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Reflections on the structure and themes of this document.

"Who is Writing the Future? Reflections on the Twentieth Century":
Thoughts on the Statement Prepared by the Bahá'í International Community's Office of Public Information

by Jack McLean

In 1999 the Bahá’í International Community’s Office of Public Information published a document that is directly pertinent to the theme of providential history. Since then Century of Light has been published (2001), under the supervision of The Universal House of Justice, a document that bears some textual resemblances to “Who is Writing the Future?”[1] Several of the central ideas of Century of Light, although developed through a sophisticated treatment of a retrospective of the entire twentieth century, can be traced directly back to the writings of Shoghi Effendi. Its also builds on observations made by the Universal House of Justice in its peace statement “To the Peoples of the World” (1985). Since considerations of space do not allow for extended analysis, the following comments will be necessarily selective.

1) Overview of “Who is Writing the Future?”

“Who is Writing the Future?” is a five-part essay of some fifteen pages that is based on the conviction that the future of humanity will prove to be the continuation of a historic journey that”...has brought us to the threshold of our long-awaited coming of age as a unified human race.”[2] I will begin by making three crashing generalisations: (1) This document concerns the beginnings of a new history — the history of the human race that is in the throes of establishing its unity. (2) “Who is Writing the Future?” is a commentary on new world geopolitics, but its subject matter is not political in the usually defined sense of the word. It redefines political relations in terms of global systems or world events with world unity being set out as the imperative of the present age. (The word “globalization” voided of its negative capitalistic connotations and redefined would be an apt descriptor of the process). (3) While it makes the writings of Bahá’u’lláh the prism of its analysis, this document is not merely a spiritual interpretation of the events of the twentieth century. It is a comprehensive essay that purports to show that the Divine Will directs both secular and spiritual affairs toward a predetermined goal in a synchronicity that is not readily apparent, between what it calls in one passage “...a moral intelligence inherent in existence” (p. 11), and the secular affairs executed by governments, organisations, men and women.

The Office of Public Information’s viewpoint is based upon a particular interpretation of the recent past seen in light of the Bahá’í teachings. This viewpoint indicates that a true understanding of the future, as an outcome of the Divine Will, shall be determined in part by events occurring in the recent past which is really defined as an existent present. This outlook is consistent with what I have stated elsewhere about Shoghi Effendi’s view of history as being “... a process model of orderly organic growth, one that is at the same time holistic and evolutionary and whose internal workings, in teleological fashion, drive it toward full autonomy.” and “Thus the Guardian associates past with present and present with future.”[3]

2) Structural Analysis

The Title: A Metaphor for Planning the Future.

The title of this monograph is significant since, as for all titled works, it hints at some salient feature of the contents. The title, which uses writing as a metaphor for planning history, is an invitation to the world’s peoples to write the history of their own future. The authors of such history are deemed to be Bahá’u’lláh (1817-1892), the Manifestation of God for the present age, and all those who accept his divine plan for world unity. More allusively, the title recalls the saying of Oscar Wilde (1854-1900): “Anyone can make history. Only a great man can write it.”[4] which in turns alludes to Thomas Carlyle’s (1795-1881) “Great Man” theory of history: “The history of the world is but the biography of great men.”[5]

The Question: Why "Sharply Divergent Reactions?"

The untitled introduction begins with a question based on a contrast deriving from actual scenarios. While in the West, Brazil's Chamber of Deputies met in special session on May 28, 1992 to commemorate the centenary of the passing of Bahá'u'lláh, and to pay tribute to the body of his writings as "the most colossal religious work written by the pen of a single man,..."(p. 3), in the Middle East, in the cradle of the Bahá'í Faith, the government of the Islamic Republic of Iran was systematically subjecting some 300,000 Bahá'ís living within its borders to "...persecution, privation, and, in all too many cases, imprisonment and death" (p. 3). The author begins his reflections with the question "What is the nature of the body of thought that has aroused such sharply divergent reactions?" (p. 3). Thus the didactic technique of question and answer is used as the basis for the discourse that follows.

