Logs of Talisman Discussions of Bahai Faith 4/96


From gpoirier@acca.nmsu.eduMon Apr 1 01:08:00 1996
Date: Sun, 31 Mar 1996 18:37:37 -0700 (MST)
From: "[G. Brent Poirier]"
To: "Iskandar Hai, M.D." ,
Talisman
Subject: quote re: God causing evil
Dr. Hai, you requested a source for a quote I mentioned from the Master.
I was able to locate it. The parentheses appear in the published text:
"As to thy question, 'That 'Abdu'l-Baha hath said to some of the believers
that evil never exists, nay, rather, it is a non-existent thing": This
is but truth, inasmuch as the greatest evil is (man's) going astray and
being veiled from Truth. Error is lack of guidance; darkness is
absence of light; ignorance is lack of knowledge; falsehood is lack of
truthfulness; blindness is lack of sight; and deafness is lack of
hearing. Therefore, error, blindness, deafness and ignorance are
non-existent things. If we say that according to the text of the Bible,
'God hardened Pharaoh's heart' that he might not believe in Moses, this
signifies that, verily, He did not soften his heart. And when we wish to
say that God hath not guided a certain one of His servants, this would be
interpreted (by people) that God led him astray. The darkness spoken of
in the Bible as being created by God, signifieth that, verily, God hath
not caused light to shine; inasmuch as where there is no light, there
will be darkness..."
Tablets of 'Abdu'l-Baha Abbas, Volume III, p. 610
Brent


From gpoirier@acca.nmsu.eduMon Apr 1 01:08:23 1996
Date: Sun, 31 Mar 1996 18:54:31 -0700 (MST)
From: "[G. Brent Poirier]"
To: Dcorbett@aol.com
Cc: jwalbrid@indiana.edu, candy@pc.jaring.my, Talisman@indiana.edu,
jrcole@umich.edu
Subject: Re: Big bang
On Fri, 29 Mar 1996 Dcorbett@aol.com wrote:
> Are we the only creation? Baha'u'llah spoke of "other creatures on other
> worlds"... Perhaps there are other Universes with intelligent life who are
> also God's Creation...
> - Dan
I figure that the night sky isn't there for decoration. I see those
lights more like the lights of my city when I look from a hilltop:
Evidence that somebody's home.
Brent
From gpoirier@acca.nmsu.eduMon Apr 1 01:08:53 1996
Date: Sun, 31 Mar 1996 18:58:09 -0700 (MST)
From: "[G. Brent Poirier]"
Cc: Talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Big Bang and Time without Beginning
My own favorite interpretation Baha'u'llah gives about God being alone
and without a creation, then calling the creation into being, is the one
in Gleanings (there are two in that book). In my favorite, He says that
when the new Manifestation appears, there is no creation -- no believers
in Him. After a time, the First Believer appears, the beginning of the
new creation. Between the time the Prophet's mission begins, and the
time of the first believer, the Manifestation is the expression of the
verse "God was alone with none to know Him."
My understanding of the application of this to the physical world, and
the Master's philosophical view that there were always creatures to know
God, that may or may not mean on this planet, or in this galaxy or
universe; but there were always sentient beings with the capacity to know
God, someplace.
Brent


From friberg@will.brl.ntt.jpMon Apr 1 01:09:49 1996
Date: Mon, 1 Apr 96 12:16:22 JST
From: "Stephen R. Friberg"
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Question: The Meaning of Science in the Writings
Dear John Walbridge and all:
A question has concerned me for some time. What is meant
by the words translated as "science" in the Writings of the
Bab, Baha'u'llah, and Ab'dul-Baha, and in the writings of
Shoghi Effendi?
For example, the Bab uses the term *science* in the following way:
HOW vast the number of people who are well versed in every
*science*, yet it is their adherence to the holy Word of God
which will determine their faith, inasmuch as the fruit of
every *science* is none other than the knowledge of divine
precepts and submission unto His good-pleasure.

This seems, if I am correct, to be a usage that would be close to
meaning philosophies, or arts, as well as including modern science.
Baha'u'llah uses the word sparingly. I have yet to find it in His
Writings in the way that Abdu'l Baha uses it. He does use it in
the following passage:
Such things have appeared in this Revelation that there is no
recourse for either the exponents of *science* and knowledge
or the manifestations of justice and equity other than to
recognize them.
This, like the use in the Writings of the Bab, seems to be a very
general use of the word encompassing what we think of as modern
science, along with the arts, legalism, philosophy, etc.
Abdu'l Baha seems to also use *science* in the very broad sense
when he says:
We may think of *science* as one wing and religion as the
other; a bird needs two wings for flight, one alone would be
useless. Any religion that contradicts *science* or that is
opposed to it, is only ignorance--for ignorance is the opposite
of knowledge.
Religion which consists only of rites and ceremonies of
prejudice is not the truth. Let us earnestly endeavour to be
the means of uniting religion and science. Ali, the son-in-law
of Muhammad, said: `That which is in conformity with *science*
is also in conformity with religion'. Whatever the intelligence
of man cannot understand, religion ought not to accept. Religion
and *science* walk hand in hand, and any religion contrary to
science is not the truth.
Shoghi Effendi tends to sometimes use *science* in a more modern,
narrower sense. He notes, for example, that we are amidst a
"darkness . . which neither the light of *science* nor that of
human intellect and wisdom can succeed in dissipating." But, he
also uses it a the wider sense that Abdu'l Baha uses it. For
example: "In such a world society, *science* and religion, the two
most potent forces in human life, will be reconciled, will
cooperate, and will harmoniously develop."
Any comments that you can make on the meaning of the word *science*
in the writings from the point of view of translation and/or that
of Islamic philosophy, or any other ideas that you have, would be
highly welcomed.
My reason for concern is the question as to how to consider the
word *science* when trying to understand the way the Writings urge
us to consider religion, administration, and other affairs.
Modern science is a narrowly-defined enterprise aimed at accumulating
expertise in carefully delineated spheres of activity. This is in
marked contrast to the pursuit of wisdom thought to be the aim of
knowledge in older traditions.
Yours sincerely,
Stephen R. Friberg


From candy@pc.jaring.myMon Apr 1 01:11:36 1996
Date: Mon, 1 Apr 1996 12:25:09 +0800 (MYT)
From: "Dr. Chandrasekaran"
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Cc: rharmsen@music.ferris.edu
Subject: lawh-i-hikmat
Dear talismans,
Thank you so much for the inputs which I had recieved
concerning my inquiries on the lawh-i-hikmat .I find that Ahmad Anis's
points raised in his article pertinent and logical as it is evidenced by two
ancient religions of the world i.e Taoism and Hinduism.
"The Great Primal Beginning(t'ai chi)generates...the two primal
forces(yang and yin).The two primary forces generate the four images.The
four images generate the eight trigrams.The eight images determine good
fortune and misfortune.Good fortune and misfortune create the great field of
action".(CONFUCIANISM.I CHING,GREAT COMMENTARY)
"Rig Veda 10.129:In the account of the formation of cosmos out of
chaos(represented by the Waters),'that one,,tad ekam,is void of reality
prior to the creation;its motive is 'love',the desire of the One to find
fulfillment with a partner;cf Brihadaranyaka Upanishad1.4.17,p.252.The first
act of creation,dividing being from nonbeing,resembles the first creative
act in the Genesis account."
The 'bearers of seed' and 'mighty forces'are the male and female
principles---see Prasna Upanishad1.4-5,p.176;Rig Veda 1.185,p.177,Shiv
PURANA,P.179.
The story of adam and eve carry the same phenomenon of duality
.Bahaullah in the Lawh-i-Hikmat elucidates this active and passive element
or male and female phenomenon as the first interaction/first big bang from
which life evolved.
Bravo,Ahmad Aniss for bringing this concept into the open and for the
innovative explanation of why there are no women in the UHJ.Your article
except for a few spelling mistakes and grammatical errors is excellent
eg.the word SITE should spell Sight.Please keep up the good work and I for
one would love to have a look at your translations.There many Tablets which
are not translated and it may take long time before we can get the authentic
tablets,meantime people who are interested in handicapped if they do not
know the persian or arabic language.
C'MON TALISMANIS I AM SURE WE CAN GET MORE INPUTS.THE GIANTS SEEM TO
BE ASLEEP,PLEASE WAKE THEM UP
WITH EAGER ANTICIPATION
DR.CHANDRAN


From robert.johnston@stonebow.otago.ac.nzMon Apr 1 01:12:05 1996
Date: Mon, 1 Apr 1996 16:38:20 +1200
From: **Golden Eagle**
To: "[G. Brent Poirier]" , talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: concealed knowledge
>> In the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf (1953 edition, p.32) Baha'u"llah says:
>> "In the treasuries of the knowledge of God there lieth concealed a knowledge
>> which, when applied, will largely, though not wholly, eliminate fear." Does
>> anyone have any ideas about (or know of any commentaries relating to) this
>> passage?
>
>The guardian wrote that Baha'u'llah either did not reveal the knowledge,
>or if He did, He did not identify it as such.
>Brent
Yes, but let us not fail to indulge ourselves with a little speculative
reasoning, huh!
In either the SV or FV it is written that love dwelleth not in a heart
possessed by fear, so we may infer that a heart filled with love is
fearless. But what is love? In Words of Wisdom, Baha'u'llah writes:
"The essence of love is for man to turn his heart to the Beloved One, and
to sever himself for all else but Him,and desire naught save that which is
the desire of his Lord."
And what is the "desire of his Lord"? To help Me is to promote My Word,
says Baha'u'llah, and -- surprise, surprise -- (Words of Wisdom also):
"The source of courage and power is the promotion of the Word of God, and
steadfastness in His Love."
Expressed in mundane terms we might say that to teach is to overcome
fear... Hey, Brent, do lawyers get opportunities to teach? Ever thought
of instructing at law school?
Best,
Robert.


From richs@microsoft.comMon Apr 1 01:13:29 1996
Date: Sun, 31 Mar 1996 21:50:32 -0800
From: Rick Schaut
To: "'Talisman@indiana.edu'"
Subject: RE: Women on the House
Dear Friends,
In addition to Richard Hollinger's remarks in response to Tony's
post, there are a few other points worth noting:
Tony writes:
>From: Member1700@aol.com[SMTP:Member1700@aol.com]
>>First of all, Baha'u'llah nowhere states that women are ineligible for
>>service on the House of Justice. There simply is no such verse. All
>>statements about Baha'u'llah's supposed exclusion of women are derived from
>>one word in the Aqdas, rijal (men, noblemen, gentlemen), which he has
>>used to
>>address the members of the House of Justice.
I believe the specific verse to which `Abdu'l-Baha refers is in the
Eighth
Ishraqat (Tablets of Baha'u'llah Revlealed after the Kitab-i-Aqdas)
which
is regarded as part of the Aqdas. I that tablet, Baha'u'llah addresses
the members ofthe Universal House of Justice with "O ye men of the
Universal House of Justice..."
>> Second, the well known Tablet of 'Abdu'l-Baha in which he states
>>that the
>>reason for the exclusion of women from the House of Justice will become as
>>manifest as the sun at noonday in the future can be shown, without a shadow
>>of a doubt, to refer to the Chicago House of Justice. It is a Tablet to
>>Corinne True in reply to her petition that women be allowed to serve on that
>>body. Her letter still exists. No one in Chicago (including True) doubted
>>the meaning of the Tablet as referring to the Chicago Assembly at the
>>time it
>>was received. So, to apply the meaning of this Tablet to the Universal
>>House of Justice it, I believe, quite clearly a mistake.
In that tablet, `Abdu'l-Baha refers to the "explicit text" of the law of
God, and,
therefore, what He says in that tablet constitutes an _authoritative_
interpretation.
At this point, it doesn't matter what Corrine True thought `Abdu'l-Baha
meant,
nor does it matter what the Chicago Assembly thought it meant. Our
belief
about the understanding these people had may be historically accurate,
but
their understanding is of absolutely no consequence.
There is, in fact, only one person in history who's opinion in this
matter is
binding, and his opinion is unequivocably clear. Shoghi Effendi
believed that
`Abdu'l-Baha was referring only to the Universal House of Justice, and
if Shoghi
Effendi's remarks, or the letters written on his behalf, are anything
more than
a restatement of `Abdu'l-Baha's interpretation, those statements are,
themselves, authoritative interpretations of `Abdu'l-Baha's words. No
matter
which of these exhaustive possibilities, what Shoghi Effendi says in
this
regard is binding.
Any attempt to substitute a different interpretation is, whether
wittingly or not,
an attempt to set asside a binding and authoritative interpretation of
the
Writings in favor of a non-binding interpretation made by someone who
was
never granted the authority to make such a binding interpretation. As
such, it
is, in my simple view, contrary to the rather clear provisions of the
Covenant
that Baha'u'llah made in the Kitab-i-Ahd and extended by `Abdu'l-Baha in
His Will and Testament.
Therefore, out of sincere concern for the well-being of my very dear
friends,
I ask those who believe that this restriction can be lifted before the
advent
of the next Manifestation of God to very carefully weigh the remarks
that
have been made in this forum and reconsider their positions.
I am especially concerned at the harm that may be done to the Cause when
the friends voice these opinions to seekers. At the very least, great
care must be given to state all of the views which exist on this issue,
not
the least of which is that of the Universal House of Justice which,
rather
clearly, seems to be that this is not something which they have the
authority
to change.
In closing, I'd like to point out that I found Steve's example regarding
changing attitudes about our involvement in the problems of present
society to be wholly uncompelling where this specific issue is
concerned. Where Steve's example is concerned, we have no
statements made by `Abdu'l-Baha or Shoghi Effendi which purport
to expound what the Writings mean (i.e. statements which constitute
binding interpretations of the Writings). Rather, we have statements of
general principle made by Shoghi Effendi, and an application of
those principles which has slowly changed as circumstances and
resources within the Faith have changed.
Warmest Regards,
Rick Schaut


From derekmc@ix.netcom.comMon Apr 1 01:13:54 1996
Date: Sun, 31 Mar 1996 21:58:33 -0800
From: DEREK COCKSHUT
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Fwd: 9+ members
---- BU
My dear Sen
I plead a sleepy brain early in the morning to the wrong date, but
thank-you for that and all the other points.
I am aware of the Tablet of the Master however it seems to me to be
more of a consultative document prior to the Faith obtaining a
majority.I feel a matter of concern is how we would treat minorities
and ensure we continue a consultative format under the direction of the
House of Justice.When you have a religious system that will in effect
rule the Planet that will change the manner in which such a Tribunal
will operate. The nature of it will need to be changed to take that
into account..
I notice once more the matter of Women and the House of Justice has
come around.I fully agree with John this is subject that has been fully
and endlessly debated.Just because you may want something to be so will
not make it so.At this time women do not serve on the House of
Justice.As I have said before there is no slick way out of this.Men
have to create a Baha'i Community in which Women have more than tacit
equality, we have to put the words into action gentlemen.That is the
hard part deeds to the effect change not words.
Kindest Regards
Derek Cockshut.
Derek
The size of the supreme tribunal would presumably be flexible,
since there would have to be at least 3 judges in every court
I suppose, and it might be necessary to have dozens of courts
sitting simultaneously (unless anyone imagines that the world
will have so few problems they can be nicely lined up and
picked off one-by-one :-)). We do know that the electoral
college which elects the supreme tribunal should have two or
three persons from each country and nation (not just per
country - would that mean that there should be a Basque, Welsh
and French Canadian representative?) in proportion to the
number of inhabitants. This is in the Tablet 'Abdu'l-Baha
wrote to the Central Organization for a Durable Peace at The
Hague in 1919. Assuming an average of 2 representatives per
country and 150 countries that would be 300 or so members. The
tribunal itself is to be elected only from within the
electoral college (in contrast to the UHJ, for which all male
Baha'is with voting rights are eligible), so that puts an
upper limit on the number of members of the tribunal - a very
flexible limit since the number of countries and nations could
be increased by counting states within federal countries, and
'two or three' is rather vague. I know of nothing to indicate
that the Universal House of Justice would have any say in
determining the size of the tribunal, and it is prima facie
unlikely since the tribunal forms part of the world
government.
Membership on local assemblies has varied widely at times.
There's a letter from Shoghi Effendi in Unfolding Destiny, p
49, which says:
Concerning the membership of the Spiritual Assembly, I
have already communicated with America to the effect that
the members who are entitled to vote must be strictly
limited to nine. Additional members may attend only in a
consultative capacity. I realise fully the delicacy and
difficulty of your position but it must be made clear to
all that nine and only nine can vote. All other
subsidiary matters are left to the Assemblies.
Lovingly,
Shoghi
This was 11 April 1926. The National Assembly subsequently
elected had 10 members (UD p64), and Shoghi Effendi asked them
to limit themselves to 9 in the following year (UD70). I
suspect that the tenth member might have been a 'substitute'
for the event that one of the other members was unable to
attend. Isobel Slade was substitute member representing London
in 1926, and Shoghi Effendi apparantly approved the practice
or let it pass at that time, at least on local assemblies:
20 May 1926
...with regard to the election of the Assemblies and your
desire to have substitutes in order to ensure a steady and
easy-to-obtain quorum for business, Shoghi Effendi would not
like to give you any further special regulations but would
prefer you to communicate with America and follow the method
they have adopted. He has a keen desire that uniformity
should exist in the regulations. I am sure you would gladly
communicate with Mr. Horace Holley on the subject. (UD53)
Sen
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sen McGlinn ph: 31-43-3216854
Andre Severinweg 47 email:
Sen.McGlinn@RL.RuLimburg.NL
6214 PL Maastricht, the Netherlands
***
When, however, thou dost contemplate the innermost essence of things,
and the individuality of each,
thou wilt behold the signs of thy Lord's mercy . . ."
------------------------------------------------------------------------



From Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nlMon Apr 1 10:21:51 1996
Date: Mon, 01 Apr 1996 12:28:24 +0000 (EZT)
From: Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nl
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: tribunal election
Dear Derek,
You don't indicate why you think the Tablet to the Hague should be considered
"a consultative document prior to the Faith obtaining a majority." or why
it should be necessary to change the procedures set out there, and since
you give no reasons I can make no comment. It is clear however that IF one
wants to change this, short of a new Manifestation, it would be necessary
to make an argument showing that the tablet was addressed only to a local
situation (difficult, because He says specifically that this is the system
described by Baha'u'llah) and preferably to find some other texts which
justify not applying the apparent meaning: that could be later texts showing
that `Abdu'l-Baha had changed his mind, or texts setting out general
interpretive principles which should affect our reading of this and
other texts.
This is rather analogous to the situation with the Master's tablets to
Corinne True: it is necessary to show that they are referring specifically
to her questions regarding Chicago, that `Abdu'l-Baha later changed that
ruling for reasons that are as clear as the noonday sun, and that general
principles in the Faith (such as Baha'u'llah and `Abdu'l-Baha's specific
statements that women can be rijal) should be borne in mind when reading
the Aqdas text addressing the rijal of the house of justice. In the case
of the women-on-th-house issue, all three parts look close to watertight,
but a strong argument of any one of the three kinds would be a good
beginning, since any matter which is not unambiguously given in the
Writings is potentially within the sphere of the House of Justice to
make a ruling - and then to change its ruling.
It will be very interesting to see how this can be done in the case of the
Tablet to the Hague, which looks rather unpromising for reinterpretation
on the face of it, without using methods and arguments which legitimize
the inclusion of women on the Universal House of Justice. I will be
watching this space with interest
Sen
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sen McGlinn ph: 31-43-3216854
Andre Severinweg 47 email: Sen.McGlinn@RL.RuLimburg.NL
6214 PL Maastricht, the Netherlands
***
When, however, thou dost contemplate the innermost essence of things,
and the individuality of each,
thou wilt behold the signs of thy Lord's mercy . . ."


------------------------------------------------------------------------
From 73043.1540@compuserve.comMon Apr 1 10:29:07 1996
Date: 01 Apr 96 08:25:27 EST
From: John Dale <73043.1540@compuserve.com>
To: BAHA'I-TALISMAN-LIST
Cc: Baha'i-ABS-MidAtlantic ,
"Baha'i-Media-Arts-Assoc." ,
Laleh Bakhtiar ,
Tony Blake , Jack Chromey ,
Teck Chua , John Henry Dale ,
David GAINES , "Deborah G. Glass" ,
LuAnne Hightower ,
Harriett MacDougall ,
James McCaig , Cynthia McDaniel ,
"I. Olson" ,
Betsy and Peter Shor
Subject: Towards a group ecstasy function in the Baha'i community
Dear Friends,
Eric Pierce recently wrote,
"Were the Master and Guardian were too gentle in letting the
dominant anglo/protestant channels of experience form patterns
that later became much more deeply engrained than was
appropriate?"
This brings up a point about the Baha'i community that I have long felt,
namely, we get very high in verbal altitude at Feasts but we are really very
short on group and bodily kinesis.
I have had some slight training in the so-called Movements and Sacred
Dances taught by George Gurdjieff, which are real disciplines of the conscious
placement of attention in the thinking, feeling, and sensing aspects of our
being, and I am learning more about the same types of disciplines as practiced
in the Sufi zihkrs. I was very pleased to see that a zikhr occurred at Bosch
Baha'i School recently.
I believe we need real, genuine ecstasy and group bonding in the Baha'i
community. Free-form music and artistic expression are increasing in the Baha'i
community, but in addition there is a very ancient tradition of inner work
contained in these forms of movement called sacred dances, and it is universal
in content and sets ecstasy in a context of personal and group discipline and
active intense intellectual effort. Learning these dances is not easy. Anthony
Blake recently spoke of them as a "gymnastics of understanding". Some of them
are based on the Enneagram, a particular configuration of the nine-pointed star
that for Sufis symbolizes the "presence of God."
I think we could really usefully take a look at these things for our own
benefit in the Baha'i Community, because our Christian heritage is truly only a
small fraction of the richness of what globally is out there, and the Western
forms of prayer basically lost long ago IMO their contact with the holistic,
yogic quality of inner work that is there to be found in the sacred dance
methodologies. Prayer is most effective when it is felt and sensed and thought
with the whole of oneself. Sacred dances can activate and give us a taste of
the whole, and of a method of wholeness within ourselves that we never imagined
before. Through this increasing wholeness, they can lead to "reflection", of
which Baha'u'llah said that one hour "is preferable to 70 years of pious
worship." (Prayers and Meditation, p. 238.)
Let us therefore look at these things with some genuine interest and see
if we can organize a learning process through them and around them for our own
benefit.
Have any other people on Talisman had experience with sacred dances?
-- john dale


From 73043.1540@compuserve.comMon Apr 1 10:29:37 1996
Date: 01 Apr 96 08:28:00 EST
From: John Dale <73043.1540@compuserve.com>
To: BAHA'I-TALISMAN-LIST
Subject: "Acceptance"/UHJ
Dear Kevin,
You wrote a while ago,
"To put it briefly, the difference between the power of the U.S. Supreme
Court
and the power of the Universal House of Justice is that, if the acceptance of
the people were to go away, the power of the Universal House of Justice would
still be there."
I'm not sure what you mean by this, but if you'll pardon my saying so, I
think you're missing my point, which was focused on the human side of the
equation and based on the laws of arithmetic.
We must observe, I believe, that if every Baha'i got fed up enough with
the Baha'i Faith, they could simply voluntarily turn in their membership cards,
and the Universal House of Justice would cease to exist as a human institution.
Period. 0 members. No power. Nada. Nenio.
Please let us note that it is our human acceptance of and love for the
House as an Institution of God that gives it the human part of its capacity to
act and to exist.
Please let us remember that Baha'u'llah has outlawed conversion by force.
Sincerely, John


From 73043.1540@compuserve.comMon Apr 1 10:30:03 1996
Date: 01 Apr 96 08:26:37 EST
From: John Dale <73043.1540@compuserve.com>
To: "\"[G. Brent Poirier]\""
Cc: BAHA'I-TALISMAN-LIST ,
Laleh Bakhtiar ,
Tony Blake , Teck Chua ,
John Henry Dale , "Deborah G. Glass" ,
LuAnne Hightower ,
Ben Hitchner ,
Harriett MacDougall ,
Betsy and Peter Shor
Subject: Re: Big bang/Gurdjieff
Dear Brent,
Dear Baha'i Justice Society brother!
I sympathize with your perplexities over this issue of time and
beginnings. A lot of thought is going into the foundational aspects of space
and time concepts, and it's very exciting to see how chunks fit together from
time to time to move us closer to a physical understanding. Have you read
Stephen Hawking's "A Brief History of Time"? Look also at Michio Kaku's
"Hyperspace". There are lot's of really fascinating things being written, and
we seem to be poised on a major integration of physics, cosmology, and theology.
The Book of Creation may begin to speak to us as clearly as the Kitab-i-Aqdas.
In this light, if you want a very inspiring picture of _what Life can
ultimately accomplish_ in this physical universe in the 100 billion years (or
more) still left in its life-cycle, read Frank J. Tipler's book "The Physics of
Immortality."
This book put the Faith and the human future and the role of life into a
whole new cosmic light for me.
We think of global unity as such a great task and accomplishment. Well,
it is, relative to what came before, but it is only a stepping stone.
The Baha'i Faith is literally the Faith under which humanity will lift
off of this planet and be guided by God into the common cosmic destiny of all
intelligent life. The Writings never say this directly to my knowledge, but
given what science will accomplish under a Baha'i administration, the conclusion
is inescapable.
Who knows what planet the next Manifestation will appear on? I always
naively assumed it would be the Earth. Now I see that maybe it won't be, and
maybe that is what may cause problems of recognition.
I think of the popularity of Star Trek. In fact it is interesting how
in the popular culture, in virtual reality, humanity has already unified long
ago. Our Faith's secondary literature, however, has failed so far to make the
celestial leap upward. I'm going to suggest to the National Spiritual Assembly
to write to Frank Tipler and commend him on his bold and daring vision. Maybe
I'll try my hand at a pamhlet. We need to give popular imagination something to
_do_ with all that Star Trek enthusiasm. Any Delegates listening? Time for a
national Baha'i Trekie conference! Time for a Trekie on the NSA! Help us get
up there and out of here. "Beam us up, Baha'u'llah!"
Another Tiplerian scenario: In only 900 million more years, changes in
the Sun will make Earth uninhabitable. The survival of life as we know it will
literally require us to have left the Geocentric Womb, and the Spirit of Gaia
will return to her Lord. Problem: At the rate politicians are wasting
resources, we won't make it in time. All the more reason for the World Order of
Baha'u'llah. Future life depends on it in a very literal way.
And the way Tipler's book in general confirms some of the ideas and
thought-forms found in G. I. Gurdjieff's "All and Everything" written 70 years
ago is almost eerie. From whence came the completely "at home", self-assured
extraterrestrial spiritual and cosmic literary perspective of Gurdjieff's book
at a time when Western science fiction was still shooting canon rockets at the
Moon? From whence came the formulations of "objective cosmic science" from
which people such as Russell Smith have been able to derive precise models of
the periodic table of elements? From whence came passages like the one about
the Five Being Obligolnian Strivings? To wit:
"All the beings of this planet [Earth] then began to work in order to
have in their consciousness this Divine function of genuine conscience, and for
this purpose, as everywhere in the Universe, they transubstantiated in
themselves what are called the 'being-obligolnian-strivings' which consist of
the following five, namely:
"The first striving: to have in their ordinary being-existence everything
satisfying and really necessary for their planetary body.
"The second striving: to have a constant and unflagging instinctive need
for self-perfection in the sense of being;
"The third: the conscious striving to know ever more and more concerning
the laws of World-creation and World-maintenance.
"The fourth: the striving from the beginning of their existence to pay
for their arising and their individuality as quickly as possible, in order
afterwards to be free to lighten as much as possible the Sorrow of our Common
Father.
"And the fifth: the striving always to assist the most rapid perfecting
of other beings, both those similar to oneself and those of other forms, up to
the degree of the sacred 'Martfotai', that is, up to the degree of
self-individuality.
"At this period when every terrestrial three-centered being existed and
worked consciously upon himself in accordance with these five strivings, many of
them, thanks to this, quickly arrived at results of objective attainments
perceptible to others. "
...
---------------------

Tell me what theologian, philosopher, or other spiritual teacher was
literally bringing a cosmic perspective down to Earth at this time? In the
1920s, Carl Hubble was just making his discovery about the galactic red shift
phenomenon. We were far from seeing the universe as we do today. At the same
time, Gurdjieff was presenting a view of the cosmic purpose of life as one of
becoming worthy of being of assistance to OUR ENDLESSNESS in the administration
of an enlarging world. Hardly an Earth-bound viewpoint there! A cosmic
administrative and consultative challenge lies ahead of us in the Afterlife of
the planetary body. It sounds familiar to us Baha'is, in a sense, but who else
was saying such a thing? Who else was giving the soul such a specific function?
At a time when Alfred North Whitehead was still deep into writing Process and
Reality, Gurdjieff was writing about several varieties of
"common-cosmic-processes" and how and why God at one point was forced to
_change_ this functioning from one precise mode to another, which is what led to
our universe being in its current form of manifestation. (What Baha'u'llah says
about "re-creation" may be more real than we think.) And what other tradition
was telling people "to know ever more and more concerning the laws of
World-creation and World-maintenance" as part of their basic cosmic spiritual
duty? What other author from such an impartial systemic stance of discourse
could describe the "peculiarities of the functioning of the malificent
properties of the organ Kundabuffer" (i.e., our egoism and upside down view of
reality)?
To me, Gurdjieff remains an enigma, a man apart, a man off the scale of
ordinary human accomplishments, a person who, through some still mysterious
non-academic training and self-discipline and set of talents and information and
circumstances and insights into human psychology, all bundled into an unflagging
sense of personal mission, which was never framed as a path of religious worship
but in terms of the strictest need for personal verification, was able to walk
into Europe in 1917 out of the mountains where he and others had searched in
Central Asia and lay a practical foundation in sacred dance, cosmology,
self-observation, and other practices for a psychology of human transformation
and for a "view from the real world," a view which John G. Bennett then tried to
incorporate into the mathematics of his six-dimensional physics and his program
for Systematics in The Dramatic Universe. Others (Tony Blake, Saul Kuchinsky and
"The Dramatic University project) are carrying this into information theory,
communication, management, and the "structure of the present moment". Seen as a
whole, it is one of the most intense linkages between science, philosophy, and
spiritual reality in our times, one which in my personal view can only be seen
correctly in light of the pathetically backward and limiting circumstances
nearly exterminated the origins and mission of our own Faith and which so
greatly inhibited the intellectual impulses it could otherwise have transmitted.
How many times does Baha'u'llah lament the "countless truths" that could not be
revealed or even alluded to?
But enough for now! Keep up the exploration! Peace!
-- john dale


From 73043.1540@compuserve.comMon Apr 1 10:30:15 1996
Date: 01 Apr 96 08:30:33 EST
From: John Dale <73043.1540@compuserve.com>
To: Steven Scholl <73613.2712@compuserve.com>
Cc: BAHA'I-TALISMAN-LIST
Subject: Re: Women/UHJ/Symbolism
Dear Steve,
Thanks for adding your comments. I hope you are very clear that I feel
that since the number 9 is purely a symbol and since House can change the number
of members if it wishes, it can also change and eliminate the symbolic nature of
itsall-male gender if it wishes.
Perhaps it would be appropriate to do so to mark and celebrate some great
event of world peace like the global summit of leaders, to symbolize an end to
war!
-- John Dale


From 73043.1540@compuserve.comMon Apr 1 10:30:30 1996
Date: 01 Apr 96 08:31:16 EST
From: John Dale <73043.1540@compuserve.com>
To: DEREK COCKSHUT
Cc: BAHA'I-TALISMAN-LIST
Subject: Re: Fwd: UHJ: Beginning with words, ending with insight
Dear Derek,
Yes, I think your post of a couple days ago is accuarte. I have
summarized my personal understanding of how the 9-males character of the UHJ
serves as symbol of Baha'u'llah Himself and of how it is not a symbol of male
domination but of how it can actually serve to hasten the acceptance of the
Cause of God, including the advancement of women.
What was problematic is made radiant, I myself can with an untarnished
intellectual conscience send a clear sgnal to the world about the UHJ, and
therefore I have no problems.
Thanks for your wishes for my spiritual well-being.
John Dale


From 73043.1540@compuserve.comMon Apr 1 10:30:50 1996
Date: 01 Apr 96 08:37:49 EST
From: John Dale <73043.1540@compuserve.com>
To: BAHA'I-TALISMAN-LIST
Subject: Rigid cultural backwaters
Dear Friends,
John Walbridge recently wrote:
"If Christianity, ancient or medieval, or Islam had managed to studiously
avoid borrowing from foreign cultures, they would have remained rigid
cultural backwaters."
Bravo! Truth is truth from whatever candle or source it may shine. And
if these religions had somehow been able to continue to incorporate
self-renewing, progressive scientific methodologies into their institutional
framework, they would have remained luminous bodies of light and cooperation,
and hundreds of millions of lives, and the unbelievable evils committed in the
name of God during centuries by rigid backwater personalities could have been
avoided. How much easier Baha'u'llah's task would have been to lead humanity
into all truth! Unfortunately, each of them became petrified by human-created
stagnative dogmas of "only through Jesus" or "Muhammad is the last Prophet".
Praise be to God that He has clearly commanded us to incorporate science
into the Religion of God so that we will have an organic growth process that can
avoid stagnation.
Our Baha'i institutions should evidence the highest love for science.
They should shine with the impartial light of science.
Through faith in this self-renewing principle of science and the
scientific generation of "light," this epoch of Baha'u'llah will be a Day which
will not be followed by Night, for it is by science that the mirrors of finite
realities can be polished to reflect the brightness of the bestowals of the
Infinite Source.
It is by and through science that we can polish ourselves to reflect
truth from whatever angle it shines.
-- John Dale


From 73043.1540@compuserve.comMon Apr 1 10:31:20 1996
Date: 01 Apr 96 08:37:53 EST
From: John Dale <73043.1540@compuserve.com>
To: Bryan Graham
Cc: BAHA'I-TALISMAN-LIST
Subject: Re: The UHJ, Men, & Secret Socieities (fwd)
Dear Bryan,
I was encouraged by your statements in a recent post. You wrote,
"Finally, I share you horror at the state of the world we live in. I also
share your frustration with the response of the Baha'i community to these
problems. Teaching and more generally becoming active and productive
members of our wider (not just Baha'i) communities seems in complete
accordance with our Teachings."
The whole point of debating things on Talisman is to learn how to become
better doctors to the sick patient of humanity. The point of teaching is to
create more doctors. Doctors are people who bring a scientific and disciplined
_understanding_ to a situation. They are not dogmatists. They continually
learn from experience and ask questions, always in the light of trying to
improve their effectiveness.
If the doctors themselves become sick, however, how will they be able to
cure the patient? If the sickness the patient suffers from is a lack of
applying scientific investigation and reasoning to a problem, and if the doctor
suffers from the same problem in the same degree, it is clear that the doctor
may not be able to even see the problem, much less cure it.
No faith can be a faith which leads to all truth if it does not
incorporate the spirit of science into its operative principles.
At the level of divine principle, the Baha'i faith talks about the
"harmony" of science and religion in the Real World, so to speak, which our
human subjectivities are striving to learn about. However, how does it
incorporate this principle into its functional operations? In the framework of
Baha'i institutions given to us ab initio, we have, not a Universal house of
Science, but a Universal House of Justice. Justice here, in my opinion, is
larger than just legal justice. It is, or includes, the use of intelligence to
balance and steer a process from beginning to completion in the light of rights
and responsibilities and the need to prioritize scarce resources.
Now, science is making rapid advances all over the world. It is a
decentralized flow of information and new ideas into the human system. Thus the
only Baha'i institution which ensures that this information gets absorbed and
used in the appropriate times and places is the semi-informal institution, or
rule, of general and complete consultation on the issues at hand. It is then up
to official groups, including the Universal House of Justice, to make decisions
based on the best facts and the best logic available to them, in light of the
Teachings, and these decisions are revisable and in the spirit of truth and
progress _must_ be revised as facts change and as new light is cast into the
application of principles. In this way the Faith becomes guided not only by the
spirit of Baha'u'llah in some possible personal sense but by that same spirit
embodied in a set of light-generating principles that He has taught us to put
into place as Baha'is so that the nescience of this world will become "light
upon light". This holds true of every Baha'i institution.
Discussions such as those in Talisman are thus part of the process of
general and complete consultation. Obviously there is room for improvement in
terms of their constructive quality. But first we have to get all the ideas out
on the table. Then we can look at them from various perspectives. Then we can
analyze, synthesize, and make judgments, draw up consenses, make
recommendations, etc.
Talisman also serves as a forum for discussing "difficult questions" and
cutting edge types of phenomena. It is a wonderful, divine addition to the tool
kit of the Baha'i community.
Sincerely,
John Dale


From jwalbrid@indiana.eduMon Apr 1 10:31:40 1996
Date: Mon, 1 Apr 1996 08:42:56 -0500 (EST)
From: jwalbrid
To: Talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: "science"
In translations from Arabic and Persian 'science' probably renders
"`ilm", which refers to a systematically organized body of knowledge.
This really tells you more about English than about the original texts,
since English is the only major language I know of that has a separate
word for natural science. German, for example, uses "wissenschaft" to
refer to both natural science and intellectual disciplines of other
sorts. In Baha'i texts the most common use of "`ilm" would be for the
religious sciences of Islam.
john walbridge


From cenglish@aztec.asu.eduMon Apr 1 10:39:07 1996
Date: Mon, 01 Apr 1996 08:33:29 -0700 (MST)
From: "THOMAS C. ENGLISH"
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: New thread - agriculture, resources, economics
Taking a cue from the Lovely Dawn regarding how are food is
produced, and because, John you suggested a new thread, I propose
the land, the plants growing from it that feed us, and the economic
systems surrounding these issues. As I recall John, you were on
the original Ag newsletter address list. Ag has now received
official recognition by the Association for Baha'i studies and
there are enough facets to agriculture/land tenure-ownership/
and taxation to boil the Talisman pot.
This is only a proposal. I'd take a few days to gather the Ag
emailers to Talisman, then the fun can begin. With the
scholarship resources out there, the text searching capability
that I don't have, and the general fermentable state of the
discourse, I believe this group could produce a benchmark
discussion of agriculture/community building issues.
Remember, no matter what our gender (was or is), no matter what
we do, the sun that shines upon the earth, she gives us *all*
our food.
And if you thought Tahirih dropped a bomb at the Conference at
Badasht, wait 'til some of our BAha'i communities assert the
Law of Baha'u'llah in the face of international corporate
development.


