Remembering Shoghi Effendi as Interpreter
AUDIO TAPE #2
In April 1937, these Bahá'ís had at the direction of the Guardian, launched the Seven year Plan. The first long range Teaching Program designed as a systematic response to Abdu'l-Bahá's Charter. The Plan set three goals to be accomplished by the end in 1944, of the first century of the Bahá'í era. Forming a Local Spiritual Assembly in each province of Canada and in each State of the United States, establishing a Bahá'í Center in each country of Central and South America and in certain European countries, and completing the exterior ornamentation of the Temple in Wilmette. These were the three major goals of the Seven Year Plan, the First Seven Year Plan. And the series of letters and cablegrams he sent to the North American believers during the first year of the Plan, Shoghi Effendi marvels at the range which the driving force of their ceaseless labors has acquired and the heights which the sublimity of their faith has attained. His exhortations are frequent and compelling. The Seven Year Plan, he writes, "must at all costs be prosecuted with increasing force and added consecration. The American believers must gird up their loins of endeavor and step into the arena of service with such heroism as shall astound the entire Bahá'í World."
But intermingled with his expression of gratification and praise, are displays of anxiety, increasingly intensified by the falling shadows of World War II. He intimates his deepening concern, not from fear of the gathering specter but from uneasiness about its probable repercussions upon the outlook of those who were to prosecute such a bold program. So he writes. "Severe, and unprecedented as may be the internal tests and ordeals, which the members of this community may yet experience, however tragic and momentous the external happenings which might well disrupt the fabric of the society in which they live, they must not throw out these six remaining years, allow themselves to be deflected from the course, they are now steadily pursuing."
Again he says, "The rumblings that precede the eruption of those forces which must cause the limbs of humanity to quake, can already be heard." Yet he praises the community which is "standing ready, alert, clear-visioned and resolute."
It is against this background of bold planing and courageous action on the one hand and the precarious world conditions on the other that Shoghi Effendi penned one of his most widely used Works, as I refer to the Advent of the Divine Justice. He had seized upon the chance afforded him by the seeming incongruity of the humble plan of hope and the imminence of the war to reconcile the paradox in an exposition of Bahá'í principles. He begins this long and wonderful document with praise. "Best beloved brothers and sisters, in the love of Bahá'u'lláh, It would be difficult indeed to adequately express the feelings of irrepressible joy and exaltation that flood my heart every time I pause to contemplate the ceaseless evidences of the dynamic energy which animates the stalwart pioneers of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh, in the execution of the plan committed to their charge." He's got you. [laughter from the audience]
He then documents the reasons for his praise, for he never stoops to flattery. He comments on the resourcefulness of the National representatives of the American believers, appreciates the generous support accorded them by the community at large, observes the close interaction, complete cohesion, continual harmony and fellowship between the various Bahá'í agencies, as constituting a phenomenon which offers a striking contrast to the disruptive tendencies manifested in the present day society. "The community has reason to be grateful" he says, "for the interposition of a ever watchful providence." He writes, "Whereas every apparent trial, with which the unfathomable wisdom of the Almighty deems it necessary to afflict His chosen community, serves only to demonstrate afresh, its essential solidarity, and to consolidate its inward strength. Each of the successive crisis in the fortunes of the decadent age exposes more convincingly than the one preceding it the corrosive influences that are fast sapping the vitality and undermining the basis of its declining institutions."
He then enumerates certain crises afflicting the Bahá'í communities in Europe and Asia. The Nazi regime has banned the activity of the German Bahá'í community. In central Asia the city enjoying the unique distinction of having been chosen by Abdu'l-Bahá as the home of the first Mashriqu'l-Adhkar of the Bahá'í world, the community finds itself at the mercy of the forces which alarmed at its rising power are now bent on to reducing it to utter impotence. In Persia, wherein reside the immense majority of its followers the community faces a continuing campaign of repression, in the Holy Land the heart and world center of the World embracing faith, as state of unrest interferes with the flow of pilgrims and suspends various projects associated with the physical development of the World Center. This somber survey of the state of the Bahá'í community is not however to become a litany of defeat, for Abdu'l-Bahá has written that, and he quotes you see, "the continent of America is in the eyes one true God, the land wherein the splendors of His light shall be revealed, and where the mysteries of His Faith shall be unveiled, and where the righteous will abide and the free assemble." Shoghi Effendi sees it. "Already the community of the believers of the North American continent at once the prime mover and pattern of future communities which the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh is destined to raise up throughout the length and breadth of the western hemisphere, has despite the prevailing gloom shown its capacity to be recognized as the torchbearer of that light. The repository of those mysteries. The exponent of that righteousness, and the sanctuary of that freedom."
