Category Archives Books

The Half of it Was Never Told – A New Book by Carolyn Sparey Fox

Carolyn Sparey Fox is the author of The Half of it Was Never Told, a riveting new publication. The book is set in the 19th century, when many were filled with excitement and expectation that the prophecies in the Bible and the Quran would be fulfilled. Carolyn’s book charts the stories of three men who never met, William Miller, Joseph Wolff and Mulla Husayn, who were all dedicated and devoted to their quest of finding the Promised One. Only one of them found what he was looking for.

Carolyn’s book is a George Ronald publication and it recently hit the shelves. She graciously agreed to tell us a little bit about herself and the process behind the book.

 

Baha’i Blog: Thank you, Carolyn, for your willingness to talk about your book, The Half of it Was Never Told. To begin, please tell us a little bit about yourself.

Well actually, I’m a professional musician, and in a way I suppose that’s another story!! Briefly, after I studied at the Royal Academy of Music in London and toured for two months across the USA and Canada, I worked in London, where I was in the first London production of Jesus Christ Superstar, recorded music for films and backing for pop music, and performed with many of the orchestras, which included loads of touring, including Australia, USA, Europe, and interestingly enough, many countries which were still behind the Iron Curtain at that time. Then I moved to Scotland, where I was principal viola with both the Scottish Chamber Orchestra and the BBC Scottish Symphony Orchestra – but not at the same time, I hasten to add!  That’s the tip of the iceberg as far as my musical career is concerned, but I suppose it gives a flavour.

Vahid: A New Baha’i-inspired Creative Journal

Baha’i inspired literary journals are rare but the creative people behind the fantastic website Nineteenmonths have recently launched Vahid.

Vahid showcases fiction, photography, poetry, creative non-fiction, and other visual pieces: it is both beautiful to look at and wondrous to read. Two issues have already been published (available in print or electronically through Amazon) and a third issue is currently accepting submissions.

I was thrilled when Caitlin Castelaz, the founding editor of Vahid and the writing editor for the website, agreed to tell us about this exciting new publication. Continue reading

The Woman Who Read Too Much: A Book About the Life of Tahirih

I have long admired the writing style of Bahiyyih Nakhjavani. Her prose is so masterful that I often read a passage or two and then put the book down, the same way you would put down your fork in order to relish a morsel of truly flavourful food. Bahiyyih Nakhjavani is the internationally bestselling author of The Saddlebag – A Fable for Doubters and Seekers, Paper – The Dreams of a Scribe, Four on an Island, When We Grow Up, Response, Asking Questions: A Challenge to Fundamentalism, and most recently, The Woman Who Read Too Much: A Novel which is a work of creative nonfiction about the life of Tahirih

In these early days of the Faith where we explore what it means to be a Baha’i artist, Bahiyyih has inspired me with a vision of literary excellence and I am truly honoured to ask her about her recent publication.

Baha’i Blog: Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview! To begin, can you please tell us a little bit about yourself, your work as a writer, and about your latest book ‘The Woman Who Read Too Much’? 

I’m a member of an ancient tribe, a venerable race whom some now say is bordering on extinction. There are still many of us around, although like other anthropological groups whose belief system runs counter to that of the majority, we tend to be invisible. High finance ignores us. Politics barely knows of our existence anymore, although at one time it was afraid of us. We are scattered across the five continents and come from different backgrounds, different cultures and generations, but we all share one common faith, one universal cause. We call ourselves Readers.  Continue reading

9 Great Books for Mothers

There are more parenting books out there than anyone can possibly read in a single life time. They cover everything from sleep training methods, to speciality gourmet puréed recipes, to yoga for little ones. Since I am an incorrigible bookworm, one of the first things I did when I became a mother was to poll other Baha’i mothers about what books really helped them. The following includes many of their suggestions, as well as a few others I’ve stumbled upon along the way: Continue reading

What Are the Tablets of the Divine Plan?

