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A letter from Shoghi Effendi introduces some cultural dynamics which underlie Bahá'í consultation; disagreement can precede collective understanding and is not a sign of failure; the prayer to open meetings gives a moral motivation and ethos of tolerance.
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Even as the Waves of One Sea:
Bahá'í Consultation's Implicit Cultural Support for the Clash of Differing Opinions

by Whitney White Kazemipour

published in Journal of Bahá'í Studies, 33:3, pages 87-159
Ottawa: Association for Bahá'í Studies North America, 2024-03
Abstract: A 1922 letter from Shoghi Effendi implies cultural dynamics which support Bahá'í consultation's desired but precarious "clash of differing opinions." First, it implicitly establishes the expectation that a swell of apparent disagreement will likely precede an emergent collective understanding, and that it is not, instead, a sign of failure. Second, it sets an ethos which accommodates errors, fostering growth and broad participation. Third, the prayer to open Assembly meetings that is included in the letter may generate a moral mood and motivation, orienting participants to build a unity within diversity strong enough to contain the possible tumult of clashing opinions. As these features are internalized by and motivate consultors, they can support the group's ability to achieve the volatile but effective and transformative clash of differing opinions while protecting the unity of the group.
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