Category Archives Interviews

Helping the Homeless Colorado: Working to Put an End to Homelessness

It’s not every day that you meet a teenager who co-founded an organization to help others! But that’s exactly what Matine Khalighi did when he and his friends started Helping the Homeless Colorado, a not-for-profit that works to put an end to homelessness and to assist those in need. I recently met Matine at the Grand Canyon Baha’i Conference, and his determination to take action and help people in his community is really inspiring, and I’m so glad I got a chance to hear from him about his organization, how it started, and what he’s learned in the process. Here’s our conversation:  Continue reading

Book About Robert Sengstacke Abbott for Young Readers by Susan Engle

I first collaborated with Susan Engle when we showcased her tiny prayer book and her tiny introduction on the Baha’i Faith — truly, they’re really tiny books! I was excited to see that Susan, an accomplished writer of stories, poems and songs for children, has a new book out! It’s called Robert Sengstacke Abbott: A Man, a Paper, and a Parade. I’m afraid to admit I had never heard of Robert Sengstacke Abbott so I was happy to learn a little bit about him, and to hear about the book, from Susan herself! Here’s what she shared with us:

Baha’i Blog: Hi Susan! It’s great to interview you again! To begin, what inspired you to put this book together?

A friend of mine who lives in the Chicago area, Bonnie Taylor, went to a presentation about Robert Sengstacke Abbott given by his great niece, Myiti Sengstacke Rice. Bonnie has a special passion for race unity (she compiled the book Pupil of the Eye), and when Ms. Rice hoped that someone would write a biography for young people about his life, Bonnie got in touch with me to help make Ms. Rice’s wish come true. There is a very large parade in Chicago every year that Mr. Abbott began especially for African American kids. Millions of kids have attended the parade over the years, but they don’t know much about the man who started it all. I was just retiring from work with Brilliant Star children’s magazine and was feeling in need of creative projects. I’d written several two- and three-page biographies for the magazine over the years, but not a full-length book. I felt a little nervous about taking it on. Bonnie had confidence that I could do a good job, so I said I’d give it a try.

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Projection: A New Album by Sinnober

I have never been very good at discovering music on my own: books and reading are more my forte. When it comes to music I blindly follow the recommendations of others. When I heard of Sinnober and that one of its track’s titles was inspired by the Writings of the Baha’i Faith, my ears were definitely curious and I checked them out! I’m so glad I did!

The band is made up of Natalie and Sebastian Brice and Sebastian agreed to tell us a little about the band and their latest album, Projection. Here’s what he shared — I hope you enjoy our conversation!  Continue reading

The Crimson Academy: An Online Resource for Studying the Baha’i Writings

It’s been awesome to witness more and more Baha’i-inspired study guides appear online as individual initiatives, all with their own flavours and variety of resources! One of the newest to hit the online space is called The Crimson Academy and it’s the loving work of Ehsan Bayat. Ehsan reached out to Baha’i Blog to tell us about his online courses:  Continue reading

Equality of Women and Men: A New Book by Reynaldo Pareja

Reynaldo Pareja of Belize has recently released a book about the equality of women and men, available both in English and Spanish. Titled Equality of Women and Men: An Unstoppable Evolution of Humanity, Reynaldo’s book seeks to address the fact that “we are just beginning to be witnesses of the potential that women have and can foresee the brilliant future they are going to create for humanity.” The book is both informative, and a call to action. I was able to find out a bit more about this book from Reynaldo and here is what he shared with us:

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

I have a PhD in Communication and Sociology from the École des Études en Sciences Sociales, Paris. I also hold a Masters in Communication by Cornell University as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Philosophy, Art and Literature from Universidad Javeriana, in Bogota, Colombia.

I worked for 27 years in public health educational programs in Latin America, Africa, Middle East and Asia. I am now retired and dedicated to writing books for the propagation of the Baha’i Faith in Belize, Central America.

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1844: A New Book About Prophecy and the Baha’i Faith

Eileen Maddocks has written a book called 1844: Convergence in Prophecy for Judaism, Christianity, Islam and the Baha’i FaithI 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.

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Equals and Partners: A Memoir by Patricia Verge About Reconciliation and Oneness

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.

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Seeking a State of Heaven: A Book About the German Templers by Carolyn Sparey Fox

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.

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Launching 200 New Personal Reflections on the Baha’i Faith in Honor of the Bicentenary of the Birth of the Bab

The Baha’i Blog team is excited to announce that starting tomorrow, we’ll be launching another 200 portraits and personal reflections from people around the world as a part of our “Personal Reflections on the Baha’i Faith from Around the World” initiative, and this time it’s in honor of the 200th anniversary of the Birth of the Bab.

Baha’i Blog’s “Personal Reflections” initiative started last year to honor the bicentenary of the Birth of Baha’u’llah, and approximately every 24 hours, we shared one of 200 photographs taken of Baha’is and their friends, each coupled with an extract taken from an interview about what the Baha’i Faith means to them personally, and how it has touched their lives. Continue reading