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Proposal for a new study of the dialogue/Talisman chronicles
Posted: Wed Feb 27, 2008 12:11 am
"A new life is, in this age, stirring within all the peoples of the earth . . ."
(Gleanings from the Writings of Baha'u'llah, p. 195)
"What the Bahá'í community is engaged in bringing into visible expression is a new creation. In this, the Cause has urgent need of the unfettered and wholehearted assistance of its scholars."
(The Universal House of Justice, 1992 Dec 10, Issues Related to Study Compilation)
"There's a new wind blowing, calling me,
There's a new wind blowing gonna set mankind free."
- Phil Lucas
I would like to see someone:
- compile examples of the spirit of the Talisman movement at its best.
- compile examples of ideas that came out of the movement, that were later widely adopted in the community, to illustrate the possibilities of the movement.
- compile examples of what people in the movement are doing now, to continue the adventure. I see some of what Karen and Steve and Sen and Alison are doing as good examples. I list them because I'm familiar with them, I imagine other examples could be found among non protesting Baha'is. Maybe Sandra Fotos, Sonja van Kerkhoff, LuAnne Hightower and Lora McCall for example.
- Proceed from those examples, and from Baha'i writings and other sources, to suggest possible ways for people to continue the adventure.
What I mean by the spirit of the movement at its best is something Karen wrote about:
"Old-time members of Talisman describe those early days as a time of excitement and wonder . . . Outspoken feminists found themselves corresponding with old-fashioned Middle Eastern men; legalistic administrators talked to mystics; scriptural literalists went head-to-head with scholars using academic methods."
I saw another glimpse of it in a report on the 1996 Mysticism Conference at Bosch.
A more modest proposal
Posted: Wed Feb 27, 2008 5:52 am
I wonder whether enough time has passed to allow the ideas dreamed up on Talisman to percolate through to the community and to become mainstream. My rough guess is that the process takes 20 years or so. Talisman began in late 1994, so I have a feeling it may be premature to study the full force of its effects on the community.
Also the ideas discussed on Talisman are many and various, and, let's face it, most of the ideas expressed there have the lasting power of a randy mayfly. It's a big job to summarise the material in order to define the key, lasting ideas. Also, there's a lot of scope for disagreement over whether the filtering has been done fairly. I suggest going back 20 years and examining something more manageable, like <a href="http://www.h-net.org/~bahai/docs/vol2/modest.htm">A Modest Proposal</a>. It should be relatively simple to analyse which of the proposals have since been adopted by the US community. Perhaps someone has already done that? I do know that the proposals look increasingly modest as time passes.
I'm not an academic, and certainly not a historian or sociologist, but I do wonder what conclusions could be drawn from such an exercise. Just because something is later adopted doesn't mean it was timely when it was first suggested. I fully expect to see a few of the ideas currently talked about on Talisman becoming mainstream in around 2028. I think that's just the nature of progress. Places like Talisman are where the early adopters congregate. Of course the new ideas will appear there first! But I accept that concept may not seem as obvious to others as it does to me.
Re: A more modest proposal
Posted: Wed Feb 27, 2008 8:31 am
Steve wrote:I wonder whether enough time has passed to allow the ideas dreamed up on Talisman to percolate through to the community and to become mainstream.
If you read the discussion of Talisman on the bahai-library site you'll doubtless note the fact that many of the "proposals" promulgated on Talisman are in direct contradiction/violation of various principles of Baha'i administration, and are therefore not suitable for consideration as "alternative ways" of proceeding..
And when you speak of compiling a document listing Talisman's virtues, I'm afraid you're speaking of something that would in fact comprise a VERY short list!
Re: A more modest proposal
Posted: Wed Feb 27, 2008 12:40 pm
Steve, thank you for helping me with this. I see some things that I need to clarify.
By "Talisman movement," I mean a movement of liberation that I see associated with the LA study group, dialogue Magazine and the Talisman lists. It goes back to 1976 at least. I had "A Modest Proposal" specifically in mind as an example of ideas that were later widely adopted in the community.
