If We're Unable to Consult, We Enable Ourselves!

Jun 2014
1,081
Wisconsin
“Should the fire of the love of God be kindled in Greenland, all the ice of that country will be melted, and its cold weather become temperate—that is, if the hearts be touched with the heat of the love of God, that territory will become a divine rose garden and a heavenly paradise, and the souls, even as fruitful trees, will acquire the utmost freshness and beauty. Effort, the utmost effort, is required. Should you display an effort, so that the fragrances of God may be diffused among the Eskimos, its effect will be very great and far-reaching.”

The phraseology of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá often blends the symbolic with the literal. This is why our understanding of the Bahá'í Writings is constantly in a state of transition. While this Tablet would have been hard to believe in a literal context when it was first made public, now, around a century later, we can begin to read it with a very different insight. However, we are still faced with a dilemma. Namely is global warming actually down to the “fire of the love of God” spread by the Eskimos, or is it due to human negligence? It really depends on how people wish to view it.
Err, that verse should in no way be taken literally.

Even at its warmest, I don't think one would apply the word "temperate" to Greenland.

Symbolic meaning is clear: Draw parallels with "a lover is he who is chill in hellfire" or conversely one who is temperate in a glacial tundra.

Literal interpretations would not make any sense. The expanding virtues of the Kalaallit people would lead to global warming?? No, I don't think these people are responsible for climate change: The Bahá’í Community of Greenland

It seems like an attempt to take half of the quote literally as an attempt to show it predicting scientific events, much like how some will claim "Split the atom's heart and lo! Within it thou wilt find a sun!" is a prediction of nuclear power, even though that quote is not a direct quote of Baha'u'llah, but was the words of a poet that Baha'u'llah cited in Seven Valleys.

I think both the 'Abdu'l-Baha quote and that part of Seven Valleys are much the same: symbolic and illustrative statements that we, if we look at it sideways, can potentially read into using some modern scientific understandings, but that is a coincidental connection at best, and the symbolic meaning is quite at odds with the literal interpretations, so they are best discarded.
 
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Sep 2010
4,546
Normanton, Far North West Queensland
Wow. I'm getting out of here!
Jim this is the time of severe mental tests where the Faith will be challenged from within and from without and I always fall back on these great words of advice;

From without,

"..Stupendous as is the struggle which His words foreshadow, they also testify to the complete victory which the upholders of the Greatest Name are destined eventually to achieve. Peoples, nations, adherents of divers faiths, will jointly and successively arise to shatter its unity, to sap its force, and to degrade its holy name. They will assail not only the spirit which it inculcates, but the administration which is the channel, the instrument, the embodiment of that spirit. For as the authority with which Bahá’u’lláh has invested the future Bahá’í Commonwealth becomes more and more apparent, the fiercer shall be the challenge which from every quarter will be thrown at the verities it enshrines.

From within and without,

"A Blessing in Disguise"

"Viewed in the light of past experience, the inevitable result of such futile attempts, however persistent and malicious they may be, is to contribute to a wider and deeper recognition by believers and unbelievers alike of the distinguishing features of the Faith proclaimed by Bahá’u’lláh. These challenging criticisms, whether or not dictated by malice, cannot but serve to galvanize the souls of its ardent supporters, and to consolidate the ranks of its faithful promoters. They will purge the Faith from those pernicious elements whose continued association with the believers tends to discredit the fair name of the Cause, and to tarnish the purity of its spirit. We should welcome, therefore, not only the open attacks which its avowed enemies persistently launch against it, but should also view as a blessing in disguise every storm of mischief with which they who apostatize their faith or claim to be its faithful exponents assail it from time to time. Instead of undermining the Faith, such assaults, both from within and from without, reinforce its foundations, and excite the intensity of its flame. Designed to becloud its radiance, they proclaim to all the world the exalted character of its precepts, the completeness of its unity, the uniqueness of its position, and the pervasiveness of its influence.
I do not feel for one moment that such clamor, mostly attributable to impotent rage against the resistless march of the Cause of God, can ever distress the valiant warriors of the Faith. For these heroic souls, whether they be contending in America’s impregnable stronghold, or struggling in the heart of Europe, and across the seas as far as the continent of Australasia, have already abundantly demonstrated the tenacity of their Faith and the abiding value of their conviction..."

