Reviews -- Commentary on contemporary books and artistic endeavors
Gate of the Heart: Understanding the Writings of the Báb
By Nader Saiedi
Wilfrid Laurier University Press
For Bahá'ís, the story of the Báb is well known. The forerunner of their Faith, the Báb appeared in Iran in 1844 - and within six years he had established a new religion, attracted thousands of followers, and incurred the intense persecution of religious authorities. His mission was marked by heroic deeds, the revelation of scriptures that his followers believe fulfills and supersedes the Qu'ran, and his dramatic death by firing squad in 1850. (January-December 2009)
Manna from Heaven: From Divine Speech to Economic Science
By Dalton Garis
Some of the most fruitful acts of creativity stem from the combination of two previously distinct fields of thought. In Manna from Heaven: From Divine Speech to Economic Science, Dalton Garis brings together two fields that are not often paired: economics and religion -- and arrives at a creative synthesis that enriches the reader's understanding of both. (October-December 2008)
Collective Security Within Reach
By Sovaida Ma'ani Ewing
If ever there were a great idea that failed most regrettably in its implementation, it is that of international collective security. But the situation is not quite as hopeless as it seems, according to Sovaida Ma'ani Ewing, a lawyer from the United Kingdom who has thoroughly studied the concept and written a new book, Collective Security Within Reach. (July-September 2008)
Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything
By Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams
We live in a period characterized by diversity, chaos and an intense search for solutions to increasingly complex and global problems.
Within that context, Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything explores what may well be one of the most profound changes in our time - a shift from hierarchical lines of creation and production to a model in which almost anyone, anywhere, can contribute ideas and innovation to a given economic or social project. (April-June 2008)
At the heart of Bill McKibben’s new book is the contrarian idea that rapid and widespread economic growth is not the key to global well-being and prosperity. (January-March 2008)
Lawrence Miller’s client list reads like a page from the Fortune 500 directory. In 30 years of management consulting, Mr. Miller has worked with companies like Exxon USA, MetLife, Coca-Cola, American Express, Honeywell, Eastman Kodak, and McDonald’s. What makes Mr. Miller’s latest work so significant is the degree to which he has directly connected his personal religious beliefs to his insights about the corporate world. (October-December 2007)
In a world threatened by religious extremism, the need to take stock in religion and to search for new perspectives is an urgent one. (January-March 2007)
The Spirit of Agriculture
Edited by Paul Hanley
As Paul Hanley points out in his new book, the topic of agriculture sometimes conjures up more jokes than serious discussion, especially in contrast to seemingly more urgent issues like war, peace, poverty, education and human rights. (October-December 2006)
The Parliament of Man: The Past, Present, and Future of the United Nations
By Paul Kennedy
Paul Kennedy's new book on the United Nations takes its title from a famous poem written in 1837 by Lord Alfred Tennyson that offers a vision of a peaceful future when, thanks to the “Parliament of man,” “the war-drum throbb'd no longer.” (July-September 2006)
Annual Bahá'í World volume examines the science of morality, concept of progress, and global activities
The Bahá'í World 2004-2005
Bahá'í World Centre Publications
An examination of the science of morality, a look at the opportunities and challenges presented by human progress, and a report on a small but inspiring educational project in Mali are among the articles in the latest volume of The Bahá'í World. (April-June 2006)
The World is Flat: A Brief History of the Twenty-first Century
By Thomas L. Friedman
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
To come right to the main point of this review: Thomas Friedman's brilliant catch phase, book title and powerfully developed new thesis — "The World is Flat" — is yet another reaffirmation of what Bahá'u'lláh said about 150 years ago when He declared that “The earth is but one country, and mankind its citizens.”
Ciência, Religião e Desenvolvimento: Perspectivas Para o Brasil
Edited by Iradj Roberto Eghrari
Editora Planeta Paz
Perspectivas Para o Brasil contributes greatly to the overall discourse on how these new viewpoints — spiritual and southern — can be integrated into a new development paradigm.
Restless Souls: The Making of American Spirituality
By Leigh Eric Schmidt
Although it focuses on the American fascination with mysticism and churchless spirituality in 19 th century, many readers of Leigh Eric Schmidt's new book will undoubtedly see parallels to trends and events in our own time, and on a global level.
The Last War: Racism, Spirituality, and the Future of Civilization
By M. L. Perry
In the minds of some, racism may seem a bygone issue. But then along comes a book like Mark L. Perry's The Last War: Racism, Spirituality and the Future of Civilization with a powerful challenge to any such complacency.
The End of Poverty: Economic Possibilities for Our Time
By Jeffrey D. Sachs
The Penguin Press
In his bold and thoroughly engaging new book, Jeffrey Sachs lays out a broad plan — which was devised in part with the help of some 260 other economists and development experts under the aegis of the UN Millennium Project — that he believes could end extreme poverty in 20 years.
Beyond the Culture of Contest: From Adversarialism to Mutualism in an Age of Interdependence
By Michael Karlberg
The adversarial system has distinct flaws. There is always a “winner” and a “loser.” Somewhere along the line, compromises are usually made, which may not be in the best interests of the whole. And there is always the possibility — and an increasing one as corruption of various forms creeps into the system — that money or power will win out instead of truth or justice.
Building Sustainable Peace
Edited by Tom Keating and W. Andy Knight
United Nations University Press
Tokyo / New York / Paris
When the Cold War effectively ended some 15 years ago, there was great hope that the world would soon move into a new era of peace and prosperity. But the post-Cold War era "has proven to be the world’s most violent period since World War II," and this book of essays addresses how that might be rectified.
