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
A new Baha’i-inspired crime novel has recently been published by my dear friend, Alan Manifold, and to be honest, this is the first time I’ve ever heard of a novel of this kind being released, so I’m so excited to share this everyone!
Alan Manifold is the author of Consulting Detective, a murder mystery set in contemporary United States, and it’s centred around a Baha’i character whose actions are guided by principles and teachings of the Baha’i Faith. We eagerly chatted with Alan about his new crime novel, and here is our conversation:
Baha’i Blog: Hi Alan, can you tell us a little bit about the book?
Consulting Detective is quite possibly the first murder mystery to feature a Baha’i detective. Police Detective Mihdi Montgomery is called to investigate the murder of a Jewish Rabbi in a synagogue in his Chicago suburb. Montgomery works to find the murderer amongst all those with a motive and opportunity. Mihdi questions people to determine how and to what extent they are involved, but he also uses the Baha’i process of consultation with multiple groups to tap into the power of collective experience and wisdom.
I had the privilege of meeting Michael Burke at last year’s ABS conference. He, Kevin Smith and Gordon McComb have co-written a book called Moving Beyond Compromise: Why Stop There? The purpose of the book is to introduce the principles of Baha’i consultation to businesses and other organizations in a way that is easily accessible and understandable, even if they’ve never heard of the Baha’i Faith. The book presents a fictional company in crisis and its CEO, Lily O’Hara, needs to determine how to survive. The CEO begins to learn about a process of decision-making, which the authors call ‘Solution-Building’ and which is based on the principles of Baha’i consultation.
I was keen to hear more about this new book, and Michael graciously agreed to tell us about it: Continue reading
Our Friend Mona is a new biography about Mona Mahmudnizhad, an Iranian teenager who was killed 35 years ago because of her beliefs, such as the universal spiritual education of children.
Mona was a remarkable young woman, known for her love of children, her dedication and devotion to the principles of the Baha’i Faith, her courage, and her sweet voice. She was arrested and eventually executed along with nine other Baha’i women in Shiraz; they were forced to watch each other hang in a final attempt to persuade them to recant their Faith. Mona, the youngest of the women at only 16 years old, asked to go last. She was killed on June 18, 1983.
Azadeh Rohanian Perry knew Mona and Our Friend Mona is a biography of this radiant lion-hearted young woman. Co-written with her husband, Mark Perry, Our Friend Mona shares poignant details of Mona’s story that you may never have read before. I remember watching Doug Cameron’s music video Mona With the Children when I was a child, and her story is etched on my heart. I am so thankful to Azadeh (or Azi, as she is affectionately known) and Mark to creating this book and for taking the time to tell us a little bit about it: