 1850.

brettz9
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Re: In Shíráz an “earthquake" July 1850

Postby brettz9 » Sun Jul 13, 2014 10:02 am

According to this converter, 1268 A.H. is 1851 or 1852.

Per http://books.google.com/books?id=1JkfKu ... 51&f=false , there was a horrible earthquake in Shiraz in 1269 A.H. (1853), so perhaps this was the one intended if none occurred in 1851/1852 (see also http://bahai9.com/wiki/God_Passes_By#Po ... ical_error ).

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Re: In Shíráz an “earthquake" 1850

Postby jenniferatemple » Sun Jul 13, 2014 12:45 pm

Why the quotation marks specifically around earthquake?

An aside: Also, when you have that many years to find an earthquake then very likely you will, especially in an area pron to them. In fact, I do not believe earthquakes or any other natural disasters are a direct result of God's vengeance. I think there is often convenient coincident regarding faith. I do think Jordan Peterson covers that relationship quite nicely in some of his lectures and with respect to disobedience to God's laws.

I should also note here that "historical" notations about the faith do not really concern me. I tend more to the spiritual and scriptural aspects but those quotation marks seem to indicate something. Thus my inquisitive mind goes to work.

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Re: In Shíráz an “earthquake" July 1850

Postby brettz9 » Sun Jul 13, 2014 3:10 pm

As far as the quotation mark, I believe it is meant to indicate that it is also the explicit text within the Book of Revelation of the Bible.

As far as natural disasters, in a book partially reviewed by 'Abdu'l-Baha and approved and recommended by Shoghi Effendi, Baha'u'llah and the New Era, pp. 95-96 covers this topic, http://bahai-library.com/books/new.era/bne.html#95 (though this wouldn't at all need to exclude them occurring (usually) by scientifically detectable or technically remediable phenomena). Another good one on this topic is the talk of 'Abdu'l-Baha about the Titanic disaster, on pp. 46-48 of Promulgation of Universal Peace, with the very last paragraph being quite important: http://bahai-library.com/writings/abdul ... up.html#46 (I think it is also useful to note that this frank albeit still sympathetic and non-judgmental talk of 'Abdu'l-Baha pointing out the hand of God in disasters was at a believer's home for their advisement; His public statements focused on sympathy for the victims--a refreshing difference I would say from the religionists who transgress tactfulness in the face of others' grief or blame its innocent victims, or the apologists or materialists who unduly restrain the workings of God in this world).

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Re: In Shíráz an “earthquake" July 1850

Postby jenniferatemple » Sun Jul 13, 2014 7:24 pm

I can not tell you how really depressing that was to read. I'd been deluded, thinking the "God of Vengeance" was ancient history. I do wonder if the time will ever come when every learning curve is not a new challenge to my faith. I had never doubted God sat up a perfect system that had a fair number of casualties. Now I am learning He intends all that suffering and they are not casualties at all, they are intended sacrificial deaths. It makes me feel like all that writing about bounties, mercies, benevolence and forgiveness are not worth very much.

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Re: In Shíráz an “earthquake" July 1850

Postby brettz9 » Sun Jul 13, 2014 8:35 pm

As a letter on behalf of Shoghi Effendi indicates:

"God judges each soul on its own merits."

(On behalf of Shoghi Effendi, 26 March 1950)


Even if God may permit destruction that brings casualties, it is not that all (if any) of those facing the suffering are themselves being punished, or even if some are, it does not mean they will not meet with blessings in the hereafter. On the contrary, the Baha'i Writings reassure that all will be compensated. (e.g., see http://bahai9.com/wiki/Life_after_death ... _suffering ). But our lives are indisputably in His hands.

Remember that the Baha'i Writings do not view death with the same degree of unqualified horror as is common in society. To a Baha'i, death, particularly a life lived with virtue, is a new beginning. Of course, human life is viewed as sacred, and, as per Baha'u'llah, we need more of such a respect for lives which God Himself has raised up, and the representatives of the Faith all displayed sadness at the parting of dear ones, but as Baha'u'llah Himself advises us, when it is our time, we ought to welcome death for ourselves as a messenger of joy.

Many of those occupied with material existence are often in fear of this, while the Faith frees us from this undue occupation. With faith, we can even find some comfort amidst prolonged pain and suffering in this world (which can for some be even harder to deal with than a quick death), as 'Abdu'l-Baha points out (SWB, pp. 171-172) how it will eventually come to an end and be met with blessings.

Even those who themselves committed murder, for example (let alone those merely caught up in a disaster), can be forgiven in the next world, and will not suffer again if they face punishment in this world (of course, this may perhaps differ on circumstances, e.g., for a wanton crime where the criminal is unrepentant, etc.):

"As to the question regarding the soul of a murderer, and what his punishment would be, the answer given was that the murderer must expiate his crime: that is, if they put the murderer to death, his death is his atonement for his crime, and following the death, God in His justice will impose no second penalty upon him, for divine justice would not allow this."

