Written by Munib Rezaie, an educator and school counselor living in the United States, Meet Coach Ben is the first instalment in a brand new series of children’s books that feature a diverse cast, positive models of masculinity, and practical parenting advice, all rendered in beautiful hand-drawn comic book style illustrations.
I got in touch with Munib to find out more about the book and the initiative as a whole. Here’s what he shared: Continue reading
The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Australia has just released a new publication called Light & Mercy.
Light & Mercy is a compilation of extracts about mental health and tests and difficulties from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, Abdu’l-Baha, and letters of Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice.
In its 25 November 2020 message to the Baha’is of the world, the Universal House of Justice wrote that:
…the friends everywhere have sought with characteristic creativity and determination to minister to the needs of an ailing world.
The physical and mental impact of the continuing pandemic is evident around us, and the members of the Baha’i community are not immune. The National Assembly of the Baha’is of Australia wrote that it hopes this publication will be of assistance and support to the friends both individually and collectively, and trusts it will be a source of wisdom and comfort for Baha’is and those whom we come into contact with. Continue reading
Sovaida Ma’ani Ewing’s latest book called The Alchemy of Peace: 6 Essential Shifts in Mindsets and Habits to Achieve World Peace, offers its readers the gift of hope for the critical crossroads which humanity finds itself. It details ways in which we can change our mindsets and our habits in order to actualize our individual and collective potential: world peace.
Sovaida Ma’ani Ewing writes and lectures in the area of global governance, peace, and international security, and she is the founding director of the Center for Peace and Global Governance, an organization aimed at raising awareness and activating political will and action to tackle global challenges. Her experience and expertise on these subjects have led her to write her fourth book, The Alchemy of Peace, and she graciously agreed to tell us about her book. Here’s what she shared with us:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about the book?
Think of a garden that has become a wasteland overrun by weeds. Although we are excited about reviving the garden and creating a luxurious paradise of varied flowers, our efforts are being thwarted at every turn. No matter how many creative plans we make and how many seeds we plant, our efforts come to naught, because the weeds strangle all new growth. So, too, it is with our world today. Despite our best endeavors to come up with programs and action plans to create a just and peaceful world, the results always fall short or fail entirely. What’s going on is that even our most inspiring programs and plans struggle against certain unconscious filters through which we view and understand the world. These filters, or mindsets, are like the operating system of a computer: they drive us and constrain us and yet are in the background hidden from view. These mindsets in turn spawn certain dysfunctional habits. If we are to successfully build the sort of world we want, marked by peace and justice, we need to identify these mindsets and habits — the weeds overrunning our global garden — and replace them with constructive and empowering ones that will propel us in the direction of our vision. The core idea of this book is showing how to do this at the global level to propel us towards peace. I call this the “Alchemy of Peace Method.” After laying out the method in general, the book uses the method to identify six prevalent and insidious mindsets and habits that need to be rooted out and replaced by new mindsets and habits to meet the needs of humanity, as we approach maturity in our collective development.
Dr. Lameh Fananapazir recently authored A Companion to the Study of the Epistle to the Son of the Wolf. If you are unfamiliar with The Epistle to the Son of the Wolf (which you can read on the Baha’i reference library here) it is the last tablet of Baha’u’llah and it is addressed to a wealthy cleric who made it his life’s mission to destroy the Baha’i Faith and its followers. Shoghi Effendi translated the work into English and encouraged every Baha’i to study it.
Dr. Fananapazir’s work shares a wealth of sources from other religious texts that will help us to understand the significance of Baha’u’llah’s epistle, which Shoghi Effendi described as a library in of itself.
I am honoured that Dr. Fananapazir agreed to tell us a little bit about the companion he has put together. Here is what he shared with us:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I was born during a teaching trip my parents made to Zahedan, a southern eastern province of Iran and spent my youth in Africa, Gambia, Morocco, and Kenya.
