Bring the Study of the Baha’i Writings into Your Busy Life: Interview with Jon Rezin from HearTheWritings

Posted on Nov 7, 2012 in Other, Study of Guidance, Websites | 46 comments

HearTheWritings is a resource which people from all walks of life – busy mothers included – can use to study the Baha’i Writings.  Whether you have an iPod, MP3 player, CD player, or computer, the professionally recorded Baha’i audiobooks and letters offered by HearTheWritings can be a truly valuable resource in your home, allowing you to study the Writings in ways otherwise impossible.  No longer do you have to have a book or even have your eyes open; all you have to do is choose a time to listen.

You are sure to enjoy our interview with Jon Rezin, creator and founder of HearTheWritings, who is a father of two young children himself.  If you have ever wanted to more time to read the Writings, or to have someone read them to you while you lie in bed after a long day, this post is for you.

NOTE: HearTheWritings.com has agreed to give several lucky readers free audio book CD sets. The details are listed at the end of the interview.

Please note the deadline for this competition is passed.

Q: Tell us a bit about yourself.

A: My name is Jon Rezin. I am a Bahá’í and was born and raised near Columbus, Ohio. I have always had a passion for music and audio. After my year of service (serving the National Teaching Committee in the central states) I moved to New York City and spent 10 years developing my craft (Music Production). Towards the end of that ten year period I was blessed to go on pilgrimage. It was on this pilgrimage that I was introduced to the most amazing woman who I am now humbled and honored to call my wife. Auntieclare was serving at the Bahá’í World Center at the time and after her two and a half years of service we were married and moved to the Los Angeles area. We have been married for six years now and are busy raising our village just outside of LA in sunny Pasadena California. We have two children Lua (2.5 years old) and Anis (9 months old). We cherish spending time together as a family and showering our children with love. In addition to work and family time we dedicate considerable amounts of time towards our passion projects.

Q: What is “HearTheWritings”?

A: HearTheWritings is a major passion project. Simply put, we are taking the Bahá’í sacred, historical and secondary texts and converting them into high quality audio books. We are told that we are supposed to read from the sacred scriptures each and every day. Our focus is creating a resource to help individuals fulfill that spiritual obligation even when they feel that they lack time to sit and concentrate on the writings.

In Los Angeles, the average individual spends 2+ hours stuck in traffic. That time, which often goes ‘unused’ for anything other than wishing they were out of traffic can now be used as an opportunity to gain deeper insights into the writings and the latest guidance. The same principle applies to anyone who finds that they have mental resources left over even though their hands might be occupied with busy work. I read through a library of Baha’i books while walking on a treadmill… it felt strange taking God Passes By into a gym… but it gave me the opportunity to focus my mental energies on something that would help my spirit grow, while I worked on making my body shrink! The experience would have been that much greater had I been able to listen to the writings as audio rather than trying to focus on the words as I walked vigorously in place. These audio books are what I need to help me get closer to the Writings… and I figure if I need them, there are probably others who could benefit from them as well.

Q: When did you get the idea for creating Bahá’í audio books, and how did it all get started?

A: When I lived in NYC I would spend hours on the trains or stuck in traffic each day. I developed a love for audio books during that time. The way they engage my mind and keep me focused is something extraordinary. I felt a calling to create these types of high quality audio books of the Sacred writings for the Bahá’í community (and myself).

That led me to get jobs at two of the top audio book production houses in NYC and spend a year learning the tools, techniques, and business behind creating commercial quality audio books. During that year I had the opportunity to work with some of the best directors and voice talent in the industry, and they provided me a wealth of experience. I took my bosses out to lunch and picked their brains for hours about the process of creating my own audio book publishing company. Their advice still assists me to this day.

Like all good intentions though, sometimes it takes longer than anticipated to move from idea to execution. That time of execution for me occurred when I met my wife. After we settled down in Los Angeles, we began focusing our efforts on executing our passion projects and decided that it was time to start the creation of Bahá’í audio books. HearTheWritings.com was born.

