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 joined by our very first mother and daughter duo, Barbara and Radiance Talley, living in Maryland, USA. Both Barbara and Radiance are poets, educators, writers, and passionate about tackling the issue of racism in the US. They tell me about the ‘Arise: Pupil of the Eye’ conference and the impact it’s had. We talk about activism and what we all can do to work towards racial harmony. And by sharing some of their poems with me, we get a raw and heartfelt glimpse into their lives and concerns as African Americans in the US. I hope you find this wonderful conversation as engaging and inspiring as I did.
To find out more about some of the things we covered in this episode, check out the following:
Find out more about Barbara Talley here on her website and from this series of interviews with her.
Find out more about Radiance Talley here.
The metaphor “pupil of the eye” comes from the following quote by Abdu’l-Baha: “Thou art like unto the pupil of the eye which is dark in color, yet it is the fount of light and the revealer of the contingent world”, and which you can read more about from this article: The Baha’i “Pupil of the Eye” Metaphor—What Does it Mean?
Find out more about the ‘Arise: Pupil of the Eye Conference’ here.
Barbara and I refer to a quote by Shoghi Effendi found in The Advent of Divine Justice: “As to racial prejudice, the corrosion of which, for well-nigh a century, has bitten into the fiber, and attacked the whole social structure of American society, it should be regarded as constituting the most vital and challenging issue confronting the Baha’i community at the present stage of its evolution. The ceaseless exertions which this issue of paramount importance calls for, the sacrifices it must impose, the care and vigilance it demands, the moral courage and fortitude it requires, the tact and sympathy it necessitates, invest this problem … with an urgency and importance that cannot be overestimated.”
Listen to an interview with Barbara Talley on the BahaiTeachings.org Cloud 9 podcast here: Barbara Talley’s Poetic Approach to Racial Unity
Barbara talks about Sadie Oglesby.
Barbara mentions the book ‘Lights of the Spirit: Historical Portraits of Black Baha’is in North America, 1898-2000‘.
Barbara mentions Derek Smith’s essay: ‘Centering the “Pupil of the Eye”: Blackness, Modernity, and the Revelation of Baha’u’llah‘ found in The Journal of Baha’i Studies, Volume 29, Number 1 Spring-Summer 2019. We also had Derik Smith on the Baha’i Blogcast here: Episode 39: Derik Smith
Barbara talks about worldembracing.net
Radiance quotes from the Quran: “And We desire to show favor to those who were brought low in the land, and to make them spiritual leaders among men, and to make of them Our heirs.”
Barbara mentions Ruhiyyih Khanum, Louis Gregory and Van Gilmer.
Barbra quotes the Bible: “Blessed are the meek for they shall inherit the earth.”
Barbra shares this quote from Shoghi Effendi: “The need of the cause in America is -the call of the heart and it can never be given save by those who have suffered and who have been trained in the way of sacrifice and humility.”
Barbara mentions the Baha’i principle of ‘progressive revelation‘
Radiance talks about the importance of the arts in the Baha’i Faith.
Radiance mentions the Bab and shares the following quote from The Dawn Breakers: “Treasures lie hidden beneath the throne of God; the key to those treasures is the tongue of poets.”
Rainn mentions the Siyah-Chal which is the black pit.
Rainn mentions Writings of Baha’u’llah called ‘The Clouds of the Realms Above‘.
Rainn quotes Baha’u’llah: “Let deeds, not words, be your adorning.”
Barbara quotes Baha’u’llah: “Truthfulness is the foundation of all human virtues. Without truthfulness progress and success, in all the worlds of God, are impossible for any soul. When this holy attribute is established in man, all the divine qualities will also be acquired.”
Barbara and Rainn talk about the “double crusade” called upon by Shoghi Effendi. The Universal House of Justice explains: “As you will recall, in The Advent of Divine Justice Shoghi Effendi summons American believers to a double crusade—“first to regenerate the inward life of their own community, and next to assail the long-standing evils that have entrenched themselves in the life of their nation.”
Radiance tells us about her experience with Helena Hicks.
Barbara quotes Shoghi Effendi from The Advent of Divine Justice: “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 long-standing evils that have entrenched themselves in the life of their nation. The perfection of such weapons, the wise and effective utilization of every one of them, more than the furtherance of any particular plan, or the devising of any special scheme, or the accumulation of any amount of material resources, can prepare them for the time when the Hand of Destiny will have directed them to assist in creating and in bringing into operation that World Order which is now incubating within the worldwide administrative institutions of their Faith.”
Barbara talks about the importance of prayer, and quotes Baha’u’llah: “Intone, O My servant, the verses of God that have been received by thee, as intoned by them who have drawn nigh unto Him, that the sweetness of thy melody may kindle thine own soul, and attract the hearts of all men. Whoso reciteth, in the privacy of his chamber, the verses revealed by God, the scattering angels of the Almighty shall scatter abroad the fragrance of the words uttered by his mouth, and shall cause the heart of every righteous man to throb. Though he may, at first, remain unaware of its effect, yet the virtue of the grace vouchsafed unto him must needs sooner or later exercise its influence upon his soul. Thus have the mysteries of the Revelation of God been decreed by virtue of the Will of Him Who is the Source of power and wisdom.”
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!