Part I: The Spiritual Nature of Reality

This section is approximately the same length (3 paras.) as the question and serves to introduce Bahá'u'lláh and his message as the pivotal point of the entire statement. This section serves: (i) to posit "...reality as fundamentally spiritual in nature, and of the laws that govern that reality's operation" (p. 4). This spiritual nature of reality, as a fundamental premise of this document, is not subject to definition but implicitly defines Bahá'u'lláh's sacred writings as the constituant of spiritual reality and the laws that govern its operation. (ii) The nature of this spiritual reality is imperative, total and holistic. It governs all aspects of reality, not only traditionally religious questions such as the "...rational soul," but also insists that the entire enterprise that we call civilization is itself a spiritual process..." (p. 4). Thus true history is to be viewed, not primarily as a manifestation of purely secular or materialistic philosophies or motivations, which has been the case heretofore, but rather as an increasingly pacific, organic, staged growth working-model which leads from birth to adulthood. (The current stage is that of "adolescence").

Paragraph three also contains an allusion to the convenantal language of "the promise and the threat"[6] contained in Bahá'u'lláh's writings. In the late nineteenth century (circa 1890), in the Kalimát-i-Firdawsíyyih (Words of Paradise), Bahá'u'lláh wrote this remarkable prophecy: "Strange and astonishing things exist in the earth but they are hidden from the minds and the understanding of men. These things are capable of changing the whole atmosphere of the earth and their contamination would prove lethal."[7] Thus, scientific research with its attendant technics and inventions, and which is capable of releasing such potent forces, is seen as a double-edged sword: "If nationalistic and sectarian conflicts prevented this from happening [the use of such technics "...for moral and social development."], then material progress would produce not only benefits, but unimagined evils" (p. 4). The malicious application of scientific research in the twentieth century for precisely such "nationalistic and sectarian conflicts" has exacted uncounted millions of largely innocent victims as a consequence.

Part II: Where Secular and Spiritual Forces Converge

The longest section develops the main thesis of the message that is based on Bahá'u'lláh's scripture that "The well being of mankind, its peace and security, are unattainable unless and until its unity is firmly established."[8] The subsequent sentence, which is not quoted, provides the all-important corollary: "This unity can never be achieved so long as the counsels which the Pen of the Most High hath revealed are suffered to pass unheeded." It is in this section that the author develops his argument that the combined secular and spiritual forces of the past century have converged and are moving us ineluctably toward world unity.

The allusions here are wide-ranging. Such issues as international relations and human rights, the global economy, world literacy and education, consciousness-raising through positive attitudinal changes, the equality of the sexes, ethnic relations, poverty, religious prejudice and fundamentalism, the advances in technology and communications, and the necessity of a world currency — all these are treated with an eye to validate the thesis that "The central spiritual issue facing all people, Bahá'u'lláh that of laying the foundations of a global society that can reflect the oneness of human nature" (p. 5). The benefits of science are conveyed, too, in a sentence that retains the sense of the miraculous in a poetry of transformation: "Grains of sand — the most humble and ostensibly worthless of materials — metamorphosed into silicon wafers and optically pure glass, making possible the creation of worldwide communications networks" (p. 9).

It should be pointed out, however, that regarding "...the loosening of the grip of religious prejudice." and the statement that "the process of interfaith dialogue and collaboration reinforced the effects of secularism in undermining the once impregnable wall of clerical authority," that it was largely these same clerics who were instrumental in initiating the process of interfaith dialogue, which resulted by the end of the twentieth century, in a wider recognition of the divine foundation of all the world's great religions. This recognition, as the author points out, is itself a Bahá'í teaching. (p. 8). The anti-clerical note of “Who is Writing the Future?” should be balanced by Bahá'u'lláh’s declaration: "Those divines ... who are truly adorned with the ornament of knowledge and of a goodly character are, verily, as a head to the body of the world, and as eyes to the nations. The guidance of men hath, at all times, been and is dependent upon these blessed souls."[9] In a perspective that is not unlike Toynbee's "challenge and response" theory of the growth of civilizations, or his reaffirmation of the cyclical view of decay and rebirth, in which the germ of a new society survives the death of the old order in the chrysalis of a new religion, the author argues that "The assertion [the drive toward world unity] places current history in a perspective sharply different from the one that prevails at the end of the twentieth century. It urges us to find — within the suffering and breakdown of our times — the operation of forces that are liberating human consciousness for a new stage in its evolution" (p. 5).

"Who Is Writing The Future?" provides an overarching grand synthesis that ties together the seemingly disparate threads of the past century’s great drama that can only be called a tragi-comedy. In this monograph, secular and sacred history merge in the belief that Divine Reason works cunningly within and through both the temporal and spiritual orders to its stated end of achieving world unity. Our great task is to become fully conscious of the process, and by collaborating, to bring it about. In a bold statement of historical determinism, a historicism that has been emphatically rejected by such philosophers as Sir Karl Popper,[10] the author asserts that "The unification of the earth's inhabitants is neither a remote utopian vision nor, ultimately, a matter of choice. It constitutes the next, inescapable stage in the process of social evolution, a stage toward which all the experience of past and present is impelling us" (p. 5).