('Abdu'l-Bahá, Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Bahá, sec. 152, p. 179, in Lights of Guidance, no. 693)


So, although God does warn humanity from time to time, He is not vengeful in any sense of being petty or harsh:

Of course we should love God--but we must fear Him in the sense of a child fearing the righteous anger and chastisement of a parent; not cringe before Him as before a tyrant, but know His mercy exceeds His Justice!"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 26, 1946: Bahá'í Education, A Compilation, compiled by the Universal House of Justice, in Lights of Guidance, no. 794)


The question of the suffering of the innocent, with which I think your concern is tied, is not an easy one for anyone to accept, and it has been the attempt of many a theologian to come to terms with it. Even the Baha'i Writings which usually provide us with quite satisfying answers, indicate that this is not a question that can be fully comprehended by us:

"the trials of the innocent are indeed heartrending and constitute a mystery that the mind of man cannot fathom."

(Messages from the Universal House of Justice 1963-86, no. 425.2, p. 661)


It may indeed be difficult or impossible to fathom, but we are advised to have faith (e.g., see the latter quotations at http://bahai9.com/wiki/Suffering_of_the_innocent ) that the innocent will be compensated accordingly in the next world if not this one, for suffering faced, and, as 'Abdu'l-Baha effectively states, since there is really nothing we can do about it, is it not better to come to terms with it?:

"He doeth as He doeth, and what recourse have we? He carrieth out His Will, He ordaineth what He pleaseth. Then better for thee to bow down thy head in submission, and put thy trust in the All-Merciful Lord."

(Selections from the Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, sec. 22)


Warm regards,
Brett

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Re: In Shíráz an “earthquake" July 1850

Postby jenniferatemple » Sun Jul 13, 2014 9:23 pm

The randomness bothers me! I watched as SEVEN large tornadoes tore a path through my county. Many children died as did a lot of live stock. One 10 year old was decapitated as his mother watched and tens of dozens of horses dead! Ancient trees pulled from the ground roots and all. I won't bother with the rest of the horrors caused. Until I read the material in those links, I never dreamed of "blaming" God. Now I have no choice but to realize it was His decision. Clearly, He lets some of the most evil places on earth off the hook and punishes the mildly disobedient. There would appear to be no rhyme or reason to who will be punished by such events. OR at the very least I am having a very difficult time seeing the justice in catastrophic events. The clerics and government of Iran are let off but the poor Philippines gets trashed. JUSTICE!?? Sorry I'm still having trouble getting my mind around it.

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Re: In Shíráz an “earthquake" July 1850

Postby jenniferatemple » Sun Jul 13, 2014 9:26 pm

P.S. If many to be forgiven and blessed, why bother taking them in the first place? Sacrifice them to horrify the rest of us? So we are all horrified! and the bad guys continue on their evil way.

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Re: In Shíráz an “earthquake" July 1850

Postby brettz9 » Mon Jul 14, 2014 2:00 am

Again, I think it's very important not to suggest that most disasters are divine-sent punishment. That position is not taken in the Baha'i Writings from anything I have seen (and it would be ridiculous). And again, even among those which are meant to instruct humanity, it doesn't mean the victims are in any way themselves culpable. God's intervention in the world may be mysterious, especially what appears as collective punishment, but this is a phenomenon present in abundance in prior Scriptures such as the Bible as well as Baha'i Writings.

But that is indeed a separate issue from the perhaps harder challenge of accepting that God allows horrific events to happen.

As far as your second post, no, our reaction is indeed not to be pure horror. This is no doubt a challenge to faith, but it is essential, I believe, for recognizing God's workings in all things, for otherwise, we are forced to either blithely and unsatisfyingly compartmentalize God's domain from these happenings, or to join a "partner" with God in accepting a Devil figure who is able to take power away from God.

Justice will be found in the next world, for in this world, as the Baha'i Writings attest, things often end up quite unfair. While we can, and should take comfort in that fact, as mentioned, it can be very hard to accept. Baha'u'llah refers to this, I think, in such prayers that mention the likes of, "I call on Thee O Thou Who slayest the Lovers, O God of Grace to the wicked!" or in the precious Fire Tablet, these potent words:

Were it not for the cold, how would the heat of Thy words prevail, O Expounder of the worlds?

Were it not for calamity, how would the sun of Thy patience shine, O Light of the worlds?

Lament not because of the wicked. Thou wert created to bear and endure, O Patience of the worlds.


While the Writings assure us that God is merciful to all, the "God of Grace to the wicked" does not at all mean He will be equal in treatment; again, it often requires recognition of the role of redress in the next world.

While those of us facing suffering or empathizing with the suffering of others may believe it would have been best that we were not used as pawns in some kind of divine game, even if it does end up highlighting good from bad (e.g., Qur'an 67:2 "Who hath created death and life to prove which of you will be most righteous in deed"), but we simply have to take this on faith that God's way is the best way, assisted by assurances provided by the Manifestations of God that it is not for naught and perhaps we may eventually realize His wisdom ourselves (e.g., "We created not the heaven and the earth, and what is between them, for sport...they who are in his presence disdain not his service, neither are they wearied: They praise Him night and day: they rest not" Qur'an 21:16-20 passim).

