Category Archives Art & Creative Works

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

Another World – An Interview with the Team Behind the Film

Another World is a poignant and thoughtful short film about how children are coming of age at a time when humanity is also struggling to come to maturity. The film is based on a poem by Esther Maloney and between June and December 2020, she, along with a small team of creators from Winnipeg, Toronto and New York, regularly met and brought the poem to cinematic life. Continue reading

6 New Prayer Books for Babies and Toddlers Illustrated by Elaheh Bos

I first spotted a couple of Baha’i prayer books for babies and toddlers a few years ago. Their cardboard pages (which make them commonly known as “board books”) are perfect for hands still learning how to turn pages. I wasn’t a mother at the time, but I was eager to purchase them for babies I knew because it was so exciting to see the Baha’i Writings in a format accessible for the very young. Mothers often pray to the babies in their wombs, and sing them prayers from their earliest hours, so it was wonderful to see books safe and strong for really little hands to hold. The first board books I came across were illustrated by Elaheh Bos and I’m really excited that she’s been making more! A Tiny Seed, Rose of Love, I am a Child, Like Unto a Pearl, This Fresh Plant and With Loving Kindness are six newly available board books of prayers and devotions for young children published by Bellwood Press. Three are exquisitely illustrated with plasticine art and three feature color pencil illustrations. Elaheh agreed to tell us a little bit about them and I’m so glad she did. Here’s what she shared: Continue reading

The Gratitude List – A Journal & Mindfulness Tool Created by Lily Samii

I know I am not alone in my love of beautiful journals and stationery of all kinds. Lily Samii has created a journal, available in an array of colors, aimed at fostering gratitude and mindfulness every day and she shared with us all about her journals, their purpose, how she created them and how she hopes people will use them. Here’s what she said:

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

As a citizen of the world, I was inspired to create a universal tool of happiness that is fit for the world we live in today and the future: beautiful and sustainable. With the support of over 30k followers, I created The Gratitude List – an evidence-based journal that helps you be happier and create a life you love.

Baha’i Blog: What inspired you to create a gratitude journal?

I believe in rituals that make us feel happy and calm: whether it’s going for a walk first thing in the morning, chatting with a friend over lunch, enjoying a rooibos cup of tea by the fire, baking a cake – we all wish we had more of those moments. The Gratitude List is the gratitude journal I wish existed. It helps you form positive mindful habits and live in a beautiful state.

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The Wise Men of the West – New Novels by Jay Tyson

It’s been exciting to showcase Baha’i-inspired novels on Baha’i Blog such as The Woman Who Read Too Much by Bahiyyih Nakhjavani, The Consulting Detective by Alan Manifold, or Persian Passion: Of Gods and Gargoyles by Tom Lysaght.

The Wise Men of the West (volumes one and two!) are new novels to hit the shelves by Jay Tyson. They’re about the prophesies and expectations of the return of Christ or the Messiah. We’re excited to hear from Jay about his novels, how they came together, and what he hopes readers will take away with them, long after they’ve finished reading the last page. Here’s what he shared with us:

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

I grew up as a Presbyterian, but always wondered why God had not spoken to us in almost 2000 years. So, in my youth, I was attracted to the Baha’i teachings and became a Baha’i before entering college. I studied civil engineering at Princeton and used my education to enable myself and my wife to serve as Baha’i pioneers to Liberia in the late 1970s. It also provided a foundation for work at the Baha’i World Centre, where we served from 1982 to 1989. Since then, we’ve raised two daughters in my wife’s home state of New Jersey and are now proud grandparents.

As a first-generation Baha’i, I’ve felt a special obligation to share something of my experience with other Christians who may be willing to tread a similar path. But I felt that a novel might be more interesting and more frequently read than a simple memoir.

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Bahai-ideas.site – Free Online Resources by Corbin Doak

Corbin Doak has created a plethora of resources for anyone to use. They include fliers and invitations, posters and much more. But I’m getting ahead of myself! Corbin has graciously agreed to tell us about his website, Bahai-ideas.site, what it offers and how it came to be. Here’s our conversation:

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

My name is Corbin Doak. I am a husband, father, graphic and website designer, and a Baha’i. I was born in the state of Maine and pioneered with my family to the Island of Kauai when I was 13 years old. I pioneered in Asia for 11 years. While there I met my wife and started a family. About 5 years ago we decided to move to Hawaii. We now live on the beautiful Hawaii Island.

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Unravelling Beauty

Night view of lit windows on the octagon of the Shrine of the Bab. Photo courtesy of the Baha'i International Community.

It is the time of year when physical beauty is in abundance. Along the waterfront across from my house the lilacs, honeysuckle and wild roses are all in full bloom. Every evening I walk over and sit among the flowers, the air redolent with sweetness, and I feel like the luckiest woman in the world to have such ready access to beauty that I can immerse myself in. When I walk through the flowers and along the harbour watching sail boats fly gracefully past on the deep blue water of the bay the sense of calm and peace that descends on me is similar to sensations I experience when in a state of prayer.

The Baha’i Writings describe music as a ladder for the soul—I have always assumed this is because of its beauty. Years ago I attended a talk given by the architect Fariborz Sahba in which he described the beautiful details that William Sutherland Maxwell included in the design of the cupola at the top of the Shrine of the Bab in Haifa, Israel. This tiny space is only actually ever seen by the individuals who go up into the dome to clean and do maintenance on the structure, so I was surprised by the attention and energy given to creating beauty that would never be seen.

His talk raised a number of questions for me: When we create with beauty in mind, who are we creating it for, and what purpose is it intended to serve? Clearly beauty is supremely important to our spiritual growth—an entire month in our calendar is named Jamal, which is “beauty” in Arabic. But what is beauty, really? Are there different kinds of beauty, or is all beauty simply an expression of one essential truth? And what is it about beauty that draws us to it? Continue reading

Nurturing Human Beans – Free Activity Books for Kids to Intentionally Practice Spiritual Principles

I was excited to learn about an awesome new initiative called ‘Nurturing Human Beans’, a series of free activity booklets aimed at helping children put spiritual principles into practice.

These activity books were created by a couple of my friends named Anisa and Dina, both mothers, who were trying to figure out what activities they could do with their children, especially during this time of isolation as a result of the current pandemic. Their first activity booklet is titled ‘LOVE – A Practical Guide for Kids (During Social Distancing)’, and like all their booklets, they aim to connect children and their actions with spiritual principles that bring meaning to the circumstances they find themselves in.

I wanted to learn more about this wonderful free activity booklet and the ‘Nurturing Human Beans’ initiative as a whole, so I got in touch with Anisa and Dina to find out more. Here’s what they had to say: Continue reading

Radiant Heart – An Album by Shidan and Shadi Toloui-Wallace

A blending of cultures and a meeting point of generations is what makes Radiant Heart a special album, even before you begin listening to it. Mother-daughter duo Shidan and Shadi Toloui-Wallace, have created an album with songs in English, Persian (Farsi) and Arabic. Their respective voices, languages and the cultural heritage they draw upon complements each other magnificently.

It’s been a while since we heard from Shidan or Shadi. You may remember Shidan from our interview with her about her album Phoenix of Love, which you can read here. And we last heard from Shadi when she was a guest on our podcast, which you can check out here: Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson – Episode 27: Shadi Toloui-Wallace

So with the release of this new and unique album, we thought it was time to hear from both of them again, and here’s what they shared with us: Continue reading