I have just finished reading Kevin Beint’s Spiritual Destiny of the English Language. It successfully combines an overview of the history of the English language with a history of the important part English played in the development of the Bahá’í Faith.
All this is achieved in an accessible style. He unpacks, amongst other things, the importance of metaphor, with its ‘layers of meanings’ (page 25), to the conveyance of spiritual truths, the under-rated contribution of women in the development of English literature and the gradual emergence of African American voices. He traces the rise of English to its present status as the second language of a significant proportion of the world’s population. He acknowledges that this could change but feels (page 76) that ‘[t]o make sense of the current world and derive solutions to its many challenges it presumably helps greatly if the language used is one that through experience has absorbed and acquired sufficient vocabulary, concepts and flexibility to serve this need. Language can, indeed, be a servant to change. It can be argued that in the last two hundred years English has provided that service like no other language.’
He then moves to exploring how, through the efforts of the Guardian of the Bahá’í Faith with the help of certain key figures such as Lady Blomfield, Ethel Rosenberg, George Townsend and John Esslemont, English became the means of making key texts of Bahá’í Scripture accessible to the Western world and beyond. English facilitated their translation into many other languages over time.
In addition, during his Ministry as Guardian, oceans of guidance in English poured from Shoghi Effendi’s pen, all of which helped believers across the world begin to lay the all-important foundations of the Bahá’í administrative order. His key work on the history of the Bahá’í Faith, ‘God Passes By, was written in English. Kevin concludes (page 165): ‘. . . .it would seem that English was, like no other language of the time, at the service of Bahá’u’lláh. A ‘spiritual’ service that, as a result of the breadth of its literature and its turbulent religious and political history, interwoven with reform in the world, was its destiny.’
For anyone interested in either of these aspects, this book is well worth exploring. The book is self-published and anyone interested in buying it should contact Kevin on his LinkedIn page at the following link or via his blog. The proceeds of the sale will go to fund work currently in progress to enhance and maintain the site of the Resting Place of Shoghi Effendi. The cost of the book is £10 with total proceeds to go to the Guardian’s Resting Place Endowment Fund. If you wish to order directly in the UK, the book is available from Kevin Beint, 50 Laureston Drive Leicester LE2 2AQ. Cheques should be made out for £12 to cover £2 for P&P.