5 Reasons the Arts Matter: An Artist’s Perspective

One day a young man was composing jazz tunes on a rented piano in his apartment in Boston when the doorbell rang. He opened the door to find himself face-to-face with his blue-eyed neighbour, a classically trained singer who had heard his music through the floor and needed someone to accompany her while she rehearsed. Two years later this singer gave birth to me at home, accompanied by jazz played by my father and the doctor, who was (naturally) also a musician.

Our house was always full of live music and artwork from all over the world. The arts were a way of life. Creating and appreciating art was how we related to each other, and how we built community. So the first time someone asked me what I saw as the purpose of the arts I was thrown off guard. They seem as essential as food and water. There are an endless number of ways that the arts enrich our lives and shape our reality. Here are five that I keep coming back to: Continue reading

4 Ways You Can Help Support Baha’i Blog

We just celebrated Baha’i Blog’s 10th birthday, and it’s been an amazing decade of creating Baha’i-inspired content! Everything that we’ve been able to produce and share online has been thanks to the hard work of the Baha’i Blog team and the help of volunteers and financial contributors.

Creating a variety of content and ensuring that it is of a high standard is no easy task, and this requires resources and material means: videos, audio recordings, interviews and articles all require time, talent, and/or money. As an individual initiative, we are so incredibly grateful to everyone who contributes to Baha’i Blog – be it by subscribing to our YouTube channel or sharing one of our posts on Facebook, hosting or feeding musicians when they’re recording a Studio Session or singing those very songs, writing articles, sending us an email when a typo or error is spotted, or making financial contributions from the heart. We couldn’t do what we do without your help, and we strive to make the most of every contribution received.

We could ALWAYS use more assistance to keep Baha’i Blog going, and to continue exploring other potential projects too! We often get asked how Baha’i Blog can be supported so we thought, in honor of our 10th year online, we’d share four ways you can help: Continue reading

Top 10 Baha’i Blog YouTube Videos of the Year! (2020-2021)

Every year around Naw-Ruz, Baha’i Blog celebrates its birthday, and this year we celebrated our 10 year anniversary! (Yay!!!)

It was about five years ago that we launched Baha’i Blog’s YouTube channel with the aim of creating our very own original Baha’i-inspired video content. With approximately 750 videos on our channel and over 25,000 subscribers (wooohooo!!), we are very proud of the variety of content we’ve made available including informative animations like What is the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program?, our popular music series called Studio Sessions, Baha’i-inspired talks, our short film series on creatives called The Art Of…, and the funny What’s That Word? educational series aimed at junior youth. Continue reading

An Appreciation of Marzieh Gail

Marzieh Gail (1 April 1908 - 16 October 1993). Photo courtesy of the Baha'i International Community.

In this article I would like to pay tribute to one of the most distinguished authors of Baha’i literature, Marzieh Gail, by offering a brief biographical sketch of her life and by providing some excerpts of her writing.

My reason for paying tribute to her is that I believe she is an individual whose life and service illustrates two core principles of the Baha’i Faith; the equality of women and men, and the oneness of mankind. She embodied these principles through her outstanding services to Baha’i scholarship as a writer and translator at a time when women often found doors closed to them, and by her serving to humanity in both Western and Eastern communities.

Marzieh was born April 1st, 1908 and her parents, Ali Kuli Khan and Florence Breed, were the first Persian and American Baha’i couple. This cross-cultural family upbringing prepared her for a life of service to both the East and the West. She later recorded some of the details of her childhood and youth in a relatable and humorous tone in her biographical book about her father, Summon Up Remembrance. In addition to being raised by a Persian father and American mother Marzieh spent her childhood from the age of 10 travelling across Europe and the Middle East with her family, learning from tutors along the way. She also had a profound connection to the Baha’i Faith from her early years, meeting Abdu’l-Baha when she was a child and receiving a Tablet from Him, and later meeting Shoghi Effendi. Continue reading

Celebrating 10 Years of Baha’i Blog!

Baha’i Blog is super excited to share that we are celebrating our 10 year anniversary since we launched in Naw-Ruz 2011! (Woohoo!!!)

