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:
- ViviAnne Fischer
- Negar Ayoubzadeh
- Katie Esquivel
- Cindy Opong
- Honey Narasiah
(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/
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.