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Abstract:
Style, content, and context of World Order of Baha'u'llah and Dispensation of Baha'u'llah: part of chapter 1 of this lengthy analysis of the work of Shoghi Effendi (pages 1-71), offered as a sample.
Notes:
Please order a copy from bds-canada.com or bahaipublishingtrust.in.

Mirrored with permission from jack-mclean.com.


A Celestial Burning:
A Selective Study of the Writings of Shoghi Effendi

by Jack McLean

Baha’i Publishing Trust of India, 2012

1) About

This recently published work is a comprehensive study of selected writings of Shoghi Effendi Rabbani (1897-1957), the Guardian of the Baha’i Faith. The fruit of over a decade of meditation and careful research, the author has approached Shoghi Effendi’s writings from two main perspectives: The Guardian as the divine expounder, a wellspring of incisive and perspicuous religious thought, and Shoghi Effendi the eloquent writer, a vocation that was inseparable from his sacred office. This unique volume treats such themes as Shoghi Effendi’s view of history as divine drama, his effective use of rhetoric, his penetrating insights into morality and spirituality, and his understanding of the emerging world order as a modern-day apocalypse, and also the inimitable style and integral patterns that emerge in his epistolary prose. The breadth of research and the rich detail is a pleasure to peruse, and will surely absorb many readers, and help to inform not only scholars, but also those teachers, administrators, and general readers who seek a deeper appreciation of these aspects of the writings of the Guardian, and who may wish to develop them in their talks or publications.

2) Table of Contents

POINTS ON FORM   ...   11

1. INTRODUCTION AND PARAMETERS   ...   12

An Interdisciplinary Approach: Philosophical Theology and Literary Criticism   ...   12
Interdisciplinary Studies   ...   13
Selection of the Material: Five Core Works   ...   14
Correlation Between Bahá'í and Non- Bahá'í Thought   ...   15
English as the Language of Interpretation   ...   15
The Biographical Aspect   ...   16
Shoghi Effendi's Writings and Contemporary Society   ...   17
Authority of Letters Written on Behalf of Shoghi Effendi   ...   17
Present and Future Shoghi Effendi Studies   ...   18

2. SOME CORE WRITINGS ... 19

A. THE DISPENSATION OF BAHÁ'U'LLÁH: A THEOLOGY OF THE WORD   ...   19

ABOUT THE TEXT   ...   19
A Proactive Theological Document   ...   19
Inspiration and Inerrancy in the Guardianship   ...   21
Elegant Form: "Less is More"   ...   23

HISTORY, TEXT AND THEOLOGY...
Creating Historical Consciousness   ...   25
Periodization   ...   26
Historical Process: Evolution, Order and Holism   ...   28
The Introduction: Judeo-Christian Allusions   ...   29
The Station of Bahá'u'lláh: Caution Against Triumphalism   ...   32
Lest We Forget: The Station of the Báb   ...   34
Completing the Holy Shrine   ...   34
The Edit and Translation of The Dawn-Breakers   ...   36
The Proof From History   ...   38

THE STATION OF 'ABDU'L-BAHÁ   ...   The Language and Logic of Fundamental Theology   ...   42
Demonstrative Reason, Orthodoxy and Moral Integrity   ...   44
Logical Consequences   ...   46
Hermeneutical Pointers   ...   49
Exclusionary Definitions   ...   52
Positive and Negative Theology   ...   53
End Limits: Neither Too Much Nor Too Little   ...   54

SELECTED POINTS ON THE ADMINISTRATIVE ORDER   ...   55
Generative Imagery in Shoghi Effendi's Elucidations of the Will and Testament of 'Abdu'l-Bahá   ...   55
The Sacred Marriage Metaphor   ...   56
Personal and Impersonal Modes of Speech   ...   57
Backhanded Warnings Against Autocracy, Special Privilege, Bureaucracy and Corruption   ...   58

