Eagles in the Dust: Alcohol and Other Chemical Pastimes – A Book by Robert Cacchioni

I live in a culture very much steeped in alcohol where my choice to not drink or do drugs isn’t the norm and invites a lot of questions. We have a two articles on Baha’i Blog that talk about alcohol (this article explores a social perspective behind why Baha’is don’t drink, and this article explores a health perspective). George Ronald has published a new book that covers this topic more broadly and in more depth: it’s called Eagles in the Dust: Alcohol and Other Chemical Pastimes and it’s by Robert (Rob) Cacchioni. In this interview he tells us a little about his book:

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

I encountered the Baha’i Faith 20 years ago. As a student of comparative religion, I found its claims bold and intriguing – though questionable. After in-depth study and much debate, I was honored to join the Baha’i community in carrying out Baha’u’llah’s Vision for humanity.

Since embracing Baha’u’llah’s Claim, I’ve striven to understand His Faith and aid others to do likewise. For nearly two decades, I’ve held Baha’i study classes (also known as “deepenings”) and currently run a YouTube channel: Bridging Beliefs. There and in writing projects, I share my personal understandings of Baha’u’llah’s Vision, attempt to resolve purported divides separating the world religions, examine atheist and secular thought and to show the (at times) hidden brilliance of Baha’u’llah’s Teachings.

I currently live in Vancouver, Canada with my wife Jenny and two children, Eli and Layli. I am a lover of learning and the arts – martial and musical. My life’s goal is to (one day) become worthy of the title: Baha’i. Continue reading

Why Baha’is Don’t Drink Alcohol – A Social Perspective

A couple of weeks ago I wrote a post on Baha’i Blog called Why Baha’is Don’t Drink Alcohol – A Medical Perspective, and there was a great response with a lot of really great feedback. As the title suggested, my purpose in that article was to focus on the medical effects of alcohol consumption, but now as a result of all the feedback, I thought it would be interesting to write a follow-up to the article covering the social effects of alcohol. In this post I’m going to focus on criminal behavior, as well as the social effects on the individual, family and society.

Before delving into the various social detrimental consequences of alcohol use and the criminality associated with it, let’s first look at how alcohol affects human behavior, as it is the behavior which has a negative impact on society. A reminder however that this subject is vast, and for the purposes of this article I will try to keep things as to the point as possible, therefore focusing on those behavior’s which have the most impact: aggression and lack of judgment. Continue reading

Why Baha’is Don’t Drink Alcohol – A Health Perspective

I was reading an interesting article on the BBC news website the other day and it talked about the detrimental health effects and the financial cost of alcohol related hospital admissions to the National Health Service in the UK. I couldn’t believe it when I read that nearly £2 billion was spent on alcohol related in-patient hospital admissions in just one year.

As a medical doctor from the UK, a country that has an entrenched culture of drinking alcohol, (in moderation and to excess) I thought it would be interesting to write about the health implications of drinking alcohol. Continue reading

The Independent Investigator – Resource Books for Junior Youth

Tahirih Lemon has written a series called The Independent Investigator that is inspired by the peerless Some Answered Questions, but it is for junior youth readers. She’s currently working on the third title in the series and she needs our help!

In the interview below, Tahirih shares with us about The Independent Investigator and what we can do to help her with the third book.

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

I was born in Virginia in the United States, and when I was eleven my family immigrated to Australia. I’ve lost most of my accent and occasionally people ask me if I’m Canadian.

I currently live in Toowoomba, Queensland, Australia. I have also lived in Tonga, teaching at the Ocean of Light International School for a semester in 2005, and I spent a year in Tauranga, New Zealand.

Although, I am a trained primary teacher and obtained a Master of Education, I have been working in the field of child protection for the past decade following a passion to seek assistance for vulnerable children.

I have two now adult children, Nadim and Adia. Adia, the youngest who still lives at home, started her first year of university which transitioned to online learning due to the pandemic after the third week. Another member of our family is our cat Zeba, who rules the house, and thinks she’s a human. I have recently caved into my daughter’s ceaseless requests for a puppy, apparently her ‘therapeutic pet’ to cope during these challenging times.

Continue reading

Baha’i Blogcast with Rainn Wilson – Episode 52: Dara Feldman

Hello and welcome to the Baha’i Blogcast with me your host, Rainn Wilson.

In this series of podcasts I interview members of the Baha’i Faith and friends from all over the world about their hearts, and minds, and souls, their spiritual journeys, what they’re interested in, and what makes them tick.

