Exploring the Ocean Together (revised)

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Exploring the Ocean Together (revised)

Postby jimhabegger » Tue Nov 25, 2008 8:23 pm

Exploring the Ocean Together

I'm planning to start a new blog, and some new Web pages, about helping to transmit encouragement, support and learning through walls of prejudice and over gulfs of estrangement that divide people who are interested in the writings of Baha'u'llah. Before I start, I'd like comments from anyone here who would like to offer them.

Here are some ideas for visions, goals, strategies and references.


"The House of Justice advises you not to attempt to define too narrowly the form that Bahá'í scholarship should take, or the approach that scholars should adopt. Rather should you strive to develop within your Association respect for a wide range of approaches and endeavours. No doubt there will be some Bahá'ís who will wish to work in isolation, while others will desire consultation and collaboration with those having similar interests. Your aim should be to promote an atmosphere of mutual respect and tolerance within which will be included scholars whose principal interest is in theological issues as well as those scholars whose interests lie in relating the insights provided by the Bahá'í teachings to contemporary thought in the arts and sciences."

"A similar diversity should characterize the endeavours pursued by Bahá'í scholars, accommodating their interests and skills as well as the needs of the Faith. The course of world events, the development of new trends of thought and the extension of the teaching work all tend to highlight attractive and beneficial areas to which Bahá'í scholars might well direct their attention. Likewise, the expansion of the activities of the Bahá'í International Community in its relationship with United Nations agencies and other international bodies creates attractive opportunities for scholars to make a direct and highly valued contribution to the enhancement of the prestige of the Faith and to its proclamation within an influential and receptive stratum of society. As the Bahá'í community continues to emerge inexorably from obscurity, it will be confronted by enemies, from both within and without, whose aim will be to malign and misrepresent its principles, so that its admirers might be disillusioned and the faith of its adherents might be shaken; Bahá'í scholars have a vital role to play in the defence of the Faith through their contribution to anticipatory measures and their response to defamatory accusations levelled against the Faith."

Thus, there should be room within the scope of Bahá'í scholarship to accommodate not only those who are interested in theological issues and in the historical origins of the Faith, but also those who are interested in relating the Bahá'í Teachings to their field of academic or professional interest, as well as those believers who may lack formal academic qualifications but who have, through their perceptive study of the Teachings, acquired insights which are of interest to others.

(The Universal House of Justice, 1992 Dec 10, Issues Related to Study Compilation)


1. Learn more from a wider variety of people about using Baha'u'llah's writings, and about encouraging and supporting people.

2. Offer encouragement, support and learning opportunities to a wider variety of people.

3. Encourage and support other people doing the same.


1. Spend time with people, doing things that interest them.

2. Study and practice ways of using Baha'u'llah's writings.


1. Tablet of the true seeker

2. Writings of the House of Justice about the study of the Baha'i Faith

Other ideas

Some people I might try to spend more time with:

1. Some people I've associated with the Dialogue/Talisman chronicles.

2. People whose articles are published in Baha'i Studies journals.

3. Authors of Baha'i blogs.

John Taylor
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Re: Exploring the Ocean Together (revised)

Postby John Taylor » Wed Nov 26, 2008 2:20 pm

Here are some suggestions:

Share different ways of celebrating feasts and holy days -- Ruhiyyih Khanum said that making feasts less boring is the greatest challenge for Baha'i scholars.

Offer supports for Baha'i speakers, including a speaker's circuit. I think this is the greatest need in the Faith right now. Since the Hands passed on, we have not given the problem of nurturing inspiring speakers nearly the attention it deserves.

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Re: Exploring the Ocean Together (revised)

Postby brettz9 » Wed Nov 26, 2008 3:36 pm

As far as Feasts, I think these points are interesting to bring up in our communities (the first one, for U.S. communities):

/// Among the correspondence the Assembly receives are letters and announcements to be shared with the friends at the Feast. The Assembly instructs the Secretary about what correspondence it wishes to share and whether the entire letter or just portions of the letter should be read. (All correspondence need not be read at the Feast. Instead, highlights of the letter can be read, or the correspondence can be shared through newsletters or placed on bulletin boards for review by the friends.)

(National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of the United States, Developing Distinctive Baha'i Communities, p. 3.25)

Even though the observance of the Feast requires strict adherence to the threefold aspects in the sequence in which they have been defined, there is much room for variety in the total experience. For example, music may be introduced at various stages, including the devotional portion; 'Abdu'l-Bahá recommends that eloquent, uplifting talks be given; originality and variety in expressions of hospitality are possible; the quality and range of the consultation are critical to the spirit of the occasion. The effects of different cultures in all these respects are welcome factors which can lend the Feast a salutary diversity, representative of the unique characteristics of the various societies in which it is held, and therefore conducive to the upliftment and enjoyment of its participants.

