October 23, 2020- Sue St. Clair
October 16, 2020- Martine Hubbard
October 2, 9, 2020 (Sue St. Clair)
September 25, 2020 (Martine Hubbard)
September 18, 2020 (Cynthia Phillips)
On Fridays, the Pupil of the Eye--those people of African descent who were given a special station in the Baha'i Faith--study together to deepen their understanding of what that station means, what their responsibilities are, and nurture, encourage, and create a safe space to learn together.
"Let the Negroes, through a corresponding effort on their part, show by every means in their power the warmth of their response, their readiness to forget the past, and their ability to wipe out every trace of suspicion that may still linger in their hearts and minds. Let neither think that the solution of so vast a problem is a matter that exclusively concerns the other. Let neither think that such a problem can either easily or immediately be resolved. "
Advent of Divine Justice
RULES FOR SHARING
NOTE: Comments, ah-ha's, understandings, and insights are to be shared on Mondays that have nothing to do with the text being studied..
Three Levels of Comprehension (Ruhi) Please peruse the three levels of understanding during your private reflections. Use a dictionary to make sure you understand the words. Think about what are the implications for the world if this becomes reality. Finally, what can or will you do to make it a reality?
1. Understanding - Study the words and sentences with the focus to understand their meaning, rather than on one's own opinion of them.2. Application - Think deeply about the obvious application of the statement in one's daily life.3. Implication - Think about the implication of the statement in situations with no apparent or immediate connection with the statement.
Dearly beloved friends!
A rectitude of conduct which, in all its manifestations, offers a striking contrast to the deceitfulness and corruption that characterize the political life of the nation and of the parties and factions that compose it; a holiness and chastity that are diametrically opposed to the moral laxity and licentiousness which defile the character of a not inconsiderable proportion of its citizens; an interracial fellowship completely purged from the curse of racial prejudice which stigmatizes the vast majority of its people—these are the weapons which the American believers can and must wield in their double crusade, first to regenerate the inward life of their own community, and next to assail the longstanding evils that have entrenched themselves in the life of their nation.
The Double Crusade is the next document on our study list that we voted on unanimously in March during our virtual reflection gathering.
"Dearly beloved friends, a rectitude of conduct, which in all its manifestations offers a striking contrast to the deceitfulness and corruption that characterize the political life of the nation and of the partisan factions that compose it, a holiness and chastity that are diametrically opposed to the moral laxity and licentiousness which defile the character of a not inconsiderable proportion of its citizens, an interracial fellowship completely purged from the curse of racial prejudice which stigmatizes the vast majority of its people, these are the weapons which the American believers can and must wield in their Double Crusade. First, to regenerate the inward life of their own community, and next to assail the longstanding evils that have entrenched themselves in the life of their nation."
"I read reports, and there are many activities the friends are engaged in, all kinds of projects, teaching projects, and proclamation projects, and God knows what. And so I was wondering why is it that we are not having a greater expansion in this country? And as I thought about it of course inevitably my mind ran to the messages of the Guardian. So a question popped up in my mind and that is the question that I will begin my talk with. And the question is: whatever happened to the Double Crusade?
This question is highly relevant to the Four Year Plan on which this community is now embarked. And so I repeat, whatever happened to the Double Crusade? Whither the army of light? Where have all the soldiers gone? The answers to these questions, or to the main one, in any case, rest with each and all of us. All of you. As we traverse the short stretch of the Four Year Plan, it is a most critical and exciting stage in the evolution of the divine plan. We have come to the stage now and the House of Justice is expecting great things of us all. ..."
Studying on Thursdays, 9/10, 9/17, 9/24
Dear Bahá’í Friend,
The Universal House of Justice has received your email letter of 8 Sharaf 174 (6 January 2018) in which you convey your concern that what Shoghi Effendi termed “the double crusade” is not being addressed by the American Bahá’í community and ask why the House of Justice has not raised this subject.