From gec@geoenv.comMon Apr 1 11:29:30 1996
Date: Mon, 1 Apr 1996 11:27:40 -0500
From: Alex Tavangar
To: Talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: New thread - agriculture, resources, economics
Ag has now received
>official recognition by the Association for Baha'i studies and
>there are enough facets to agriculture/land tenure-ownership/
>and taxation to boil the Talisman pot.
> .......
>And if you thought Tahirih dropped a bomb at the Conference at
>Badasht, wait 'til some of our BAha'i communities assert the
>Law of Baha'u'llah in the face of international corporate
>development.
>
>
Dear Thomas,
I would be very much interested in widening my meager knowledge of
agriculture, land reform, sustainable development, etc., etc.
I only hope that the tremendous challenge that such a thread may pose will
not compel the Talisfolks to shun it like the plague. After all, in many
parts of the world (including U.S.), the very mention of agricultural reform
brings the rifles and shotguns out. Few topics hit so close to home (pocket
book/means of production/control) as does bread and butter. Masses get
involved and philosophers grope for a belly full of answers amidst the mayhem.
Cautious Regards,
Alex B. Tavangar


From jrcole@umich.eduMon Apr 1 16:10:42 1996
Date: Mon, 1 Apr 1996 11:28:18 -0500 (EST)
From: Juan R Cole
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: science and religion
John has called for new subjects, and one that I would like to see
discussed is the possible contributions of the Faith to the dilemma of
the `two cultures', the split between science and the humanities, and the
opposition between scientific ways of thinking and religion.
This divide has been one of the central themes of Western culture during
the past two centuries. The subject is of the utmost importance, because
the rise of science, technology and capitalism have produced a realist
and pragmatic mindset in Westerners that clearly challenges religious
ways of thinking. The problem is even more acute in Europe than in the
US. 40% of the French do not believe in God at all (only 8% of Americans
report "none" for their religion, and apparently not all of these are
atheists).
It seems to me clear that the major religious reply in the
US, fundamentalism, does not have a prayer of resolving these problems.
Fundamentalists are demographically concentrated in the less-educated,
less well off sectors of the US (with, of course, exceptions). But the
tendency is for the population to become more educated over time (50% of
the US population gets some amount of college education now, even if it
is only a course or two at a community college; a fourth drops out of
school, and a fourth has a high school education only; the less-educated
50% are where the fundamentalists are strongest, but it is unlikely that
the US can afford to continue allowing half its population to be
intellectually squandered. Studies have shown that even a semester in
college makes significant changes of outlook . . .).
The possible positions on religion this crisis has produced include:
1) secularist atheism. This appears to be the position of most US
scientists working in the hard sciences. What can be known about the
world is what can be known through either empirical evidence or
mathematical and logical proof. Most religion is seen as superstition.
2) scriptural fundamentalism: This arose in the early 20th century as a
direct response to 1) above. Medieval Christianity had seen some of the
Bible as metaphorical or allegorical. Fundamentalism rejected these
approaches in favor of literalism. Thus, evolution is rejected in favor
of a short chronology of 6,000 years for the age of the earth, etc. Pat
Robertson is an example.
3) Neo-Thomism: This Catholic response to 1) above went back
intellectually, not to a literalist approach to the Bible, but to
medieval scholasticism. It rejected freedom of conscience, speech, and
religion, and for decades looked upon Franco's Spain as the ideal society.
Aspects of this tradition have been championed by Alasdaire MacIntyre.
4) Islamic equivalents of 2) and 3) were put forward, with the Muslim
Brotherhood in Egypt more like Protestant fundamentalism and the
Khomeinists in Iran more like Neo-Thomism.
5) Religious liberalism: This strand attempts to find an accommodation
between science, with its experiential orientation to reality, and
religion, with its authoritarian orientation. The
Unitarian-Universalists in the West, and thinkers such as Muhammad `Abduh
in Islam, are examples of this tendency.
Now, when I became a Baha'i, I read `Abdu'l-Baha on science and religion,
and I assumed that Baha'is would contribute to the debate largely within
the framework of 5) above. But it has gradually become apparent to me
that very large numbers of Baha'is, perhaps a majority, want to work out
of framework 2) above, while others are oriented to 3) above. This is
complicated, because Baha'is are often quite willing to borrow the
arguments of religious liberalism for thinking about Christianity and
Islam; but when it comes to the Baha'i Faith itself, they retrench to
scriptural literalism or a sort of scholasticism. I feel that both these
latter are unfruitful for resolving the crisis, and that blindly adopting
them from our Christian and Muslim milieu is not good for the Baha'i
Faith. `Abdu'l-Baha presented the Faith as a vehicle for a potential
resolution of this crisis, but I have not seen much evidence that Baha'is
have contributed significantly to the debates. I haven't even seen
Baha'is cite the major figures in the philosophy of science--Kuhn, etc.
Most Baha'is with a serious scientific background appear oddly willing to
simply be silent and to work with a divided mind, and even to support
scriptural literalism as a hermeneutical approach.
Baha'is have spent most of the twentieth century erecting the
administrative order, pioneering, and teaching the faith. But it is now
time for us to start taking seriously the *intellectual* tasks laid
upon us by Baha'u'llah, `Abdu'l-Baha, Shoghi Effendi, and the Universal
House of Justice. Warmed over Pat Robertson or Thomas of Aquinas,
dressed up in Baha'i quotes, will not do the trick.
cheers Juan Cole, History, University of Michigan


From nineteen@onramp.netMon Apr 1 16:11:22 1996
Date: Mon, 1 Apr 96 11:32:18 -0500
From: "Richard C. Logan"
To: Talisman
Subject: Rationalism and Perception
Dear Members of Talisman,
The ongoing debate over membership by women on the Universal House of
justice calls to mind the limits of *Rationalism* as a discovery tool
when attempting to peirce the veil surrounding an issue. It may well be
a mistake to take the view that this is a situation that must be made to
conform to our desires. Our own prejudices and superstitions inevitable
inform such a discussion masquerading as one or another form of sound
logic. Rationalism limits possibitities to those things our experience
has uncovered so far. It interfers with the full scope of human
perception. Thus, one can perceive Baha'u'llah's Revelation without
prematurely attempting to rationalize it with the experience at hand.
Rationalizing is an important human need but it can not be forced.
If one seriously examines the view put forward by the Guardian that the
Administrative Order is *Organic* then one would not want to impose upon
it those desires that we personally hold dear but rather encourage it to
grow according to its own reality. That is not to say we can truely
point to what that is at this time, but one need not argue that there
must be a *correctness* of gender that applies to the the UHJ. Although
that appears to be the rational approach--rationality is not organic.
Our rationality is informed by our personal will and our personal will is
the greatest stumbling block to a new world order.
I have found that one can understand one's perceptions to a considerably
higher degree if we are able to remove the superimposition of the ego--as
a lens so to speak--from our vision. It also helps one a great deal to
try and insulate, to whatever degree one is able, the ego from all of
one's activities. Thus one trys to let go of: "I AM DOING THIS". If
one lets go of the self-importance of the personality--that is not to say
the personality isn't useful--one finds they can navigate the world far
more effectively.
It seems that each of us--to some extent-- has a disabling karmic cycle
that we ride like a merry-go-round refusing to get off. In this
connection, it is interesting that Zoroaster taught a three-fold path
1). Good Thoughts 2). Good Words 3). Good Actions. In other words,
elightenment begins in our thoughts and the changing of karmic patterns
or thought patterns begins with perception. Perception is blurred by
will. The conscious and inner act of of setting aside personal desire
clears perception and thus Good Thoughts can follow-- spawning Good Words
which edify others and Good Actions among everyone.
Richard C. Logan nineteen@onramp.net
Maintain HomePage "The Baha'is of Lubbock"
http://rampages.onramp.net/~nineteen/
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
How manifold are the truths which must remain unuttered until the
appointed time is come! Even as it has been said:
"Not everything that a man knoweth can be disclosed, nor can
everything that he can disclose be regarded as timely, nor can every
timely utterance be considered as suited to the capacity of those who
hear it." --Gleanings from the writings of Baha'u'llah
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


From Member1700@aol.comMon Apr 1 16:13:59 1996
Date: Mon, 1 Apr 1996 12:48:44 -0500
From: Member1700@aol.com
To: Talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Women and the House
I do sense a sort of weariness among the Talismaniacs concerning this topic.
And for good reason. We have been over this ground before. Now, I am
willing to discuss it all again for the benefit of those who were not here
the first time, or in hopes of finding some new insights that were not
discovered earlier. But, I must admit a certain weariness myself--especially
with the need to defend the positions that I and others have taken as being
compatible with the Covenant of Baha'u'llah. (Ahem!)
In any case, I do appreciate Richard's corrective remarks. The argument
that I presented in the last post on this subject was rather condensed, and
therefore truncated. It simplified the situation too much, perhaps. But,
Sen's restatement of the basic line of argument today does catch the jist of
it.
It is not clear to me, for instance, that Baha'u'llah in his Writings
makes any clear distinction between an international House of Justice and a
local House of Justice. Such a distinction is implied in some passages, but
never stated, and therefore the terminology used to refer to one institution
as distinct from the other is rather loose. It is generally accepted that
Baha'u'llah never referred to a National House of Justice (secondary House of
Justice) at all.
In the Aqdas, and later Tablets, it appears that Baha'u'llah addresses
the House of Justice as a general institution--not a specific one. Clearly
there is no distinction in his use of the word rijal (men) between
international and local institutions. He uses the word to refer to Houses of
Justice in the plural, for instance. It is an honorific term with refers
generally to all members of all Houses of Justice, local or national or
international.
Richard is quite right in pointing out that no study has been done on the
terminology in the writings used to refer exclusively to the Universal (that
is, the international) House of Justice. Just when the term baytu'l-adl azam
came into use, I am not sure. 'Abdu'l-Baha uses baytu'l-'adl ummumi in his
Will and Testament. But in his 1909 Tablet to Chicago, it seems quite clear
from the context of its use, he uses the same term to refer to the Chicago
Assembly. He uses this term also to refer to the Tehran Assembly in
published Tablets. (I should point out that I am relying on other people's
research for these points, since I do not read Persian or Arabic.)
Richard is also quite right to point out that 'Abdu'l-Baha, after the
early Assemblies had been formed, and once there was some controversy about
the service of women on them, stated that Spiritual Assemblies of mixed
gender were acceptable. But, at the same time he upheld the exclusion of
women from certain bodies that had been formed earlier--specifically Chicago
and Kenosha. In the case of Kenosha, for instance, he did NOT suggest that
women might be elected to this body at a later time, but rather that a
separate Assembly for women might be elected. This had, in fact, been done
in Chicago.
The point of seeking to understand how 'Abdu'l-Baha's Tablets were
understood by Baha'is at the time they were written is not to determine
Corinne True's interpretation of them, but to determine 'Abdu'l-Baha's
intent. Since this controversy continued for many years in the American
community--at least from 1902 to 1912, many letters were sent to 'Abdu'l-Baha
on the subject. He replied many times. It was universally understood by the
community at that time that the 1902 ("as clear as the sun at noonday")
Tablet excluded women from membership on the Chicago House of Justice. If
there had been a misunderstanding on this point, 'Abdu'l-Baha would have had
many years to correct it. The point here is that even Corinne True, who was
trying to have women elected and who had written to 'Abdu'l-Baha specifically
to request this recognized that his Tablet was a refusal--as did everyone
else. To say that his Tablet had some other meaning is theologically
possible, but ahistorical.
The opinion expressed here that simply holding the belief that women will
one day be elected to the Universal House of Justice and that there is no
scriptural impediment to such election is tantamount to Covenant-breaking,
seems to me quite extreme and unfounded. Such a belief does not challenge
the authority of the House of Justice or any other primary figure of the
Faith. No one has suggested that we run out and elect our own House of
Justice, with women on it. In fact, such a belief expands the discretion and
power of the House, it does not challenge it. Certainly, when women are
finally elected to the House at some point--as I have no doubt they will
be--it will be by decision of the House of Justice itself and not as a result
of Covenant breaking.
With regard to the interpretations of Shoghi Effendi on this point, I
have stated before that I believe the beloved Guardian's statements in all of
his messages on this matter (all written through secretaries, so the exact
wording is not so important)--but in all these letters the point is to refer
back to 'Abdu'l-Baha's 1902 Tablet. (There is no mention of the 1909 Tablet,
by the way.) In fact, the Guardian specifically declines any statement
concerning membership of women on the House in favor of the 1902 ("as clear
as the sun at noonday") Tablet.
In light of this guidance, it seems to me that our duty is to go back to
that Tablet and find out what it means, who it was sent to, what the context
of its revelation was, and so forth. Having discovered that it refers to the
local Chicago House of Justice--which it very clearly does (and as I have
said, even the House of Justice is willing to conceded this)--it seems to me
that the way is open to reconsider our current understanding of this matter.

Warmest,
Tony


From derekmc@ix.netcom.comMon Apr 1 16:14:55 1996
Date: Mon, 1 Apr 1996 10:18:13 -0800
From: DEREK COCKSHUT
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: re. Tribunal
My dear Sen
If you are saying that the Supreme Tribunal has a place
in the affairs of the world prior to the Faith obtaining
it痴 majority.Then the very nature of that statement
requires the document to be consultative rather than
authoritative. Upon reading the document one notes that
it is intended for an existing political situation being
converted towards an international framework that will
allow the Lesser Peace to function in the manner that
Baha置値lah intended. I wonder if the Supreme Tribunal
will come into being in that form as Baha段s will not
have the political authority to ensure compliance. The
principle not the detail is what is more important.If
Mankind devises a method that allows the principle to be
achieved than the detail becomes of little consequence.
Now I personally believe that system the Master outlined
is the way Humanity should go, but I am more concerned
with the spiritual principle than the political detail of
the framework that needs to be erected.
However I was referring to a time when the Lesser Peace
will be ending and the Most Great Peace will be
beginning. It seems to me we as Baha段s can not demand
that Humanity accepts blindly this instruction of the
Master, nor do I imagine you would expect them too. So
the question still begs to be answered how will the
Universal House of Justice rearrange the Supreme Tribunal
to ensure that the peoples of the world feel it
represents them,
whilst there is substantial minority who are not Baha段
and yet the Faith has become the Religion of the World.
At such a time it could well be there will be a need to
reconsider the needs of such people.Of course if the
detailed method the Master outlined has not been tried
maybe then would be the perfect time to put it in to
practice.
There is no reason why such a Tribunal can not be created
at the Local and the Secondary level and this of course
could ensure a fairer world.
As far as your comment regarding women on the House of
Justice and these two being the same if we look for
change. I am of the opinion it is not the same. The Peace
conference that the Master wrote to was attempting to
redivide up the World痴 political map in a manner that
was beneficial to the victors of World War One. It hardly
follows that such a tablet from the Master is of the same
type as one that effects the very internal structure of
the World Order of Baha置値lah. One of the problems that
faces western Baha段s is that we often want the Faith to
conform to modern day norms. In the USA for example women
have technically legal equality but social disrespect and
inequality from men in general. Which is why I have
repeatedly stated the Faith is not allowing men the
luxury that they are allowed in the USA society of being
able to state well you have equality what do I need to
do. Equality as framed in the Faith is of a spiritual
nature in its root and we have not even started yet in my
view.
I do not accept that by analysis and speculation we can
place ourselves in the mind of another and create
scenarios that allow our ideas to be what a person
eventually would have thought and therefore decided on. I
do not believe you can do that for an ordinary person and
even less for some one like the Master. I actually find
it disrespectful and condescending to the average person
and even more so for Abdu値-Baha. I have no problems with
having Women on the House of Justice for me it is a
non-issue. I am firmly convinced that the major reason
for the debate is the immature understanding at all
levels that individual members serving on Institutions
have personal power. The moment we grow beyond that idea
perhaps the reason will become as clear as day.
Kindest Regards
Derek Cockshut


From TLCULHANE@aol.comMon Apr 1 16:15:47 1996
Date: Mon, 1 Apr 1996 13:41:50 -0500
From: TLCULHANE@aol.com
To: CaryER_ms@msn.com
Cc: talisman@indiana.edu, TLCULHANE@aol.com
Subject: Hannah flips and bodyand soul
Dear Hannah ,
Thanks for forwarding those posts ! You know until last fall I had
never given any real thought to the issues you have been grappling with in
your life . It has been a fascinating learning experience.
I especially enjoyed your tale of the "devoted" and "active" Bahai and
serving on the House . My own sense is that the day will come when this will
be a non issue . I have been persuauded by the "rijal " argument where women
are counted as men .
It seems to me that Bahaullah , within the language constraints of the
time, pointed us in the direction of a world beyond sexuallity ,at least in
terms of sexuality as biology being the defining characteristic of humanness
. It only seems logical to me that if the principle of the oneness of
humankind points to a world of identity beyond race as a biological category
defining our humanness and if this principle is the pivot around which all
the teachings of Bahau llah revolves according to Shoghi Effendi then the
very category of biology as definitive of our humanity is suspect. If
sexuality is a biological category and if it is used as the defining
characteristic of legislative capacity- that is as a form of, or basis for
exclusion - then such a construct is suspect in light of the principle of the
oneness of humankind as the pivot around which all the teachings of Baha u
llah revolves. My understanding is such that a literal and non contextual
understanding of any of Bahau llah's statements need to be filtered through
the foundational principle of oneness of humankind . If we come to a position
which seems to be at odds with this principle then our position is suspect
and needs to be reexamined.
There is a category mistake here as Alfred North Whitehead might say .
That mistake, it seems to me is betwen "differentiation" or differenceof
function, and exclusion . Our sexuality is differentiated by biology - male
, female- this differentiation gives rise in the course of our evolution to a
difference of biolgical function - pregnancy and childbirth - this difference
of function in turn takes on cultural significance in the course of evolution
as well . It seems to me we ought not lose sight of the fact that this
differentiation is a biological function given cultural sanction in history.
Excusion on the other hand is a category which has its origin in a cultural
realm and uses biological categories to limit the paricipation of classes of
individuals based on race , and sex.
While the biospheric dimension of human life most assuredly exists - and
a la Ken Wilber is *fundamental* to our existence in the physical world ; it
is not the most significant dimension defining our humanity. The world of
reason /mind/culture the noosphere- is more significant . We only need to
consider Baha u llahs ethical prescriptions and proscriptions to realize
they are directed far more to the world of mind/ culture than to the world of
our biology. Thus the biosphere is more fundamental to our physical existence
but less significant than our /mental/ cultural existence in defining our
humanness.

In turn there is an additional realm of spirit - the home of the soul -
the theospere which is even more significant to who *we* are as human beings
. This realm ,as you noted with Sandy, is a realm beyond gender and I would
argue is the source of the mental and biologcial differentiation we notice in
the phenomenal world . It is the theospere that is the most significant and
therefore controlling realm when it comes to defining our humanness our
"being." It is the realm of the theosphere - the soul - as source of what is
distinctively human which needs to be the basis of life in the world ," how
to be and how to live" as Abdul Baha stated. It sems to me that this is
precisely what Baha u lah is doing , radically deconstructing race and gender
(not eliminating them ) as the defining characteristic of human existence and
in turn reconstructing human existence on the basis of its most significant
dimension the theosphere or world of the soul. That there has never been a
cultural world constructed or woven on such a basis points to the profound
nature of Bahau llah's challenge to humanity. Biolgy is fundamental but less
significant than mind/culture, which in turn is less significant than the
theospere . It is the latter which is the defining characteristic of our
humanity and which provides us the most significant realization of the
foundational principle of the oneness of humankind.
The category mistake is all this it seems to me is the confusion or
collapsing of realms. The world of the polis - the arena in which decisions
are made as to how life is to be organized and on the basis of what
principles, is, above all, the world of mind/ culture- the noosphere. This is
the world of legislation. To conclude that Bahau llah intended to make the
biological differentiation of the species into the basis for the exclusion
of women based on their biology/sexuality is a category mistake . It is the
collapsing of the most significant realms, the soul and the mind, into
biology and making biology the basis for participation in the realm of the
mind - the polis and its legislative acts. I can only conclude that is
contrary to the foundational principle of Baha u llah - the oneness of
humankind and as such will not withstand the passage of time or the evolution
of *Spirit* in the phenomenal world. It is this *Spirit* which is calling us
to "recognize" and "observe" the many manifestations of its *attributes* in
the phenomenal world as preceediong from one *Source*. It is the human
analogue, in my mind, to "no distinction do we make betwen any of our
Messengers." As such exclusionary understandings and practices based on
biology (or race) are contrary to the logic of Bahau llahs revelation and
contrary to the *outpouring* evolution of Spirit in this world. Such
exclusions need to be rethought . located in their proper realms , or the
very evolution of Spirit ( otherwise known to Bahais as the major plan of God
) will remove them as a basis for life both within and without the Bahai
community.

Hannah - This can probably also be thought of as my response to Gale's
question on women serving on the House. --- And besides we already know I
think God is a women.:) :)
Thanks again for forwarding your thoughts during my absence from
Talisman . Your are, like another dear soul on Talisman - our Dan O. -
pioneers in a strange land .
"Carry on ,
love is coming,
to us all ."
- Crosby Stills Nash Young ( and Culhane)

warmest regards ,
Terry


From cenglish@aztec.asu.eduMon Apr 1 16:16:04 1996
Date: Mon, 01 Apr 1996 11:47:46 -0700 (MST)
From: "THOMAS C. ENGLISH"
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Reply to: New Thread - ag, etc.
Alex, if we take up the land, its products, and the institutional
means of distributing them, of course there will be heat. But
this is a topic interested people want to know more about. Like I
said, I'm sure the some kind of benchmark document could come out
of this thread.
We might get Ag researchers online, maybe a real farmer or two,
perhaps the Aggies from the Louis Gregory Institute, then get
a weigh-in from land tenure types, plus the writings on the
distribution of community resources.
It might give people ammunition for teaching. Not to mention
inspiring QD, goddess of poetry, to pour forth fountains of
praise and exaltation.
As to the split in the Western mind, I'm for that. My left brain
doesn't know what my right brain is doing. I have experiencedd
some pure left-brain adventures that would make a psychiatrist
make $250,000/year break out in a sweat and trade his Mercedes
in for a Toyota Tercel.
My editor is poor. Sorry about the typos. If we do explore the
mind, how about some nuts and bolts information. Like: if you
do this... you should feel... etc.
--
Chris English It does not require many words to
P.O. Box 10 speak the truth.
Phoenix, AZ 85001 -Chief Joseph, Nez Perce, [1840?-1904]
602.379.4511 cenglish@aztec.asu.edu


From nineteen@onramp.netMon Apr 1 16:17:20 1996
Date: Mon, 1 Apr 96 13:21:38 -0500
From: "Richard C. Logan"
To: Juan Cole , Talisman
Subject: Re: science and religion
> I haven't even seen
>Baha'is cite the major figures in the philosophy of science--Kuhn, etc.
>Most Baha'is with a serious scientific background appear oddly willing to
>simply be silent and to work with a divided mind, and even to support
>scriptural literalism as a hermeneutical approach.
I have not found this to be so--but perhaps I travel in different
circles. I also don't expect everyone to have the same understanding as
myself, that one rationally defines.
Kuhn who you bring up pointed out the shifts in a world view or
scientific progress are not linear--which I would say is the hallmark of
*rationalism*. For Kuhn--as I understand him--posits breakthroughs-- not
as the culmination of previous information--but as a jump, a
reorientation of perception; probably intutitive that is essentially
phenomenological in nature.
Modern philosophy, if I may be so bold, rejects the straightjacket of
rationalism, but retains systematic methodolgies to map its progress.
The idea that all social aims have been sufficiently rationalized is only
potenially so. The debate between " science, with its experiential
orientation to reality, and religion, with its authoritarian
orientation." is a contest between competing rational constructs and
nothing more. Each side accuses the other of holding to positions that
are responsible for moral decay. Thus, I believe both sides of the
discussion would would be taking a normative approach--that is *reality*
should be a certain way. But as Baha'u'llah has pointed out (and I don't
think rhetorically)--to paraphraze: if He were decree that all things
lawful in the past were now unlawful and visa versa then this would be
our reality. This for me is the most challenging idea Baha'u'llah has
put forward.
They position that Baha'is are, in fact, oriented to a series of one or
the other of 5 categories of viewpoints can be useful to a point if we
want to critique tendancies. But then again not everyone is defining
things the same way. From my POV, which I have not been able to
articulate adequately--Baha'is are doing something different which on the
surface seems the same but is fresh because it is infused with a new
potential.
We do not attempt to understand Einstein's theory of relativity using
Newton's linear laws. Relativity defies rationality. It is an entirely
different order of experience. It has its own internal logic if one can
call it logic--creative and dynamic are possibly more accurate. This we
just attempt to investigate it and see how it works. We can't place
rational norms on it, as such, because it works the way it works. I
believe this to be true with the Administrative Order. It is not a
normative entity neccesarily, although, one would find it simpler if it
were.
The enlightened approach that we seek in these matters is not, in my
view, rational per se, but perceptive in nature which is a process like
all else. Whatever else one might say about the attitudinal limitations
of the believers, they are trying to make work something the vast
majority of this planet has yet to conceive within their own
souls--something as of yet unborn and not understood.
Richard C. Logan nineteen@onramp.net
Maintain HomePage "The Baha'is of Lubbock"
http://rampages.onramp.net/~nineteen/
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
How manifold are the truths which must remain unuttered until the
appointed time is come! Even as it has been said:
"Not everything that a man knoweth can be disclosed, nor can
everything that he can disclose be regarded as timely, nor can every
timely utterance be considered as suited to the capacity of those who
hear it." --Gleanings from the writings of Baha'u'llah
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


From lua@sover.netMon Apr 1 16:18:32 1996
Date: Mon, 1 Apr 1996 14:28:42 -0500 (EST)
From: LuAnne Hightower
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Cc: John Dale <73043.1540@compuserve.com>
Subject: Sacred Dances
On 4/1/96 John Dale wrote:
.>I have had some slight training in the so-called Movements and Sacred
>Dances taught by George Gurdjieff, which are real disciplines of the conscious
>placement of attention in the thinking, feeling, and sensing aspects of our
>being, and I am learning more about the same types of disciplines as practiced
>in the Sufi zihkrs. I was very pleased to see that a zikhr occurred at Bosch
>Baha'i School recently.
Allah-u-Abha, John. I have only a limited amount of exposure to the (most
elementary of the) movements developed by Gurdjieff. They are difficult,
and for lack of instructors in my geographical area, I have never had
occasion to progress past the most basic combinations. I have seen them
performed - truly an experience beyond the sensory - much like watching the
sema. There is an energy that is created by the movements themselves that
penetrates that hidden faculty and reaches a deeper knowing. I long for the
opportunity of immersion in them, but alas the time has not come. Insha'llah.
Did not all of the revelations that came before make this one possible?
Don't these traditions, being divine in origin, have much to offer us? And
yet, I continually encounter those in the Baha'i community who criticize the
use of other traditions as part of personal spiritual practice by individual
Baha'is. The impressions that I receive are that these people think that
the prayers we have are all that we need, or they think that a Baha'i
paradigm will arise (how, they cannot tell me) so that these sorts of
practices will emerge in some uniquely Baha'i way. When Baha'u'llah
enjoined us to make mention (dhikr) or remembrance of God, he did not say,
"But I don't mean dhikr in the sense that the Sufis mean it. This is some
unique form that will only be revealed in time." He simply said, "Make
mention (dhikr) of God." When Abdu'l Baha was asked about a suitable form
of meditation, he gave a basic description that resembles zazen.
There is so much available to us from other traditions that already exists.
Why wait for the invention of something that we can say is the Baha'i
method? And there is so much that has emerged AS A RESULT of the Baha'i
Revelation which may not have come from the Baha'is themselves. The work of
Gurdjieff is just one example. I write musical settings for the Writings,
many of which are simple dhikrs with prayers chanted over them. It is
always perceived by the friends as a "Sufi thing." I have also put some of
the Writings in a traditional jazz context, which some people find
objectionable. Personally, I find the inherent longing in jazz and the
longing in the prayers to fit quite seamlessly together. And it often makes
the Writings accessible to audiences who might not otherwise seek out the
Faith - it touches them. Perhaps this distaste for what already exists in
other traditions and cultures is only a symptom of the West - I wouldn't
know. But we're depriving ourselves of a whole lot of beauty that may just
be the soil from which this supposed flowering of the arts will emerge. If
we toss it out, what are we left with? A vaccuum from which nothing can
emerge. It's like erasing the apex of the enneagram.
Warm Regards,
LuAnne


From M@upanet.uleth.caMon Apr 1 16:19:53 1996
Date: Mon, 01 Apr 1996 13:58:51 -0700
From: M
To: "Iskandar Hai, M.D."
Cc: Talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: RE: Big bang (and other stuff)
Re. . . .
>Abdu'l-Baha specifically testifies to this fact that God has creatures on
other planets who have free will and that life is not exclusively limited to
the Earth. It is in an as yet untranslated Tablet.
>Bye,
> Iskandar
Isn't this the same as the "know thou that every fixed star has it's
planets and every planet it's creatures" statement that was at the center of
the "Is science on par with religion?" thread back in Oct & November 95?
Re. The Big Bang vs. that which has no beginning but an end in the Lawh-I
Hikmat etc.. I see no contradiction. If the Revelation of Baha'u'llah
embraces the doctrine of degenerative monism, and I believe it does, the
universe was both created, (percipitated, emanated, thought or exploded into
being - call it what you will) - by God, but was pre-existent in God. Is
that such a difficult concept to accept or did my youthful shennannigans
warp my mind more seriously than I'd believed. If one wishes to
characterize the manifestation of Gods' cogitations as a "quantum
fluctuation in a vaccume" that's fine with me too. No contradiction at all.
Lyal Watson allegedly said "If the human mind were simple enough to
understand, we humans would be so simple we couldn't." And yet we try to
grasp the mind of God with our either/or thinking. "Oh No! this can't be
right! it contradicts our current scientific knowledge".
I bear witness to my powerlessness and to Thy might! to my poverty
and to Thy wealth! to my abysmal ignorance and to Thy infinite and limitless
knowledge.
(one of the least of a host of tiny parasitic creatures inhabiting a
dying spark in a remote corner of an exploding universe) M.
:-9 = P.M. Jean Crietien happy face
M &
E-mail: M@upanet.uleth.ca
11th Street South
, Alberta,
T1J 2P7 CANADA

**************************************************************
Human depravity, then, has broken into fragments that which is by nature one
and simple; men try to grasp part of a thing which has no parts and so get
neither the part, which does not exist, nor the whole, which they do not
seek. (Boethius; the Consolation or Philosophy, 524 A.D.)
**************************************************************


From M@upanet.uleth.caMon Apr 1 16:20:13 1996
Date: Mon, 01 Apr 1996 13:59:14 -0700
From: M
To: Denise Crafts
Cc: Talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Equality/Uniformity
Re. . . .
>Dale wrote:
>
>>>The "power" of the
>>>Universal house of Justice comes from exactly the same source: acceptance.
>
>Jim wrote:
>
>>...that the *power* of the Universal House of Justice came from Baha'u'llah
>Himself, in His connection
>>with us and our adherence to the Covanant.
>>
>I am at a lose to see the difference between these two statements. What am
>I missing.
>
>Denise
I wouldn't see the difference either if I continued to think of power and
authority as one and the same thing. Why do we keep forgetting that, in the
context of Baha'i teaching, there is a clear distinction between the two.
"Power" resides in the individual and in the covenant. We whine and whimper
about being "disempowered", Yatter about "empowerment", criticise anyone and
anything we believe has power over us and yet abdicate our own power at
every opportunity. Every time a Baha'i says "why don't the institutions -
or why doesn't the administration do this that or the other thing - they are
abdicating their power!" The institutions of the Faith have the authority
to decide an action should be taken; they have the power to do absolutely
nothing. The Universal House of Justice has the authority invested in it
by Baha'u'llah. It would still have that authority even if there was not
one individual to be found on the planet willing to exercise his/her power
to carry out it's decisions. A failure on the part of any individual to
recognize the authority of the House does not diminish that authority one
iota. The failure on the part of any individual to tap into and exercise
the power of the convenant, does not diminish the power latent in the convenant.
Gord
>
>
M &
E-mail: M@upanet.uleth.ca
11th Street South
, Alberta,
T1J 2P7 CANADA

**************************************************************
Human depravity, then, has broken into fragments that which is by nature one
and simple; men try to grasp part of a thing which has no parts and so get
neither the part, which does not exist, nor the whole, which they do not
seek. (Boethius; the Consolation or Philosophy, 524 A.D.)
**************************************************************


From research@bwc.orgMon Apr 1 16:22:49 1996
Date: Mon, 1 Apr 96 17:00:54 IDT
From: Research Department
To: jrcole@umich.edu
Cc: banani@humnet.ucla.edu
Subject: Your provisional translations
Dear Juan;
I was really delighted to receive your email telling me of your decision
to submit your translations to the Supreme Body to be used in the manner in
which they saw fit.
I think your contribution to the translation of the Writings of the Faith
into the English language will be highly valued and appreciated as it becomes
known through the publication and dissemination of the texts that have been
enhanced by your talents.
As you requested, I shared with the Universal House of Justice your
message to me. The whole question of the translation of the Sacred Writings
needs the close attention and final decision of that body. You will be
receiving from them, in due course, an acknowledgement of your generous and
gracious offer.
I have, with much delight, seen your translations but, in order to ensure
that I have them all, I would appreciate your forwarding a hard copy of the
final versions of everything you have done.
Please accept my best wishes for a joyous Naw-Ruz for you and for your
family.
With loving Baha'i greetings,
Vahid Rafati


From gladius@portal.caTue Apr 2 11:33:49 1996
Date: Mon, 1 Apr 1996 13:28:34 -0800 (PST)
From: Linda de Gonzalez
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re:Towards a group ecstasy function
I kind of got lost (I think) in your description of sacred dances. I felt
compelled to reply, however, because of my own experience of native sacred
dance, the pow-wow. I am not sure if this would qualify, in light of its
absolute simplicity, and lack of complicated steps (at least in the group
version; individual dances such as the Grass Dance and the Hoop Dance are
extremely complicated).
Every single time I have attended a pow-wow, and participated, I have found
myself in tears. I don't know what part of me the pow-wow touches so deeply,
but I cannot stop the flow of tears. I believe this is my "ecstasy". Note,
please, that these are not tears of anger or sadness. Nor is what I feel
really joy. I can find no words to describe what's going on inside me, so I
think this must be what mystics call "ecstasy".
I find myself moved in the same way by the simple exercise of singing in a
choir. Sometimes, when our voices blend *exactly* right, and no-one is
off-key (!), and the song is a particularly beautiful one, I get an elbow in
the ribs from my daughter (next to me in the alto section), with an offer of
a kleenex. I move heaven and earth to get to choir practices on Monday
nights, no matter how tired/frustrated I am. I know I will feel better after.
I wish with all my heart that I had the same feeling about going to Feasts!
What can I do in my own community to get this feeling started amongst us all??
Raul Gonzalez
Gladius Productions


From mfoster@qni.comTue Apr 2 11:34:29 1996
Date: Mon, 1 Apr 1996 16:17:09 -0600
From: "Mark A. Foster"
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: The Covenant
Talismanians -
Since John asked us to pursue new topics, I thought that I would introduce
one - the Covenant. I don't intend to be controversial or argumentative,
although others are obviously free to do as they wish.
A while back, I remember a posting in which it was stated that the Baha'i
Covenant was an acceptance of the Central Figures and the administration. I
believe that this message was in response to another posting which said that
there had been some Covenantally suspect messages on the list.
The question I am asking is the following: Is that all there is to the
Covenant? IOW (In other words), if I accept the above am I being faithful to
the Covenant? Or, to put it another way, what does it mean to accept the
Central Figures and the Administration? Have I fulfilled the Covenant if I
*believe*, or does it go beyond that? Does it mean that I need to recognize
the voice of God in the words of the Guardian and the House? How might that
recognition reflect in my words and actions?
To the Light, Mark (Foster)
***************************************************************************
"The Prophets of God have been the Servants of Reality; Their Teachings
constitute the science of reality." - `Abdu'l-Baha
"The sciences of today are bridges to reality; if they lead not to reality,
naught remains but fruitless illusion." - `Abdu'l-Baha
***************************************************************************


From richs@microsoft.comTue Apr 2 11:39:47 1996
Date: Mon, 1 Apr 1996 14:25:50 -0800
From: Rick Schaut
To: "'Talisman@indiana.edu'"
Subject: RE: Women and the House
Dear Tony and Friends,
Please accept my apologies for delving further into a weary issue, but
Tony has made some remarks which, I believe, do not accurately represent
what I have said. Also, while Tony has clarified some of the issues,
there are many questions which remain unanswered. So, I beg your
indulgence.
>From: Member1700@aol.com[SMTP:Member1700@aol.com]
>>But, I must admit a certain weariness myself--especially
>>with the need to defend the positions that I and others have taken as being
>>compatible with the Covenant of Baha'u'llah. (Ahem!)
I have little doubt that you and others who ascribe to this line of
reasoning believe it to be compatible with the Covenant. Moreover, I
believe that you are sincere in this belief.
I also believe that you are mistaken. I believe that this positition is
not compatible with the Covenant of Baha'u'llah, and I think my remarks
in this regard have been wholly within the guidelines given by the
Universal House of Justice.
I do hope that your parenthetical thought was not intended to intimidate
me into silence on this issue, but I have difficulty finding any other
intent. Would you, please, clarify what you meant to convey with that
thought?
Secondly, you have stated that I have accused people of
convenant-breaking for holding a belief. This is incorrect. I said
that I believe any attempt to replace Shoghi Effendi's interpretation in
this matter with another, unauthoritative, interpretation would
constitute covenant breaking, but I have not accused anyone of having
engaged in such an attempt.
While I have asked my very dear friends to reconsider their positions in
this regard, and I have asked, I might add, out of a very sincere
concern for the well-being of you who are my very dear friends, it is
only because I fear that holding such a belief may lead one to act upon
that belief. I fear for the difficulties that you all will face as you
walk this very thin line between holding a belief and acting upon it. I
believe it's far better to reconsider the belief than to cling in such a
way that puts one's spiritual well-being in such grave danger.
I see my friends walking near a cliff, and I know the footing to be
quite dangerous on that cliff. Am I allowed to express my very sincere
concern that people will consider their path before one misstep causes
them to fall into the abyss?
Perhaps a slightly different explanation will suffice. `Abdu'l-Baha
said that we should shun covenant breakers. Given this clear command of
the Center of the Covenant, do you honestly believe I would continue
this on-line discussion if I thought any of my dear friends were,
indeed, covenant-breakers?
That said, let's see if we can understand each other's position better
even if we are unable to reach any agreement.
>> The point of seeking to understand how 'Abdu'l-Baha's Tablets were
>>understood by Baha'is at the time they were written is not to determine
>>Corinne True's interpretation of them, but to determine 'Abdu'l-Baha's
>>intent.
I understand this fully. There are a number of places we can look in an
effort to determine `Abdu'l-Baha's intent. Indeed, we can ask my
four-year-old (soon to be five-year-old daughter) what `Abdu'l-Baha's
intent was if we think she might have any insights.
But the fact remains that only one source is infallible, and only one
source has the full authority to tell us what `Abdu'l-Baha's intent was.
We are not talking about `Abdu'l-Baha's statements in the field of
history, or the Universal House ot Justice expounding upon the laws of
physics. We are talking about Shoghi Effendi telling us what
`Abdu'l-Baha's intent was, and we all seem to agree that Shoghi
Effendi's statements (or statements written on his behalf) regarding
this issue constitute _interpretations_ of what `Abdu'l-Baha said.
These statements do not leave any room for doubt, nor do `Abdu'l-Baha's
own statements in His Will and Testament leave any room for doubt
regarding Shoghi Effendi's authority and infallibility where his
interpretations of the writings are concerned. So, why should we look
anywhere else?
The line of reasoning continues:
>> With regard to the interpretations of Shoghi Effendi on this point, I
>>have stated before that I believe the beloved Guardian's statements in
>>all of
>>his messages on this matter (all written through secretaries, so the exact
>>wording is not so important)--but in all these letters the point is to refer
>>back to 'Abdu'l-Baha's 1902 Tablet. (There is no mention of the 1909
>>Tablet,
>>by the way.) In fact, the Guardian specifically declines any statement
>>concerning membership of women on the House in favor of the 1902 ("as clear
>>as the sun at noonday") Tablet.
I'm not sure precisely what the claim, here, is. Tonly, could you
clarify? We agree that remarks written on Shoghi Effendi's behalf carry
the same authoritative weight as Shoghi Effendi's own writings. We
agree that the relevant statements in this area constitute
interpretations of `Abdu'l-Baha's writings on the matter. I can only
conclude that you believe Shoghi Effendi's statements, in this regard,
are errant interpretations. Is that correct, or have I failed to
understand your position? It just seems that the options are very
narrow, here.
>> In light of this guidance, it seems to me that our duty is to go back to
>>that Tablet and find out what it means, who it was sent to, what the context
>>of its revelation was, and so forth. Having discovered that it refers
>>to the
>>local Chicago House of Justice--which it very clearly does (and as I have
>>said, even the House of Justice is willing to conceded this)--it seems to me
>>that the way is open to reconsider our current understanding of this matter.
>
>
Under what _authority_? How do we accomplish this without, at the same
time, putting one interpretation of `Abdu'l-Baha's intent in the place
of another? Even if our interpretation of His intent appears to be more
historically accurate, and even if the Universal House of Justice
appears to agree that our interpretation is more historically accurate,
none of us has the authority to replace Shoghi Effendi's interpretation
with ours. Not even the Universal House of Justice, itself, has this
authority.
Thus, I will reiterate my earlier statement (a statement which appears
to have been very misunderstood), any attempt to replace Shoghi
Effendi's interpretation in this matter with some other interpretation
would constitute a violation of the Covenant. Whether that attempt be
carried out by the Universal House of Justice or by some rogue scholars
makes no difference. Hence, the Universal House of Justice will never
change this restriction. It hasn't the authority to do so.
>


From asadighi@ptialaska.netTue Apr 2 11:40:15 1996
Date: Mon, 1 Apr 1996 14:22:30 -0900
From: "Arsalan J. Sadighi"
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: The Covenant
Dear Mark,
Thank you for introducing this thread.
For me the Covenant means that when I profess my belief in Baha'u'llah, I
accept Abdu'l-Baha and the Guardian as His sole interpreters. In a sense
they translate His Writings for us. This implies that I will have to accept
the Guardian's statements as having the full legitimacy of Holy Text and I
must extend the same view to the Writings of the Universal House of Justice
as well.
I even would go as far as to say that if there was a glaring contradiction
between the Writings of say the Master and Baha'u'llah Himself, I must
accept the Master's statement. For example if Abdu'l-Baha states that it is
night, and the Guardian says what He really meant was that it is day, then
it must be day. His interpretation of the Text stands in all cases.
Having read some of the opinions on Talisman I think this might cause
heartburn for some of the friends. That is OK, you'll survive. It is good
medicine and God knows we need it!
Arsalan

-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Arsalan J. Sadighi
"Things are never quite as scary when you've got a best friend."
Calvin and Hobbes