(Universal House of Justice, at http://bahai-library.com/uhj/feast.html)

Actually the entire letter above is worth considering.

I was fond of pointing out to some Sunday school students of mine that they could offer to their Assemblies to give a talk based on the proofs and history that they were learning in our class, proofs and history being both encouraged as part of a weekly study meeting described by 'Abdu'l-Baha, as well as advocated as part of Feast itself:

“As to the Nineteen Day festivity, it is of the utmost importance that the friends should gather at a meeting where, in complete attunement and love, they should engage in the remembrance of God and His praise, and converse as to the glad tidings of God, and proofs of the Advent of Baha'u'llah, and should recount the high deeds and sacrifices of the lovers of God in Persia, and tell of the martyrs' detachment from the world, and their ecstasy, and of how the believers there stood by one another and gave up everything they had.

"The Nineteen Day festivity is, therefore, of very great importance.”

(`Abdu'l-Baha, The Nineteen Day Feast, p. 428, from a Tablet to an individual believer - translated from the Persian)

Amongst other things is the holding of the meetings for teaching so that blessed souls and the old ones from amongst the believers may gather together the youths of the love of God in schools of instruction and teach them all the divine proofs and irrefragable arguments, explain and elucidate the history of the Cause, and interpret also the prophecies and proofs which are recorded and are extant in the divine books and epistles regarding the manifestation of the Promised One, so that the young ones may go in perfect knowledge in all these degrees.

('Abdu'l-Baha, Tablets of the Divine Plan, p. 54)


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Re: Exploring the Ocean Together (revised)

Postby jimhabegger » Thu Nov 27, 2008 9:12 pm

John and Brett, thank you for those comments. I like those ideas very much. That helps a lot.

I've been wondering how there might be more networking between people deeply involved in Baha'i studies associations and people deeply involved in the growth programs of the Baha'i Community, and what I might do personally to help. My first idea is to try to develop friendships with some people involved in Baha'i studies associations.

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Re: Exploring the Ocean Together (revised)

Postby jimhabegger » Thu Dec 04, 2008 7:04 am

I've been wondering for years how to practice and promote networking between Baha'i theorists and Baha'i practitioners. One example of what I mean by "theorists" is people whose ideas are published repeatedly in Baha'i Studies journals. One example of what I mean by "practitioners" are people who are deeply involved in community service and development projects, including Baha'i growth programs.

One way I might help is by developing friendships with some theorists. Another way is by trying to learn more from some of the practitioners in my life. I think now that some of the first entries in my blog will be about two friends of mine whose ideas and interests I've been tempted to not take very seriously.

I'm planning now to call my blog "Some responses to the writings of Baha'u'llah."

(edited to add something I forgot)

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Re: Exploring the Ocean Together (revised)

Postby coatofmanycolours » Mon Dec 08, 2008 2:52 pm

"...to accommodate...those believers who may lack formal academic
qualifications but who have, through their perceptive study of the Teachings,
acquired insights which are of interest to others."

hi Jim; I find that quote very encouraging. It describes me well. In fact,
I have even gone beyond this level by sharing insights which are of no interest
to others. I know. I polled the other 3 Baha'is in my community and they all
agreed that my insights are not particularly interesting.

Thankfully, they still welcome me at feast with hospitably and good cheer.


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Re: Exploring the Ocean Together (revised)

Postby jimhabegger » Mon Dec 08, 2008 6:38 pm

Hi Peter. Thanks for posting. You've encouraged me!

Have you posted your ideas anywhere on the Internet, like in a blog or a forum, or on a Web page? If not, will you write to me about them?

I'm still confused about what I want to do in my new blog and on my new Web pages, but part of it at least will be some kind of sympathetic discussion of people's ideas. I've already given examples of people I might include. I'd like to write about your ideas if you agree. Just don't imagine that my blog and Web pages will be widely read!


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Joined: Sun Dec 07, 2008 7:14 pm
Location: near Niagara Falls, Canada

Re: Exploring the Ocean Together (revised)

Postby coatofmanycolours » Mon Dec 08, 2008 7:11 pm

hi Jim; I have been very active on a forum called theismdebate.
First, it was an MSN group, and will still be there until February 2009.
The link is:

Now, it has migrated to Yuku. The link for the new location is:


Theism Debate is a lively site with a diverse membership.
It has agnostics, pagans, Buddhists, Christians of various flavours,
Muslims and at least one remarkable Baha'i (people make remarks about him).

Let me know how your project is going. Sounds like fun.

your friend; Peter

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