When last did you read the Advent, do you remember or know that you are all of that. Hence the North American Bahá'í Community is the one "chief remaining citadel, the mighty arm, which still raises aloft the standard of unconquerable faith." If you wonder why the pioneers took off and went into the wildernesses of the world, acquaint yourself with these texts. "Thus while its sister communities are bending beneath the tempestuous winds, that beat upon them from every side, this community preserved by the immutable decrees of an omnipotent Ordainer and deriving continual sustenance from the mandate with which the Tablets of the Divine Plan have invested it, is now busily engaged in laying the foundations and in fostering the growth of those institutions which are to herald the approach of the age destined to witness the birth and rise of the World Order of Bahá'u'lláh".
He has resolved a paradox and the burden of the actual proof rests on the shoulders of the American Bahá'í Community. "A community, relatively negligible in its numerical strength." That fact itself a paradox. How can it bear this awesome challenge? He stirs the community's sense of pride by reciting its matchless and brilliant record of service. He does this for pages, paragraphs, but quickly warns that, "magnificent as has been this record, reminiscent as it is, in some of its aspects, of the exploits with which the dawnbreakers of a heroic age have proclaimed the birth of the Faith itself, the task associated with the name of this privileged community, is far from approaching its climax, only beginning to unfold." He then points the community's vision to the grand possibilities of the future, which the successful prosecution of the Plan in progress will lead to. These include among others the election of the Universal House of Justice, and its establishment in the Holy Land.
He asserts the certitude of the ultimate blessings that must crown the consummation of their mission. But again he warns, and now listen to this, "Dearly beloved friends, great as is my love and admiration for you, convinced as I am of the paramount share which you can and will undoubtedly have in both the continental and international spheres of the future Bahá'í activity and service," This is 1938, mark you, "I feel it nevertheless incumbent upon me to utter at this juncture, a word of warning, the glowing tributes so repeatedly and so deservedly paid to the capacity, the spirit, the conduct and the high rank of the American believers, both individually and as a community, must under no circumstances be confounded with the characteristics and the nature of the people from which God has raised them up. A sharp distinction between that community and that people must be made, and resolutely and fearlessly upheld, if we wish to give due recognition to the transmuting power of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh in its impact on the lives and standards of those who have chosen to enlist under His banner, otherwise the supreme and distinguishing function of His Revelation, which is none other than the calling into being a new race of men will remain wholly unrecognized and completely obscured."
He then illustrates his meaning, by calling attention to the circumstances, and surroundings in which the prophets of God chose to appear. They deliver their message, in countries and amid peoples and races who are either in a state of decline, or in a state moral and spiritual degradation. he asserts the conviction that "not by reason of any racial superiority, political capacity or spiritual virtue, which a race or nation might possess but rather as a direct consequence of its crying needs, its lamentable degeneracy, and irremediable perversity, has the prophet of God chosen to appear in its midst, and with it as a lever has lifted the entire human race to a higher and nobler plane of conduct, for it is precisely under such circumstances, and by such means the prophets have from time immemorial chosen and were able to demonstrate their redemptive power to raise from the depths of abasement and of misery the people of their own race and nation empowering them to transmit in turn to other races and nations the saving grace and the energizing influence of their Revelation" .