From richs@microsoft.comTue Apr 2 11:42:11 1996
Date: Mon, 1 Apr 1996 15:54:58 -0800
From: Rick Schaut
To: "'talisman@indiana.edu'" ,
"'Mark A. Foster'"
Subject: RE: The Covenant
Dear Talizens,
Before I dive into this subject, I'l like to state that my remarks are
only on individual's understnaing of the issues. But that, I mean that
my remarks carry no more authority than do the remarks of any other
individual in the Faith.
I do not have references handy. but if there is a point about which the
friends want clarification, I'd be happy to search for specific
statements in the Writings.
>From: Mark A. Foster[SMTP:mfoster@qni.com]
>>A while back, I remember a posting in which it was stated that the Baha'i
>>Covenant was an acceptance of the Central Figures and the administration. I
>>believe that this message was in response to another posting which said that
>>there had been some Covenantally suspect messages on the list.
I think I might state this differently. In substance, the Covenant is
stated in the opening paragraphs of the Kitab-i-Aqdas where Baha'u'llah
lays out the twin, and inseparable, duties of acceptance of the
Manifestation and obedience to His laws. The "Laws" in this case
consist of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, the eighth Ishraq (or is that Ishraqat),
and the Kitab-i-Ahd. There may be others among the Writings of
Baha'u'llah, but, of the Writings of Baha'u'llah, I know these documents
to be among those whose provisions we must obey in our adherence to
these twin duties.
The Kitab-i-Ahd appoints `Abdu'l-Baha as the Center of Baha'u'llah's
Covenant, and appoints Him as Baha'u'llah's successor and the infallible
interpreter of Baha'u'llah's Writings. By extension, then, our
obedience to `Abdu'l-Baha's interpretations is as necessary as our
obedience to the Laws revealed by Baha'u'llah Himself.
Among `Abdu'l-Baha's writings, the one which has the most Covenantal
significance is His Will and Testament, a document Shoghi Effendi says,
since `Abdu'l-Baha is the Center of Baha'u'llah's Covenant, should be
regarded as part of the Kitab-i-Aqdas itself. This document clarifies
the functions and duties of the Universal House of Justice, of the Hands
of the Cause of God and creates the institution of the Guardianship.
Our obedience to the provisions of the Will and Testament of
`Abdu'l-Baha is also considered part and parcel of our obedience to the
Laws which Baha'u'llah has revealed directly.
It should be noted that this Covenant is unique in the annals of
religious history, and that it's strength has withstood the onslaughts
of some of the most severe tests, tests which, in past dispensations,
had caused immediate schisms which have persisted to this very day.
>
>>The question I am asking is the following: Is that all there is to the
>>Covenant? IOW (In other words), if I accept the above am I being faithful to
>>the Covenant? Or, to put it another way, what does it mean to accept the
>>Central Figures and the Administration? Have I fulfilled the Covenant if I
>>*believe*, or does it go beyond that? Does it mean that I need to recognize
>>the voice of God in the words of the Guardian and the House? How might that
>>recognition reflect in my words and actions?
I don't think I can give any better answer than to say that these
questions are formed badly. Our obedience to the Covenant is not some
binary thing which is either on or off. Our response to the Covenant
can vary, even within particular circumstances, from outright violation
to the kind of obedience exhibited by those dear souls who have, over
the course of the history of our Faith, cast asside all their posessions
and given their very lives for this Cause.
Note that obedience to the Law is part of our obligation under the
Covenant, even though disobedience to the laws can result in no more
than our administrative expulsion from the Faith. The point is that
there are varying degrees in our response to the Covenant, and, while
there may be distinct categories of violation, that one's response can
be measured on a continuum.
The gravest violation of the Covenant is either an attempt to usurp an
authority one does not possess (i.e. Charles Mason Remey's claim to be a
Guardian) or to recognize an authority contrary to those specified in
the Writings I mentioned above (i.e. one of those who accepted Charles
Mason Remey's claim). I don't think holding any _belief_ is sufficient
to be considered such a violation of the Covenant. I think such a
violation requires a specific action, though this includes acting upon a
belief which is contrary to the provisions of the Covenant. (Those who
followed Mason Remey, no matter how sincere in their belief, acted in a
manner contrary to the Covenant.)
This, I think it is possible to believe that Charles Mason Remey should
have been the Guardian of the Cause, but of one never acted on this
belief, one would not be subject to expulsion from the community.
On the other hand, I think it's possible to draw a parallel in this
regard. There are some laws which are of a personal nature (i.e. daily
prayer). One is not subject to sanctions if one doesn't perform
obligatory prayer, but one is still being disobedient. Likewise, there
may be violations of the Covenant for which one would not be open to
specific sanctions, but, in terms of one's nearness to God, might have
just as significant effect.
To summarize, our response to the Covenant can vary, and that there are
some "positions" along this continuum of responses which have manifest
consequences and there are other "positions" which may have dire
consequences even if those consequences are not manifest.
The last point to make relative to this continuum is that our task as
Baha'is is to constantly refine our response to this Covenant.
Steadfastness in the Covenant, I believe, requires constant vigilance,
and that it would by quite dangerous if any of us were to think that we
are, for some reason, "safe". We should ever seek to raisel the leve of
our response to the Covenant--to increase the degree to which we are
obedient to the commands of Baha'u'llah, and that we should do so
regardless of the manifest consequences of our behavior. What matters
most is not whether our deeds are acceptable in the eyes of the
institutions of the Faith. What matters most is whether our deeds are
acceptable in the eyes of God.
Warmest Regards,
Rick Schaut


From Don_R._Calkins@commonlink.comTue Apr 2 11:42:33 1996
Date: 01 Apr 1996 16:37:53 GMT
From: "Don R. Calkins"
To: Talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Women and the House
One possibility that has been totally ignored is that once Houses of Justice
are formed at the national and local levels, women will not be allowed to
serve on them. That is, that Abdu'l-Baha permitted the service of women at
this time only because we have local and national *Assemblies*.
It seems to me, that given the selections that have been posted so far, that
this is as good a possibility as that the House will eventually permit
service on the Universal House of Justice by women.
8-)
I smile in anticipation of the horrified looks on the faces of a few, not
because I have posted the above as a joke.
Don C
He who believes himself spiritual proves he is not - The Cloud of Unknowing


From mfoster@qni.comTue Apr 2 11:43:53 1996
Date: Mon, 01 Apr 1996 19:48:25 -0600
From: "Mark A. Foster"
To: Talisman
Subject: RE: The Covenant
At 03:54 PM 4/1/96 -0800, Rick Schaut wrote:
>I think I might state this differently. In substance, the Covenant is
>stated in the opening paragraphs of the Kitab-i-Aqdas where Baha'u'llah
>lays out the twin, and inseparable, duties of acceptance of the
>Manifestation and obedience to His laws. The "Laws" in this case
>consist of the Kitab-i-Aqdas, the eighth Ishraq (or is that Ishraqat),
>and the Kitab-i-Ahd. There may be others among the Writings of
>Baha'u'llah, but, of the Writings of Baha'u'llah, I know these documents
>to be among those whose provisions we must obey in our adherence to
>these twin duties.
Hi, Rick -
I would agree that recognition (irfan/knowledge) and obedience are the twin
duties of all believers, and that, from one angle, these constitute our
human response to the Covenant. However, I don't personally see the Covenant
as a set of laws. I would prefer to say that laws are one of the emanations
of the Covenant. Following divine laws are one way, but not the only one, in
which we can experience at-one-ment with Baha'u'llah's Covenant.
For instance, Baha'u'llah tells us that did not merely bring us a code of
laws. Rather, He says, He has "unsealed the choice wine with the fingers of
might and power." As I see it, the Covenant is the Will of God, the love of
God, and the divine ordering principle of existence. Regarded as the love of
God, the Covenant, like fine wine, can spiritually intoxicate us and draw us
ever-nearer the Presence (Will) of God.
I wrote:
>The question I am asking is the following: Is that all there is to the
>Covenant? IOW (In other words), if I accept the above am I being faithful
>to the Covenant? Or, to put it another way, what does it mean to accept the
>Central Figures and the Administration? Have I fulfilled the Covenant if I
>*believe*, or does it go beyond that? Does it mean that I need to recognize
>the voice of God in the words of the Guardian and the House? How might that
>recognition reflect in my words and actions?
You replied:
>I don't think I can give any better answer than to say that these
>questions are formed badly. Our obedience to the Covenant is not some
>binary thing which is either on or off. Our response to the Covenant
>can vary, even within particular circumstances, from outright violation
>to the kind of obedience exhibited by those dear souls who have, over
>the course of the history of our Faith, cast asside all their posessions
>and given their very lives for this Cause.
Perhaps we are viewing the Covenant differently from one another or looking
at it from different angles? I agree with you that the Covenant is not an
on-off switch. (I don't think I said it was, and I am, therefore, unsure why
you felt that my questions were poorly formed.)
The spiritual Kingdom, IMHO, is the source of all attributes. By linking
with (*loving*) Baha'u'llah, the magnet of faith and service, which is, to
my understanding, one of the manifestations of the spirit of faith,
progressively draws the soul to the Blessed Beauty's revealed Kingdom. To
me, it is spirit (the Holy Spirit and its stepped-down degrees, including
the spirit of faith) which constitutes the power of the Covenant (the Will
of God).
By immersing myself in the ocean of the written Word, by meditating on its
implications for my life, by continually praying for spiritual guidance, and
by living a life *full* of service for my Lord, I am being firm in the
Covenant. I once heard a dear Baha'i say that the Teachings were like an
instruction manual. While I may have misunderstood what he meant, I would
rather see "the words He hath revealed" as sustenance for my soul. I am firm
in the Covenant to the degree that I express the love of God within me in my
thoughts and actions.
To the Light, Mark (Foster)
***************************************************************************
"The Prophets of God have been the Servants of reality; Their Teachings
constitute the science of reality." - `Abdu'l-Baha
"The sciences of today are bridges to reality; if they lead not to reality,
naught remains but fruitless illusion." - `Abdu'l-Baha
***************************************************************************


From lbhollin@uxmail.ust.hkTue Apr 2 11:53:36 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 1996 11:20:08 +0800 (HKT)
From: HOLLINGER RICHARD VERNON
To: Jackson Armstrong-Ingram
Cc: talisman
Subject: Re: Women and the House
On Mon, 1 Apr 1996, Jackson Armstrong-Ingram wrote:
> My feeling is that this is another issue in which Baha'is then and now
> are looking for a mere code of laws. I don't think 'Abdu'l-Baha gave a
> flying travel teacher about the picky details of organising
> administration or building the M-ul-A, he just wanted the Baha'is to quit
> arguing and do it.
I could not agree more. `Abdu'l-Baha just did not think the details of
how the community was organized and administered were that important, so
long as there was some form of organization that could get things done.
His concerns about administration were pragmatic. If the organization was
working (as in Kenosha) there was no compelling reason to change it.
When it could not mantain unity in the community (New York) or could not
maintain the boundaries of the community (Chicago) he intervened to
change it. The gender composition of the elected bodies does not seem to
have been a significant issue for `Abdu'l-Baha; the effective
functioning of those bodies was the important issue.
Richard


From jcdhender@loop.comTue Apr 2 11:54:01 1996
Date: Mon, 1 Apr 1996 19:43:22 -0800
From: The Hendershots
To: 'Talisman'
Subject: Amnesty International
In a recent post, M mentioned that the House of Justice had discouraged membership in Amnesty International. Does anyone have the letter? I had never heard this, have been a member of AI for many years, and send out monthly letters on behalf of prisoners around the world who they are trying to help. It seems to me that AI does a lot of good work that no one else is doing. If no one has the letter, I'll write to the House and see what the current policy is.
Thanks,
Chris Hendershot


From dann.may@sandbox.telepath.comTue Apr 2 11:54:55 1996
Date: Sun, 31 Mar 96 12:52:26 -0600 (CST)
From: dann.may@sandbox.telepath.com
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Lay/expert-Bonhoeffer
In light of the lay/expert debate, I ran across this passage from the
writings of Dietrich Bonhoeffer (1906-1945) in the class on Christian
ethics that I am teaching this semester:
"All that we mean by human nature, individuality, and talent is part of the
other person's freedom -- as are the other's weaknesses and peculiarities
which so sorely try our patience, and everything that produces the plethora
of clashes, differences, and arguments between me and the other. Here,
bearing the burden of the other means tolerating the reality of the other's
creation by God, affirming it, and in bearing it, breaking through to
delight in it."
"This will be especially difficult where both the strong and the weak in
faith are bound together in one community. The weak must not judge the
strong; the strong must not despise the weak. The weak must guard against
pride, the strong against indifference. Neither must seek their own rights.
If the strong person falls, the weak one's must keep their hearts from
gloating over the misfortune. If the weak fall, the strong must help them
up again in a friendly manner. The one needs as much patience as the
other..." ("Service," _Life Together_, in _Dietrich Bonhoeffer, A Testament
to Freedom_, eds. G. Kelly, and F.B. Nelson, [HarperSanFrancisco, 1995],
pp. 339-40)
As some of you may know, Bonhoeffer was the most prominent of the handful
of German theologians who opposed the Nazis during WWII. He was eventually
imprisoned for his activities and hanged only a few weeks before the end of
the war in Europe.
Warmest greetings, Dann May, Philosophy, OK City Univ.
---
* WR 1.32 # 669 * A teacher always is the prophet of the true God. Dewey


From Alethinos@aol.comTue Apr 2 11:59:39 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 1996 01:43:26 -0500
From: Alethinos@aol.com
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: 1st thing we do, kill all the lawyers (except Brent of course old roomie)
"WE all know here that the law is the most powerful of schools for the
imagination. No poet ever interpreted nature as freely as a lawyer interprets
the truth." (Jean Giraudoux, 1882-1944)
Truly amazing how this topic will not die a quick death. Like a prima donna
it just does not want to give up the stage. The fat guy in drag will not stop
SINGING! Why?
Well not for the lack of a definitive answer. We have recieved that from the
Master, the Guardian and the Universal House of Justice. But,
ppppphhhhhaaawwwppp! (Bill the Cat standing indignantly {as if he ever stood
any other way}) Who are those *guys* anyway?!
Having read the monumental tomes so finally crafted by Dale; and the
re-re-re-re-re-re-re qualifications by Mr. Lee it would seem that we have two
(if not many more) aspiring lawyer/legislators on our hands.
How else could we explain this nearly inexhuastable desire to worry this
(non) issue to death. On the one hand the question of women on the House and
the other of infallibity. Why I haven't seen this much glee in twisting every
term, regardless of its natural meaning since the Dred Scott case came before
the Supreme Court.
Why is there this strange belief that the Universal House of Justice is some
mystical Supreme Court? I don't remember there being a legislature set up by
Baha'u'llah to which the UHJ would *respond*. Nor do I ever remember a
passage stating that there would arise a populist body that would put forth
petitions. Nor can I recall a single sentence where Baha'u'llah, the Master
or the Guardian ever stated that one of the primary functions of the UHJ was
to take polls, at regular intervals, in order to gain a good *temperature
check* of the People. I don't ever remember seeing a paragraph stating that
anyone would be giving the UHJ the actual framework from which they would
create the warp and woof of a world civilization.
But what I see is a number of folk doing a fair job at mimicking Andy
Griffith in his MATLOCK series. A genteel country lawyer who is real sly and
standing up for the downtrodden against the evils of that brutal yet well
meaning judicial system.
I have a wonderful idea. Why don't we all do this. If and when the Universal
House of Justice ever asks us to investigate the possibility of women on the
House we can start with Tony's speculations and proceed from there. And when
Dale becomes omniscient, which could be any day now at the rate he is pumping
out his pordigious prognostications and explanations of all known phenomena
in Existence we can continue these lines of oh-so-fruity specualtions.
Until then why don't we accept the answers we have been given, if just for
the moment and move on to the far less (i do realize) significant concerns
like bringing the healing message of Baha'u'llah to the bleeding limbs of
humankind?
jim harrison
Alethinos@aol.com


From Alethinos@aol.comTue Apr 2 12:00:09 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 1996 02:00:37 -0500
From: Alethinos@aol.com
To: jrcole@umich.edu
Subject: Re: science and religion
good post there.
jim
From gladius@portal.caTue Apr 2 12:00:49 1996
Date: Mon, 1 Apr 1996 23:25:39 -0800 (PST)
From: Linda de Gonzalez
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: science and religion
Me too I wanna talk about the apparent split between science and religion.
However, to borrow Quanta's style for a sec, I ain't got no edjy-cay-shun
like youse guys, eh, so, like, tell me: what the heck is Thomism?
I have only been here a short while, and I have to tell you that as a fairly
bright person, with a very wide range of interests and a concomitantly wide
range of reading, I have *never* heard of "degenerate monism" (or maybe it
was "determinate monism", I can't remember and I think I trashed the
original...erhm...) and there have been others that I just laughed out loud
when I read because they were too hysterically funny.
Well, my point is...when you use such terms as those , you exclude anyone
who hasn't the same jargon. And it is jargon in the most positive of the
dictionary's definitions: (Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary) "the
technical terminology or characteristic idiom of a special activity or
group". It can also mean "obscure and often pretentious language marked by
circumlocutions and long words".
Just because I don't share the jargon does not mean that I don't have the
intellectual capacity to discuss these abstract ideas at a meaningful level.
Can these concepts not be put into clear language? What is the point of
using this jargon, for those of us who are not divinity grads? It serves as
a barrier, in my not-so-humble opinion, because it makes sure that I (and
people like me) won't participate if I'm too embarrassed to admit I don't
know what the heck you're talking about.
Fortunately for me, however, I'm old and I'm a bag, and I've lost whatever
embarrassment at stupid-question-asking I may have had. After all, one of
the reasons I'm reading Talisman is so I can learn from some pretty dynamic
scholars. I just wish I understood more of what they were saying....

Raul Gonzalez
Gladius Productions


From Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nlTue Apr 2 12:02:15 1996
Date: Tue, 02 Apr 1996 10:48:19 +0000 (EZT)
From: Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nl
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: women & UHJ
re: `Abdu'l-Baha's Tablet to True
Rick said that "There is, in fact, only one person in history
[Shoghi Effendi] whose opinion in this matter is binding"
1. This implies at least that `Abdu'l-Baha's opinion is as
irrelevant as the reading of his opinion by the Chicago Assembly
and True - was this the intention? or are you just assuming that
`Abdu'l-Baha's intentions {and Baha'u'llah's} are effectively
unknowable? In other words, do you feel the same way
regardings matters in which `Abdu'l-Baha or Baha'u'llah clearly
stated their meaning without the confusion of terminology and
apparent changes of policy which confuse this case?
2. You make a crucial point "if Shoghi Effendi's remarks, or the
letters written on his behalf, are anything more than a
restatement of `Abdu'l-Baha's interpretation, those statements
are, themselves, authoritative interpretations of `Abdu'l-Baha's
words." It is not clear that the letters written by the Guardian's
secretary are in fact even restatements - the believers are simply
being referred to a tablet which the writer assumes they are
aware of. The House of Justice has recognized that these are not
interpretations since they say that the law is "embedded in the
Text and has been merely restated by the divinely appointed
interpreters." Thus if they become convinced that the law is not
in fact in the Text in the sense that they have thus far thought (ie
the text is there, but it doesn't necessarily mean 'males only' in
the light of Baha'u'llah's own interpretation of the meaning of
rijal) they would presumably feel free to change their ruling. So
long as they remain convinced that it is embedded in the Text,
there will be no change.
3. The letters written by the Guardian's secretaries do not say that
they are being written 'on his behalf' or contain anything like 'the
Guardian has asked me to say' or 'He feels that ...', or a signature
or postscript from the Guardian. It is true that the entire texts of
these tablets have not been published, but I asked this question of
the research department perhaps 7 or 8 years ago, and have had
no reply. I think if they did have a letter with a signature or
some such they would have been quick to share it. I don't know
what standards apply in the US, but in 'Unfolding Destiny',
which is the collection of letters from the Guardian to the British
Baha'i community, letters without an authenticating mark are not
included at all.
4. Even assuming the general position that interpretations of
Shoghi Effendi outweigh all other evidence (which seems to me
to be confusing the stations of the principle figures, and also to
imply a position that there is one and only one correct
interpretation), and assuming that the four letters from the
Guardian's secretaries actually express the opinions of Shoghi
Effendi, and assuming that this in fact an interpretation and not
simply a reference to a relevant tablet, these letters would still
not be binding, since, as you know, Shoghi Effendi himself
explicitly said:
He [the Guardian] interprets what has been specifically
revealed,
and cannot legislate except in his capacity as
member of the Universal House of Justice. He is
debarred from laying down independently the
constitution that must govern the organized
activities of his fellow-members, and from
exercising his influence in a manner that would
encroach upon the liberty of those whose sacred
right is to elect the body of his collaborators.
(See The World Order of Baha'u'llah, the essay entitled 'The
Dispensation of Baha'u'llah', chapter on 'The Administrative
Order')
Thus the secretary's letters cannot bind the Universal House of
Justice in its legislation or in drawing up its constitution, and
cannot be regarded as a limitation on the sacred right of the
members of the international convention to vote for those whom
they feel are best fitted for the position.
This does not resolve the issue of whether women can be
admitted to membership of the Universal House of Justice, but it
does explain I hope why the debate has centred on the Tablets of
`Abdu'l-Baha and Baha'u'llah.
Sen
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sen McGlinn ph: 31-43-3216854
Andre Severinweg 47 email: Sen.McGlinn@RL.RuLimburg.NL
6214 PL Maastricht, the Netherlands
***
When, however, thou dost contemplate the innermost essence of things,
and the individuality of each,
thou wilt behold the signs of thy Lord's mercy . . ."
------------------------------------------------------------------------


From Geocitizen@aol.comTue Apr 2 12:02:55 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 1996 03:58:27 -0500
From: Geocitizen@aol.com
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: "Acceptance"/UHJ
Dear Mr. Dale,
You begin by saying you are "not sure" what I mean by what I wrote about the
distinction between the United States Supreme Court and the Universal House
of Justice, but in the rest of what you write you seem confident in your
assumption that I mean something quite unpleasant.
All I said was that the existence and power of the Universal House of Justice
possesses an ontological grounding in the Word of God as made manifest in the
Revelation of Baha'u'llah, an ontological grounding which all human-created
institutions lack, even highly evolved and respectable ones such as the U.S.
Supreme Court.
Perhaps because in my earlier statement of this belief I did not employ
sophisticated professional philosophers' terminology ("ontological" is not a
household word) you have felt it necessary to educate me in one of the most
central principles of the Baha'i Faith.
At first I was insulted and nearly angry at this, but upon reflection I am
almost glad you extracted from my statement a meaning I never intended.
This is because in doing so you have stumbled (perhaps innocently) upon an
educational example of the ways in which the avowed enemies of the Faith may
one day twist our words and take them out of context, if and when we ever
arise and truly demonstrate the power of this Cause to revolutionize human
society.
As to your fears about my understanding of the means by which it is
acceptable to promote this Faith, rest assured that I am NOT out in the
streets signing up new Baha'is with the "Fully Automatic Assault Rifle
Fireside" method.
("Just sign th' card, punk, and nobody gets hurt! And no fakin' yer home
address, scumball! Yer gonna read th' newsletter and I'm gonna be back ta
quiz ya on it! Every 19 days, like clockwork!")
(Ahem.)
To one other statement I will respond before closing. You wrote:
>We must observe, I believe, that if every Baha'i got fed up enough with the
>Baha'i Faith, they could simply voluntarily turn in their membership cards,
>and the Universal House of Justice would cease to exist as a human
>institution. Period. 0 members. No power. Nada. Nenio.
Nevertheless, the Universal House of Justice would continue to exist as a
Divine Institution, as would its potential power to benefit all humanity.
All that would really cease to exist in the hypothetical case you cite is
*our* power to actually receive any benefits from the Universal House of
Justice.
Human opposition or indifference could destroy the U.S. Supreme Court in its
very essence (not that I would advocate any such thing, of course :), but
could destroy only the temporal effects of the existence of the Universal
House of Justice.
In short, I see your arithmetic approach as correct within a limited context,
but ultimately misleading in that it obscures the important distinction
between institutions created by humans and those designed specifically for
our benefit by our Creator.
It is important for us to remember that humanity does not *need* the U.S.
Supreme Court or any other human-created institution, because no matter how
vital the functions they perform, there may be other institutional
arrangements that can meet the same needs just as well or better.
The same does not apply to the administrative framework created for us by
Baha'u'llah. Some of our Talisman friends are correct in emphasizing that
the Baha'i administrative order is not an end in itself, but neither is it
something the Baha'i community can discard or arbitrarily modify if it is to
remain truly Baha'i.
Regards,
Kevin



From friberg@will.brl.ntt.jpTue Apr 2 12:03:10 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 96 19:29:17 JST
From: "Stephen R. Friberg"
To: Alethinos@aol.com
Cc: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: 1st thing we do, kill all the lawyers (except Brent of course old roomie)
> Truly amazing how this topic will not die a quick death. Like a prima donna
> it just does not want to give up the stage.
Dear Jim:
Why not just give up on it, rather than dragging it out so long?
Yours,
Stephen


From 73043.1540@compuserve.comTue Apr 2 12:04:08 1996
Date: 02 Apr 96 08:55:26 EST
From: John Dale <73043.1540@compuserve.com>
To: BAHA'I-TALISMAN-LIST
Subject: UHJ/Gender/Power
Dear Derek,
You wrote recently,
" I have no problems with having Women on the House of Justice for me it
is a non-issue. I am firmly convinced that the major reason for the debate is
the immature understanding at all levels that individual members serving on
Institutions have personal power. The moment we grow beyond that idea
perhaps the reason will become as clear as day. "
______________
Derek, excuse me please, but you know perfectly well, IMO, that the issue
of women on the House of Justice has nothing at all to do with wishes for
personal power. I'm sorry to speak bluntly as a newcomer to this net, but for
you to impugn the motives of this debate in this way is really inconsistent with
consultation and is simply emotionally diversionary.
The issue at stake here is an appearance of serious moral inconsistency
in a Faith which calls itself the Faith of God! Derek, you've got to care
about this issue! Either we are caught in a fundamental and hopeless
inconsistency, or there is a clear and rational and radiant answer to the
question of _why_.
Can't you honestly see what's at stake here?
What's at stake is the question of how can an infallible body receive
guidance to be morally inconsistent with its own fundamental principles? If
evolutionary implementation of a principle is permitted, then how can a body be
infallibly guided and not_ know_ that it is permitted, and not simply say that
yes someday women will be on the House of Justice when we think global
conditions are appropriate? Any way you try to look at it, the present stance
of excluding or exempting women from the Universal House of Justice for no
rationally articulable reason, while at the same time upholding the equality of
men and women, is simply a self-contradiction.
If a self-contradiction is possible in one instance, then why not in
others? What then is to stop a group of humans such as the Baha'is from doing
anything they want, from becoming political and rationalizing it on the basis of
"we received new 'guidance' from Above"?
Once an institution lets human selfhood enter through the door of
self-contradiction, its purity and its power to attract by love of its beauty
starts to fade, and the work of the Bab, the Letters of the Living, the martyrs,
Baha'u'llah, His Apostles, His Hands, Abdu'l-Baha, Shoghi Effendi, etc., all
starts to go down the drain.
You know, the rest of the world may not be as blind as we are to our own
defects as a community. And just possibly, that may be part of the reason it
hasn't come running towards us in droves. If we can't even get our own House in
order, how can we possibly go around telling other people to look to the Baha'i
Community for guidance in cleaning their own?
Until the Baha'i community plugs the leak in its moral and spiritual
integrity by putting women on the House of Justice, or until there is a clear
reason given, as clear as the sun at high noon, for why women are to be
exempted, we will remain caught in a hopeless moral dilemma.
The issue is not personal power, Derek. It's purity power.
- jd


From 73043.1540@compuserve.comTue Apr 2 12:04:24 1996
Date: 02 Apr 96 08:53:45 EST
From: John Dale <73043.1540@compuserve.com>
To: BAHA'I-TALISMAN-LIST
Subject: UHJ Rsp to Richard Logan
Dear Richard,
Today you wrote,
>The ongoing debate over membership by women on the Universal House of
justice calls to mind the limits of *Rationalism* as a discovery tool
when attempting to peirce the veil surrounding an issue.<
May I ask, what limits are you refering to here? Please tell me what you
mean.
> It may well be a mistake to take the view that this is a situation that must
be made to
conform to our desires.<
Richard, which desires? Our desire for moral self-consistency? How can we
morally self-consistently abandon a desire for moral self-consistency? Moral
self-consistency was what attracted our hearts to the Faith. Now we should
abandon our desire for it? Why?
>Our own prejudices and superstitions inevitable inform such a discussion
masquerading as one or another form of sound logic.<
Which prejudices? Which superstitions? Let's put them out on the table and
look at them so we can identify them and become detached from them. That moves
us toward the right answer, even if indirectly.
> Rationalism limits possibitities to those things our experience has uncovered
so far. <
Richard, I believe you're mistaken. Rationalism in the sense of scientific
method, is the systematic elimination of error and the openness to and search
for new facts and new ideas.
> It interfers with the full scope of human perception. <
No, Richard, it _expands_ the scope of human perception and offers a reality
check on it.
> Thus, one can perceive Baha'u'llah's Revelation without prematurely attempting
to rationalize it with the experience at hand. <
No again; scientific method is precisely what tells us that premature
conclusions are being drawn.
>Rationalizing is an important human need but it can not be forced.
>If one seriously examines the view put forward by the Guardian that the
>Administrative Order is *Organic* then one would not want to impose upon
>it those desires that we personally hold dear<
Desires such as moral self-consistency????
How does the "organic" nature of the AO connect with permitting something to
continue which makes it morally self-contradictory? It is precisely the
self-contradiction that lack of women on the UHJ throws in people's faces that
makes the AO in this point seem inorganic and askew.
> but rather encourage it to
grow according to its own reality.<
Letting a cancer cell grow according to its own reality in a healthy body is a
recipe for self-destruction. Letting a moral self-contradiction stain the
purity of Faith of God is a strategy for putting out its Light and turning its
Radiance into darkness.
> That is not to say we can truely
>point to what that is at this time, but one need not argue that there
>must be a *correctness* of gender that applies to the the UHJ. Although
>that appears to be the rational approach--rationality is not organic. <
I do not understand what you've said here. Secondly, rationality that is
designed for organic systems is fully organic.
>Our rationality is informed by our personal will<
But not _only_ by our personal will!!
> and our personal will is the greatest stumbling block to a new world order. <
Only if it is out of line with the Divine Will. When it is in line with the
Divine Will, it is the precise means for realization of that Will in the
personal world.
> I have found that one can understand one's perceptions to a considerably
higher degree if we are able to remove the superimposition of the ego<
Please let us know what methods you use and good luck!
OK, now over to you!
John D.


From richs@microsoft.comTue Apr 2 12:07:42 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 1996 06:24:21 -0800
From: Rick Schaut
To: "'talisman@indiana.edu'"
Subject: RE: women & UHJ
Dear Friends,
>From: Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nl[SMTP:Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nl]
>re: `Abdu'l-Baha's Tablet to True
>
>Rick said that "There is, in fact, only one person in history
>[Shoghi Effendi] whose opinion in this matter is binding"
>
>1. This implies at least that `Abdu'l-Baha's opinion is as
>irrelevant as the reading of his opinion by the Chicago Assembly
>and True - was this the intention?
Shorn of its context, my statement certainly makes this implication.
However, the context was a response to Tony's contention that we ought
to look to what Corrine True and the Chicago Assembly thought
`Abdu'l-Baha's intent was, _for the purpose of deciding whether or not
women can serve on the Universal House of Justice_.
As you had pointed out, this general issue is frought with a number of
difficulties in determining `Abdu'l-Baha's intent. And, I am perfectly
willing to admit that historians would be perfectly justified in
consulting any number of sources in attempting to piece things together.
Indeed, I will even go so far as to note that one might legitimately
believe that `Abdu'l-Baha's intent was something other than that stated
by Shoghi Effendi if one is operating within the appropriate point of
view in Juan's standpoint epistemology.
However, if our purpose be more than just to gain an understanding
`Abdu'l-Baha's intent, if our ultimate purpose is to enquire about the
mutability of the restriction placed on the membership of the Universal
House of Justice, the central question then becomes one of authority,
and issues of historical fact play a periferal role if any role at all.
The real question is, "Can the Universal House of Justice change this
without violating the Covenant?"
Sen continues:
>
>2. You make a crucial point "if Shoghi Effendi's remarks, or the
>letters written on his behalf, are anything more than a
>restatement of `Abdu'l-Baha's interpretation, those statements
>are, themselves, authoritative interpretations of `Abdu'l-Baha's
>words." It is not clear that the letters written by the Guardian's
>secretary are in fact even restatements - the believers are simply
>being referred to a tablet which the writer assumes they are
>aware of. The House of Justice has recognized that these are not
>interpretations since they say that the law is "embedded in the
>Text and has been merely restated by the divinely appointed
>interpreters."
Please accept my apologies, but I believe this has entered the realm of
semantics. We are, at the core, discussing statements made by
`Abdu'l-Baha and Shoghi Effendi (or upon Shoghi Effendi's behalf). Each
of these statements do exactly two things: make reference to some part
of the Writings and purports to tell us what these passages or tablets
mean. The ontology of such works only allows two possibilities: either
they are a restatement of some explicit understanding, or they are an
interpretation. In either case, the statements do not submit to change
by anyone who doesn't have the authority to provide a binding
interpretation of the Writings.
This is an important point. The Universal House of Justice cannot
legislate on matters which are covered in the Text. Thus, if
`Abdu'l-Baha's Tablet and the statements written on behalf of Shoghi
Effendi are not interepretations, if they are nothing more than
restatements of what the Text says, then the restriction is just as
immutable as it would be if these are interpretations. To argue that
these are not interpretations does not bring us any closer to finding a
Covenantally acceptable means by which the Universal House of Justice
can change this restriction.
>
>>3. The letters written by the Guardian's secretaries do not say that
>>they are being written 'on his behalf' or contain anything like 'the
>>Guardian has asked me to say' or 'He feels that ...', or a signature
>>or postscript from the Guardian. It is true that the entire texts of
>>these tablets have not been published
I'm sorry, Sen, but, until we see the entire texts of these tablets,
your remarks, here, constitute pure speculation despite the length of
time your request has gone unanswered. It is rather clear that the
Universal House of Justice regards these statements as having been
written on behalf of Shoghi Effendi.
Thus, I'm given a choice between Sen McGlinn's speculation and the
confidence of the Universal House of Justice in the passages they,
themselves, quote. I shouldn't need to tell you which evidence carries
more weight.
4. [Regarding the Guardian's limitations with respect to legislation,
the constitution of the Universal House of Justice and the election of
>the members of the Universal House of Justice:]
>
>Thus the secretary's letters cannot bind the Universal House of
>Justice in its legislation or in drawing up its constitution, and
>cannot be regarded as a limitation on the sacred right of the
>members of the international convention to vote for those whom
>they feel are best fitted for the position.
Quite frankly, this isn't a relevant quote. We aren't discussing an
issue which falls within the legislative purview of the Universal House
of Justice, as I believe my earlier remarks would have well made clear.
The only hope for any change is if `Abdu'l-Baha's remarks can, through
some incredible contortion, be construed to constitute policy enacted by
the Head of the Faith. I'm afraid that it's very difficult to turn a
statement which begins with "According to the explicit text" into a
temporary policy which consists of applying various principles to
circumstances of the day.
>
>This does not resolve the issue of whether women can be
>admitted to membership of the Universal House of Justice, but it
>does explain I hope why the debate has centred on the Tablets of
>`Abdu'l-Baha and Baha'u'llah.
>
And I sincerely hope that I have adequately explained why I believe this
focus is an error.
Warmest Regards,
>Rick Schaut


From jarmstro@sun1.iusb.eduTue Apr 2 12:33:22 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 1996 11:40:59 -0500 (EST)
From: Jackson Armstrong-Ingram
To: Juan R Cole
Subject: Re: Women and the House
No you didn't. I'd be very interested to see it.
Jackson
On Tue, 2 Apr 1996, Juan R Cole wrote:
>
>
> Jackson:
>
> Did I ever send you my draft write-up of the women on the House issue?
> I'd love your comments.
>
>
> cheers Juan
>


From nineteen@onramp.netTue Apr 2 12:33:43 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 96 10:49:46 -0500
From: "Richard C. Logan"
To: John Dale <73043.1540@compuserve.com>, Talisman
Subject: Re: UHJ Rsp to Richard Logan
>>The ongoing debate over membership by women on the Universal House of
>justice calls to mind the limits of *Rationalism* as a discovery tool
>when attempting to peirce the veil surrounding an issue.<
Dear Dale,
Without restating everything again rationality and its efficacy is
limited to current experience and even then to the perspicacity of the
individual. Rationality ALONE doesn't resolve questions such as
membership on the UHJ. Abdu'l-Baha points out in his tablet "The Divine
Standard of Knowledge" that the "four criterions...Sense
Perseption--Second--Reason; Third--Traditions; Fourth--Inspiration" are
"unreliable". He says "human reason...by its very nature is finite and
faulty in conclusions. It cannot sourround the reality itself (Kant:
the Thing In Itself) the Infinite Word." He says, "The divine standard
of knowlege is infallible." In other words, the Manifestation and by
inference Abdu'l-Baha, the Gaurdian, and finnally to a more restricted
degree the Universal House of Justice are the source of true knowledge
concerning the Infinite Word. He concludes saying all statements of
"...I Know " of myself "...is not justified" "All human standard of
judgment is faulty, finite."
(Baha'i World Faith pp.254-5)

II.
Modern Science in my view is not rationalism--it does not require a
linear explaination of things. It is an investigation and mapping of the
way things operate. Its findings are continously being refined and
sometimes overturned. The discovery process of science, from my POV, is
to an unknown decree influenced by the breath of the Holy Spirit and
technology is unleashed as gifts through our conection to higher planes.
We only assume we have done everything ourselves through our own power.

III.
Morality as, Baha'u'llah ceaselessly points out, is contingent on the
will of God--it is relative, not axiological, or Thomist as Doctor Cole
mentioned. The idea that morality is somehow consistent (Rational) would
be erroneous, in my view, this is why Jesus said, "The Sabbath was made
for man not man for the Sabbath." Morality is what is good for
humankind. Morality was made for us as a prescpition for spiritual and
social health because of our intrinsic needs that may not be the same at
a later date but must be followed scrupulously at a particular time so
that we may grow effectively to the next stage.
To conclude, from my POV religious or moral truth is relative not
rational in the human or conventional sense of the word.
Richard
Richard C. Logan nineteen@onramp.net
Maintain HomePage "The Baha'is of Lubbock"
http://rampages.onramp.net/~nineteen/
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
How manifold are the truths which must remain unuttered until the
appointed time is come! Even as it has been said:
"Not everything that a man knoweth can be disclosed, nor can
everything that he can disclose be regarded as timely, nor can every
timely utterance be considered as suited to the capacity of those who
hear it." --Gleanings from the writings of Baha'u'llah
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


From 73043.1540@compuserve.comTue Apr 2 12:33:50 1996
Date: 02 Apr 96 11:48:02 EST
From: John Dale <73043.1540@compuserve.com>
To: BAHA'I-TALISMAN-LIST
Cc: Tony Blake , "Deborah G. Glass" ,
LuAnne Hightower ,
Ben Hitchner ,
Saul Kuchinsky <73370.2267@compuserve.com>,
Harriett MacDougall ,
Betsy and Peter Shor
Subject: Sacred Dances, Resp.
Dear LuAnne,
You wrote,
>Allah-u-Abha, John. I have only a limited amount of exposure to the (most
>elementary of the) movements developed by Gurdjieff. They are difficult,
>and for lack of instructors in my geographical area, I have never had
>occasion to progress past the most basic combinations. I have seen them
>performed - truly an experience beyond the sensory - much like watching the
>sema. There is an energy that is created by the movements themselves that
>penetrates that hidden faculty and reaches a deeper knowing. I long for the
>opportunity of immersion in them, but alas the time has not come. Insha'llah.
The Gurdjieff Foundations in New York and Paris have made films of all the
Movements and sacred dances that Gurdjieff taught, but they are not publicly
available. A few minutes of several movements are shown on the film "Meetings
With Remarkable Men", available from Claymont Communications, Charles Town, WV
(304) 725-1523. The film, directed by Peter Brook and by Jeanne de Salzmann,
long-time leader of the Gurdjieff groups after Gurdjieff's death in 1949, is
about Gurdjieff's youth and takes the viewer up through his meetings with Sufis
to the point of his arrival at the Sarmoung brotherhood. The Movements are
taught by several people outside the Gurdjieff Foundation. During college I was
in a Foundation group in Chicago, but have not been since then. I went through
the nine-month course at Claymont that was given back in 1976-77 and have stayed
in touch with Claymont since then. (I am glad to announce that Claymont seems to
be in a period of renewal of energies and is starting a program of permaculture
which will seek grant money, etc.)
The complete Gurdjieff-DeHartmann piano music for the movements and the
suites of incidental pieces ("Seekers of the Truth," "Journey to Inaccessible
Places," "Readings from a Sacred Book," "Hymns from a Great Temple," "Rituals of
a Sufi Order," "Songs and Rhythms from Asia," "Sacred Hymns," "Dances and Chants
of the Seids") is available publicly on the Celestial Harmonies label (Tucson,
Arizona) performed by Cecil Lytle on 6 CDs. A 3-CD original performance by De
Hartmann of certain pieces is available through Triangle Records and is
available at Claymont Communications, above. There are also tapes of some of the
suites available from Claymont.
I and some others here are looking for the music scores of the above
music and if any of the Talismanians know of a music score library or of how to
track down music that is out of print, or get copies somehow of the above music,
please let me know.
There was once a record published in Paris called "Gurdjieff: Voix et
Musique" which had some recordings of Gurdjieff's voice and of his
improvisations on a hand-held harmonium. I have a tape of this record and am
trying to locate an original. Of the harmonium music, what can I say? It is
like God crying for all the loss that we have inflicted on ourselves, for all
the distance we have put between ourselves and the being that He wishes for us.
It is unearthly. It is unlike anything else I have ever heard.
You continue,
>Did not all of the revelations that came before make this one possible?<
Yes, but this one also made the others possible, and this is one of the things
we fail to take into consideration frequently as Baha'is and which makes it
possible for so many people to see this faith as an artificial human "synthesis"
of faiths. Despite our Writings, we do not understand that, as Bennett might
say, genuine Religion comes to us always from "Above", from what he calls the
hyparchic future. Think of God as an infinitely evolved being. No matter how
far we progress, He is ahead of us. He is directing us From Ahead.
Christianity was given because ahead of it was Baha'u'llah. Mohammed was given
as the last prophet of the prophetic cycle because ahead of him was Baha'u'llah.
The Baha'i Faith was given to us because of what is ahead of it. And so on until
we reach the end of Time.
At the same time, each religion that comes to us as a seed must adapt
itself to the "soil" that it finds. The quality of the harvest of the past, and
of the soil is what makes certain things possible or impossible for the arriving
Manifestation. If the soil is rich and fertile and waiting for a seed to be
planted, then it is easier for the Manifestation (the Master Gardener) to do
what he or she has been given to do. If the soil is dry and unfertile,
unprepared, then extra work must be done. The Gardener must break that soil
apart, sweeten it, etc. until it is ready.
>Don't these traditions, being divine in origin, have much to offer us?<
Yes, think how much Baha'u'llah praised the former Manifestations and the fruits
of service to their Causes that their followers created.
>And yet, I continually encounter those in the Baha'i community who criticize
the use of other traditions as part >of personal spiritual practice by
individual Baha'is. The impressions that I receive are that these people >think
that the prayers we have are all that we need, or they think that a Baha'i
paradigm will arise (how, they >cannot tell me) so that these sorts of practices
will emerge in some uniquely Baha'i way. When Baha'u'llah
>enjoined us to make mention (dhikr) or remembrance of God, he did not say, "But
I don't mean dhikr in the >sense that the Sufis mean it. This is some unique
form that will only be revealed in time." He simply said, >"Make mention
(dhikr) of God." When Abdu'l Baha was asked about a suitable form of
meditation, he gave a >basic description that resembles zazen. There is so much
available to us from other traditions that already >exists. Why wait for the
invention of something that we can say is the Baha'i method? And there is so
much >that has emerged AS A RESULT of the Baha'i Revelation which may not have
come from the Baha'is >themselves. The work of Gurdjieff is just one example.
I write musical settings for the Writings,
>many of which are simple dhikrs with prayers chanted over them. It is always
perceived by the friends as a >"Sufi thing." I have also put some of the
Writings in a traditional jazz context, which some people find
>objectionable. Personally, I find the inherent longing in jazz and the longing
in the prayers to fit quite >seamlessly together. And it often makes the
Writings accessible to audiences who might not otherwise >seek out the Faith -
it touches them. Perhaps this distaste for what already exists in other
traditions and >cultures is only a symptom of the West - I wouldn't know. But
we're depriving ourselves of a whole lot of >beauty that may just be the soil
from which this supposed flowering of the arts will emerge. If we toss it out,
>what are we left with? A vaccuum from which nothing can emerge. It's like
erasing the apex of the >enneagram.<
I feel you are doing wonderful things. Keep on truckin'! You are aware, I am
sure, that almost all of the Old Testament used to be sung and chanted, and that
there has been some success in deciphering the notation and recovering this
music in recent years. -- just a thought since you are musical.
I am extremely leary of excessive attaching of the label "Baha'i". It is
something that is necessary for certain limited purposes, but is you look at the
huge industry that labels itself "Christian", to me it is often nauseating
because of its connotations of exclusive salvation and moral superiority. I
believe and hope that among ourselves we will be much more restrained. There is
a global garden of radiant flowers. Just let everything be "radiant", for that
is the true meaning of the word "Baha'i".
Finally, let me mention Saul Kuchinsky's and Tony Blake's project the
Dramatic University -- a spin-off on John Bennett's books called "The Dramatic
Universe." It is an online participation methodology of reading and deepening in
various themes that are put forward. Ken Pledge's work on the Concrete
Significance of Number and on Gurdjieff's cosmology, and Tony's materials on the
monad, the dyad, the triad, the structure of meaning, the reading of experience,
etc., are also available in print format through Saul, as are some other
materials related to Ed Matchett. Ask Saul for a catalogue.
Warmest best wishes,
-- john dale