I think the reaction that the Baha'i Writings call for in these situations include:

1. First and foremost sympathy. The Book of Job in the Bible is very powerful in not only urging patience with suffering in faith of its eventual remedy, but also in recognizing the blameworthiness of those who believe that those facing suffering are more blameworthy and are inevitably receiving a just punishment. 'Abdu'l-Baha provided such a strong example of great sympathy yet hopeful assurance to those who had faced devastating losses.
2. Thankfulness. While I know it may appear as meager comfort at best, and selfishness at worst, 'Abdu'l-Baha in one place (I believe in Star of the West, but I'm afraid I can't find it now) actually suggested something to the effect that those of us without disabilities or such should be thankful for not being afflicted with them. God provides for each and all, and assures us that we will not be tested beyond our capacity. With all the cruelty and afflictions in the world, this can, as already mentioned, be admittedly quite difficult to accept. It is a challenge, but true resignation to God involves our finding gratitude for the blessings we enjoy, even when those blessings are the absence of (divinely-sanctioned) suffering (though again not failing to sympathize much less blame those facing suffering). Even if it may not be wholly satisfactory to our limited minds, we might also consider that in some cases, what appears as horrendous can actually be less so in reality (e.g., the body typically will shut down sensation when there is an overload in pain receptors).
3. A certain degree of dread at God's potency may indeed be in order, if again not in viewing Him as any kind of tyrant.
4. Having faith in God eventually remedying suffering and injustices shouldn't stop us at all from being motivated to help the afflicted, and on the contrary, it can and should motivate us to do something to prevent unnecessary suffering. Indeed being engaged in service is often the only way for many to escape suffering or at least to find their purpose in this world.

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Re: In Shíráz an “earthquake" July 1850

Postby brettz9 » Mon Jul 14, 2014 2:19 am

Perhaps this may be of interest: http://bahai9.com/wiki/Suffering

jenniferatemple
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Re: In Shíráz an “earthquake" July 1850

Postby jenniferatemple » Mon Jul 14, 2014 11:17 am

"Again, I think it's very important not to suggest that most disasters are divine-sent punishment. That position is not taken in the Baha'i Writings from anything I have seen (and it would be ridiculous)" That IS my position. It does not seem to be the position Esslemont id presuming in those quotes.

I had never doubted God set up a perfect system that had a fair number of casualties. I do not fear death. I, like any mother would be horrified to watch my son lose his head because I would miss his company.It does break my heart to see such things, in spite of the inevitability that such things are a regular occurrence. I have no problem with a natural order that causes many deaths. I only have a problem with the idea of God CHOOSING by His direct hand and will to throw natural disasters at "guilty" populations when the choices seem so arbitrary. It's not the death and destruction that bother me, only the suggestion that on any particular day, God may decide "These people deserve a volcano" (or other some such) I do believe the system is perfect and understand many will be doomed by the natural order.

A secondary thought is that if we are not to be horrified why does is it often made to sound threatening. If the Abha Kingdom really is a joyful release, the consequences of these events are not a threat at all! It does seem a contradictory "two faced" position on the part of the holy books. That God would in His great mercy and love, "compensate" the afflicted makes sense to me. Though in the case of the earth's heaving, it would not be an expectation of mine. At best, the lessons would be, you don't know when you might depart this plain so try to stay in a state of grace.

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Re: In Shíráz an “earthquake" July 1850

Postby jenniferatemple » Mon Jul 14, 2014 12:00 pm

I raised my two sons to take responsibility for their own actions. (Logical or natural consequences) Sometimes it was exceedingly painful for me to watch their pain. Many people said my "punishments" were cruel but they were NOT MY PUNISHMENTS, they were the punishments my children brought on themselves. I just did not intervene to "save" them from their behavior. It was a learning exercise and both grew up to be wise and responsible young men. I also never said "No", I practiced the Socratic method by asking a lot of questions and the said, "Good Luck kid, if you get into trouble come on back. I'll try to help." I always thought God had a similar program for us, though on a much grander scale. On that basis, I always felt sorry for God as he watched over us. That is the God I can easily love!

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Re: In Shíráz an “earthquake" July 1850

Postby jenniferatemple » Tue Jul 15, 2014 10:43 am

"This, indeed, is a chastisement which ye, of your own will, have inflicted upon yourselves", apparently, the writings and I are on the same page, where discipline is concerned.

"According to the teaching of the Prophets, disease and all other forms of calamity are due to disobedience to the Divine Commands. Even disasters due to floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes are attributed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá indirectly to this cause." Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era / Esselmont

With all due respect to Esselmont and anyone else who is sure of the matter: where are the authoritative statements that say this? Please show me, because I haven't found them yet.The quote I placed at the start of this post is what I did find. This is the God I know and love. The One that treats us like a responsible parent treats their children and no doubt finds it painful to watch us make bad decisions that He knows will cause us great pain.