Isn't that an amazing perspective? This principle he suggests, applies to a lesser degree to the American Community, and you must listen carefully, "which has been appointed as the executor of the Divine Plan," Chief executors at that, "The American believers are not therefore," he says, "to imagine for a moment, that for some mysterious purpose or by any reason of inherent excellence or special merit, Bahá'u'lláh has chosen to confer upon their country and people so great and lasting a distinction, it is precisely by reason of the patent evils which notwithstanding its other admittedly great characteristics and achievements, an excessive and binding materialism, has unfortunately engendered within it, the author of their Faith, and the Center its Covenant have singled it out to become the standard bearer of the New World Order envisaged in their Writings" Principle again of the lever, "It is by such means as this, that Bahá'u'lláh can best demonstrate to a heedless generation His Almighty Power, to raise up from the very midst of a people immersed in a sea of materialism, a prey to one of the most virulent and long-standing forms of racial prejudice, and notorious for its political corruption, lawlessness and laxity in moral standards, men and women, who as time goes by will increasingly exemplify those essential virtues, of self renunciation, of moral rectitude, of chastity, of undiscriminating fellowship, of holy discipline and of spiritual insight that will fit them for the preponderating share they will have in calling into being, that world order, and that world civilization of which their country no less than the entire human race stands in desperate need."
Having thus explained a divine riddle, he exhorts the American believers, "to weed out by every means in their power, those faults and habits and tendencies which they have inherited from their own nation, and to cultivate patiently and prayerfully, those distinctive qualities and characteristics that are so indispensable to their effective participation in the great redemptive work of their Faith". His logic is impeccable. The force of his presentation convincing. A sensitive alteration of praise and censure and of exhortation accomplishes his dual purpose of fixing his meaning and inducing volition. There is drama as well in this versatile undulation of modes which holds and fascinates the reader to the point of taking action. This is precisely what moved hundreds of believers of various backgrounds to plant the banner of their newfound faith in remote parts of the earth amid peoples with whom they had been previously been wholly unfamiliar. Those distinctive qualities and characteristics, which he identified as rectitude of conduct, chastity and holiness, freedom from prejudice, with which they were to be indispensably armed for their magnificent undertakings received the full measure of his treatment in a subsequent section of this monumental message, a section constituting one of the most eloquent exegetic compositions to be found in his writings, you are all familiar with that, "They must show forth such trustworthiness, such truthfulness and perseverance, such deeds and character that all mankind may profit by their example."
This is followed by a copious quoting of corroborative extracts from the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh and "Abdu'l-Bahá. And then he goes on to elucidate further the themes that he has appointed you know of chastity and holiness, and again a compilation of corroborative extracts from the Writings, Having equipped the believers, with the tool of their success, he devoted the remainder of the Advent of Divine Justice to the questions of the Seven Year Plan, relating his comments to the broader divine plan of Abdul-Baha of which it is a part. You know from having read the book what he has done, in calling the friends to service in this Plan and explaining how they should go about it. He sends them to Latin America, he sends them scampering across the country here in the United States, he sends them throughout the reaches of Canada. Then he concludes about his dissertation letter with a word about the destiny of America, as envisaged by Abdul-Baha assuring them that, "Paradoxical as it may seem", remember they are facing the Second World War, storm clouds are gathering. The Americans are in a state of isolationist zeal, as they frequently get into this, we want to pull in the horns. Remember our first President said, "Don't get entangled in the foreigners business". All right Shoghi Effendi is saying, "Paradoxical as it may seem, her only hope in extricating herself from the perils gathering around her is to become entangled in that very web of International Association which the hand of inscrutable Providence is weaving." Shoghi Effendi snatched the very words out of the literature of this country and turned it around. They said don't get entangled.
He said No, paradoxical as it may seem entanglement is the thing. As was the custom when a letter such as this, is received from the Guardian, the National Assembly acted immediately to publish and circulate it. When therefore in September 1939, the first shots of World War II were fired, the North American Bahá'í Community knew how to react. At the end of its Seven Year Plan in 1944, it had accomplished every goal that had been set for it. On D-Day a year later, it had already with the urging of its Guardian, been preparing for the second Seven Year Plan, which would take scores of its members to Teaching Frontiers designated for them in the war ravaged countries of Europe. Shoghi Effendi had succeeded eminently, in translating exegesis into heroic action, at one of the most critical and discouraging periods of world history. This is coming to end. A word more. It will come to an end. A word more about his skill of persuasion. "Exegesis is true to its purpose if it induces or perpetuates action in the building or the New World Order." The exegete as Augustine might have observed must therefore both expound knowledge and arouse response. As the earlier review of the Advent of Divine shows by employment of praise, censure and exhortation, Shoghi Effendi produces that rhetorical drama, which captivates and impels the reader, drama thus becomes a tool of instruction.