Q: What resources have you produced?

A: Our first release was The Advent of Divine Justice by Shoghi Effendi. A few months after releasing it we were talking to a number of our friends in the Los Angeles area and only about half of them had read the 2010 Ridván Message… and it was already December! So we decided that maybe an audio version could be of assistance.  So with some voice talent assistance we recorded the 11 page message and released it as a free download on Dec 28th 2010. Much to our surprise the Universal House of Justice released another message that morning which was directly related to the Five Year Plan!  So we recorded that as well. The response from these free downloads of the Messages from the Universal House of Justice has been amazing. Individuals and Communities are using the audio versions in their community deepening activities. Listening to the messages over and over again while they drive. The fact that so many people have found these audio books to be such a great resource is really inspiring. We get emails regularly where people share ways in which the audio books are assisting them which we never would have thought of.

Aside from the House of Justice Messages we were recording, we were contacted by Bahá’ís in Japan and Iceland to help them make audio books in their native languages. So with a little collaboration and input from their National Spiritual Assemblies we have released a couple titles in Icelandic and Japanese. Eysteinn Guðni Guðnason helped produce the December 28th Message in Icelandic. Check it out here: http://is.hearthewritings.com The Japanese version of HearTheWritings is churning out new titles hand over fist. There are a couple currently in production. Michael Higgins and Matt Almanza have been amazing partners in creating and producing audio books in Japanese. You can find the Japanese version of HearTheWritings here: http://jp.hearthewritings.com

While all of this was happening we have been simultaneously and steadily working on recording some of the Sacred Writings by the Central Figures. We just released Tablets of The Divine Plan revealed by `Abdu’l-Bahá and are nearing release of several other major titles in the coming months… One of the books took almost a year to record!  We are sooooooo excited… but want to keep you in suspense for a little longer. There will be another 2 books following that release as well. If you want the early info and access make sure you are on our email list.

Q: What is your vision for HearTheWritings over the next few years?

A: We are focused on developing a library of Audio Books from the Faith that cover the major titles (Sacred Writings from the Central Figures) as well as producing some of the more epic historical titles. Some of these historical texts are amazingly inspiring and to create audio versions of them would assist so many more Baha’i’s to develop a deeper sense of Bahá’i identity.

In addition, we want to expand into other languages. Spanish, Persian, French, Chinese as well as other audio book languages which, though not financially sustainable on their own, could be subsidized by the sales of audio books in these primary languages (think native dialects). Icelandic and Japanese were not our first thought for additional languages, but they happened because people in those countries saw the need and approached us to collaborate on their creation. The experience has been amazing.

Q: What is your hope for your resources?

A: We are attempting to create something that is of service to the community and is timeless. Our goal in creating these audio books is to make sure they are compelling and of the highest quality possible. We hope that individuals and communities will find audio books to be  another effective way to experience the Writings, and that, whether the audio books become their primary way to experience the texts, or whether they simply supplement their individual study, people feel more in touch with the the Faith and develop a closer relationship with Bahá’u’lláh.

Q: How can these materials help parents with young children?

A: My wife is my focus group for mothers. She often doesn’t get a chance to study the messages when they first come out. Some of the messages are quite lengthy (17+ pages) and kids require lots of attention. Often her first chance to study the guidance is when I am recording or editing the audio book version. We go for a car ride and I bring the messages with me. We pop it in, the kids fall asleep, and we arrive at our destination having studied the latest guidance. It is beautiful!

We have also gotten feedback from numerous parents and they have all shared unique and wonderful stories on how these audio versions of the Writings have helped them. For some, it is simply to be able to listen to the Writings while handling the busy work associated with a growing family (dishes, driving kids to X, Y, Z), or simply using them to unwind. Being able to sit back and have the Writings read to you after a long day is something special. Others have used the audio books to help their children with disabilities (blindness etc) feel a connection to the guidance and Writings.

Also we are planning to record some titles focused on children. There are great stories of the Faith that children can connect with. We want to create some of those titles so that parents can offer their children Bahá’í story time any time.