The House of Justice appreciates the sincerity and candor with which you have set forth your views and your request for a frank reply. It has asked us to respond as follows. Your desire to be faithful to the beloved Guardian’s guidance to the American Bahá’í community is unquestioned. However, it appears that some of the challenges you have faced in relating that guidance to the present activities of the Bahá’í community may be due to a very particular conception of what the double crusade means, how it relates to the current series of Plans of the Faith, and what should be done to carry it out. As you will recall, in The Advent of Divine Justice Shoghi Effendi summons American believers to a double crusade—“
Facilitator for 9/18/20 is Cynthia Phillips
Beginning Friday, September 18, 2020, and for the next few weeks on both Friday and Saturday, we will be studying deeply the 'Double Crusade' documents.
9/18/2020, we will begin studying Shoghi Effendi's 1938 message on the 'Double Crusade.'
There are four documents in the series. We have just completed the April 12, 1927 letter. We are studying the August 18, 2018 from the Universal House of Justice on Thursdays., and will be studying the final two on the next few Friday's and Saturdays.
One is from Shoghi Effendi in 1938 and the other is from Glenford Mitchell's 1996 document on the Double Crusade.
Coralie Cook was a trailblazer for her time. She was a powerful women's rights activist, public servant, speaker, a teacher, and a suffragist. She was the first descendant of enslaved people from Monticello to graduate from college. Mrs. Coralie Frankin Cook (1851-1942):
A longtime friend and admirer of Susan B. Anthony, she eventually became disillusioned by the women’s suffrage movement, feeling it had “turned its back on the woman of color.”
Friday August 21, 2020- Facilitator (Marine Hubbard) - August 14, Facilitator Joshua Owens
After Sadie Oglesby's Pilgrimage in 1927, the Guardian promised her he would write something. And, on April 12, 1927, he did, and perhaps many times after that. We are aware that he wrote the Advent of Divine Justice in 1938 that expounded more on the most vital and challenging issue and the double crusade, however most are not aware of this letter.
We will continue our discussion on the Double Crusade with his letter of April 12, 1927 written to the Bahais of the United States and Canada. These four documents, we will be studying over the next few weeks (Friday and Saturday). Two are from Shoghi Effendi. The third was from Glenford Mitchell, and the fourth from the Universal House of Justice.
Today, July 31, 2020, we will study the Advent of Divine Justice: The Most Vital and Challenging Issue by Shoghi Effendi, December 25, 1938
O my Lord, my Defender, my Help in peril! Lowly do I entreat Thee, ailing do I come unto Thee to be healed, humbly do I cry out to Thee with my tongue, my soul, my spirit:
O God, my God! The gloom of night hath shrouded every region, and all the earth is shut away behind thick clouds. The peoples of the world are sunk in the black depths of vain illusions, while their tyrants wallow in cruelty and hate. I see nothing but the glare of searing fires that blaze upward from the nethermost abyss, I hear nothing save the thunderous roar that belloweth out from thousands upon thousands of fiery weapons of assault, while every land is crying aloud in its secret tongue: 'My riches avail me nothing, and my sovereignty hath perished!'
O my Lord, the lamps of guidance have gone out. The flames of passion are mounting high, and malevolence is ever gaining on the world. Malice and hate have overspread the face of the whole earth, and I find no souls except Thine own oppressed small band who are raising up this cry:
Make haste to love! Make haste to trust! Make haste to give! To guidance come!
Come ye for harmony! To behold the Star of Day! Come here for kindliness, for ease! Come here for amity and peace!
Come and cast down your weapons of wrath, till unity is won! Come and in the Lord's true path each one help each one.
Verily with exceeding joy, with heart and soul, do these oppressed of Thine offer themselves up for all mankind in every land. Thou seest them, O my Lord, weeping over the tears Thy people shed, mourning the grief of Thy children, condoling with humankind, suffering because of the calamities that beset all the denizens of the earth.
O my Lord, wing them with victory that they may soar upward to salvation, strengthen their loins in service to Thy people, and their backs in servitude to Thy Threshold of Holiness.
