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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.

What Is World Religion Day?

Children participate in a devotional gathering in East Kanchanpur, Nepal. [Photo: Baha’i Media Bank]

World Religion Day was initiated in 1950 by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States and it is often celebrated on the third Sunday of January. The day has been marked by hosting discussions, conferences, and other events which foster understanding and communication between the followers of all religions. Its purpose is to call attention to the harmony of spiritual principles and the oneness of the world’s religions and to emphasize that world religion is the motivating force for world unity. In many ways, celebrations in honor of World Religion Day strive to embody these words of Baha’u’llah:  Continue reading

Free #YemeniBahais 2019 – A Video from the Baha’is of the Netherlands

In the midst of civil strife, cholera and hunger in the Houthi controlled area in Yemen, a religious community is being persecuted: the Baha’is. This video, produced by the Baha’is of the Netherlands, shares some of the details of this ongoing persecution through the voice of young Dutch children. The video, while in Dutch, has subtitles in English, Persian, Arabic, and German (if you don’t see them, click on the “CC” icon on the bottom right corner of the video). 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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Jacqueline Claire Shares About Her Interactive Arts Talk Based on The Seven Valleys

Although we’ve never met, I feel like I’ve gotten to know Jacqueline Claire over the years as we’ve connected over creating Baha’i-inspired content for Baha’i Blog. She wrote about her experiences creating imaginative spaces for elevated conversation, what she has learned in striving to be a spiritually restored and active participant at Nineteen-Day Feasts, and she shared with us some of her artwork and an arts newsletter she sent out every day of the Fast. When I heard about a new initiative she has developed that combines storytelling, art and dynamic conversation, I was eager to find out more. It’s called Awake to Your Life as a Spiritual Journey and I loved what she shared with me:

Baha’i Blog: To begin, could you tell us a little about this initiative?

Sure, I would love to. Awaken to Your Life as a Spiritual Journey is an uplifting and interactive blend of art show, storytelling and dynamic discussion designed to empower attendees to see their life path in a new way. It incorporates a series of seven mystical landscape paintings of mine called The Seven Valleys of Summer. It begins with an icebreaker that immediately creates a warm, friendly environment and starts to connect people with each other, the artwork and passages from The Seven Valleys of Baha’u’llah. I speak a little about the series and how it came about, branching in to larger concepts about life as a spiritual journey. Collectively we then discuss the Valleys, gleaning wisdom from each one.

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Stories of Baha’u’llah – Justice & the Tax Collector

“Stories of Baha’u’llah” is a series of short videos produced by Clark Donnelly and Mary Darling of Westwind Pictures. You may have already seen their work, such as The Baha’is, or Tablets of the Divine Plan. In each video in this sweet and sincere series, a child tells us a story about Baha’u’llah.

This particular video is called “Justice and the Tax Collector” and you can listen to an example of when Baha’u’llah sought out justice as a small child. Continue reading

ABS 2018 – Jesse Washington: Navigating Discourse on Race Within the Politicized Landscape of Journalism

“Navigating Discourse on Race Within the Politicized Landscape of Journalism” is a talk delivered by Jesse Washington at the Association for Baha’i Studies Conference in Atlanta, Georgia (USA) in August 2018. In this talk, Jesse Washington talks about the benefits of maintaining an open mind and conversing with those who hold opposing viewpoints to your own. He discussing the effects of spiritual principles on journalism and offers some experiences of how he deals with deeply flawed and racist ideals with love as a journalist.  Continue reading

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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