Q: With young children yourself, you know how time is limited.  Do you have any advice to other parents hoping to study the Writings more?

A: Listen to Audio Books! It sounds funny but in all seriousness, our downtime often happens when in route to an appointment, gathering, etc. The fact that we can pop a book into the CD player is amazing.

Other than that, it is a question of priorities… I’m not saying that in a judgmental way… but you have to look at what in your schedule you can move, cancel, delay, or otherwise adjust to spend time reading the Writings. For us, we consider it important for our children to see us ‘being Bahá’í’ in our private lives (i.e. reading the Writings, doing obligatory prayers, observing Holy Days, fasting, etc). Finding ways to help instill a sense of Baha’i identity into our children seems to start with making sure we focus on our own Bahá’i identity. They see that part of us and that becomes a part of their experience. Making sure that happens is where checking our daily priorities really comes into play.

Shoghi Effendi wrote “One thing and only one thing will unfailingly and alone secure the undoubted triumph of this sacred Cause, namely, the extent to which our own inner life and private character mirror forth in their manifold aspects the splendour of those eternal principles proclaimed by Bahá’u’lláh.” I have often thought of this quote in regard to how we guarantee our Faith expands, how those outside the Faith will see us… but in this context I am now reading it with the thought that our children must also see that transformation in us.

You can connect with HearTheWritings on Facebook and Twitter.

HearTheWritings.com has agreed to give away 5 copies of their most recent releases in audio CD format to several of our lucky readers!

Please note the deadline for this competition is passed.

Congratulations to the winners, who were chosen randomly:

  1. ViviAnne Fischer
  2. Negar Ayoubzadeh
  3. Katie Esquivel
  4. Cindy Opong
  5. Honey Narasiah

Everyone who:

(1) ‘Likes’ this post (click the like button below) AND

(2) Adds a comment on this post about how they could use Baha’i audio books with their families or in their homes AND

(3) ‘Likes’ Enable Me To Grow on Facebook (http://facebook.com/enablemetogrow)

over the next 7 days will be entered into a random drawing to win a free Audio CD Set of Tablets of The Divine Plan revealed by Abdu’l-Bahá AND The Advent of Divine Justice by Shoghi Effendi!

The contest ends at 12 midnight EST (Eastern Standard Time) on Wednesday 14 November.  The 5 winners will then be drawn at random and the CDs will ship out to them.

If you have any questions about the drawing, feel free to ask in the comments below.

Please note the deadline for this competition is passed.

Be Sociable, Share!

46 Comments

  1. Many times I need to read the printed word as well as hear it spoken, to be able to gain understanding when it comes to indepth and detailed information. HearTheWritings provides an excellent resource for me to be able to gain as much as possible from the Ridvan Message :-) Thank you!

  2. We travel to see our in-laws quite often so I can totally see this time (about 1.5 hours) being used for something uplifting like expanding our understanding of the Faith. What a great service you are doing!

  3. We travel to see our in-laws quite often so I can totally see this time (about 1.5 hours) being used for something uplifting like expanding our understanding of the Faith. What a great service you are doing!

  4. Wonderful interview!  I used to listen to a lot of audiobooks in the car, so I would love something like this.  A lot of times I listen to my iPod after my son goes to sleep.  It would also be great for car trips!

  5. Great interview on a wonderful resource!

  6. These audio books are an excellent idea!  As a mother of 3 my only quiet time is often when the children are napping in the car on the way to and from somewhere, so being able to hear the writings in the car would be great for me. I also think playing small portions during the children’s morning prayer and reading time would be a nice addition. I often think listening to the readings as I go to sleep would be good, as I often memorise things well through hearing them as I am resting in bed. Jo xx

  7. This would be great for the bus commute now that it is too cold to bike! Much more inspiring than most anything else you could listen to :o)

  8. I would love to have this to listen to while up in the middle of the night with my wee one. I have three kids so my hands are usually full! Thank you for creating an audio version! I hope there will be more to come.