I'm not proposing a study of how much influence the movement has actually had on the community. I'm not arguing that the ideas adopted by the community actually came from the movement. Maybe they did, maybe they didn't. That's irrelevant for my purposes. I'm saying that the early appearance of those ideas in the Talisman movement can serve as an illustration of its possibilities. My only purpose in proposing a compilation of ideas from the movement that were later widely adopted in the community, is to enrich that illustration.
That is only a prelude to what I want the study to do. I want the study to suggest ways for people to continue the adventure. Of course anyone can suggest ways to continue, or even better, model some, and some people are doing that, but I would like to see it become an object of study.
Posted: Wed Feb 27, 2008 6:58 pm
I just realized today, I could do this myself!
"If you want something done right . . ."
Posted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 7:38 am
For now I'm calling it "A New Look at the dialogue/Talisman files." It will include.
- examples of the spirit of the movement at its best, from the archives, and from memories of people who were there.
- examples of ideas that came out of the movement, that were later widely adopted in the community, to illustrate the possibilities of the movement.
- examples of what people doing now, to continue the adventure. I'll contact as many people as I can who were there, to find out what they're doing, and invite them to help me with the research.
- proceed from those examples, and from Baha'i writings and other sources, to suggest possible ways for people to continue the adventure.
Some of the people I'm planning to include are Fred, Karen, Steve, Sen, Alison, Wahid, Sandra Fotos, Sonja van Kerkhoff, LuAnne Hightower and Lora McCall. I'll also include the EDSED list as an example of one place where people can continue the adventure on line.
Posted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 8:17 am
jimhabegger wrote:- examples of ideas that came out of the movement, that were later widely adopted in the community
Meaning no offense, you still don't seem to be making any sense here.
As I already pointed out, many of the propposals in the "Modest Proposal" stuff were antithetical to Baha'i administrative principles and thus could not be and were not adopted!
A good example is term limits.
Which, please note,:
violate Baha'i administrative procedure and
were therefore never adopted.
So I simply don't know what you're referring to when you say stuff like what I just quoted.
You need, IMHO, to justify your claims, and as well, need to be far more specific about what exactly you're referring to, since at least part of it simply isn't the case, as I just deomonstated.
Nor do I see any virtue whatever in any sort of "movement" that divides people into factions and effectively works contrary to unity and concord!
Posted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 11:53 am
Bruce, I don't want to take the time to try to explain it to you. You can either wait until I write the article, or try reading my Glimpses of the dialogue/Talisman chronicles, and the annex "The new wind." I'm not sure that will help, but it might.
Posted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 2:47 pm
don't feel alone ... we agree ...
we do not "see any virtue whatever in any sort of "movement" that divides people into factions and effectively works contrary to unity and concord!"
we have said our peace ... and now leave this thread & subject
far far behind us
Posted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 4:03 pm
Among the good things from Talisman1: a lot of translations, especially of the works of Baha'u'llah. Translations are still being produced, but through Tarjuman, which is more like a technical workgroup for translators than a list accessible to the mass of the Bahais. Talisman9 hardly ever has new translations
To extend it -- keep going, and work on translations of the huge mass of works by the Master, and the letters of Shoghi Effendi in Persian.
I think this would be better done through a blog with comments open, rather than a discussion list, because with a blog, the translations produced now are still available years later, with the comments and discussion of each translation attached to it.
