Eileen Maddocks has written a book called 1844: Convergence in Prophecy for Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Baha’i Faith. I love the title as I think it succinctly describes the prophetic mysteries it explores.
I have never written a book but I think it’s a fantastic achievement. I was eager to hear from Eileen about the process of putting this book together and was grateful when she offered to share her thoughts and experiences. If you’re interested in self-publishing a Baha’i-inspired book, you might find her comments particularly helpful!
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
What in the world happened in 1844? It was a year of intense expectation and then disappointment in the West, and of intense searching and then Divine Revelation in the East.
Over a century later I was a late bloomer, so to speak––late to the Faith (declared in my mid-forties) and late to research and writing. But serving at the Baha’i World Centre for 16 years later in life was an incomparable education that defined the rest of my life. When I retired from the World Centre and settled in Burlington, Vermont, writing and editing beckoned me and another career path evolved.
Editing, research, and writing are lonely work. I have balanced this cerebral and lonely aspect of my life with a serious study of ballet and I dance with Ballet Vermont in its production of Farm to Ballet, a full-length classical ballet that portrays life on a Vermont farm from spring through autumn. The performances are given at various farm venues for large audiences and raise money for various agricultural and land conservation endeavors.
As many friends of Baha’is around the world prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ, and in the spirit of celebrating the divine origin of Christianity, we thought we’d share a short list of books about Christianity and the Baha’i Faith. The list includes titles written by Abdu’l-Baha and by early Baha’is as well as some fresh off the printing press; you’ll find books about the fulfilment of prophecy, and books that examine the Sacred Writings of both faiths.
This list is by no means exhaustive, but we hope it gives you a glimpse of some of the titles out there on this subject. Continue reading
If you’re a Baha’i Blog reader in Canada, you might know about how the country is poised to reconcile its centuries-long fraught history with Indigenous peoples and to establish justice. In this part-memoir, part-scholarly work, Patricia Verge records her decades-long friendship with the Stoney Nakoda Nation in southern Alberta, Canada. She explores how her spiritual journey has been intimately entwined with service among Indigenous people and she wonders about the fundamental spiritual principles that should guide this challenging reconciliation process and bring together peoples who have been separated for so long. Her book, Equals and Partners: A Spiritual Journey Toward Reconciliation and Oneness, Wazin Îchinabi, is a story of love about commitment to the principle of the oneness of humanity.
Patricia, or Pat as she’s lovingly called, happily shared a little about her new book and the creative process behind it. Here’s what she shared with us:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I am Canadian of Croatian ancestry on my mother’s side, and Irish ancestry on my father’s. I encountered the Baha’i Faith while living in Germany and became a Baha’i in Halifax many moons ago. My husband and I have two children and four grandchildren.
For nearly four decades, I‘ve been connected to the Stoney Nakoda people who live just west of where I live now, in Cochrane, Alberta, in the foothills of the Rocky Mountains.
Carolyn Sparey Fox’s newest book is titled Seeking a State of Heaven and it tells the story of the German Templers who settled at the foot of Mount Carmel beneath the Shrine of the Bab in Haifa, Israel.
Their avenue of homes has become an iconic landmark of Haifa and for Baha’is they have become symbolic of those who are searching and yearning to hear about Baha’u’llah’s teachings of unity, equality and oneness. To be honest, that’s the extent of my knowledge of the German Templers so my curiosity was definitely piqued when I learned that a book about them has been written.
It was great to catch up with Carolyn Sparey Fox, who I had interviewed before, about her latest book. Here’s what she shared with me:
Baha’i Blog: What was the inspiration for putting this book together?
Since writing my first book, The Half of it was Never Told, many Baha’is have spoken to me about the German Templers, wrongly believing that they settled at the foot of Mount Carmel because they believed that the return of Christ was about to take place there. I knew that this wasn’t entirely correct, but I didn’t really have the answer, so I started doing some research — it turns out that the Templers initially called themselves “Friends of Jerusalem” and Jerusalem was actually the focus, the goal of the German Templers’ spiritual journey, not Haifa. Initially my plan was to come up with a few sentences, but as I read more and more my sentences became paragraphs, my paragraphs became chapters, and before I knew it I was launched into writing a book, which describes all about how the Templers ended up in Haifa, instead of Jerusalem.
I was also fascinated by the connection between the German Templers in Haifa and the Baha’is living in Akka, and latterly Haifa. Abdu’l-Baha knew several of the Templers personally of course, and Baha’u’llah actually wrote a Tablet to David Hardegg, one of the two men who were behind the creation of the Templers.
