Re: Truth, Interpretation and Context.

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Posted by Stuart Gilman ( on November 23, 2002 at 07:02:54:

In Reply to: Re: Truth, Interpretation and Context. posted by PatK on November 22, 2002 at 20:06:01:

Dear Pat,

I admit you correctly perceive my impatience and I concede that for some, scholarship - so-called - rides with faith. Yet, we now have a 1996 memo from the House of Justice in which the quotes are to be treated equally and that they do not have a source. You own last post agrees with the start of the discussion, agrees with me and any historical errors I committed regarding China/India/Mexico and Kantanagoono are acknowledged.

The use of scholarship and faith coterminously is absurd. You cannot, under any circumstances, for scholarship implies a certain exactitude akin to science, or, minimally, empirical methodology.

Hence, if I want to do a scholarly study of Baha'i, where should I stop? I know more or less where to begin and even in that I will find contradictions and errors simply because the principal religious events took place from the early 1800s to the early 1900s.

But is it scholarship to first determine that Baha said X but I am not permitted to question it, (interpret it?) No. That is fundamentalism, but as faith I have no difficulty accepting the limitation.

Am I a COVENANT BREAKERS when I read about or hear about the controversy surrounding the Last Will and Testament? Am I a scholar if I am not permitted to discuss it, research it? Or if we ask why Abdul Baha excommunicated members of his family and I have to see an answer, am I a scholar? Should I pre-limit my scholarship so that nothing I discover will contradict what I have been told is THE TRUTH?

I do not care what I may find concerning Abdul Baha's six month stay in San Francisco. He remains the Perfect Bahai. In a psych test we administer there is a brilliant item: "Can a spiritual person also be a sensual person?" Answer yes or no or I cant say. The psych interpretation of your answer is unimportant here.

Oddly, this question, among thousands of statistically validated interpretive questions in psychometrics runs through the mainstream of all religions. Did Jesus make love to anyone? would be an example.

Rasputin was a believer in orgies and sexual sin as a gateway to soul-liberation. This ridiculous idea has been proposed in both sects and sub-cultures for millennia. But I use it only to show the important or relevance of the question posed above.

Scholarship that includes, incorporates or respectfully allows for contradiction, argument, debate, even enmity ... is the only scholarship I consider fitting the definition of scholarship.

Research into mythology is not research, it is anthropology or cultural studies or socio-historical studies.

For Baha'i to use the terms scholarship and research as though religion is somewhat like an amoeba or a galaxy is absurd.

Finally, back to the biscuit - as I said and it seems now concurred, the minor differences between the "God sufficeth... " passages is a distraction - a tempest in a teapot. If Baha'is do not want to be considered zealots, lighten up. Balance prayer with deeds and study with humility. Work on our own defects and embolden our strengths. AND as for the defects, the ones we are not permitted to confess in public ... that will lead to my next subject.


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