Book Reviews of Created Rich.

1. "A few issues ago in Deepen there was an article referring to the subject of objectivity in scholarship as being a 'Holy Grail', a precious thing earnestly striven for yet illusive. Created Rich, by Patrick Barker, proved to be a Holy Grail in two ways. After an adulthood of arduous search, this writer found in Created Rich a spiritually and practically appropriate attitude toward wealth. Yet, as far as objectivity is concerned, this review could be a mere three words: Buy this book. Buy it now. For yourself. For your friends. For your Local Spiritual Assembly. This is the timeliest book in the marketplace both for individual financial well-being and for the long-term prosperity of the Baha'i community.

"The subtitle of Created Rich is How Spiritual Attitudes and Material Means Work Together to Achieve Prosperity. Now, why should Baha'is be concerned about prosperity? What about sacrifice? Shouldn't we be giving our all for the Faith? Isn't it meritorious to empty our piggy banks, savings accounts, and local center fund bank accounts and send the money off to Haifa for the Arc? Well, yes. And no. As Patrick Barker puts it so compellingly, 'If we confuse materialism with material means, we cannot adequately understand the significance of our work being elevated to the level of worship; if we denounce prosperity in favor of poverty, we cannot enjoy the bounties provided by a loving Creator and, worse still, we ridicule the sufferings of the Manifestations of God, whose sacrifices have opened the door to man's spiritual as well as physical well-being. By coming face-to-face with our innermost feelings concerning money, we can deduce our true attitude toward wealth and its acquisition. Pursuing financial independence means forsaking all negative attitudes concerning money and developing a purity of motive regarding its acquisition.'

"Those are weighty thoughts. Heavier still may be the hearts and minds of those who ponder them and come up at the end with questions, all variations of the theme: How? Although initially they lay on a mighty load, Mr. Barker takes it off us by arranging the book into three manageable, easily understood sections, fully supported by numerous relevant quotations from the Baha'i writings.

"The first part discusses spiritual philosophy supporting the acquisition of wealth, spiritual components of prosperity, attitudes associated with prosperity and poverty, the difference between material means and materialism, and the need to obey the law of Huququ'llah and give to the funds of the Faith. The second part examines requirements for achieving wealth, shows the value of investing in the future and the prerequisites for providing for one's family, and describes a surprisingly simple mathematical technique for increasing wealth while setting and reaching achievable prosperity goals. Finally, the third part outlines specific steps as the practical principles needed for acquiring wealth. Mastery of these principles lead steadily and realistically toward wealth. Mr. Barker foresees that 'How we utilize this new-found prosperity in conjunction with the teachings of Baha'u'llah will have a great influence on how rapidly and successfully the New World Order is implemented throughout the planet'. And that, friends, is the bottom line for us all.

"At the onset of the Four Year Plan, the Baha'is of the world have enormous tasks in front of them. In its December 31, 1995 letter the Universal House of Justice stated, 'The Four Year Plan will aim at one major accomplishment: a significant advance in the process of entry by troops.' The House expects 'marked progress in the activity and development of the individual believer, of the institutions, and of the local community' advising that '[k]een attention to all three will ensure a greatly expanded, visibly united, vibrant and cohesive international community by the end of the twentieth century....' Among the steps toward fulfillment of these expectations is 'a vitality of the faith of each believer that is expressed through personal initiative and constancy in teaching the Cause to others, and through conscientious, individual effort to provide energy and resources to upbuild the community, to uphold the authority of its institutions, and to support local and regional plans and teaching projects.'

"Implicit in this mandate is the need for vastly increased material means to bring the goals of the Plan to fruition. Four years is not much time to build wealth, but it can be done. And, then again, there will be Plans after the Four Year Plan. The dawn of the Lesser Peace will bring untold challenges to us materially as well as spiritually. There simply is no time like the present to get our financial houses in order in anticipation of the great work before us. Individuals and Baha'i communities can find in Created Rich an excellent map for walking the spiritual pathway with practical feet." (Mary Louise Fairweather, Deepen Magazine, no. 11.)