B. THE WORLD ORDER LETTERS (1929-1936): THE EMBODIMENT OF SPIRIT IN THE WORLD ORDER OF BAHÁ'U'LLÁH   ...   61

The Epitome of Shoghi Effendi's Literary Powers   ...   61
Three Overall Objectives   ...   61
The Vision of Shoghi Effendi Prior to 1937   ...   62
Horace Holley: Editor of the World Order Letters   ...   63
Blurred Genres   ...   64
Milly Collins's Walk With the Young Guardian: Awakening to World Order   ...   65

SELECTED TOPICS FROM THE WORLD ORDER LETTERS   ...   67
Preamble: Three Basic Foci   ...   67

The First Letter: The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh (February 27, 1929)   ...   68
First Exposure to the Administrative Order   ...   68
Creation of a New Institutional Matrix   ...   69

The Second Letter: The World Order of Bahá'u'lláh: Further Considerations (March 21, 1930)   ...   70
The Continuing Object Lesson in World Order   ...   70
Early Warnings of More Severe Attacks   ...   71
The Divine Economy   ...   71

The Third Letter: The Goal of a New World Order (November 28, 1931)   ...   72
The Watershed Epistle   ...   72
A Coming Second World War   ...   72
Positive Signs of Coming World Order   ...   73
Between the World Wars   ...   75
Failure of the Versailles Peace Treaties (1919)   ...   75
The World Scene in 1931   ...   77
Social, Economical, Political and Religious Upheavals   ...   77
Failure of Diplomacy, Good Will and Human Ingenuity   ...   78

The Fourth Letter: The Golden Age of the Cause of Bahá'u'lláh (March 21, 1932)   ...   80
Mystical Means of Success   ...   80
Apologetic History: Links Between East and West   ...   81
Bahá'í Theology and Comparative Religion: Brief Summary   ...   82
Close Relationship of the Bahá'í Faith to the Other World's Religions   ...   83
Caution Against Triumphalism   ...   83
Progressive Revelation and Social Evolution   ...   84
Rejection of Eclecticism and Syncretism   ...   85
Some Christian Questions   ...   86
A Necessary Qualification   ...   87
"Discord of the African Church"   ...   88
"The Alexandrian School of Thought"   ...   89
"The Mithraic Cult"   ...   90
"The Precepts of Zoroastrianism"   ...   91

The Fifth Letter: America and the Most Great Peace (April 23, 1933)   ...   93
Three Main Themes   ...   93
Living History   ...   93
Consolation to the East   ...   94
'Abdu'l-Bahá in North America (1912)   ...   95
The "Spiritual Primacy" of North America   ...   97

The Sixth Letter (See Chapter 2)

The Seventh World Order Letter: The Unfoldment of World Civilization (March 11, 1936)   ...   99
General Characteristics   ...   99
Unique Features of This Letter   ...   99
Four Dynamic States and Processes   ...   99
"Organic and Spiritual Unity": The Bahá'í Faith as a "Living Organism"   ...   100
The Organic Analogy of the Living Organism   ...   101
Unity and Holism   ...   103
Spiritual and Administrative Holism   ...   104
Palingenesis: Death of the Old and Birth of the New   ...   105
The Writings of H.G. Wells: Preliminary Qualification   ...   107
"The Shape of Things to Come" (1933)   ...   107
"The Generation of the Half-Light" and Other Things   ...   109
The Parallel of Early Christianity With the Twentieth Century   ...   112
Teleological History   ...   114
Teleological History is Providential   ...   115
A Fourfold History: Rational, Moral, Mysterious and Creative..116

C. THE PROMISED DAY IS COME: APOCALYPSE OF RETRIBUTION AND RENEWAL   ...   119

The Title   ...   119
The Exordium: The Tempest   ...   119
"This World-Afflicting Ordeal": Karma or Reward and Punishment   ...   120
A Destructive and Constructive Process   ...   121
Sequel to the Tablets to the Kings, Rulers and Ecclesiastics   ...   122
Judgment of God on a Heedless World   ...   122
The Prophetic Voice: Warnings and Denunciations   ...   124
Imagery   ...   125
The Divine Forger: The Mythological Language of Unification   ...   126
Crucifixion and Resurrection Imagery   ...   129
From Justice Unto Love   ...   132
The Nine Sentences of the Most Great Peace   ...   134