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Re: In Shíráz an “earthquake" July 1850

Postby brettz9 » Wed Jul 16, 2014 1:20 am

I'm sorry for a delay in reply, but I have a condition which sometimes interferes with my ability to respond in a timely manner, especially where it is not a clear-cut matter or on emotionally charged subjects.

I think it is easy to forget that the audience of the Baha'i Writings is not just those who are motivated by love and truth alone. There are those who willfully do evil, but can still be warned by the promise of reward or punishment. Baha'u'llah wrote epistles, for example, which He hoped would awaken its rapacious or murderous recipients. It may seem trite, but He really did seek the forgiveness of those who opposed Him.

Here is a quotation in full which I partially included earlier which in full context draws attention to the need for different kinds of motivation among different kinds of people:

"You ask him about the fear of God: perhaps the friends do not realize that the majority of human beings need the element of fear in order to discipline their conduct? Only a relatively very highly evolved soul would always be disciplined by love alone. Fear of punishment, fear of the anger of God if we do evil, are needed to keep people's feet on the right path. Of course we should love God--but we must fear Him in the sense of a child fearing the righteous anger and chastisement of a parent; not cringe before Him as before a tyrant, but know His mercy exceeds His Justice!"

(From a letter written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer, July 26, 1946: Bahá'í Education, A Compilation, compiled by the Universal House of Justice, in Lights of Guidance, no. 794, emphasis added)



A number of other quotes, e.g., http://bahai-library.com/compilation_bahai_education#38 , indicate that current society dwells excessively on punishments as opposed to finding rewards (or intrinsic motivators).

But this is not inconsistent with the role of fear/punishment if needed:

"Schools must first train the children in the principles of religion, so that the Promise and the Threat recorded in the Books of God may prevent them from the things forbidden and adorn them with the mantle of the commandments; but this in such a measure that it may not injure the children by resulting in ignorant fanaticism and bigotry.

("Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh Revealed after the Kitáb-i-Aqdas", p. 68, in Comopilation on Baha'i Education, no. 15, emphasis added)


And even here, as per the last sentence in this quotation, even that must be done carefully so as not to lead to fanaticism or bigotry.

In general, I think your parenting methods sound very much what the Writings would encourage. Consider this, for example:

Whensoever a mother seeth that her child hath done well, let her praise and applaud him and cheer his heart; and if the slightest undesirable trait should manifest itself, let her counsel the child and punish him, and use means based on reason, even a slight verbal chastisement should this be necessary. It is not, however, permissible to strike a child, or vilify him, for the child's character will be totally perverted if he be subjected to blows or verbal abuse.

("Selections from the Writings of `Abdu'l-Bahá", Sec. 95, pp. 124-25, emphasis added)


jenniferatemple wrote:A secondary thought is that if we are not to be horrified why does is it often made to sound threatening. If the Abha Kingdom really is a joyful release, the consequences of these events are not a threat at all!


My statement was not that horror should never be a reaction, but that I don't think it is meant as the over-whelming reaction, especially if we are prone to interpret "horror" as in the arbitrary killings and baseness of "horror films" as opposed to dread at something awful but humbling and ultimately gracious and redemptive.

While the Baha'i Writings mention the after-life as nuanced with all souls being able to progress in the next world, they do make a distinction between those who do good (and especially those with faith who do good) and those who do evil. See some albeit-not-adequately-representative quotations at http://bahai9.com/wiki/Life_after_death/soul . Just because we do not believe in a literal devil, does not mean our Writings do not indicate that those who reject the Manifestation, especially those who oppose Him, will not face remorse and consequence in the next world.

I plan to get back to you later on your other points re: Esslemont. But depending on how one interprets Esslemont's statement, I don't think it must necessarily be inconsistent with the view you are holding.

Best wishes,
Brett

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Re: In Shíráz an “earthquake" July 1850

Postby brettz9 » Wed Jul 16, 2014 1:44 am

Let me just give a quick reply for now on one aspect of divine chastisement which is hard to accept, yet again is not indicating direct culpability of all involved in such mysterious calamities:

"Islám, at once the progenitor and persecutor of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh, is, if we read aright the signs of the times, only beginning to sustain the impact of this invincible and triumphant Faith. We need only recall the nineteen hundred years of abject misery and dispersion which they, who only for the short space of three years persecuted the Son of God, have had to endure, and are still enduring. We may well ask ourselves, with mingled feelings of dread and awe, how severe must be the tribulations of those who, during no less than fifty years, have, "at every moment tormented with a fresh torment" Him Who is the Father, and who have, in addition, made His Herald--Himself a Manifestation of God--to quaff, in such tragic circumstances, the cup of martyrdom."

(Shoghi Effendi, Promised Day Is Come, par. 249, emphasis added)


However, the more proactive reaction of the believers is to be as follows (and as discussed):

Dear friends! The powerful operations of this titanic upheaval are comprehensible to none except such as have recognized the claims of both Bahá'u'lláh and the Báb. Their followers know full well whence it comes, and what it will ultimately lead to. Though ignorant of how far it will reach, they clearly recognize its genesis, are aware of its direction, acknowledge its necessity, observe confidently its mysterious processes, ardently pray for the mitigation of its severity, intelligently labor to assuage its fury, and anticipate, with undimmed vision, the consummation of the fears and the hopes it must necessarily engender.