Spirituality in the Land of the Noble: How Iran Shaped the World's Religions
By Richard C. Foltz
Richard C. Foltz keeps the focus tight by using the lens of geography to examine the history of world religions, tracing the currents and cross-currents of religious history in Iran, which has "played an unexcelled role in influencing, transforming, and propagating all the world's universal traditions."
Rutgers University Press
New Brunswick , NJ , and London
In the opening chapter of his new book, Charles V. Carnegie describes in vivid detail a morning swim on a beach in his native Jamaica — the warm water, the cloudless sky, and string of bright buoys. But what made the morning so memorable was not the delightful exercise; it was the disturbing comments he overheard from beach attendants after the swim.
Human Rights, the UN and the Bahá'ís in Iran -- by Nazila Ghanea -- The coming of the new millennium has also brought a surprising upsurge in religious feeling around the world. Secularism, once thought to be the rising tide of modernism, seems to have been only a cresting wave. One side effect of the surge in religiosity has been an accompanying magnification of religious intolerance and even violence.
Critical Consciousness: A Study of Morality in Global, Historical Context -- By Elena Mustakova-Possardt -- Coined by Brazilian educator Paulo Freire in the 1960s, the term "critical consciousness" was at first applied mainly in the field of adult education. Translated from the Portuguese word conscientizadora, critical consciousness was defined by Dr. Freire as a state of in-depth understanding about the world and resulting freedom from oppression.
Overcoming Violence against Women and Girls: The International Campaign to Eradicate a Worldwide Problem -- By Michael L. Penn and Rahel Nardos -- Why is it that although women compose half the world's population and put in nearly two-thirds of the world's work hours, they receive just one-tenth of the world's income and own less than one-hundredth of the world's property?
Minimalism: A Bridge between Classical Philosophy and the Bahá'í Revelation -- By William S. Hatcher -- While the application of the modern scientific method has reaped great rewards in terms of technological progress, its employment in the realm of philosophy has in many ways been a great disappointment.
One World: The Ethics of Globalization -- By Peter Singer -- In academic circles, Peter Singer is considered one of the top experts on bioethics. His books on the ethics of the treatment of animals, for example, are best sellers in the scholarly world. In his latest book, Prof. Singer turns his attention to the ethical questions surrounding state sovereignty in an increasingly interdependent world.
A Sacred Trust: Ecology & Spiritual Vision, edited by David Cadman and John Carey -- Thoughtful people have always understood the connection between nature and spirituality. But in terms of an explicit connection between organized religion and the conservation movement, an important milestone came in 1987, when the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) invited global religions to participate in an interfaith event at Assisi, Italy, to commemorate the 25th anniversary of the Fund.
Rethinking Humanitarian Intervention, by Brian D. Lepard -- One of the thorniest issues faced by the United Nations in recent years has been how to balance state sovereignty with human rights. At the core: when does the world have the right to tell a government how to treat its people?
The Future of Life, by Edward O. Wilson -- Although he is known primarily as a biologist, Edward O. Wilson spends a lot of his time in his latest book about the importance of protecting the diversity of life on earth talking like an economist.
A Woman's Place: Religious Women as Public Actors, edited by Azza Karam --There is a famous Chinese saying that women hold up half of the sky. But such has not always been acknowledged by the leadership of most religions, which have traditionally been dominated by men. A new book published by the World Conference on Religion and Peace (WCRP) seeks to in some ways to address this imbalance, by showcasing the contributions of women of faith in the public arena.
Phenomenon of Religion: A Thematic Approach
By Moojan Momen
In some 500 pages (626 pages with notes and index), Moojan Momen has undertaken a sweeping survey of religious phenomena and experience across the globe and throughout history. (July-September 2001 /OC 13.2)
Toward a Global Civilization? The Contribution of Religions -- Edited by Patricia M. Mische and Melissa Merkling -- As Richard Falk points out in a recent essay, religion has generally been excluded from the serious study and practice of governance over the last several hundred years, and especially in recent attempts to forge some sort of new world order. (April-June 2001 /OC 13.1)
Logos and Civilization: Spirit, History, and Order in the Writings of Bahá'u'lláh, by Nader Saiedi, University of Maryland Press, Bethesda, MD, USA -- As humanity's interdependence has increasingly manifested itself, scholars of various disciplines have begun to examine more thoroughly the writings of Bahá'u'lláh, whose vision of human oneness and call for a new world order are without doubt one of the earliest expressions of peaceful and universal globalism. (OC12.4/January-March 2001)
The Lab, the Temple and the Market: Reflections at the Intersection of Science, Religion, and Development -- For years, many of the world's top "experts" on social and economic development discounted the role of religion in the fight against poverty and social injustice - or, worse, considered the religious beliefs of the people they intended to help as antithetical to progress.
By Paul Lample
Riviera Beach, Florida, USA
The idea that we can transform the outer world by first changing our inner consciousness is a recurrent theme in many of the world's religious and spiritual traditions.
Years of Silence: Bahá'ís in the USSR 1938-1946 by Asadu'llah Alizad -- In his poignant account of life as a prisoner of conscience in the former Soviet Union, Asadu'llah Alizad gives numerous examples of how small acts of unselfishness made all the difference between survival and nonexistence in the harsh system that flourished under Stalin.
By Bahiyyih Nakhjavani
Among the new cultural expressions that have arisen in our contracting world, with its shifting and blurring of national boundaries, are "world music" and "world literature." In the latter category, one thinks of writers such as Michael Ondaatje, Vikram Seth, and Salman Rushdie, whose works are informed by the authors' cultural backgrounds but framed by a modern, cosmopolitan sensibility. The Saddlebag by Bahiyyih Nakhjavani is a fine recent contribution to this genre of literature.