To suffuse the early part of the Bahá’í Fast (March 2–20) with spiritual and intellectual gifts, the Wilmette Institute has scheduled two Web Talks on two Hands of the Cause of God. Then as a late Naw-Rúz present, the Institute has rescheduled the talk on artist Mark Tobey for March 25.
MARCH 3: Mariette Leong, “Recollections of My Father, the Hand of the Cause of God Collis Featherstone.” On Saturday, March 3, 2018, at 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (6 p.m. PST), Mariette Leong will share “Recollections of My Father, the Hand of the Cause of God Collis Featherstone.” Mariette, one of Mr. Featherstone’s five children, will talk about her father’s life, his growing up in South Australia, his marriage to Madge Green, and their becoming Bahá’ís in 1944, immediately becoming actively involved in the growth and development of the Australian Bahá’í community. She will also discuss her father’s rearing a large family while managing a successful engineering business for many years. His appointment by Shoghi Effendi as Hand of the Cause of God in October 1957 brought more outstanding service to the Bahá’í Faith in Australia and through his international travels to many countries. He passed away in Kathmandu, Nepal, September 29, 1990. His wish was that he end his life in dedicated service to Bahá’u’lláh “with his boots on” and not in a rocking chair. Mariette Leong grew up in Adelaide, South Australia, and, with her older sister, attended the first South East Asian Regional Youth Conference in Malaysia in 1968, intending to travel on to India. However, both girls found and married husbands in Kuala Lumpur. In 1974 Mariette and her husband Ho-San Leong, pioneered to Papua New Guinea, where they lived for more than twenty-six years, with Mariette serving at one stage on the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of Papua New Guinea. She and her husband have now retired to Wollongong, two hours south of Sydney, Australia. They have five children, one a daughter adopted in Papau New Guinea, and nine grandchildren.MARCH 10: Mariette Leong, “Recollections of the Hand of the Cause of God Clara Dunn.” On Saturday, March 10, 2018, at 9 p.m. Eastern Standard Time (6 p.m. PST), Mariette Leong will give a second Web Talk entitled “Recollections of the Hand of the Cause of God Clara Dunn.” In her second Web Talk Mariette will trace the early life of Clara Dunn and how she met Henry Hyde Dunn (both from London) and learned about the Bahá’í Faith from him. When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s Tablets of the Divine Plan were presented in New York in 1919, the Dunns decided to pioneer to Australia with the blessing of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. Arriving in Sydney, Australia, on April 10, 1920, almost penniless, they persevered in their efforts to share the Bahá’í teachings with the people of the country and succeeded in establishing the Faith in Australia. Today they are affectionately remembered as Father and Mother Dunn, the spiritual conquerors of the continent. They are the only husband and wife that Shoghi Effendi appointed Hands of the Cause of God (Mother Dunn, in February 1952; Father Dunn, posthumously in April 1952). They are buried side by side. In 2020, the 100th year anniversary of their arrival in Australia, there will be celebrations and loving remembrances of two souls who sacrificed their lives in the promotion of the Faith of Bahá’u’lláh in their pioneering home and of the rich legacy they left behind. Mariette will discuss Father and Mother Dunn and share her remembrances of Mother Dunn from the time when she (and her four siblings) were growing up in South Australia and the lasting impressions Mother Dunn has made on her life to this day. MARCH 25: Robert Weinberg, “Mark Tobey and the Evolution of ‘White Writing.’” Anyone wishing to learn more about how the arts can contribute to the growth of the Bahá’í Faith and support a New World Order will want to reserve March 25, 2018. On that date, back at the usual time at the usual time (2 p.m. EST, 7 p.m. U.K.; 8 p.m. Western European), Robert Weinberg will discuss “The Awakening of Spirit: Mark Tobey and the Evolution of ‘White Writing.’” Weinberg, who holds two degrees in the visual arts and music and in art history, notes that Tobey, who became a Bahá’í in his late twenties, received “great acclaim in the middle decades of the twentieth century” for his distinctive approach to abstract painting.” An “inveterate experimenter and a foresighted world citizen,” Tobey’s “major contribution to modern art was his so-called ‘white writing’ style that emerged after decades of experimentation and deep reflection.” Robert will trace the “influences of Tobey’s development” to show that his “breakthrough was the result of a deep knowledge of the art of the past and diverse cultures, and his desire to convey Bahá’í spirituality through his work.” Robert feels that Tobey’s “influence on his contemporaries—ranging from Jackson Pollock to the St Ives school in Cornwall—has not yet been fully acknowledged.” You will also want to read Rob Stockman’s review (in the February issue of the Wilmette Institute eNewsletter) of an exhibit of Mark Tobey’s paintings at the Addison Gallery of American Art in Andover, Massachusetts, USA, running through March 11, 2018. Robert Weinberg has worked for three decades as radio journalist and producer, authored nine biographies about early British Bahá’ís, and served four years as Director of the Bahá’í International Community’s Office of Public Information in Haifa, Israel. He is currently the chair of the National Spiritual Assembly of the Bahá’ís of the United Kingdom.