[Transcript of a talk on July 27, 1997, at the Foundation Hall of the House of Worship in Wilmette, Illinois]
1997 marks the centenary of the Birth of Shoghi Effendi. There are no celebrations of the occasion official or otherwise, because Shoghi Effendi did not wish his birthday to be celebrated. He made this clear in writing “to commemorate any event associated with his life would be tantamount to a departure from those established truths that are enshrined within our beloved Faith” [Shoghi Effendi, ‘Dispensation of Baha’u’llah’]. However there is nothing to stop us from remembering him, indeed how can we forget so unique and indispensable a figure of the Faith of Baha’u’llah. Since I have been offered an opportunity a very welcome one I should say, and a pleasant opportunity of being with you today, I invite you to join me in remembering Shoghi Effendi as interpreter.
It is only fair, I think, to tell you that the talk I am about to give will be lengthy. It comprises of three parts. The first part is the Word as Genesis, second interpreting the Word and third the literature of interpretation. Now, perhaps you have heard that phrasing before because I have been involved in some form of resurrection... and… not as spectacular as that involved Lazurus but it was some form of resurrection because some years ago I wrote an article by this title which was published in the World Order magazine so since I assume most of you have not heard about this article I take a chance and bring a large of it chunk to your attention. So then let’s begin.
The Word as Genesis
"The Word is the beginning and the end of all things." You know the Word, capital W:
"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God". So begins the gospel according to St. John. "Thou didst wish to make thyself known unto men, therefore thou didst through a Word of Thy mouth bring creation into being and fashion the universe". So goes one of the statements in one of the well-known prayers of Baha’u’llah.
Creation is sustained and advances by the power of the Word. The manifestation comes in a human form and although we have in Him a physical presence, a tangible sign of God’s love, yet this is temporary. When He leaves what we have is the Word because His most important act is to deliver the Word. Baha’u’llah describes it, that is the Word, in a prayer as "Thy most sublime Word, through whose potency Thou didst call creation into being and didst reveal Thy Cause".