I am a graduate of Edinburgh Medical School and was elected as a Fellow of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh. I trained in cardiovascular diseases and specialized in electrophysiology at Duke Medical Center, following which I was recruited to study causes of sudden death in athletes and patients with familial cardiomyopathies at the National Institutes of Health where I became the chief of the section of inherited heart diseases. I spent two and half years in Haifa, Israel where I was the director of the health services at the Baha’i World Centre and a visiting professor of molecular genetics at Technion, Israel Institute of Technology.
I retired recently. Following 9/11, I authored a book Islam at the Crossroads, published by George Ronald. This examines the religious and sectarian hostilities, the many issues that Islam and its sister religions, Judaism and Christianity, increasingly face, and their potential solutions in the light of Baha’u’llah’s teachings.
Author, Boris Handal, whom you may recognize from his previous books, Mirza Mihdi: The Purest Branch, and Varqa and Ruhu’llah: 101 Stories of Bravery on the Move, has just authored a new historical book called Trilogy of Consecration: The Courier, the Historian and the Missionary.
This book presents the lives of three personages closely related to the early years of the Baha’i Faith in Persia: Shaykh Salman, Nabil-i-A’zam and Mulla Sadiq.
Curious to find out more, here’s what Boris shared with us about his new book: Continue reading
I have been thinking recently about what it genuinely means to empower others and George Ronald has released a biography of someone who did just that: Knight of Baha’u’llah, Gayle Woolson. Her life’s story was penned by Juliet Gentzkow, who very graciously agreed to tell us about her book called The Art of Empowering Others: The Life and Times of Gayle Woolson Knight of Baha’u’llah, and to give us a glimpse of who Gayle Woolson was. Here’s what she shared with me:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
By profession as a teacher of children, counsellor, and hospice worker, I have served in the United States, Guyana, and Haiti. I now live in Palo Alto California, near my son and his family. Limited to home by the pandemic, I continue a part-time counseling practice, Creative Transitions, and dedicate time to family, community building, biographical writing, and research.
Baha’i Blog: Could you please tell us a little about your book?
‘The Art of Empowering Others’, a biography of Gayle Woolson (1913-2011), now joins the George Ronald series on the Knights of Baha’u’llah. Gayle was one of nine children born in Minnesota to parents of Syrian origin. In 1930, her father introduced his family to news of a new Faith, brought to his attention by a Syrian friend in St. Paul. Mr. Abas told his children of teachings for a new, spiritual worldwide civilization based on humanity’s oneness. He said the youth had an important part to play in its development. By 1933, Gayle was teaching a children’s class, which became a stepping stone to public speaking. She then participated in her Local Spiritual Assembly’s initial development and became one of the very first youth traveling teachers in the United States, accompanying Ms. Marguerite Reimer (Sears) and Mrs. Mabel Ives. Following a marriage tragically cut short by her husband’s unexpected death, she arose to serve internationally. In 1940, she and another Baha’i became the first to go to Costa Rica, beginning 29 years of service throughout Central and South America. She witnessed the emergence of Baha’i communities and institutions throughout the continent, becoming a Knight of Baha’u’llah for the Galapagos Islands and serving successively on four elected National Spiritual Assemblies and as part of the initial cohort of appointed Auxiliary Board Members for the Americas. As much at home in a Quechua village as in a president’s palace, her heart burned with love for all who crossed her path. She had a simple eloquence that was yet refined. She saw in each person a unique potential destiny needed in the building of a new civilization. In 1975, following five years of service at the Baha’i World Centre, Gayle returned to the United States, where, for 20 years, she taught and also developed her Children’s Public Speaking Program.
As this is a special year marking the centenary of the Ascension of Abdu’l-Baha — a year in which the Universal House of Justice asks us all to reflect profoundly on the Life of Abdu’l-Baha — Baha’i author Michael V. Day has just published a photographic book about the Ascension of Abdu’l-Baha titled Fragrance of Glory.