There are many posts we now see, or we are responsible for, reflect what Shoghi Effendi warned us about. The key here is, that this faith is bigger than any one of us and any wrong we may do. We are always learning and I see the Faith is our reaction to each other and how we find a unity, given we know we will make errors.

Stay strong and happy Jim
 
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Sep 2010
4,546
Normanton, Far North West Queensland
Just be aware that it tends to work best when other Bahá’ís are not invited, or if they are, ensure they tend to be quiet and unassuming in their outlook.
Earth, I see that statement is not justified.

Lots could be said about the implications of such a statement.

Regards Tony
 
Dec 2012
200
Earth
Greetings Tony,

You wrote:

Earth, I see that statement is not justified.

Lots could be said about the implications of such a statement.

Regards Tony

This is how the late Adib Taherzadeh, former member of the Universal House of Justice, used to conduct his personal firesides. Indeed he would often recommended it during Bahá'í venues where he was invited to talk, even if the words he used might have sounded more like honey. Its history certainly goes back to the 10 Year Crusade; if not longer. The reason why it is so successful is because it naturally offers non-contradictory tutorials to people that have a genuine interest in the Faith. This is why the people that have been taught this way have usually read all the key literature before they meet the wider Bahá'ís in their area.

Until Bahá'ís, as individuals, can learn to do things for themselves they will never actually progress. Mary Hardy used to describe this process as sea birds nesting on the cliff-face throwing the young from the nest. Either they learnt to fly on the way down, or they met the hard rocks and rough sea below. So learning to judge when a person has the capacity to survive being a Bahá'í is actually part of the learning process too. Today over 50% of new Bahá'í do not last two years in the Faith within some states that are employing new teaching methods. This would have been unheard of during the Ten Year Crusade.

If you examine the 10 Year Crusade in more depth and talk to those that were party to it, you will come to better understand this process. It cannot possibly be understood within the confines of a misunderstood sentence. This system is still in use today and it still offers really excellent results, especially when using media as the primary stimulus. Hence the recommendation.

Of course I should make the point that it is not discriminatory in nature, rather it is selective. Namely people are granted quality time with their host, rather than witnessing their host being subjected to Bahá'ís vying for their attention instead. Indeed it was for this very reason Taherzadeh would never allow any Bahá'í access to any person he was teaching. He kept a series of firesides going through the week where people would never meet each other. His wife, Leslie, would help manage this along with making space for him to spend time with his children.

Naturally it would be unreasonable to employ such a method in a public place to an open audience, which I can only assume might have justified your concern here. But do understand that people do not have the legal right to enter anyones private property without their direct consent. So Bahá'ís can freely hold as many private firesides as they please along with inviting whomever they choose to attend. But if you invite people that will constantly seek to argue with you during a fireside or media showing, it is natural to expect that any guest might not wish to return.

I hope this might help to place this sentence into better context for you along with clearing up any misunderstanding it might have conveyed.

Here is wishing you well,

Earth
 
Sep 2010
4,546
Normanton, Far North West Queensland
Greetings Tony,

This is how the late Adib Taherzadeh, former member of the Universal House of Justice, used to conduct his personal firesides. Indeed he would often recommended it during Bahá'í venues where he was invited to talk, even if the words he used might have sounded more like honey. Its history certainly goes back to the 10 Year Crusade; if not longer. The reason why it is so successful is because it naturally offers non-contradictory tutorials to people that have a genuine interest in the Faith. This is why the people that have been taught this way have usually read all the key literature before they meet the wider Bahá'ís in their area.

Until Bahá'ís, as individuals, can learn to do things for themselves they will never actually progress. Mary Hardy used to describe this process as sea birds nesting on the cliff-face throwing the young from the nest. Either they learnt to fly on the way down, or they met the hard rocks and rough sea below. So learning to judge when a person has the capacity to survive being a Bahá'í is actually part of the learning process too. Today over 50% of new Bahá'í do not last two years in the Faith within some states that are employing new teaching methods. This would have been unheard of during the Ten Year Crusade.

