Category Archives Interviews

An Interview with Masud Olufani, Host of ‘America’s Most Challenging Issue’ Podcast

Masud Olufani is an African-American multidisciplinary artist, actor and writer currently based in Atlanta, and you may have seen some of his incredible work featured on Baha’i Blog over the years. For instance you may recognize him from his 2018 ABS presentation “The Residue of Memory & The Clarion Call of Truth: Healing Through Reclamation and Art” or his BahaiTeachings.org talk Freeing Ourselves from the the Stain of Racism. He was also featured on their Cloud9 podcast series, and the episode is called Masud Olufani: An Artist Rooted in Justice and Unity.

More recently, Masud teamed up with our friends at BahaiTeachings.org to host a new podcast series called ‘America’s Most Challenging Issue’, and it tackles the subject of racism. As its host, Masud interviews Baha’is throughout the United States who are actively building racial unity by building community.

We reached out to Masud to hear more about the America’s Most Challenging Issue podcast, and here’s what he shared with us: Continue reading

Baha’u’llah, the West, and the Birth of Modernity: A Book by Stephen Beebe

We are living in exceptional times, not solely because of the global health crisis that has gripped the planet. We live in the shadow of 19th century forces that structure modern society, forces that Baha’u’llah and Abdu’l-Baha addressed. If you’re curious to know more about the age in which we live, Stephen Beede has authored a fascinating book that you might be interested in. It’s called Baha’u’llah, the West, and the Birth of Modernity: An Essay on the Awakening of Humanity. We asked Stephen about his new book and here’s what he shared with us:

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I am a plant breeder by trade, which means that I use the vast genetic diversity in my crop of choice to develop new varieties that serve both farmers and consumers. I work on edible or common beans, which you may know better in their form as navy beans, black beans or kidney beans. I started this track in my graduate training at the University of Wisconsin, where my major professor steered me toward the tropics. I have spent the rest of my life in an international research institute in Colombia, South America. Having grown up on a family farm in Iowa, I have always felt a certain empathy for small farmers around the world, as our program seeks to serve bean producers in Central and South America, the Caribbean, and East and southern Africa.

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Eroica: Afshin Jaberi’s Piano Sonatas and Ballades Honoring the Life of the Bab

Afshin Jaberi and I met in the year 2000 during a summer school in Almaty, Kazakhstan. This was where I first heard a beautiful piece that he composed for a drama inspired by The Dawn-Breakers. Back then he was engaged in his post- graduate studies at the Almaty Conservatoire while serving the Baha’i community of Kazakhstan. Born into a Baha’i pioneering family, Afshin Jaberi was deeply affected by the early history of the Baha’i Faith, the hardships of its Founders’ lives, and the heroes who sacrificed everything for the establishment of a new religion. Later in life Afshin found a creative outlet in music to convey his emotion and feelings about those historic events. I reconnected with Afshin to talk about his music and his recent album, Eroica, which is a musical tribute to the Bab.

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The Moon Was There: Glimpses of the Bab’s Childhood for Young Children

Alhan Rahimi is the author of Mulla Husayn: The Story of the Declaration of the Bab for Young Children and Ridvan Garden: The Story of the Festival of Ridvan for Young Children and she has also penned and published The Moon Was There: Glimpses of the Bab’s Childhood for Young Children. As a parent of little ones, I am so grateful to Alhan for creating these materials. Here’s what she shared with us about her book about the childhood of the Bab:

Baha’i Blog: What inspired you to write this book?

Baha’i Blog: What inspired you to make the moon your main character?

Not being able to have any illustrations of the Manifestation of God was the main reason for thinking of a some other way to illustrate the story. And why the moon? Well, I think it’s special that the moon, which can be seen from everywhere on this planet, is the same moon that witnessed the Bab’s childhood!

Baha’i Blog: Who is the book’s target audience?

Children under the age of 5. However, anyone can enjoy reading it!