This March 26, 2016, we celebrate the centenary of the Tablets of the Divine PlanRevealed by Abdu’l-Baha to the Baha’is of the United States and Canada in 1916 and 1917, and described as “a final link in the chain of love and care which bound Him to the friends on this continent”, the fourteen immortal Tablets that constitute the Tablets of the Divine Plan embody the unique mission and mandate for the “the spiritual regeneration of the world”.  Continue reading

The Discovery Series: Books for Junior Youth

The period of junior youth is one of transition and discovery. No longer children and not yet youth, those in this age group are searching for their identity and yearning for a sense of purpose. The Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program material plays a vital role in assisting these adolescents as they develop a concept of service and discover their place in society. According to the Universal House of Justice, these books “…assist junior youth to navigate through a crucial stage of their lives and to become empowered to direct their energies toward the advancement of civilization.”

The Discovery series of books, written by Scottish author Jacqueline Mehrabi, acts as the perfect complement to the Junior Youth material. The trilogy has been developed to prepare junior youth for the spiritual obligations that come with reaffirming their Faith in Baha’u’llah – using storytelling to familiarise the readers with certain laws and ordinances including fasting and obligatory prayer. We spoke to Jackie about her latest works and what she hopes the books achieve. Continue reading

The Poems of Ruhiyyih Khanum after the Passing of Shoghi Effendi

In 1995 Ruhiyyih Khanum published poems she had written after the death in 1957 of her husband, Shoghi Effendi, who had been the head of the Baha’i Faith for 36 years.

On the dust jacket of her book, Poems of the Passing, she explains what she wanted to achieve by finally making the verses public.

It is the author’s ardent hope that in sharing them with others they may echo the grief of separation in this world from our loved ones, and the confident hope of reunion with them in an eternal realm of spiritual progress and mercy.

Anybody expecting an easy journey with gentle poems of love and light and describing a calm acceptance of death is in for a big surprise. Amatu’l-Baha Ruhiyyih Khanum, who passed away 15 years ago, was unflinching in her realistic approach to life, and she applied the same approach to these poems.

In emotionally wrenching and spiritually challenging verses, she uses her sublime literary skills to lay bare an incandescent agony caused by the loss of her beloved.

So deep, so harrowing is the raw pain she describes – at one point writing of the “unspeakable poison of grief” — many people may find it difficult to keep on reading despite the great artistic beauty of the poetry. Tears are likely. Continue reading

The Dawning Place: A Book by Bruce Whitmore

Every single one of the world’s seven (soon to be eight) Baha’i Houses of Worship is unique – unique in history, in design and in surroundings. But the one thing they all share in common is that they are The Dawning Places of the Mention of God.

I have always wanted to visit the Wilmette Temple. I don’t think photos can do justice to its utmost majesty, its intricate ornamentation, and the feeling of awe one must feel when standing in its presence.

American author Bruce Whitmore’s work The Dawning Place explores the very wonders of this House of Worship, providing a chronological account of events from before the Temple’s construction through to the present day. We spoke to Bruce to find out about him and his book, which is now in its second edition. Continue reading

5 Baha’i Books About Marriage

In the Baha’i Writings we are told that marriage is “a fortress for well-being” and preparation for a lasting union is something we can all benefit from. So whether you’re single and hoping to find a partner, or already investigating someone’s character, I thought it would be useful to put together a short list of books to help you get started in your own preparation to building that fortress. Continue reading

The Bassoon King: An Interview with Rainn Wilson about his Autobiography

Baha’i actor Rainn Wilson, who’s best known for playing the role of Dwight Schrute in the hit TV show The Office, and founder of the ever popular “Soul Pancake“, has just released his autobiography called The Bassoon King: My Life in Art, Faith, and Idiocy.

In The Bassoon King, Rainn openly and honestly “chronicles his journey from nerd to drama geek (“the highest rung on the vast, pimply ladder of high school losers”), his years of mild debauchery and struggles as a young actor in New York, his many adventures and insights about The Office, and finally, Wilson’s achievement of success and satisfaction, both in his career and spiritually, reconnecting with the artistic and creative values of the Baha’i faith he grew up in.”

Every time I’m in Los Angeles, I always look forward to catching up with Rainn and getting what I like to call “my Rainn fix”. There are some people whom when you spend time with them, you walk away afterwards feeling like not only did you have fun, but that you learned something new, and that you just had a really nice ‘wholesome’ experience, and spending time with Rainn is not only like that, but he also always has me feeling enthused, encouraged, and energized to continue to serve.

When I was last in LA, Rainn spoke to me about his new upcoming book, and he agreed to do an interview with Baha’i Blog once the book was out, so here it is: Continue reading