D. THE ADVENT OF DIVINE JUSTICE: MORAL AND SPIRITUAL PREREQUISITES FOR A CONTINENT   ...   137

Background and Context   ...   137
The Title: Allusions to Messianic Fulfilment   ...   137
Justice: The All-Encompassing Virtue   ...   138
Essential Requirements for Teaching   ...   139
The Three Spiritual Prerequisites   ...   140
Rectitude of Conduct   ...   140
Sexual Morality   ...   141
Societal Ills on a Mass Scale   ...   143
The Most Challenging Issue   ...   144
The Rejection of Puritanism   ...   146
The Conceptual Framework of Divine Justice   ...   148
Older Forms of Justice are Inadequate Today   ...   149
The Understanding of Justice is Based on Interlocking Meanings   ...   151
Justice as the Antithesis of Oppression   ...   151
Justice and Forgiveness Between Individuals and Among Nations   ...   152
Creative Justice: Love and Obedience   ...   152
New Dimensions in Teaching   ...   153
The Admonition Against Elitism   ...   154
Universal Participation   ...   155
Exploiting the Moral and Spiritual Angst of our Age   ...   156
Synergy and the American Dream   ...   157
Centrifugal and Centripetal Motion in the Divine Plan   ...   159
The Prediction of World War II: Retreat From American Isolationism   ...   161

3. ETHICS AND SPIRITUALITY: VIRTUE IN STRIVING   ...   163

Ethics and Morality   ...   163
Morality and Spirituality in the Letters of Shoghi Effendi   ...   164
Shoghi Effendi's Writings as a Talking Mirror of Conscience   ...   166
The Defining Element: A Spirituality of Striving   ...   166
The Example of the Guardian's Own Life   ...   169
The Spiritual Warrior   ...   169
Individual, Institutional and Community Virtues in The Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh   ...   172
The Matrix of Spirituality: Teaching and Serving in the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh   ...   173
Moral Realism: Idealism With Compassion   ...   174
From Moral Theory to Moral Practice   ...   176
Undercutting Moral Relativism   ...   179
Failure as Potential for Spiritual Growth   ...   180
Perfection as Process   ...   181
The Labour of Conversion in 'Abdu'l-Bahá and Shoghi Effendi   ...   182
Love and the Wisdom of Obedience   ...   183
Legitimate Fear   ...   185
Chastity: Narrowing Legal and Moral Definitions   ...   186
The Definitive Statement   ...   188

4. PROVIDENTIAL HISTORY: THE RENEWAL OF AN ANCIENT IDEA   ...   190

WHEN GOD IS AND IS NOT IN THE ACT   ...   190
Providential History and Secular History   ...   190
Providential History and Contemporary Society   ...   191
The History of Humanity as One Spiritual Narrative   ...   193
On the Influence of the Prophets   ...   194
The Political Conquest-Conflict Model   ...   195
Awakening From a Nightmare   ...   197
All Histories Have Bias   ...   198
The Dual Phenomenon of Our Time   ...   201
The Kingdom of God and the One Story of Humanity   ...   204
Linear and Cyclical Views of History   ...   206
The New Creation and Teleology   ...   207
The End-Point of History   ...   209
Writing the History of the Future   ...   210
The Divine Plan as the Sine Qua Non of World Peace   ...   213
Is Providential History a Type of Historicism?   ...   214

PROVIDENCE: THE GOD OF HISTORY   ...   216
Reviving the Belief in Providence   ...   216
Some Primary Meanings of Providence   ...   217
General and Special Providence   ...   217
Antidote for the Death of God   ...   218
Synchronization and the War Years (1939-1945)   ...   221
The 1955 Persecution of the Iranian Bahá'ís   ...   222
Inscrutable Providence: The Divine Chess Game   ...   223
Summary and Conclusion   ...   224

5. THE CRITIQUE OF HEGEL, THE METHOD OF CORRELATION AND THE DIVINE ECONOMY   ...   227

A. THE CRITIQUE OF HEGEL   ...   227
Contextualising Shoghi Effendi's Critique of Hegel   ...   227
Shoghi Effendi's Sources   ...   230
"An Intolerant and Militant Nationalism"   ...   232
"Deifying the State"   ...   233
"The War Spirit"   ...   235
"Racial Animosity"   ...   238
"A Marked Weakening of the Church"   ...   243

B. THE METHOD OF CORRELATION   ...   248
The Bahá'í Faith and Modern Science, Progressive Movements and Current Problems   ...   248
Expanding Correlation: Sixteen Principles   ...   250

C. THE DIVINE ECONOMY   ...   252
Orienting Observations   ...   252
Etymological and Theological Roots   ...   253
Determining Meaning by Context   ...   254
Maximum Efficiency: The Elegant Solution   ...   256
The Divine Economy, Dispensational Religion and Progressive Revelation   ...   256
The Greater Covenant and American Dispensationalism   ...   258

6. STYLE AND PATTERN   ...   262

STYLE   ...   262
Exploring Shoghi Effendi's Literary Art   ...   262
Elements of Shoghi Effendi's Style   ...   262
Didactic and Eristic Elements   ...   263
Naming His Style   ...   264
Multi-Layering   ...   266
Biblical and Koranic Symbolism   ...   267
Spiritual Romanticism   ...   268

PATTERN   ...   271
Dynamic Word Duos   ...   272
The Serial Semi-Colon/Linking Paratactical Clauses   ...   272
The Periodic or Ciceronian Sentence   ...   273
Alternating Diction: The Terse Sentence   ...   274
The Rhetorical Question   ...   276
The Jussive: New Counsel on Teaching   ...   277
Balance and Parallelism   ...   278
Repetition   ...   280
Caution, Contrast and Antithesis   ...   281
Alliteration   ...   282
Assonance   ...   283
Evocative Questioning   ...   284
The Arraignment of Adversaries   ...   285
Old Words With New Meanings   ...   286

THE MUSIC OF RHYTHMIC PROSE   ...   287
Reading Aloud and the Rhetorical Effect   ...   287
The Incantatory Effect   ...   289
Cadence   ...   290

THE SUBLIME   ...   Religious and Aesthetic Category   ...   291
Pre-Text: The Sublime in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas   ...   292
Bahá'u'lláh's Global Army   ...   293
The Interaction of Art and Soul: "Sublimity is the Echo of a Great Soul"   ...   295

GIBBON AND THE GUARDIAN   ...   297
The Dependence Theory: How Valid Is it?   ...   298
Edward Gibbon: A Judicious Choice   ...   299
Jewish Christianity Compared to the Bahá'í Faith's Emancipation From Islam   ...   300
Juxtaposing Phraseology From Gibbon and the Guardian   ...   302
Gibbon: Great Historian and Unbeliever   ...   304

SHOGHI EFFENDI'S LITERARY ACHIEVEMENT   ...   304
His Cultural and Linguistic Background   ...   304
Originality and Predictability of Style   ...   305

7. THE MILITARY METAPHOR   ...   307

The Background to Shoghi Effendi's Writings   ...   307
Militaristic Language and the Temper of our Times   ...   308
Some Spiritual and Rhetorical Purposes of Militaristic Diction   ...   308
Dealing With Dissonance   ...   310
The Inheritance of Jihád and Martyrdom in the Dispensation of the Báb   ...   311
Bahá'u'lláh as the Lord of Hosts   ...   312
'Abdu'l-Bahá's "Army of Light": The Teacher as Valiant Warrior   ...   313
The Knight of Faith in Shoghi Effendi   ...   314
"The Knight of Bahá'u'lláh": An Order of Spiritual Aristocracy   ...   316
Militaristic Language as Commitment   ...   318
The Military Virtues   ...   319
The Divine Mission: Seizing the Hearts   ...   321
Summary and Conclusion   ...   322