(Shoghi Effendi, Promised Day Is Come, par. 5, emphasis added)


Warm regards,
Brett

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Re: In Shíráz an “earthquake" July 1850

Postby brettz9 » Thu Jul 17, 2014 2:17 am

jenniferatemple wrote:"According to the teaching of the Prophets, disease and all other forms of calamity are due to disobedience to the Divine Commands. Even disasters due to floods, hurricanes, and earthquakes are attributed by ‘Abdu’l-Bahá indirectly to this cause." Bahá'u'lláh and the New Era / Esselmont

With all due respect to Esselmont and anyone else who is sure of the matter: where are the authoritative statements that say this? Please show me, because I haven't found them yet.


I am not sure what he may be referring to either, and I think it doesn't come out sounding quite right. But I would venture that he is not referring to all individual instances of disease or calamities, but rather the origin or general propagation of disease and calamities--whether it be the greed behind the destruction of the environment, the wars and disunity which provides conditions for disease, etc. He also says that natural calamities are "indirectly" due to disobedience to God. But frankly, I think you may be right that this is not worded in a manner consistent with any writings I have seen.

There are such quotations as this:

Say: Nature in its essence is the embodiment of My Name, the Maker, the Creator. Its manifestations are diversified by varying causes, and in this diversity there are signs for men of discernment. Nature is God's Will and is its expression in and through the contingent world. It is a dispensation of Providence ordained by the Ordainer, the All-Wise.

(Tablets of Baha'u'llah, p. 142)


However, it is not like the Baha'i Writings insist that nature is constantly occurring at God's whims. On the contrary, 'Abdu'l-Baha states that it was created according to laws and order:

"Nature is that condition, that reality, which in appearance consists in life and death, or, in other words, in the composition and decomposition of all things.

"This Nature is subjected to an absolute organization, to determined laws, to a complete order and a finished design, from which it will never depart--to such a degree, indeed, that if you look carefully and with keen sight, from the smallest invisible atom up to such large bodies of the world of existence as the globe of the sun or the other great stars and luminous spheres, whether you regard their arrangement, their composition, their form or their movement, you will find that all are in the highest degree of organization and are under one law from which they will never depart.

"But when you look at Nature itself, you see that it has no intelligence, no will..."

(Some Answered Questions, Chapter 1, p. 3)


God's intervention in the laws He set up is considered possible, but seen as something only occurring infrequently:

"One thing, however, he wishes again to bring to your attention, namely that miracles are always possible, even though they do not constitute a regular channel whereby God reveals His power to mankind. To reject miracles on the ground that they imply a breach of the laws of nature is a very shallow, well-nigh a stupid argument, inasmuch as God Who is the Author of the universe can, in His Wisdom and Omnipotence, bring any change, no matter how temporary, in the operation of the laws which He Himself has created."

(From a letter dated February 27, 1938 written on behalf of the Guardian to an individual believer)


The full context is better, but I'll repeat at least this portion of a previously referenced quotation to emphasize the point that 'Abdu'l-Baha does not view calamities as punishment of the individuals within the calamity and instead indicates they will be partaking of joy and happiness in the next world (that hardly sounds like a punishment to me):

"Within the last few days a terrible event has happened in the world, an event saddening to every heart and grieving every spirit. I refer to the Titanic disaster, in which many of our fellow human beings were drowned, a number of beautiful souls passed beyond this earthly life. Although such an event is indeed regrettable, we must realize that everything which happens is due to some wisdom and that nothing happens without a reason... They were called away from the temporary and transferred to the eternal; they abandoned this material existence and entered the portals of the spiritual world. Foregoing the pleasures and comforts of the earthly, they now partake of a joy and happiness far more abiding and real, for they have hastened to the Kingdom of God...

"Furthermore, these events have deeper reasons. Their object and purpose is to teach man certain lessons. We are living in a day of reliance upon material conditions. Men imagine that the great size and strength of a ship, the perfection of machinery or the skill of a navigator will ensure safety, but these disasters sometimes take place that men may know that God is the real Protector."

(Promulgation of Universal Peace, p. 46-48 passim)


jenniferatemple wrote:"This, indeed, is a chastisement which ye, of your own will, have inflicted upon yourselves", apparently, the writings and I are on the same page, where discipline is concerned.

...

The quote I placed at the start of this post is what I did find. This is the God I know and love. The One that treats us like a responsible parent treats their children and no doubt finds it painful to watch us make bad decisions that He knows will cause us great pain.


