Thursday, October 21, 2010

That Conspicuous Verse, part next

Yeah, yeah. I know. It's "perspicuous", but I'll tell you, it sure is conspicuous to me. In yesterday's posting, I talked a bit about the beginning and the end of that verse, so I figured I might as well look at the middle of it today. I think I'll use my usual approach (no surprise there) and see if I can make any sense out of the order of it. The text, just in case you have forgotten, is found in Epsitle to the Son of the Wolf, pages 131 - 134, or in Tablets of Baha'u'llah, pages 117 - 119.

I have copied it below and inserted spaces to make the various questions and answers stand out from the body (whew, I forgot how long it is). Now, I may be mistaken in how I split them up, but it seems to me that there are 18 sections. Some of these are "yes" sections, while others are "more". A few of them explain a bit, while others clarify. I'm just going to take them one at a time, and see what happens. (Note: When re-reading this, I realized that it reads sort of like a two-part article with my comments like an on-going dialogue. It just got a bit confusing to me as I looked at it again, and thought I'd explain.)

1. Among them are those who have said: 'Have the verses been sent down?' Say: 'Yea, by Him Who is the Lord of the heavens!'

Isn't this one of the proofs of a Manifestation of God? His verses? It's pretty simple, really. When someone asks me if we have a Bible, what they mean is, "Did Baha'u'llah reveal any sacred Texxts?" The answer is a simple "Yup. He sure did." And then I can give them some of the Writings, and we can continue our discussion from there. This, to me, is a no-brainer.

2. 'Hath the Hour come?' 'Nay, more; it hath passed, by Him Who is the Revealer of clear tokens! Verily, the Inevitable is come, and He, the True One, hath appeared with proof and testimony. The Plain is disclosed, and mankind is sore vexed and fearful. Earthquakes have broken loose, and the tribes have lamented, for fear of God, the Lord of Strength, the All-Compelling.' Say: 'The stunning trumpet blast hath been loudly raised, and the Day is God's, the One, the Unconstrained.'

Now, this is a bit more difficult. When I first looked at this, I split it into two seperate sections. The "Say" part was another one. But then I got to thinking, maybe it isn't. Maybe the "Say" part is in response to the question. If so, then what is the first quote part for?

I may be way off base, and you know that this is only my own interpretation, nothing authoritative, but it seems to me that the first response is for me, for my background information. When someone asks me, "Has the Hour come? Is it the time of the end?", my initial thought is pretty close to that first reply. "Buddy, you missed it. It has come and gone. We are way past that." But I can't really say that out loud, now, can I? It would almost seem insulting. No, what I can say is more like the second response: "Look around you, what do you think? The signs are as clear as day." Yeah, that trumpet blast cannot be missed.

3. 'Hath the Catastrophe come to pass?' Say: 'Yea, by the Lord of Lords!'

Ok. Now I'm seeing a bit of a trend. We begin with the verses; yup, He wrote 'em. "But then that would mean that the time of the end is here." "Yup, that's right. In fact, it's already passed." "Well, if that's the case, what about that world-shattering catastrophe? Has that happened?" "Uhm, yeah."

Really, what more can you say? Yes, the world is not the same as it was a hundred years ago. The world, and all that was contained therein, was swept away. Yesterday is gone, and here we are today. It is pretty catastrophic, when you get down and look at it.

4. 'Is the Resurrection come?' 'Nay, more; He Who is the Self-Subsisting hath appeared with the Kingdom of His signs.'

Well, once we get to that point, can't you just hear the questioner sit back in disbelief? "Really? But what about the Resurrection? Has Jesus come again?" Oh, how do you respond to that one, except as Baha'ullah has written here? "Has the Son returned? No, more than that, the Glory of the Father has appeared."

5. 'Seest thou men laid low?' 'Yea, by my Lord, the Exalted, the Most High!'

Here, the questioner will just sit up and say, "Say what? But what about all that's supposed to happen around that? What about those leaders who are supposed to fall? What about the first becoming last and the last becoming first? What about all men dying? Come on, what about it?" And I just want to respond, "Look around you, my friend. Look around you. Haven't the leaders fallen? Aren't the sacred institutions of the past, the kings and the churches, falling as we speak? Yeah, I see men laid low, dead in their hearts by the poison of drugs and alcohol, killed by their own passions and egos. People are so wrapped up in mindless entertainments, from movies and television to video games and stuff, it is as if they aren't even living in this world anymore. And even though we have seen this in the past, it is so much more widespread and insidious now than ever before."

6. 'Have the tree-stumps been uprooted?' 'Yea, more; the mountains have been scattered in dust; by Him the Lord of attributes!'

I have no idea what this is referring to.

McLaughlin points to a quote in Qur'an in which it says that men will be torn away "as though they were uprooted palm stumps". Here, Baha'u'llah seems to be saying that, even more than that, those structures which stood as firm as the mountains have been torn away. Where is the might of the Ottoman Empire, or all the other empires of the past? Where has the power of Rome gone? Or the Calliphate? These mighty mountains have been reduced to dust.

7. They say: 'Where is Paradise, and where is Hell?' Say: 'The one is reunion with Me; the other thine own self, O thou who dost associate a partner with God and doubtest.'
Here, once again, you can almost hear the response (to the section two sections ago, as I still have no idea about that last one). "But if that's the case, what about Heaven and Hell? If the churches have fallen, what happened to Heaven and Hell?" "Well," we can say, "Heaven is nearness to God, and Hell is remoteness from God. We've known that along, but we just got it confused a bit. We've confused Heaven with our religious institutions, and Hell with something else altogether."

8. They say: 'We see not the Balance.' Say: 'Surely, by my Lord, the God of Mercy! None can see it except such as are endued with insight.'

"I don't understand," would be the obvious continuation. "How can we properly judge right from wrong if what we have been told in the past was incorrect?" "Ah," we would say, "that is the question, isn't it? None can judge fairly but God. We, however, are left to do the best we can with the information given. You see, we can read the Holy Texts for ourselves and try to figure it out, but we need to remember that we are not infallible. We are bound to make mistakes. Or more accurately, we are bound to continually increase in our knowledge and understanding."

9. 'Have the stars fallen?' Say: 'Yea, when He Who is the Self-Subsisting dwelt in the Land of Mystery (Adrianople). Take heed, ye who are endued with discernment!'

"Ok," they may counter, "but what about the laws? Surely we can still count on those, right? And what about the prophecies of the stars falling from the heavens? What about that?" "Well," we would reply, "many of those laws have lost their spiritual potency. The effect they were to have to help us grow in spiritual powers and capacity no longer works. They have become rote ritual, void of their intended meaning. We have to re-infuse the meaning into them. And, by the way, the stars did fall from the sky. On 14 November 1866, when Baha'u'llah was in Adrianople. It was probably the most intense meteor shower ever recorded."

10. All the signs appeared when We drew forth the Hand of Power from the bosom of majesty and might. Verily, the Crier hath cried out, when the promised time came, and they that have recognized the splendors of Sinai have swooned away in the wilderness of hesitation, before the awful majesty of thy Lord, the Lord of creation.

The signs have all appeared and some people noticed, while others did not.

This is where we take a break. Baha'u'llah seems to have completed that particular train of thought and is about to move on to the next (or so it seems to my limited eyes), and therefore I will, too.

Rather than continuing on what I think is already a fairly lengthy post, I will pause here for station identification. Join me later for the other 8 verses. Same bat time. Same bat channel.

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