Featured book: Diamonds in the Rough by Jenina S. Lepard

This book presents a fictional account of a weekly youth gathering through the eyes of a young Baha’i who has initiated it. He enlists the aid of his parents in arranging the comfort of his guests with refreshments and an inviting space, and two older Baha’i youth who agree to act as facilitators. As the story develops, the young man and his friends explore the stories of several early Baha’is, in the context of an overall discussion of virtues and how to practice them in daily life. Each week, two members who have researched an individual historical Baha’i present the story of that person’s life, and the group decides which virtue that person exemplifies. The early heroes and heroines they learn about are William Sears, Dorothy Baker, Martha Root, Louis Gregory, Fred Mortensen, Florence Mayberry, Músá Banání, May Maxwell, and Rúhú’lláh Varqá. Their presentations include both basic information about their subject, as well as lesser known anecdotes that provide additional interest.

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for January 2018

January 10, 2018

The theme for the January meeting was ‘Multicultural’. Members brought four selections for discussion. The first of these was African America: Celebrating 400 Years of Achievement by Kenneth Estell. This book is a collection of over 500 biographical essays about African Americans and their accomplishments. The sheer number of entries showcases the wide range of contributions African Americans have made to our society. The book is organized by area of accomplishment, such as politics, performing arts, medicine, religion, literature, etc. Each entry includes biographical information and contributions made by the person, as well as vignettes giving important details to better understand their life and times. The book club member bringing this book to our attention chose to present on Dick Gregory, well-known comedian and activist. His biography included many other facets his life, such as his time as an entrepreneur and health educator/promoter.

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Truthfulness, Trustworthiness and Justice

The following article is from bahai.org.

Truthfulness and trustworthiness involve much more than not telling lies; they embody the overarching capacity to discern, value, and uphold truth itself. Without these spiritual qualities, neither individual nor social progress is possible. Justice is vital to the establishment of unity and harmony at all levels of society, as it provides the standard by which individual conduct and collective effort are judged. A requirement for living a life of service to humanity, then, is constant effort to develop truthfulness, trustworthiness, and justice, ensuring that they are ever-present in thought and action.

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for November 2017

November 8, 2017

The theme for November’s meeting was Spiritual Principles. Members brought three selections for discussion. The first of these was Two Wings of a Bird by the National Spiritual Assembly of the Baha’is of the United States. The discussion focused on the need for the equality of men and women, and the ways women still need to access full equality. Inequality in the economic sphere, discrimination in social roles and vulnerability demonstrated in the #MeToo campaign, the role of education, control of sexuality issues such as birth control and pregnancy, and the role of education were all parts of the conversation.

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The Significance of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá

The following article is from bahai.org. Photo above: ‘Abdu’l-Bahá walking outside 7 Haparsim Street in Haifa, c. 1919, © 2017 Bahá’í International Community

“SELDOM HAVE I SEEN one whose appearance impressed me more,” said Professor Edward G. Browne of Cambridge University after meeting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. “About the greatness of this man and his power no one who had seen him could entertain a doubt.”

Yet, however magnetic ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s personality or however penetrating His insights, such tributes cannot adequately capture such a unique character in religious history. The Bahá’í Writings affirm that “in the person of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá the incompatible characteristics of a human nature and superhuman knowledge and perfection have been blended and are completely harmonized.”

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for October 2017

October 11, 2017

The October meeting was a consultation/reflection on how the bookclub has been going and on the direction for the next six months. We decided to continue the use of themes in our book club selections, and planned the upcoming calendar. We agreed that our meeting with a guest author was a highlight of the past months, and are interested in planning another guest author presentation. We would love to have another guest author to discuss their book with the group, and welcome suggestions for this event.

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The Equality of Women and Men: The Experience of the Bahá’í Community of Canada

By Deborah K. van den Hoonaard and Will C. van den Hoonard

This book presents a sociological study undertaken by the Baha’is of Canada to examine implementation of the Baha’i tenet of equality between the sexes. It is a very detailed report that looks closely at a variety of communities and their experiences as they attempt to develop and implement a concept central to the Faith, but often not present in the external society. The authors, a married couple, are both sociologists and appear to have followed a rigorous scientific approach, with adherence to sociological and statistical norms typical in a scholarly examination. With a sample group of 119 Baha’is in twelve focus groups, the authors followed discussions over the course of a year.

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for September 2017

Sept 13, 2017

At the September meeting, individual members presented a variety of folk tales from cultures around the world. Some of these tales were short enough to be read aloud to the group, while others were summarized and then discussed. Members had been asked to read a folk tale with two questions in mind: what in the tale is representative of the individual culture it represents, and what aspect(s) represent universal humanity? The variety of cultures the folk tales represented, as well as their stories made for an interesting and lively discussion.

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for August 2017

August 9th, 2017

August’s meeting was a small group that discussed four books. The discussion was described by members as free-flowing, while touching on many subjects. The first book discussed was Tears We Cannot Stop: A Sermon to White America by Michael Eric Dyson. This book tackles the issue of race in both personal and cultural terms, with a call to change in the recognition of difficult truths, including the history of how black grievance has been minimized, completely ignored, or dismissed entirely. The second selection was a pamphlet written in 1965 called This is Apartheid by Leslie and Neville Rubin. This tract details the system of apartheid in South Africa, and gives 40 examples of restrictions imposed on Africans under the apartheid system. The author represented the Africans of the Cape Province in the South African Senate.

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