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Sonjel Vreeland

In her innermost heart, Sonjel is a mother, a wife and a bookworm but professionally she is a museologist and a library technician. She currently lives on Prince Edward Island, an isle in the shape of a smile on the eastern Canadian coast. Sonjel is a writer who loves to listen to jazz when she's driving at night.

Cloud9: First to Arise – Kevin Locke’s Spiritual Quest to the Baha’i Faith

Cloud9 is a podcast produced by Baha’i Teachings. Its aim is to feature interviews with artists and discuss what inspires them to make a positive contribution to the world. In this episode, Baha’i Teachings’ arts editor Shadi Toloui-Wallace interviews Kevin Locke, whose Lakota name is Tokeya Inajin, meaning “The First to Arise”. He is a famed Lakota and Anishinaabe Native hoop dancer, flute player and folk storyteller who has shared his spiritual and creative practices for almost four decades, to thousands of people, in over 95 countries.

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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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“Race Unity: Advancing the Conversation” (Part 2 of 2) by Tod Ewing & Ken Bowers

In this talk, the second part of a presentation titled “Race Unity: Advancing the Conversation”, Tod Ewing and Ken Bowers explore some guidance from the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States and the Universal House of Justice. They examine how we can contribute to race amity and engage with the elimination of prejudice within the current framework for action, public discourse, and social action. They discuss how we can address racism and prejudice within ourselves, within our Baha’i communities, and within the greater community.  Continue reading

“Race Unity: Advancing the Conversation” (Part 1 of 2) by Tod Ewing & Ken Bowers

In this talk, the first part of a presentation titled “Race Unity: Advancing the Conversation”, Tod Ewing and Ken Bowers explore some guidance from the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States and the Universal House of Justice. They examine how we can contribute to race amity and engage with the elimination of prejudice within the current framework for action, public discourse, and social action. They discuss how we can address racism and prejudice within ourselves, within our Baha’i communities, and within the greater community.  Continue reading

Images of Akka and its Baha’i Holy Places

The Baha’i Media Bank is a fantastic place to turn to for photos relating to the Baha’i Faith and its community building activities around the world. If you read their terms of use, you’ll see that the Baha’i International Community allows you to download and use the photos for noncommercial purposes — please don’t take my word for it and read the terms of use over carefully with your own eyes! We strive to always follow copyright law and are really grateful for this resource, whether we’re looking for historical photos or photos of children’s classes. I’ve compiled a list of my favourite photos of Akka and the Baha’i Holy Places in the prison city and its environs. I hope you enjoy this visual feast and I definitely recommend checking out the Baha’i Media Bank when you’re in need of photographs.  Continue reading

ABS 2018 – Shahrzad Sabet: Social Identity and the Oneness of Humankind

“Social Identity and the Oneness of Humankind” is a talk delivered by Shahrzad Sabet at the Association for Baha’i Studies Conference in Atlanta, Georgia (USA) in August 2018. In this talk, Shahrzad draws on the Baha’i principle of the oneness of humankind to address the conceptual underpinnings of this debate in public discourse and political philosophy. She believes that a genuinely unbounded primary identity (i.e., one based on our membership in a single human race) represents not just an expansion of scope from the national to the global, but a qualitative shift that permeates all identities, and serves to fundamentally protect and liberate our secondary affiliations from their otherwise inherent instabilities and contradictions.
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BWNS: A Peaceful, Persistent Response to Injustice

In this podcast episode from the Baha’i World News Service, we learn about how the Baha’is in Iran have tried to peacefully and persistently find a solution to the harsh persecution and injustice they face. This episode features interviews with BIC Representative Diane Ala’i and Education is Not a Crime Coordinator Saleem Vaillancourt who explore the concept of constructive resilience and how the Baha’i Institute for Higher Education (or BIHE) embodies it.  Continue reading

The Journey West Podcast: Exploring Abdu’l-Baha’s Travels to the West

The Journey West podcast is an audio initiative which explores and celebrates the centenary of Abdu’l-Baha’s travels to Egypt, Europe and North America in 1911-1913. Each episode features a reading of one of Abdu’l-Baha’s talks, as well as dramatized stories and historical accounts. You can also hear discussions of the talk that was featured, and some personal thoughts on how the ideas discussed in the talk are applicable today.  Continue reading

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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