Angelina Diliberto Allen has penned a new historical book called When the Moon Set Over Haifa. This book shares the stories of six Westerners who were in Haifa at the time of the Passing of Abdu’l-Baha on November 28, 1921. There were five pilgrims: John Bosch and Louise Stapfer Bosch, Dr. Florian Krug and Grace Krug, and Fraulein Johanna Hauff. The only other Western believer present was Curtis Kelsey from New York, who was there to install electrical power plants to light the Shrines of the Bab and Baha’u’llah.
This book tells the story of these six Baha’is and explores how their experiences at the time of the Ascension of Abdu’l-Baha shaped their lives. Angelina’s book is such a gift, especially in this special commemorative year when we reflect on the Life of Abdu’l-Baha. You can hear Angelina talk about her book, and many other fascinating topics, in this episode of the Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson but in this interview, we hear specifically about When the Moon Set Over Haifa. Here’s what Angelina graciously shared with us:
When Reason Sleeps is a biography of Manuchihr Farzaneh-Moayyad, as recounted by his wife Mehri to her dear friend Audrey Mellard. It is a compelling narrative of hope, indomitable spiritual strength, courage and faith. It tells the story of Manuchihr’s unjust arrest, imprisonment and execution because of his beliefs, and Mehri’s subsequent time in prison and harrowing escape out of Iran. Audrey has penned their story beautifully and shares with us about her book in this interview:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
I have thought of myself as a writer since I was seven years old, but it has taken me a long time to find what I wanted to write, apart from press releases, slide show scripts and one very brief TV script. Since I am now 85 years old, my future output is not likely to be massive, but there was a man on Orkney whose story I would like to tell.
I have been married for more than sixty years to Keith, and we were friends for ten years before we married, meeting when I was fourteen and he was thirteen, although my parents did not allow me to have a boyfriend until I was sixteen.
We had four children in slightly less than four years, and I spent 18 years at home with them, after which I joined the civil service as a clerical officer. During the time I was at home with the children, I did all the clerical work for my husband’s business, doing all the bookkeeping, dealing with the Inland Revenue and Customs and Excise (VAT) etc. It was difficult at times, because as soon as the telephone rang, every child wanted my immediate attention!!
Since my husband had to give up sculpture last year due to arthritis in his hands, I used his stone and marble stores and started to make a garden alongside his studio. This is my ongoing project at the moment.
Written by Munib Rezaie, an educator and school counselor living in the United States, Meet Coach Ben is the first instalment in a brand new series of children’s books that feature a diverse cast, positive models of masculinity, and practical parenting advice, all rendered in beautiful hand-drawn comic book style illustrations.
I got in touch with Munib to find out more about the book and the initiative as a whole. Here’s what he shared: Continue reading
The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of Australia has just released a new publication called Light & Mercy.
Light & Mercy is a compilation of extracts about mental health and tests and difficulties from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, Abdu’l-Baha, and letters of Shoghi Effendi and the Universal House of Justice.
In its 25 November 2020 message to the Baha’is of the world, the Universal House of Justice wrote that:
…the friends everywhere have sought with characteristic creativity and determination to minister to the needs of an ailing world.
The physical and mental impact of the continuing pandemic is evident around us, and the members of the Baha’i community are not immune. The National Assembly of the Baha’is of Australia wrote that it hopes this publication will be of assistance and support to the friends both individually and collectively, and trusts it will be a source of wisdom and comfort for Baha’is and those whom we come into contact with. Continue reading
Author, Boris Handal, whom you may recognize from his previous books, Mirza Mihdi: The Purest Branch, and Varqa and Ruhu’llah: 101 Stories of Bravery on the Move, has just authored a new historical book called Trilogy of Consecration: The Courier, the Historian and the Missionary.
This book presents the lives of three personages closely related to the early years of the Baha’i Faith in Persia: Shaykh Salman, Nabil-i-A’zam and Mulla Sadiq.
Curious to find out more, here’s what Boris shared with us about his new book: Continue reading
I have been thinking recently about what it genuinely means to empower others and George Ronald has released a biography of someone who did just that: Knight of Baha’u’llah, Gayle Woolson. Her life’s story was penned by Juliet Gentzkow, who very graciously agreed to tell us about her book called The Art of Empowering Others: The Life and Times of Gayle Woolson Knight of Baha’u’llah, and to give us a glimpse of who Gayle Woolson was. Here’s what she shared with me:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
By profession as a teacher of children, counsellor, and hospice worker, I have served in the United States, Guyana, and Haiti. I now live in Palo Alto California, near my son and his family. Limited to home by the pandemic, I continue a part-time counseling practice, Creative Transitions, and dedicate time to family, community building, biographical writing, and research.
Baha’i Blog: Could you please tell us a little about your book?
‘The Art of Empowering Others’, a biography of Gayle Woolson (1913-2011), now joins the George Ronald series on the Knights of Baha’u’llah. Gayle was one of nine children born in Minnesota to parents of Syrian origin. In 1930, her father introduced his family to news of a new Faith, brought to his attention by a Syrian friend in St. Paul. Mr. Abas told his children of teachings for a new, spiritual worldwide civilization based on humanity’s oneness. He said the youth had an important part to play in its development. By 1933, Gayle was teaching a children’s class, which became a stepping stone to public speaking. She then participated in her Local Spiritual Assembly’s initial development and became one of the very first youth traveling teachers in the United States, accompanying Ms. Marguerite Reimer (Sears) and Mrs. Mabel Ives. Following a marriage tragically cut short by her husband’s unexpected death, she arose to serve internationally. In 1940, she and another Baha’i became the first to go to Costa Rica, beginning 29 years of service throughout Central and South America. She witnessed the emergence of Baha’i communities and institutions throughout the continent, becoming a Knight of Baha’u’llah for the Galapagos Islands and serving successively on four elected National Spiritual Assemblies and as part of the initial cohort of appointed Auxiliary Board Members for the Americas. As much at home in a Quechua village as in a president’s palace, her heart burned with love for all who crossed her path. She had a simple eloquence that was yet refined. She saw in each person a unique potential destiny needed in the building of a new civilization. In 1975, following five years of service at the Baha’i World Centre, Gayle returned to the United States, where, for 20 years, she taught and also developed her Children’s Public Speaking Program.