But there is more. Time being an indispensable factor of drama, must also perform its appropriate functions. Shoghi Effendi knew that well; and he found ample opportunity to bend time to his advantage. Whether on the occasions of the observance of Bahá'í holy days and significant anniversaries, or of a Temple construction project or of the arrival of pioneers at their remote posts, or of the death of teachers of the Faith, such ceremonial messages as he was often moved to write, that is statements in respect of the observance of important events were therefore not spent on these occasions alone but served also to heighten the horizon and intensify the vision of the faithful. A holy day is imminent. He writes, "Fellow laborers in the Divine Vineyard, On the 23rd of May of this auspicious year, (this was 1934) the Bahá'í World will celebrate the 90th anniversary of the founding of the Faith of Bahá'u'lláh. We who at this hour find ourselves standing on the threshold of the last decade of the first century of the Bahá'í era might well pause to reflect upon the mysterious Dispensation of so august, so momentous a Revelation. The rest of the introduction is about the prophetic missions of Bahá'u'lláh and the Bab, an explanation of the position and the rank of Abdul-Baha and the discourse of the theory on which Bahá'í Administrative Order is based. The letter is now referred to as the Dispensation of Bahá'u'lláh. We can't live without it.
It is the anniversary of the death of Abdul-Baha. He writes, "The inexorable march of recent events has carried humanity so near to the goal foreshadowed by Bahá'u'lláh that no responsible follower of His Faith viewing on all sides the distressing evidences of the world's travails, can remain unmoved at the thought of its approaching deliverance. It would not seem inappropriate when at a time we are commemorating the world over the termination of the first decade since Abdu'l-Bahá's sudden removal from our midst, to ponder in the light of the teachings bequeathed by him to the world, such events as have tended to hasten the gradual emergence of the World Order anticipated by Bahá'u'lláh. Thus began a letter now called the "Goal of a New World Order"
There are other examples of Shoghi Effendi's employment of time. He used the anniversary of the Ridvan festival, the anniversary of the declaration of Bahá'u'lláh at which time the administration of the Faith is renewed by the election of the Assemblies, to impress upon the Bahá'í community the practical steps towards the realization of its vision. In his messages of this occasion he would catalog and measure the communities' achievements, revise and interpret its goals, and praise and challenge its capacity. A sense of historical significance permeates these messages, in which the vision of the community is made to perceive through its accomplishments and goals, a panorama of the past, the present and the future.
One such occasion in 1957, he writes, "As we gaze in retrospect, beyond the immediate past and survey in however a cursory a manner, the vicissitudes afflicting a tormented society, and recall the strains and stresses to which a fabric of dying order has been increasingly subjected, we cannot but marvel at the sharp contrast presented on the one hand by the accumulated evidences of the orderly unfoldment and the uninterrupted multiplication of the agencies of an administrative order designed to be the harbinger of a World Civilization, and on the other by the ominous manifestations of the acute political conflicts, of social unrest, of racial animosity, of class antagonism, of immorality and of irreligion proclaiming in no uncertain terms the corruption and obsolescence of the institutions of a bankrupt order. Against the background of these afflictive disturbances, the turmoil and retribution of a travailing age we may well ponder the portentous prophesies uttered well nigh four score years ago by the Author of our Faith, as well as the dire predictions made by him who is the unerring interpreter of His teachings, all foreshadowing a universal commotion of a scope and intensity unparalleled in the annals of mankind. Violent derangement of the World's equilibrium, the trembling that will seize the limbs of mankind, the radical transformation of the human society, the rolling up of the present day order, the fundamental changes effecting the structure of governments, the weakening of the pillars of religion, the rise of dictatorships, the spread of tyranny, the fall of monarchies, the decline of ecclesiastical institutions, the increase of anarchy and chaos, the extension and consolidation of the movements of the left, the fanning into flame of the smoldering fire of racial strife, the development of infernal engines of war, the burning of cities, the contamination of the atmosphere of the earth, these stand out as the signs and portents that must either herald or accompany the retributive calamity which as decreed by Him who is the Judge, the Redeemer of mankind must sooner or later afflict the society which for the most part and for over a century has turned a deaf ear to the Voice of God's Messenger in this Day, a calamity which must purge the human race of the dross of its age old of corruption's and weld its component parts into a firmly knit world embracing fellowship, a fellowship destined in the fullness of time to be incorporated in the framework and to be galvanized by the spiritualizing influences of a mysteriously expanding, divinely appointed order, and to flower in the course of future dispensations into a civilization the like of which mankind has at no stage in its evolution witnessed." How is that for eloquence? I die when I read these things.