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John David Bosch: In the Vanguard of Heroes, Martyrs, and Saints

Angelina Diliberto Allen has written a vivid and striking biography of John David Bosch, an early American Baha’i. Based on her extensive research, we learn about how John discovered and embraced the Baha’i Faith under the tutelage of Helen Goodall, and his deep and lasting friendships with such luminaries as Thornton Chase, Hands of the Cause Amelia Collins, Roy Wilhelm, and Louis Gregory. We learn about how, along with his wife, Louise, he helped establish a Baha’i school in northern California. We hear about his encounters and his letters to Abdu’l-Baha. And we learn what it was like to be in Haifa in the hours and days following the passing of Abdu’l-Baha. Baha’i history comes to life in the pages of this book and it’s called John David Bosch: In the Vanguard of Heroes, Martyrs, and Saints. Angelina graciously agreed to tell us about her book and how it all came together:

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I was raised in a Baha’i family—and, like most Baha’is in America, I can trace my Baha’i ancestry back to the time when Abdu’l-Baha came to America in 1912. I guess that means that we can all trace our Baha’i ancestry, in one way or another, directly to Baha’u’llah! When I was a child, my family pioneered to Argentina and to several countries in Central America. As an adult, I pioneered to Southern Africa—mainly Swaziland and Botswana. I currently live in California where I have been a public high school English teacher for over 30 years. When I think about who I really am, I think I am like any Baha’i who has a longing for others to know this Cause. We all have moments when we wonder about how we could more effectively convey to our friends and neighbors the miracle of this Day and the bounties of becoming a Baha’i. Many of our friends wonder what it means when a person becomes a Baha’i: What’s different about it? What does “being a Baha’i” really look like? What happens? So, I wrote this book as a way to explain the extraordinary thing that can happen when an ordinary person becomes a Baha’i.

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Light of Unity: A Compilation of Baha’i Writings About Challenges and the Power of Love and Unity

Two dear friends of mine, Edit Kalman, a photographer, and Tom Mann, a graphic designer, have teamed up to create a special compilation of the Baha’i Writings in light of the exceptional circumstances the people of the world find themselves in right now with the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, but also to be used, and inspiration derived from it, at any time.

Edit and Tom have created a compilation in both English and Hungarian, and have made it available for free download by anyone who would like to use it. You can download it here.

I was excited to touch base with Edit and Tom to learn more about this touching initiative, and here’s what they shared with me:

Baha’i Blog: Hi Edit and Tom! Can you first tell us a little bit about this initiative?


Well, we wanted to distribute, in a non-printed format, a set of positive Baha’i Writings that address some of the current issues we are facing right now in relation to the global health crisis.
 
 


As humanity is facing heavy challenges and the light of unity is shining more brightly, we have created a compilation as a gift to those souls who are searching for answers, solace and love today. Please feel free to share the booklet with your friends and loved ones. Continue reading

Mine Rich in Gems: Resources & Activities for Teaching Children & Junior Youth

Mine Rich in Gems is an incredible resource for teaching children and junior youth (from the ages of 2-14). Created by a family team made up of wife and husband, Lili and Wei, along with daughters, Kati and Christi, Mine Rich in Gems offers downloadable Baha’i-inspired activity booklets and materials in support of Feasts, Holy Day celebrations, children’s classes, home visits and other occasions. These resources are jam-packed with stories, games, puzzles and coloring sheets.

I got in touch with the team behind Mine Rich in Gems to find out more about how they came together and what they’re working on. Here’s what they shared with me:  Continue reading

The Gate: An Album by Navid Lancaster for the Bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab

Navid Lancaster has produced an orchestral album in honor of the bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab, Prophet-herald of the Baha’i Faith. The official website for the bicentenary celebrations around the world, www.bicentenary.bahai.org, gives us glimpses of the diversity of artistic expressions that have flourished from all corners of the planet. We’re also really honoured when people reach out to us and tell us what they’ve been working on such as Navid and his album, The Gate. Here’s what he shared with us: Continue reading

Dimensions of Baha’i Law: A Book by Roshan Danesh

Roshan Danesh is a lawyer, conflict resolution innovator, and educator who has devoted his career to the study of law, particularly Baha’i law. His work, as it is expressed in academic articles or essays, has been pulled together in a newly-published book called Dimensions of Baha’i Law. In recent years the Universal House of Justice has called on the Baha’is to participate in the discourses of society. An anthology such as this one, that collects essays that were published elsewhere in the wider academic sphere, is excellent for anyone interested enriching their understanding of this subject and its wider discourse. Dimensions of Baha’i Law was also recently awarded the 2019 Association for Baha’i Studies Award for Distinguished Scholarship.

Roshan shared with us a little about his book. Here’s a look at our conversation:

Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?

I was born and raised in Canada. My mother’s parents, an Orthodox Jew and midwestern Catholic, were shunned by both sides of their families after they married. They became Baha’is later in life and passed away before I was born.  Continue reading