  9. Such a wonderful project! I have two young children and rarely have the time to do all the reading that I would like. I have been listening to some of the audio from hearthewritings while I'm cleaning and doing work around the house during my kids nap times. Thank you!

  10. Hear the Writings is such a great idea – especially for busy parents. I would listen to it while my son sleeps in the day (2 hours), while I prepare dinner and on my iPod when I’m cycling or walking. Thanks for the great interview! 
     

  11. I’ve been wanting to look for something like this for a long time – I’m in the car a lot (everything in the US is at least 15 minutes away!) and so there are days when, if added up, I’m spending 2 hours with my little son in the car, so much time I can use to study – especially since in Ruhi 8 we were just asked to make a study plan for ourselves to delve into the writings and I’ve been thinking: yea… but when take time (and energy) to read… :)

  12. These resources would be fantastic for study classes. Nice to hear the text read in one clear, consistent voice.  So excited to learn of this resource!

  13. I love the idea of the writings being once again turned into audio. I have listened to some of them from another site, I think British?, but they sound a bit strange with the way they are being read out. I learn a lot more easily through audible methods, so this is perfect for me to be able to walk, exercise, drive, create my artwork, do my housework and garden to! :)

  14. Such an invaluable resource! I have listened to a few of the messages a number of times thanks to Hearthewritings.com. Thank you for deepening the community. 
     

  15. I love this! Over the past year I’ve been enjoying listening to The Journey West podcasts about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s travels in the West during my subway commute. I look forward to expanding my subway audio meditations via Hearthewritings.com 

  16. I would love to be able to share this with my 5 year old daughter and my wife, both of whom are not Baha’i, to help them learn why I love being a Baha’i.

  17. This is a wonderful concept. I definitely see me using these audio books with my pre-teen children while we're in the car driving. They're captive audiences!

  18. We travel quite frequently and like to listen to talks in the car. Your audiobooks would be another great way to use this time!

  19. Thank you thank thou thank you for doing this! I am so excited that professional quality audio materials are emerging through the loving service of souls like you who have worked tireless and pasisonately on these projects- the fruits of which will be of tremendous benefit specially for busy parents like us! I for one, feel like I have not been able to stay as well connected with the Writings and the messages from the Universal House of Justice as my life is incredibly over-booked with 3 young children and 2 full-time working parents. I have to do quite a bit of commuting, and these are the rare alone moments in my day- how great would it be to.
    use that time to get re-charged spiritually! Looking forward to experiencing your audio projects!

    • Negar I listen to the Advent of Divine Justice and Gleanings at work all the time. I love it. What great way to stay connected to Baha'u'llah.

  20. I could definitely put to use this way of studying the writings.  The first way that comes to mind is being able to listen to them while I am nursing my newborn.  Certainly a better way of spending that time than just sitting, or watching tv!

  21. always looking for audio books and music to excercise my mind as I do trivial housework tasks.

  22. These would be so useful to share with my many friends who learn primarily by listening rather than by reading!

  23. I realize how little I've been able to study or even read recent guidance for the exact reason John's wife has been unable. With smart technology all around us, we just need to find that quiet time during the day ( I know they're there :) and just press play. Being a mother I can't let motherhood be my excuse for lagging behind bit should be my motivation

  24. In our small Baha’i community we have an ongoing deepening on the writings of Shoghi Effendi, and I’m sure everyone would love being able to take advantage of the audio version of The Advent of Divine Justice.  I have owned the book for many years and have never managed to get through all of it while sitting down to read.  We are also taking Ruhi Book 8 on the Covenant and learning so much about ‘Abdu’l-Baha, the Center of the Covenant.  So the audiobook on Tablets of the Divine Plan could be shared with the friends there as well!  I’m so happy to have learned about hearthewritings and can’t wait to browse your site.  Thank you for the wonderful service you are rendering to our beloved Cause!