"...leaving them free to pursue their own methods...&am
Posted: Thu Feb 28, 2008 5:41 pm
There is no set-in-stone "Baha'i [electoral] administrative procedure" to violate:
Spirit and Method of Baha'i Elections
In connection with the best and most practical methods of procedure to be adopted for the election of Baha'i Spiritual Assemblies, I feel that in view of the fact that definite and detailed regulations defining the manner and character of Baha'i elections have neither been expressly revealed by Baha'u'llah nor laid down in the Will and Testament of Abdu'l-Baha, it devolves upon the members of the Universal House of Justice to formulate and apply such system of laws as would be in conformity with the essentials and requisites expressly provided by the Author and Interpreter of the Faith for the conduct of Baha'i administration. I have consequently refrained from establishing a settled and uniform procedure for the election of the Assemblies of the East and the West, leaving them free to pursue their own methods of procedure which in most cases had been instituted and practiced during the last two decades of the life of Abdu'l-Baha.
(Shoghi Effendi: Baha'i Administration, Pages: 135-136)
As regards to the question you asked me to put to the Guardian about the Aqdas and the House of Justice elections: as most of the laws of the Aqdas cannot at present be enforced anywhere he has not deemed it necessary or wise to translate and promulgate them. You can orally translate them for any of the believers anxious to know exactly what they are. The National Assemblies (or Houses of Justice) will elect directly the International House of Justice, but just what form this election will take must be decided in the future when the proper time comes.
(Shoghi Effendi: Unfolding Destiny, Page: 455 - dated 22 July 1949)
You may be thinking about the Baha'i administrative principles that bear on the election process, such as the right of electors to vote for whoever they wish. Term limits would be a slight restriction, but there are many other restrictions on eligibility - age, sex (for election to the House of Justice) administrative standing and mental health.
Currently incumbents end up requesting permission to "retire" from the body they're elected to. When those requests are accepted, that also arguably restricts the right of electors to vote for whoever they wish.
I believe regional councils were instituted in the US soon after the concept was discussed in "A Modest Proposal". Steve Scholl would be someone to talk to about this.
Posted: Fri Feb 29, 2008 7:33 am
Sen and Steve, thank you.
I've started a folder on my computer for ideas and references. Your posts are the first two entries.
Posted: Tue Mar 18, 2008 12:53 am
I'm pretty out-of-touch when it comes to these matters, not having subscribed to an email list in almost a decade, but I was a member of Talisman 1 from near its beginning, and later its various offspring. I personally found it a most liberating experience. Like a large room full of multiple conversations, some corners of the room had conversations which I found distasteful and sometimes bitter, but most conversations I found engaging, enlightening, exhilarating, enthusiastic, and even the occasional epiphany (OK, I'm out of 'e' words).
In short I loved it, and I simply ignored the discussions that I found distasteful. However, and unfortunately, it is those few discussions which have come to represent the entire Talisman 1 experience, and for which Talisman will be remembered to history.
I just came across a new article by Moojan Momen which examines one aspect of the episode, "Marginality and Apostasy in the Baha'i Community," at http://www.northill.demon.co.uk/relstud/apostasy.html
. I'm not citing it because I agree or disagree with the author's perspective, but because I found it a good read. (I also know that some of you reading this thread are referred to in this article, whether by name or anonymously...)
I also read all the <i>Dialogue</i> magazines, and it seems to have suffered the same fate as Talisman: a very valuable, multifaceted resource which seems to be remembered for, and judged on, a single unfortunate article. But taken as a whole (and without referencing the personalities and strifes behind-the-scenes), <i>Dialogue</i> seems as innocuous as could be.
P.S. I'm selling my entire library of Baha'i books, once I get them all categorized and priced, which includes a set of <i>Dialogue.</i> I think I'm missing only one issue. <a href="http://bahai-library.com/forum/privmsg.php?mode=post&u=2">pm me</a> if you're interested.
Posted: Tue Mar 18, 2008 6:43 am
Jonah wrote:However, and unfortunately, it is those few discussions which have come to represent the entire Talisman 1 experience, and for which Talisman will be remembered to history.
Not if I can help it. I'm imagining that the liberation movement will someday get the credit it deserves.
I've already made a good start on my project. I have a page with links to some of the Web pages of people who were at the 1996 mysticism conference at Bosch. They're doing wonderful things in the arts.