Verily Thou art the Generous, verily Thou art the Merciful! There is none other God save Thee, the Clement, the Pitiful, the Ancient of Days!
(Abdu'l-Baha, Selections from the Writings of Abdu'l-Baha, p. 272)
We have taken a short hiatus from our study of the Double Crusade to catch up on some of the correspondence from our Institutions to our communities. We are aware that some are isolated or do not attend Feast, and therefore do not have the opportunity to consult while others may attend Feast, but have limited or no deep consultation.
So, today we will read and discuss the feast letter for Kalimat together.
NSA Message for Feast of Kalimát 'July 11, 2020
To the American Bahá’í community for the Feast of Kalimát
Dearly loved Friends,
(1) Our hearts continue to be uplifted by news we are receiving of the energy, creativity, and resourcefulness you are displaying in your work to further the aims of the current Five Year Plan at this critical moment in our nation’s history. Across the country, friends of the Faith and contacts are showing a greater level of appreciation for Bahá’u’lláh’s teachings and are evincing increased desire to join in our efforts to build a new and all-embracing kind of community life.
(2) In our message at Ridván, we called on the members of every Bahá’í household to hold a regular devotional gathering and we are pleased to report the goal has already met with an enthusiastic response. By exploring two dimensions of these gatherings, their importance to all our services can clearly be seen.
(3) One dimension comes sharply into focus when we think of devotionals as integral to the work of community building and not as unrelated activities. When we come together with our friends in a home or a meeting place imbued with a reverent spirit, sharing the sacred texts and seeking to draw closer to God, a special environment is created that promotes a binding of hearts with deep spiritual ties. Feelings of love and unity are generated, inspired by a common love for the Creator and through recognition of our oneness. Opportunities are opened up for rich conversations inspired by the Word of God. Such conversations can lead to greater understanding of spiritual verities and their application in the world, then to unified practical action born from earnest desire for the betterment of society.
(4) Friends and contacts interested in the spiritual welfare of children, for example, or in the moral education of junior youth can be encouraged to permit their sons and daughters to participate in children’s classes or junior youth groups or to serve as teachers or animators. Others might be inspired to undertake service projects or to engage in discourse founded on insights they have discovered in the Bahá’í teachings. Still others might wish to join a study circle or to further investigate the Faith. Devotional gatherings, then, can and often do serve as a portal of entry to our core activities and other features of the Plan’s framework. They can also strengthen activities that already exist. We thus can think of devotional gatherings as a spur to the development of several capacities, among them the capacity to gather regularly for prayer and study of the Writings; the capacity for elevated conversations on issues of importance; and the capacity to invite others to join with us in meaningful service. Each of these is addressed in the sequence of institute courses, an essential resource as we accompany and encourage each other.
(5) A second dimension has to do with conditions in America at this time―particularly as they continue to heighten awareness of the longstanding racial injustice that afflicts us. Our proper response as Bahá’ís to these conditions has been described in the guidance we have been receiving from the Universal House of Justice in the recent series of Plans, a compilation of which was made available to you on May 15 for the Feast of ‘Azamat. Devotional gatherings can be one of many means of addressing the issue of racial justice if we act on their potential to bring together people of diverse backgrounds to carry on meaningful conversations in safe, loving environments and to engage in service with the aim of creating a more just society. We should also consider the manner in which our devotion to God is expressed. Different cultures draw upon rich musical and artistic
traditions. Each has great value and meaning. If we truly wish to manifest the oneness of humanity and to express the importance to our community life of people of color, we must be extremely careful not to allow the cultural expression of the majority to dominate others. As in all our activities, the participation of community members of all cultures should be encouraged in our devotions, whether as significant contributors to a diverse program or in programs devoted to a single cultural tradition. If we wish to attract people of all cultures to join in our community-building efforts, we must ensure they will see themselves represented in the way we worship and be invited to serve both as planners and participants.