Over the last 10 years, we’ve been passionately exploring how the Revelation of Baha’u’llah translates into different avenues of media by creating a plethora of Baha’i-inspired content, which we hoped will serve the Baha’i community, and also help raise the profile of the Baha’i Faith online. We hope you’ve enjoyed Baha’i Blog so far, and more importantly, we hope that our work has contributed to your journey and exploration of the wonderful teachings of the Baha’i Faith.

Here’s a brief outline of what Baha’i Blog is all about and some examples of our projects over the last decade: Continue reading

239Days.com Relaunches in Honor of the 100th Anniversary of the Passing of Abdu’l-Baha

239days.com is a website that chronicles and brings to life the 239 days Abdu’l-Baha traveled across North America. The initiative was originally launched in 2012, to mark the 100th anniversary of Abdu’l-Baha’s travels, and now the site has been updated and relaunched with new features, articles, information, and pictures as this year commemorates the 100th anniversary of His Passing.

I absolutely loved this initiative when it came out, and it was clear that a lot of love, thought, time and research went into the project. When I heard about the relaunch, I got in touch with my dear friend and the executive producer of the project, Shahin Sobhani, to hear more about 239days.com and some of its new updates. Here’s what he had to say: Continue reading

Turn My Steps – An Album by Siria

Turn My Steps is the debut album of Siria Rutstein, and many of you may remember hearing her voice on two Baha’i Blog Studio Sessions called “Make Them to Grow” and “Immerse”.

Siria is a thoughtful and joyful singer-songwriter currently based in Edinburgh, Scotland. I have to admit that I have a soft spot for her as when she was a child, her family was in Papua New Guinea with me and my family, and I have so many fond memories of the times I spent with her parents. I was delighted when I heard that she had released her debut album, so I got in touch with her to find out more about her music and why it was important for her to create this album. Here’s what she shared:
Continue reading

Aligning Personal Will with the Will of God: Some Personal Reflections

As I write this rain is pattering against the window above my desk. Outside, a tree that has been covered in brilliant yellow leaves for the past couple of weeks is in transition—the topmost branches are already bare. A slow but steady release is happening lower down, and the bottom is still blazing colour against the slate grey sky. Around me the world is in a season of radical transformation. We’ve come to a point where none of us can avoid the truth that individual wellbeing is inseparably connected to the wellbeing of all. Personally, the physical separation from those I love, coupled with a heightened awareness of the brevity of this earthly life is making me ask myself bigger questions than I had been previously. Three that come up for me a lot are: What is God’s Will for humanity? How do I align my life’s purpose with the Will of God? And what specific capacities can I strengthen in myself right now that will help me to better serve the needs of humanity at this pivotal time? Continue reading

Together, Even When We’re Apart – A Children’s Book About Serving Others & the Pandemic

I interviewed the dynamic duo, writer Linda Ahdieh Grant and illustrator Anna Myers, previously on Baha’i Blog about their children’s book I Love My Name (you can read the interview here). Arising to meet the needs of our age, they have partnered up again to create a children’s story book called Together, Even When We’re Apart. Its subtitle is “My Neighborhood’s Stories of the COVID-19 Pandemic”, which offers us a glimpse of what to expect in its pages.

Linda and Anna graciously agreed to tell us about their latest project, how it came together, and what they hope it will offer children and their families. Here’s what they said:

Baha’i Blog: What inspired you to write this book?

We initially got the idea to write a book about COVID-19 in the spring of 2020 in response to a contest announcement to create a children’s book to help explain COVID-19 to children. By the time we found out that we didn’t win the contest, we were super excited about the endeavor and decided to move forward with it anyway. 

Throughout the time that we were working on the project, Anna and I were experiencing the pandemic first-hand together with our families and our neighbors and, like people all over the world, we were having all kinds of conversations – about how to keep everyone safe, about how to help others, and about what would happen next. Both Anna and I felt really fortunate that during this time, the Universal House of Justice wrote several amazing letters to Baha’is all around the world to assure us of prayers, to share encouragement and love, and to give guidance about how the Baha’i community was responding and could further respond. We found the themes and concepts of these letters to be tremendously comforting and also clarifying — themes about hopefulness, about service to others, about manifesting unity and solidarity in action, about the cultivation of spiritual qualities needed during a crisis, about bending our minds to the needs of our communities, and about how the pandemic could give us insight and appreciation of our inherent oneness and interdependence. Continue reading