Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson – Episode 35: Michael Karlberg

Hello and welcome to the Baha’i Blogcast with me your host, Rainn Wilson.

In this series of podcasts I interview members of the Baha’i Faith and friends from all over the world about their hearts, and minds, and souls, their spiritual journeys, what they’re interested in, and what makes them tick.

In this episode I’m sitting in a cabin in the woods with Michael Karlberg, as we take part in a Baha’i-inspired retreat for youth in White Salmon, Washington called Windstock. Michael is a professor of Communication Studies at Western Washington University, and he’s the author of ‘Beyond a Culture of Contest’, a book I often reference in my podcast. He tells me how he used to make acoustic guitars and how he became a Baha’i, and we talk about the power of media and how we need to rethink some of the fundamental assumptions we have about the world and how it’s moving forward. We discuss nonviolent social change through constructive and peaceful resilience, and the challenges of taking collective action. Michael shares how the Baha’i Faith is a radical movement which addresses change on both the individual and social level, and he explains the ways in which the Baha’is are working towards this. I hope you enjoy the conversation as much as I did!

To find out more about Michael Karlberg and some of the things we covered in this podcast, check out the following links:

  • Learn more about Michael Karlberg and his works using this link.
  • Watch Michael Karlberg’s TEDxInnsbruck talk here: Beyond the Culture of Contest
  • ‘Beyond a Culture of Contest’ by Michael Karlberg can be purchased here.
  • Michael’s children’s book is called ‘Rooth Sees a Trooth
  • Michael mentions that his first Baha’i book was The Book of Certitude (Kitab-i-Iqan).
  • Michael talks about the impact the message ‘The Promise of World Peace‘ by the Universal House of Justice had on him.
  • Use these links to find out more about the Baha’i World Centre and The Universal House of Justice.
  • Use these links to find out more about ‘The Training Institute‘ and the Ruhi sequence of courses.
  • Rainn and Michael talk about the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program [JYSEP], which you can learn more about from this page: What is the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program?
  • Michael talks about the Institute for Studies in Global Prosperity [ISGP].
  • Learn more about Rainn’s non-profit organization called LIDÈ and how you can support its programs here:
  • Michael shares one of his favorite quotes from the Writings of Baha’u’llah: “He Who is your Lord, the All-Merciful, cherisheth in His heart the desire of beholding the entire human race as one soul and one body.”
  • You can find all of our episodes here on the Baha’i Blogcast page, and be sure to ‘subscribe’ to the Baha’i Blogcast for more upcoming episodes on iTunes, Google Play, Spotify and Soundcloud.

    Thanks for listening!

    -Rainn Wilson

    About the Author

    Naysan is the editor of Baha'i Blog and he has worked in various avenues of media for two decades. He’s passionate about using the arts and media to support and explore the teachings of the Baha’i Faith and he has produced and collaborated on popular music projects like the "DawnBreaker Collective" and the successful Ruhi-inspired sequence of "MANA" albums. His experience as a producer for CNN was invaluable while working on a number of special projects for the Baha’i World Centre, including the "Building Momentum" and "Pilgrimage: A Sacred Experience" videos. If there’s a media-related Baha’i project out there, chances are that Naysan was involved with it somehow!

    Visit Author's Website

    Discussion 4 Comments

    1. Wow! Thanks, fellows, for a very resonant podcast. Rainn, I will share the concept of your son’s JY group service project, “unplugged evenings” with one of my private students, a Hungarian journalist & mother of five who gives talks about “digital parenting”, full of insights on sensible management of kids’ use of social media. And on a similar theme, an eccentric but good-hearted expat friend of mine here has self-published a book on Amazon KDP, The Curse of the Screen Beast, to do with the deleterious effects of screen use on the development of the power of imagination, FWIW.

      Michael, I can tell that your book, Beyond the Culture of Contest, often referred to in these podcasts, will provide some useful insights that can be brought in to meaningful conversations arising from our small Baha’i community’s proposed use of English Corner materials–a program I’m told was developed by Baha’is in Canada to help non-native speakers of English practice the language, while nudging the discussion towards spiritual principles, with a focus of community building. The words expressed here about the importance of overcoming complacency and becoming agents for constructive social change will also dovetail with this process and may give me the opportunity to recommend this podcast to our participants.

      And Michael, that quote of Baha’u’llah’s that you mentioned at the end, containing the phrase “…beholding the entire human race as one soul and one body”, brought me right back to the book that started my spiritual journey in my early twenties and later led me to the Baha’i Revelation: Pierre Teilhard de Chardin’s The Phenomenon of Man. As I recall, this Jesuit paleontologist’s theory about the next step for humankind advanced in that book was that the human species is now on the verge of an evolutionary quantum leap on the order of that from single-celled organisms to multi-celled ones. In our case, we’re heading towards a glorious spiritual civilization constituting a super organism whose individual members are united by God’s love, communicating via a planetary “noosphere” (thought sphere), the infrastructure of which we now know as the internet–the first step towards which was taken with the first telegraph message, sent the very same day in 1844 as the initial declaration of the Bab, the Prophet-Herald of the Prophet-Founder of the Baha’i Faith, Baha’u’llah, the Divine Educator of humankind, Who is now making possible the essential transformation of our hearts and minds and also of our social structures at this pivotal turning point in the long-foretold coming of age of our unique species.

      Though I at first intended only to post a line about how personally meaningful this podcast was, all of the above spilled out. I share this in the spirit of engaged participation in this globe-encircling conversation that Baha’i Blogcast is so good at fostering. Keep these excellent podcasts coming!

    2. Wow. I was studying Communications back in the late 1990s and I remember quoting a certain Michael Karlberg in my essays for my Communications classes. I was so impressed that a man would write about the equality of men and women and promote the responsibility of men in reaching that equality. Could that be you? If so, I had no idea you were a Baha’i! How amazing. I should have some floppy discs lying around with my essays on them quoting you. 🙂

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