Michael V. Day is a dear friend and we currently live in the same city in Australia and I must say that I am personally delighted by his contributions to the world of Baha’i literature. He is the author of a trilogy of historical books about the Shrine of the Bab, which you can learn more about from his website: www.michaelvday.com. So when Michael told me about this new book in honor of the centenary of the Ascension of Abdu’l-Baha, I had to find out more. Here’s what he shared: Continue reading
As the teachings of the Baha’i Faith encourage everyone to serve others, many Baha’is choose to dedicate a year or more of their lives to full-time volunteering, whether it be by assisting with community-building efforts in a specific neighbourhood or village, or helping at a school, Baha’i temple, or even at the Baha’i World Centre in the Holy Land. This period of time is often referred to as a “year of service”.
My dear friend Nasim, a young Baha’i in Australia, decided to take a year off and spend it serving at the Baha’i World Centre in Haifa, Israel. When she returned to her home in Sydney, she decided to put a book together about her experiences. The book is called A Year of Blessings, and I caught up with Nasim to find out more about it:
Baha’i Blog: Hi Nasim! Can you tell us a little bit about the book and what it’s about?
This book is about my reflections on the spiritual blessings and transformative lessons I experienced during my year of service in the Holy Land (Haifa, Israel) back in 2018-2019. It shares glimpses of the beautiful, sacrificial and rewarding experience of devoting a full year serving at the Baha’i World Centre, and how it strengthened my love, certitude, and devotion to our Beloved Cause. In the book, I share stories about how tests (a.k.a. blessings in disguise) helped me grow and strengthen many spiritual qualities such as patience, resilience, love, wisdom, and steadfastness, to name a few. The book features full-page photographs of Baha’i Holy Places that I had the chance to photograph in the cities of Haifa, Akka, and in Bahji, as well as a compilation of quotations from the Baha’i Writings that inspired me. I hope these will also inspire the readers and encourage them to ponder their meaning as they continue serving in their respective fields.
Our family loves Melissa Charepoo’s books and her latest title, We Are One, is a gem. Centred on the theme of the oneness of humanity, this book (available in both English and Spanish) will help instil in the hearts of even the youngest children this unifying fundamental principle of the Baha’i Faith.
Melissa, gracious as ever, agreed to tell us a little about this book. We hope you enjoy our conversation:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us about what inspired you to write this book and how it differs from the other wonderful books for children that you’ve written? Why was writing this book important and meaningful to you?
George Ronald released a children’s title by Gail Radley. Titled Ios and the King, this children’s book retells a tale that has been around for centuries, and was recounted by Abdu’l-Baha. As we turn our thoughts to Abdu’l-Baha in this year that commemorates the centenary of His Passing, I think it is worth sharing this timeless tale, just as He did.
I am so grateful that Gail took the time to share with us a little about her book. Here’s what she said:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My background is Unitarian, which gave me a good base for appreciation of various cultures, ethnicities, perspectives, and ways of being. It also demonstrated for me that we should do what we can to give feet to our words. Another element I appreciate from that background is valuing the search for truth—their symbol is a flaming chalice, representing the eternal search for truth. I was lucky enough to come upon the Baha’i teachings at age 15. At the time, I considered myself an agnostic, a rather common stance for Unitarians, I think. This was during the U.S. civil rights movement of the mid-1960s, and I was living close to the nation’s capitol, Washington, D.C. I was actively committed to civil rights, the oneness of humanity, and to related social issues. So, while I didn’t know what to make of Baha’i theology, I was intrigued with the progressive social message. In time, with the Baha’is’ patient teaching, I came to realize the conception of God I had rejected, they didn’t believe in either! Rather than a bearded authoritarian in the sky, they explained that God was an Unknowable Essence— a just and loving Essence. That, I could better grasp. So, I put my feet to the words and declared my belief in Baha’u’llah
My ambition to become a writer began when I was eight or nine, and though it faltered a bit during those civil rights years, I never entirely lost sight of it. My late husband, Joe Killeen, enabled me to keep pursuing writing through our long marriage, and my current, journalist husband, Tom Armistead, is also a wonderful supporter. I dedicated Ios and the King to Tom because of his particular love of the mystical aspects of the Faith.
In addition to writing, I’ve taught English at Stetson University in Florida for the last 20-odd years.