Lady Blomfield: Her Life and Times – An Interview with Robert Weinberg

Lady Blomfield 350x530The recent post in honour of the Day of the Covenant that asked us what we thank Abdu’l-Baha for really got me thinking. I am grateful for the rich constellation of historical accounts of the life of the Master — many give us an intimate glimpse of the Perfect Exemplar. I am also thankful for the life stories of those bright souls who knew Him and who served Him.

Lady Blomfield was one of those early believers whose spiritual conquests are moving and fascinating. Her contributions to the Cause span a unique period in history as the hostess to the Master in the United Kingdom, a collector of recollections by the ladies of the Holy Family, and a literary assistant to the Guardian. Her services to the wider society in which she lived — at a time of suffrage and World War I — are inspiring.

Owing to the dedicated work of Robert Weinberg, we can now enjoy and study Lady Blomfield: Her Life and Times. Robert graciously agreed to give us a behind-the-scenes look at his marvellous and thoroughly-researched book recently published by George Ronald. Continue reading

Dealing with Sorrow and Grief: Learning to Let Go

Learning to let go - 620x429I recently lost someone in my life. Someone very close to me. Someone I love very much.

You can fall in love with, and become attached to anything. A person, an object, an idea, a place, a feeling, a belief.

No matter what it is that you’re attached to and in love with – once it’s gone – letting go can be hard.

Grief is an interesting thing. Many of my friends console me by saying that things happen for a reason, and we have to count our blessings. My mother always says that things could be worse, and she tells me the parable of a man who, while walking down a muddy street, complained to God that he didn’t have shoes. His complaints turned into prayers of gratitude when he noticed a man passing him on that muddy street who didn’t have any legs… She’s right. It could always be worse. Continue reading

Yaran: A New Album by Badi Yazdi Dedicated to the Imprisoned Yaran

Badi YazdiThe situation for the Baha’is in Iran took a turn for the worse after Iran’s 1979 Islamic Revolution, and as the Baha’is in Iran continue to face persecution, many Baha’is around the world continue to work towards ensuring their freedom through peaceful diplomacy, various awareness campaigns, and of course through the power of prayer.

This ongoing persecution is the driving force behind the music of Badi Yazdi, and in his new album entitled Yaran, Badi shares with us a selection of seven prayers chanted in Persian and underscored by Eric Harper. Each prayer is dedicated to the seven imprisoned Baha’i leaders in Iran, who collectively are known as ‘The Yaran’.

I decided to catch up with Badi Yazdi to find out more about the album and the initiative as a whole: Continue reading

Celebrating 60 Years of the Baha’i Faith in Samoa

The first Local Spiritual Assembly of the Baha'is of Samoa, 1957.

The first Baha’i Local Spiritual Assembly in Samoa, 1957. (Photo: Lilian Ala’i)

This year marks the 60th Anniversary of the Baha’i Faith in Samoa, and last week the Baha’is and their friends got together to celebrate – and there’s a lot to celebrate about!

Besides being a part of what Shoghi Effendi calls The Spiritual Axis, Samoa is recognised as the first nation in the world where the reigning monarch, His Highness Susuga Malietoa Tanumafili II, accepted the message of Baha’u'llah and became a Baha’i. His Highness was already aware of the Baha’i Faith, however in 1968, after the “Proclamation to the Kings” by Baha’u'llah was presented to him by visiting Hand of the Cause Dr. Ugo Giachery on behalf of the Universal House of Justice, the king declared his belief in Baha’u'llah.

Recalling the early days of the Faith in Samoa, His Highness had once said:

My brother (High Chief Savea, a retired judge) knew so much about the Baha’i teachings. He was the first of us to study this new religion. During the early years of independence we witnessed many denominations being established, but the Baha’i Faith was so different, its teachings, its approach to people, its concern for the meek and lowly, its lack of interest in worldly things, its regenerating spirit. I was readily attracted.

Continue reading

The Best in Baha’i Inspired Media: An Interview with Jon Rezin of 9 Star Media

Jon Rezin 620x344Here at Baha’i Blog we’re huge fans of Baha’i related media content, and one of the things we really want to do is to help Baha’is discover all of the wonderful new Baha’i media-related initiatives happening around the world. Now it’s one thing to discover new Baha’i musicians, albums, videos and the like, but getting your hands on their products can often be difficult… so welcome 9 Star Media!

9StarMedia.com showcases the best in Baha’i inspired music, audio books and film, and they’ve created a single outlet to discover, preview, and purchase the best the Baha’i community has to offer. Think “iTunes for Baha’i Media”, but they go even one step further by offering physical media sales (CD, DVD, Blu-Ray) as well as wholesale sales to Baha’i bookstores, communities, and distribution services around the world.