From nineteen@onramp.netTue Apr 2 12:34:10 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 96 10:49:41 -0500
From: "Richard C. Logan"
To: John Dale <73043.1540@compuserve.com>, Talisman
Subject: Re: UHJ/Gender/Power
> Derek, excuse me please, but you know perfectly well, IMO, that the issue
>of women on the House of Justice has nothing at all to do with wishes for
>personal power. I'm sorry to speak bluntly as a newcomer to this net, but
>for
>you to impugn the motives of this debate in this way is really
>inconsistent with
>consultation and is simply emotionally diversionary.
Dear Dale,
Don't let Derek bother you! He ceaseless impugns my character in the
eyes of Linda Walbridge in hopes that she will punch my in the jaw. So
far I have been able to forestall these nefarious attempts at ruffianism.
Indignantly
Richard
Richard C. Logan nineteen@onramp.net
Maintain HomePage "The Baha'is of Lubbock"
http://rampages.onramp.net/~nineteen/
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
How manifold are the truths which must remain unuttered until the
appointed time is come! Even as it has been said:
"Not everything that a man knoweth can be disclosed, nor can
everything that he can disclose be regarded as timely, nor can every
timely utterance be considered as suited to the capacity of those who
hear it." --Gleanings from the writings of Baha'u'llah
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


From belove@sover.netTue Apr 2 17:16:18 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 96 09:46:24 PST
From: belove@sover.net
To: 748-9178@mcimail.com, talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: RE: KI pp. 55-57
Moses, the Murderer. Mary, the unwed mother. What is the message here for various people. What do you see when you reflect on these matters? Speak personally, or let me know that you don't intend to speak from your heart at the begining of the post.
These matters always touch me. As the gift on an extended encounter with my own shadow, I can relate more to the Moses part. (Maybe women can relate more to the Mary part.) But I imagine that Moses's strength as a moral leader was strongly tempered by a God-lighted awareness of the evil to which he was capable. Knowing something similar about myself always makes me hesitant when I think I crave power. I think the only power I want is that which requires I answer for its use to others wiser than me. A central theme of Moses's life was the difficulty he had remembering that power came from God and was not his. The Midrash is that he wasn't allowed to enter the promised land because he struck the rock to bring forth water rather than simply touching it, as he was commanded. This error of his had the possibility of communicating that the water came forth by Moses's effort rather than through the Grace of God. So apparently, this was a lesson Moses never learned.
On Mon, 1 Apr 1996 17:16:11 -0500 (EST) Stephen Johnson wrote:
>
>
> And now ponder in thy heart the commotion
>which God stirreth up. Reflect upon the strange
>and manifold trials with which He doth test His
>servants. Consider how He hath suddenly chosen
>from among His servants, and entrusted with the
>exalted mission of divine guidance Him Who was
>known as guilty of homicide, Who, Himself, had
>acknowledged His cruelty, and Who for well-nigh
>thirty years had, in the eyes of the world, been
>reared in the home of Pharaoh and been nourished
>at his table. Was not God, the omnipotent King,
>able to withhold the hand of Moses from murder,
>so that manslaughter should not be attributed unto
>Him, causing bewilderment and aversion among
>the people?
> Likewise, reflect upon the state and condition of
>Mary. So deep was the perplexity of that most
>beauteous countenance, so grievous her case, that
>she bitterly regretted she had ever been born. To
>this beareth witness the text of the sacred verse
>wherein it is mentioned that after Mary had given
>birth to Jesus, she bemoaned her plight and cried
>out: "O would that I had died ere this, and been
>a thing forgotten, forgotten quite!"+F1 I swear by
>God! Such lamenting consumeth the heart and
>shaketh the being. Such consternation of soul, such
>despondency, could have been caused by no other
>than the censure of the enemy and the cavilings
>of the infidel and perverse. Reflect, what answer
>could Mary have given to the people around her?
>How could she claim that a Babe Whose father
>was unknown had been conceived of the Holy
>Ghost? Therefore did Mary, that veiled and immortal
>Countenance, take up her Child and return
>unto her home. No sooner had the eyes of the
>people fallen upon her than they raised their voice
>saying: "O sister of Aaron! Thy father was not
>a man of wickedness, nor unchaste thy mother."+F2
> And now, meditate upon this most great convulsion,
>this grievous test. Notwithstanding all
>these things, God conferred upon that essence of
>the Spirit, Who was known amongst the people as
>fatherless, the glory of Prophethood, and made
>Him His testimony unto all that are in heaven and
>on earth.
>
>+F1 Qur'an 19:22.
>+F2 Qur'an 19:28.
>
>
From asadighi@ptialaska.netTue Apr 2 17:16:46 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 1996 08:54:16 -0900
From: "Arsalan J. Sadighi"
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: 1st thing we do, kill all the lawyers (except Brent of course old roomie)
No, no, no! Let's not. I have a better idea. Let's simply vote on these two
issues on Talisman and decide. If we decide that women should serve on the
House, then let's make it so. Simply issue a statement on behalf of the All
Knowing Talisman that during next international convention women will be
eligible to serve on the House because we say so. Also, now that we are at
it, let's make the House fallible. How about it folks? I also suggest that
we fire all the staff at the Research Department in Baha'i World Center and
replace the whole thing with Talisman. I think it will work just fine, don't
you?
>
>Having read the monumental tomes so finally crafted by Dale; and the
>re-re-re-re-re-re-re qualifications by Mr. Lee it would seem that we have two
>(if not many more) aspiring lawyer/legislators on our hands.
>
>How else could we explain this nearly inexhuastable desire to worry this
>(non) issue to death. On the one hand the question of women on the House and
>the other of infallibity. Why I haven't seen this much glee in twisting every
>term, regardless of its natural meaning since the Dred Scott case came before
>the Supreme Court.
>
>Why is there this strange belief that the Universal House of Justice is some
>mystical Supreme Court? I don't remember there being a legislature set up by
>Baha'u'llah to which the UHJ would *respond*. Nor do I ever remember a
>passage stating that there would arise a populist body that would put forth
>petitions. Nor can I recall a single sentence where Baha'u'llah, the Master
>or the Guardian ever stated that one of the primary functions of the UHJ was
>to take polls, at regular intervals, in order to gain a good *temperature
>check* of the People. I don't ever remember seeing a paragraph stating that
>anyone would be giving the UHJ the actual framework from which they would
>create the warp and woof of a world civilization.
>
>But what I see is a number of folk doing a fair job at mimicking Andy
>Griffith in his MATLOCK series. A genteel country lawyer who is real sly and
>standing up for the downtrodden against the evils of that brutal yet well
>meaning judicial system.
>
>I have a wonderful idea. Why don't we all do this. If and when the Universal
>House of Justice ever asks us to investigate the possibility of women on the
>House we can start with Tony's speculations and proceed from there. And when
>Dale becomes omniscient, which could be any day now at the rate he is pumping
>out his pordigious prognostications and explanations of all known phenomena
>in Existence we can continue these lines of oh-so-fruity specualtions.
>
>Until then why don't we accept the answers we have been given, if just for
>the moment and move on to the far less (i do realize) significant concerns
>like bringing the healing message of Baha'u'llah to the bleeding limbs of
>humankind?
>
>
>jim harrison
>
>Alethinos@aol.com
>
>
>
>
>
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Arsalan J. Sadighi
"Things are never quite as scary when you've got a best friend."
Calvin and Hobbes


From 72110.2126@compuserve.comTue Apr 2 17:19:52 1996
Date: 02 Apr 96 12:57:09 EST
From: David Langness <72110.2126@compuserve.com>
To: Talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: An Immodest Proposal
Dear Talismanians,
RE: the women on the Universal House of Justice debate.
Here's an idea: 1998 is only two years away. Hannah's tan, rested and
ready. Those of us who know and love her respect her character and all
those other qualities. But unlike so many other Baha'i women, she has
the advantage, presumably, of not being chromosomally challenged. So,
hey, if you're on an NSA somewhere, give it some thought. Wouldn't want
to campaign or start some "draft Hannah" movement, no, but just a
little helpful suggestion...
Love,
David
ps: The above post is intended as satire, not to be taken seriously
unless, of course, one has no sense of humor. Kids -- don't try this
at home.


From Member1700@aol.comTue Apr 2 17:23:47 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 1996 13:13:20 -0500
From: Member1700@aol.com
To: Talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Women and the House
First of all, I would like to thank Richard, Jackson, and Sen for their very
informative and cogent postings on this issue. As it happens, I agree
completely with the points they have made and find nothing more to add to
what they have said on the issue.
I am happy to reply to Rick Shaut's posting, and perhaps to clarify some
of our points of disagreement. First, the parenthetical remark (Ahem!) that
Rick was so concerned may have been intended to silence him was not intended
to do anything of the kind. Indeed, it never occurred to me that Rick could
be silenced at all, and certainly not by me clearing my throat online. The
remark was intended to gently indicate that one can expect a certain reaction
of insensed dignity when one starts suggesting that other Baha'is don't
understand the Covenant or that their ideas are on the edge of Covenant
breaking.
I found it quite extraordinary that Rick should suggest that I was trying
to silence him with one word, and then to have him go on in paragraphs
immediately following to say that I "walk a very thin line" between my views
and actual Covenant breaking, that such views "put one's spiritual well-being
in grave danger," and that I and others are "walking near a cliff," etc. It
seems perfectly obvious to me that such accusations would not be taken
lightly by any believer and that they are intended to silence certain views
within the community, specifically with regard to the eventual election of
women to the Universal House of Justice.
I should add that I do find such comments wearisome and offensive.
Perhaps it is because I have heard them for so long. They are hardly new.
Every innovative development in the Baha'i community that I have ever
participated in has been the target of similar comments--from the Los Angeles
Study Class of yore, to Kalimat Press, to the innovations of the Los Angeles
Spiritual Assembly, the publication of dialogue magazine, the development of
Baha'i academic scholarship, the beginnings of Talisman, and on, and on, and
on. It seems to me that it is indicative of the utter bankrupcy of Baha'i
intellectual life and the barrenness of our current orthodoxy that every new
idea that is tabled and every creative intellectual enterprise that is
attempted is greeted with suspicion of Covenant breaking--or near-Covenant
breaking, or on the edge of Covenant breaking, or pointing in the direction
of Covenant breaking if taken to its extreme, etc., etc.
Thinking of this kind does intimidate most of the Baha'i community into
silence, and simply perpetuates a narrow and limited way of being a Baha'i
which has gotten us nowhere and consigned the community to an intellectual
ghetto that we are afraid to venture out of. What if our next idea may lead
to Covenant breaking? Better to say and do nothing (even to think nothing)
than risk breaking the Covenant, no?
In any case, to the specific points that Rick has raised concerning Shoghi
Effendi's letters with regard to the question of the exclusion of women from
membership on the Universal House of Justice, I rather agree with Sen's
analysis of the status of those letters.
No, I do not believe that these letters constitute an "interpretation" of
'Abdu'l-Baha's 1902 Tablet to Corinne True. I do not believe that Shoghi
Effendi regarded them as an interpretation of that Tablet, and I think that
he would have been surprised if someone had suggested to him that his letters
interpreted that Tablet. His letters clearly intended to add nothing at all
to what 'Abdu'l-Baha had already said.
In my view, the letters of Shoghi Effendi all say, in essence:
"'Abdu'l-Baha has written a Tablet on this matter in 1902 to Corinne True.
Please refer to that Tablet. The Guardian has nothing further to say on
this matter." It seems clear to me that the Guardian did not spend a great
deal of time on this issue, nor did he consider it a matter which required
his interpretation.
I do not believe that Shoghi Effendi's interpretations of the Text are
exhaustive of their meaning, nor to I think that they are magical--in the
sense that they can change reality or alter history. When the beloved
Guardian's secretary wrote in a letter that the Tablet of Wisdom was written
in Persian (rather than Arabic), the words on the page did not magically
transform into Persian. It was simply an error. When the Guardian stated
that there was nothing in the Writings on a particular subject and so he
could not comment on it, and when a detailed Tablet of 'Abdu'l-Baha on that
same subject was subsequently discovered--well, the page did not go blank.
The Guardian simply had no access to that particular part of the Text. The
errors of fact and of judgment that can be found in God Passes By, for
instance, do not change the events as they actually happened. Nor do they
detract from the masterpiece of literature and history that the Guardian
produced. They simply mean that he was unaware of some information. In no
thinking conception of faith would find such matters an occasion for crisis
or concern.
Finally, (and I am sorry that this has become so long-winded) it seems to
me that your approach to the writings of Shoghi Effendi--even when he is
consciously interpreting a Text--is altogether extreme. If I understand you
correctly, your position would require that once the Guardian has rendered an
interpretation of a passage, the passage itself (and all other context) must
be ignored and only the interpretation of Shoghi Effendi should be
considered. I believe that the Guardian would have been shocked by such an
approach to his position as interpreter.
I do not believe that the Guardian has the authority to dismiss or
disappear the Writings of the Manifestation. His writings are intended to
add something to our understanding of the Text, not substitute for it. Nor
are they intended to abrogate or contravene the intent of the Sacred Word.
His interpretations might enhance or complete, or specifically apply, a
passage. But they never render the original Text irrelevant or beyond study
on its own terms.
Therefore, it would be my view that it continues to be fully appropriate
to discuss the verses of Baha'u'llah and 'Abdu'l-Baha that bear on the
election of women to the House of Justice, their origninal import and their
intent and their historical context. Once this is understood, one should go
on--of course--to consider the statements of Shoghi Effendi on the subject,
in light of the above and never without it. Naturally, the Guardian's
statements will be understood differently if they are seen in this context.
You ask specifically whether I think that Shoghi Effendi made an "errant
interpretation" on this matter. No, I do not. I do not think that he made
any interpretation of this matter, or at least that he did not intend to.
Whether he misunderstood the historical context of the Master's 1902 Tablet,
I don't know. It seems possible. But, in this particular matter, it also
appears to me to be irrelevant. If he did misread the historical context, no
doubt he would have changed his views in light of new historical information,
as he did on other occasions. I regard this matter in the same light as the
various minor error of fact that are found in God Passes By, for instance, as
having little significance in the larger scheme of things.
Regards,
Tony


From lua@sover.netTue Apr 2 17:24:29 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 1996 13:04:48 -0500 (EST)
From: LuAnne Hightower
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: The Covenant
Dear Mark,
It seems to me that you misunderstand Rick's point. I agree with him that
your questions were weak. It seemed that you were setting up the usual
faith vs. works question, which IMO tends to leave a lot of ground
uncovered. If we assume that all we need is to sign the card and say we
believe, then we never really even enter the Valley of Search, let alone
those that follow. If on the other hand we focus on works, or the Laws in
their most basic sense, we can carry them out to the letter, but miss the
spirit - we can attend feast, and serve on an LSA and put all all attention
into activity without ever examing the QUALITY of our interactions with
other believers. Do I steadfastly attend all the functions in the community
and spend my time judging the others who aren't there, or those who are not,
in my opinion, being good Baha'is (their children are unruly, they may be
jobless, they are not giving regularly to the fund and as treasurer I am
aware of this, etc., etc., etc.)? Am I unkind to any soul, Baha'i or not,
as I go about my busy Baha'i schedule?
You wrote:
"I would agree that recognition (irfan/knowledge) and obedience are the twin
duties of all believers, and that, from one angle, these constitute our
human response to the Covenant. However, I don't personally see the Covenant
as a set of laws. I would prefer to say that laws are one of the emanations
of the Covenant. Following divine laws are one way, but not the only one, in
which we can experience at-one-ment with Baha'u'llah's Covenant."
I think that Rick never reduced the Covenant to a set of laws, and I am,
therefore, unsure why you imply that he was doing so. I think that what
Rick was saying was that we must give our attention to ALL that is required
of us (and I would add - IN ALL OF THE WRITINGS) and especially with regard
to developing attributes, and especially sincerity. If we believe and we
immerse ourselves (is this for 10 minutes three times a day or is it true
immersion?), and we pray for guidance (do we heed it? are we capable of
hearing the guidance when it doesn't agree with our POV or agenda? are we
truly praying/present/receptive?), and we live a life full of service (or is
it a schedule full of service projects/meetings wherein we decide what is
good for other people/ what they need?), we may or may not be firm in the
Covenant.
This is between ourselves and God. And He doesn't give report cards - so
erring on the side of how much we fall short is probably a pretty fair
method or assessing our "firmness" - if we are in the least tempted to do
so. (If the Bab could consider Himself as having "fallen short in my duty
to love Thee and have failed to walk in the path of Thy Love," then who am I
to judge my own attainments?) The Covenant is not something from which we
can choose those parts that are palatible and ignore the parts we don't
like. It is belief (love) and as a result of that belief, adherence to the
laws and constant polishing of the mirrors that we are. Reducing it to less
that constant striving to increase our capacity to be loving, devoted,
obedient, acquiescent servants is to poorly form the foundation of our faith
and acts. God forbid that we should ever think that we have arrived at
firmness, achieved what is being asked of us. It leaves very little room
for our personal spiritual growth (let alone the health of the community),
and alot of room for turning our attention to the faults of others.
I hope that I have been clear, as this was a response done in haste, and for
this I apologize.
Kind Regards,
LuAnne


From 72110.2126@compuserve.comTue Apr 2 17:25:38 1996
Date: 02 Apr 96 13:32:32 EST
From: David Langness <72110.2126@compuserve.com>
To: Talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: AI, the Aqdas and the Death Penalty
Dear Talismanians,
I, too, found myself moved by the recent film Dead Man Walking, and would
like to talk about it here in the context of the Kitab-I-Aqdas' explicit
provisions regarding the death penalty and the Baha'i position on
membership in Amnesty International.
(Tony and I had a terrific Thai dinner with the Australia-bound Nima last
night, and he hated the film, I loved it, Tony hadn't seen it. So much
for a Talismanian cabal... )
Just a little in the way of personal background before I venture a few
opinions -- a few decades ago, I found myself teaching English in a
federal penitentiary one night a week. I did not teach the death row
inmates, self-improvement being a bit of an oxymoron for those about to
be executed, but I met and talked to a few. Knowing these people as
human beings led me to some fairly extensive reading on the subject of
the death penalty. I commend to you all the finest book on the
subject I know of, called Condemned to Death, by an ex-warden and the ex-
governor of the state of Ohio, both one and the same person whose name
has just flown out of my early-Alzheimer's brain pan. Anyway, the author
makes a significant contribution to understanding the death penalty as
it is now applied in the United States, and the conditions which warrant
its application in other nations, as well.
Amnesty International's training materials on the death penalty are also
quite eye-opening, listing the countries which now impose state-sponsored
executions and those who do not. Suffice it to say that those who use
the ultimate punishment are not a group of nation-states you'd want to
hang with (oops -- groan, that wasn't even intentional) on a Saturday
night. They comprise the list of all nations with repressive governments,
tyrannical dictators, and fundamentalist autocracies such as Iraq and
Iran. And, of course, they include the United States, the only developed
nation in the world with no guaranteed health care and the death penalty.
(Unless, of course, you are an inmate on Death Row, where you are
guaranteed health care services, uhm, with one fatal exception.)
So we continue to put people to death at an increasing pace in the US.
But the problem is this -- they're all poor. Oh, and they're dispropor-
tionally comprised of racial minorities. And the law is different in
some states, so assassins and mass murderers (Sirhan and Manson, to name
a few) get life with the possibility of parole and others less well-known
by Geraldo get the needle. In other words, almost everyone admits that
we've got a long way to go before we start executing people according to
any pattern of justice or equal treatment.
This has led many people -- myself among them -- to actively oppose the
death penalty *as it is now applied.* As a long-time member of Amnesty,
I always understood that AI shared that modifier. They were not, as far
as I could determine from reading and talking to their leadership,
opposed to the death penalty in principle, in perpetuity, or for some
future state of society, but instead worked to abolish it now.
So it strikes me that we might want to make a clear delineation between
what can be justly applied today and what might work in the future. For
now, especially given the extra-judicial and even judicial executions of
Baha'is in Iran, it seems that Baha'is might want to be at the forefront
of the worldwide movement against state-sponsored killing.
When we reach that golden age in which fairness and justice become
established, perhaps then we might re-establish a duly-constituted
world government's right to rid society of the most egregious of its
criminals. Until then, wouldn't it be interesting if the Baha'is of
the world could join forces with AI in a campaign to abolish the death
penalty as we currently employ it?
Love,
David


From jarmstro@sun1.iusb.eduTue Apr 2 17:26:31 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 1996 13:10:43 -0500 (EST)
From: Jackson Armstrong-Ingram
To: "Don R. Calkins"
Cc: Talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Women and the House
On 1 Apr 1996, Don R. Calkins wrote:
> One possibility that has been totally ignored is that once Houses of Justice
> are formed at the national and local levels, women will not be allowed to
> serve on them.
The basic idea behind this comment may not have been mentioned in the
current discussion, but it has certainly been discussed. I believe the
position to be simple: either women may _not_ serve on all houses of
justice, or women _may_ serve on all houses of justice. I do not see any
way to have a split decision that permits service on some only.
I think we might note that at the time the original ruling was made that
it was seem by many as needing some leaps of interpretation to go ahead
with any election of a UHJ at all. It is not surprising that the extent
of those leaps might be calculated to be as short as possible. We must
remember that whatever the teachings supposedly propounded by the faith
that misogynism was hardly absent from the community in the 1960s.
Indeed, it is documented that in one country's national convention
several leading Persian pioneers of prominent family personally
counselled all the delegates that although women were technically eligible
for election to the NSA they would of course bear in mind that it would
be most unsuitable and an affront to the dignity of the body if a woman
were actually elected.
Jackson


From nineteen@onramp.netTue Apr 2 17:44:23 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 96 13:27:28 -0500
From: "Richard C. Logan"
To: "Mark A. Foster" , Talisman
Subject: Re: The Covenant
> Have I fulfilled the Covenant if I
>*believe*, or does it go beyond that? Does it mean that I need to recognize
>the voice of God in the words of the Guardian and the House? How might that
>recognition reflect in my words and actions?
Dear Mark,
Your manner of expressing this proposition, from my POV, might take into
account certain human realities.
1). People can only recognize the voice of God to the extent (for
whatever reason) they are able. As such, each individual who is a
believer, I imagine, feels they are recognizing what they should be
recognizing or at least they wish they were. And it seems that there are
as many views on what they are hearing from the voice of God as there are
people. Everyone makes an attempt at being as enlightening as they can
on a particular issue.
2). Although we can imagine an optimal condition for human understanding
and certainly encourage it we are only to varying degrees aware of it.
I think all members of Talisman believe and act according to their
particular recognition. Each person's capacity and spiritual state
determines " words and actions."
I think we fullfull are obligations to the covenant to the best of our
ability and we let Baha'u'llah determine our success in the matter. The
Baha'i Writings are filled with advice on how to achieve a greater
understanding of these teachings. Indirectly, and correct me if I am
wrong, it seems you may be asking the question:
Am I going against God's wishes if I challenge the views set forward most
clearly at this time as they have been refined by the succeeding figures
down to the Universal House of Justice?
I feel the answer to this may depend on the manner in which the matter is
approached (one's behavior) as an inquiry. Questions are one the names
of God.
The argument as I have been following it over these months has evolved
to: The wisdom of the UHJ and the Guardian is not being ultimately
challenged, but is being evaluted based on a variety of other
possibilities, that neither impinges on its ACTUAL infallibility (which
is not well understood) and is in complete compliance with it divine
authority. Since the UHJ can reverse itself, and may be able to enact
things it has heretofore chosen not to enact, current understandings as
provided by the House are not neccesarily encumbent on the believers as
they apply to unknown future events.
Technically and legally I would have no problem with this view. It is
logical and rational. It puts forward the idea that there IS a
principled approach to some issues that are at this time unauthorized.
Whether certain things can in fact be authorized is a very useful area of
discourse for the friends, IMHO, if it is not contentious.
My own approach as most know is somewhat different and invovles our
loving relationship with each other.
Richard
Richard C. Logan nineteen@onramp.net
Maintain HomePage "The Baha'is of Lubbock"
http://rampages.onramp.net/~nineteen/
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
How manifold are the truths which must remain unuttered until the
appointed time is come! Even as it has been said:
"Not everything that a man knoweth can be disclosed, nor can
everything that he can disclose be regarded as timely, nor can every
timely utterance be considered as suited to the capacity of those who
hear it." --Gleanings from the writings of Baha'u'llah
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


From LTue Apr 2 17:44:45 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 1996 21:29:07 +0200 (MET DST)
From: L
To: Talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Beating--Another perspective
A kind poster pointed out that I probably meant that women and children are
not "masochists", whereas I had written "sadists". I try to reread and
correct my postings, but with various members of my family and their friends
streaming in and out of the office and wanting my attention, sometimes I
have to stop in midstream and then I forget what changes I wanted to make.
The posting should have included "masochists". But I did mean "sadists" as
well. So it should read: "Women and children are not masochists and sadists."
Why sadism? To use female circumcision again as an example, it is the
mothers that insist that the girls must be circumcised and it is the women
that perform it. Women feel that female circumcision is necessary because
when the girls are adults, if they have not been circumcised, they will
probably be socially disfunctional as they will usually not be able to get
married.
Sincerely,
L


From mfoster@qni.comTue Apr 2 17:45:46 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 1996 14:19:44 -0600
From: "Mark A. Foster"
To: Talisman
Subject: Re: The Covenant
Hi, Richard -
As I have said here before, I believe that much of the discussion we have
here is overly legalistic. The Baha'i Faith is _not_, IMO, a legalistic
religion, and yet we often seem to assume that it is - if not consciously,
at least by a constant dwelling on regulations for this or that, women on
the House of Justice, review, "scholars" and supposed "lay Baha'is" etc.
None of these, as I see it, have much to do with what the Baha'i Faith is.
The key to resolving what are, to some folks, gut-wrenching dilemnas,
cannot, to my thinking, be found through the sort of rationally-bound
ego-talk (pardon the bluntness) that we, mostly Americans and other
Westerners (I would assume), are so at home with.
Reason has a purpose (a _will_), but its effectiveness, with respect to
spiritual matters, is dependent on developing spiritual sensibility.
Questioning this or that decision or ruling is, to me, almost entirely
within the rational world. It may be cathartic, but it is not unific.
To the Light, Mark (Foster)
***************************************************************************
"The Prophets of God have been the Servants of Reality; Their Teachings
constitute the science of reality." - `Abdu'l-Baha
"The sciences of today are bridges to reality; if they lead not to reality,
naught remains but fruitless illusion." - `Abdu'l-Baha
***************************************************************************


From mfoster@qni.comTue Apr 2 17:46:18 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 1996 14:32:04 -0600
From: "Mark A. Foster"
To: LuAnne Hightower , talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: The Covenant
At 01:04 PM 4/2/96 -0500, LuAnne Hightower wrote:
>It seems to me that you misunderstand Rick's point.
Perhaps. It wouldn't be the first time that I misunderstood someone.
>It seemed that you were setting up the usual faith vs. works
>question, which IMO tends to leave a lot of ground uncovered.
That is not what I intended to do. I was only asking general questions. If
anything, my feeling is that there is no substantive difference between
works (in the sense of obedience) and faith. The Guardian identified one
with the other. The rift between the two, solidified by Luther in his
rejection of the Book of James, has endured to this day among both
Calvinists and Arminians. However, it has always appeared to me that the
confusion has been resolved in the Baha'i Teachings.
>I think that Rick never reduced the Covenant to a set of laws, and I am,
>therefore, unsure why you imply that he was doing so.
I did not mean to imply that he did. My intent was to respond to Rick's
points, not to criticize his views. What I said in my message was that, from
a certain angle, I agreed with Rick.
The rest of your message was interesting, and I would agree with much of it.
However, I don't see why you felt that my questions were poorly formed.

To the Light, Mark (Foster)
***************************************************************************
"The Prophets of God have been the Servants of Reality; Their Teachings
constitute the science of reality." - `Abdu'l-Baha
"The sciences of today are bridges to reality; if they lead not to reality,
naught remains but fruitless illusion." - `Abdu'l-Baha
***************************************************************************


From Alethinos@aol.comTue Apr 2 17:47:17 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 1996 09:39:26 -0500
From: Alethinos@aol.com
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: 1st thing we do, kill all the lawyers (except Brent of course old roomie)
Sure Steve, I am more than happy to let these adolescent mewings we keep
hearing fade into the distance as we move on, except for the fact that we
have people claiming that their perception of the Cause of God is so great
that now they can see that the entire structure is flawed because it doesn't
suit their obviously superior perceptions of the Reality in which we exist.
You see the issue this entire time, at least as I have been arguing it, has
nothing to do with women AND the UHJ; rather it has to do with individuals
assuming that because a decision that is a burr under their saddle of
socio-polical-correctness the *structure* of the Cause is somehow flawed.
They insist that the Faith is being inconsistant, immoral, or just plain
stupid.
This issue has to do with sepertating out the new from the old. And we
clearly have many in this country at least that still cling to old
philosophies, to the quickly changing fashions of what is socially and
politically correct etc. Such continued haranging from the *loyal opposition*
(as it was one time described by advocates for this line of reasoning) can
only. at the very least, keep us from moving on to issues that will be more
productive and educational. If we had not recieved and answer on all this
that would be another thing; I could see a desire to question the initial
statements and ask for clarification. But we have got as much as an answer as
we are going to get - that is it - at leasat for the foreseeable future.
So this *innocent questioning* goes way beyond innocent. It is a symptom of
living in a culture where to be denied is a horrible thing. To have a world
where we just don't like Reality well by God reality must be changed than! We
have a big enough problem with an American community going nowhere, with a
national administration that does not seem to have a clue as to what to do to
get them to arise, and here we see individuals seeking to pull others into
their assualt on Mt. Carmel because the answer does not suit them. Because it
is difficult, hard to explain, uncomfortable.
Sure, I'll let it go when I see folk stop telling the UHJ that it is
essentially "out of touch."
jim harrison
Alethinos@aol.com


From MBOYER%UKANVM.BITNET@pucc.PRINCETON.EDUTue Apr 2 17:47:44 1996
Date: Tue, 02 Apr 96 14:56:04 CST
From: Milissa Boyer
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: What is a CB?
Hi guys--
I need to ask for some clarification of what a Covenant-Breaker is.
I understand why Mason Remey is classified as such, as he once accepted it
and later broke it by trying to usurp authority from the UHJ.
However, what about someone who joins a CB group? For example, say Joe Blow
meets with up with a CB group and they introduce him to the Faith for the
first time. He has never heard of the Faith until this point and, since he
doesn't know otherwise, assumes that this group IS the Faith. He accepts
Baha'u'llah and joins their group. Is Joe a CB, too? It would seem that,
at least, he couldn't be put into the same category of Mason Remey.
After all, how can one break a covenant one has never accepted in the first
place?
So, does anyone have any references about this kind of situation?
Thanks!
Milissa Boyer
mboyer@ukans.edu


From MBOYER%UKANVM.BitNet@pucc.PRINCETON.EDUTue Apr 2 17:49:27 1996
Date: Tue, 02 Apr 96 15:04:44 CST
From: Milissa Boyer
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Bab's Martyrdom
Hi guys--
I am looking for some evidence of the Bab's execution, namely the
miraculous part of the story, that would substaniate the Baha'i version of
events.
But I am looking for specific evidence. Does anyone know of an independent,
non-Bahai, non-western, and especially non-British, account of the Bab's
martyrdom that mentions anything at all about him having to be suspended
twice or that he didn't try to escape after the first attempt?
I know of the references in Momen's book, but they are all Western accounts,
so they won't do. Proving a miracle happened is pretty tricky.
Thanks!
Milissa Boyer
mboyer@ukans.edu


From a003@lehigh.eduTue Apr 2 17:51:08 1996
Date: Tue, 02 Apr 1996 16:53:28 EST
From: a003@lehigh.edu
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Science & Religion
Friends:
I look forward to following this thread carefully and will try to make a
contribution primarily through two volumes I am reading now: *The
Moral Gap* by John E. Hare, and *The Structure of Scientific Revolutions*
by Thomas S. Kuhn (I noticed several references to Kuhn).
Hare's work is from a Christian perspective but fascinating given his
father's eminent role as a rationalist, utilitarian, and the rigor with
which he undertakes his task. The work is about
the gap between the moral demand on us and our natural capacities to meet
it, starting with Kant. The parallels to "harder" scientific thought are
not too difficult to make.
One thing can be confidently maintained. Many philosophers, scientists,
and thinking people in general, are very interested in this issue.
Bill
*-----------------------------------------------------------*
* Phone:610-867-9251 William George *
* Theater Artist *
* 908 E. 5th. St. *
* Bethlehem, Pa 18015 U.S.A. *
*___________________________________________________________*


From lora@creighton.eduTue Apr 2 17:51:53 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 1996 15:52:24 CST
From: Lora McCall
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Talisman discussion
Dear Talismaniacs,
It just occurred to me that every time we re-hash one of the hot
topics on Talisman (i.e. women & the house, gays & lesbians, covenant
breaking, etc) we are getting more refined and clear in our answers.
Even though many of the T'man veterans are weary and just plain bored
into comas, it may well be a very good thing that the constantly
changing pool of newbies keeps bringing up these same topics ad
nauseum. The depth and breadth of possible responses to these sticky
issues are increasing dramatically, and if we will all just pay
attention, we'll have lots of intelligent answers to give the
seriously seeking world.
So, I have two points to make:
1. A deep and sincere thank you to our learned contributors who
continue to patiently shed light on these issues, dismiss the
superstitions and hearsay, ground everything in the sacred texts,
supply us with their insight and wisdom, and call everyone to a
higher standard -- a no-B.S. level of scholarship. The learned
deserve our respect and deference, although I have never heard even
one of them ask for that or expect it (nor have you ever referred to
yourselves as "the learned").
2. To the newbies: listen and learn.
Warmly, Lora


From Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nlTue Apr 2 17:53:57 1996
Date: Wed, 03 Apr 1996 00:10:39 +0000 (EZT)
From: Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nl
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Guardian's letters re UHJ
***** ATTACHMENT: wom-uhj.6d1 *****
Dear Rick,
In your point 4, you say that the Guardian's definition about his limitations
with respect to legislation, the constitution of the Universal House of
Justice and the election of the members of the Universal House of Justice
is not relevant because this is not an "issue which falls within the
legislative purview of the Universal House". But it is an issue which could
be resolved by the Universal House of Justice in its constitution, right? In
fact, the constitution of the Universal House of Justice IS the question.
And it does affect the sacred right and freedom of the delegates to the
international convention, right? And the Guardian cannot determine the one
or influence the other, right? So there's nothing in the letters - even
if we had letters in the Guardian's own hand - which would make it
*Covenentally* impossible to resolve this. It might, it does, make for a
certain prudence and caution, but not an absolute legal bar in the way
which you suggest. This prudence and caution may be so great as to have
roughly the same effect, but since Shoghi Effendi felt that it was important
to state these specific limitations to his authority, I feel it is
of at least symbolic importance to observe them.
The question of whether the matter is open to legislation, i.e. whether
it is 'found in the explicit Holy Text', leads us back to the meaning
of `Abdu'l-Baha's tablets anyway. Clearly `Abdu'l-Baha at one time said
that women could not be on a 'universal/general house of justice'. If the
reference is to 'Our' (contemporary) Universal House of Justice then this
is part of the Holy Text. If it is to the Chicago House of Justice, then
that also is part of the Holy Text. We can't short-circuit the need for
historical understanding by going directly to authority, because we don't
know what the authority is saying until the historical analysis is 'done'.
More precisely, whether consciously or not the Universal House of Justice
has to make some judgement about the meaning of `Abdu'l-Baha's tablets,
and if this includes an understanding of both the historical context so
far as that can be ascertained, and looking at the Baha'i principles as
a whole, `Abdu'l-Baha's other statements about the role of women in other
spheres, and what Shoghi Effendi understood or would have understood by
the term translated as Universal House of Justice in the Tablet to True.
This call is based on both guidance and available information, and the
available information includes the best historical evidence available to
date (I know that historical analysis is never really 'done').
Later -
Your response sent me off to do some research which I had not given
much priority to because, for the reasons given above and in my previous
posting, I do not think that these letters can close of the legal
possibility of change in any case. But writing this I have become
aware that legal possibilities - the question "Can the Universal House
of Justice change this without violating the Covenant?" are not the
only things to be considered. I started checking the dates of the
Guardian's letters to see whether it was possible to ascertain where
Shoghi Effendi was when the relevant letters were written, and who
was serving as secretary at those times. Anyway, I checked the letter
of December 14 1940, which is published in Dawn of a New Day p. 86,
and it **DOES** have a postscript in the Guardian's hand. Which I
should have checked years ago when I was writing to the Research
Department on the issue, instead of expecting them to provide the
answers.
Drat and shame. Careless and shoddy research on my part. Don't
open the door, I think I'm small enough to slink out under it.
Sen


From SBirkland@aol.comTue Apr 2 17:55:57 1996
Date: Wed, 27 Mar 1996 19:31:27 -0500
From: SBirkland@aol.com
To: jrcole@umich.edu
Subject: Re: my provisional translations (fwd)
Juan, Thanks for all your translation work and your noble and generous
spirit. I too am please that we had a chance to talk in person.
My address is:
1192 Benton Way
Arden Hills, MN 55112
With gratitude, Stephen


From jarmstro@sun1.iusb.eduTue Apr 2 17:59:35 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 1996 17:54:15 -0500 (EST)
From: Jackson Armstrong-Ingram
To: talisman
Subject: 1902 tablet
The relevant passage from the 1902 tablet that has repeatedly been
cited is as follows:
The House of Justice, however, according to the explicit text of the Law
of God, is confined to men; this for a wisdom of the Lord God's, which
will ere long be made manifest as clearly as the sun at high noon.
I have always found it interesting that this translation makes the phrase
"according to the explicit text..." a subordinate clause. According to
the explicit text of the Law of God a man may have two wives; but it has
been determined that consideration of that text in the broader context of
fundamental principles does not support the explicit reading.
Is the wisdom that is to be made clear a wisdom underlying the confining
of the House to men, or a wisdom underlying the wording of the explicit text?
The translation can be read either way. Any comment from those using the
original text?
Jackson


From MBOYER%UKANVM.BitNet@pucc.PRINCETON.EDUTue Apr 2 18:08:04 1996
Date: Tue, 02 Apr 96 16:57:33 CST
From: Milissa
To: Juan R Cole
Subject: Re: Bab's Martyrdom
Hi!
Thanks for the reference. I will try to find the article in _World Order_.
I don't have any doubts about it, but my friend Amir thinks Baha'is made it
up and wants some hard facts! I have, however, tried to explain to him the
whole Baha'i take on miracles and that the truth of the Faith does not rest
on this event anyway.
Thanks for your help,
Milissa B.


