Andrea Hope is no stranger to the Baha’i Blog team! In the past, we interviewed her about her spoken word (you can read all about it here). Now she has taken her skills with words to create a book for young children called A is for Allah-u-Abha. Illustrated by Winda Mulyasari, this bright and bold book will help little ones learn spiritual qualities, Baha’i concepts and history such as equality, the Fast, and the station of Abdu’l-Baha as our exemplar.
Andrea lovingly shared how her picture book of poetry came together, the process involved, and what she’s working on now. Here’s our conversation:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I publish under the name Andrea Hope, which is my first and middle name. “Hope” comes from my great-grandmother, Virginia Hope Jones, who was the first Baha’i in our family and my spiritual guide. Growing up, I was always quite empathetic toward the plight of humanity. At age 11, I found my first solace in writing poetry with lines like, “If the world were full of blind men what a beautiful sight it would be … we’d be forced to feel, not see.” I remember wondering as a junior youth, “Why would God put me on this earth if there was nothing I could do about suffering?” The Baha’i Faith both relieved and empowered me. I have been working for some time to combine my passion for the arts and children’s education with the needs of the Faith. This has included developing children’s programs for holy days, organizing a theatre performance of the children’s book Rooth Sees a Trooth, creating Baha’i Holy Day memory cards, writing a poetry activity book called I Am & I Can, and now, publishing the picture book A is for Allah-u-Abha. Continue reading
On December 17th, 1919, in the aftermath of World War I, Abdu’l-Baha wrote to the Central Organization for a Durable Peace in The Hague. Abdu’l-Baha wrote a second Tablet to them in July 1920. Because of its substantial length, you might hear the first Tablet referred to as “The Tablet to The Hague” but you’ll also find both Tablets called “The Tablets to the Hague”. These two Tablets were recently published online for the first time on the Baha’i Reference Library (you can read them here), and in this article, we offer some introductory thoughts on the Tablet that was written 100 years ago, about its context and its significance. Continue reading
Bill Hyman is a dedicated Baha’i who has been serving his community in American Samoa for decades. He has been tirelessly promoting the teachings of the Baha’i Faith in all avenues of the media and most recently this includes the release of a book that combines his profound love for the Bible and some personal anecdotes. The book is cleverly titled South-southwest of Pago Pago: A Bible Lover’s Guide to the Baha’i Faith and Bill graciously agreed to tell us about it. Here’s our conversation:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born in London, England in 1938, and left, at the age of 18, to work overseas for Cable and Wireless Ltd, a communications company, serving in Barbados, Brazil, Trinidad, Jamaica and Belize. I emigrated from Jamaica to Canada and first heard of the Baha’i Faith when serving in Hawaii for a Canadian communications company. I already believed in the Baha’i principles so I was not particularly impressed. My teacher was a converted Methodist minister. I had the view that if this prophet was as important as my teacher was trying to tell me He was, I would have heard about Him long ago. My first wedding was in Hawaii at the Honolulu Baha’i Center though neither my wife nor I were Baha’is at the time. We wanted a religious ceremony and considered ourselves more Baha’i than anything else. I took my bride back to Canada but the marriage did not last long and the resulting trauma made me look back at the Faith again. I needed a stable platform. After more firesides and study I decided to become a Baha’i, partially to check it out from the inside. Both my first wife and I became Baha’is after our divorce, and our second spouses were Baha’is.
There are few things I enjoy more than sharing an armchair with my children and reading a book together. Despite access to a great public library and its incredible wealth of resources, illustrated books for children that aim to inspire change in the world are rare treasures. I was over the moon when I heard about a team of collaborators who are working on a book called Little Champions of Justice. The team consists of Shirin, Alyssa, Yas, Anjali, and Neysan and their book tells the true stories of eight remarkable girls and boys from around the world whose courage, determination and sense of justice will inspire its readers. The eight stories feature diverse protagonists, challenge gender stereotypes and racial biases, and find role models anyone can identify with.
Unlike other books that are available through a variety of outlets and over a long period of time, the team has chosen to only print their books once, and to only make as many copies as are ordered before December 12th (you can purchase a copy here).
Caught up in the joy and excitement of this book’s creation, we got in touch with the team behind Little Champions of Justice, and here’s what they shared with us: Continue reading
In honor of the bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab, Prophet-herald of the Baha’i Faith, we thought we’d share an updated post of books relating to the Bab, His station, His ministry, His family and His early believers. This list of 30 books is in no particular order and it describes titles written for a variety of audiences and in a diversity of styles, including some creative non-fiction. We hope you find this list useful in these days leading up to the bicentenary and beyond! Continue reading
Coronation on Carmel by Michael V. Day is the second book in a trilogy that tells the story of the Shrine of the Bab, the resting place of the Bab, a Messenger of God whose revitalizing message prepared the way for the coming of Baha’u’llah, the Founder of the Baha’i Faith.