I think that is generally true; there are a number of such quotations about God's pain for us at choosing an immoral path, etc. But God sets up the order which allows for the weaknesses which lead to the pain. We can't compare God to ourselves and get an exact analogy that works as some things are for God alone. For example, in the Dawn-Breakers, edited by Shoghi Effendi, Nabil quotes the Bab stating: "It is for God to test His servants, and not for His servants to judge Him in accordance with their deficient standards." (p. 61) Although 'Abdu'l-Baha speaks of a positive role for tests by teachers and such, our Writings of course do not wish us to tax others to their limits as God does us, deliberately causing confusion for example, as Baha'u'llah states in par. 55 of the Iqan which God did in changing the Qiblih.

Moreover, while God certainly does not wish us to choose to follow immoral paths which lead to our sadness and regret, He does bemuse elsewhere on the curiousness of how because He loves us, He prays for us to be tested (though of course that is not out of any kind of capricious sadism!)...

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Re: In Shíráz an “earthquake" July 1850

Postby iranpour » Thu Jul 17, 2014 5:25 am

My answer to the question is from another angle of the subject, because brettz9’ has completely clarified the subject.

I want to say that whatever we find in the Baha’i literature regarding the Earthquakes are as other signs of the Resurrection, presenting proofs for the fulfilment of the prophecies regarding the incidence of Earthquakes at the Time of the End or Resurrection, namely the return of the Manifestation of God as recorded in the Gospel and the Qur’an and produced as proof in the Writings of the Faith.

The literal or geographical Earthquakes which happened in the world on the one hand and allegorical dreadful Earthquakes which disturbed the ocean of the world in which the Crimson Ark of the Faith of Baha’u’llah was sailing on, on the other hand, is one of the signs of the time of the Advent of Divine Justice.

Following are a few of the prophecies regarding the incidence of Earthquakes on “the Time of the End’ in Christianity and on “the Day of Judgment” in Islam:

In Christianity
The parable of division of the Sheep and the Goats in the Gospel recorded in “Matthew 25:31-46” is the Judgment of the Nations by the Manifestation of God and is based on one's response to the call and message of the Divine Manifestation. As Jesus has told that He has not come to judge the peoples (I did not come to judge the world, but to save it. John 12:47), He reveals the parable for the time of His Return, when He comes in His Glory and judges the Nations and divides the goats from the sheep.
John’s great Earthquake (Revelation, 6:12) is associated with the second coming of Christ, when God’s voice shakes the earth mightily and Whose Kingdom would be everlasting.
“For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be earthquakes in diverse places, and there shall be famines and troubles: these [are] the beginnings of sorrows”. (Mark 13:8)

“Thou shalt be VISITED of the LORD OF HOSTS with thunder, and with Earthquake, and great noise, with storm and tempest, and the flame of devouring fire”. (Isaiah 29:60

“And ye shall flee [to] the valley of the mountains; for the valley of the mountains shall reach unto Azal: yea, ye shall flee, like as ye fled from before the earthquake in the days of Uzziah king of Judah: and the LORD my God shall come, [and] all the saints with thee”. (Zechariah 14:5)

In Islam
“ … And never would We punish until We sent a messenger”. (Qur’an, 17:15).

“And there had certainly come to them a Messenger from among themselves, but they denied him; so punishment overtook them while they were wrongdoers”. (The Qur’an, 16:113)

“Or think ye that ye will enter paradise while yet there hath not come unto you the like of (that which came to) those who passed away before you ? Affliction and adversity befell them, they were shaken as with earthquake, till the messenger (of Allah) and those who believed along with him said: When cometh Allah's help? Now surely Allah's help is nigh”. (The Qur'an, 2:214)

“O mankind! Fear your Lord. Lo! THE EARTHQUAKE OF THE HOUR (of Doom) is a tremendous thing”. (The Qur'an, 22:1)

Narrated Abu Huraira: The Prophet said, "The Hour (Last Day) will not
be established until (religious) knowledge will be taken away (by the death of religious learned men), earthquakes will be very frequent, time will
pass quickly, afflictions will appear, murders will increase and money will overflow amongst you." (See Hadith No. 85 Vol 1). (Hadith, Bukhari Vol 2)

In the Baha’i Faith
“ … The blast of the trumpet must needs spread confusion throughout the world, and fear and trembling amongst all men. Well is it with him who hath been illumined with the light of trust and detachment. The tribulations of that Day will not hinder or alarm him.
(Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, p. 147)

“The Covenant of Bahá’u’lláh had, by acts such as these, and others too numerous to recount, been manifestly violated. Another blow, stunning in its first effects, had been administered to the Faith and had caused its structure momentarily to tremble. The storm foreshadowed by the writer of the Apocalypse had broken. The “lightnings,” the “thunders,” the “earthquake” which must needs accompany the revelation of the “Ark of His Testament,” had all come to pass”. (God Passes By, Page 249)

“The outbreak of cholera, by famine and other afflictions. In that same year no less than two hundred and fifty of the firing squad, that had replaced Sam Khan's regiment, met their death, together with their officers, in a terrible earthquake, while the remaining five hundred suffered, three years later, as a punishment for their mutiny, the same fate as that which their hands had inflicted upon the Bab. To insure that none of them had survived, they were riddled with a second volley, after which their bodies, pierced with spears and lances, were exposed to the gaze of the people of Tabriz. The prime instigator of the Bab's death, the implacable Amir-Nizam, together with his brother, his chief accomplice, met their death within two years of that savage act”. ...(God Passes By, Page 54)