From belove@sover.netWed Apr 3 00:35:04 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 96 09:10:27 PST
From: belove@sover.net
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Houston Smith and Bahai
Thanks to whoever told us about the Houston Smith/Bill Moyers show. The first show was a treasure.
I went to the book store to look at the book for the series. Bahai is not indexed.
Looked in one of his earlier book and found this comment: Bahai had promises to be a universal religion and to rise above sectarianism with regards to other faiths, but it turned out to be just like any other religion.
Sorry I can't come up with the specific quote or citation. It was in an academic sized paper back, if anyone else can dig it up.
Philip


From belove@sover.netWed Apr 3 00:35:48 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 96 09:02:48 PST
From: belove@sover.net
To: talisman@indiana.edu, 748-9178@mcimail.com
Subject: RE: Amnesty International
On Mon, 1 Apr 1996 19:43:22 -0800 The Hendershots wrote:
>
>In a recent post, M mentioned that the House of Justice had discouraged membership in Amnesty International. Does anyone have the letter? I had never heard this, have been a member of AI for many years, and send out monthly letters on behalf of prisoners around the world who they are trying to help. It seems to me that AI does a lot of good work that no one else is doing. If no one has the letter, I'll write to the House and see what the current policy is.
>
>Thanks,
>Chris Hendershot
>
Last night on NBC Nightly News, I saw a story about how the Catholic Bishop of Nebraska has declared that after May 15, 1996, any members of his parish who still belong to a small list of organizations will be excommunicated. They will be allowed to attend mass, but not take communion. The order will not be formally enforced but He expects all members to abide by their conscience. The list includes Planned Parenthood (for advocating free choice in the matter of abortion) and an organization devoted to lobbying for priesthood for women.
I have a friend in my community who is a thoughtful intellectual who declared as a Baha'i, served on the LSA and then undeclared. The comment: I thought it was this liberal and embracing religion and the more I found out about it, the more repressive and backward it appeared. Now I'm amazed that I ever took it seriously. "
I'm anticipating a lively conversation with her about the parellels between the Bahai Faith and the Catholic Faith as demonstrated in this last incident. The Hendershot's comment about Amnesty International is quite timely.
Philip


From belove@sover.netWed Apr 3 00:36:11 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 96 09:25:24 PST
From: belove@sover.net
To: M , talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: RE: Lawh-i-maqsud (2nd para)
I especially liked a couple of your observations, Gord.
On Mon, 01 Apr 1996 23:02:28 -0700 M wrote:
. . "If the learned and the worldly wise
>men of this age were to allow mankind to inhale the fragrance of fellowship
>and love," etc.
> /\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\
>/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/\/
> I still think that "allow" is very appropriate here and that
>inadvertantly many of the "learned and worldy wise" rather encumber the
>establishment of fellowship and love
Becoming learned is a process of learning discernment, learning to use the sword. In early stages, the sword is handled rather clumsily and much is cut off that shouldn't be.
just as those who try to focus
>exclusively on establishing fellowship and love, often prevent others from
>inhaling the fragrance of knowledge.
I agree here that the opposite error also prevails, that of having no discernment in the name of generosity.
I was intrigued by your next question and I'll tell you what it made me think of:
> I was somewhat puzzled by the reference to the Quranic verse 20:105
>which I assume suggests that if the station of "true liberty", "undisturbed
>peace", & "absolute composure" were attained on earth - light would be shed
>evenly and equally on all places - No darkened hollows or rising hills to
>cast shadows. Are certain of the learned being compared to "mountains" that,
>while receiving the light on one side, often obscure it from those beyond.
>
This quote reminded me of a New Testament quote that I've always puzzled over: Let every mountain be laid low, every valley rise up, every crooked road made straight. Prepare ye the way of the Lord.
It goes something like that. Always puzzled me, because I believe in the beauty of the play of light and shadow and the grace of the curves of the road. The whole premise seens to Solar to me and not enough Chthonic. There is a Solar Shadow (to use Jung's scheme) and that produces a kind of sterility in the name of making something good. This issue is one of the major remaining misgivings I have about the Faith as it seems to be lived around me.
Interested to hear your response.
Philip


From belove@sover.netWed Apr 3 00:36:27 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 96 12:36:32 PST
From: belove@sover.net
To: John Dale <73043.1540@compuserve.com>, talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: RE: Sacred Dances, Resp.
John,
Two questions:
one:
I'm a dancer. My dances are West Coast Swing, East Coast Swing, Mambo, Fox Trot, Waltz. I'm starting to work on Argentine Tango.
When I teach I teach them as though I were teaching a martial art. Two of my students, Tai Chi practicioners tell me that the movements required and the sense of movement are identical to the way they have to move in Tai Chi.
I've seen Sufi turning and some of it seems to be as marvelously centered as American Jitterbug. Although a lot simpler and, of course, much more repetitious.
Do you really think these movements are more spiritual than say, tap dancing?
Actually, couple dancing has a element to it found in none of the single dancing that I think is a terribly important spiritual truth. In great couple dancing, both partners must dance their own dance in their own balance and in their own separate attunement to the music AND must also be in perfectly counterpoised response to their partner such that leading and following imperceptably change sides in the dance several times a minute. This matter of perfect cooperation coupled with perfect trueness to one's self is, I think, a high spiritual achievement. Never mind that it is also done to the most winning and accessable music ever written, but also among the most sophisticated. Chattagnooga Choo Choo, Moonlight Seranade, In the Mood, Take the A train... --- the work of Gershwin and Ellington -- to name only a few of the artists, whose work, of all the twentieth century music, are among the most likely to be loved in the twenty five century.
I suspect all movement is a matter of alignment and balance. Curious to know how these thoughts fit with yours.
Two:
You have mentioned Gurdjieff and Bennett several times but do not mention Subud. Bennett was strongly influenced by Subud, invovled in it for many years, left it and then, I've heard, returned to it before he died. Do you consider it marginal in his thinking? How so. What so? ???
Philip


From robert.johnston@stonebow.otago.ac.nzWed Apr 3 00:37:53 1996
Date: Wed, 3 Apr 1996 12:14:06 +1200
From: **Golden Eagle**
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: human self-is-team!
Q,
>
>>You sound either sarcastic, or distraught. Can't tell the difference,
>>for I am totally blind.
>
Call me a world-weary ironist "married" to an other-worldly optimist...I
cannot usefully comment on the name "Golden Eagle", just as Juan Cole*, is
probably reluctant to explain why he sometimes calls himself Irfan...;-}
Robert.
*Juan: got a full copy of Dews', "The Limits of Disenchantment." Most
excellent. Thanks.


From forumbahai@es.co.nzWed Apr 3 00:43:37 1996
Date: Wed, 3 Apr 96 12:42 GMT+1200
From: Alison & Steve Marshall
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Women on local and national houses of justice
Last year, Rob Stockman posted this message on this topic.
-------------------------------------------------
Susan asked whether women will serve on future local and national
houses of justice. Once, during a talk at Green Acre, I raised the
same question. A woman in the audience was mightily disturbed and
wrote the House of Justice, who wrote her back and said yes, they
would serve on local and national houses of justice. But I do not have
a copy of that letter, so I can't share it with you; this is my
memory.

This position of the House is a reasonable elucidation on the 1909
tablet of `Abdu'l-Baha to Corinne True:

According to the ordinances of the Faith of God, women are
the equals of men in all rights save only that of membership
on the Universal House of Justice, for, as hath been stated
in the text of the Book, both the head and the members of
the House of Justice must be men. However, in all other
bodies, such as the Temple Construction Committee, the
Teaching Committee, the Spiritual Assembly, and in
charitable and scientific associations, women share equally
in all rights with men.

`Abdu'l-Baha to Corinne True, translated by the Research
Department of the Baha'i World Centre, 1987. This translation was made
for BAHA'I FAITH IN AMERICA, VOLUME TWO, and is still unpublished
(though that book will appear this June!). The original translation
was made by Ameen Fareed on 29 July 1909 and a copy of it may be found
in the Thornton Chase Papers. The original translation went as
follows:

In the Law of God, men and women are equal in all
rights save in the Universal House of Justice, for the
Chairman and members of the House of Justice are men
according to the Text of the Book. Aside from this, in all
the rest of the Associations, like the Convention for
building the Mashreq'Ul-Azkar, the Assembly of Teaching, the
Spiritual Assembly, Philanthropic Association, Scientific
Associations, men and women are co-partners in all the
rights.

It seems to me this statement is perfectly clear: women cannot serve
on the Universal House of Justice; they can serve on anything else.
------------------------quote ends----------------
Alison
--------------------------------------------------------------
Alison and Steve Marshall
Email: forumbahai@es.co.nz
90 Blacks Road, Opoho, Dunedin/Otepoti, Aotearoa/New Zealand
"Dunedin: the Riviera of the Antarctic"
--------------------------------------------------------------


From nineteen@onramp.netWed Apr 3 00:50:05 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 96 18:51:18 -0500
From: "Richard C. Logan"
To: Jim Harrison , Talisman
Subject: Re: 1st thing we do, kill all the lawyers (except Brent of cour
>You see the issue this entire time, at least as I have been arguing it, has
>nothing to do with women AND the UHJ; rather it has to do with individuals
>assuming that because a decision that is a burr under their saddle of
>socio-polical-correctness the *structure* of the Cause is somehow flawed.
>They insist that the Faith is being inconsistant, immoral, or just plain
>stupid.
Whatever a person's motivation may be it still seems possible and indeed
more efficacious to throw light on a subject without questioning
another's agenda or grouping people according to outlook, and saying thus
we have identified the matter. To a large extent, my experience of the
character of these discusions has been a lack in being able to let go of
the "judgmental approach" to discourse. And it is certainly not being
said that this applies to any one person or faction/group. It is simply
that our frustration at apparently not being understood begins to
surface. But it seems to me that the friends will stop listening if they
feel they are being judged or downgraded or categorized with lables that
lessen a person; and this applies accross the board.
Richard
Richard C. Logan nineteen@onramp.net
Maintain HomePage "The Baha'is of Lubbock"
http://rampages.onramp.net/~nineteen/
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
How manifold are the truths which must remain unuttered until the
appointed time is come! Even as it has been said:
"Not everything that a man knoweth can be disclosed, nor can
everything that he can disclose be regarded as timely, nor can every
timely utterance be considered as suited to the capacity of those who
hear it." --Gleanings from the writings of Baha'u'llah
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


From Alethinos@aol.comWed Apr 3 00:51:06 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 1996 21:17:33 -0500
From: Alethinos@aol.com
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: 1st thing we do, kill all the lawyers (except Brent of cour
Yes I do suspect their motives. Why shouldn't I? We have, according to them,
actually recieved the answer to this question, for now, and for the
foreseeable future. Yet they keep going on and on and on. What is their
motive Richard? To change the answer? Why? Because the House is somehow
wrong, misinformed, in error, lacking all current information, etc, etc, etc,
ad nauseum.
A lot of these folks have staked their reputations on pushing such issues. I
have seen this debate going on in AMerica at least for well over ten years
now. They have been answered but they refuse to accept it. Why? Because they
are the judge and jury as the the correct teaching of Baha'u'llah? When does
repeated speculation become dangerious in its confusing and devisive effects?
What wonderful illumination are they giving? None of it carries any weight at
all officially. What have we learned Richard? We have learned that there are
some people who have a different interpretation of the issue of women on the
House. We have learned that they have a different opinion on what various
statements from the Guardian and the Master concerning this matter are.
Were this an open question, on that was not defined or answered all this
would be wonderful. For instance Juan's question w/r to science and religion
- good one - that does need to be defined. No answers there really -
certainly not some definitive ruling from the UHJ.
But what great light has been shed here? None. No real knowledge has been
spread. Nothing learned. At least nothing of consequence.
jim harrison
Alethinos@aol.com


From friberg@will.brl.ntt.jpWed Apr 3 00:52:03 1996
Date: Wed, 3 Apr 96 11:19:33 JST
From: "Stephen R. Friberg"
To: "Mark A. Foster" , friberg@will.brl.ntt.jp
Cc: Talisman
Subject: Re: The Covenant
Dear Mark:
You wrote:
> The key to resolving what are, to some folks, gut-wrenching dilemnas,
> cannot, to my thinking, be found through the sort of rationally-bound
> ego-talk (pardon the bluntness) that we, mostly Americans and other
> Westerners (I would assume), are so at home with.
I am in broad agreement with what you say. However, if our western
culture strongly emphasizes reason and rationality, shouldn't we
respect it for that? In other words, do we just dismiss the way
that some of our wonderful Talisman friends address issues that they
are concerned with as just ego-talk? If so, then what do we do with
those of us who, unfortunately or not, are burdened with this excessive
rationality? Re-educate them with dhikr?
Personally, I think we need all kinds of approaches. Our friends with
an emphasis on rationalistic, legalistic thinking are very important
to me. As far as I can tell, their thinking reflects mainstream
thinking among the middle classes, which I have high respect for. As
you know, mainstream thinking in the United States is suspicious of
mystical and esoteric thinking. From a mainstream perspective, it
seems cultish, an anachronism, and misguided (an evaluation that I
disagree with). We need our rationalists to keep us from wandering
off the map into cultlike oblivion.
Obviously, I disagree with some of what folks are thinking, but it is
disagreement with the conclusions, not with rationality as a method.
Without a tradition of rationality, we would be hard-pressed to come
to agreement on anything!
> Reason has a purpose (a _will_), but its effectiveness, with respect to
> spiritual matters, is dependent on developing spiritual sensibility.
> Questioning this or that decision or ruling is, to me, almost entirely
> within the rational world. It may be cathartic, but it is not unific.
Re: the first sentence: I strongly agree.
But, questioning decisions or rulings is an important part of our
responsibility if we are to engage in independent investigation of the
truth, as the Writings require that we do.
The questioning part is not wrong, rather, it is insisting on one's
own point of view in a disruptive manner, derailing the actions
resulting from consultative decision making, the forming
of political factions, and the disregard of a central teaching
of the Faith that regards individual opinions as not binding
on others that is destructive.
It is quite wrong, I believe, to insist that questioning is not
allowed. This raises the specter of authoritarianism, which the
Faith is arrayed against.
Yours sincerely,
Stephen R. Friberg


From Wilgar123@aol.comWed Apr 3 01:00:38 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 1996 21:36:57 -0500
From: Wilgar123@aol.com
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Science and Religion
Dear Friends,
Speaking of science and religion, I was thumbing through Baha'u'llah and
the New Era and came across a passage that I had long ago question marked.
The passage ( on p.95 of the 1970 edition) relates how disease and natural
disasters are due either directly or indirectly to disobedience to the Divine
commands. Esselmont attributes this claim to Abdu'l-Baha. Does anyone have
these references, and, moreover, how would these notions relate to modern
understandings of science? I fear that if I told this to some of my scientist
friends they would be rather shocked. I can just imagine how such a notion
could be misued.
Love and laughter
Bill G

From margreet@margreet.seanet.comWed Apr 3 01:00:54 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 1996 18:44:08 -0800
From: "Marguerite K.Gipson"
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Get a clue...
Hello all, All this talk about Women on the Universal House of Justice just
goes to show that we need some more deepening.... (MHO) Only in the United
States are the people able to butt heads against any kind of authority
because things are not going the way we want them to be... I am perfectly
satisified with the Universal House of Justice belonging to men.... What
are you chances of being elected anyway? I figure the odds are about
3.24e-014.
No where in any of the discussion thru all of this did I see an expanded
view of the "station of Women". If we really take a look at the glorified
station we women have, and what really truely the "bonds" Baha'u'llah has
broken for us.... we would not be quibbling about whether or not women
should serve on the Universal House of Justice.
Here in the United States it was WW 2 who put women to work in the
Factories... Gads, I just want to stay home, be a mom and be a teacher of
the next generation, not work in the factory... but I have to work along
side my "future spouse" just to make the ends meet.... It was you men who
put us women out in the work force to begin with. Thank you very much.
It is just trivial. LOL LOL It really is. I honestly feel that if someone
has a problem with the fact that no women on the House, then that is a
matter of a spiritual growth and test for that person.
As we all do at one time or another. But only in the United States do we
seem to have this attitude towards any kind of authority to butt heads, and
try to change things around all the meanwhile wasting precious energy, time
and money. And getting an ulcer over it.
If this was a truely big issue, there would not be any new Bahai's anywhere
around the world at all. All I read is that the Faith is growing at a very
rapid state outside the United States... What does that tell you? What
about a paradigm shift to creating ways to teach rather than to
"ventilating" on one another over all this.
Yours,
Margreet


From Brian_Murdoch@mindlink.bc.caWed Apr 3 01:01:16 1996
Date: Tue, 02 Apr 1996 19:09:38 -0800
From: Brian Murdoch
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: What is a Covenant Breaker?
On March 4, Milissa asked the above question in the context of a
hypothetical situation where a seeker joins a convenant-breaking group not
knowing it to be such. The answer would seem to clearly be that such an
individual is not thereby himself a covenant breaker based upon the
following reference from the UHJ:
"When a person declares his acceptance of Baha'u'llah as a Manifestation of
God he becomes a party to the Covenant and accepts the totality of His
Revelation. If he then turns round and attacks Baha'u'llah or the Central
Institution of the Faith he vilates the Covenant."
This passage is from a letter to an individual dated March 23, 1975, and is
cited in a fine series published by the NSA of Canada, *The Power of the
Covenant: The Problem of Covenant-Breaking* (1976) p.7
Hope this helps.


From brburl@mailbag.comWed Apr 3 01:01:37 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 1996 21:06:40 -0600
From: Bruce Burrill
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Houston Smith and Bahai

>Looked in one of his [Huston Smith] earlier book and found this comment:
Bahai had promises to be a universal religion and to rise above sectarianism
with regards to other faiths, but it turned out to be just like any other
religion.
>
Smith has made a cogent and obvious observation.


From mfoster@qni.comWed Apr 3 01:02:30 1996
Date: Tue, 02 Apr 1996 21:16:29 -0600
From: "Mark A. Foster"
To: Talisman
Cc: Talisman
Subject: Re: The Covenant
Hi, Steve -
You wrote:
>I am in broad agreement with what you say. However, if our western
>culture strongly emphasizes reason and rationality, shouldn't we
>respect it for that? In other words, do we just dismiss the way
>that some of our wonderful Talisman friends address issues that they
>are concerned with as just ego-talk? If so, then what do we do with
>those of us who, unfortunately or not, are burdened with this excessive
>rationality? Re-educate them with dhikr?
Rationality should certainly be respected, but within its proper context. As
a tool to understand the kingdoms of creation, the human spirit, or rational
faculty, is a marvelous expression of the Holy Spirit. It can enable us to
unfold the mysteries of material creation. However, when the rational soul
turns to the spiritual matters, it is, in and of itself, deficient. That is
why, I think, that the Master said that the human spirit must be assisted by
the spirit of faith (a higher-level manifestation of the Holy Spirit, IMO)
in order to become acquainted with "the divine secrets and heavenly realities."
Using the rational powers, in ways which may run contrary to the the divine
guidance of the Guardianship and the Universal House of Justice, is, as I
see it, disunifying and not productive of spiritual enlightenment. It may
build up the ego (the body and mind), but the soul itself (the source of the
mind and body) is not assisted. It also takes us in circles. There can be no
acceptable resolution - only continual speculations. That is how the mind works.
>Personally, I think we need all kinds of approaches. Our friends with
>an emphasis on rationalistic, legalistic thinking are very important
>to me. As far as I can tell, their thinking reflects mainstream
>thinking among the middle classes, which I have high respect for. As
>you know, mainstream thinking in the United States is suspicious of
>mystical and esoteric thinking. From a mainstream perspective, it
>seems cultish, an anachronism, and misguided (an evaluation that I
>disagree with). We need our rationalists to keep us from wandering
>off the map into cultlike oblivion.
The mind is God's supreme gift to man. However, what do we do with it? To
me, that is what needs to be asked. What sorts guidance do we have in the
Teachings for using the magnificent powers of the mind? And how are we to
apply our minds to the study of those Teachings? I think that we need
science, both divine and material, to keep us away from superstition.
However, I am not sure if I would say "rationalists." IMO, the philosophy of
rationalism is deficient. What we need is the spirit of the independent
investigation of reality. In that investigation, we need to, collectively,
use the tools of sensory observation, tradition (learning from the past),
reason, etc.
>Obviously, I disagree with some of what folks are thinking, but it is
>disagreement with the conclusions, not with rationality as a method.
>Without a tradition of rationality, we would be hard-pressed to come
>to agreement on anything!
God gave us our human reason in order to solve problems and, as God told
Adam, to have dominion over the material world. However, how can we best use
reason? I question whether legalistic discussions and debates over the
letter of this or that is the most efficacious way to utilize our rational
powers with respect to the divine Teachings. Certainly reason has a place,
but, as I see it, as *moderated* by the forces of the spiritual Kingdom.
>But, questioning decisions or rulings is an important part of our
>responsibility if we are to engage in independent investigation of the
>truth, as the Writings require that we do.
I am not sure if questioning the decisions of the House of Justice is our
responsibility. Is that what you mean? To me, as Baha'is, our independent
investigation of religious truth is in the context of divine Revelation and
inspiration. We need to take what is said and understand it on a spiritual
level. For instance, what does it mean? What can I learn from this or that
personal test or struggle? Trying to intellectualize the test away is, IMHO,
depriving ourselves of the opportunity to acquire divine attributes/virtues
- which is why we are in this world in the first place.
>The questioning part is not wrong, rather, it is insisting on one's
>own point of view in a disruptive manner, derailing the actions
>resulting from consultative decision making, the forming
>of political factions, and the disregard of a central teaching
>of the Faith that regards individual opinions as not binding
>on others that is destructive.
Yes. Certainly, insisting on one's own viewpoint is contrary to the spirit
of Baha'i consultation. However, in order for consultation to be *really*
effective, I feel, and to really reduce the disruptiveness, we need to adopt
a spiritual approach to reality - to see the inner and mysterious
significances in outward appearances.
>It is quite wrong, I believe, to insist that questioning is not
>allowed. This raises the specter of authoritarianism, which the
>Faith is arrayed against.
Questioning is good. And there is certainly nothing in our Teachings against
asking questions. However, what sorts of questions are going to be
beneficial for my soul? How can I most productively spend my time?
To the Light, Mark (Foster)
***************************************************************************
"The Prophets of God have been the Servants of reality; Their Teachings
constitute the science of reality." - `Abdu'l-Baha
"The sciences of today are bridges to reality; if they lead not to reality,
naught remains but fruitless illusion." - `Abdu'l-Baha
***************************************************************************


From M@upanet.uleth.caWed Apr 3 01:06:26 1996
Date: Tue, 02 Apr 1996 21:14:34 -0700
From: M
To: Talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Science( Religion) and the Romantic Imagination
Dear Friends:
Shortly after I signed on to Talisman in September or October there
was a thread on science and religion. I was enjoying it. I typed out a
paper I had written several years ago on "Science and the Romantic
Imagination" and had intended to post it to Talisman requesting suggestions
on how I might give it more of a "Baha'i angle". Then, being a rather
"insecure (semi,)intellectual" I decided against posting that item when I
realized that I was playing with heavyweights here that would probably rip
my work to pieces. Well, now that I've been in the neighborhood for a while
and feel more at home, and now that the science and religion thread has been
resurrected, I'll post it for your edification, ridicule, derision,
enjoyment or comments. Perhaps I can expand on it with some critical input
from other Talismaniacs.
Appreciatively
Gord.
Science and the Romantic Imagination:
A. M
The Period of history which saw the rise of the Romantic movement in
literature, also marked the most extreme separation of science and the
humanities. Ironically, the Romantic movement was, in part, inspired by
scientific discoveries which preceded it and from roughly that period on
there has been a gradual tendency toward a re-convergence of what C.P.Snow
describes as the "Two Cultures" . While the division between these
so-called two cultures has it's roots in earlier history with conflicts
between the pioneers of science and authoritarian religions orthodoxy, it
was not until the late 18th century and early 19th century that this
polarization became generalized. Underlying this polarization was the
emergence of industrial capitalism and the shift from " metaphysical and
theological questions concerning purpose and goals of life to the
exploration of secular explanations of life itself, its origins, conditions
and characteristics (Gaul 351)."
In researching this topic, the first problem that becomes evident is at the
level of language. As Stewart Chase points out in his 1938 book, "The
Tyranny of Words", language is an imprecise medium, but it is the only tool
we have to communicate ideas. The scientist requires greater precision:
". . . . . two important observations are in order." writes Chase. "for
some of the more complicated aspects of nature, mathematics provides the
only key; . . . It is a useful aid to clear thinking. Even if one does not
master higher mathematics, a knowledge of what this language is about, how
it developed and the ability to handle a little algebra and geometry, to
plot a few single graphs is worth having. It helps to solve many problems
of communication and meaning (Chase 142)
There are very few words in any living language that can be assigned
absolute meaning. Definitions are arrived at by common usage and that
common usage is not permanently fixed. Schroeer begins his book, "Physics
and It's Fifth Dimension, Society", with a brief discussion of Snow's 1959
publication, The Two Cultures in which Snow discusses the dichotomy between
the "scientific" and the "intellectual" cultures. Schroeer prefers to
substitute the name "humanistic" for the latter because he argues that
scientists can also be intellectuals. Can they not also be humanists? In
addition, he characterizes the dichotomy between the two cultures as a
"conflict between two modes of thought (Schroeer 5)". Similarly, Aurthur
Koestler writes about the separation of the "Humanities" and the "Philosophy
of Nature", using the pre-nineteenth century term in place of the more
recent "Science".
Clearly, words, unlike numbers, have different connotative values for
different people based on each persons frame of reference.
As evidence of the polarization between science and other fields of human
endeavor, Arthur Koestler points out that;
"In the index to the six hundred pages of Arnold Toynbee's A Study of
History, abridged version, the names Copernicus, Galileo, Descartes and
Newton do not occur (and that ) this one example among many should be
sufficient to indicate the Gulf that still separates the Humanities from the
Philosophy of Nature (Sleepwalkers 13)
Toynbee's exclusion of these names does indeed seem a monumental oversight,
Galileo and Newton particularly helped to bring about a paradigm shift in
humanities world view. The proof offered by Galileo, in support of the
Copernican theory of a heliocentric universe upset the prevailing scheme of
understanding. Opposition to Galileo's teachings came primarily from the
church, which was the authority of the time. The polarization between this
new science and the larger society was not as quantifiable because at the
time it did not effect the common man to the extent that Newton's Physics
affected the life of the common man later on.
Such a shift in world view inevitably leads to some discomfort among both
those who are content with the conventional wisdom of the old paradigm and
those whose power is jeopardized by a changing world view. The necessity to
adjust one's world view is accompanied by a necessary re-evaluation of
Faith, of values and of self.
In his essay, "Romanticism and anti-self consciousness", Geoffrey Hartman
describes the dilemma of the Romantic as a constant struggle between self
consciousness and self-knowlege. Self consciousness is the alienation and
isolation one experiences as knowldege of things external to self increases.
Self knowledge is the capacity to view self within the context of what is
external to it. Literature and poetry, attempt to reconcile the present with
the past and new scientific knowledge tends to increase the richness of the
metaphor to be found in history. Hence, every landmark literary movement
has attempted to incorporate elements of the past with discoveries in the
present.

The term "scientist" came into popular use during the Romantic period.
During this time, both writers and natural philosophers were influenced by
the same theological and philosophical assumptions, by the same succession
of ideas starting with the experimentalism of Bacon, the empiricism of
Locke, the idealism of Berkley, the associatism of Hartley, the skepticism
of Hume, and the faculty psychology of the Scottish common sense
philosophers, elevating experience over convention, mind over nature, the
ennobling interchange / Of Action" as Wordsworth described in "The Prelude"
although the writers were, ironically, more preoccupied than the scientists
with the world of experience, the visible, tangible, and audible universe,
choosing, like Wordsworth, to "Deal boldly with substantial things."
But in spite of this common base, or shared textual framework, the rapid
expansion of knowledge, and the need for a more refined and precise language
in Natural Philosophy, the schism, in which a wedge had already been placed
by Newton, widened. Gaul continues;
"In 1830, the British Association for the Advancement of Science
acknowledged the similarities (between science and art), coining the name
"scientist" as an analogy to "artist". By then, however, art, literature,
science, even religion had become differentiated, Professionalized,
developing special vocabularies, procedures and credentials" (Gaul 551-352).
But the major influence on 18th century thought was the reduction and
generalized application of Newtonian physics to all aspects of human
endeavor. The attitude which prevailed during the Age of Reason is summed
up by Hume:
"Look around the world; contemplate the whole and every part of it: you
will find it to be nothing but one great machine, subdivided into an
infinite number of lesser machines". (Schroeer 90)
Stephen Hawking, writing about the attitude towards science during the
Romantic period, states the following:
"The success of scientific theories, particularly Newton's theory of
gravity, led the French scientist the Marquis de Laplace at the beginning of
the 19th century to argue that the universe was completely deterministic.
Laplace suggested that there should be a set of scientific laws that would
allow us to predict everything that would happen in the universe, if only we
knew the complete state of the universe at one time. For example, if we
knew the positions and speeds of the sun and the planets at one time, then
we could use Newton's laws to calculate the state of the Solar System at any
other time. Determinism seems fairly obvious in this case, but Laplace went
further to assume that there were similar laws governing everything else,
including human behavior . . . The doctrine of scientific determinism was
strongly resisted by many people, who felt that it infringed on God's
freedom to intervene in the world (not to mention man's ability to determine
his own course of action) but it remained the standard assumption of
science until the early years of this century (Hawking 53)
This deterministic, utilitarian and mechanistic world view was applied to
economics by such theorists and philosophers as Adam Smith and Jermey
Bentham. It was the in-vogue approach to politics, trade, human relations
and even spilled over into the arts. Carried to its extreme, this world
view reduced people to machines as well. It could easily be argued that
science, during the 18th century had become a religion of utilitarianism, a
source of faith in which many placed the hope of finding all answers. And
like all religions it had both its light and dark side.
"With Newton, came the impact of the mechanistic doctrine of 'natural law',
Newton's science inspired Jefferson to say that under the laws of nature, a
broken contract authorized the Americans to rebel against King George III.
Jean Jaques Rousseau felt that the "state of Nature" of the 'nobel Savage'
was a state of great virtue (and attempted, in "EMILE" to formulate a model
for education based on natural tendencies and intellectual inertia). Jermey
Bentham was inspired to identify utility or "the greatest happiness."
principle as the social law of gravity in legislation. Adam Smith talked
about economics in a Newtonian way: in a supply - and - demand market the
actual prices tend to gravitate toward the natural price. In politics the
rationalist tried to use the "contrary to nature" argument to replace the
old institutions of Europe with an enlightened "natural" humanitarianism . .
. . Rationalism reigned supreme" (Schroeer 95)
It is no surprise then, that during the pre-Romantic period,
painting, poetry, theater and other creative art forms were perceived as
being governed by strict formula and "natural laws". Again, utilitarianism
was the watchword. If the arts had no didactic value, if they departed from
the rule of law, they were often considered, by many, to have no value at
all. The publication of Lyrical Ballads, by Wordsworth and Coleridge in
1798 was the first deviation from the disciplined and highly ordered poetry
of the Age of Reason which was epitomized by Pope.
An inevitable result of the mechanistic and utilitarian world view was the
alienation felt by literary and humanitarian intellectuals and artists.
While on the one hand, the concept of mechanistic natural law seemed to
reinforce the idea of equality and undermine the arbitrary authority of time
honored institutions, it also devalued individuality and artistic expression.
The Romantic perspective, while preserving elements of an Aristotelian
organismic view of nature also integrated the more positive aspects of
Newtonian influence. The spirit of the Romantic revolt against determinism,
utilitarianism and materialism is not so much in the form of a return to
classicism as a revitalization and synthesis of it and it's integration into
a changing world view.
The shifting world view brought about by the scientific revolution and the
"Age of Reason" had also called into question the validity, and the inherent
authority of time honored institutions such as the church, the aristocracy,
monarchy and so on. This was particularly evidenced during the French
Revolution, a struggle which, like the American revolution which preceded it
was partly inspired by the Newtonian world view and which was also heartily
supported by the intellectuals of the Romantic movement. The overthrowing
of traditional authority and outmoded institutions was seen as the first
stage in the establishment of a new social order based on what was later
termed historical inevitability, or what one might call historical inertia.
Schroeer, in his chapter, "Romanticism, Physics and Goethe" uses several
excerpts from poems by major English Romantics to reinforce his theses of
the polarization of the two cultures. While there is no question that such
negative views are frequently expressed, one must bear in mind that such
excerpts should be taken within the context of the entire work, and that
the entire work must be taken within the context of the social conditions of
the time in which they were written. Certainly,. the connotative value of
the word "science" during the Romantic period, was different than it is
today, encompassing not only a discipline and a body of knowledge but also a
system of values based upon that body of knowledge. The Romantic
imagination, rather than seeking to destroy or deny science, sought to
humanize its effects. Wordsworth writes in the Preface to Lyrical Ballads:
"The remotest discoveries of (scientists) will be as proper objects of the
Poet's art as any upon which it can be employed if the time should ever come
when these things shall be familiar to us, and the relations under which
they are contemplated by the followers of these respective sciences shall be
manifestly and palpably material to us as enjoying and suffering beings. If
the time should ever come when what is now called science (emphasis on now),
thus familiarized to men, shall be ready to put on . . . a form of flesh and
blood, the Poet will lend his divine spirit to aid the transfiguration and
will welcome the Being thus produced as a dear and genuine inmate of the
household of man."
It is true that the image of the scientist as portrayed by the Romantics
was not a flattering one. The professionalization of the sciences, the
rampant competition and exploitation brought about by industrial capitalism,
the pursuit of knowledge and prestige and the heated rivalries between
disciplines and sub disciplines all contributed to this overall animosity.
"The Faustian image of the scientist as an isolated, disheveled, deranged,
self involved, criminal dabbler in the occult, incapable of the love that
could redeem him, persisted in gothic novels, melodrama, and even in the
critical prose of . . . Wordsworth, who again, , in the Preface to Lyrical
Ballads, not only claimed that scientific knowledge was out of touch with
human needs but also that its very acquisition was isolating, "personal and
individual . . . and by no habitual and direct sympathy connecting us with
our fellow beings (370)" This attitude was particularly evident in such
works as Mary Shelly's "Dr. Frankenstien"
But is is an exaggeration to suggest that the Romantic poets were
anti-science. As I've already stated, the dichotomy between science and art
was more one of viewpoint than discipline.
There are three major shifts in thought which Marlyn Gaull outlines in
"English Romanticism: The Human Context." First is the shift from the
generalized study of "Natural Philosophy to, what we now call, "Hard
science". Metaphysical, moral and theological concerns and eternal
questions pertaining to man's origins and nature were largely abandoned by
scientists. They turned to the objective study of external nature. This
shift seemed to have been compensated somewhat by the Romantic imagination
which became more introspective, internalized - some say overly
self-indulgent, attempting to find it's place within the context of external
nature. Objective scientific study placed man outside of nature, as an
observer. Romanticism placed man in nature as both observer and
participant. During the Romantic period, while artists and writers chose
to represent the world as it is perceived, scientists were intent upon
representing it as it is. the "true world, abstract and mathematical. This
quest, according to Gaul:
". . . was ultimately futile, for, however accurate the instruments,
however sophisticated the technology, a human mind identifies the problems
to be studied and interprets the data. As Werner Heisenberg pointed out in
an essay contrasting Goethe's subjective theory of color with Newton's
objective one, pure objectivity, like pure subjectivity, may falsify nature;
"Our experiments are not nature itself, but a nature changed and transformed
by our activity in the course of research . . . It was originally the aim of
all science to describe nature as far as possible as it is, i.e. without our
interference and our observation. We now realize that this is an
unattainable goal' . . . Heisenberg acknowledges, as Einstein acknowledged
in his theory of relativity, that the self, its preferences, biases, and
interpretations, is inescapable; that, as Blake claimed, 'As a man is, so
he sees (Gaul 375)"
The second shift in thought described by Gaul, is the shift from the "Great
Chain of Being", a traditional hierarchical world view, to a more secular
"chain of Life". The Chain of Being" was based on the traditional religious
models, "a static and immutable representation of the world as it was
created according to Genesis, containing everything it was possible to
create, with nothing altered introduced or lost (Gaul 352). the "Chain of
Life" view was horizontal and evolutionary or transformative, rather than
hierarchical and analogical. It should be noted that this shift did not
signify an anti-religious view. Koestler points out that
" . . . atheists were the exception among the pioneers of the scientific
revolution. They were all devout men who did not want to banish deity from
their universe, but could find no place for it - just as, quite literally ,
they were unable to reserve sites for Paradise and Hell. (Sleep Walkers 526)
Indeed, in the same book Koestler refers to both Newton and Kepler as
"crank Theologians", "addicted to chronology". Newton "dated the Creation
from 4004 B.C." and "held that the tenth horn of the fourth beast of the
Apocalypse represented the Roman Church (Sleepwalkers 526)
But science and religion did suffer a parting of ways, and as a "result of
their divorce" states Koestler, neither faith nor science is able to satisfy
man's intellectual cravings. In the divided house, both the inhabitants
lead a thwarted existence (Sleepwalkers 537)
The third shift which influenced the Romantic period, and which is implied
in the second, was the scientific shift from analogical thinking to
transformative thinking. Analogical thinking however persisted among
intellectuals and Romantic writers found a compromise between the two modes
of thought in german "Naturphilosophie" which maintained as it's priority a
unified theory of life based on a force that was constantly fulfilling
itself in nature. (Gaul 358) Naturphilosophie, advocated by Goethe and
others seemed to re integrate man into the overall scheme of things through
analogy and metaphor while Newtonian science was viewed as alienating,
isolating and intellectually static. This assessment may have carried some
validity at the time but no longer holds true, for both the romantic and the
scientist are constantly engaged in analogical thought process. Again,
Koestler writes that . . . .
"The starting point of Kepler's discoveries was a supposed analogy between
the role of the Father in the Trinity and the role of the Sun in the
Universe. Lord Kelvin hit on the idea of the mirror galvanometer when he
noticed a reflection of light on his monocle. . . . Pasteur saw the analogy
between a spoilt culture and a Fleming saw the analogy between the action
of a mold and the action of a drip from his nose. . . . . The essence of
discovery is that unlikely marriage of cabbages and kings - of previously
unrelated frames of reference or universes of discourse - whose union will
solve the previously unsolvable problem (Act of Creation (200 - 201)
When people deal with the invisible and unknowable, they must resort to
metaphor. "This occurs at the frontiers of even the most quantitative
sciences. it is said that Albert Einstein first realized the distortion of
time and space by imagining himself riding on a ray, traveling at the speed
of light" (Samuels 248)
The one thing that is clear, is that for the scientist, metaphor is drawn
primarily from the observation of natural phenomena unencumbered by the
tyranny of words. Scientific discoveries are made through direct
observation and, what Koestler calls, bisociation. In one sense, science is
more "playful" than poetry.
"I do not know what I may appear to the world." wrote Newton, "but to
myself I seem to have been only like a little boy playing on the seashore,
and diverting myself in now and then finding a smoother pebble or a prettier
shell than ordinary, whilst the great ocean of truth lay all undiscovered
before me . . . Einstein was willing to speculate further. He saw such
playfulness as the "essential feature in productive thought (Ruggiero 72)
this attitude towards the acquisition of knowledge is essentially Romantic.
But the Romantic "intellectual" deals with ideas which have already been
filtered through the medium of language. Rather than developing theories
through direct bisociation, he/she develops concepts through inter textual
thought.
Where Romanticism and Science eventually agree, is on the illimitability of
knowledge. Whereas from the days of Kepler, well into the 19th century, it
was believed that science was on the verge of discovering all the secrets of
nature, by the mid 19th century there was a growing consensus that science
had merely opened the door to new ones.
"The past half century has witnessed a profound revolution against the
conception of science inherited from the Newtonian Period. Newton saw the
task of the scientist as a journey on the sea of discovery whose objective
was to discover the islands of truth . . . (His) Principia was not proposed
as a theoretical system but as a description of discoveries about nature.
His Optics was, in like vein, a disquisition into the secrets of light.
Indeed Jonathan Edwards preached to his parishioners in western
Massachusetts on Newton's discovery of the spectral composition of white
light as an instance of the fact that God had given man sufficient
capacities to see through to some of the deepest secrets of God's design.
To a considerable extent, the layman's view of science is still dominated by
the spirit of discovery, by the spirit of naturalistic realism.
The temper of modern science is more nominalistic. The scientist
constructs formal models of theories that have predictive value, that have
a value in going beyond the information given. One works with sets of
observations that one fits into a theory. If the theory cannot take one
beyond one's observation, if it does not have the surplus value that is
demanded of a theory, they the theory is trivial (Bruner 233-34)

And Einstein writes . . . " Creating a new theory . . . is not like erecting
a skyscraper in the place of an old barn. "It is rather like climbing a
mountain, gaining new and wider views, discovering unexpected connections
between our starting point and its rich environment. But the point from
which we started our climb still exists and can be seen, although it appears
smaller and forms a tiny part of out broad view." (Ferguson 150)
Ziman's definition of science as a body of knowledge arrived at by
consensus does not specify at what point that consensus is reached, or
whether such a consensus is general, or is specific to the scientific
community. At the frontiers of science there can be no general consensus
until new knowledge filters through all levels of society. While science is
in the forefront of the quest for knowledge, the so called "intellectual"
culture transforms science into metaphor, integrates it with the paradigms
of society, or to construct new ones. It is interesting to note that
whereas Newtonian science led to the rule of law in the arts and humanities
and then to a backlash by the Romantics, the current trend in
post-relativity, post-quantum mechanics literature is toward a total
rejection of absolutes and an obsession with relativism. Koestler writes:
"Theoretical physics has become more and more occult, cheerfully breaking
practically every sacrosanct "law of nature" . . . quantum physics . .
leaning towards such "supernatural concepts as negative mass and time
flowing backwards. (Koestler , Roots of Coincidence pg 11)
Similarly, current trends in literature cheerfully break practically every
sacrosanct law. While science may be a precise discipline, literature
utilizes its advances as metaphor. This is not a rejection of science, but
rather the integration and use of specific symbols to represent the general.
M &
E-mail: M@upanet.uleth.ca
11th Street South
, Alberta,
T1J 2P7 CANADA

**************************************************************
Human depravity, then, has broken into fragments that which is by nature one
and simple; men try to grasp part of a thing which has no parts and so get
neither the part, which does not exist, nor the whole, which they do not
seek. (Boethius; the Consolation or Philosophy, 524 A.D.)
**************************************************************


From friberg@will.brl.ntt.jpWed Apr 3 01:07:20 1996
Date: Wed, 3 Apr 96 13:23:58 JST
From: "Stephen R. Friberg"
To: Alethinos@aol.com, friberg@will.brl.ntt.jp
Cc: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: 1st thing we do, kill all the lawyers (except Brent of course old roomie)
Dear Jim:
> Sure Steve, I am more than happy to let these adolescent mewings we keep
> hearing . . .
Why are "their mewings" adolescent and yours not? Basically, I think
that there is a whole lot of mewing going on, and I'm tempted to go
get a shoe.
> (We) have people claiming that their perception of the Cause of God
> is so great that now they can see that the entire structure is flawed
> because it doesn't suit their obviously superior perceptions of the
> Reality in which we exist.
I agree with you that folks sometimes tend to come across this way.
This is source of the "ugly American" complex which is so well known
here in Asia, and which all the Baha'i communities with lots of
American pioneers around the world are trying to shoulder aside.
But do people really think this? I would guess that they rather
think that they are ferreting out what Baha'u'llah "really" meant.
This is not wrong, as long as folks don't try to impose their views
on the whole community, come up with political factions, etc.

