Art and Literature

Entries about creativity in all its forms, plus original creative material.

Frequency of the Word "Bahai" in English Books

The eggheads at Google have done it again. After aggregating and digitizing more than 5.2 million books containing more than 500 billion words, they have unleashed a massive and searchable database of words used in those published works: the Google’s Book Ngram Viewer.

{josquote}As you probably know, I’m a sucker for data-mining...{/josquote}

As you probably know, I’m a sucker for data-mining: Declining Internet Interest for “Baha’i”. That was keeping track of the relative popularity of search incidents for the keyword “bahai”.

This new tool from Google is equally fascinating but it provides a different perspective. Whereas the previous one is a reflection of our modern times and our penchant for using google as a search engine to find answers on the internet, this new tool allows us to look at the usage frequency of certain words throughout history in published books.

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Book Review: “Revelation and Social Reality”

{josquote}The educator Paulo Freire defines praxis as “reflection and action upon the world in order to transform it.”{/josquote}

Here is a review I did last summer of Paul Lample’s book, “Revelation and Social Reality” for the monthly journal sent out to members of the Baha’i community in Canada. I’m not sure when it’s going to appear in print, so I guess this is an advance edition. It is written with a Baha’i audience in mind but it’s easy to understand. Comments are always appreciated.

Paul Lample
Revelation and Social Reality: Learning to Translate What is Written into Reality
West Palm Beach, Florida: Palabra Press, 2009
293pp. $12.95

{josquote}Lample writes that the primary focus of the book is “the exploration of how the Bahá’í world comes to understand Bahá’u’llah’s teachings and translate them into action”{/josquote}

In Paul Lample’s first major work, Creating a New Mind: Reflections on the Individual, the Institutions and the Community, he offered a collection of short, analytical meditations about the relationship between individual and social transformation in the Bahá’í writings. Revelation and Social Reality: Learning to Translate What is Written into Reality continues many of the same themes in the form of a sustained argument. It is a wide-ranging work of practical scholarship that grapples with social theory and epistemology in the context of Bahá’u’lláh’s revelation and the experience of the Bahá’í world community.

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Cultural Creatives

{amazon id='0609808451'} {amazon id='1903458900'}

Before you start reading this post you might like to complete an easy and interesting questionnaire at this link.

What put me on to this book were the closing pages of Jonathan Stedall’s Where on Earth is Heaven which I reviewed earlier and came back to again later. I am still at a very early stage of reading it but couldn’t resist presenting a taster in this post, so much of it resonates with what I also feel, as a Bahá’í, is critically important. They comment concerning core values of Cultural Creatives (page 8):

Authenticity means that your actions are consistent with what you believe and what you say.

Bahá’u’lláh emphasises the exact same quality as characteristic of the truly spiritual:

Their outward conduct is but a reflection of their inward life, and their inward life a mirror of their outward conduct.

(Gleanings: XXVI)

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My Stroke of Insight: a review

Sow the seeds of My divine wisdom in the pure soil of thy heart, and water them with the water of certitude, that the hyacinths of My knowledge and wisdom may spring up fresh and green in the sacred city of thy heart.

(Bahá’u’lláh: Persian Hidden Words: No. 33)

{amazon id='0452295548'}

On the 18th October I posted a piece inspired by Jill Bolte Taylor‘s TED talk on her experience of a stroke. Her video was so enthralling that I knew I had to buy her book, My Stroke of Insight, and I did.

What’s more I had a chance to read it on one of those tedious weekend journeys on the train, where they take you all round the U.K. to your destination to avoid the one spot where somebody’s working on the line you should have used. Normally I’d be the first to whinge and moan about the waste of life involved but this time I took it as a heaven-sent opportunity to relish her little jewel of a book – small it may be but priceless none the less.

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Abby Wize: AWA, by Lisa Bradley

{amazon id='1452024901'}

Abby is an adolescent girl with a mean mother. Abby loves horses. She wants to know all about horse-handling — maybe because her mother can't be handled — although the traditional methods of horse-wrangling seem crude and ineffectual. As Abby begins to learn about "horse-whispering," she's thrown from the saddle and wakes up in the future.

Up to this point, "Abby Wize" is a pretty typical youngsters' novel, with the ground rules for learning and potential dramatic redemption clearly set. But the time-slip twist throws Abby into a lovely future in which the Bahai faith has taken over and everything is unbearably wonderful, thanks to the teachings of Baha'u'llah.

This is a world with no conflict, and no potential for conflict. Alas, for the novel's structure, that means the story line and dramatic resolution have been thrown out in favor of excited proselytizing, and it never really recovers.

{josquote}...the time-slip twist throws Abby into a lovely future in which the Bahai faith has taken over and everything is unbearably wonderful...{/josquote}

Hawaii resident Bradley is clearly a true believer and wants to share both her religious beliefs and love of horses. She has a talent for communicating both. In this case, however, her passions wind up obscuring the novel's potential.

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