[The “Second Woe,” spoken of in the Apocalypse of St. John the Divine, had, at long last, appeared, and the first of the two “Messengers,” Whose appearance had been prophesied in the Qur’án, had been sent down. The first “Trumpet-Blast”, destined to smite the earth with extermination, announced in the latter Book, had finally been sounded. “The Inevitable,” “The Catastrophe,” “The Resurrection,” “The Earthquake of the Last Hour,” foretold by that same Book, had all come to pass”. (God Passes By, page 58)

“When the earthquake took place in Fars, all the remnant lamented and cried day and night, and were occupied in glorifying and praying to God. They were so troubled and affrighted that they had no sleep nor rest at night”. (Abdu'l-Baha, Some Answered Questions, p. 55).

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Re: In Shíráz an “earthquake" July 1850

Postby jenniferatemple » Fri Jul 18, 2014 6:59 pm

"Dawn-Breakers, edited by Shoghi Effendi, Nabil quotes the Bab stating: "It is for God to test His servants, and not for His servants to judge Him in accordance with their deficient standards." (p. 61)"

Though it is not for His servants to judge Him..., I think that He does want us to inquire and attempt some sort of understanding or independent investigation of truth would not be a principal of the faith. I do not presume to compare myself to God! I only give my limited and earthly understanding as best I can understand from my own life experience. I realize that even a lot of other people have a far greater depth of comprehension than I. All that said, there would be little point in reading Baha'i books if we were not attempting to understand. I don't think "blind faith" is what God wants but rather faith that supersedes questions. Many times I have struggled to understand many things and equally as often concluded I could not BUT I do put my faith in God's wisdom. I get exceedingly irritated by statements that presume they know God's mind and then make Him seem petty. If the source is not authoritative it's presumptuous. I think, if I am not mistaken, Shoghi Effendi was the last and only person to be considered able correctly interpret the writings.

Just like the Bible, Satan himself could make his case by "cherry picking" the Baha'i writings.

I was not one that could sign up and say "OK, I'm good to go" and not think much beyond that. I do not find faith an easy row to hoe, it has always challenged me; if it did not, I would not trust my own faith. That said, I am deeply convinced of the power of God, of prayer and that miracles, both large and small, do happen. I seem to have witnessed the small ones many times in my life.

I do think there is more to faith than simply meeting our basic obligatory rites.

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Re: In Shíráz an “earthquake" July 1850

Postby brettz9 » Sat Jul 19, 2014 2:54 am

Yes, I agree with you regarding the need to inquire, and I think this quote covers that sentiment nicely:

"He does not ask us to follow Him blindly; as He says in one of His Tablets, God has endowed man with a mind to operate as a torchlight and guide him to the truth. Read His Words, consider His teachings and measure their value in the light of contemporary problems and the truth will surely be revealed to you. Read books such as the Iqan, Some Answered Questions, Nabil's Narrative, and you will appreciate the truth of His mission, as well as the true spirit He creates in whosoever follows His ways."

(From a letter written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi to an individual believer, February 26, 1933: Bahá'í News, No. 80, p. 5, January 1934, emphasis added)


My point was not to suggest you were laying yourself up as God! I think you have been quite even-handed, rational, thoughtful, and sincere in your discussions. I just meant to explore different sides of the issue with you, and one of those was simply that as we explore inquisitively into God's purpose, we may find that while some things may match our understanding and expectations, other things will remain incomprehensible and still other things can be understood, but only if we do not expect God to abide by the same standards as we are called to follow (despite God indeed being a "personal God").

I also wasn't trying to lay down any definitive interpretation or endorsement of this passage from Esslemont's book either.

And I applaud you for being willing to call into question statements of individual believers which may be dogmatic and unsupported by the Writings.

jenniferatemple wrote:I get exceedingly irritated by statements that presume they know God's mind and then make Him seem petty. If the source is not authoritative it's presumptuous.


I can sympathize with you on this. I think we have to be patient with our fellow believers, but it can be dangerous, imo, when believers, especially prominent ones, speak too loosely in asserting definitively how God is when unsupported by the Writings. I think in this case there are some other ways to look at Esslemont's words, however, and as mentioned, Esslemont's book had been reviewed by Shoghi Effendi, but I don't think that means he inevitably felt in agreement with every manner of expression, and frankly I agree something appears a little off here (though no doubt the respected Hand of the Cause, John Esslemont must have read or recalling reading some Tablet of 'Abdu'l-Baha by which he felt justified in making his statement, even if his wording of it could have been an over-reach). One could write to the Universal House of Justice for clarification if desired.

jenniferatemple wrote:I think, if I am not mistaken, Shoghi Effendi was the last and only person to be considered able correctly interpret the writings.