2. "Patrick Barker's book Created Rich is a marvelous book which fills an important gap in Baha'i literature. It has come along at a time when the financial needs of the Baha'i institutions are critical, not only the need for sacrificial giving, but the need for financial abundance. The title is taken from Baha'u'llah's Hidden Words Arabic #13, 'O Son of Spirit! I created thee rich, why dost thou bring thyself down to poverty?' The uniqueness of this book lies in the fact that it is not only a thorough deepening on the spiritual meanings of wealth and detachment, but also that it offers a solid program for the application of spiritual qualities and financial common sense in our everyday lives.

"The first third of the book is devoted to the spiritual philosophy of wealth. Mr. Barker has done a very fine job of collecting and analyzing the Baha'i teachings on wealth and detachment in this part of the book. To his credit, he also assists the reader to abandon the false premise that material poverty is a superior spiritual condition. He clearly show the connection between the state of health of the individual's personal economy, and the resultant condition of the Baha'i Funds. The last chapter of Part One of the book is a dynamic discussion of the Baha'i laws of Huququ'llah and Zakat, and the Funds of the Faith.

"Part Two of the book does an outstanding job of explaining the consequences of typical financial choices. Mr. Barker explains compounding of interest, and the disastrous effects over a lifetime of credit card spending, delaying retirement investing, late payments to creditors, and using banks as one's primary tool for retirement savings. He unabashedly recommends commitment to wisely investing for one's retirement years. (A headline in today's newspaper, 'Medicare Faces Bankruptcy in year 2001' shows how timely this discussion is). But it is not only that one must plan ahead to avoid personal impoverishment in the future; the book points out that one's ability to serve the Cause in the future is directly linked to today's choices. For example, the book charts the consequence of foregoing certain purchases today, in order to invest for one's retirement years. Mr. Barker does an excellent job of showing the long-term effects of prudence in patterns of spending and investing. This part of the book also has features of a workbook, by assisting the reader to evaluate present net worth, as well as future needs for health, education, travel teaching, and retirement. It also helps the reader to make step by step plans for getting out of debt, and to once and for all abandon a debt-based lifestyle. Mr. Barker, who worked in the financial services industry, helps the reader to understand the different types of insurance, and the effects over time of purchasing whole life vs. term insurance. He explains basic principles of investing, and recommends mutual funds for long term purposes. This portion of the book has a powerful effect, by showing the economic difference between a life lived by going with the consumer crowd vs. applying spiritual principles and sound investment strategies.

"The last part of the book, 'Practical Principles', shows how every wage earner must plan ahead. By failing to develop large reserves of individual capital, Americans tend to eat their seed corn every year just to get by. This results in restrictions on the Funds of the Faith, as well. Mr. Barker contrasts typical spending patterns with Shoghi Effendi's wise stewardship of the Funds in construction of Baha'i edifices. For example, he quotes from a letter written on the Guardian's behalf: 'It is only through a wise economy, the elimination of non-essentials, concentration on essentials and a careful supervision, that the Guardian himself has been able to build the Shrine and the International Archives at the World Centre, and surround the Holy Places here by what appear in the eyes of the public to be lavish gardens, but are in reality the result of rigorous and economical planning.'

"Aside from books of Revelation, this book easily ranks among the top ten most influential books I have read. Application of its principles will have a dramatic impact on the general prosperity of the Baha'i community, a healthy and balanced attitude towards wealth and moderate living, and especially on the state of health of the Funds of the Baha'i Faith. The one subject I wish the book had addressed is Planned Giving tools for donations to the Funds of the Faith and the Arc. I recommend the book highly, for personal study and as a gift." (Brent Poirier, JD, Baha'i Justice Society Newsletter, vol. 9, no. 1 (June 1996)