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Luminous Journey: A Documentary about Abdu’l-Baha in America

After being exiled and imprisoned from the age of eight, Abdu’l-Baha at the age of 67 set sail in 1911 and travelled to Europe and North America to visit the Baha’i communities and to share the teachings of Baha’u’llah with others.

Abdu’l-Baha spent a good portion of this trip traveling from coast to coast in North America – 239 days to be exact – sharing the message of peace and unity amongst the thousands of people He met, including President Theodore Roosevelt, inventor Alexander Graham Bell, explorer Admiral Peary, reformer W.E.B. DuBois, and poet Kahlil Gibran.

This important chapter in America’s history has now been brought to the screen by Tim and Anne Perry in a wonderful two and a half-hour documentary film titled: Luminous Journey: Abdu’l-Baha in America, 1912.

Aimed at general audiences, Luminous Journey brings to light the events which took place and the people Abdu’l-Baha encountered during His visit to the US and Canada. After watching the film, one of the viewers Roland Maddela wrote: “It was like I was travelling, too, with the Master and felt the excitement on His arrival in every city and the sadness when He left. The settings and costumes captured the spirit of the 1900s. The music and the narrations are superb.”

I managed to get a hold of Anne and Tim Perry to find out more about this important and inspiring documentary: Continue reading

What is a Baha’i?

What is a Baha’i? An obvious question for a person who has just come across the Baha’i Faith, but likewise a question that people who have already professed their belief in Baha’u’llah should perhaps regularly ask themselves. And for others who may not profess acceptance of Baha’u’llah and His claims, but who chose to behave in an upright manner, the question obtains equal importance. In the Arabic Hidden Words, Baha’u’llah states:

O SON OF BEING! Bring thyself to account each day ere thou art summoned to a reckoning; for death, unheralded, shall come upon thee and thou shalt be called to give account for thy deeds.

An examination of the Baha’i Sacred Texts amply provides us with detailed information on what it means to be a Baha’i, and regular contemplation and application of this guidance will provide a light and a guide in which a person can place their deeds. Likewise, it provides a means of aiding one to set goals for improvement in behaviour and attitude. It must be made clear at the start, however, that the question asks not “who”, but “what” is a Baha’i. And in the light of the guidance in the Baha’i Sacred Texts, even the question of “who” cannot be assumed to be one who has recognised Baha’u’llah as the Manifestation of God for this day. An instance in point are these statements from Abdu’l-Baha: Continue reading

A Celestial Burning: A Selective Study of the Writings of Shoghi Effendi

I recently had the opportunity to attend the 37th Annual Association for Baha’i Studies Conference in Irvine, California, and during the conference I was able to meet J.A. McLean, the author of A Celestial Burning.

This recently published work is a comprehensive study of selected writings of Shoghi Effendi, and the book won the Association for Baha’i Studies 2013 “distinguished scholarship” award in the book category, and according to the Academic Director of the Association, Dr. Pierre-Yves Mocquais, the award was a unanimous decision by the judges.

J.A. McLean spent over a decade working on A Celestial Burning, and there’s no doubt that readers will develop a deeper appreciation for the writings of the Guardian through this book.

I decided to catch-up with J.A. McLean to find out more about the book and his experience in taking on this important work:  Continue reading

Six Simple Steps to Contentment


One of the things I’ve personally struggled with, and I’m sure others have as well, is being content with one’s life. Not only do I frequently find myself wanting material things, like a new car, but I also frequently feel that something is missing from my life – something I can’t quite wrap my mind around.

Some might argue that the lack of contentment is just the nature of a human being, and that it’s a good thing because it pushes one to excel and be prosperous, but I don’t necessarily agree with that notion. After all there are plenty of very rich and successful people in the world that are dissatisfied with their lives, and plenty of poor people that are perfectly content.

Contentment is encouraged in the Teachings of the Baha’i Faith, for instance in one of The Persian Hidden Words of Baha’u’llah, He says:

O QUINTESSENCE OF PASSION! Put away all covetousness and seek contentment; for the covetous hath ever been deprived, and the contented hath ever been loved and praised.