Yes, after 'Abdu'l-Baha, as per His Will and Testament, only the Guardians would be authorized to interpret, and none met the qualifications to follow Shoghi Effendi, nor did he appoint any (a situation, moreover, which Baha'u'llah anticipated in the Aqdas). The House of Justice has the power to "elucidate".

jenniferatemple wrote:Just like the Bible, Satan himself could make his case by "cherry picking" the Baha'i writings.


Yes, and that's exactly what our selfish nature often seeks to do. I think Proverbs 9:8, besides applying to communications with others, applies well to our own willingness to accept challenging truths found in Scripture, and not just those we would cherry-pick: "Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee."

Warm regards,
Brett

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Re: In Shíráz an “earthquake" July 1850

Postby jenniferatemple » Sat Jul 19, 2014 9:32 pm

Brett, I just want to thank you for your very empathetic and considered input on this subject. It is really helpful to have a place to air and discuss one's quandaries as regards attempts to understand and remain strong in the covenant. Too often, on Baha'i online forums, people stray far from the scriptures and offer their own and often misguided opinions where matters of faith are concerned. Worse, many times what I have seen online makes me nervous because in a lot of instances it seems to stray quite far from the covenant. This is the only forum where I feel completely safe. So, again, my deep and heartfelt "thank you!"

As it happens, I am on my second reading of "Dawn Breakers" alternating with my first reading of "God Passes By". Until now I have stuck mainly with pure scripture with the exception of "Paris Talks" (Which I dearly love as a concise hand book on how to behave as a Baha'i) and "Some Answered Questions". Not to be to factitious, I've generally said I love Abdu'l-Baha for
indoctrination and Baha'u'llah for meditation.

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Re: In Shíráz an “earthquake" July 1850

Postby brettz9 » Sun Jul 20, 2014 3:54 pm

It is very good to have your participation here.

I'm afraid that, as you say, the spirit of Covenant-breaking has infected certain forums, sometimes made worse by what I feel are excessive accommodations afforded by otherwise well-meaning Baha'is (though sometimes the opposite may occur, with discussions closed prematurely, and in any case, it is hardly an easy matter for forum moderators to always know where to draw lines).

But indeed, while not dwelling on the negative teachings of the Faith and avoiding blind dogmatism, we are also to show great vigilance for the spirit of Covenant breaking, not only in letter but in spirit; I don't think it is a coincidence that, as I recall recently reading in Star of the West, I think in volumes 13 or 14, that one of the last, if not the last letter to the American Baha'is was on this subject and in very vehement language.

Deepened and engaged workers, while growing, are still, imv, far too few. An encouraging development, from my perspective, however (and I don't get encouraged too easily!) is the sincerity, importance, and depth of questions people are asking.

The prophetic words of Shoghi Effendi about the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Baha needing at least a century of operation to be appreciated appears to be becoming ever more clear, as challenges are mounted against it, while these challenges help inquiring believers learn more about its solidity and weighty features.

I agree with you on your summation of readings by Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha. While I feel it is essential to also read the Guardian thoroughly, and in order to keep up with understanding of the Faith in current events, letters from the Universal House of Justice, my personal experiences leads me to believe that it is important to keep the Perfect Exemplar, 'Abdu'l-Baha, not only in mind by recall, but by fairly regular reading on his life, as I feel we are sometimes blind in knowing how to apply the writings otherwise, at least in both the exceedingly universal yet uncompromising manner He demonstrated for us.

As far as recommended works, although I really need to provide references inline, I have listed some of the works that were explicitly recommended for Baha'is to read at http://bahai9.com/wiki/Writings_by_subject (though admittedly some recommendations might have been more urgent or time-contextualized than others). Also if you go to http://bahai9.com/wiki/Writings#Writings_by_Author and choose specific works, I've tried to collect any quotations recommending or summarizing that particular book on the individual pages.

Note also that study outlines were recommended by Shoghi Effendi (I personally find it next to impossible to retain much of anything from a cohesive work without an outline) and the individual pages attempt to link to any online study materials (or other relevant cross-references) as well.

Take care,
Brett

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Re: In Shíráz an “earthquake" July 1850

Postby jenniferatemple » Fri Jul 25, 2014 1:35 pm

brettz9 wrote:... I feel it is essential to also read the Guardian thoroughly, and in order to keep up with understanding of the Faith in current events, letters from the Universal House of Justice,...
Brett

I do read the Guardian and the letters of the UHJ often, just as a matter of course.Many that are not commonly seen because they were written to individuals, I also download and file under subject. I keep a file of all UHJ letters as they appear. I was recently astonished at a feast when one of the people in attendance complained and asked the secretary why he felt it necessary to share the UHJ letters at feasts. Everyone else was stunned by the question! After a moments gathering of wits, a few people made some suggestions as to why it mattered.

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Re: In Shíráz an “earthquake" July 1850

Postby brettz9 » Fri Jul 25, 2014 1:58 pm

Well, please do feel free to share quotations you have collected by subject online, such as at http://bahai9.com . As a Counselor advised Helen Hornby with her collection which became "Lights of Guidance", we should not be selfish with our Baha'i creations!


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