Among the most appealing features of Shoghi Effendi's writings, and particularly of his occasional messages are the meaning they give to history, and the prospect they assign to the future. The future, or put differently the destiny of humanity emerges as the dominant theme of his work, and from the vision of it we gather a hitherto unformulated understanding of the past and the present. In his essay, Unfoldment of the World Civilization, for instance, there is an outline of the implications of Bahá'u'lláh's Revelation which lends the reader an unusual perspective of historical process. A process that occurs in the light of man's purpose which according to Bahá'u'lláh is to carry forward an ever advancing civilization, having evolved though the various units of social life, family, tribe, city-state and nation, mankind's present goal is the unity of nations a world superstate, the final step in man's social evolution. This goal is concomitant with his impending spiritual maturity. I don't want to read the passage that folds that out. That's too long. But you know how wonderful it is, in the Unfoldment of the World Civilization where he gives the vision of the unity of mankind. We pass that by today. But, ummm... just a smidgen. [laughter from audience] "The unity of the human race as envisaged by Bahá'u'lláh," he writes, "implies the establishment of a world commonwealth, in which all nations, races, creeds and classes are closely and permanently united, and in which the autonomy of its state members and the personal freedom and initiative of the individuals that compose them are definitely and completely safeguarded." that's a taste.
Now the other day when we were getting ready to put up our website, I remembered a line from this very section of his letter, and it says this: "a mechanism of world inter-communication will be devised embracing the whole planet freed from national hindrances and restrictions, and functioning with marvelous swiftness and perfect regularity." He wrote that 60 years [rather] 61 years ago, and now we go to our computers and we push a button and there it is.
Future society thus outlined is no utopian dream. On the contrary it is the natural outcome of mans spiritual maturity as is fruit bearing the natural consequence of the maturity in the tree. Attaining to such a society involves a travail of growth, and transition which in spiritual terms implies a transformation in the character of man - a transformation analogous to the process of adolescence, Shoghi Effendi therefore encourages no illusory ease of attainment of world unity. He is as forthright as about the setbacks and pitfalls to be encountered, as he reassuring of the inevitability of this attainment. Referring to Bahá'u'lláh's principle of federation of nations, Shoghi Effendi once mused, "Who knows that for so exalted a conception to take shape a suffering more intense than any it has yet experienced will have to be inflicted upon humanity. Could anything less than the fire of a civil war with all its violence and vicissitudes, a war that nearly rent the great American Republic have welded the states, not only into a union of independent units, but into a nation in spite of all the ethnic differences that characterize its component parts, that so fundamental a revolution involving such far reaching changes in the structure of the society can be achieved through the ordinary processes of diplomacy and education seems highly improbable, we have but to turn our gaze to humanity's blood stained history to realize that nothing short of intense mental as well as physical agony has been able to precipitate those epoch-making changes that constitute the greatest landmarks in the history of human civilization."