Michael’s skills and talents as a journalist and his deep love for Baha’i history make for an exciting read. I was delighted to hear from Michael about his book, the process of putting it together, and its uniqueness in the trilogy. Here’s what Michael shared with me:
Baha’i Blog: So good to talk to you about this second book in the trilogy, Michael! Can you tell us a little bit about the book?
Coronation on Carmel is the second book in the trilogy I wrote to tell the story of the Shrine of the Bab. It starts just after where Journey to a Mountain finished. It covers the period 1922 to 1963, the time when Shoghi Effendi took on and fulfilled the responsibility given to him by the Abdu’l-Baha to complete the Shrine of the Bab.
The book traces the drama from start to finish. First, it lists the problems in the early years and then shows how by drawing on spiritual resources and through careful planning and attention to practicalities, Shoghi Effendi engaged the brilliant architect, William Sutherland Maxwell, motivated the Baha’is to donate the funds, and with an acute sense of timing, achieved his goal.
The book details the design of the arcade and superstructure, and how it was built. There are lots of descriptions of events in and near the Shrine.
The story is set against the background of the economic depression, communal conflict in the Holy Land, the anxious times of World War 2, and the establishment of the State of Israel.
With Oars and Compass is a book I wish I had read many years ago. Written by Hamed Javaheri, it frames an exploration of the meaning and purpose of life in a narrative that is philosophical, romantic, and mysterious. We meet Jane Luwi Flynn and get to eavesdrop on the meaningful conversations she has with her friends, her growing friendship and attraction to Xavier, and her recurring dreams. The story pulls the reader along and the conversations among its characters make you pause and think. Compelling, informative, engaging, light-hearted, humorous and thought-provoking, With Oars and Compass would have been a book that I read cover to cover as a teenager and young adult when I was asking myself the same questions Jane asks. But really, it’s a novel for anyone and anytime.
Hamed graciously agreed to share what inspired him to write the novel. Here is our conversation:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born and raised in Zambia, Southern Africa, and have lived here for most of my life, with the exception of a brief period in Montreal, Canada, where I pursued my university education. My wife and I married when we were young, and we have three children—the first of which is about to venture off for his year of service before he enters university.
As a Baha’i, I am privileged to witness the impact of the Teachings on the human mind—and on youth in particular—as they come to recognize the potential they have to contribute to the wellbeing of their communities, and to the betterment of the world.
The Primal Point is a significant and timely paperback volume recently published by George Ronald that contains testimonials and tributes to the Bab and some of His early followers. The anthology was put together in honor of the bicentennial anniversary of the Birth of the Bab and rather than capture a comprehensive chronological account of His life, it focuses on the importance of His station and the impact of His Revelation. In its preface, the book’s compiler, Rob Weinberg, writes that it is particularly hoped that the book will inspire Baha’i youth, “who follow so conscientiously with such ardour in the footsteps of their God-intoxicated spiritual forebears.”
The book begins with excerpts from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, Abdu’l-Baha, and Shoghi Effendi about the Station of the Bab and His Revelation. You’ll also find extracts from Babi and Baha’i authors that discuss some of the events of His life and their significance. Many of the writers quoted may be familiar to Baha’is; authors such as Hasan Balyuzi, Horace Holley, Nabil, and Lady Blomfield are included. These writers and their works are priceless in their own right but it’s valuable to see selections of pieces that pertain to the Bab collected all in one place. Continue reading
Tom Lysaght is an accomplished playwright with some 30 plays in both English and Spanish to his name. He also founded “El Teatro de Pan y Paz” in rural Peru, where he wrote circus drama plays about economic and health challenges, utilizing masks, stilts, and 15-foot high puppets for open-air performances, and he’s travelled extensively to help launch similar community development theatre projects.
While his latest project is not a play, it is nevertheless dramatic. 35 years in the making, his novel, Persian Passion: Of Gods and Gargoyles, is a work of creative non-fiction set in Persia during the time of the Bab. Actor Rainn Wilson said it’s “… an expertly written look into the parallel histories of the founders of the Baha’i Faith, the Bab and Baha’u’llah. It evokes the spiritual passion and political complexity of mid-nineteenth century Persia in beautiful prose…”, and Dr. Nader Saiedi calls it “A captivating account of a dramatic summer that questioned traditionalism and patriarchy, and celebrated the resurrection of the human spirit”. This new book holds particular interest this year as Baha’is around the world celebrate the bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab, Prophet-Herald of the Baha’i Faith, so I was excited to hear from Tom about his new novel, and here’s what he had to say: Continue reading