While many self-styled pragmatists, biological determinists, materialists, historical nihilists, doubters and sceptics would view the Bahá'í scenario presented in these pages as being hopelessly idealistic, the author shows to those who may disagree with his fundamental thesis, that he is not, at least, naive. He writes: "If the practical effects [of the U.N.'s international peacekeeping efforts and the expansion of democratic governments] are still disappointing, this in no way diminishes the historic and irreversible change of direction that has taken place in the organization of human affairs" (p. 6). Also, there is this statement regarding the global economy and the establishment of such institutions as the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank, the General Agreement of Tariffs and Trade: "At century's end — whatever the intentions and however crude the present generation of tools — the masses of humanity have been shown that the use of the planet's wealth can be fundamentally reorganized in response to entirely new conceptions of need" (p. 6).

But this is not a historical determinism that supports a failure of commitment in a passive fatalism. While the outcome of world unity is assured because it is the Will of God, the author would maintain that the all-important pace of events is still very much in human hands. The awesome responsibility of the full exercise of free will remains key. Reinhold Niebuhr writes about history and freedom: "History is the fruit and proof of man's freedom. Historical time is to be distinguished from natural time by the unique freedom which enables man to transcend the flux of time, holding past moments in present memory and envisaging future ends of action which are not dictated by natural necessity."[11] And what this document does not say is that the Bahá'í sacred writings retain the same heightened sense of expectation for the Bahá'í world community, in the execution of its task, as it does for the world at large. To a large degree, the dire sufferings of an unrepentant humanity will be mitigated by the active pursuit of its mission.

Certain enlightened authors have also been aware of the depth of the present catastrophe afflicting humanity. The Russian-American sociologist and philosopher Pitirim Sorokin (1889-1968), who became the first professor of sociology and founder of the department at Harvard (1930), wrote in The Crisis of Our Age (1941) of "the way out and beyond" the global crisis which he had already perceived. Sorokin's comment is worth quoting at length:

The first step in this direction consists in as wide, as deep, and as prompt a realization as possible of the extraordinary character of the contemporary crisis of our culture and society. It is high time to realize that this is not one of the ordinary crises which happen [sic] almost every decade, but one of the greatest transitions in human history from one culture to another. An adequate realization of the immense magnitude of the change now upon us is a necessary condition for determining the adequacy of measures and means to alleviate the magnitude of the pending catastrophe. He is a poor doctor who treats dangerous pneumonia as a slight cold. Similarly, nothing but harm can ensue from the prevalent treatment of the present crisis as a light and ordinary maladjustment. Such a blunderous diagnosis must be forgotten as soon as possible, together with all the surface rubbing medicines abundantly prescribed by shortsighted socio-cultural physicians.[12]
Bahá'ís will hear in Sorokin's comment a virtual echo of the words of Bahá'u'lláh written in the latter half of the nineteenth century:
The All Knowing Physician hath His finger on the pulse of mankind. He perceiveth the disease, and prescribeth, in His unerring wisdom, the remedy. Every age hath its own problem, and every soul its particular aspiration. The remedy the world needeth in its present day afflictions can never be the same as that which a subsequent age may require. Be anxiously concerned with the needs of the age ye live in, and center your deliberations on its exigencies and requirements. We can well perceive how the whole human race is encompassed with great, with incalculable afflictions. We see it languishing on its bed of sickness, sore tried and disillusioned. They that are intoxicated by self conceit have interposed themselves between it and the Divine and infallible Physician. Witness how they have entangled all men, themselves included, in the mesh of their devices. They can neither discover the cause of the disease, nor have they any knowledge of the remedy. They have conceived the straight to be crooked, and have imagined their friend an enemy.[13]
In the subsequent scripture, "the All-Knowing Physician" prescribes His remedy: "He Who is your Lord, the All Merciful, cherisheth in His heart the desire of beholding the entire human race as one soul and one body."[14]

