Art and Literature

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

BPS DIY "How to" Series

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I have been lurking on the self-publishing website for years, but over the past week I have made a serious study of their best-selling books. The site displays an all-time bestseller list, and a monthly and weekly list of their best selling works -- and curiously, they do it all without mentioning exactly how many copies each book managed to sell.

However, one thing is clear. They publish poetry, novels, technical books, but the one genre that they do a really good job of pushing off the shelves and into the cashier is the How-to book. Their all time best seller is a how-to, as is their second place winner, and so on right down the list as far as you want to go. Almost all their bestsellers are from that genre. It is pretty clear that this site knows how to sell how-to books.

Anyway, I caught a cold a few days ago and what with the pets waking me at all hours, I have taken to sleeping odd hours. So it was that I woke early this morning with these questions in my head: what would the Baha'i principles look like if they were a series of self-help books? Would DIY Baha'i books sell as well on Lulu as other how-to's? Is it right brazenly to cash in on the principles by making them into do-it-yourselfers? Swallowing my scruples, I quickly wrote down the following possible titles for a series of short books -- short is good, between 150 and 200 pages -- about the principles.

{josquote}it feels funny to look over this list, and reflect upon how easy it is to turn the holy principles of Baha'u'llah into a sort of "Principles for Complete Idiots," or "Baha'i Principles for Dummies" publishing venture.{/josquote}

How to Investigate Reality
How to Unite the World
How to Reconcile Religions
How to Unite Science and Religion
How to Exterminate Prejudice
How to Reform Free Enterprise
How to Promote Education
How to Learn Esperanto
How to Promote the Equality of the Sexes
How to Understand God
How to Promote World Peace

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Judaism and the Baha'i Faith

The Oneness of God permeates every aspect of Judaism and Baha'i. Drawing upon Biblical, Talmudic, and contemporary sources, one father many children provides inspirational insight into the teachings of these two world faiths -- teachings that illumine the "world to come" when all people recognize the Oneness of God, the Oneness of religion, and the Oneness of all mankind.

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Interview: Omid Djalili

He’s had nasty letters, but at least one rabbi is a big fan. British-Iranian actor Omid Djalili tells us how he’s trying not to offend anyone playing Dickens’ Jewish pickpocket

You have to admit it was an odd piece of casting. Having come to terms with Mr Bean (aka Rowan Atkinson) playing Fagin in the West End production of Oliver!, we have had to adjust to a British-Iranian comedian in the role.

Omid Djalili stepping out as Fagin the Jew is up there with David Bowie playing Pontius Pilate in The Last Temptation of Christ. Only Jackie Mason being cast as Osama bin Laden could be as controversial.

“When my agent told me they wanted to see me for the part, even I was convinced it was a joke,” says Djalili, settling back on the sofa in his huge dressing room at the Theatre Royal, Drury Lane. “I thought the whole thing of me playing this part was a wind-up from day one, which is why I didn’t look at the script or the song-sheets they sent me. So when I met Cameron Mackintosh, I wasn’t exactly prepared. In fact, I read really badly, but they must have seen something in me because they called me back three weeks later and this time I’d done some homework.”

{josquote}An Iranian playing Fagin has nothing to do with the Iranian plot to wipe Israel off the face of the planet{/josquote}

The success, or otherwise, of Oliver!, Lionel Bart’s 1960s musical, depends heavily on the performance of Fagin and after three months Djalili is getting the kind of cheers that suggest he has the measure of the character. “I don’t think I’ve made him overtly Jewish — have I?” he asks with a smile.

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Why Do You Reject Your Lord?

One of the songs I remember best from my Bahá’í youth I may have heard only once or twice, and that, only in part:

World, world, world, world, why do you reject your Lord?
When will you receive your Savior, Bahá’u'lláh?

The couplet echoed in my head until it was as though I’d heard it a hundred times.

{josquote} began to seem haunted with the dark, lonesome misery of a cult chant.{/josquote}

I think I remember it being sung in a three-part harmony, with the slow, plodding tempo of a funeral march. I thought it was quite beautiful then, but over the years it began to seem haunted with the dark, lonesome misery of a cult chant. The idolatry in it is almost palpable.

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