As this is a special year marking the centenary of the Ascension of Abdu’l-Baha — a year in which the Universal House of Justice asks us all to reflect profoundly on the Life of Abdu’l-Baha — Baha’i author Michael V. Day has just published a photographic book about the Ascension of Abdu’l-Baha titled Fragrance of Glory.
Michael V. Day is a dear friend and we currently live in the same city in Australia and I must say that I am personally delighted by his contributions to the world of Baha’i literature. He is the author of a trilogy of historical books about the Shrine of the Bab, which you can learn more about from his website: www.michaelvday.com. So when Michael told me about this new book in honor of the centenary of the Ascension of Abdu’l-Baha, I had to find out more. Here’s what he shared: Continue reading
As the teachings of the Baha’i Faith encourage everyone to serve others, many Baha’is choose to dedicate a year or more of their lives to full-time volunteering, whether it be by assisting with community-building efforts in a specific neighbourhood or village, or helping at a school, Baha’i temple, or even at the Baha’i World Centre in the Holy Land. This period of time is often referred to as a “year of service”.
My dear friend Nasim, a young Baha’i in Australia, decided to take a year off and spend it serving at the Baha’i World Centre in Haifa, Israel. When she returned to her home in Sydney, she decided to put a book together about her experiences. The book is called A Year of Blessings, and I caught up with Nasim to find out more about it:
Baha’i Blog: Hi Nasim! Can you tell us a little bit about the book and what it’s about?
This book is about my reflections on the spiritual blessings and transformative lessons I experienced during my year of service in the Holy Land (Haifa, Israel) back in 2018-2019. It shares glimpses of the beautiful, sacrificial and rewarding experience of devoting a full year serving at the Baha’i World Centre, and how it strengthened my love, certitude, and devotion to our Beloved Cause. In the book, I share stories about how tests (a.k.a. blessings in disguise) helped me grow and strengthen many spiritual qualities such as patience, resilience, love, wisdom, and steadfastness, to name a few. The book features full-page photographs of Baha’i Holy Places that I had the chance to photograph in the cities of Haifa, Akka, and in Bahji, as well as a compilation of quotations from the Baha’i Writings that inspired me. I hope these will also inspire the readers and encourage them to ponder their meaning as they continue serving in their respective fields.
George Ronald released a children’s title by Gail Radley. Titled Ios and the King, this children’s book retells a tale that has been around for centuries, and was recounted by Abdu’l-Baha. As we turn our thoughts to Abdu’l-Baha in this year that commemorates the centenary of His Passing, I think it is worth sharing this timeless tale, just as He did.
I am so grateful that Gail took the time to share with us a little about her book. Here’s what she said:
Baha’i Blog: Can you tell us a little about yourself?
My background is Unitarian, which gave me a good base for appreciation of various cultures, ethnicities, perspectives, and ways of being. It also demonstrated for me that we should do what we can to give feet to our words. Another element I appreciate from that background is valuing the search for truth—their symbol is a flaming chalice, representing the eternal search for truth. I was lucky enough to come upon the Baha’i teachings at age 15. At the time, I considered myself an agnostic, a rather common stance for Unitarians, I think. This was during the U.S. civil rights movement of the mid-1960s, and I was living close to the nation’s capitol, Washington, D.C. I was actively committed to civil rights, the oneness of humanity, and to related social issues. So, while I didn’t know what to make of Baha’i theology, I was intrigued with the progressive social message. In time, with the Baha’is’ patient teaching, I came to realize the conception of God I had rejected, they didn’t believe in either! Rather than a bearded authoritarian in the sky, they explained that God was an Unknowable Essence— a just and loving Essence. That, I could better grasp. So, I put my feet to the words and declared my belief in Baha’u’llah
My ambition to become a writer began when I was eight or nine, and though it faltered a bit during those civil rights years, I never entirely lost sight of it. My late husband, Joe Killeen, enabled me to keep pursuing writing through our long marriage, and my current, journalist husband, Tom Armistead, is also a wonderful supporter. I dedicated Ios and the King to Tom because of his particular love of the mystical aspects of the Faith.
In addition to writing, I’ve taught English at Stetson University in Florida for the last 20-odd years.
Baha’is around the world are drawing closer to Abdu’l-Baha through their prayers, reflections and actions during this centennial anniversary of His Passing. In honor of this unique year, Robert Weinberg has complied a book of selected testimonials and tributes to Him. Titled Ambassador to Humanity, it is hoped that this paperback George Ronald publication “will serve to increase devotion to Abdu’l-Baha and aid reflection on the qualities to be emulated.”
I’m grateful to Robert Weinberg for taking the time to tell us a little bit about this new book. Here’s what he shared:
Baha’i Blog: Can you please tell us a little bit about this book? For example, whose testimonials and tributes are included?