Part III: The Interplay of Light and the Shadow

If the twentieth century qualifies as the "century of light," in its antithesis it also deserves to be called the century of darkness. In this section the author engages in a brief summary of the more blatant entries in the "catalogue of evils, unmatched in history," (p. 10) that plagued humanity throughout the twentieth century. Genocide, weapons of mass destruction, pernicious ideologies, catastrophic environmental damage and moral degradation figure among them. At the same time, the author provides a metaphysical observation that serves to attenuate the horror occasioned by such excesses. Evil, while a moral fact, is not a metaphysical reality. The dark corners of humanity's psyche, like the darkened corners of a dimly lit room, are precisely those areas that stand in need of the light. Humanity's profound moral failures serve as the mirror for self-scrutiny and self-improvement. In the age-old battle between the army of light and the forces of darkness, this document sounds an optimistic note: "The ferocities of animal nature, which raged out of control through these critical years and seemed at times to threaten society's very survival, did not in fact prevent the unfoldment of the creative potentialities which human consciousness possesses" (p. 10). In this vein, it could be argued that the disillusioned masses grew to reject the hollowness of such pernicious ideologies and growing numbers of people refused to be stampeded into abandoning a sense of decency and came increasingly to find the frenetic celebration of licence repugnant.

This section returns to the central metaphor of this document — writing as a method of planning the future. While this concept is implicit throughout the entire essay, it is explicitly stated in Part III. It suggest that we may be either prisoners of past failures or choose to become pioneers of future successes. The paramount issue "is rather how much more suffering and ruin must be experienced by our race before we wholeheartedly accept the spiritual nature that makes us a single people, and gather the courage to plan our future in light of the what has been so painfully learned" (p. 10).

Part IV: Challenging Moral and Social Theory

The most iconoclastic of the five sections, Part IV directly challenges the assumptions behind contemporary moral and social theory, behaviour and decision-making. That a link should be made between moral and social theory and decision-making is in itself suggestive. If, as the author suggests, "...a great deal of the theory determining contemporary approaches to decision-making is fatally flawed."(p. 11), then decision-makers need to become conscious: (a) that theory is implicit to decision-making (b) that decision-making is too routine or automatic (c) and/or that theory itself, where it exists or is non-existent, needs either to be found, questioned and/or re-examined.

The three chief culprits, the first two by commission, the third by omission, are "the cult of individualism," a biased clinging to a conflictual view of human nature and the failure to consider the unity of humanity as a viable solution to the world's ongoing complex of thorny problems. The cult of individualism, which in its extremes works against both the individual and collective good, has been fed by a number of deleterious sources — "political ideology, academic elitism, and a consumer economy." This has led to " aggressive and almost boundless sense of personal entitlement."(p. 11). The result has been "...devastating in terms of disease, drug addiction and other all-too-familiar blights of century's end" (p. 11).

It has to be pointed out, however, that one of these deleterious sources of the cult of individualism, and which does not figure among the author's list of factors, is religion itself. In its American varieties particularly, religious individualism has deep roots dating back to seventeenth-century New England. The third president of the United States, Thomas Jefferson (1743-1826), said "I am a sect myself" and the English-American author and humanitarian Thomas Paine (1737-1809) wrote "My mind is my church."[15] Revivalism has promoted individualism from colonial times to the present day. But in contemporary America, religious individualism includes, not only Christian fundamentalists, but also such groups as American Buddhists and a wide variety of "pantheists"[16] who desire to live in harmony with the earth.[17] Such religious individualists define the experience of the divine and "salvation" only in terms of their own experience. The collective, social good or institutional functions of religion are either subjected to critique or viewed as being of minor importance. Whereas, according to Bahá'u'lláh's promotion of justice as "the best beloved of all things," each person "comes into the world as a trust of the whole" (p. 12). This trust remains a trust regardless of his or her spiritual convictions.

The second factor cited by the author which "... more than any other single factor has tragically handicapped humanity's past," (p. 11) is the long-held view, determined largely by both personal and world historical experience, that conflict is intrinsic to human nature and social relations. To maintain such a view, however, is to fall into the trap of a naturalistic bias, i.e., that because humanity has always behaved thus, ergo it will always do so. In short, such biological determinism or social scepticism vastly underrates the faith-generated view of the possibilities of transformational education. The author looks instead to "...a complex of learned habits and attitudes..." to explain such aggressive behaviour. To cling to this false notion of innate, unchangeable aggression is to reinforce such behaviour and to remain "part of the problem" rather than becoming "part of the solution" and to prolong into the twenty first century this error. Bahá'u'lláh's statement to the elected representatives in every land, cited in this context, "Regard the world as the human body which, though at its creation whole and perfect, hath been afflicted, through various causes, with grave disorder and maladies,"[18] should be regarded as an indictment of all those leaders who have seized power in the vain hope of self-aggrandizement. While Bahá'u'lláh alludes to the partial healing power of certain able physicians, the whole body politic needs to be healed:

