239 Days in America, Day 12: April 22, 1912 | Washington, DC

Even Though the World Should Go to Smash 1

Louis Gregory first learned of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in late 1907 from a colleague – a cultivated, southern white gentleman who shared his office at the Treasury Department. Gregory attended a discussion with Bahá’ís at the old Corcoran building as a favor to him. He was not interested in religion. Earlier in his life he “had been seeking,” he said, “but not finding truth, had given up.”

Yet as he heard more about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and this new faith, Louis Gregory came to believe he had found the divine reply to the prayer [W. E. B.] Du Bois had written after the Atlanta Riot, “in the Day of Death, 1906” 2:

“Bewildered we are, and passion-tost, mad with the madness of a mobbed and mocked and murdered people; straining at the armposts of Thy Throne, we raise our shackled hands and charge Thee, God, by the bones of our stolen fathers, by the tears of our dead mothers, by the very blood of Thy crucified Christ: What meaneth this? Tell us the Plan; give us the Sign!

Keep not thou silence, O God!”

“Heaven and Earth heard that piercing cry,” wrote Louis Gregory in a 1936 review of Du Bois’s Black Reconstruction, “uttered by one, echoed by millions.” “Earth and Heaven answered.” After investigating the new religion for eighteen months, Louis Gregory became a Bahá’í in June, 1909.

Washington D. C. 3

Every afternoon at 5:00 P.M., from Monday through Friday, receptions were held at the Parsons’ home, to which hundreds of Washington diplomats, scientists, and socially prominent persons came. On Monday, April 22, to the dignitaries, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá explained:

“Some movements appear, manifest a brief period of activity, then discontinue. Others show forth a greater measure of growth and strength, but before attaining mature development, weaken, disintegrate and are lost in oblivion… There is still another kind of movement or cause which from a very small, inconspicuous beginning goes forward with sure and steady progress, gradually broadening and widening until it has assumed universal dimensions. The Bahai movement is of this nature.” 4

Talk at Home of Mr. and Mrs. Arthur J. Parsons, 1700 Eighteenth Street, NW, Washington, D.C.

For instance, when Bahá’u’lláh was exiled from Persia with ‘Abdu’l‑Bahá and the rest of His family, they traveled the long road from Ṭihrán to Baghdád, passing through many towns and villages. During the whole of that journey and distance they did not meet a single believer in the Cause for which they had been banished. At that time very little was known about it in any part of the world. Even in Baghdád there was but one believer who had been taught by Bahá’u’lláh Himself in Persia. Later on, two or three others appeared. You will see, therefore, that at the beginning the Cause of Bahá’u’lláh was almost unknown, but on account of being a divine Movement it grew and developed with irresistible spiritual power until in this day, wherever you travel—East or West—and in whatever country you journey, you will meet Bahá’í assemblies and institutions. This is an evidence that the Bahá’ís are spreading the blessings of unity and progressive development throughout the world under the direction of divine guidance and purpose, while other movements which are only temporary in their activities and accomplishments have no real, universal significance. 5

Monday, April 22, 1912

A meeting was held with the Bahá’ís. When the Master arrived, the friends greeted Him with poems and songs written in His praise. He spoke about the events during His long travels, the union of peoples from the East and the West, the greatness of this century and the appearance of the Greatest Name. He concluded the meeting by chanting a beautiful and moving prayer. The friends rushed to His side; one shaking His hand, another holding onto the hem of His robe and yet another with tears of joy and in the utmost happiness. When the Master left the gathering, the friends lined up in two rows as He passed through their midst. He approached His automobile and again the friends rushed towards Him like moths circling around the candle of the Covenant.

In the afternoon, the Master spoke at another gathering about the sinking of the Titanic. He prayed for the souls of the passengers and expressed His condolences to their survivors. In the evening, Mrs Parsons held a dinner in His honor to which all the friends were invited. At the table, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá said:

“Consider the confirmations of the Blessed Beauty, what He has done, how He has brought us to the house of such a personage, who in the utmost love has prepared such a feast in our honor. The power and influence of the Word of God have united the East and the West! How perfect are His heavenly favors and how all-embracing His divine bounties!” 6

  1. Menon, Jonathan. “Even Though the World Should Go to Smash.” 239 Days in America, April 22, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/04/22/even-though-the-world-should-go-to-smash/.
  2. Du Bois, W.E.B. “A Litany of Atlanta (1906).” Oxford African American Studies Center, September 30, 2013. https://oxfordaasc.com/view/10.1093/acref/9780195301731.001.0001/acref-9780195301731-e-34113.
  3. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 39-40.
  4. ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 43-44. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/3#960003920
  5. ʻAbduʼl-Bahá. The Promulgation of Universal Peace: Talks Delivered by ʻAbduʼl-Bahá during His Visit to the United States and Canada in 1912. Edited by Howard MacNutt. 2nd ed. Wilmette, Ill: Baháʼí Publishing Trust, 1982, 44. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/3#804094876.
  6. Mahmud-i-Zarqani, Mirza. Mahmúd’s Diary: The Diary of Mírzá Mahmúd-i-Zarqání Chronicling ’Abdu’l-Bahá’s Journey to America. Edited by Shirley Macias. Translated by Mohi Sobhani. Oxford: George Ronald, 1998. https://bahai-library.com/zarqani_mahmuds_diary&chapter=2#section29

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