> You see the issue this entire time, at least as I have been arguing it, has
> nothing to do with women AND the UHJ; rather it has to do with individuals
> assuming that because a decision that is a burr under their saddle of
> socio-polical-correctness the *structure* of the Cause is somehow flawed.
> They insist that the Faith is being inconsistant, immoral, or just plain
> stupid.
Jim, I agree that we get the strong impression of folks pronouncing
judgement on the Faith of God. If they are doing that, it is sure to
backfire . But! Is it our duty, according to the Baha'i Teachings,
to say that "So and so is an arrogant ole' coot and I'm goin' to put
him (her) in his (her) place!"? On the contrary, we are supposed to
be kind and generous to that person, holding up their good qualities
for all to see. Am I not right?

> This issue has to do with separating out the new from the old. And we
> clearly have many in this country at least that still cling to old
> philosophies, to the quickly changing fashions of what is socially and
> politically correct etc. Such continued haranging from the *loyal opposition*
> (as it was one time described by advocates for this line of reasoning) can
> only, at the very least, keep us from moving on to issues that will be more
> productive and educational.
But, the trouble is that your "new" and your "old" might not be somebody
else's "new" and "old". If all insist that their "new" and "old" are
the correct "new" and "old", and that the other person's "new" is
actually an "old", then we are directly in the quagmire that we are in
now. I agree with you that we must look beyond the current thinking
of the mainstream American academic culture for the answers. But,
some think that the mainstream academic culture is providing "new"
answers. Are they totally wrong, in your opinion?
> We have a big enough problem with an American community going nowhere, with a
> national administration that does not seem to have a clue as to what to do to
> get them to arise . . .
Jim, a lot of folks, especially the one's you are arguing with, are
in agreement with you on this point. I think that part of our
struggle as Baha'is is to find common ground with people who think
quite differently than we. Can't you find common ground with these
Baha'i brothers and sisters, even if they do take delight in poking
you in the eye from time to time?
Yours sincerely,
Stephen R. Friberg


From CaryER_ms@msn.comWed Apr 3 01:07:59 1996
Date: Wed, 3 Apr 96 04:31:56 UT
From: H/C Reinstein
To: BAHA'I-TALISMAN-LIST ,
John Dale <73043.1540@compuserve.com>
Subject: UHJ/Gender/Power gets off-the-wall
>"What's at stake is the question of how can an infallible body receive
>guidance to be morally inconsistent with its own fundamental principles?
"Okay, enough already! I may be dense but I don't understand how you can say
something like this. What are you talking about? Either the Universal House of
Justice is infallible or it isn't. Is it sarcasm? I can accept that.
Otherwise, cut to the chase. Are you saying that they made a mistake? Should
they be politically correct perhaps? Should they adapt liberal American
politics? Do they need stern lectures from the leaders of various women's'
organizations to show them their horrid moral impurity? Who is guided by the
Blessed Beauty, some future House but not this one because they're just
beginners? What gives? Explain this to me. I don't get it. I don't get this
whole thread. I don't. Call me dense.
I'll tell you why I'm tired of this thread. Not because there aren't noble
sentiments and egalitarian ideals expressed. Not because of all the bickering
about even having the discussion which, all by itself, is tedious, polarizing,
and going nowhere. Not because anyone here wants to argue posthumously with
Shoghi Effendi or put a personal spin on the words of 'Abdu'l-Baha. Not
because one translator claims to understand a passage better than any other.
No. It's like this: Universal House of Justice. It's not just a good idea.
It's the law.
So don't go politically correct on me. Don't tell me that the Guardian or the
House didn't understand some particular nuance of Arabic. I can't buy that.
I'm not accusing anyone of anything and I never would or could. But this I
know for sure: the institutions have spoken, my friend. Deal with it.
"Weigh not the Book of God with such standards and sciences as are current
amongst you, for the Book itself is the unerring Balance established amongst
men. In this most perfect Balance whatsoever the peoples and kindreds of the
earth possess must be weighed, while the measure of its weight should be
tested according to its own standard, did ye but know it." (Kitab-i-Aqdas)
Now, stitch that into a sampler and put it over your desk,
Hannah
=============
"That's allz I can standz, cuz I'z canst standz it no more." -- Popeye the
Sailor
When I was a baby, I kept a diary. Recently, I was rereading it.
It said, "Day 1 -- Still tired from the move.
Day 2 -- Everybody talks to me like I'm an idiot." -- Steven Wright
----------
From: owner-talisman@indiana.edu on behalf of John Dale
Sent: Tuesday, 02 April, 1996 5:55 AM
To: BAHA'I-TALISMAN-LIST
Subject: UHJ/Gender/Power
The issue at stake here is an appearance of serious moral inconsistency
in a Faith which calls itself the Faith of God! Derek, you've got to care
about this issue! Either we are caught in a fundamental and hopeless
inconsistency, or there is a clear and rational and radiant answer to the
question of _why_.



Date: Tue, 2 Apr 1996 14:57:20 -0800
From: an Assistant to the Auxiliary Board
To: 'Juan R Cole'
Subject: RE: women & UHJ
Dear Juan,
I would be pleased to receive your draft, but I should state, before
hand, that I am an Assistant to the Auxiliary Board for Protection. I
feel I am duty bound to convey at least its contents to my supervising
Auxiliary Board member. My intent in forwarding the contents of your
draft would be nothing more than to use the material in preparation for
deepening the friends on these issues.
I believe I can maintain the strictest confidentiality because neither
the document nor your present or intended use of its contents
constitutes an attempt to undermine the authority of the institutions of
the faith or to cause a rift among the members of the Faith.
If you decide to rescind your offer given my statements, I will fully
understand.
Warmest Regards,
>----------
>From: Juan R Cole[SMTP:jrcole@umich.edu]
>Sent: Tuesday, April 02, 1996 9:07 AM
>Subject: RE: women & UHJ
>
>
>
>
>
>I have written up a draft of a position paper on the issue of women on
>the Universal House of Justice. You appear to feel strongly about the
>issue, and you may not want to read such a thing, but if you'd like to
>see it, I would be willing to download it to you. It is not something
>I
>would want you to distribute to others, being a draft and intended
>ultimately for the consideration of the Universal House of Justice.
>
>
>cheers Juan
>


From M@upanet.uleth.caWed Apr 3 01:14:24 1996
Date: Tue, 02 Apr 1996 23:08:13 -0700
From: M
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: RE: Amnesty International
Dear Fiends:
Since I raised the issue of the letter from the House of Justice re.
Amnesty I have been searching for the letter but my files are just a little
less chaotic than my state of mind. If someone does have that letter I'm
sure it would be deeply appreciated by others if they would post it.
The letter was not critical of A.I; it praised the organization:
nor did it in any way prohibit or discourage Baha'is from associating
themselves with A.I. or participating in A.I. campaigns on behalf of
prisoners of conscience. The question it dealt with was the appropriateness
of having "memberships" in A.I., and "affiliating" with A.I.. I think the
following exerpts from letters of the Guardian, carry the same caution.

- "There should be no confusion between the terms affiliation and
association.
While affiliation with ecclesiastical organizations is not permissible,
association with them should not only be tolerated but even encouraged.
There is no better way to demonstrate the universality of the Cause than
this." (written to the NSA of the U.S. and Canada December 11 1935)
While this refers to ecclesiastical organizations, I believe the
principle is the same as that stated in the case of organizations such as
A.I. He also wrote . .
"Much as the friends must guard against in anyway seeming to
indentify themselves or the Cause with any political party, THEY MUST ALSO
GUARD AGAINST THE OTHER EXTREME of never taking part with other
progressive groups, in conferences or committees designed to promote some
activity in entire accord with our teachings - - - such as, for instance,
better race relations" (to an individual believer Nov. 21 1984)
"It is very important to cooperate with them (societies and
humanitarian organizations) but we must maintain, at the same time, the
Cause, intact from being too closely identified with certain of their
principles which are contrary to the teachings. The task is difficult but
far from being impossible. The only thing needed is wisdom" (to an
individual believer Feb 2 1932)
Regarding Capital punishment, I agree with Derek and others that the
manner in which the punishment is applied at present, in the majority of
cases, is not in accord with the principles of true justice - either divine
or temporal, but rather is based on political considerations and not
infrequently, the publics demand or revenge. There are extreme cases
when I, like many others, feel the death penalty would be justified ie. the
Bernardo's, Clifford Olson, Jeff Dalmer and the like - but these are, rare,
highly publicized cases which are used by pro-death penalty lobby groups to
manipulate public opinion and there is a danger in basing ones
determination on the most extreme scenario.
As for the law of the Aqdas allowing the death penalty, I certainly
do not forsee it being implimented in my lifetime or even that of my great
grandchildren so I have never been terribly concerned about it.
Appreciatively
Gord.

>
>On Mon, 1 Apr 1996 19:43:22 -0800 The Hendershots wrote:
>>
>>In a recent post, M mentioned that the House of Justice had
discouraged membership in Amnesty International. Does anyone have the
letter? I had never heard this, have been a member of AI for many years,
and send out monthly letters on be
>>
>>Thanks,
>>Chris Hendershot
>>
>
>
>Last night on NBC Nightly News, I saw a story about how the Catholic Bishop
of Nebraska has declared that after May 15, 1996, any members of his parish
who still belong to a small list of organizations will be excommunicated.
They will be allowed to atten
>
>I have a friend in my community who is a thoughtful intellectual who
declared as a Baha'i, served on the LSA and then undeclared. The comment: I
thought it was this liberal and embracing religion and the more I found out
about it, the more repressive and
>
>I'm anticipating a lively conversation with her about the parellels between
the Bahai Faith and the Catholic Faith as demonstrated in this last
incident. The Hendershot's comment about Amnesty International is quite timely.
>
>Philip
>
>
M &
E-mail: M@upanet.uleth.ca
11th Street South
, Alberta,
T1J 2P7 CANADA

**************************************************************
Human depravity, then, has broken into fragments that which is by nature one
and simple; men try to grasp part of a thing which has no parts and so get
neither the part, which does not exist, nor the whole, which they do not
seek. (Boethius; the Consolation or Philosophy, 524 A.D.)
**************************************************************


From derekmc@ix.netcom.comWed Apr 3 17:30:58 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 1996 23:00:01 -0800
From: DEREK COCKSHUT
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Response to UHJ/Gender/Power
Message: 342
To: "BAHA'I-TALISMAN-LIST"
From: John Dale <73043.1540@compuserve.com>
Subject: UHJ/Gender/Power
Date: 02 Apr 96 08:55:26 EST
Dear Derek,
...............................................................
< Dear Talismanians
This was a small part of a post I did to Sen in response to a
discussion we had on the Supreme Tribunal when I had mentioned
the possible need to rearrange matters to cater to minority
interests. He asked a perfectly legitimate question how did I
see relating to the debate on Women, this I responded too.I had
no wish to enter the ongoing debate. However Mr. Dale has
chosen for reasons of his own to attack me , my intentions and
it appears therefore my commitment to women痴 rights. I have
decided to reply to his comments>
...............................................................
You wrote recently,
" I have no problems with having Women on the House of
Justice for me it
is a non-issue. I am firmly convinced that the major reason for
the debate is
the immature understanding at all levels that individual
members serving on
Institutions have personal power. The moment we grow beyond
that idea
perhaps the reason will become as clear as day. "
______________
Derek, excuse me please, but you know perfectly well,
IMO, that the issue
of women on the House of Justice has nothing at all to do with
wishes for
personal power. I'm sorry to speak bluntly as a newcomer to
this net, but for
you to impugn the motives of this debate in this way is really
inconsistent with
consultation and is simply emotionally diversionary.
...............................................................
My dear John
As you point out you are a newcomer on this list. In the first
place I suggest you do not start of by implying my statement to
Sen was infantile emotionalism and attacking my intentions. To
be blunt you appear to have a view that you have a 禅he
opinion on everything. Whilst I have no problem with someone
having views about everything including sliced bread. I always
have problems with a person who attempts to denigrate the views
of others by stating their opinion has no intellectual value.
That normally shows an immature intellect and an intolerant
attitude.
...............................................................
The issue at stake here is an appearance of serious
moral inconsistency
in a Faith which calls itself the Faith of God! Derek,
you've got to care
about this issue! Either we are caught in a fundamental and
hopeless
inconsistency, or there is a clear and rational and radiant
answer to the
question of _why_.
...............................................................
Reply:
Clearly you are unaware of the situation, women serving on the
House of Justice has absolutely nothing to with the Equality of
Women and Men.There is no gender of the soul therefore women
not serving does not mean they are spiritually inferior to
men.The Baha段 Faith is the only religion in recorded history
that had a woman as its Head. Women serve in the highest
personal appointed positions. There is no moral dilemma except
in your own mind. I take exception to your allegation that I do
not care about the equality of women. It is a non-issue for me
simply because I only care what is in the Writings. If the
House rules that women serve I an happy , if They rule it is
not possible I am happy. Nobody on Talisman to my recollection
has ever said that women should not serve because women are
inferior. We have argued and debated why it is or is not
possible from Scripture
...............................................................
Can't you honestly see what's at stake here?
...............................................................
Reply; Possible damage to your Ego ?
...............................................................
What's at stake is the question of how can an infallible
body receive
guidance to be morally inconsistent with its own fundamental
principles? If
evolutionary implementation of a principle is permitted, then
how can a body be
infallibly guided and not_ know_ that it is permitted, and not
simply say that
yes someday women will be on the House of Justice when we think
global
conditions are appropriate? Any way you try to look at it, the
present stance
of excluding or exempting women from the Universal House of
Justice for no
rationally articulable reason, while at the same time upholding
the equality of
men and women, is simply a self-contradiction.
...............................................................
Reply: You clearly fail to understand the type of Guidance the
House of Justice receives,.to state it is acting in an immoral
manner is reprehensible. To argue the House of Justice is
morally inconsistent means it is acting in an immoral way.
Nobody on Talisman has ever suggested , implied or made such a
slanderous statement . I have to inform you those you may feel
share your view women should now be on the House have never
uttered anything but the highest regard and loyalty for the
Supreme Institution. I believe an apology is in order to the
members of this esteemed forum for such remarks. Kindly keep
such thoughts to yourself in future, Talisman I do not believe
is the place for them.
I believe you would do well to read the Kitab-Ahd and the Will
and Testament of the Master.If you need assistance in
comprehension I will be happy to oblige.
The situation the House is in, is not one of deliberately
withholding a woman from serving on the House of Justice but
one of Scriptural interpretation. If a Tablet of the Master痴
was found that stated women could serve on the Universal House
of Justice, the House would be the first to announce it.Of
course you may no doubt find that hard to believe of the House,
seeing it apparently as a flawed Institution .
...............................................................
If a self-contradiction is possible in one instance,
then why not in
others? What then is to stop a group of humans such as the
Baha'is from doing
anything they want, from becoming political and rationalizing
it on the basis of
"we received new 'guidance' from Above"?
...............................................................
Reply: The self-contradiction is in your mind, if a group claim
divine instruction why would the community follow such
guidance. Which you obviously would place in the category as an
instruction from the House.
The House has never claimed 創ew guidance over women serving
on that Body, to try and work that into your augment shows a
lack of knowledge on your part or a deliberate attempt at
misinformation.
...............................................................
Once an institution lets human selfhood enter through
the door of
self-contradiction, its purity and its power to attract by love
of its beauty
starts to fade, and the work of the Bab, the Letters of the
Living, the martyrs,
Baha'u'llah, His Apostles, His Hands, Abdu'l-Baha, Shoghi
Effendi, etc., all
starts to go down the drain.
...............................................................
Reply: Again an unwarranted attack on the Institution of the
Universal House of Justice. I do not see any human distortion
of the discharge of the function of the House of Justice.
Indeed many of us on this list have been fortunate to receive
wisdom, encouragement and love from It.
...............................................................
You know, the rest of the world may not be as blind as
we are to our own
defects as a community. And just possibly, that may be part of
the reason it
hasn't come running towards us in droves. If we can't even get
our own House in
order, how can we possibly go around telling other people to
look to the Baha'i
Community for guidance in cleaning their own?
...............................................................
Reply: The vicious and venomous nature of your attack on the
House, may ensure a lack of teaching on your part. Baha置値lah
requires informed submission to the Will of God on the part of
the believer not submission of the Institution to the biased
will of the believer. I for one am very happy with the manner
in which the House cares for the people of the world, what a
pity you do not share that joy.
...............................................................
Until the Baha'i community plugs the leak in its moral
and spiritual
integrity by putting women on the House of Justice, or until
there is a clear
reason given, as clear as the sun at high noon, for why women
are to be
exempted, we will remain caught in a hopeless moral dilemma.
...............................................................
Reply: You must be one of those who wants the token 層oman to
avoid the need of radically changing society to bring about
true equality.
...............................................................
The issue is not personal power, Derek. It's purity
power
...............................................................
Reply: On the contrary it is about power, in the USA as I
stated women have been given technical legal equality without
the necessary social and spiritual equality. Baha段 Men
including you Mr.Dale have to work to give women preference in
our community, in order to put into practice equality on all
the levels a human being operates. At the moment Women in the
Baha段 Community are not given the aid and assistance to have
the equality as stated in the Writings.But its easier to holler
for a token as the problem rather than face that men have
denied women their rights. When we have learnt as a gender a
degree of service and humility then it could be we will
be worthy to stand as equals with women. I happen to believe
women by virtue of the special responsibilities of their gender
are in many ways spiritually superior to men. The manner in
which a woman lives her life frequently in self-sacrifice and
devotion, dispensing love and understanding to all who come
into her orbit is the example to change to all men. I suggest
you read the Letter from the House of Justice Jan 1993 on
Violence and Sexual Abuse of Women and Children. But for you
that would come from a morally inconsistent Body so why would
you read it and follow the guidance that is given.
...............................................................
- jd
...............................................................
Comment:
I take offense at your attempt to silence what you saw as
dissent from your point of view. If you intend in future to
comment on any posting I make, then do not pull something out
of context and attempt to hound me into silence.
I also noted previously your comparison of the Universal House
of Justice to the US Supreme Court. How you can imagine a body
appointed via a flawed political system is even worthy of being
in the shadow of the House. Is beyond my imagination or it
could be you are one of those who believes the US Constitution
came from God?
Our list owner had requested we move to other topics than this
one.It does appear your ego fails to receive requests.
Kindest Regards
Derek Cockshut


From cenglish@aztec.asu.eduWed Apr 3 17:31:12 1996
Date: Wed, 03 Apr 1996 00:45:41 -0700 (MST)
From: "THOMAS C. ENGLISH"
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: add to Science and Religion
I toss this to the mighty Talisman Bar-B-Que or:
'Quick darling toss a quote on the barbie, we've got company!'
To make the discussion about the knowing and
feeling sides of the personality more interesting,
I'm introducing a thought by Carl Jung. These
paragraphs are in the middle of *his* explanation
of the human personality but they stand alone and
are representative of the line of investigation and
thought that took him out of the mainstream of his
contemporaries. They are worthwhile in any discussion
regarding a mind/spirit developed without balance.
The excerpt is from Volume 9, vol II of his Collected
Works, _AION, Researches into the Phenomonolgy of
the Self_. pp. 27-28. Bollingen Series XX,
Princeton University Press, 1959.
'The purely biological or scientific standpoint falls
short in psychology because it is, in the main,
intellectual only. That this should be so is not a
disadvantage, since the methods of natural science
have proved of great heuristic value in psychological
research. But the psychic phenomenon cannot be grasped
in its totality by the intellect, for it consists not
ony of *meaning* but also of *value*, and this depends
on the intensity of the accompanying feeling tones.
Hence at least the two 'rational' functions F5 are
needed in order to map out anything like a complete
diagram of a given psychic content.'
F5 Cf. _Psychological Types_, Defs. "Rational"
and "Irrational"
'Talisman makes my hard drive creak....'
--
Chris English It does not require many words to
P.O. Box 10 speak the truth.
Phoenix, AZ 85001 -Chief Joseph, Nez Perce, [1840?-1904]
602.379.4511 cenglish@aztec.asu.edu


From gladius@portal.caWed Apr 3 17:31:54 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 1996 23:56:08 -0800 (PST)
From: Linda de Gonzalez
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: RE: Amnesty International
Philip wrote:
>The comment: I thought it was this liberal and embracing religion and the
more I found out about it, the more repressive and backward it appeared<
Well, okay, was she talking about the *religion* or the *believers*???? In
terms of religion, the only "mystery" I still have to pray about accepting
is (three guesses, first two don't count) wimmin on the Universal House of
Justice. In terms of believers, well, she's dead on, there are ppl who have
bound the Faith so closely to "culture" that they won't go to a Feast in a
home where there's a dog. Now that's not Baha'i culture, that's Moslem
cultural/religious belief, but you can't tell them that. No sirree, they
know that dogs are "unclean" in the spiritual sense. Not just cos they shed
and slobber. Okay, that's not "backward" in any real sense, just kind of
weird to the poor Western ex-Christian who's wondering why none of the
Persians ever shows up for Feasts at their house.
And of course the Western ex-Christian clutches madly, in their turn, to
their own cultural albatrosses...like the belief that "consultation" equals
"debate" or "polite argument where points are scored gently and with Baha'i
love".
Sorry. I just came home from an Assembly meeting and I am feeling somewhat
... erhm... frustrated. Think I'll go and have a hot bath and a good verbal
debate (including abusive language) with the tap. Then I'll pray.
Linda de Gonzalez
Gladius Productions


From Don_R._Calkins@commonlink.comWed Apr 3 17:32:05 1996
Date: 02 Apr 1996 23:24:01 GMT
From: "Don R. Calkins"
To: margreet@margreet.seanet.com
Cc: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Get a clue...
Margreet -
I agree.
I've said several times that perhaps the primary reason women are excused
from service on the House is that women have more important things to do.
But it appears that most people can't think of anything more important than
telling other people what to do.
Don C
He who believes himself spiritual proves he is not - The Cloud of Unknowing


From lbhollin@uxmail.ust.hkWed Apr 3 17:33:40 1996
Date: Wed, 3 Apr 1996 18:42:07 +0800 (HKT)
From: HOLLINGER RICHARD VERNON
To: Jackson Armstrong-Ingram
Cc: talisman
Subject: Re: 1902 tablet
On Tue, 2 Apr 1996, Jackson Armstrong-Ingram wrote:
> Is the wisdom that is to be made clear a wisdom underlying the confining
> of the House to men, or a wisdom underlying the wording of the explicit text?
> The translation can be read either way. Any comment from those using the
> original text?
The term wisdom (hikmat) was often used by `Abdu'l-Baha and by Baha'is
during his lifetime in a sense
somewhat different from its common meaning in English. `Abdu'l-Baha for,
for example, advised Baha'is to teach the Faith with wisdom, revealing the
teachings to seekers only gradually and in accordance with their
capacities. Again, there was said to be wisdom in having Baha'i women
continue to veil, even though it was an explicit Baha'i teaching that
this would be discontinued in the future. The use of the term *hikmat*,
therefore, could carry the implication that some aspect of the teachings
were being withheld and/or not fully applied in this situation, and this
is the case whether the wisdom is in the policy of exclusion of women
from the institution or in the wording of the original text.
My *personal* opinion is that, for pragmatic reasons, the principle of
gender equality was not being fully applied by `Abdu'l-Baha in 1902 for
reasons of "wisdom," and that wisdom is not too hard to grasp. It would
have been unthinkable in the Middle East, where the vast majority of
Baha'is then resided, for a small group of men and women to meet in a
cloistered
setting, which is what would have occured had there been gender
integrated elected bodies. Not only would there be the issue of ritual
pollution to which Jackson has already alluded (again, not a Baha'i
doctrine, but part of the cultural milieu from which it emerged) but no
woman could have emerged from such a setting with her honor intact.
Furthermore, such mixed meetings would have fed the rumors that were
already circulating in the wider society about sexual promiscuity among
Baha'is.
Whatever the reasons for `Abdu'l-Baha's altering of the policy of
excluding women from local bodies in the period
1909-1912--and I think there were several reasons having little to do
with the role of
women--his decision did extend the application of the principle of
gender equality. What `Abdu'l-Baha did at the time was interpret a
passage from the Kitab-i Aqdas that had come to be understood by
many of the more prominent members of the Faith both in the East and
West as implying that women were to be excluded from all elected bodies.
His interpretation, validated this interpretation, but limited this
exclusion to an institution that had not yet been elected, thus
extending to women the right of membership (at least in principle) on all
existing Baha'i institutions.
I think that `Abdu'l-Baha was consistent in this interpretation in the
latter years of his ministry--nowhere did he reverse himself on this or
say that this was a temporary policy, which he did concerning some other
matters. It is my *personal* opinion,
that in issuing this interpretation, `Abdu'l-Baha was practicing
"wisdom." That is, I think his interpretation reflected the social
conditions both within and outside of the Baha'i community, and applied
the Baha'i teachings according to the capacity of his contemporaries.
Nevertheless, his interpretation remains binding on the community.
Unless a letter from Shoghi Effendi is found that interprets
`Abdu'l-Baha's ruling on this matter as a temporary policy--and the
evidence we have is that Shoghi Effendi did not interpret them in this
way--I can see no way that this could be altered. I do understand the
dilemna that John Dale has so powerfully articulated about the dissonance
between the princple of gender equality and the practice of having a
male-only Universal House of Justice.
I see this as one of a few elements of the Faith that has its roots in
the cultural milieu out of which our religion emerged and grew. All
religions have such elements, as they must; after all, they cannot simply be
created outside of time and space, at least if they are to have
adherents in this world. Baha'u'llah and `Abdu'l-Baha, like all
reformers and leaders of thought, had to make some concessions to customs
and beliefs of the people they sought to influence (a point that
`Abdu'l-Baha himself makes concerning Muhammad in *Secret of Divine
Civliziation*). Undoubtedly, then, if Baha'u'llah had appeared in India
or China instead of Iran, some elements of the Faith would be different
than they are. And, if Baha'u'llah were alive today, he might very well
permit women to serve on the Universal House of Justice (I personally
believe he would). But Baha'u'llah, despite his own principle of gender
equality, did not feel this matter to be so critical to his Faith that he
needed to explicitly challenge the social norms concerning the role of
women on administrative institutions.
In short, I think we can understand that there were historical
circumstances and processes that led to the exclusion of women from the
Universal House of Justice, which may help us to understand the principles
underlying this situation. But unless some compelling evidence is
located that demonstrates very different intentions on the part of
`Abdu'l-Baha or Shoghi Effendi, I don't think such a discussion can provide
any basis for change,
any more than explaining that the Naw Ruz festival entered the Faith by
virtue of the fact that the Faith originated in Iran can be used as a
basis for eliminating this as a Baha'i Holy Day.
Richard


From dann.may@sandbox.telepath.comWed Apr 3 17:35:05 1996
Date: Sun, 31 Mar 96 12:52:30 -0600 (CST)
From: dann.may@sandbox.telepath.com
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: AUSCHWITZ, theodicy
As someone who teaches an introductory course on the philosophy of
religion, I find the existence of radical evil and the attempted theodices
(i.e., attempts to justify the existence of God, especially a good and
loving God while acknowledging the fact of evil in the world -- most
theodices simply try to naively explain evil away) that have been developed
over the centuries, the most challenging issue facing a theist or believer
in God. I am familiar with virtually all the arguments offered to "save
God" from the mere presence of evil as well as most of the criticisms
leveled against these attempts. IMHO none of these theodices is either
compelling or theologically satisfying since almost all of them must imply
a God that is either so limited or morally bankrupt that worship of such a
deity would be a mockery.
None of the answers expressed on Talisman, or in the Baha'i community do
justice to the very real and difficult problems that the existence of evil
raises. Most philosophers of religion consider the existence of evil to be
the most difficult issue raised against theism -- an issue which is nearly
impossible to explain away or dismiss. It is considered the most serious
challenge to a belief in God, one that atheists make the foundation of
their rejection of God and all other religious concepts.
I personally have no good answer to the question of evil, nor do I know of
any compelling or conclusive theodicy that adequately deals with the
issues. I have read Hatcher's explanations and find them to be mostly a
rehashing of traditional arguments that have been thoroughly criticized by
generations of philosophers. For anyone who has suffered the loss of a
loved one, or who has witnessed the barbarity of the Nazi death camps or
survived the tremendous loss of life during an earthquake (e.g., here are
the three worst earthquakes in recorded history: 1556, Shen-shu, China:
830,000 deaths; 1976, Hopei, China: 650,000 deaths; and 1737, Calcutta,
India: 300,000 deaths), none of the attempts to explain away evil are
satisfying, in fact, they seem callous, cold, and empty of any humanity.
By the way, the question, "Could God make a rock so big he couldn't lift
it?" is often brought up to poke fun at serious attempts to work out a
consistent theology. Many assume that this question was designed by
atheists. It was actually formulated by Christians monks during the
medieval period as a paradox to question the traditional, literal
understanding of God's omnipotence. In other words, it was meant as an
outwardly humorous but inwardly serious point of departure for a profoundly
serious reworking of traditional theology.
If we are ever going to reach people of capacity or have serious
conversations with well-educated people, our current explanations of evil
will have to do more that simply restate simplistic arguments from
Christianity's past. What is needed is a truly Baha'i explanation that
adequately explains the existence of evil in an intellectually honest and
consistent manner. Such a Baha'i theodicy would likely draw upon not just
Judeo-Christian sources, but also other religious sources (i.e., Muslim,
Sufi, and Hindu), and it would incorporate and take seriously the
philosophical criticisms of theodices in general.
Warmest greetings, Dann May, Philosophy, OK City Univ.
---
* WR 1.32 # 669 * All human beings have an innate urge to know. Aristotle


From 73043.1540@compuserve.comWed Apr 3 17:45:15 1996
Date: 03 Apr 96 10:03:13 EST
From: John Dale <73043.1540@compuserve.com>
To: BAHA'I-TALISMAN-LIST
Subject: Two Cultures
Dear Friends,
In the dialogue on the two cultures and the religious reactions to this,
one friend wrote
>
> The possible positions on religion this crisis has produced include:
> 1) secularist atheism.
> 2) scriptural fundamentalism.
> 3) Neo-Thomism:
> 4) Islamic equivalents of 2) and 3)
> 5) Religious liberalism:
COMMENT: Do not forget Taoism, Buddhism, Hinduism. Of the three, Buddhism would
seem to have less conflict than the other two in uniting the two cultures.
Where would you put Process Theology in this list? Also, many writers on
physics and cosmology seem to be moving toward comments on the various
theological positions, so that within the sciences themselves a resolution of
the culture gap appears to be forming.
QUESTION: Would putting together a list of, for example, ten good books in the
philosophy of science be a good thing to do to help Baha'is get a better feeling
for this field? Any suggestions from anyone?
-- john dale


From 73043.1540@compuserve.comWed Apr 3 17:45:29 1996
Date: 03 Apr 96 10:01:50 EST
From: John Dale <73043.1540@compuserve.com>
To: BAHA'I-TALISMAN-LIST
Subject: Sacred Dances/Pow Wow
Dear Raul,
Thanks for mentioning this native American sacred dance. I'd like to
learn more about it. It would seem a very appropriate thing for Baha'i
Communities to learn about and participate in.
Often the fact that Feasts are held in people's homes, where space is
lacking, and are planned not as all-day or half-day events but as two-hour
events prohibits them from developing the kind of character that many people
would have wished to see in them.
- John Dale


From 73043.1540@compuserve.comWed Apr 3 17:45:56 1996
Date: 03 Apr 96 10:03:19 EST
From: John Dale <73043.1540@compuserve.com>
To: BAHA'I-TALISMAN-LIST
Subject: Espistemology
Dear Richard,
Your wrote back,
>Without restating everything again rationality and its efficacy is
>limited to current experience and even then to the perspicacity of the
>individual.
COMMENT: Richard, we do not seem to have defined what we mean by rationality. I
mean the scientific method of critical reasoning and checking things against
facts. Beliefs that are not yet disproved are used as a basis for creating
experiments to check them out even further. Etc. We assume that the individuals
involved in this process are in a "waking state of consciousness" and are not in
fact only dreaming that they are searching for truth and facts. Under this
definition, it is precisely through this method that we move beyond current
experience or knowledge.
> Rationality ALONE doesn't resolve questions such as membership on the UHJ. <
COMMENT: obviously true. The House of Justice has to make a decision using a
rational process of ascertaining the facts as best it can about Abdu'l-Baha's
intent and then of course praying for guidance, etc.
You continue:
>Abdu'l-Baha points out in his tablet "The Divine Standard of Knowledge" that
the "four criterions...Sense
>Perseption--Second--Reason; Third--Traditions; Fourth--Inspiration" are
"unreliable". He says "human >reason...by its very nature is finite and faulty
in conclusions. It cannot sourround the reality itself (Kant:
>the Thing In Itself) the Infinite Word." He says, "The divine standard of
knowlege is infallible." In other >words, the Manifestation and by inference
Abdu'l-Baha, the Gaurdian, and finnally to a more restricted
>degree the Universal House of Justice are the source of true knowledge
concerning the Infinite Word. He >concludes saying all statements of "...I
Know " of myself "...is not justified" "All human standard of
>judgment is faulty, finite." (Baha'i World Faith pp.254-5)
COMMENT: Abdu'l-Baha's brief comments on epistemology are constantly used, I
see on this forum and others, to downgrade the value of human knowledge instead
of to encourage human knowledge and to work professionally to make it ever
better. The reason for this is that they are read too literally and
unreflectively. I no longer have BWF, but in Some Answered Questions, p. 341
Abdu'l-Baha talks about the Four Methods of Acquiring Knowledge. For example,
of sense perception He says, "... Therefore we cannot trust it." But obviously
we trust it all the time, and our entire physical lives are guided by it. If it
were _really_ so untrustworthy, life would not have survived. It is not 100%
reliable, but it is not 100% unreliable as a literalistic reading of the text
would indicate. You are reading this now. Do you trust your senses at this
instant? They're conveying information which you read and react to. Obviously
there is some reliability here. If you did not read English, however, the exact
same sensory inputs which you are now receiving would be meaningless to you --
which brings us to the next level, the operation of the mind. "Therefore it is
evident," Abdu'l-Baha says, having cited some reasons, "that the method of
reason is not perfect". But that statement itself is a statement of reason, an
example of reason, and it is perfect. What Abdu'l-Baha means, obviously, is the
common-sense view that reasoning is not always done correctly. But sometimes it
is done correctly. Reason is not 100% reliable but it is not 100% unreliable.
The same thing, he says, is true of knowledge by tradition "because the
traditions are understood by the reason." He then says, "But the bounty of the
Holy Spirit gives the true method of comprehension which is infallible and
indubitable. This is through the Holy Spirit which comes to man, and this is
the condition in which certainty can alone be attained." This is Abdu'l-Baha's
assertion, and what is unclear about it is how the bounty of the Holy Spirit
relates to the other three forms of knowledge and particularly to reason. How
does the Holy Spirit bypass reason, senses, and tradition to give us certainty?
Abdu'l-Baha does not explain, at least here, and to me Abdu'l-Baha's treatment
of this topic is incomplete at this point. In addition, there are all kinds of
things in the sensory world and the rational world which we take as completely
certain. So, what can I say... Let's search for further clarification.

> II.
>Modern Science in my view is not rationalism--it does not require a
>linear explaination of things. It is an investigation and mapping of the
>way things operate. Its findings are continously being refined and
>sometimes overturned. The discovery process of science, from my POV, is
>to an unknown decree influenced by the breath of the Holy Spirit and
>technology is unleashed as gifts through our conection to higher planes.
>We only assume we have done everything ourselves through our own power.
COMMENT: Who is the "we" that you speak of in the last line? Yes: Many
scientists have described the revelatory insights they have had which gave them
their discoveries. However, the insights gained in this way are rarely complete
and "in final form." They almost always require lots of reasoning and testing
before they are translated into an actual paper of invention.