And if, at one time, through the care of an able physician, a member of that body was healed, the rest remained afflicted as before. Thus informeth you the All Knowing, the All Wise. We behold it, in this day, at the mercy of rulers so drunk with pride that they cannot discern clearly their own best advantage, much less recognize a Revelation so bewildering and challenging as this. And whenever any one of them hath striven to improve its condition, his motive hath been his own gain, whether confessedly so or not; and the unworthiness of this motive hath limited his power to heal or cure.[19]
The third great fault in modern moral reasoning is the failure to consider unity as a viable solution to the world's global problems. The author states that those who have rejected the unity option have done so because they regard it as an "...almost unattainable ideal to be addressed only after a host of political conflicts have been somehow resolved, material needs somehow satisfied, and injustices somehow corrected" (p. 11). The author’s assertion should not be misconstrued as mere "cart before the horse" thinking. It is, rather, a failure to discern the most fundamental cause underlying the multitude of contemporary maladies that afflict the world order. And world unity, in Bahá'u'lláh's view, is the supreme unity whose creation will lead to the healing of multiple minor ailments. However, on the international scene, world peace is currently the most urgent and immediate concern. While the preoccupation with world peace is certainly well-founded, in the Bahá'í view, what the world's peoples fail to understand is that peace is dependent upon unity. Our efforts need to be directed, in the first instance, to establishing unity, not to piecemeal and largely ineffectual efforts to secure peace.

The author's assertions lead to conclusions of some consequence. Ideas are not just des idées en l'air, mere mental constructs or playthings. They can have devastating consequences on human behaviour when they go wrong. And it seems clear that the nineteenth century was not the only "age of ideology," as it has been called. In our own time, ill-begotten ideologies serving pernicious tribal, racial, national, ethnic or religious interests, and the power-hungry demagogues who exploited them, have driven misguided leaders and their unsuspecting followers to perpetrate great harm on themselves and others.

Part V: Writing the Future

The last section of "Who is Writing the Future?" concludes with some fundamental concepts in Bahá'í theology, a recapitulation of the Bahá'í view of history and a cautious but confident look to the future. Our understanding of and relationship to the transcendent God of the universe, called here "ultimate Reality" (p. 14), "...has been the result of the influence of the Founders of the great religions, Moses, Zoroaster, Buddha, Jesus, Muhammad and earlier figures who names are, for the most part, lost to memory" (p. 14). The author asserts that human character, in its various dimensions, has been largely formed through the civilizing influence of the Prophets. The history of humanity has reached its decisive turning-point in synchronicity with the declaration of Bahá'u'lláh's mission. We have entered a new axial age, one in which "previously unrealized possibilities suddenly emerge" (p. 14). The "time of the end," like all endings in the eternal continuum of human life, is but the signal of a new beginning. And this new beginning signifies that a new history has already begun to be written, a history that will also determine the future:

Viewed through Bahá'u'lláh's eyes, the history of tribes, peoples, and nations has effectively reached its conclusion. What we are witnessing is the beginning of the history of humankind, the history of a human race conscious of its own oneness. To this turning point in the course of civilization, his writings bring a redefinition of the nature and processes of civilization and a reordering of its priorities. Their aim is to call us back to spiritual awareness and responsibility. (p. 14)
While the Bahá'í vision of the future is faith-driven and is consequently optimistic, it betrays no facile naïveté as to the arduousness of the journey that awaits us: "There is nothing in Bahá'u'lláh's writings to encourage the illusion that the changes envisioned will come about easily. Far otherwise. As the events of the twentieth century have already demonstrated, patterns of habit and attitude which have taken root over thousands of years are not abandoned spontaneously or in response simply to education or legislative action" (p. 14). In the words of Shoghi Effendi, such changes can be brought about only in the heat of "...that crucible whose chastening fires alone can and will weld its antagonistic elements of race, class, religion and nation into one coherent system, one world commonwealth."[20]

