What is the meaning of "culture" in a Baha'i Context

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Posted by Jon Paul Duvall ( on December 15, 2003 at 20:01:20:

What is the proper way to look at culture from within the context of the Baha‚i Faith?

Other than the particular laws and ordinances laid out clearly by Baha‚u‚llah, őAbdu‚l-Baha, the Guardian, and the Universal House of Justice, is there any indication of what cultural elements of the diverse cultures and subcultures around the world should or should not be allowed to be incorporated into the personal lives and community life of members of the Baha‚i Faith?

Since there are positive and negative aspects of EVERY culture (defined as such from the stand point of the current standards given to humanity by Baha‚u‚llah), and since culture is such a driving force between individual personality and community mores and norms, to what extent should a Baha‚i attempt to cut himself out of his culture, and to what extent should a Baha‚i bring his culture to the greater Baha‚i community in an effort to establish and enrich the community through TRUE unity in diversity, and to what extent should a Baha‚i use the modes of his own particular culture to present and explain the relevance of the Baha‚i Faith and the transformative power of the Revelation of Baha‚u‚llah to his fellows and comrades?

Is it appropriate for Baha‚is to encourage their fellow Baha‚is of whatever culture or subculture to adopt whatever happens to be „mainstreamš for the majority of the particular local Baha‚i community, or to discourage them from expressing themselves through the particular and non-mainstream modes of their culture Ų for example suggesting that since the Hip Hop culture has artists which promote things which Baha‚u‚llah does not condone that Baha‚is should not use Hip Hop music and poetry to teach the Faith, or suggesting that a particular hair color or mode of dress is inappropriate because it associates someone with a particular subculture which some might find offensive?

To what extent should „unity in diversity,š which our Beloved Guardian termed the „watchwordš of the Baha‚is, be sacrificed and stifled in order to protect the Faith from those closed minded people who might desire to associate the Faith with whatever particular culture or subculture those people happen to see as repugnant?

To what extent is it appropriate for Baha‚is to withold information or even actual Sacred Texts from individuals or groups of people in order to protect those people and the Baha‚is of that community?

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