Ambassador to Humanity – A Podcast Series on the Life of Abdu’l-Baha

As Baha’is and their friends around the world commemorate the 100th anniversary of the passing of Abdu’l-Baha, the eldest son of Baha’u’llah, the Prophet-founder of the Baha’i Faith, I wanted to share a new podcast series made in honor of the life of Abdu’l-Baha called Ambassador to Humanity.

Ambassador to Humanity is a nine-part audio docu-series that recounts the life and work of this unique figure in human history, celebrating Abdu’l-Baha’s life, His legacy, and His enduring influence on humanity. The series explores how Abdu’l-Baha exemplified how to live with purpose and how to build a new world, and it includes eyewitness accounts from those who encountered Abdu’l-Baha, and commentary from those who have studied His life and example.

The podcast is produced by Rob Weinberg with lead narration by actors Rainn Wilson and Parisa Fitz-Henley, I caught up with the three of them to find out more about this wonderful new podcast: Continue reading

Letter from the Universal House of Justice Regarding the Upcoming Nine Year Plan of the Worldwide Baha’i Community

A major letter dated 30 December, 2021 from Universal House of Justice to the conference of the Continental Boards of Counsellors has been released. The message highlights the priorities before the worldwide Baha’i community in its efforts to foster social transformation and provides insights for the community’s future development. Continue reading

How Visiting Battambang’s Baha’i Temple Strengthened My Faith

Photo courtesy of the Baha'i International Community

I was born into a Baha’i family in the Philippines, but grew up in the middle of the hot and humid country of Cambodia. I live in Siem Reap where there is little Baha’i activity and only a few Baha’i families and individuals. And if there is a Baha’i activity, it takes place in my house, whether it be a Nineteen Day Feast, Baha’i Holy Days like Ayyam-i-Ha, core activities or Local Spiritual Assembly meetings.

Growing up, I experienced many memorable celebrations and meaningful discussions around the Baha’i Faith; yet it wasn’t the same outside my house. Outside was a mostly Buddhist world, where it seemed as if there wasn’t any trace of the Baha’i Faith to be seen. I knew there were other Baha’is around the world, but I didn’t have access to the internet to know there were around seven million of us, at that time. I’ve seen big communities in my countries of origin (Malaysia and Philippines), but since there weren’t any other Baha’is around my age in Cambodia, I felt isolated.  Continue reading

The Winter Cloak – A Novel for Children About Abdu’l-Baha

The Winter Cloak is a short novel for young readers by Ronald (Ron) Tomanio. It tells the fictional story of an impoverished ten year old named Ahmed who meets Abdu’l-Baha in November 1921, who is given a cloak by Him, and who becomes one of the many who mourn His Passing.

Although a work of fiction, Ron draws on historical texts to bring his story to life and to give young readers a sense of what it would have been like 100 years ago, to lament and grieve the loss of Abdu’l-Baha.

Ron graciously agreed to tell us about his book. Here’s what he shared with the Baha’i Blog team:

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m 74 years old, married for 40 years to a wonderful woman named Karen. We have two daughters and five grandchildren who are all Baha’is. Karen and I live in the shadow of Green Acre a few miles away in Eliot, Maine (USA). I became a Baha’i at Green Acre when I was 17. My early teachers were Stanwood Cobb and Curtis Kelsey. Both men knew Abdu’l-Baha and all they wanted to talk about was Him, which was fine with me. I wrote my first children’s book 27 years ago. It was called Lilly & Peggy for George Ronald. I write mostly books for children, but did co-author With Thine Own Eyes: Why Imitate When You Can Investigate Reality? for George Ronald. This is a book I didn’t want to write because it diverted my focus from writing books for children.

Continue reading

What Hast Thou Done? – An Album by Vedad Theophilus

What Hast Thou Done? is an album by Vedad Theophilus. It’s a collection of sacred writings and poetry and its songs perfectly marry Flamenco and Persian musical styles.

It’s not every day that you come across such unique music so I was delighted when Vedad agreed to tell us more about her album. Here’s what she shared:

Baha’i Blog: Could you please tell us a little bit about yourself?

I am a fifth generation Baha’i, beginning with an early believer, Haji Mulla Mihdi-i-‘Atri, the father of the poet and martyr Varqa. For generations my family esteemed the arts of music and poetry. As everyone, while still in my mother’s womb, I listened to the rhythmic beating of my mother’s heart in the darkness. As a child, I awoke early each dawn to the sweet melody of prayers chanted by my father. I was persuaded to memorize many prayers and I developed a passion for chanting and singing as a young child. If I was not singing, I could be found painting and drawing, evolving into another passion which later became my University major.