8. RHETORIC: THE LANGUAGE OF PERSUASION   ...   324

The Rhetorical Use of Language   ...   324
Rhetoric is Not a Bad Word   ...   324
Shoghi Effendi's Formal Study of Rhetoric   ...   325
Rhetorical Criticism and Shoghi Effendi's Epistolary   ...   326
"The Perfect Orator is the Perfect Man"   ...   328
The Call to Action   ...   331

SEVEN RHETORICAL MODES IN SHOGHI EFFENDI   ...   334
(1) The Proclamatory/Kerygmatic Mode   ...   335
(2) The Imperative Mode   ...   335
(3) The Deliberative Mode   ...   336
(4) The Defensive Mode   ...   337
(5) Praise and Gratitude   ...   338
The Creation of a World-Historical Identity   ...   341
(6) The Rhetoric of Blame   ...   341
(7) The Rhetoric of Anxious Concern   ...   343

PARTICULAR RHETORICAL DEVICES   ...   344
Loving Greetings   ...   344
Persuasion by Expository or Demonstrative Reason   ...   345
Further to the Rhetorical Question   ...   346
Kinetic Emotion   ...   346
Caveats, Constructive Criticism and Warnings..348

THE RHETORIC OF EMOTION   ...   350
Predominant Emotions in Shoghi Effendi's Rhetoric   ...   350
A Summary of Shoghi Effendi's Art of Rhetoric   ...   359

9. THE LANGUAGE OF INTERPRETATION   ...   360

Interpretation in Religion: A Vexed Question   ...   360
Interpretation Under the Bahá'í Covenant   ...   361
Shoghi Effendi as Interpreter and Expounder (Mubáyyín)   ...   362
Individual Interpretation   ...   363
Why Shoghi Effendi's Writings Require a Theory of Interpretation   ...   364
Definition of Three Key Terms: Hermeneutics, Exegesis, Eisegesis   ...   365
1. Hermeneutics: the Principles Behind Interpretation   ...   365
2. Exegesis and Authoritative Interpretation   ...   367
3. Eisegesis and Individual Interpretation   ...   368
Shoghi Effendi's Three-Fold Method of Interpretation   ...   369
The Maintenance of Objective Meaning and Authorial Intention   ...   371
Objective Meaning and Authorial Intention in the Writings of Shoghi Effendi   ...   373
Language That Creates a New World-View   ...   375
Translation as Interpretation   ...   375
The Art of Translation is the Art of Transposition   ...   377
The Interpretations of the Guardian and the Elucidations of the Universal House of Justice   ...   378

10. DIVINE DRAMA: HEROISM, TRAGEDY, CHARACTER   ...   384

The Heroism of the Dawn-Breakers   ...   384
The Loss of the Heroic in Postmodernity   ...   386
The Mythological Element: Divine Heroes   ...   387
Divine Tragedy: The Báb as "Master Hero"   ...   389
The Miracle at the Báb's Execution   ...   391
The Martyrdom of the Báb: Mourning and Celebration   ...   394
The Martyrdom of the Báb and Sparagmos   ...   396
Overcoming "Colossal Disaster"   ...   397
The Great Reversal: Looking Through the Eyes of Nabíl   ...   399
Divine Drama and Shakespearean Tragedy   ...   402
The Lessons of Tragedy   ...   404
The Dramatis Personae: The High-Born   ...   406
The Letters From the Prisoner to the Kings   ...   407
Characterization as Character Assessment   ...   409
"Character is Destiny"   ...   413
Character as the Internal Event of History   ...   416
Heroes and Villains   ...   417
Mirzá Yahyá: The Demonic in the Guise of Piety   ...   419
No Redeeming Qualities   ...   421

11. RETROSPECTIVE AND CONCLUSION   ...   424

12. APPENDICES   ...   428

Appendix I: Style and Pattern   ...   428
Appendix II: Rhetoric: The Language of Persuasion   ...   432
Appendix III: Ninety-Five Quotables   ...   433

13. BIBLIOGRAPHY   ...   442

3) Excerpt: Introduction & Parameters, and part of Chapter 1: "Some Core Writings" (pp. 1-71)

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