I feel that I should be content, after all I live in a great country, I have a career I love, and I am surrounded by wonderful friends and family. So what is it that I’m yearning for, and what can I do to find my own inner peace and contentment?

I’ve listed six simple things which have helped me personally, and maybe they can help you too: Continue reading

Holy Recollections: An Interview with Ian Huang

Holy Recollections is a new film by young Californian Baha’i Ian Huang, and some of you may recognize him from his part in Mohsen Makhmalbaf’s recent film about the Faith called The Gardener.

Ian Huang’s film is a very personal documentary where he shares with the audience his reflections on the time he spent as a volunteer in the Baha’i Holy places in Israel, and his narrative is interwoven with the beautiful images of the Baha’i gardens and Holy Places.

I decided to catch up with Ian to find out more about Holy Recollections and his experiences in the Holy Land: Continue reading

New Zealand Celebrates 100 Years of the Baha’i Faith: A Personal Reflection

The first Baha’i Feast in New Zealand 1923. Hands of the Cause John Henry Hyde-Dunn and Clara Dunn are pictured in the back row, fourth and fifth from the left respectively.

For much of the world, New Zealand is known as the scenically spectacular location of the Lord of the Rings movies.

But for me it is the place of my birth and where I heard about a different lord, a nobleman named Baha’u’llah, who founded the Baha’i Faith.

This year, the New Zealand Baha’i community is celebrating its centenary, so by the late 1970s when I first encountered some of its members, the Baha’i Faith was well-established.  Continue reading

114 Youth Conferences Still Rockin’ the World!

Youth Conference in Helsinki, Finland (2-4 August 2013).

The 114 Youth Conferences currently taking place around the world has Baha’i communities buzzing with excitement and activity!

Brisbane, Australia just had theirs over the weekend, and so far 86 of the 114 youth conferences have already taken place leaving 28 still to go!

These conferences were first announced by the Universal House of Justice in February this year, and the aim of these conferences is to promote an understanding of how youth can help contribute to society in a positive and meaningful way through the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment ProgramContinue reading

Done Made My Vow to the Lord: The Baha’i Black Men’s Gathering 1987 – 2011

The National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States released a wonderful video entitled Done Made My Vow to the Lord: The Baha’i Black Men’s Gathering 1987–2011. The Baha’i Black Men’s Gathering started over 20 years ago when a group of 12 American men of African descent gathered in a hotel lobby in Greensboro, North Carolina. They came from different parts of the United States, and they came after being invited by Billy Roberts, an Auxiliary Board Member at the time who had noticed that there were very few black males serving on institutions in the Baha’i community of the US. Billy Roberts was also concerned about the state of the black man in North America, as there was a tremendous discourse going on at the time in the US especially, about how black men were an endangered species.

You can read Baha’i Blog’s post about the documentary here.

Beautiful Baha’i Stamps from Around the World

Whether you fancy yourself a bit of a philatelist or just enjoy exploring Baha’i history, you’ll be interested to see that there have been a variety of Baha’i stamps and postal items through history. Often celebrating Baha’i Houses of Worship, important Baha’i historical figures, or simply the Baha’i Faith itself, these items are certain to be staples of Baha’i philatelic collections for years to come.

Continue reading

Divine Collaboration: An Interview with The Descendants


When three really close friends from California – Bella Blue, Aubrey Wood and Gia Sky – hear about the 114 world-wide Youth Conferences announced by the Universal House of Justice, they decide to get together to see what they could do to support it – oh, and did I mention that they’re all professional musicians!?

What resulted from their get-together was the creation of a music group called The Descendants and the release of a wonderful debut album called A Divine Collaboration.

The lyrics of their songs are all taken directly from the Baha’i Writings, prayers and holy texts, and the group sets them beautifully to uplifting contemporary music.

Since the launch of their album the group has been busy performing, but I managed to get them to squeeze in an interview with Baha’i Blog so we could find out more about the group and their awesome debut album. Continue reading

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