I feel fortunate to have begun singing so early in my life. Much research demonstrates that musical training enhances a child’s brain development by producing physical changes in brain structure and function. Abdu’l-Baha recommends that music be taught in the school “because of its power to uplift the spirit and to brighten life with enjoyment.”

Although I grew up in a Persian culture, I quickly became attracted to the Flamenco music of the Gypsies after my family and I immigrated to Spain. I found an underlying coherence between native Persian music and Spain’s Flamenco music. What began as an experiment in blending the two musical traditions together evolved into a unique style of sharing the beauty and truth of spiritual reality.

Continue reading

Abdu’l-Baha in New York – A Book by Hussein Ahdieh & Hillary Chapman

The dynamic duo Hussein Ahdieh and Hillary Chapman have re-released their book Abdu’l-Baha in New York in honor of the centenary of the Passing of Abdu’l-Baha.

Hussein Ahdieh has written about this subject for Baha’i Blog, such as his article “The Spirit of the Age: Abdu’l-Baha, Khalil Gibran & Greenwich Village” and “Juliet Thompson: Champion of the Baha’i Faith in New York City“. This book, however, tells us about the time Abdu’l-Baha spent in New York City in order to bring you closer to this unique figure in spiritual history.

Hussein graciously agreed to tell us about this new edition of his book and here’s what he shared with the Baha’i Blog team:

Baha’i Blog: Could you please tell us a little about your book?

The book is about the beloved Master’s visit to New York during His historic visit to America. The Master spent 85 days in New York, He revealed a prayer for New York beseeching God for the friends here to be kind to one another, and He declared New York City to be the City of the Covenant.

We hope that the book will give readers a deeper understanding of the concepts and principles that Abdu’l-Baha emphasized during His visit to New York and also help readers better understand the social context of the people of New York whom Abdu’l-Baha met during His visit.

The book was extensively researched and includes much detail about people and places along with in-depth background about the Lake Mohonk Peace Conference. It is illustrated with original, contemporary photographs of locations associated with the Master.

The book is 141 pages long and has 20 photographs. Hillary Chapman and I wrote it in a way that it would be of interest to someone who is learning about the Faith and wants to know more about the Master’s connection to the City of the Covenant.

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CHARMS – A Community Building Game of Questions & Insights

Julie Burns Walker, C. Aaron Kreader, and Lisa Blecker have teamed up to create a fun, unique, engaging and award-winning game called CHARMS: A Game of Insight. There are three iterations of the game: the original version, an expansion dedicated to antiracism, and an online version. All three aim to jumpstart meaningful dialogue.

I was curious to find out more and I’m grateful the game-creating trio agreed to tell us about CHARMS! Continue reading

Alvin: The Green Acre Water Boy

Ronald Tomanio has penned a new children’s book relating to Abdu’l-Baha called Alvin – The Green Acre Water Boy.

Based on a true story, the book asks its readers the questions: What would you have done if you met Abdu’l-Baha on a hot August afternoon at Green Acre? Would you have offered Him a ladle of cool spring water? What would you have said to Him? What would He have said to you?

Ron graciously agreed to tell us about his book and here’s what he shared with us:

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I’m 74 years old, married for 40 years to a wonderful woman named Karen. We have two daughters and five grandchildren who are all Baha’is. Karen and I live in the shadow of Green Acre a few miles away in Eliot, Maine (USA). I became a Baha’i at Green Acre when I was 17. My early teachers were Stanwood Cobb and Curtis Kelsey. Both men knew Abdu’l-Baha and all they wanted to talk about was Him, which was fine with me. I wrote my first children’s book 27 years ago. It was called Lilly & Peggy for George Ronald. I write mostly books for children, but did co-author With Thine Own: Why Imitate When You Can Investigate Reality? for George Ronald. This is a book I didn’t want to write because it diverted my focus from writing books for children.

Continue reading

Mind & Soul Matters: A Podcast about Mental Health and Spirituality

Mind & Soul Matters is a new podcast from a group of Baha’i friends in Perth, Australia. Through conversations with everyday people, the podcast aims to broaden our understanding of mental health and spirituality, and to deepen our insights into the challenges and meaning of our lives.

I got in touch with the podcast creators, Maya Rose, Farah Feeney and Nasim Kasiri, to find out more about the podcast, and here’s what they shared: Continue reading