In this episode, I’m joined by award-winning educator, author and speaker, Dara Feldman, who served as the Director of Education for the Virtues Project for seven years. We talk about food shaming, the power of the 12-step program, and all the ways the virtues can be incorporated into all aspects of our lives. She tells me how she became a Baha’i, her passion for restorative justice, what’s she’s working on now, and her recent experience in India at the largest school in the world. I hope you enjoy this conversation as much as I did! Continue reading

A Tribute to Fred Murray: Retracing the Story of Uncle Fred

Warning: This article features photographs of people who have since passed away. This warning is provided as a courtesy for Aboriginal people and Torres Strait Islanders who may find this distressing.

In honour of the centenary of the Baha’i Faith in Australia, I wanted to share a tribute to one of Australia’s first Aboriginal Baha’is: Fred Murray (1884-1963), who was also known by his tribal name, Birria, and who is warmly remembered by Baha’is around the world as Uncle Fred. He was a stockman, fruit picker, and riverboat man of the Murray River best known for his acceptance of the Baha’i Faith in 1961 and for travelling to the first Baha’i World Congress in London in 1963. Continue reading

My Thoughts on References to Wine and Intoxication in the Baha’i Writings

In this article I aim to explore a question which may have occurred to many when reading the Baha’i Writings: why are the terms “wine” and “intoxication” used if drinking alcohol is strictly forbidden to Baha’is? (If you’d like to read more about this topic, this Baha’i Blog article offers a medical perspective on why Baha’is don’t drink alcohol and this article discusses the social implications of this law.)

My question has actually been clearly and concisely answered in a letter of the Guardian written in 1926:

The wine mentioned in the Tablets has undoubtedly a spiritual meaning for in the book of Aqdas we are definitely forbidden to take not only wine, but every thing that deranges the mind. In poetry as a whole wine is taken to have a different connotation than the ordinary intoxicating liquid. We see it thus used by the Persian Poets such as Sa’di and Umar Khayam and Hafiz to mean that element which nears man to his divine beloved, which makes him forget his material self so as better to seek his spiritual desires. It is very necessary to tell the children what this wine means so that they may not confuse it with the ordinary wine.

Inspired by this quotation, I think an exploration of this answer can be a fruitful exercise. To do this I will attempt to provide some historical context to the terms as used in the Writings (although it must be noted I lack the academic background to provide more than the cursory explanation of a layman), and to look at the symbolic meanings of the terms via some quotations from the Writings themselves. Continue reading

Audio Drama: My Name Is John Good, Servant of the Servant

This is an audio drama based on a one-person play called “My Name Is John Good, Servant of the Servant” written by John Chesley, performed by Fred Turley and produced and directed by Leslie Hennen of Halifax, Canada in 1998. The play tells us about transformation of John Good, a former convict who lived on the streets of the Bowery in New York City at the turn of the 20th century. This is also a story about the high station accorded to the poor in all of the religions of God and the tribute paid to the patrons of the Bowery Mission by Abdu’l-Baha during His visit to North America in 1912. Continue reading

The Symptoms of the Soul

The body is great at telling us when something isn’t functioning. Aches, pains, rashes, lumps… all of these tell us that something is wrong with the body and we need to find out what it is. The symptoms are signs leading to a deeper underlying problem. But we don’t just have a body; we also have a soul. In fact, we are souls living with a body. So, if there are signs in the body of good and bad health, are there similar signs in the soul?

The perplexing thing about the soul is that it is so elusive and mysterious. We cannot see or touch it. Baha’u’llah says of the soul:

Verily I say, the human soul is exalted above all egress and regress. It is still, and yet it soareth; it moveth, and yet it is still. ((Baha’u’llah, Gleanings from the Writings of Baha’u’llah, p.161))

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The Newkind Festival: An Immersive Conference About Social Action

I recently had the pleasure of meeting Erfan Daliri, a Baha’i living in Australia who’s an educator, author, event director and an internationally toured spoken word artist. I had heard Erfan’s ‘Unfazed‘ performance at the Sydney Theatre Company, and when I got to meet him, he told me all about an awesome new initiative he had started called the Newkind Festival, an immersive six day conference in Tasmania, Australia, that brings together thought leaders, innovators, pioneers and inspirational speakers from around the world to build capacity, and inspire participants to make a positive impact on society.

I decided to catch up with Erfan to hear some more about the festival and here’s what he had to say: Continue reading