In my travels I have had the privilege and honor of meeting incredible people who are doing incredible things in loving and humble ways. Brian O’Toole is one such person I recently met and I’m so grateful our paths crossed. Brian recently put out a book that offers some of his thoughts and honest reflections on the last four decades of development work that he’s been involved with in Guyana, where he has pioneered with his wife. The book is called Educational Leadership: A Guyanese Perspective, and I decided to ask Brian about his book and his work and here’s what Brian had to say:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little bit about the book? What’s it all about?
We have now been 40 years in Guyana having left the UK as a young married couple. Guyana has proven to be a very receptive country to the Faith with Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism well established in the country. By the early 1980s, Guyana had more than 7% of the population as declared Baha’is. My thinking was: if a significant percentage of the population embraces the Faith and nothing seems to change then what is the point? This led us to introduce a number of development projects in literacy, youth leadership, disability and education to see what it means to try and put the principles of the Faith into practice. The book is a reflection on these efforts.
A new resource for anyone thinking about finding a marriage partner is hot off the presses! Susanne Alexander, Johanna Merritt Wu, and Jeremy Lambshead teamed up to write a book called Starting with Me: Knowing Myself Before Finding a Partner. Its tagline is “9 transformative steps based on the Baha’i Faith’s teachings about relationships and marriage”. This fantastic book is inspired by the Baha’i Writings and draws on the authors’ collective experience as a marriage and relationship educator, psychologist, and writer respectively.
Susanne, Johanna, and Jeremy were happy to tell us how their book came together. Here’s what they shared with us:
Baha’i Blog: What inspired you to put this book together?
In Our Seven Families, Elaine McCreary describes invisible human worlds so clearly that you can see them for yourself. She does this with an easy-flowing narrative through scholarly content in a manner described by Dr. Janet Khan in the book’s forward:
Drawing on her experience as a social scientist and on insights derived from a deep study of the Baha’i Sacred Writings, Elaine McCreary offers a fresh perspective on human affairs, revealing new hope and opportunities for action.
This book strikes me as unique, not only in the content it offers, but also in the way it is structured as it moves through seven different worlds that we all live in. Doesn’t that sound fascinating? Elaine agreed to tell us all about her new book, what it explores and how she presents her ideas!
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
From earliest childhood I was aware of the reality of God, at first as Jesus, then as the presence of a Holy Spirit that was something beyond the Person of Jesus. This conviction about spiritual reality never left me, but as a young adult I stepped out to find God elsewhere and practiced a refined form of Raj Yoga (hatha, bhakti, jnana, and karma yogas) for 19 years, accepting Lord Krishna as an avatar in the same station as Lord Jesus, before finally accepting Baha’u’llah at the age of 42. A complete reading of Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah convinced me that He is indeed the Lord of the Age and His Revelation has indeed unveiled a completely new perception of the world.
Over the years, we’ve highlighted new Baha’i-inspired books and we’ve had the privilege of getting to know so many brilliant and creative writers! We’ve also been honoured to write about volumes of the Baha’i Writings, or about statements and books written by the Universal House of Justice. In honour of International Literary Day, we thought we’d celebrate all the books we’ve featured on Baha’i Blog so far. We hope this list, and the snippets of their accompanying articles or interviews, inspires you to add some of these titles to your reading lists! Continue reading
It’s interesting to see Baha’i-inspired book publishing flourishing and covering a wider and wider array of subjects and genres for a growing diversity of audiences. Jenina Lepard, for example, just released a book titled The Fashioner: Reflections on the Role of Music and the Arts in Building a Global Community with a suitably vibrant and eye-catching cover by Misha Blaise — I know we’re not supposed to judge a book by its cover but I totally do when the cover is something I can’t stop looking at!
The Fashioner explores the various ways in which the arts can touch people’s lives by drawing on quotations from the Baha’i Writings, as well as concrete examples of the transformative power of the arts. Jenina discusses a variety of art forms, she looks at the way in which Baha’i artists have applied principles of the Faith to their art, and she shares the ways in which the arts can be used to inspire and enhance core activities.
This is subject close to my heart as Baha’i Blog aims to create, celebrate and explore Baha’i-inspired content, artistic expression and use of media. I was thrilled when Jenina agreed to tell us a little about her book. Here’s what she shared: Continue reading