  25. I drive 45 minutes to work each morning and again home in the evening with my teenage daughter (I work at her school). Listening to the writings would be an awesome use of this time and would help to keep me awake during heavy traffic traveling home through the streets of Beijing.

  26. Audio books and recording of talks on various subjects are great! I find it much better than reading actual books because it can be done any time and I find it relaxing. Especially with Bahai books I love to have them with me everywhere because I never have enough time in the morning to read the Scriptures and listening to it on the way to school in the morning is the perfect way to start my day. And of course I listen to it throughout the day whenever there is chance.

  27. The spoken word has such a profound effect on me, that I prefer listening to the Writings over reading them myself. This will definitely help as I strive to intone the verses on a daily basis.

  28. It doesn’t matter if I win or not the contest :) I think you are doing a great job. When I read your interview, I thought, those people who cannot read, have problems with reading, have a great way to stay connected to the Holy Writings and get spiritual strength regularly.  I would like to give a try with my daughter who is almost 3 years old and when she is about to sleep to listen to the audio Writings. I am sure it will be a great thing for both of us. Good luck to you and your beautiful family!

  29. Thanks for sharing this wonderful resource, useful in varying one’s means of assimilating the messages (as against reading/discussing them)!

  30. I think listening as you read really helps to focus the mind as you study.

  31. I am so grateful for the many Baha’is who are resourceful, creative and getting things done in the world that are of such benefit to so many. HeartheWritings is a wonderful tool!

  32. Absolutely genius! I think this is a great solution to the issue of having limited “free time” in the United States culture. However, as was stated in the article, while free time to read books may not be super available, most people do have time where they could be listening. I’ll definitely be taking advantage of the audio books! Oh, and just for the record, I “liked” this article, and your page! :) http://www.facebook.com/colby.jeffers

  33. What an incredible service!  We drive across country during the summer to visit our grown children, and this will be a wonderful way to study the Writings during those long days behind the wheel!

  34. perfect for a long lonely car trip for work every first Friday of the month down to College Station!

  35. perfect for a long lonely car trip for work every first Friday of the month down to College Station!

  36. This is a great idea! I would love to get these CDs. This is a great way to listen to the Writings no matter where you are.

  37. What a wonderful resource! We listen to audiobooks in the car all the time with our three homeschooled sons and would definitely use this. And how wonderful that you are thinking of adding books geared for children. Thank you, Jon, for your incredible work, & Chelsea, for featuring HTW!
    Comment

  38. Swati and I have listened to several of HTW's recordings on our long commutes, and greatly appreciate their high quality. With Diwali, Thanksgiving, and Christmas either here or just around the corner, the opportunities to expose extended family to the beauty of the Writings makes makes the prospect of holiday long-hauls all the more exciting!

  39. As a busy WAH mother of 2, I rarely have time to sit and read! I love audio books so I can listen and learn while driving or working out. Awesome service for Baha'is!

  40. I really like the idea of listening as we drive, as a family we could all hear the guidance together:) What a wonderful idea this is!

  41. We have family gatherings every Sunday night and I think it would be really wonderful to have the Writings to share with the family audio style so we don’t all have to have the book in front of us.  We can listen, meditate and discuss afterwards.  Very excited about this!

  42. Hear The Writings is such a clever way of bringing the Word of God closer to our hearts in a simple and effortless way – especially in the modern-age hurried lifestyle, when we miss the quiet moment, just you and your book. Now it can be used at any “teachable moment”, especially if you are giving a ride to a non-Baha’i colleague from work every day and they start asking you questions about the Baha’i Faith, having listened with you all the talks! :)

  43. Thanks everyone for the comments!  It is the end of the drawing so there are no more entries however feel free to add  your comment still if you wish!  I will contact the 5 winners after they have been chosen!

  44. thank you so much for your service! i’m going to enjoy listening to the letters from the House of Justice… Really appreciated!

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. HearTheWritings Interviewed On EnableMeToGrow.com | Hear The Writings - […] are thrilled to share an interview we recently did with the amazing folks over at EnableMeToGrow.com. If you aren’t …

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>