If you examine the 10 Year Crusade in more depth and talk to those that were party to it, you will come to better understand this process. It cannot possibly be understood within the confines of a misunderstood sentence. This system is still in use today and it still offers really excellent results, especially when using media as the primary stimulus. Hence the recommendation.

Of course I should make the point that it is not discriminatory in nature, rather it is selective. Namely people are granted quality time with their host, rather than witnessing their host being subjected to Bahá'ís vying for their attention instead. Indeed it was for this very reason Taherzadeh would never allow any Bahá'í access to any person he was teaching. He kept a series of firesides going through the week where people would never meet each other. His wife, Leslie, would help manage this along with making space for him to spend time with his children.

Naturally it would be unreasonable to employ such a method in a public place to an open audience, which I can only assume might have justified your concern here. But do understand that people do not have the legal right to enter anyones private property without their direct consent. So Bahá'ís can freely hold as many private firesides as they please along with inviting whomever they choose to attend. But if you invite people that will constantly seek to argue with you during a fireside or media showing, it is natural to expect that any guest might not wish to return.

I hope this might help to place this sentence into better context for you along with clearing up any misunderstanding it might have conveyed.

Here is wishing you well,

Earth
Thank you Earth. I was going to say in my original reply I understood why, as in the 80's this was still a fairly common practice, I have friends that still prefer to have discussions one on one. I just now do not know if it is the right thing to do, as we all need to learn and I see in no way at all do we guide a heart, we can not control what they will accept. My thoughts would be the Guidance care and protection that Baha'u'llah, Abdul'baha and Shoghi Effendi offered to some souls and their resulting decisions.

Of course at a fireside in your own home, that is a personal teaching initiative, you can invite anyone you wish to. :) I always wonder when we will be able to show we have built a Faith that is strong in Unity in its diversity.

You have said; "Until Bahá'ís, as individuals, can learn to do things for themselves they will never actually progress." A just as applicable statement would also be; Until Bahá'ís, can learn to do things as a harmonious whole, they will never actually progress."

In the end there are many ways to look at this, these are testing times.

Regards Tony
 
Sep 2012
359
Panama
...a special fondness for sailing waterways and seas...
Likewise here. My area has many yachties --both current and former, and the lifestyle's always held a certain romance for me. As it turned out, practical issues (cost, piracy, family needs) have had me adapting that yearning to other forms (living in the jungle, traveling commercial to visit family).

Still...
...any form of cultural imperialism can pose a potential problem. I rather suspect it will remain until the Universal House of Justice starts to operate in other languages rather than Persian and English. So change will come once it is in a position to better understand matters outside of its current linguistic perspectives...
The term "Cultural Imperialism" may have a great emotional impact but somehow it never got all that useful for my seeing reality and thinking policy. Maybe we'd be better off thinking in terms of actual observable physical actions. The term "cultural imperialism" somehow takes me to some kind of emperor of social forms, beliefs, and customs --a dead end. With language, my wife was once asked by an Iranian living in Panama to teach him English so he could do business w/ companies in China. It's hard for me to see the victims and oppressors in that situation.
...in order to solve any matter of importance, like global warming, human hearts need to be liberated from the control of spiritually ill people first and foremost. ...
We may also want to set aside the victim/oppressor model for climate too. Like, we can agree that in observable physical terms there's no evil gang of thugs keeping the world's masses in some kind of jail. Perhaps the relevant guidance is--
A phenomenon as complex as climate change cannot be reduced to simple propositions or simplistic policy prescriptions. Even when there is agreement on some underlying facts, there may be a diversity of views about what to do in response to those facts, and the problem is compounded when uncertainty exists or when basic facts are contested for partisan reasons. ...

... Different Bahá’ís will, given their range of backgrounds, understand ideas about science and climate change in different ways and feel impelled to act differently, and there is no obligation for them to have uniformity of thought in such matters. Whenever Bahá’ís do participate in activities associated with this topic in the wider society, they can help to contribute to a constructive process by elevating the discourse above partisan concerns and self-interest to strive to achieve unity of thought and action.