You see how straightforward he was about things. By statements such as this Shoghi Effendi kept the balance between prospect and practicality. One derives from his balanced outlook, a quality of naturalness about the goals of the Bahá'í Faith and their attainment, a cohesive and compelling analysis of historical process emerges from the portrayal of cause, effect and prospect in such essays as the Goals of a New World Order, The Unfoldment of World Civilization and the Promised Day is Come. This quality of naturalness induces belief in his perceptions - a belief which is enhanced by the success of the Bahá'í community in translating his instructions into triumphs despite some of the most trying circumstances. One recalls for instance that the instructions and advise given in the Advent of Divine Justice and the other letters that Shoghi Effendi wrote in the 30's and 40's guided the community towards the accomplishment of its goals amid the confusion and doubts caused by the World War II.
Now a word about him as the interpreter. I think now I am coming closer to the end, bear with me a little bit. Shoghi Effendi wrote a prodigious quantity of letters which formed the bulk of his literary work, but he also translated the words of the Bab, Bahá'u'lláh and Abdul-Baha from Arabic and Persian into English. Gifted with a masterly grasp of the rich vocabulary and the subtle nuances of English, and endowed with the power of unerring perception, he turned any translation into a thing of wonder and delight. His major works of translation include three complete works of Bahá'u'lláh, Epistle to the Son of the Wolf, The Hidden Words of Bahá'u'lláh, and the Kitab-i-Iqan, and the compilations of Bahá'u'lláh's writings for instance the Gleanings from the writings of Bahá'u'lláh and Prayers and Meditations. One of his most celebrated translations is the Dawn Breakers - Nabil's narrative of the early days of the Babi Revelation. It is said by those who know the original Persian text of the narrative that Shoghi Effendi did more than translate it; he performed the rare feat of creating a translation more splendid than the original, yet unfailing in fidelity of its source.
Although a considerable number of Shoghi Effendi's letters and messages now appear in several anthologies and in a few instances a single letter has been lengthy enough to be published as a book, for instance the Advent of the Divine Justice and The Promised Day is Come, he actually set out to write only one book in English - God Passes By - which is a stupendous history of the first century of the Bahá'í Faith. It is in this book that one can appreciate the versatility of his narrative style. The temptation to set an example is irresistible. The extract I will now read follows a recitation of vivid activities during Abdu'l-Bahá's travels in the West. Note how skillfully Shoghi Effendi produces two contrasting bodies of narrative, one in an opening series of questions, the other in a corresponding series of answers. In this one paragraph salient features of almost seventy years of Bahá'í history are strung together in contrasting colors as it were upon the thread of Abdu'l-Bahá's life.
Listen: "Who knows what thoughts flooded the heart of Abdu'l-Bahá as He found Himself the central figure of such memorable scenes as these? Who knows what thoughts were uppermost in His mind as He sat at breakfast beside the Lord Mayor of London, or was received with extraordinary deference by the Khedive himself in his palace, or as He listened to the cries of "Allah'u Abha" and to the hymns of thanksgiving and praise that would herald His approach to the numerous and brilliant assemblages of His enthusiastic followers and friends organized in so many cities of the American continent? Who knows what memories stirred within Him as He stood before the thundering waters of Niagara, breathing the free air of a far distant land, or gazed, in the course of a brief and much-needed rest, upon the green woods and countryside in Glenwood Springs, or moved with a retinue of Oriental believers along the paths of the Trocadero gardens in Paris, or walked alone in the evening beside the majestic Hudson on Riverside Drive in New York, or as He paced the terrace of the Hotel du Parc at Thonon-les-Bains, overlooking the Lake of Geneva, or as He watched from Serpentine Bridge in London the pearly chain of lights beneath the trees stretching as far as the eye could see? Memories of the sorrows, the poverty, the overhanging doom of His earlier years; memories of His mother who sold her gold buttons to provide Him, His brother and His sister with sustenance, and who was forced, in her darkest hours, to place a handful of dry flour in the palm of His hand to appease His hunger; of His own childhood when pursued and derided by a mob of ruffians in the streets of Tihran; of the damp and gloomy room, formerly a morgue, which He occupied in the barracks of Akka and of His imprisonment in the dungeon of that city - memories such as these must surely have thronged His mind. Thoughts, too, must have visited Him of the Bab's