> III.
>Morality as, Baha'u'llah ceaselessly points out, is contingent on the
>will of God--it is relative, not axiological, or Thomist as Doctor Cole
>mentioned. The idea that morality is somehow consistent (Rational) would
>be erroneous, in my view, this is why Jesus said, "The Sabbath was made
>for man not man for the Sabbath." Morality is what is good for
>humankind. Morality was made for us as a prescpition for spiritual and
>social health because of our intrinsic needs that may not be the same at
>a later date but must be followed scrupulously at a particular time so
>that we may grow effectively to the next stage.
>To conclude, from my POV religious or moral truth is relative not
>rational in the human or conventional sense of the word.
>Richard
COMMENT: You say morality is contingent on the will of God. What is the will of
God contingent on?
Whether morality is rational 0, 10, 50, or 100 percent of the time is an open
question.
Best wishes,
John Dale


From 73043.1540@compuserve.comWed Apr 3 17:46:12 1996
Date: 03 Apr 96 10:03:47 EST
From: John Dale <73043.1540@compuserve.com>
To: BAHA'I-TALISMAN-LIST
Subject: UHJ/Supreme Court/Justice
Dear Kevin,
Thanks for your response in which you point out that the Universal House
of Justice has an ontological foundation in the word of God which the U.S>
Supreme Court does not.
Does God, ahem, love justice any more when it comes out of Haifa than He
does when it comes out of Washington, D.C.? Is justice everywhere not supported
by God's Word?
-- john
From 73043.1540@compuserve.comWed Apr 3 17:46:24 1996
Date: 03 Apr 96 10:00:04 EST
From: John Dale <73043.1540@compuserve.com>
To: BAHA'I-TALISMAN-LIST
Subject: Power/Authority of the UHJ
Dear ,
Thanks for your reminder and clarification on the Baha'i semantics of
these terms 'power' and 'authority'. I was working off of another definition.
Political scientist Daniel Bell once wrote that authority statements are
in the form "Do X", whereas power statements are in the form "If you do X, I
will do Y."
The authority of the House of Justice, per above, would be to say "Do X."
Its power would consist of its ability to say, "If you do X, we will do Y." For
example, "If you do X, we will remove your voting rights."
The House of Justice has both authority and power under Bell's
definitions.
It is clear that the authority of the House of Justice "in the mind of
God" cannot be touched by what people do on Earth.
However, the ability of the House to say "Do X" obviously flows from the
physical existence of a Baha'i community, and its ability to enforce its
commands or rules, that is, its "power," does not come from the barrel of a gun
but from people's voluntary acceptance of the Covenant and acknowledgment of its
authority. If all Baha'is simply turned in their membership cards, the House
would still have its authority "in the mind of God" but on Earth its authority
and power would be reduced to zero.
It might be worthwhile to ask, in anticipation of "entry by troops,"
whether the voluntary nature of membership in the Baha'i Community is an
inviolable principle, particularly in light of concepts such as a "Baha'i
commonwealth," a "Baha'i state", and so on. What are your thoughts?
-- John Dale
-- John Dale



From Alethinos@aol.comWed Apr 3 17:47:02 1996
Date: Wed, 3 Apr 1996 10:14:50 -0500
From: Alethinos@aol.com
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: 1st thing we do, kill all the lawyers (except Brent of course old roomie)
It is a wonderful trait within the Cause, at least among Americans, to walk
about with their heads in the clouds assuming all will be well. Actually I am
tired of hearing single sentences from the writings turned into flaccid
platitudes for social constraint. By this I mean that the Baha'is have a
tendency to take phrases such as the one speaking of ten good qualities and
one bad and turn it into a blugeoning tool to handle anything remotely
looking like a disagreement. Mixed in are all sorts of pithy late twentieth
century psychobabble-ettes which we have all heard before.
Abdu'l-Baha told us in Promulgation that we were to defend the Cause from
both external and internal enemies. (p. 456-457) I take this seriously.
No one has a greater desire to see the stultifying status quo in the American
Baha'i community blown away than I do. But it seems to me, after we have been
given the answer to this issue (and Steve you may wish to read that sentence
again, it is the crucial point) to continue pushing on and on with it
suggests that something else is going on in the minds of those who support
it. There is a lot more at stake here than simply fussing and moaning over a
few tablets. There is, to me, a very dangerous precedent that is trying to
establish a foothold here. That is the issue. It takes the guise of women on
the UHJ but it really could be anything (and indeed we have seen other issues
pushed just as hard.) It seems that we are seeing an attempt to undermine the
authority of the Universal House of Justice by having it suggested that the
decisions made by it are subject to revision/interpretation by the Baha'is
themselves.
Now I can hear the howls of denounciations. "We are simply EXPLORING the
issue through scholarly debate etc etc." We have certainly heard this. But go
back and READ the language. Most of it contains either implied or emphatic
suggestions of what I am saying. Why continue to explore an issue on which we
have, as far as we are able to tell at this point in our history, been given
the answer? What will come of it? Well we have been told by these folk. They
assume that if they keep at it, eventually the UHJ will buckle; reconsider
its stance, and decide in their favor. Tell me that they haven't said this.
It isn't about women on the UHJ. It is about our perception of what the
Unviersal House of Justice. It is about our relationship to it. I think that
the line of reasoning we have seen for months here vocied by a number of
people is frankly dangerous in its implications.
You know tigers also mew Steve. Still want to handle it with a shoe?
jim harrison
Alethinos@aol.com


From cenglish@aztec.asu.eduWed Apr 3 17:48:07 1996
Date: Wed, 03 Apr 1996 08:54:30 -0700 (MST)
From: "THOMAS C. ENGLISH"
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: science and Religion
I'd not come to the table if I had nothing tangible to
contribute to the discussion. I'll put two items out,
one to ponder and classify which box it gets sorted into,
the other to help people very simply experience a group
'mystical high'.
Mr. Barer, Director of Dr. Burl's School for Girls can
flesh this out much better than I, since I only attended
the class on prayer and meditation he led in Wapato,
Washington, USA many years ago. When a roomful of people
are given a generic object to visualize, like a vase of
roses, their visualizations intertwine, and nobody's
quite comes out like they envision it, but they all come
out a little like everybody envisions it. Categorize that.
This year, at Point of Pines Lake, near the junction of the
Black and White Rivers in Arizona, the tenth annual 'People
Helping People' will occur. This is to encourage sobriety,
stop wife beating, child molestation, etc. among the indigenous
people of the region.
Ten years ago, as a discussion group broke up, we went round
the talking circle and shook hands with eachother, one by one
until we made the circle four times.
For practice, get some friends together, then work it out. The
first person leads off to the right, the person whose hand they
shake follows them, etc. In a large group, we of the cogitative
part of the world won't tolerate four rounds, because you end up
shaking each person's hand eight times - too much time you know.
Try it. Report on the results to Talisman. Say 'Allah'u'abha'
to each person as you shake their hand. If you know any drummers,
have them drum a beat like the indian people. If you're Maori,
do what Maori's do in this 'Aloha' ceremony deep with all the
meaning of the word Aloha.
--
Chris English It does not require many words to
P.O. Box 10 speak the truth.
Phoenix, AZ 85001 -Chief Joseph, Nez Perce, [1840?-1904]
602.379.4511 cenglish@aztec.asu.edu


From osborndo@pilot.msu.eduWed Apr 3 17:50:38 1996
Date: Wed, 3 Apr 1996 11:55:50 -0500 (EST)
From: Donald Zhang Osborn
To: Bruce Burrill
Cc: Talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Huston Smith and Baha'i
Bruce wrote in reply to Philip:
> >Looked in one of his [Huston Smith] earlier book and found this comment:
> >Bahai had promises to be a universal religion and to rise above sectarianism
> >with regards to other faiths, but it turned out to be just like any other
> >religion.
> >
>
> Smith has made a cogent and obvious observation.
Bruce, Greetings! Begging your pardon, but my impression of Dr. Smith's
remark (perhaps the only mention of the Faith i any of his publications??) is
that he has 1) fundamentally misunderstood the Baha'i Faith and 2) confused
his opinion of the practice of (some of) the community as the essence of the
Faith. Moreover Dr. Smith's studied ignorance of the Baha'i Faith in his
otherwise interesting contributions to the study of religions stands in
contrast to the more inclusive approaches of many other contemporary
treatments of world religions. This makes me doubt his academic sincerity
(i.e., lack of bias) on the subject.
Of course I'm not quite impartial on the subject either. So I'd be interested
to know more about Dr. Smith and his relationship with the Faith, if anyone in
Talismania has any info. I've heard his reaction to the Faith described as
"cool" -- how deep/far back does this go, has he or anyone else described the
reasons? Don Osborn osborndo@pilot.msu.edu


From nineteen@onramp.netWed Apr 3 17:50:55 1996
Date: Wed, 3 Apr 96 11:09:42 -0500
From: "Richard C. Logan"
To: Stephen Friberg ,
Jim Harrison
Cc: Talisman
Subject: Re: 1st thing we do, kill all the lawyers (except Brent of cour
> We have a big enough problem with an American community going nowhere,
>with a
>> national administration that does not seem to have a clue as to what to do
to
>> get them to arise . . .
I just wanted to say breifly that I don't believe the NSA can get the
American community to arise--they have to do that themselves. Not that
the NSA doesn't have an indispensibly important role in all this, but
they can't shoulder the blame for all this apathy.
I'm firmly convinced if just a few of the friends in the various moribund
communities--even if only one believer showed the the example of patience
and love it would ignite the fire in the hearts of the majority. We are
all Baha'u'llah's instruments, and I heartily agree with Stephen
Friberg's eloquent assessment.
Richard
Richard C. Logan nineteen@onramp.net
Maintain HomePage "The Baha'is of Lubbock"
http://rampages.onramp.net/~nineteen/
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++
How manifold are the truths which must remain unuttered until the
appointed time is come! Even as it has been said:
"Not everything that a man knoweth can be disclosed, nor can
everything that he can disclose be regarded as timely, nor can every
timely utterance be considered as suited to the capacity of those who
hear it." --Gleanings from the writings of Baha'u'llah
+++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++++


From meghas@sparcom.comWed Apr 3 17:51:40 1996
Date: Wed, 3 Apr 96 02:38 PST
From: Megha Shyam
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Huston Smith and Baha'i
At 11:55 AM 4/3/96 -0500, you wrote:
>Bruce wrote in reply to Philip:
>> >Looked in one of his [Huston Smith] earlier book and found this comment:
>> >Bahai had promises to be a universal religion and to rise above sectarianism
>> >with regards to other faiths, but it turned out to be just like any other
>> >religion.
>> >
>>
>> Smith has made a cogent and obvious observation.
>
>Bruce, Greetings! Begging your pardon, but my impression of Dr. Smith's
>remark (perhaps the only mention of the Faith i any of his publications??) is
>that he has 1) fundamentally misunderstood the Baha'i Faith and 2) confused
>his opinion of the practice of (some of) the community as the essence of the
>Faith. Moreover Dr. Smith's studied ignorance of the Baha'i Faith in his
>otherwise interesting contributions to the study of religions stands in
>contrast to the more inclusive approaches of many other contemporary
>treatments of world religions. This makes me doubt his academic sincerity
>(i.e., lack of bias) on the subject.
>
>Of course I'm not quite impartial on the subject either. So I'd be interested
>to know more about Dr. Smith and his relationship with the Faith, if anyone in
>Talismania has any info. I've heard his reaction to the Faith described as
>"cool" -- how deep/far back does this go, has he or anyone else described the
>reasons? Don Osborn osborndo@pilot.msu.edu
>
>
During the recent conference Jesus 2000 in Corvallis this past February,
a catholic priest from Poughkeepsie, NY asked him what he thought of the
Baha'i Faith. Huston Smith said at that time - he was very impressed by
the social tenents of the Baha'i Faith; he gave the distinct impression that
he had not studied the spiritual side of the faith. In addition, he said
unequivocally, that when he was writing he had to make a choice of focusing
on a few religions well rather than been an encyclopaedia for all. He seemed
sincere in his statements and I accept him at his word.
We may not like the choices he made, but well people make choices all the
time and that it part of our accepting the human family. He is no more biased
in his views than we tend to be as Baha'is coming with our own prejudices and
yes sometimes arrogance in our attitude over other religions.
Megha Shyam


From asadighi@ptialaska.netWed Apr 3 17:52:07 1996
Date: Wed, 3 Apr 1996 10:23:07 -0900
From: "Arsalan J. Sadighi"
To: bahai-st@jcccnet.johnco.cc.ks.us, talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Deepening Needed!
Dear Friends,
Recently we have seen some very heated discussions on some very emotionally
charged issues. Unfortunately, it appears to me that instead of moving
towards finding a resolution to these problems the whole atmosphere is now
filled with contention and strife. Contention and strife have been
emphatically forbidden both in the Book of His Covenant and in the Will and
Testament of Abdu'l-Baha. I do take this very seriously. I find this very
dangerous ground to thread.
I would like to humbly suggest that we deepen ourselves on the message of
the House of Justice sent to an individual believer on Email Discussion
Groups. It is a message that requires very serious and dedicated study as it
directly pertains to issues confronting us on this group. It is a message
that if carefully studied has the potential of guiding us and make unity a
distinct possibility amongst us.
After we have carefully deepened on the subject, if our problems continue,
then we can proceed to behead each other at the plains of Karbila.
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Arsalan J. Sadighi
"Things are never quite as scary when you've got a best friend."
Calvin and Hobbes


From nightbrd@humboldt1.comWed Apr 3 17:52:51 1996
Date: Wed, 3 Apr 1996 11:27:09 -0800
From: Doug Myers
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: AUSCHWITZ, theodicy
Dear Dann and all,
Sometimes we humanbeings just delight in making something much harder and
more difficult than it really is. I make no claims at understanding
philosophy but I do claim to have a rumamentary understanding of the Baha'i
Faith. Also as I begin my line of thought on this subject, reflect on the
truism of a good mystery story that the best place to hide something is to
put it in plain sight.
>As someone who teaches an introductory course on the philosophy of
>religion, I find the existence of radical evil and the attempted theodices
>(i.e., attempts to justify the existence of God, especially a good and
>loving God while acknowledging the fact of evil in the world -- most
>theodices simply try to naively explain evil away) that have been developed
>over the centuries, the most challenging issue facing a theist or believer
>in God. I am familiar with virtually all the arguments offered to "save
>God" from the mere presence of evil as well as most of the criticisms
>leveled against these attempts. IMHO none of these theodices is either
>compelling or theologically satisfying since almost all of them must imply
>a God that is either so limited or morally bankrupt that worship of such a
>deity would be a mockery.
Perhaps they are not satisfying because they are the thoughts of man trying
to justify God --- or more plainly put --- man's trying to explain his own
misperception of God and how He works. We need to find the true frame of
reference before we can ask valid questions, and that frame of reference is
not man's view but God's.
>None of the answers expressed on Talisman, or in the Baha'i community do
>justice to the very real and difficult problems that the existence of evil
>raises. Most philosophers of religion consider the existence of evil to be
>the most difficult issue raised against theism -- an issue which is nearly
>impossible to explain away or dismiss. It is considered the most serious
>challenge to a belief in God, one that atheists make the foundation of
>their rejection of God and all other religious concepts.
>I personally have no good answer to the question of evil, nor do I know of
>any compelling or conclusive theodicy that adequately deals with the
>issues. I have read Hatcher's explanations and find them to be mostly a
>rehashing of traditional arguments that have been thoroughly criticized by
>generations of philosophers. For anyone who has suffered the loss of a
>loved one, or who has witnessed the barbarity of the Nazi death camps or
>survived the tremendous loss of life during an earthquake (e.g., here are
>the three worst earthquakes in recorded history: 1556, Shen-shu, China:
>830,000 deaths; 1976, Hopei, China: 650,000 deaths; and 1737, Calcutta,
>India: 300,000 deaths), none of the attempts to explain away evil are
>satisfying, in fact, they seem callous, cold, and empty of any humanity.
Why do we link natural disasters with evil? Each is a seperate experience.
Evil is being far from the light, in the shadows of existence but a natural
disaster has no personality or soul to give it human dimensions. Sure, I
anthropamorphise my pets, but that is my short coming ;-}
>If we are ever going to reach people of capacity or have serious
>conversations with well-educated people, our current explanations of evil
>will have to do more that simply restate simplistic arguments from
>Christianity's past. What is needed is a truly Baha'i explanation that
>adequately explains the existence of evil in an intellectually honest and
>consistent manner. Such a Baha'i theodicy would likely draw upon not just
>Judeo-Christian sources, but also other religious sources (i.e., Muslim,
>Sufi, and Hindu), and it would incorporate and take seriously the
>philosophical criticisms of theodices in general.
>
>Warmest greetings, Dann May, Philosophy, OK City Univ.
>---
> * WR 1.32 # 669 * All human beings have an innate urge to know. Aristotle
OK Dann, here is a view from Baha'i literature that I see. To my mind the
clearest quote from Baha'u'llah is from "Gleanings", pp. 149 - 150:
"Men, however, have wittingly broken His law. Is such a behavior to be
attributed to God, or to their proper selves? Be fair in your judgment.
Every good thing is of God, and every evil thing is from yourselves. Will
ye not comprehend? This same truth hath been revealed in all the
Scriptures, if ye be of them that understand. Every act ye meditate is as
clear to Him as is that act when already accomplished. There is none other
God besides Him. His is all creation and its empire. All stands revealed
before Him; all is recorded in His holy and hidden Tablets. This
fore-knowledge of God, however, should not be regarded as having caused the
actions of men, just as your own previous knowledge that a certain event is
to occur, or your desire that it should happen, is not and can never be the
reason for its occurrence."
Baha'u'llah also says in "Tablets of Baha'u'llah", 176 -177, the Tablet of
Maqsud: "Indeed the actions of man himself breed a profusion of satanic
power. For were men to abide by and observe the divine teachings, every
trace of evil would be banished from the face of the earth."
See also in the Bible, Matthew 16:23 and Mark 8:33, where Jesus turns to
Peter and says, "Get thee behind me, Satan: thou art an offence unto me: for
thou savourest not the things that be of God, but those of men."
Every evil thing is of us and our disobeying God --- our distancing
ourselves from the Light. Or as Pogo Pool once said, "I have seen the enemy
and he is us." This is where I hang my hat on the subject of evil. Too
simple --- not really, the most elegant theories are truly simple. If
someone does not want to accept the word of Baha'u'llah, show them the rest
of Baha'u'llah and perhaps they will see His Beauty.
Now as to natural disasters. Why does God do all those things to us? Ah,
but is this the correct question? Are we not making a gorss assumption that
God is the cause? We have to ask ourselves some hard questions and search
for the real
answers. Is God responsible for what happens? Does God just sit by and let
these
terrible things happen to His creation? Does it pay to be a good person?
If God
does not protect us from such accidents what good does it do to worship Him?
Is God responsible for everything that happens to us? In one word:
No! How
can this be? Because of two little things called change and chance. In
this world we
have to deal with the tests we give ourselves, the tests our friends and
family give us,
the tests God gives us, AND the tests the world gives us through change and
chance.
Baha'u'llah writes: "The world is continually proclaiming these words:
Beware, I am
evanescent, and so are all my outward appearances and colours. Take ye heed
of the chances and changes contrived within me and be ye roused from your
slumber. Nevertheless there is no discerning eye to see, nor is there a
hearing ear to hearken." (TB 258)
Now compare this world to the kingdom of God as Baha'u'llah does. He
tells us
to recognize the fact that if this world lasted as long as His kingdom it
would still be
unseemly to set our affections upon it. Change and chance prove the world's
impermanence. (PM 116)
'Abdu'l-Baha echos these sentiments when He urges us not to grieve over the
troubles and hard ships of this world. This world is a mirage. When dying
of thirst in
the desert how can a mirage save us? This world is a shadow. How can a
shadow have a life of its own? This world is a fantasy. How can fantasy
and fact be the same? We must always rely upon God. We must trust Him,
praise Him, and continually call Himato mind. Through all the things that
happen to us thank God. It is better to put our trust in God than in
anything else in either world. (SWA 177 - 178)
If this world has no life of its own, is a fantasy, is fleeting, and is
impermanent
how can something that befalls us be of any importance beyond being a gauge
of how
we reflect the attributes of God?
Because of the element of change and chance in the world there are
things that
happen to us that God did not cause. Baha'u'llah advises us to prepare for
such times
by building a sturdy foundation and house which can resist the changes and
chances of this life. (GL 261) & (TB 168/ GL 215)
We should worship and obey God no matter what happens to us or our friends
or anyone. The reason is very simple. This is our process for preparing
ourselves for
the rest of this life, the kingdom, and meeting God. Baha'u'llah promised
this as surely as day follows night. (GL 155)
"O My servants! Sorrow not if, in these days and on this earthly plane,
things contrary to your wishes have been ordained and manifested by God, for
days of blissful joy, of heavenly delight, are assuredly in store for you.
Worlds, holy and spiritually glorious, will be unveiled to your eyes. You
are destined by Him, in this world and hereafter, to partake of their
benefits, to share in their joys, and to obtain a portion of their
sustaining grace. To each and every one of them you will, no doubt,
attain." (GL 329)
Pray for anyone in a disaster situation and help as best as you can.
BUT, no matter
what, do not let this issue cloud your judgement concerning God and what
happens to us. No matter what happens, go forward with the praise of God
upon your lips and joy in your heart. The work is hard but the rewards are
heavenly!
So, to me this life is but a classroom where I am in constant preperation
for the world I will be born into through the process we call "death". For
those who do not see the whole picture of what God has created then what
happens in this world will always be unexplainable. God help them.
Sorry for rambling on,
Doug Myers
Doug Myers
nightbrd@humboldt1.com
"Nothing survives but the way we live our lives." JB


From Don_R._Calkins@commonlink.comWed Apr 3 17:53:36 1996
Date: 03 Apr 1996 13:45:32 GMT
From: "Don R. Calkins"
To: dann.may@sandbox.telepath.com
Cc: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: AUSCHWITZ, theodicy
Dann -
What I understand to be the Baha'i theodicy is very difficult to explain to
non-Baha'is because is simply will not fit into their pre-conceived idea
structure, and it is not succeptible, at least at this point, to expression
as a sound-bite.
Among the factors involved are -
The primacy of the spiritual over the physical;
The primacy of the group (humanity as a whole) over the individual;
The purpose of life on this plane for the individual;
The purpose of life for humanity as a whole.
Among the problems of modern discussion of a theodicy is the assumption that
something that is not wanted is evil, that when something 'bad' happens to
the individual that it was aimed at the indivudual. From a Baha'i
perspective, much of the evil that occurs to an individual is actually aimed
at society (humanity) and is designed to show society that it has not yet
reached the level of spirituality that will eliminate such things from
happening. Because man is incapable of perfection, evil will always be with
us; only our definition of what constitutes evil will change.
Don C
He who believes himself spiritual proves he is not - The Cloud of Unknowing


From Don_R._Calkins@commonlink.comWed Apr 3 17:53:45 1996
Date: 03 Apr 1996 13:46:10 GMT
From: "Don R. Calkins"
To: 73043.1540@compuserve.com
Cc: TALISMAN@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Sacred Dances/Pow Wow
John -
I can't find the post your are responding to, but based solely on your
response have a couple comments. Bear in mind that my response is based on
my personal experiences and may not apply to you; so only if the shoe fits,
wear it.
I don't feel that such activities are appropriate at Feast. This has been
discussed on several of the Baha'i lists, including this one, without real
resolution; however I continue to feel that the purpose of Feast is
consultation, not spiritual development. It appears to me that you are
attempting to redefine Feast in terms of recent liberal protestant Christian
terms. This does not mean that such activities have no place in a Baha'i
community. Abdu'l-Baha explicitly approved of them under the phrase
'spiritual meeting'. However I do have problems with people who insist that
a specific form must be a part of a truly spiritual Baha'i community. I
consider the implication that my failure to participate in them a judgmental
slap in the face that I am really getting fed up with. I was raised in what
I have found is a radically different religious environment than the average
American. My family took very seriously the admonition to go to one's closet
to pray, to not be like the Pharisees who pray in public. And particularly
from my father, the idea that 'The groves were God's first temples, ere man
learned to hew the shaft ...". Group spiritual exercises, including prayer
meetings, remain alien to me. I am comfortable only to the extent that I can
eliminate the group from my consciousness, and this is rarely possible.
The only people I have found that truly understand this perspective have been
a few Native Americans. It has been my experience that very few Native
Americans have a very good understanding of their spiritual traditions and
rituals. The focus of it is the solitary individual, not the group. The
'Pow-wow' has been so incredibly mis-interpreted both by Native Americans and
Euro-Americans that it is largely a pale shadow of what it once was. I have
had the privilege of discussing the under-lying 'philosophy' of the symbolism
involved in Native American ritual with a couple individuals with whom I have
very high regard. The idea that any Native American ritual has any value in
and of itself is absurd to them. It is an outward expression of a very
complex and rich symbol system that takes years of immersion to even begin to
understand. As one of these individuals said to me 'The whites do not even
understand their own traditions; why do they think they can understand
ours?'.
Here in Iowa there is the Tama Pow-wow Days, held each summer by the
Saulk/Fox tribes at Tama. These are for the public, including Native
American non-members of the tribe. The *real* event is held in the fall, and
only recognized members of the tribe are even notified of when it will be
held; all non-members of the tribe are turned away. It is a celebration not
only of their relationship to God, but to the traditions and history of the
group. It is a spiritual and social homecoming that connects them not to
their culture and extended family but to the very roots of their existance.
There is no reason why such events can not occur within the Faith; but until
they arise as the spontaneous expression of the soul and not as an
orchestrated event, they will have little if any value.
Don C
He who believes himself spiritual proves he is not - The Cloud of Unknowing


From osborndo@pilot.msu.eduWed Apr 3 17:54:01 1996
Date: Wed, 3 Apr 1996 15:06:04 -0500 (EST)
From: Donald Zhang Osborn
To: L, asadighi@ptialaska.net
Cc: Talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Beating--Another perspective
Allah'u'Abha! I wanted to quickly reply to some of the points raised in
Arsalan's and Lonis responses to my "another perspective" posting on beating,
and to attach a posting from another list which raises the same issue I was
trying to raise--that the subject of beating, or more broadly physical
punishment / action in social relationships is complex--using different
questions.
Lest I appear too sanguine on this issue, let me say that my reaction to
physical violence is conditioned in large part by my family experience years
ago: in short my father was sometimes violent. This is not easy to think
about, let alone write about, as those who have first hand exposure to
violence in the family will know. I would just as soon be dogmatic about
physical violence and forget it, but having witnessed it in other settings
too, I guess I've had to think about it.
The first thing I would suggest is that beating or physical violence is not
always the same thing. Always against my principles and those of the Faith,
yes, but not a single category. Corporal punishment and "beating the living
daylights" out of a family member are perhaps two widely separated points on
a continuum physical violence. Moreover, the relationship between the person
who metes out the physical measures and the one who receives them are also
likely to be complex.
Arsalan wrote:
>Enough already with cultural this and cultural that. Does anyone remember
>the head shrinkers and the cannibals around the world, or those who
>circumcise girls, or practice of selling an buying girls in Asia for
>prostitution. For far too long the cultural imperatives have been used to
>justify abhorrent behavior and, quite frankly, I have none of it. You can
>justify any kind of ridiculous practice based on the fact that somewhere at
>some point it was or is an acceptable practice.
I too will have none of these. You are correct that "cultural" reasons are
used to rationalize the unjustifiable (another example I think is the Iranian
govt. in its persecution of Baha'is and others). In such extreme examples
there can be no disagreement among us.
>I do not give a smiling penny about what any culture says if what is the
>practice is out of step with the Writings. All cultures have good things and
>bad things and as far as I am concerned all the unacceptable stuff will have
>to be washed away and very soon. ........................................
I agree. Yet I think that we will have to deal with a lot of practices which
are not permitted in the Writings as the Faith spreads. Some, such as
selling girls into prostitution should not have to wait for the spread of the
Faith to be abolished. Others, like polygamy and homosexual acts, are the
subject of different opinions and approaches even though the Writings seem
clear in prohibiting them.
[snip]
>The Quranic verses are still the law of the land for far too many places in
>the world to make it a past issue or make it inconsequential. These
>practices are alive and well I must say. I don't think we should become
>hostages of cultural contexts and practices. Nothing justifies violence
>against a relatively powerless group because some Arab used to kill the wify
>instead of beating her 1000 years ago.
In part my original posting was a reaction to a word used in an earlier
posting on the subject of the Koranic verse in question: "hideous." I have
a hard time accepting that any verse in the holy scriptures can be so
characterized. By suggesting that the context in which the verse was
revealed is likely very different than what we know today I was mainly trying
to (indirectly) make that point. I too have noticed that attempts to justify
current applications of Koranic laws often goes back to the situation in
Arabia over 1400 years ago.
Loni wrote on 29 March:
>The beating, killing, mutilating, etc. of women is definitely part of many,
>many cultures in the world. But the perspective we should really be
>concerned with is that of the people being beaten, threatened with death,
>mutilated, being kidnapped or sold to work in foreign or local brothels,
>etc. ................................................................
Violence against women is, as I understand it, at the intersection of norms
permitting violence as a means to certain ends and the inferior status
accorded women. Similarly with the status of children. This Revelation aims
in part to change both. I agree that we should be concerned with the
victims; my suggestion is that at least in some cases of physical violence
(the least extreme ones), the perspective of the victim may be more complex...
>.... Women and children are not sadists [and masochists (as per Loni's
>posting of 2 April)]. There has been a sufficient amount of research to
>show that they do not like being beaten, threatened with death, mutilated,
>or working as a prostitute, etc. But sometimes society forces them to
>accept it. This is called structural violence.
Here I would like to narrow the question considerably. Leaving aside the
extreme and even not so extreme cases over which there can be no
disagreement, is it possible that "structural violence" of which you speak
can lead women and children in some cases to *expect* beating (as in corporal
punishment) and behave accordingly? I don't mean to suggest that women and
children are just a little masochistic (or sadistic), but to ask if corporal
punishment (limited beating) is so woven into the fabric of social relations
that its absence would be taken negatively (as not caring, weakness, or sth).
This is a sincere question, based on my limited perspective as a foreign male
who spent 6+ years in West Africa, and reinforced by the Chinese perspective
attached below. Please understand that I am not trying to justify any form
of corporal punishment, beating, physical violence or structural violence,
only trying to understand what seems to me to be a minor paradox.
>Female "circumcision" is a case in point. .............................
[snip]
This subject is one meriting a separate discussion. Perhaps in some ways
this practice is like beating in that prevailing norms lead even the victims
to expect it. Yet it is perhaps different in that physical punishment *may*
be part of a social dialogue (however conditioned by inequality and
sanctioning of violence the context of that dialogue may be); and female
circumcision is a rite of passage (characterized by a kind of violence and
many negative aspects, as you mention).
>........ the scale of structural and overt violence towards women is mind
>staggering. Why should Baha'is be concerned with this? Our Writings tell
>us that women must be at the forefront of establishing peace in the world.
>How can they do this when most of them, even in the West, are just trying to
>economically survive and trying to avoid being physically hurt or worse?
>They have no time for doing much else.
You are right, of course. I was stunned to learn, for instance, that an
estimated 1/3 of women in South Africa are victims of rape. My focus on much
much milder forms of violence is not meant to draw attention away from the
challenges of bringing women to full equality with men in the face of deep-
seated prejudices, nor to minimize the incredible violence done especially to
women, and also to children and men. Yet to overcome violence, it is helpful
to understand it in all its degrees and complexity.
My paradigm of "violence is bad, period" was shaken by learning that some
people prefer (mild to be sure) physical punishment to verbal admonishment,
and may even expect physical punishment. The notion of structural violence
is helpful in trying to explain why some people appear to accept violence.
However, I'm not sure it accounts fully for the complex relations surrounding
corporal punishment/mild beating.
The attached message, posted by someone from China, frames the issue of
beating somewhat differently. I hope those interested in this subject will
take the time to read it. (I've underlined one phrase midway through it.)
Don Osborn osborndo@pilot.msu.edu
>Date: Wed, 3 Apr 1996 00:21:10 EST
>Sender: Chinese Studies list
>Subject: coersive measures
>To: Multiple recipients of list CHINA
>
>Hi, I am thinking about why we as parents or teachers, still often beat our
>children to teach or lead them in China. There are research findings on the
>fact that parents start harsh physical punishment on their children when
>they are 3-4 years old. I have seen many kindergarden or primary school
>teachers, women teams' couches (valleyball, baseball, swimming, long
>distance, etc.), are punishing their subordinates with coersive measures.
>And they achieve great successes in terms of their subordinates' performance
>or record, as well as respect and authority status for themselves. I myself
>tried very hard not to beat my child but one day I failed to control my
>impulse. And strange enough, sometimes I felt the child or my students at
>University were sort of demanding such punitive input from me, as if without
^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
>doing so like many others I am not qualified as a responsible hence
>respective leader. I wonder whether the cause to beat the child/pupil is
>from the parents or their children/pupils. Has the authoritarian leadership
>been somehow socialised in such a way by the two parties? If my feelings are
>not unique to myself, there must be some values or rationale for such
>seemingly cruel practice(?). Thank you for your reading and I am waiting for
>you to share any experience or thinking on this issue.
xxxxxxxx xxxxxxx
English department
Guangzhou Foreign Language University
Guangzhou, China


From lua@sover.netWed Apr 3 17:54:31 1996
Date: Wed, 3 Apr 1996 15:48:10 -0500 (EST)
From: LuAnne Hightower
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: AUSCHWITZ, theodicy
Two thoughts occur to me:
1) "My calamity is My Providence. Outwardly it is fire and vengeance.
But inwardly it is light and mercy."
If I can get enough distance from my own suffering, I often can see the
Mercy of God operating in events that, from my own small POV, make no sense
- IF there is a God. Often human beings, in a state of removal from that
Divine Presence, perpetrate the unimaginable upon those around them. Free
will being what it is, we can turn away from the light. And our actions
always reflect that remoteness. Having had my share of unimaginable
experiences, I can honestly say that God was absent from those acts, but
accessible to my calls for assistance. I often experienced an inability to
make the call, or to take those experiences into my prayer life for
assistance, because the two felt like polar opposites - surely they couldn't
meet. I was unaware of this underlying belief at the time... Nonetheless,
with time and attention to the details of the beliefs under which I was
operating, the inward light and mercy became apparent to me. Had I not been
subject certain calamities, I would not have come to taste the sweetness
that exists even in poison. Perhaps I would not feel as deeply as I do.
Perhaps I would not have the capacity to sit with others in their pain and
their triumph, to truly witness their struggles and give encouragement, or
to be as present as my work demands that I be when I am working with
survivors of all kinds of atrocities, on a scale much smaller than the
holocaust, but painful all the same. Perhaps I would be less sensitive to
the feelings of others with whom I am close. Perhaps I would take life a
bit more for granted, and appreciate less the exquisite wonder of our being
here at all. The risks that we take as we walk this earth are that we may
become the victims of those who, even for a moment become heedless and act
unconsciously, or that we may ourselves become guilty of such heedlessness
and bring sorrow or even harm to another human being. Insha'llah, we will
all become more adept at being present, conscious, submissive, and loving
servants of His Threshold.
2) A little illahi comes to mind, in honor of the Melami tradition of Sufism:
"Are you happy with your Beloved?
People often want to know.
If I'm happy
Or I suffer,
My Beloved is still mine.
Ah, what does it matter?
My Beloved is till mine."
Warm Regards,
LuAnne


From berny.munro@stonebow.otago.ac.nzWed Apr 3 17:57:23 1996
Date: Wed, 3 Apr 1996 23:41:29 +1200 (NZST)
From: Berny Munro
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Mothering
As a female I thought that the highest station I could attain to was
Motherhood. As a Mother I feel this is true. When I was pregnant with my
first child the enormity of what I was doing would sometimes frighten me.
The child I carried was a "clean slate" and I wondered if I was "up" to
this responsibility. After 10 years mothering there is no way I could have
served on the Universal House of Justice and aquitted myself as a decent
Mother. As I"m writing this I can imagine people thinking not all women
choose to be Mothers and that is correct, one of the things that drew me to
the Faith was the quote (which I end up mis-quoting) that mankind was the
TWO wings of one bird and I took that to mean that each needs to be strong
therefore both needed equal opportunity. I guess in a way it's like the
which came first the chicken or the egg? Alot of things need to be taken on
faith and for me this is one. I do not feel that I, in my humble role on
this planet, have the ability to understand all the laws we are given.
There will come a day when these things will be comprehended and I don't
mind waiting!
Kia Ora
Berny.


From asadighi@ptialaska.netWed Apr 3 17:58:18 1996
Date: Wed, 3 Apr 1996 13:15:48 -0900
From: "Arsalan J. Sadighi"
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Power/Authority of the UHJ
Does anyone have the quote where Baha'u'llah indicates that if all believers
turned against His Cause he will raise supporters of His Cause from the
pebbles of the seas to win His victories?
Would you post that quote so I can use it to show where the authority of the
House comes from and that it has nothing to do with our belief and support.
The point is that we need the Cause and that blessed Institution, the last
refuge for a tottering civilization, and not the other way around. Some
think that the Faith of God needs us and depends on us for its advancement.
I don't think so.
The most profound statement I saw on this subject was on Benny Hill Show
many years ago. The camera shows a wall filled with graffiti. The camera
zooms on one statement that says,
GOD IS DEAD
signed FRED
The camera moves and zooms to a lower part of the wall where it shows,
FRED IS DEAD,
signed GOD
Membership card or no membership card, this is His Cause and He will do what
He wills. Don't you think it is haughty of us to think that the authority
and power of the Supreme Institution of God depends on some puny souls like us?
>Dear ,
>
> Thanks for your reminder and clarification on the Baha'i semantics of
>these terms 'power' and 'authority'. I was working off of another definition.
>
> Political scientist Daniel Bell once wrote that authority statements are
>in the form "Do X", whereas power statements are in the form "If you do X, I
>will do Y."
>
> The authority of the House of Justice, per above, would be to say "Do X."
>Its power would consist of its ability to say, "If you do X, we will do Y."
For
>example, "If you do X, we will remove your voting rights."
>
> The House of Justice has both authority and power under Bell's
>definitions.
>
> It is clear that the authority of the House of Justice "in the mind of
>God" cannot be touched by what people do on Earth.
>
> However, the ability of the House to say "Do X" obviously flows from the
>physical existence of a Baha'i community, and its ability to enforce its
>commands or rules, that is, its "power," does not come from the barrel of a gun
>but from people's voluntary acceptance of the Covenant and acknowledgment
of its
>authority. If all Baha'is simply turned in their membership cards, the House
>would still have its authority "in the mind of God" but on Earth its authority
>and power would be reduced to zero.
>
> It might be worthwhile to ask, in anticipation of "entry by troops,"
>whether the voluntary nature of membership in the Baha'i Community is an
>inviolable principle, particularly in light of concepts such as a "Baha'i
>commonwealth," a "Baha'i state", and so on. What are your thoughts?
>
>
> -- John Dale
>
>
> -- John Dale
>
>
>
>
>
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Arsalan J. Sadighi
"Things are never quite as scary when you've got a best friend."
Calvin and Hobbes


From Member1700@aol.comWed Apr 3 18:06:27 1996
Date: Wed, 3 Apr 1996 17:34:22 -0500
From: Member1700@aol.com
To: Talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Women and the House
To the specific issues that Rick has raised concerning the scope of the
Guardian's infallibility and his interpretations of the Writings of
Baha'u'llah, my intention was not to suggest that Shoghi Effendi's writings
can be considered at any point to be incompatible with the Writings of
Baha'u'llah. Quite the opposite. My point was that Shoghi Effendi's
interpretations, when he makes them and intended to enhance and complete the
teachings of Baha'u'llah, and that therefore the Sacred Text remains primary
and important as a locus of study.
That is, I do not believe that it is possible to consider an
interpretation that the beloved Guardian made of a verse of the Text without
considering the Text itself. To suggest otherwise, that an interpretation of
Shoghi Effendi precludes further study of the Sacred Text which has been
interpreted, seems to me utterly extreme and unfounded. It is a position
that I think would have shocked the Guardian and would have been rejected by
him.
With regard to the specific issue of the service of women on the House of
Justice, I have said previously that I do not believe that the Guardian
intended any of his letters on this subject to be an interpretation of
anything. That is abundantly clear from the letters themselves. That we are
eager to make them into interpretations speaks more to our own need to
protect the status-quo that to the Guardian's intent.
I am afraid that Rick and I do have one fundamental point of
disagreement, and perhaps it is a minor one. While we both agree that the
Guardian's interpretations do not exhaust the meaning of the Holy Text, and
that they do not preclude alternate interpretations which may be equally
valid (but which do not command the acceptance of the whole community, since
they would be individual interpretations), Rick seems to feel that
interpretations of a text which may be the direct opposite of the Guardian's
interpretations are forbidden. I disagree. I do not believe that any
individual interpretation of the Text is forbidden to individual Baha'is (or
institutions)--even if it be an interpretations that is precisely opposite to
that of the Guardian--as long as the validity of the Guardian's original
interpretation is respected, and the individual believer (or institution)
makes it clear that his own interpretation has no authority.
Thus, it seems to me that the Baha'i Faith offers to the individual
believer complete intellectual freedom, with the proviso that he not force
his views on others. This allows for a healthy intellectual life, and for
the development of civil discourse. Out of this discourse, a consensus may
arise which can be acted upon by the believers and by their institutions.
Regards,
Tony


From Member1700@aol.comWed Apr 3 18:52:51 1996
Date: Wed, 3 Apr 1996 18:25:52 -0500
From: Member1700@aol.com
To: Talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Response to UHJ/Gender/Power
I believe that the participants in this particular thread are simply talking
past one another--and getting more and more frustrated and angry as they do.
So, I hesitate to offer my two cents. But, the thread would be a lot more
pleasant to read if people would stop insulting one another and focus on the
issues at hand.
The argument on one hand seems to be "It is in the Holy Text, so it is
right by definition." This is, of course, the typical religious response to
anything--especially any criticism--and while it is internally consistent, it
is not a convincing argument (not an argument at all really), it is an appeal
to authority. Those who accept the authority, and agree to what they think
it says will, therefore, be convinced. Others will rightly see this argument
as nonsense. What if I appealled to the authority of the Pope on the
question of Christ's return, for example?
On the other hand, those who are not convinced are calling for rational
arguments that would support the current position. There are none. This is
fairly explicit in the text itself. So, it is not surprising that those
rational arguments that are marshalled and not very interesting or
convincing. I am particularly unimpressed by the "Yes, the Baha'i Faith is a
patriarchy after all. Men make the final decisions. But we are going to get
it right this time" argument. I think that the world will be unimpressed
too, particularly the women. Also, the "This is a trivial matter" argument,
which is quite clearly untrue.
And there is the "The House of Justice has no power" argument, well, at
least no political power. This is particularly disturbing. The Baha'i
Faith, more than any other religion on earth--even more than Islam, makes
explicit claims to be the basis of a future government which will have
political power. If we can't make good on those claims, or if those claims
cannot stand up to scrutiny--well, we are in big trouble. We can't just
pretend that we are talking about spiritual constructs. We claim that he
have institutions which will eventually rule the world.

A short quote that I read today in the NY Review of Books: It is Sergei
Kovalev discussing the difficulties of the Russian government. I think that
it can apply very well (with a few changes of words and terminology) to the
Baha'i community as well. Here goes: "Russia lacks a critical mass of
democrats who understand that democracy hangs on the thin thread of
procedure--due process of law; who understand that democracy is not so much a
matter of the will of the majority as the rights of the minority, and that
without procedure, all sorts of wonderful words about equality and
brotherhood are simply slogans. There are not enough people like this in
Russia; there is no place for them to come from."
Just something to think about.
Tony


From TLCULHANE@aol.comWed Apr 3 18:56:02 1996
Date: Wed, 3 Apr 1996 18:34:04 -0500
From: TLCULHANE@aol.com
To: 72110.2126@compuserve.com, 73613.2712@compuserve.com,
frlw@midway.uchicago.edu, jarmstro@sun1.iusb.edu, jrcole@umich.edu,
jwalbrid@ucs.indiana.edu, lwalbrid@indiana.edu,
sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nl, Member1700@aol.com, TLCULHANE@aol.com,
rvh3@columbia.edu
Subject: Guardian,Gibben & Theocracy
Dear All ,
This one will probably be old hat to the historians among you so please
indulge me . As Juan and John have learned about me history can be a
fascinating / terrifying experience of late .
I have been going through my 25 years of notes on the Fath and modernity
and came across the folllowing from 1978 -79 in one of my notebooks . It
amazes me , sort of , that I had forgotten about this . It is from a time
when I first "really " started to ask "who was or is Bahau llah ." I had
been reading a number of things at the time among them Gibbens _Decline and
Fall _.
I noted that the stages of development described by Shoghi Efendi in ADJ
p.12 starting with "unmitigated obscurity " to "State religion" and "Bahai
state " are strangely similiar to Gibbens characterization of the rise of
Christianity within the Roman empire. Gibben goes through the process of
describing the obscure sect of Christians whose modest origins belied its
eventual status in the empire or "Republic" . Christianity ,according to
Gibben was to pass through this obscure status to become repressed , attain
consideration comparable to competing religions in the empire and eventually
become the State religion and during the middle ages serve as the State . The
only thing missing from Gibbens is the emergence of a worldwide Commonwealth
.
This patteren is repeated in ADJ by Shoghi Effendi as well as the famous
WOB statement (page 6-7 ) about "States ."
I also noted he makes reference to the Roman empire several times in
the WOB letters most notably toward the end of _Dispensation _ and the
_Unfoldment of World Civ._ One could almost say Shoghi Effendi was quite
taken with more than Gibbens literary style. He seems to have had his
fundamental image of history shaped by Gibbens views with respect to Rome and
then generalized to all human history . I am not suggesting this makes
Shoghi's take on the development of the Faith true or false because of what
appears its clear asociation with Gibbens categories and concepts.It does
seem to raise questions about the interpretive function of the Guardian. I
understand he disavowed such claims with regard to history ,economics ,
science and so forth. Could not the WOB letters , parts of ADJ ans
especially PDC be sen as philosophy of history and therefore outside the
purview of Shoghi Effendi's *interpretive * function as Guardian . As it
stands at the moment my read on the above similarities is that to claim
*interpretive * status for his philosophy of history is equivalent to
enshrining Edward Gibbens as Guardian .