--and what I get there is that it's good that we got different viewpoints and it's also good that we get together on working out a common view. So far I can see the "different viewpoints" but I'm still looking for the "common view" part.
...are currently in the process of moving to another country, so naturally we are a little busy...
Whoa, say no more! That's been my big adventure and it's something that can be super easy to get way out of hand. Do keep me posted on what part of the world u might be ending up in.​
 
Sep 2012
359
Panama
Err, that verse should in no way be taken literally. Even at its warmest, I don't think one would apply the word "temperate" to Greenland...
Of course for most (say 90%) of the time earth's had life Greenland and Antarctica had temps comperabe to temperate latitudes --but what I find particularly interesting here is the fact that the image of Greenland being well, green used to be a good thing. It's interesting the way attitudes change. It's like how it's popular these days for many Baha'is to call for a total end to all use of "fossil fuels. In contrast, Shoghi Effendi said in Baha'u'llah, The Proclamation of Baha'u'llah (p. xi)--
The economic resources of the world will be organized, its sources of raw materials will be tapped and fully utilized, its markets will be co-ordinated and developed, and the distribution of its products will be equitably regulated.

--which suggests that the official Baha'i guidance on natural resources (including fossil fuels) is "use 'em". OK, use 'em wisely and in unity but use 'em.
...Literal interpretations would not make any sense...
Maybe what we want to say is that w/ any of the Sacred Texts it's always possible to find meanings that are nonsense, and it's also possible to find profound wisdom.

I like the wisdom thing.
 
Mar 2015
227
Bend area, Oregon
Friends:

I will offer this link for those who might like to refresh their memories, or yet others newer to the Faith who may not be familiar with the importance of implementing the “fireside” method of individual teaching:

Lights of Guidance/Firesides - Bahaiworks, a library of works about the Bahá’í Faith

As for myself, and for what it may be of worth to others, after being introduced to the Bahá’í Faith on the street by a lone street teacher, it was the fireside method that taught and drew me into the some Faith 41 years ago.

LR
 
Sep 2012
359
Panama
...being introduced to the Bahá’í Faith on the street by a lone street teacher...
Whatever works!

Someone please help me out if I'm missunderstanding this, but while firesides had been emphasised earlier (like in the 1955 letter from the Guardian) my memory of the most recent Ridvan letters has been the World Centre encouraging us to make freinds and engage in significant conversations. In our area the most meaningful interactions have also been thru core activities like youth groups, devotionals, etc.

So much has changed in the past few decades.
 
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Dec 2012
200
Earth
Greeting Tony,

Thank you Earth. I was going to say in my original reply I understood why, as in the 80's this was still a fairly common practice, I have friends that still prefer to have discussions one on one. I just now do not know if it is the right thing to do, as we all need to learn and I see in no way at all do we guide a heart, we can not control what they will accept. My thoughts would be the Guidance care and protection that Baha'u'llah, Abdul'baha and Shoghi Effendi offered to some souls and their resulting decisions.

Of course at a fireside in your own home, that is a personal teaching initiative, you can invite anyone you wish to. :) I always wonder when we will be able to show we have built a Faith that is strong in Unity in its diversity.

You have said; "Until Bahá'ís, as individuals, can learn to do things for themselves they will never actually progress." A just as applicable statement would also be; Until Bahá'ís, can learn to do things as a harmonious whole, they will never actually progress."

In the end there are many ways to look at this, these are testing times.

Regards Tony

I am glad my response made more sense to you. All too often a comment can be misunderstood; especially when it is simply a response to another user. It is challenging in English, even more so when there are different outlooks due to language and culture. So I thank you for your concern and in your patience for allowing me to justify the matter to you.

It is of course worth pointing out that focus groups are still very common today, like meetings for women, meetings for the Persian friends and even meetings for particular racial groups. We should never be afraid of doing things for particular groups or even have meetings without other Bahá'ís. But of course we also need to understand there is a need for open meetings too. Events like a Unity Feast are ideal platforms for this purpose. Indeed in some large Bahá'í Communities Unity Feasts or even regular Nineteen Day Feasts might also include ballroom or Latin dancing. Indeed I know of one group that consists of elderly Bahá'í males that just meet to drink non-alcoholic beer and discuss the Faith in a shed. In the 1960s there were a few other interesting groups too, but perhaps it might be more discrete to allow future historians to address these in the fullness of time.

All good things.

Earth
 
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