captivity in the mountain fastnesses of Adhirbayjan, when at night time He was refused even a lamp, and of His cruel and tragic execution when hundreds of bullets riddled His youthful breast. Above all His thoughts must have centered on Bahá'u'lláh, Whom He loved so passionately and Whose trials He had witnessed and had shared from His boyhood. The vermin-infested Siyah-Chal of Tihran; the bastinado inflicted upon Him in Amul; the humble fare which filled His kashkul while He lived for two years the life of a dervish in the mountains of Kurdistan; the days in Baghdad when He did not even possess a change of linen, and when His followers subsisted on a handful of dates; His confinement behind the prison-walls of Akka, when for nine years even the sight of verdure was denied Him; and the public humiliation to which He was subjected at government headquarters in that city - pictures from the tragic past such as these must have many a time overpowered Him with feelings of mingled gratitude and sorrow, as He witnessed the many marks of respect, of esteem, and honor now shown Him and the Faith which He represented. (God Passes By, pages 292-293)
It should perhaps not be surprising at all, given the motivations of his purpose, to observe that Shoghi Effendi also possessed the power of definition to a superlative degree, and found more ways than a celebrated giant of letters to use this power. When you read for example his definition of a chaste and holy life, you perceive resources of this power that would hardly occur to you in reading the writings of the modern literati. Shoghi Effendi took to his literary endeavours this code of chastity and holiness as he had defined it. Neither art nor literature is to be prostituted. The use of language must therefore reflect the virtues of rectitude, and yet employ the creative force of imagination. Deny falsity and yet be quickened by drama. Eschew perversity and yet engage the appeal of beauty. Language must exhibit a wholesome respect for the meaning of words. A meticulous attention to the arrangements of sentences a precise calculation of the effect of paragraphs. In any case it must say what it means and mean it well.
The good purpose of language is related to the principle of a chaste and holy life. The proper use of language is related to the principle of rectitude of conduct. You see then that the fabric of his literary work owes its strength and integrity to this strict adherence to these principles; unlike the perversion of the language which George Orwell saw in modern political writing as largely the defense of the indefensible. His manner, his usage, his motivation of language, embody the high principles it espouses and legitimizes the information and pleasure it conveys. The messages of the Guardian grew into a voluminous body of literature of a wholly new character; and although there is much more to be said about its uncommon literary quality that can be contained in this talk, the deepest sense of its character, it can be said in summary is in the realm of the spirit and thus remains somewhat elusive except to those who experience it directly. One could remark randomly about his periodic sentence in which multiple compounds of phrases explode with brilliant sparks of meaning at the ending statement, about the baroque constructions, in which words are arranged in rich designs of meaning and imagery like the settings of fine stone, about the appreciation of assonance and alliterations, about the lyrical cadence of his sentences, which sound better and seem to enlarge upon their meanings when read aloud, about his one sentence paragraphs, about the mathematical precision of his usage, about his ability to compress multitudinous meanings into a slight space, to reconcile conciseness and amplitude, precision and suppleness, force and elegance.
You might say in the end that Shoghi Effendi has distilled the ancient classical virtues, in fact he has distilled the virtues of language in any age and clothed them with the principles of spirit, you could say he rescued the virtues of English, in this respect Orwell who in this century bemoaned the plight of English in our decadent civilization, would most likely have loved and lauded Shoghi Effendi's continual success in loading such substance into his sentences that they seem to crackle with the weight of their significances. The roots of all these marvels in the writings of Shoghi Effendi have their deeper foundation elsewhere. Their foundation is in the fear of God, to which Bahá'u'lláh repeatedly exhorts humanity. In these exhortations Bahá'u'lláh exhorts all people to what ennobles them, that correct respect for the majesty of their God, who created them out of his love, to carry forward and ever advancing civilization, which ultimately must lead them inexorably and eternally toward Him. Shoghi Effendi being the noblest of men knew better than anyone else, how vital was this sense of respect to the critical role, in which he must unerringly guide through his interpretation of God's Word the processes of an ever advancing civilization.