(6) Taking African American friends as an example, hundreds of these stalwart believers participated last year in the Pupil of the Eye Conference in Nashville, Tennessee, and again, in late June, via video conference. Both gatherings fortified their desire to further the progress of the Plan in their home communities. This will no doubt occur in a host of ways, but one will assuredly be through holding devotional gatherings drawing on the richness of their spiritual traditions. It would be a wonderful gesture for Local Spiritual Assemblies to encourage these friends as well as others to take the lead in facilitating community devotionals where both believers and the public are welcome, and to bring that spirit into neighborhoods where large concentrations of African Americans reside. Such devotional gatherings can powerfully express the great truth of the oneness of humanity and our solidarity with people of color
across the nation and across the globe.
(7) With these thoughts in mind, we encourage you to think of devotional gatherings as occasions in which, drawing upon powers inherent in the Word of God, we gather with people of different backgrounds with the aim of eliminating racism from our society.
As we do so, let us ask ourselves:
Are we building the capacity to invite diverse people to come together,
to pray and to serve side by side?
Are we creating safe and loving environments for the sharing of perspectives
and insights on the issue of race?
Are we sincerely striving to learn from each other and to take effective action together?‘
(8) Abdu’l-Bahá wrote: “Ye observe to what a degree the world is in continual turmoil and conflict, and to what a pass its nations have now come.. . . It is your duty to be exceedingly kind to every human being, and to wish him well; to work for the upliftment of society; to blow the breath of life into the dead; to act in accordance with the instructions of Bahá'u'lláh and walk His path―until ye change the world of man into the world of God.”
(9) We eagerly look forward to news of the results of your efforts, and hope that you will share your experiences on our national Race Unity Action webpage (accessible here). Be assured of our deepest gratitude and our abiding affection and constant prayers for each and every one of you.
With loving Bahá’í greetings,
NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF THE BAHÁ’ÍS OF THE UNITED STATES
Kenneth E. Bowers
Today and tomorrow, we will continue studying the letter from the NSA to the country to prepare ourselves for our consultation with the NSA Secretary, Ken Bowers, on Monday, July 13th. We have been studying this letter for the past two weeks thoroughly for our understanding of its contents and how to use it to teach. We will start by reading the entire letter through paragraph 9 and share any insights we have up to that point. If we have time we will read additional paragraphs and consult further. Don't rush, we still have tomorrow!
A Message from the Bahá’ís of the United States
(1) The Bahá’ís of the United States join our fellow-citizens in heartfelt grief at the deaths of George Floyd, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and so many others whose lives were suddenly taken by appalling acts of violence. These heartbreaking violations against fellow human beings, due only to the color of their skin, have deepened the dismay caused by a pandemic whose consequences to the health and livelihoods of people of color have been disproportionately severe. This has come to pass against a backdrop of longstanding racial injustice in virtually every aspect of American life. It is clear that racial prejudice is the most vital and challenging issue we face as a country.
(2) Yet, amidst these tragedies, there are also signs of hope. Countless citizens have arisen to proclaim the truth that we are one nation, and to demand specific actions to address the pervasive inequities that for too long have shaped our society. We have remembered who we aspire to be as a people, and are determined to make a change for the better. This moment beckons us to a renewed commitment to realize the ideal of E Pluribus Unum—out of many, one—the very ideal upon which America was founded.
(3) To create a just society begins with recognition of the fundamental truth that humanity is one. But it is not enough simply to believe this in our hearts. It creates the moral imperative to act, and to view all aspects of our personal, social, and institutional lives through the lens of justice. It implies a reordering of our society more profound than anything we have yet achieved. And it requires the participation of Americans of every race and background, for it is only through such inclusive participation that new moral and social directions can emerge.
(4) Whatever immediate results might come from the current demonstrations, the elimination of racism will require a sustained and concerted effort. It is one thing to protest against particular forms of injustice. It is a far more profound challenge to create a new framework for justice. Our efforts can only succeed when we learn to build relationships with each other based on sincere friendship, regard, and trust, which, in turn, become pillars for the activities of our institutions and communities.
(5) It is essential for us to join hands in a process of learning how to create models of what we want to see in every dimension of American life, as we learn to apply the principle of oneness through practical engagement and experience. To this end, we offer the following thoughts.
