Re: Truth, Interpretation and Context.

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Posted by PatK ( on November 23, 2002 at 18:18:01:

In Reply to: Re: Truth, Interpretation and Context. posted by Stuart Gilman on November 23, 2002 at 07:02:54:

Allahu Abha!

:SG: I admit you correctly perceive my impatience and I concede that
:SG: for some, scholarship - so-called - rides with faith. Yet, we now
:SG: have a 1996 memo from the House of Justice in which the quotes are
:SG: to be treated equally and that they do not have a source.

PK: anon pointed out one source and was asking if there was a second source - the re-reveled scenario - for the version in the Prayer Book. Another person says they've seen the prayer book version in an untranslated portion of the Bayan. If that is the case, that is the answer.

:SG: You own last post agrees with the start of the discussion, agrees
:SG: with me and any historical errors I committed regarding China/India/
:SG: Mexico and Kantanagoono are acknowledged.

PK: Thanks, I will take that sight unseen.

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

PK: Faith can be a subject of scholarship. For some, the term 'faith' really encompasses more than belief. My faith is a lifestyle which I want to base on consistent notions, reasonable hypotheses, and certainties where available. I enjoy proofs of God. If you prefer a faith with doubt, and without proofs of God, that is okay with me, but don't tell me I can't have mine, okay?

:SG: Hence, if I want to do a scholarly study of Baha'i, where should I stop?

PK: That would depend on the scope of your study. If you want to study everything to do w/ Baha'i, you will not have time to finish, so, no need to worry about s stop point.

:SG: I know more or less where to begin and even in that I will find
:SG: contradictions and errors simply because the principal religious
:SG: events took place from the early 1800s to the early 1900s.

PK: I wouldn't pitch out Canadian history on the grounds that most of it occurred prior to 1923. Why must the study of a religion in the middle east be so different?

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

PK: anon had a question. It seemed to me a good question. As I understood the question, he noted that there were two similar verses, and asked if they came from different sources, and if different sources, where the second source was (not the Seven Proofs), and also allowed that these are variant translations of the same verse. He wanted to know if anyone could help steer him toward either of these explanations, or if there was another explanation.

:SG: Am I a COVENANT BREAKERS when I read about or hear about the
:SG: controversy surrounding the Last Will and Testament?

PK: You are not a Covenant Breaker, nor your friends, simply for hearing about some controversy, be it Ruth White's or Mason Remey's, or regarding some Will and Testament other than 'Abdu'l Baha's Will and Testament. Nor am I the one to declare anyone a covenant breaker.

:SG: Am I a scholar if I am not permitted to discuss it, research it?

PK: You could be a scholar in physics and have nothing to do with wills. If you are a scholar of religious studies, and if you were writing an academic paper on schismatic Baha'is, you would need to study the "Will and Testament" of 'Abdu'l Baha. You could just be a Baha'i and read the "Will and Testament".

:SG: Or if we ask why Abdul Baha excommunicated members of his family
:SG: and I have to see an answer, am I a scholar?

PK: The question does not make you a scholar. I could have asked why 'Abdu'l Baha excommunicated members of His family. If you asked me, I would tell you that His brother, Muhammad Ali, was to be the leader of the Baha'i community after 'Abdu'l Baha. But he was not faithful to the covenant and wanted to get rid of 'Abdu'l Baha. So, he was a covenant breaker, and the Master cast him out, and he did lead the friends when 'Abdu'l Baha went on to the Abha Kingdom.

:SG: Should I pre-limit my scholarship so that nothing I discover
:SG: will contradict what I have been told is THE TRUTH?

PK: The truth does not fit into the eyedropper of information that I or anyone else can give you. On the other hand, there are materials you can read that you don't need to read, and which might hurt you, or confuse you. For example, is anything gained by reading Billy Bob Bazoo's claim to be the 6th guardian? Once you start reading something, at some point, you might get the impression that it is nonsense, and at that point, you are responsible for whether you choose to continue to read it.

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

PK: Yes.

:SG: The psych interpretation of your answer is unimportant here.

PK: That is a relief!

:SG: Oddly, this question, among thousands of statistically validated
:SG: interpretive questions in psychometrics runs through the
:SG: mainstream of all religions.

PK: I did not know that.

:SG: Did Jesus make love to anyone? would be an example.

PK: I did not have sexual relations with Jesus, and I think that is the extent of my interest in that question.

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

PK: Do you understand the significance of the tantric approach?

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

PK: I'm cool with that.

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

PK: These things are their own sciences. Even our ancients had their own ancients.

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

:SG: Finally, back to the biscuit - as I said and it seems now concurred,
:SG: the minor differences between the "God sufficeth... " passages
:SG: is a distraction - a tempest in a teapot. If Baha'is do not want
:SG: to be considered zealots, lighten up. Balance prayer with deeds and

PK: If you are not interested in such questions, I can understand that. Please consider, though, that just as you might be uninterested by such questions, others are interested in such questions. They are even entitled to ask such questions here. Please do not put others down for asking these questions in this place.

:SG: study with humility. Work on our own defects and embolden our strengths.
:SG: AND as for the defects, the ones we are not permitted to
:SG: confess in public ... that will lead to my next subject.

PK: Had you been to the Baha'i Planet web boards? There might be more interest in such subjects there.

- Pat

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