I'm planning another page about the recommendations in "A Modest Proposal" which were eventually adopted.
"I also read all the Dialogue magazines, and it seems to have suffered the same fate as Talisman: a very valuable, multifaceted resource which seems to be remembered for, and judged on, a single unfortunate article."
-- which was never even published!
According to the documents, the institutions had no objections to the article itself.
I also have a page with links to documents related to the dialogue/Talisman chronicles.
http://www.geocities.com/geotalk/glimps ... ments.html
According to my stat counter, in one week my "Glimpses of the dialogue/Talisman chronicles" has already been read by at least fourteen people from at least five different countries.
Re: "...leaving them free to pursue their own methods..
Posted: Tue Mar 18, 2008 8:07 am
Steve wrote:Term limits would be a slight restriction....
Aka "the camel's nose coming into the tent!"
Thank you for proving my point.
Posted: Tue Mar 18, 2008 10:39 am
I'm hoping that Momen's article will help popularize the Baha'i liberation movement as a topic of study, and that my story will help inspire research that highlights the good in the movement. I'd like to see some good scholarship that highlights:
- The spirit of the movement at its best. Jonah has summed up wonderfully what I've been imagining.
- The possibilities it represents. I see those illustrated in the current activities of people who were at the mysticism conference, and in some current features of the Baha'i community that were anticipated by people in the movement.
- Where it might go from here.
My next Internet project will be to help organize the Internet to facilitate networking among people who are working to spread peace, justice, fellowship, beauty and kindness.
Posted: Thu Mar 20, 2008 10:33 pm
"The spiritual growth generated by individual devotions is reinforced by loving association among the friends in every locality, by worship as a community and by service to the Faith and to one's fellow human beings. These communal aspects of the godly life relate to the law of the Mashriqu'l-Adhkár which appears in the Kitáb-i-Aqdas. Although the time has not come for the building of local Mashriqu'l-Adhkárs, the holding of regular meetings for worship open to all and the involvement of Bahá'í communities in projects of humanitarian service are expressions of this element of Bahá'í life and a further step in the implementation of the Law of God."
(28 December 1999, from the Universal House of Justice to the Bahá'ís of the World)
Sen, can you give me some examples of how this was anticipated in the dialogue/Talisman movement?
Posted: Thu Mar 20, 2008 10:39 pm
It seems to me that I saw somewhere a list of current practices in the Baha'i community that were anticipated in "A Modest Proposal." Has anyone else seen that, and if so, where?
Posted: Sat Mar 22, 2008 7:04 am
I see some wonderful possibilities in the dialogue/Talisman movement. The conflicts, and the responses of the House of Justice, might have scared some people away from the adventure. I have some ideas about how the spirit I see stirring in the movement might be freed from its shackles.
1. More awareness of our responsibilities to "look into all things with a searching eye," to discuss our ideas with others in "frank and unfettered consultation," and to share our findings with others.
2. More awareness that encountering opposition from members of Baha'i institutions, or seeing contrary views in Baha'i writings, does not relieve us of those responsibilities.
3. More awareness of other responsibilities associated with those. For example:
* practicing courtesy, kindness, fellowship, wisdom, detachment, and trust in God
* improving our character and conduct
* fleeing from contention and strife
I see the spirit of the dialogue/Talisman movement at its best living on in the initiatives of some of the people who were involved in it. What I don't see clearly is the interdisciplinary and intercultural networking that started to happen. I thought it might be happening on the EDSED list, but that's been below ten posts per month since 2006. Even then it was mostly authors marketing their books. Blogs might be part of it, but I don't see that fully replacing what was happening on the Talisman list.
As I was wondering where on the Internet the new wind networking might be happening, or could happen, the thought came to me: It's the whole Internet. That's how I got the idea that I'd like to help organize the Internet to facilitate networking among people who are helping to spread peace, justice, fellowship, beauty and kindness.
I'm planning to start on that project, after another 3-6 month break from Internet discussions.