Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for August 2016

August 10, 2016

Last month’s meeting on August 10, 2016, was devoted to a reflection about how the book club has progressed, and a discussion of ideas and suggestions for how we should proceed in the coming months. We talked about the books we have read, and exciting books yet to be discovered and shared with the group. Participants shared thoughts and ideas about book discussions, how best to structure our meetings, and how to invite new friends (both Baha’i and non-Baha’i) into our reading circle.

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The Non-Political Character of the Faith

This month we are featuring an article by Avrel Seale from


6 Reasons to Steer Clear of Partisan Politics

In the United States, the conclusion of the summer Olympics also means we’re fast approaching another presidential election. In fact, the way various elections are staggered, we’re never more than a few months away from an election of some kind. Perhaps in your country, you too are blessed to have the freedom to elect your governmental leaders. It’s a precious and hard-won human right that the whole world is destined to exercise.

Democracy is a core value of Baha’i life. The way in which we govern our own affairs is deeply democratic. We elect our leaders from the bottom of the administrative order to the very top. But we do it all without campaigning. We don’t put our own names or those of others up for election, and likewise we don’t engage in negative self-campaigning to remove ourselves from consideration. Baha’is simply and prayerfully vote for a slate of people they believe will best serve the community, and, in the case of Spiritual Assemblies, the nine top vote-getters are elected.

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The Challenge of Baha’u’llah By Gary L. Matthews

This book presents a detailed approach to the study of Baha’u’llah’s claim of divine revelation. The “challenge” of the title is both an examination of the veracity of His claim and its meaning to the world of humanity. The author provides historical data and background, then approaches Baha’u’llah and His revelation from the possible perspective of a skeptic, attempting to examine His life, person, and writings from a rational and objective perspective.

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for July 2016

July 13, 2016

Individual members shared information on books they are currently reading. Books were varied in subject matter and diverse in times and places they portrayed. Some past book club meetings included the following titles (In no particular chronological order):

King Peggy by Peggielene Bartels
Hitler’s Black Victims by Clarence Lusane
Together Tea by Marjan Kamali
The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan
Ahab’s Wife by Sena Jeter-Naslund
Racial Healing: A Safe Place to Talk About Race by Sharon E. Davis
Aimless Love by Billy Collins
It Ain’t So Awful Falafel by Firoozeh Dumas
The Five People You Meet In Heaven by Mitch Albom
The Souls of Black Folk by W.E.B. Du Bois
Being Mortal by Atul Gawande
Geography of a Life by Martin Bernal
The Story of Owen: Dragonslayer of Trandheim by E. K. Johnston
The Women of Evin Ward 209 by Jila Baniyaghoob
Still Life (The Armand Gamache Mystery Series) by Louise Penny
The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
Love of Math: The Heart of Hidden Reality by Edward Frenkel

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The Martyrdom of the Báb

Baha’is commemorate the Martyrdom of the Bab as a Holy Day on July 9 at noon.

In this extract from God Passes By, Shoghi Effendi recounts the events surrounding the execution of the Báb.


THE WAVES OF DIRE tribulation that violently battered at the Faith, and eventually engulfed, in rapid succession, the ablest, the dearest and most trusted disciples of the Báb, plunged Him, as already observed, into unutterable sorrow. For no less than six months the Prisoner of Chihríq, His chronicler has recorded, was unable to either write or dictate. Crushed with grief by the evil tidings that came so fast upon Him, of the endless trials that beset His ablest lieutenants, by the agonies suffered by the besieged and the shameless betrayal of the survivors, by the woeful afflictions endured by the captives and the abominable butchery of men, women and children, as well as the foul indignities heaped on their corpses, He, for nine days, His amanuensis has affirmed, refused to meet any of His friends, and was reluctant to touch the meat and drink that was offered Him. Tears rained continually from His eyes, and profuse expressions of anguish poured forth from His wounded heart, as He languished, for no less than five months, solitary and disconsolate, in His prison.

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Heavenly Attributes: The Character of ‘Abdu’l-Baha By Mona Khademi

Mona Khademi’s book is a short collection of reminiscences of four early Baha’is who each spent a period of their lives in the presence of ‘Abdu’l-Baha. The memories are from different points in the life of ‘Abdu’l-Baha, and have been selected by the author to illustrate different virtues as exemplified by the person known to Baha’is as the Master. Together, they also illuminate various parts of his personality and overall character. The four early Baha’is are two easterners and two westerners: Mirza Badi Bushrui, Dr. Habib Moayyad, Lady Sara Blomfield, and Howard Colby Ives.

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for June 2016

June 8, 2016

theLemonTreeOur meeting included some new members, which expanded the discussion and added new context. The book selection was The Lemon Tree: an Arab, a Jew, and the Heart of Palestine by Sandy Tolan. This non-fiction book tells the history of Palestine, with emphasis on the period from 1948 to the present. At its center are two families, one Arab and one Palestinian, who both have histories with a house in what is now Israel. An unlikely friendship develops between a young Jewish woman who currently occupies the home built by the Arab father for his family, and the young Arab student revisiting the home his family was forced to leave. The author presents a comprehensive and balanced picture of the struggle history has given both Arabs and Jews in Palestine as he develops the story of the struggle of the two characters to understand each other and to become and remain friends.

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Circle of Friends Book Club meeting summary for May 2016

May 11, 2016

The May Circle of Friends Book Club meeting was held May 11, 2016, and included discussions of a variety of topics related to books presented by bookclub members. Monkeys, Myths, and Molecules by Dr. Joe Schwarcz, Fracture: Barack Obama, the Clintons, and the Racial Divide by Joy-Ann Reid, Race Amity: A Primer on America’s Other Tradition by W.H. Smith and Richard Thomas, and The Lemon Tree by Sandy Tolan, were all presented by individual club members. These selections engendered lively discussions on many topics including current television and internet personalities that may not be able to substantiate information they are disseminating, the role of our current President in the political climate of the upcoming presidential election, race amity as opposed to enmity in American history, and the Palestinian conflict. A club member also brought along some “Mummy’s Nummie Yummies” for us to sample (thank you Sandra!).

About the Book Club

One Human Family

The following article is from

The conviction that we belong to one human family is at the heart of the Bahá’í Faith. The principle of the oneness of humankind is “the pivot round which all the teachings of Bahá’u’lláh revolve”.

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The Secret of Emotions by Justice Saint Rain

This book is the first of a trilogy of books that address human emotions through both a psychological and spiritual lens. It offers a synthesis of the two approaches that appears uniquely suited to Baha’is and others interested in improving their self-awareness and understanding, and exploring the role of emotions in human behavior and spiritual development.

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