It is also interesting to note the frequent references on GPB to the "Great
Republic of the West " or the "Republic of the West." These appelations and
the contexts in which they are used are again strangely similiar to Gibbens
statements about the role and function of the "Roman Republic" in its
historical time period .- Pax Romana and all . It is almost as though Shoghi
Effendi saw the U.S. and Britian as purveyers of Pax Britania and Pax
Americana thus making possible a relatively secure world in which the Faith
could spread and triumph , much as Gibben describes the efffect the Roman
empire had on facilitating the spread of Christianity . The empire as we know
was eventually superceeded by Christianity in the form of the state religion
and the eventual default of state powers to ecclessiastical institutions.
Actually he says as much inADJ and Citadel of Faith .
The picture that starts to emerge , at least more consciously for me , in
his writings is a medieval catholic world . The Dispensation letter has a
number of statements that sound like a Thomistic blend of Christian self
understandings and Aristotelian ideas. This is significant for me because ,
as I have mentioned to Juan , I was raised and educated in a conservative
catholic theological envirionment . Eventually spent two years among the
Jesuits and was hammered with Thomist thought . Before I became a Bahai I
read part1 one the IQAN , the section in GWB about the soul and immortality .
This convinced me Baha u llah was Prophetic . It was the WOB letters and AFJ
, COF etc which pushed me over the edge into to signing up . I found in the
WOB letters and parts of Citadel and Advent a number of conceptions, an image
of history and life, which resonated VERY strongly, both intellectually and
emotionally, with my catholic upbringing combined with a set of social
principles which addressed parts of the Jeffersonian and populist part of
my family heritage. In fact I used to argue as a teenager with my uncle, who
was a Benedictine monk and archeologist, about his more "liberal" theological
leanings as capitulations to the modern world.
So for those of you for whom all this is old stuff I ask your indulgence as
I piece together my own history in an intelligible way . Thank goodness for
the sense of back to Bahau llah. Any insights,comments, changes or
corrections are most welcome as I recover and reconstruct my own spiritual
biography . I suppose I am trying to make more sense of the Faith in a way
that transcends the "exceptionalist" aspects I brought to it and was taught
by most Bahais , pre- Talisman .
Thanks folks ,
warm regards,
Terry


From jrcole@umich.eduWed Apr 3 18:58:08 1996
Date: Wed, 3 Apr 1996 18:50:37 -0500 (EST)
From: Juan R Cole
To: HOLLINGER RICHARD VERNON
Cc: Jackson Armstrong-Ingram ,
talisman
Subject: Re: 1902 tablet
Richard: I had determined not to say anything on the subject on this
round, but the suggestion you have made that the issue is clear and
settled is so contrary to the evidence that we both have that I cannot
understand what drives you to express this certainty. The following
issues remain unresolved:
1) `Abdu'l-Baha interpreted Baha'u'llah's texts largely within the
intellectual framework of the Islamic tradition of legal thought. In
that tradition a mujtahid or jurisprudent (which was one of
`Abdu'l-Baha's functions) applied his reasoning to a Qur'an text or set
of texts in order to derive a judgment with regard to a particular case.
The jurisprudent looks for an underlying operative principle (`illah) in
the text that might be applied analogously to the real-world case. E.g.,
wine is forbidden because it fogs the mind; therefore hashish (not
mentioned in the Qur'an) would also be forbidden, since the same
principle (`illah) would come into play. The jurisprudent is recognized
as having the authority to abrogate his own earlier judgements upon
giving the matter further thought or in the face of further knowledge of
the situation.
The reason `Abdu'l-Baha gives for excluding women from all houses of
justice ("the House of Justice," i.e., that in Chicago and all others) in
1902 is that Baha'u'llah uses the diction, "ya rijal," "O men," to
address them. As we know, Baha'u'llah refers to members of *all* houses
of justice, including local ones, as "men"/rijal. Baha'u'llah's sexed
diction with regard to elective institutions is the `illah, and it
applies to both cases, local houses of justice and the Universal House of
Justice.
When `Abdu'l-Baha reversed himself on this ruling and allowed women
on the Chicago local house of justice in 1912, he implicitly (but
powerfully) abrogated the legal grounds upon which he had earlier
excluded women from houses of justice. This abrogation is logically
impossible to confine only to local houses of justice, given the wording
of the earlier, 1902 Tablet. The abrogation removes legal justification
for barring the Universal House of Justice from engaging in its own
juridical reasoning (istinbat or elucidation) with regard to this issue,
since it is empowered to resolve obscure legal points. Nothing is more
obscure than the apparently contradictory and ever-changing Baha'i texts
on the service of women on elective institutions. The current Universal
House of Justice has declined to rule, wisely in my view since the whole
issue deserves much more study. But future Houses of Justice may decide
they have competence to rule on the matter. I know that the members of
the current Universal House of Justice privately would very much like to
be able to allow women to be elected, if only a rock-solid legal case
for it could be demonstrated.
2. It simply is not the case that the 1909 letter unambiguously allows
women onto local houses of justice but excludes them from the Universal
House of Justice. Far more study of the terminology of the original
Persian would be needed before such a conclusion could be finalized.
Even then, some sort of `illah or legal justification would be desirable,
rather than arbitrary fiat. Why can Baha'u'llah's wording be
circumvented at one level (local houses of justice) but not at another?
3. `Abdu'l-Baha's diction in his 1913 letter, printed in *Paris Talks*,
is most confusing, since he there reverts to speaking of women being
excluded from "the house of justice" generically, implying both local and
universal--even though he had only a year earlier allowed women onto the
Chicago and New York local houses of justice! (Is it that he was writing
to a woman in Europe, and that women there still were not serving on LSAs?)
4. The permanent exclusion of women from the right of eligibility to
serve on the Universal House of Justice is in contradiction with the
Baha'i principle of equality of rights and equality under the law for all,
principles insisted upon and adumbrated by `Abdu'l-Baha over and over again.
Valuing a poorly understood, juridically inexplicit and
possibly ad hoc letter of 1909 (after all, he abrogated the 1902 letter,
and for all we know the 1913 letter abrogates the 1909 one)
over this compelling legal principle is in my view poor Baha'i jurisprudence.
It is also a violation of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and
subsequent U.N. covenants on human rights, for which documents the Universal
House of Justice has expressed support.
Baha'is' valuing of tradition and arbitrary authority over
other equally important principles within their faith (reason, equality
of rights, fairness and justice) is among the
factors leading outside observers such as Huston Smith to conclude that
the Baha'i Faith has become just another religion, having lost the
opportunity to become Universal Religion. It is not too late for us to
prove him wrong.
cheers Juan Cole, History, Univ. of Michigan


From rabbana@a1.bmoa.umc.dupont.comThu Apr 4 00:33:25 1996
Date: Wed, 03 Apr 96 22:03:01 -0500
From: Ahang Rabbani
To: "MBOYER%UKANVM.BitNet@pucc.PRIN"
<"mboyer%ukanvm.bitnet@pucc.princeton.edu"@esds01.mrgate.bmoa.umc.dupont.com>,
talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: RE: Bab's Martyrdom
[This message is converted from WPS-PLUS to ASCII]
Dear Milissa,
You queried:
> I am looking for some evidence of the Bab's execution, namely
> the miraculous part of the story, that would substaniate the
> Baha'i version of events.
> But I am looking for specific evidence. Does anyone know of an
> independent, non-Bahai, non-western, and especially
> non-British, account of the Bab's martyrdom that mentions
> anything at all about him having to be suspended twice or that
> he didn't try to escape after the first attempt?
There are several non-Baha'i, non-western accounts of the Bab's
martyrdom that agree essentially with everything that Nabil
states in his narrative and where they differ is not important as
far as the Bab's portion of the event is concerned.
One such source is: Nasikhu't-Tavarikh, vol 3, p 305-7.
The author of this book, Mirza Muhammad-Taqi Khan-i Kashani,
Lisanu'l-Mulk, known as Sipihr, was certainly no friend of the
Faith; in fact was a court historian who did his best to twist
the facts and misrepresent the events to suit his own purposes,
but nevertheless provides the same story about the Bab's
martyrdom, miracles and all, as we have in Baha'i sources.
Basically, the source of Baha'i version of the events about the
Bab's martyrdom solidly correlated with non-Baha'i accounts --
and if anything, the non-Baha'i details which differ from ours,
are far more "miraculous" and moving. I suspect that the reason
that Shoghi Effendi didn't use them more heavily, is because he
wished to play down miracle stories and emotional events.
Speaking of miracles, we know that one of the Babis prepared a
massive book of more than 2,500 miracle stories of the Babi
Dispensation and presented it to the Bab, Who instructed him to
destroy this book as it would become a source of ridicule.
regards, ahang.


From gladius@portal.caThu Apr 4 00:34:06 1996
Date: Wed, 3 Apr 1996 21:13:59 -0800 (PST)
From: Linda de Gonzalez
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: NEW THREAD: Shadow as Key to Transformation
For a number of years, I have been reading Jung (and others) on the subject
of the "shadow": that part of ourselves which we do not acknowledge exists.
Usually, it contains our "negative attributes", our greed, fear, hurt, anger
and other not-so-nice feelings and qualities.
This Shadow has a lot of the qualities of (generic) shadow: It is completely
tied to us, and we cannot escape it; it mirrors exactly the "light" portion
of our personality; there's more, but I want to get to the point.
Shadow is the key to personal transformation: our shadows tell us exactly
who we are, they contain information we have previously dis-owned about our
selves, which, when reclaimed, serves to launch us on a higher level of
operational transformation (!).
One of the neat-o groovy things about Shadow is that they exist in groups of
individuals as well as individuals: those things that groups just won't talk
about are contained by Shadow. Witness the silence that for so long existed
regarding incest, sexual abuse etc.: those things "just didn't exist" even
though up to 30% of any given population were victims of it. But nobody
would talk about it. So of course, nothing could be done to solve it, which
was okay, because it didn't exist anyway.
Denial is a great way to increase Shadow in yourself, if you're interested!!!
I would like to start a discussion on Shadow and how to see it, both within
ourselves as individuals and in our communities. I am particularly
interested in how we can work together to support transformation in each
other and in our communities.
Linda de Gonzalez
Gladius Productions


From sbedin@gov.nt.caThu Apr 4 00:34:15 1996
Date: Wed, 03 Apr 1996 22:28:20 MST
From: Stephen Bedingfield
To: Ahang Rabbani
Cc: mboyer%ukanvm.bitnet%pucc.princeton.edu@esds01.mrgate.bmoa.umc.dupont.com,
talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: RE: Bab's Martyrdom
Greetings Ahang,
> Speaking of miracles, we know that one of the Babis prepared a
> massive book of more than 2,500 miracle stories of the Babi
> Dispensation and presented it to the Bab, Who instructed him to
> destroy this book as it would become a source of ridicule.
Can you provide us with a little more background and information
about this?
Loving regards,
stephen
--
Stephen Bedingfield | "We desire but
Box 115, Cambridge Bay NT X0E 0C0 | the good of the world and
Canada (403) 983-2123 | the happiness of the nations"
email: sbedin@inukshuk.gov.nt.ca | - Baha'u'llah


From cenglish@aztec.asu.eduThu Apr 4 10:34:48 1996
Date: Wed, 03 Apr 1996 23:26:43 -0700 (MST)
From: "THOMAS C. ENGLISH"
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: re:Shadow thread
I had a very sychronistic experience while reading some of the
recent posts Linda - I says, "This is kind of like The Shadow"
running through some of the discussion. I'm going toonly be good
that's 'to only' be good for about one topic. This is a heavy,
but is germane to issues of personal transformation - if people
will accept widening the loop of discussion to bring in someone
like Jung and those following after.
--
Chris English It does not require many words to
P.O. Box 10 speak the truth.
Phoenix, AZ 85001 -Chief Joseph, Nez Perce, [1840?-1904]
602.379.4511 cenglish@aztec.asu.edu


From Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nlThu Apr 4 10:35:31 1996
Date: Thu, 04 Apr 1996 09:45:04 +0000 (EZT)
From: Sen.Mcglinn@rl.rulimburg.nl
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: AI membership
I am a 'donator' of AI myself - which is
to say, a member who is not officially a member. Costs the same as membership,
you get the journal and join in the acitivities of your choice just the same.
If there's any difference it would presumably be in relation to administrative
functions within AI, which I have never bothered my head about. I just
collaborate with their projects, as the House has encouraged us to do.
Sen
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Sen McGlinn ph: 31-43-3216854
Andre Severinweg 47 email: Sen.McGlinn@RL.RuLimburg.NL
6214 PL Maastricht, the Netherlands
***
When, however, thou dost contemplate the innermost essence of things,
and the individuality of each,
thou wilt behold the signs of thy Lord's mercy . . ."
------------------------------------------------------------------------


From gladius@portal.caThu Apr 4 10:36:03 1996
Date: Wed, 3 Apr 1996 23:57:09 -0800 (PST)
From: Linda de Gonzalez
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: re:Shadow thread
Chris English says:
> This is a heavy,
>but is germane to issues of personal transformation - if people
>will accept widening the loop of discussion to bring in someone
>like Jung and those following after.
Erhm..."widening the loop of discussion"??? There are some Writings that I
believe support Jung's view, the only one I can think of off the top of my
head is that famous one from Abdu'l-Baha about concentrating only on
people's good qualities (even if there's only one) rather than their bad.
My own interpretation of this statement is that concentrating on "good
qualities" (strengths) isn't just as a means to be "pleasant" to each other,
except superficially; this is because we can only grow from our strengths
(back to that wonderful "Mathematics of Encouragement" piece). We cannot
grow from our weaknesses (our shadow). I am interpreting this liberally, I
know, however, it's based on my observation and my experience. We can,
however, use our Shadow to grow.
Yes, the impulse to start a Shadow Thread (!!) started from my reactions to
what I was reading!
And frankly, I don't want this to turn into a Jungian discussion group. I
want to know how to apply these truths in my own life and in my dealings
with others in my community, in ways consistent with Baha'i principles and
writings.
Linda de Gonzalez
Gladius Productions


From 73043.1540@compuserve.comThu Apr 4 10:42:07 1996
Date: 04 Apr 96 05:39:35 EST
From: John Dale <73043.1540@compuserve.com>
To: BAHA'I-TALISMAN-LIST
Subject: Up/Down
Dear Friends,
Arsalan writes,

>Membership card or no membership card, this is His Cause and He will do what
>He wills. Don't you think it is haughty of us to think that the authority
>and power of the Supreme Institution of God depends on some puny souls like
us?"
COMMENT: Why are some Baha'is constantly puting human beings and their
institutions DOWN, while God assiduously over thousands of years has tried to
nurture them, love them, and pull them UP? We are only as valuable in reality as
we are in the eyes of God. The point of the previous post was not value but
basic arithmetic.
-- John Dale


From 73043.1540@compuserve.comThu Apr 4 10:43:38 1996
Date: 04 Apr 96 05:39:41 EST
From: John Dale <73043.1540@compuserve.com>
To: BAHA'I-TALISMAN-LIST
Subject: Response to Derek C.
Dear Derek,
You write,
>I always have problems with a person who attempts to denigrate the views of
others by stating their opinion has no intellectual value. <
What I said was that impugning people's motive's for engaging in a discussion is
inconsistent with consultation and is simply emotionally diversionary. You may
think things like that in private, but when you go public with it, it adds
nothing to the actual substance of the debate and diverts its into a totally
different channel.
> women serving on the House of Justice has absolutely nothing to with the
Equality of
>Women and Men. <
Oh really? Not everyone would agree with you.
>There is no gender of the soul therefore women not serving does not mean they
are spiritually inferior to men.<
I'm glad we agree they are not inferior. In fact the genderless nature of the
soul is not the issue here.
>.The Bahai Faith is the only religion in recorded history that had a woman as
its Head. Women serve in the highest personal appointed positions.<
Yes! Wonderful! So why aren't they on the House of Justice? Who better could
help bring justice than they, these herioc wonderful rijal women?
>. There is no moral dilemma except in your own mind.<
It is obvious that you are not focused outward in this statement toward the
world that looks at this Community from the point of view of its appearance of
moral inconsistency. That world sees a problem. I see the world seeing a
problem. Therefore I see a problem. The world of other thoughtful people is
not as blinded as some of us are by like or by dislike. If it saw no problem,
if many of us saw no problem, there would be no debate, and you would not have
to engage in impuning people's motives in debating it.
As for the rest of your comments, they reflect an intellectual hysteria. Nobody
is attacking the House of Justice per se or saying to disobey it. It is
precisely the appearance of this unexplained moral inconsistency that attacks it
and weakens its ability to command respect in the eyes of a skeptical world.
Until it resolves the issue by either voting to allow women to serve on it or
can in some way clarify why they should not be on the House of Justice, the
appearance of moral inconsistency will inherently remain and this issue will
continue to cause only problems. I am pointing to an objective phenomenon that
should be obvious to anybody. If people cannot acknowledge a simple basic
appearance of a problem and discuss it without running off into hysterics,
impugning people's motives, impugning people's loyalty, etc., then indeed this
Community has a real problem, and we should not at all be surprised that we are
not prepared for entry by troops.
Do you think the questions I ask, that we have all asked, will not be asked by
every new soul who attempts to enter the Baha'i Community? If not, think again.
They will be asked a million times, until the appearance of a problem is
resolved.
Respectfully,
John Dale
PS: I am finished with this issue, which is one which affected me and my family
very deeply.


From jjensen@welchlink.welch.jhu.eduThu Apr 4 10:45:17 1996
Date: Thu, 4 Apr 1996 08:49:25 -0500 (EST)
From: Joan Jensen
To: John Dale <73043.1540@compuserve.com>
Cc: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Thanks
Dear John,
I (for one) would like to thank you for raising the issue of service
of women on the Universal House of Justice yet again. People posted
discussion on this round of rehashing that I had noy seen on previous
rounds, shedding a lot of light on the topic for me. I personally have
known several budding seekers who declined to continue in the exploration
of the Baha'is Faith over this issue. I agree wholeheartedly with your
statement:

> Do you think the questions I ask, that we have all asked, will not be
> asked by every new soul who attempts to enter the Baha'i Community? If
> not, think again. They will be asked a million times, until the
> appearance of a problem is resolved.
Warmly, Joan
------------------------------------------------------------------
Joan Jensen
Baltimore, Maryland USA

*******************************************************************
"...love and affinity are the fruits of a gentle disposition,
a pure nature and praiseworthy character..."
Selected Writings of 'Abdu'l-Baha, p. 287
*******************************************************************


From lbhollin@uxmail.ust.hkThu Apr 4 11:07:22 1996
Date: Mon, 1 Apr 1996 11:50:51 +0800 (HKT)
From: HOLLINGER RICHARD VERNON
To: Member1700@aol.com
Cc: Talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Women and the House
On Sat, 30 Mar 1996 Member1700@aol.com wrote:
Tony and I (and others) have discussed and debated the historical
evidence on this at some length and I do not wish to take up the bandwith
here to retrace these steps now. I do want to briefly discuss a couple
of points in Tony's last post.

> referring to the Chicago House as Baytu'l-Adl Ummumi (General House of
> Justice, but which can also be translated universal [small u] House of
> Justice--the normal term for the International House of Justice being
> Baytu'l-Adl Azam).
Where in the writings of `Abdu'l-Baha or in the writings of Baha'is
between 1902-1912 is the latter term used? I have previously cited
instances in which the `Abdu'l-Baha used the term baytu'l-adl ummumi in a
context that could only refer to the UHJ (his will and testament).
> 4. There were a number of specific historical circumstances that led
> 'Abdu'l-Baha to lift the restriction on women's membership on Houses of
> Justice in America (not in Iran). Not the least of these was the demands of
> the American women. But still, in 1911, when specifically asked if women
> should be elected to the Kenosha Assembly, 'Abdu'l-Baha said no.
In 1909 or 1910 `Abdu'l-Baha wrote to Shahnaz Waite stating that
mixed-gender and gender segregated institutions were both acceptable.
(As my files and books are currently *en route* to Hong Kong, and will not
arrive here for another month, I hope I can be excused from providing a
citation. But perhaps Jackson, the resident expert on Waite, can help out.)
These sentiments are also expressed in his instructions to Howard
MacNutt, who was sent to Chicago to reform the House of Spirituality in
1912, at which time proscription against female members on the body was
lifted. In this context, likely significance of his response to the
Kenosha board of counsel was that it was not necessary to dissolve
existing board and hold a new election right away, as it was not critical
(though it was permissible) to change the existing practice.
The
situation in Chicago in 1912 was different however, as there was
a prominent Covenant-breaker who had been elected to the House, and
sympathizers of Kheiralla had been regularly attending the Baha'i
meetings there. The re-election was part of `Abdu'l-Baha's effort to
eliminate contact between Baha'is and Covenant-breakers. There is also
some question about whether there were enough active experienced Baha'i
men in the Chicago community at this time to maintain the House of
Spirituality, without any women as members (which is no doubt one reason
why a Covenant-breaker had been elected). Perhaps Rob or
Jackson can speak to this issue.
Richard Hollinger


From friberg@will.brl.ntt.jpThu Apr 4 11:16:55 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 96 14:09:00 JST
From: "Stephen R. Friberg"
To: Juan R Cole , friberg@will.brl.ntt.jp
Cc: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: science and religion
Dear Juan:
> John has called for new subjects, and one that I would like to see
> discussed is the possible contributions of the Faith to the dilemma of
> the `two cultures', the split between science and the humanities, and the
> opposition between scientific ways of thinking and religion.
I couldn't agree with you more, and heartily endorse your
recomendation! I will definitely try to contribute, and I
strongly urge the friends on both sides of the split to do
so too.
> This divide has been one of the central themes of Western culture during
> the past two centuries. The subject is of the utmost importance, because
> the rise of science, technology and capitalism have produced a realist
> and pragmatic mindset in Westerners that clearly challenges religious
> ways of thinking.
Let me note that the problem is equally important, or perhaps even
more important, in the Far East, where science, technology and
capitalism have made equal inroads. There is a additional fillip:
modern science, technology, and capitalism are, to a large degree,
borrowings from the West without the native conceptualization
processes that supported their development in Europe and the
Americas.
> The possible positions on religion this crisis has produced include:
> 1) secularist atheism.
> 2) scriptural fundamentalism.
> 3) Neo-Thomism:
> 4) Islamic equivalents of 2) and 3)
> 5) Religious liberalism:
> Now, when I became a Baha'i, I read `Abdu'l-Baha on science and religion,
> and I assumed that Baha'is would contribute to the debate largely within
> the framework of 5) above.
Let me say a few things from an argumentive position. In other words,
let me enter into the spirit of trying to clarify current thinking by
speaking from one side of the split:
>From my point of view, the religious liberalism point of view is
unconvincing. (This is probably because I started at the stage of
secular agnosticism [1)] and was strongly influenced by both leftist
and populist critiques of protestant American corporatism and
elitism, which form the political bulwark of religious liberalism.)
I associate it with modern protestant theology, a combination of
political correctness and benign neglect that seems to have had
the most significant effect in that it triggered the rise
of fundamentalism. But, I am willing to re-examine the case for it,
and overcome my prejudices.
> But it has gradually become apparent to me that very large numbers
> of Baha'is, perhaps a majority, want to work out of framework 2)
> above, while others are oriented to 3) above.
I think this is understandable. Throwing away the derogatory
implications of the labels, the enthusiasm for 2) and 3) comes
from the immediacy of the Baha'i Revelation. We can read what
the major figures of our Faith say directly, assuming them to
be commenting on situations familiar to us and relevant to this
day and age. This is in marked contrast to protestant theology,
which seems to have had to engage in ever more tortuous exegesis
to support its modern themes. (In doing so, it has become
academic and scholarly, and I would claim, insulated from the
tests and trials of ordinary believers. Fundamentalists have
not been slow to recognize this. Are the failings of religious
liberalism the causes of fundamentalism?)
As for 3), it is something I am quite unfamiliar with and want to
learn more about. I do see European rationalism and scholasticism
as being one in their origins (their origin apparently being Islamic)
and as being the ground for the rise of both modern science and modern
philosophy (through Bacon, Descartes, etc.). So, if I am to be
grounded in Western thought, I believe that I need to be grounded
in what you call Thomism.
> This is complicated, because Baha'is are often quite willing to borrow the
> arguments of religious liberalism for thinking about Christianity and
> Islam; but when it comes to the Baha'i Faith itself, they retrench to
> scriptural literalism or a sort of scholasticism.
Good point.
> I feel that . . . blindly adopting . . . from our Christian and
> Muslim milieu is not good for the Baha'i Faith. `Abdu'l-Baha
> presented the Faith as a vehicle for a potential resolution of
> this crisis, but I have not seen much evidence that Baha'is
> have contributed significantly to the debates.
Yes, you are 100% correct here, in my opinion. We definitely need
to make progress in the way that you suggest.
> I haven't even seen
> Baha'is cite the major figures in the philosophy of science--Kuhn,
> etc.
Those of us who are scientists, like non-Baha'i scientists, tend
not to take *any* philosopy of science seriously. If pressed, we
will mention Popper as having some merit (because his principle about
nonverifiability, although wrong as a description of the way things
work in science, still has a nice ring to it.) We also might admit
to having read Kuhn in graduate school. To most scientists, the
terminology of "paradigm" is useful, but the rest of Kuhn's argument
does seem like a put-down of science. Much of it doesn't square with
our experience. Personally, I would like to discuss Kuhn.
> Most Baha'is with a serious scientific background appear oddly willing to
> simply be silent and to work with a divided mind, and even to support
> scriptural literalism as a hermeneutical approach.
I'm trying to learn about the approach of the humanities, which I
think to be valid. But, from the scientific side of the split,
much of what folks do in the humanities appears unscientific and
therefore not trustable. I suppose that I share this prejudice,
which I am trying to overcome. In contrast, I do trust what
Baha'u'llah, Abdu'l Baha, Shoghi Effendi, and the House of
Justice say. In other words, I accept their authority. (Is
this what you mean by scriptural literalism as a hermeneutical
approach?)
If you want to describe this as having a divided mind, I suppose
that you are free to do so. But, our education as scientists
teaches us to suspend judgement until we feel that there is a
good chance that circumstances allow for resolution. We do
tend to view non-scientists as being unwilling to examine all
sides of a question, therefore being much more prone to accepting
half-baked ideas or leaping on bandwagons without knowing where
they are going. Perhaps scientists view not coming to closure as
being much more important than non-scientists do.
For most scientists, hermeneutics, as a project from the humanities,
is itself suspect. To us, it looks like theorizing and explanation
without the possibility of checking by experiment. We tend to view
it as an exercise in the imitation of science at the best, or sheer
egoism at the worst. (Closure at whatever the price!)
Hermeneutics can also be easily seen as a priestly endeavor, as
educated men try to place themselves in an intermediate position
between man and God. Scholarly hermeneutics in an Islamic garb
is the signature of the mullah, who, for reasons valid or not,
many in the Faith hate. Not to stretch the point too much, but
rather to provide fuel for debate, I would like to point out that
hermeneutics seems very similar to interpretation, which we know
that individuals are not allowed to insist on as being correct.
That said, I am very eager to learn about hermeneutics, and would
welcome anything that can be said about it.
Perhaps I am being provocative in bringing up what may incite
controversy. But I am doing so because I think that there are many
valid points that merit discussion, not because of any strong feelings
on my part.
Also, I know that a bit of controversy is important for
any Talisman discussion, so please consider this my
contribution to try to liven the discussion up a bit.
> Baha'is have spent most of the twentieth century erecting the
> administrative order, pioneering, and teaching the faith. But it is now
> time for us to start taking seriously the *intellectual* tasks laid
> upon us by Baha'u'llah, `Abdu'l-Baha, Shoghi Effendi, and the Universal
> House of Justice.
Hear, hear! I'm 150% behind you here.
Yours sincerely,
Stephen R. Friberg
Physic, Japan


From TLCULHANE@aol.comThu Apr 4 11:18:29 1996
Date: Tue, 2 Apr 1996 18:02:59 -0500
From: TLCULHANE@aol.com
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Cc: TLCULHANE@aol.com
Subject: re:science and religion
Juan and all : Lora forwarded this one to me and here are my
provisional comments.
1) It seems to me a possible response is to distinguish between science
and scientism , where the ism is attached to a materialist view of life .

2) In my continuing confrontation with modernity I would suggest that
the framework you have described puts the burden on religion for a possible
response. I would like to place the burden on science as a community of
inquiry - a la Charles S. Pierce a contemporary of Bahau llah's - to justify
the ends to which the fruits of its empirical epistemology are directed.
This has the effect of exposing the seemingly "neutral " application of
results. It raises ethical issues obscured by by the dominant form of social
order in high modernity the commercial culture of capitalism. The legitimacy
of science among the general public is related to its technological
applications . The practice of science is implicated in the ecological
concerns of many as well as the material pyramid effect on which ten percent
of the worlds people stand at the top built on the sweat and blood of the
mass of humanity , both today and historically. This means i think that we
identify those elements of the scientific community of inquiry who also have
serious concerns about the ethical uses of scientific inquiry. At this level
it is ethics rather than epistemology that is important. Given what you have
called Bahau llahs standpoint epistemology it , in principle, ought to be
easy to make common cause on the basis of ethics. The Union of Concerned
Scientists would be a place to start . Why Bahais have not participated in or
sponsored such unions is beyond me . I suspect it is our own brand of
triumphal sectarianism getting in the way.

3) Once we distinguish between science as a community of inquiry we can
address the epistemological assumptions of empiricism. I am not suggesting we
engage in a fruitless debate about the efficacy of empiricism . It is clear
such efforts can and do alter the conditions of human life and provide , in a
pragmatic sense, useful knowledge of the world. This critique is linked to #1
above. The problem is not empirical fruits it is the recognition that strict
empiricism as a way of knowing- Carnap - is not tenable as an explanation of
how science as epistemology is conducted . Whitehead , Polanyi and other
practicing scientists and mathematicians long put this to rest in my view.
Any meaningful Bahai response needs to be conversant with this work .
Otherwise it falls into the fundamentalist trap opposing scientific ways of
knowing with religious ways of knowing . In Whitehead , Polanyi etc. there
are aspects of an epistemology which is or would be congenial to a religious
way of knowing , especially a non sectarian perennnial philosophy or
theosophy. The California Institute of Integral studies would be a place to
start . There are of course physicians such as Larry Dossey who are open to
such things as "prayer" as a form of healing . In short I am suggesting
there are practicing elements in the scientific community who would not be
hostile to standpoint epistemology and a religious perspective which makes
"the acquisition of knowledge incumbant upon all " and states that "
scientists and articts have a great right among the people." It is not the
knowledge of science put to developing an "ever -advancing civilization"
which is the problem . the epistemology runs into ethics and that is the
province of religion to address.
4) In my mind this requires a religious response which is not sectarian or
triumphal . One can discuss the "changeless faith of God" without falling
into the fundamentalist Artistotelian trap - we are right or righter than you
and therefore you must be wrong -. I think this implies that Bahau lah is
about institutionalizing the perennial philosophy that such a philosophy
might have ethical effect in the world. I understand His claims to messianic
fulfillment in this sense . He is embodyinmg the truth claims of all the
Prophets and legitimizing them as a way to eliminate one of the principle
sources of conflict and contention in the world - the horrors of "religious
fanaticism and hatred." It sems a Bahai response is to develop a dialogue
with all who have the intent and hope of developing in the cultural realm a
global set of ethical standards , which can find institutional expression
and can be given divine sanction via Bahau llah. This effort would be
comparable to the global community of inquiry and epistmology that
characterizes science . This is part of the reason , in my view, why science
is so powerful. It presents a world which is as *true* in Pakistan as in
Brazil or China or the United States. I suspect it is part of the hold
science still has on the educated mind . It is percieved as a means of
*Order* in a metaphysical sense in an otherwise chaotic world -essentially
science as technology will save us . One of the reasons , I believe ,
religion is so irrelevant to much of the world are the continuing claims of
each religion to THE TRUTH . The recognition of this relativity of truth
claims undermines the legitimacy of the transrational claims of religion in
general . To the extent that Bahais make such claims for themselves we will
be as irrelevent to the needs of the world.
5) The key point for me is not the epistemology, it is the ethics. . I am a
pluralist about truth claims and am increasingly convinced that is the
direction Bahau llah was pointing and that all these claims are grounded in
an Absolute Truth or Reality which will forever exist beyond our grasp.
6) My Bahai response would be one of finding and making common ground with
those scientists and otherwise who have ethical concerns about the ends of
scientific results . I am not much concerned about their epistemological
convictions in and of themselves. I become concerned when those "ways of
knowing " are used to preclude additional "ways of knowing". This seems to
me consistent with Bahau llah's standpoint epistemology. The potential
ethical universalism espoused by Bahau llah will begin to have an impact when
it can generate corrections , changes , and perfections both in terms of
an alternative form of organization for the planet - the social order
question - and develops practical means to effect that transformation in
daily life or the "lifeworld."
This is not the occasion for me to go on about the effect the ubiquitous
presence of Houses of Worship and their subsidiaries can have on both the
sense of *order* in the world and its practical application . So I wont. :)
:)

I hope John appreciates my brevity and the numbering system which I have
borrowed from him . :)
warm regards ,
Terry


From gec@geoenv.comThu Apr 4 11:22:07 1996
Date: Thu, 4 Apr 1996 10:17:47 -0500
From: Alex Tavangar
To: Talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Huston Smith and Baha'i
Hi Friends,
I've not been able to get on Talisman for several days now an already the
catching up process seems daunting. The thread about Houston Smith's view
of the Baha'i Faith caught my emotional attention. I read some comments
that made me wish we (as Talismanians and Baha'is in general) could get
together more often and give each other hugs.
The stress of giving allegiance to a cause yet unappreciated by the
generality of humankind was evident in some of the posts. We so long for
mainstream acceptance (and the emotional relief that it may offer) that
endorsements by accomplished personalities such as Tolstoy and Houston Smith
mean a lot to us.
All I can say is that please don't be disappointed if every student of
religion and philosophy does not immediately embrace the Baha'i Faith. For
what its worth remember that I and millions of other Baha'is and friends of
Baha'is love you and are rooting for you on your spiritual quest. No one is
claiming to be perfect. Perfection (as our human minds may understand it)
is only our goal towards which we are encouraged to strive by all Divine
Teachers including the Blessed Perfection.
" O people of Baha! Ye are the dawning-places of the love of God and the
daysprings of His loving-kindness. ... Ye are all the leaves of one tree
and the drops of one ocean. "
(Tablets of Baha'u'llah, page 27)
Loving Regards
Alex B. Tavangar


From LThu Apr 4 12:08:41 1996
Date: Thu, 4 Apr 1996 18:43:00 +0200 (MET DST)
From: L
To: Talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Beating--Another perspective
Dear Mr. Osborn,
I personally do not see any complexity at all when it comes to "beating" or
"physical punishment/action in social relationships" or "physical violence".
I believe the Writings are quite clear on the subject. I also believe the
Writings are quite clear concerning verbal chastisement.
The subject of violence within a family situation has been the subject of a
great deal of academic research over the last twenty years. Some of it is
quite good. Some of it is not as good. Some of it is quite bad. There are
researchers who would agree with you that corporal punishment and "beating
the living daylights" are part of the same continuum. I agree with those
researchers who say that violence towards a family member is a problem of
the power structure within the family. The relationship is complex only
because the one being physically abused does not feel powerful enough to
leave the relationship. This could be because the survivor is a child, or
perhaps a mother with children, or perhaps does not believe in divorce.
There are other reasons as well. (I do not want to make this posting
interminably long.) I would, though, like to lay to rest the common belief
that women "provoke" the beating, as was intimated in several postings quite
some time ago. Several people mentioned how they had witnessed such scenes.
The woman harassed, hit, etc. the man until the man just started beating
her. There has been sufficient research to show that survivors do try to
have some control over their lives. They feel, for whatever reason, they
cannot leave the family, but try to control what is happening to them by
planning when the beating will occur. They try to choose the moment when
they will be best able to cope with it. This might seem pathetic to some of
you, but it is a strong psychological weapon. Lenore Walker has a theory
about the cycle dysfunctional couples go through. I have seen this cycle
reproduced in non-American couples. The woman can feel about when the
beating is going to occur and tries to cope by making sure it happens when
she is ready for it. She does this through some trigger that she knows will
set the man off. This cycle can take from a few hours to a few years to
repeat itself. For those of you who wish to plead for the "Battered Husband
Syndrome", the Steinmetz research, which first put forth this theory, is one
of the "quite bad pieces of research", in my opinion, of course. She
misrepresented the data she used and ignored contradictory data. There are
some who will feel that the woman, in an attempt to have some control over
what is going to happen to her, is also wrong in the method she is using
(the "provoking"). I would be a bit more sympathetic. These are people who
feel powerless, sometimes to the point of being psychologically paralyzed by
what is happening to them. Until the woman is strong enough to walk out,
and has some support to help her when she leaves, that is all she has to get
through her life.
As for children, researchers are against corporal punishment for some very
clear reasons. Gelles says that corporal punishment teaches children that
it is acceptable:
-to hit people you love;
-for powerful people to hit less powerful people;
-to use hitting to achieve some end or goal, and
-to hit as an end in itself. (See Richard Gelles, "Child Abuse and
Psychopathology" in *Family Violence*, ed. Richard Gelles)
Do women and children generally expect or want a beating? I do not think
so. Certainly I have seen enough research which shows that women do not
enter a relationship expecting to get beaten. It is common for the abuse of
women to begin when they get pregnant. (Of course this is not a steadfast
rule. Abuse can also begin before.) As for children, they need and expect
structure and discipline, even if they do not verbalize it. I believe that
children put up with corporal punishment until they are old enough to fight
back in some way, through physical violence, running away, etc. I classify
"spanking" as corporal punishment. In the families I knew with children of
my generation, spanking stopped when the child was old enough to make clear
that he or she would hit back. The same thing happens in schools.
Structural violence is violence which is part of the social structure. If
you change the actors the structural violence remains. "Nobody" perpetrates
it. It comes from inequities in the system which are compounded by
injustice. Mr. Harrison and Ms. Dawnlight have posted many examples of
structural violence. The children in US slums who do not get enough to eat
because of their poverty and thus cannot fully develop their intellectual
potential are victims of structural violence. My children, who cannot fully
develop their creative capacities because the Walloon government would
rather build nice ministerial buildings than invest money in the educational
system, are victims of structural violence. (For more on structural
violence see, for instance, Johan Galtung's *The True Worlds*.)
if corporal
>punishment (limited beating) is so woven into the fabric of social relations
>that its absence would be taken negatively (as not caring, weakness, or sth).
>This is a sincere question, based on my limited perspective as a foreign male
>who spent 6+ years in West Africa, and reinforced by the Chinese perspective
>attached below. Please understand that I am not trying to justify any form
>of corporal punishment, beating, physical violence or structural violence,
>only trying to understand what seems to me to be a minor paradox.
What you are talking about here is direct violence, not structural violence.
It also seems that the women of the world do not agree with you. Of course
I have not made a survey of the women of the world, I am basing this
statement on what has been transpiring on an international level over the
last five or so years. Women around the world are now mobilising to stop
violence against women and children once and for all. If you followed the
negotiations at the Beijing Conference this was quite clear. Also, women,
generally headed by women from the Third World, have now mobilised
sufficiently within the UN network to create a movement to have violence
towards women classified as torture. This is an important legal step as
there are international laws against torture, whereas violence towards women
falls through the cracks. Negotiations are going on right now.
Female circumcision is "a rite of passage", as you said. I have also seen
tracts by incest supporters in the U.S. which argue that having sexual
intercourse with one's daughter is a rite of passage for the girl. Who but
the father should introduce the girl into the world of sex?
Yes, girls are taught by their elders to expect to be circumcised. They are
not really told what it entails. One African woman, testifying against this
practise, explained how as a child she was taken and held down so this
excruciating operation could be perfomed on her (note, with female
circumcision it is always necessary for several adults to hold the girl
down, whereas with boys this is not necesssary). She wasn't told what was
going to happen. She began screaming for her mother, only to find that her
mother was standing next to her doing nothing to help her. This, she
stated, definitively changed her relationship with her mother (for the
worse). The only reason for female circumcision is so that the girl's
virginity can be protected so that her parents will be able to find her a
husband.
>My paradigm of "violence is bad, period" was shaken by learning that some
>people prefer (mild to be sure) physical punishment to verbal admonishment,
>and may even expect physical punishment. The notion of structural violence
>is helpful in trying to explain why some people appear to accept violence.
>However, I'm not sure it accounts fully for the complex relations surrounding
>corporal punishment/mild beating.
I think your "paradigm" is still correct. Verbal admonishment is violence
as well. Verbal admonishment is psychologically damaging. I think children
recognize that when you are hit, it is painful for a short time, and then
that pain goes away, but when you are verbally chastised the pain is much
deeper and long lasting. In my opinion humiliation, which is forbidden in
the Baha'i Faith, is worse for children than being hit. This is not to say
that hitting is good, just that humiliation and denigration are worse.
Your underlying question, of course, has to do with trying to make sense out
of the basic nobility of the human being and what happens to it when it
lives in a violent society. It gets distorted. Men are distorted because
they are told they have to be this and that (this and that depends on the
society). Women are distorted for the same reason. In some societies some
people might learn to expect to be the recipient of violence, but I have yet
to meet someone who wanted to be the recipient of violence. That is a very
important distinction to keep in mind.
Sincerely,
(Dr.) L


From asadighi@ptialaska.netThu Apr 4 17:59:35 1996
Date: Thu, 4 Apr 1996 08:23:55 -0900
From: "Arsalan J. Sadighi"
To: talisman@indiana.edu
Subject: Re: Women and the House
The Master might not have been too concerned about organization and
administration, but the Guardian was. He spent a life time to infuse the
community of the Greatest Name with a sense of identity and purpose, a very
organized and military like approach to achieving goals, and finally making
the Faith truly independent of Islam.
The Guardian, my understanding is, was the sole interpreter of the Writings
and the person in charge of executing the Master's plans. He understood
better than anyone what the Master had envisioned and that is good enough
for me. I know it is fashionable to put administration and organization (a
very misguided approach to solving problems) down these days, and yet it was
through these administrative institutions and very much military type
discipline and organization that we are where we are today. If it had not
been because of this self imposed discipline most of you folks would not be
here today to whine and moan about administration etc. etc. etc.
>
>
>On Mon, 1 Apr 1996, Jackson Armstrong-Ingram wrote:
>
>> My feeling is that this is another issue in which Baha'is then and now
>> are looking for a mere code of laws. I don't think 'Abdu'l-Baha gave a
>> flying travel teacher about the picky details of organising
>> administration or building the M-ul-A, he just wanted the Baha'is to quit
>> arguing and do it.
>
>I could not agree more. `Abdu'l-Baha just did not think the details of
>how the community was organized and administered were that important, so
>long as there was some form of organization that could get things done.
>His concerns about administration were pragmatic. If the organization was
>working (as in Kenosha) there was no compelling reason to change it.
>When it could not mantain unity in the community (New York) or could not
>maintain the boundaries of the community (Chicago) he intervened to
>change it. The gender composition of the elected bodies does not seem to
>have been a significant issue for `Abdu'l-Baha; the effective
>functioning of those bodies was the important issue.
>
>Richard
>
>
-------------------------------------------------------------------------
Arsalan J. Sadighi
"Things are never quite as scary when you've got a best friend."
Calvin and Hobbes





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