(6) An essential element of the process will be honest and truthful discourse about current conditions and their causes, and understanding, in particular, the deeply entrenched notions of anti-Blackness that pervade our society. We must build the capacity to truly hear and acknowledge the voices of those who have directly suffered from the effects of racism. This capacity should manifest itself in our schools, the media, and other civic arenas, as well as in our work and personal relations. This should not end with words, but lead to meaningful, constructive action.
(7) There are already significant efforts underway to learn how to create models of unity in neighborhoods and communities throughout the nation. Bahá’ís have been persistently engaged in such efforts for many years. The aim is not unity in sameness—it is unity in diversity. It is the recognition that everyone in this land has a part to play in contributing to the betterment of society, and that true prosperity, material and spiritual, will be available to us all to the degree that we live up to this standard. We should earnestly discover what is being done, what truly helps to make a difference, and why. We should share this knowledge throughout the country as a means of inspiring and assisting the work of others. If we do this, we could soon find ourselves in the midst of a mass transition toward racial justice.
(8) Religion, an enduring source of insight concerning human purpose and action, has a key role to play in this process. All faith communities recognize that we are essentially spiritual beings. All proclaim some version of the “Golden Rule”—to love others as we do ourselves. Take, for example, the following passage from the Bahá’í Scriptures in which God addresses humankind:
(9) Know ye not why We created you all from the same dust? That no one should exalt himself over the other. Ponder at all times in your hearts how ye were created. Since We have created you all from one same substance it is incumbent on you to be even as one soul, to walk with the same feet, eat with the same mouth and dwell in the same land, that from your inmost being, by your deeds and actions, the signs of oneness and the essence of detachment may be made manifest.
(10) To understand and firmly believe that we are all children of God provides us with access to vast spiritual resources, motivating us to see beyond ourselves and to work steadily and sacrificially in the face of all obstacles. It helps to ensure that the process is consistent with the goal to create communities characterized by justice. It gives us the faith, strength, and creativity to transform our own hearts, as we also work for the transformation of society.
(11) We believe that the tribulations now encompassing much of the world are the symptoms of humanity’s failure to understand and embrace our essential oneness. The interrelated threats of climate change, gender discrimination, extreme wealth and poverty, unfair distribution of resources, and the like, all stem from this deficiency and can never be resolved if we do not awaken to our dependence upon each other. The world has contracted to a neighborhood, and it is important to appreciate that what we do in America impacts not only our own country, but the entire planet.
(12) We should also never forget that the richness of our diversity, and our founding ideals of liberty and justice, attract the eyes of the world to us. They will be influenced by what we achieve, or fail to achieve, in this regard. It is not an exaggeration to say that the cause of world peace is linked to our success in resolving the issue of racial injustice.
(13) The oneness of humanity is the foundation of our future. Its realization is the inevitable next stage in our life on this planet. We will replace a world society based upon competition and conflict, and driven by rampant materialism, with one founded upon our higher potential for collaboration and reciprocity. This achievement will mark the universal coming of age of the human race. How soon we achieve this, and how easily, will depend upon the commitment we demonstrate to this cardinal principle.
(14) We have come to a moment of great public awareness and rejection of injustice. Let us not lose this opportunity. Will we commit to the process of forming “a more perfect union”? Will we be guided by “the better angels of our nature” to choose the course of wisdom, of courage, and of unity? Will we choose to truly become that “city upon a hill” to serve as inspiration to all humanity? Let us then join hands with each other in commitment to the path of justice. Together we can surely achieve this.
Bahá’u’lláh said: “So powerful is the light of unity that it can illuminate the whole earth.” May that light grow brighter with every passing day.
NATIONAL SPIRITUAL ASSEMBLY OF THE BAHÁ’ÍS OF THE UNITED STATES
The Double Crusade - Shoghi Effendi
Derik Smith - Modernity and Centering the Pupil of the Eye
Glenford Mitchell- Teaching Negroes