9 Star Media was started by a couple of good friends of mine named Jon and Auntieclare Rezin. They live in California and Jon works in the music business. I decided to touch base with them to find out more about 9 Star Media and what it’s all about. Oh, and they’re also giving Baha’i Blog readers a nice discount (shown at the bottom of the post), so read on! Continue reading

6 Ways You Can Support the Junior Youth Program – Even if You’re Not an Animator

Junior Youth in Banting Malaysia. (Photo: Baha'i World Centre)

Junior Youth in Banting Malaysia. (Photo: Baha’i World Centre)

Most Baha’is, both young and old, can accept that the future of our community and the driving force behind its growth will be the Junior Youth Spiritual Empowerment Program – or JYSEP.

What fewer Baha’is can reconcile with is their role within this movement. There are children who become junior youth, and junior youth who become participants, and “older” youth who become the animators that accompany them.

And then there’s the rest of us.

If you’re a youth in spirit though not in reality, you may feel you are on the periphery of a phenomenon. As we are encouraged more and more to support the youth, to support this Program, it is easy to ask, “But, how?” if you are neither a youth nor part of this Program.

It is, of course, never too late to become an animator of a junior youth group, particularly if you are in a cluster, community or neighbourhood, in which the need outweighs the available resources.

If, for whatever reason, serving as an animator is not feasible for you, there are still a number of ways you are able to contribute to the JYSEP. Continue reading

Baha’i Houses of Worship: A Personal Reflection on the Work Ahead

The Baha'i House of Worship in Panama City, Panama (Photo: Baha'i Media Bank)

The Baha’i House of Worship in Panama City, Panama (Photo: Baha’i Media Bank)

My mother often comments that she feels as though the annual Ridvan letters of the beloved Universal House of Justice to the Baha’is of the world are written specifically to her – there is always one sentence or one paragraph that strikes her to her very core and that makes the whole letter very personal and relevant. I don’t always feel the lightning bolt that she does but over time, I find myself mulling over morsels and sentences like a squirrel with acorns in its cheeks.

I am still delighting in the Ridvan message of 2012. It stirringly portrays the current state of affairs, framed by a historical account of the Master’s travels to the West and a vision of the work to be done in the coming years. It joyously announces the seven new Houses of Worship to be built: two new national temples, one in the Democratic Republic of the Congo and the other in Papua New Guinea, and five local temples in Battambang, Cambodia; Bihar Sharif, India; Matunda Soy, Kenya; Norte del Cauca, Colombia; and Tanna, Vanuatu. The House of Justice writes: Continue reading

How Habits Can Help You Become the Baha’i You’ve Always Wanted to Be

Steps

When Abdu’l-Baha was asked how we could acquire perfections in the face of life’s obstacles, he gave what is my all time favourite Baha’i quote: “Little by little, day by day”. The standards that we strive towards as Baha’is are high. Mightily so. It’s all too easy to feel like a spiritual dwarf in the face of such a high bar. But as always Abdu’l-Baha has given us a most practical answer to the most staggering of questions. And in that answer is a powerful tool for sculpting oneself to become the Baha’i you want to be: Habit. Continue reading

Talks by Mr. Grossmann from the New Zealand North Island Baha’i Summer School 2013

Mr Grossmann 620x413
Mr. Hartmut and Mrs. Ursula Grossmann were the keynote speakers at the recent North Island Baha’i Summer School in New Zealand at the end of December 2013, and the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of New Zealand have given Baha’i Blog four of Mr. Grossmann’s audio talks for you to listen to.

Currently residing in Finland, the Grossmann’s are originally from Germany and Mr. Grossmann is a former member of both the International Teaching Centre and the Universal House of Justice, until he retired in 2008.

We’ve been asked to remind everyone that Mr. Grossmann gave these talks as an individual Baha’i, and not as a representative of the Universal House of Justice.

You can listen to these talks by either streaming them live from our site or by downloading them.
If you’d prefer to download the talks to your computer, just click on the link to the talk below and the word “Download” will appear at the bottom right of the audio player. Now just click on the word “Download” to begin downloading the file.

Also, if anyone is interested in the DVD of these talks (which will also include Mrs. Grossmann’s presentations), you can order it by contacting: nationaloffice@bahai.org.nz

We hope you enjoy these talks as much as we do, and we’d like to thank Mr. and Mrs. Grossmann and the organizers of the summer school and the National Spiritual Assembly of New Zealand for making these talks available to us all!

Happy listening! Continue reading

Living a Coherent Life, A Life Fueled by Service

Participants at the 2013 Sydney Youth Conference worked together on creative presentations about the themes being studied. (Photo: Baha'i World Center)

Participants at the 2013 Sydney Youth Conference worked together on creative presentations about the themes being studied. (Photo: Baha’i World Centre)

Prior to attending one of the 114 worldwide youth conferences in Sydney, Australia, I was grappling with the concept of coherence and what it looked like in reality to live a life that was not fragmented. I would look at all the different components in my life and wonder how it was possible for each of them to tie seamlessly together while still devoting my time to the progress of the Five Year Plan. I saw myself as a mother, a wife, a journalist, a Baha’i – with each aspect having its own distinct purpose.

The paragraph below, taken from the youth conference participant materials, expands on this idea of coherence: Continue reading