While the belief in providential history may be rejected by those who deny that there is any spiritual meaning to history, or any predetermined divine plan, the historical nihilists, sceptics or subjectivists,[21] will have to contend with the demonstrated viability of such a view: "Despite widely prevalent opinion to the contrary, the human race is not a blank tablet on which privileged arbiters of human affairs can freely inscribe their own wishes. The springs of the spirit rise up where they will, as they will. They will not indefinitely be suppressed by the detritus of contemporary society" (p. 15). The author concludes that, not only is Bahá'u'lláh writing history, but "...every individual, every institution, and every community on earth" that accepts his divine plan of salvation will add its word or two. (p. 15). "Soon will the present-day order be rolled up, and a new one spread out in its stead."[22]

German speakers use the term Heilsgeschichte (sacred/salvation history) which aptly names the view discussed here. Heilsgeschichte, although it sometimes refers in a narrower sense to the Judeo-Christian dispensation, can be applied to a more global view of history. Allusive by definition, the word Heilsgeschichte conveys, in addition to a sacred or salvific function for history, other connotations which are linguistic cognates to the German "Heil," such as those of "hail," "heal," "health," "holy," and "whole."[23] All these indicate a vital, life-giving spiritual state which is one of the many benefits of God's revelations to humanity.

The corresponding secular term is Weltgeschichte (world history). Although one may see one version of history implied in the other, as does the late historian and phenomenologist of religion, Gerardus van der Leeuw (1890-1950),[24] the existence of two such terms in German is rather an indication that human understanding recognizes two versions of history, the one sacred, the other secular. Thus, the notion of history as being a continuous sacred event or series of sacred events has been split off from the secular view of history, the actions performed by men and nations when God's purposes are not uppermost in the human mind.

  1. I can offer within these confines just a hint to validate this statement — the use of the literary word “detritus” to refer to contemporary society, one of whose meanings is debris of any kind.
  2. Who is Writing the Future? p. 4.
  3. From an unpublished work-in-progress on the writings of Shoghi Effendi.
  4. Dr. Laurence J. Peter, Peter's Quotations. Ideas for Our Time (New York: Bantam Books, 1977), p. 244.
  5. The Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, 3rd edition, (New York: Oxford University Press, 1979) p. 131. Carlyle was no admirer of the masses: "The common herd must be drilled, led and punished by their superiors." Quoted in Barnes, A History of Historical Writing, p. 189. The original source is not given.
  6. Bahá'u'lláh writes in the Kalimát-i-Firdawsíyyih (Words of Paradise): "The word of God which the Supreme Pen hath recorded on the eighth leaf of the Most Exalted Paradise is the following: 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, p. 68).
  7. The Kalimát-i-Firdawsíyyih (Words of Paradise) in Tablets of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 69. For the background, summary and analysis of this tablet, see chapter 15 of Adib Taherzadeh's The Revelation of Bahá'u'lláh, vol. 4, pp. 214-26.
  8. Gleanings, p. 286.
  9. Bahá'u'lláh, Proclamation of Bahá'u'lláh, p. 79
  10. See Popper's The Poverty of Historicism. Popper maintained that "...the belief in historical destiny is sheer superstition, and that there can be no prediction of the course of human history by scientific or any other rational methods" (p. vii).
  11. Faith and History, p. 55.
  12. The Crisis of Our Age, p. 256.
  13. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, p. 213
  14. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, p. 214
  15. Quoted by Robert N. Bellah et al. in Habits of the Heart. Individualism and Commitment in American Life (New York: Harper and Row, 1985), p. 233. Original sources are not given. "Habits of the heart" was an expression de Tocqueville used to describe American mores in Democracy in America. See Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America, trans. George Lawrence, ed. J.P. Mayer (New York: Doubleday Anchor Books, 1969), p. 287.
  16. Such pantheists are typified by Cassie Cromwell, a member of the Unitarian church. She states her pantheism this way: "I am a pantheist. I believe in the 'holiness' of the earth and all other living things. We are product of this life system and are inextricably linked to all parts of it." (Quoted in Habits of the Heart, p. 234.)
  17. See Habits of the Heart, p. 233-34.
  18. Gleanings, CXX, p. 253.
  19. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings, p. 255.
  20. Shoghi Effendi, Messages to America, p. 27.
  21. Those who assert that any meaning ascribed to history derives from the subjective interpretations that mind imposes upon historical events.
  22. Bahá'u'lláh, Gleanings from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, IV, p. 7.
  23. Karl Löwith, Meaning in History, The Theological Implications of the Philosophy of History, The University of Chicago Press, Chicago, Illinois, 1949, note 1, p. 225.
  24. Religion in Essence and Manifestation (London: 1938), p. 101.
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