239 Days in America, Day 57: June 06, 1912 | New York

Can You Paint Me in a Half Hour? 1

“YOU KNOW CHRIST DIDN’T look like a woman, the way all the pictures of Him look.” That was Juliet Thompson, talking to God, when she was just ten years old. “Please let me paint Him when I grow up as the King of Men.” She held onto this wish for the next twenty-six years.

Juliet lived, and wrote, with her heart on her sleeve. Her diary is filled with Biblical metaphors, capitalized pronouns, and a highly personal, poetic language which, while heartwarming, can also be off-putting if you don’t like that kind of thing. It is a diary, after all, not a newspaper, and it offers a unique insight into the kinds of close personal relationships ‘Abdu’l-Bahá formed with a handful of Americans — in this case an effusive, rising portrait artist from Greenwich Village.

Juliet traveled to ‘Akká to meet ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in 1909. But her first meeting with him dashed her hopes of ever painting the Christ. When ‘Abdu’l-Bahá walked into a room, she wrote, “His effulgence struck me blind.” “Could the sun with the whole universe full of its radiations, or endless flashes of lightning be captured in paint?” Besides, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá was adamant that he wasn’t Christ.

Then, the night before the SS Cedric docked in New York, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá cabled a message: “On My arrival in America Miss Juliet Thompson shall paint a wonderful portrait of Me.” (Those would be Juliet’s pronouns.) She described her “surprise and dismay, fear, joy and gratitude all mixed together” at hearing the news.

Thursday, June 6, 1912 2

In the morning, a group of the friends gathered in the Master’s residence. He spoke to them about the Unity Club’s children’s event, explaining divine education and morals. He then went to Mrs Newton’s home in Brooklyn. The servants of Abdu’l-Bahá were also invited to accompany Him for lunch at the home of Mrs Newton and Mrs Rivers.

Today a new guest came from the East to see the Master and to be in His presence, Mírzá ‘Alí-Akbar Nakhjavání. At the table the Master asked him about conditions in the East. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá gave a brief discourse at the table:

“Nothing in the world of existence is greater than such gatherings as these because they have been called solely for the love of God. Observe with what love people from the East are seated at the same table with people from the West. Such love and unity were previously impossible. The power of Bahá’u’lláh has created an affinity in these hearts and has drawn these souls under the canopy of one Word. No family ever gathers with such love and associates with such happiness and joy. It is through the divine power and through the potency of the Word of God that we are assembled here with such gladness and delight. We are turned towards the Abhá Kingdom and like the plants of the flower garden we are swayed by the breezes of His kindness and favor. Today is a day which shall never be forgotten, for we are under the shadow of the Blessed Beauty. Our hearts are joyous with His glad tidings; we breathe the fragrant breezes of the Abhá Kingdom; our ears are delighted with the divine summons, and our spirits are alive through heavenly bounties. Such a day shall never be forgotten.”

In the afternoon, after a short ride in the large public park of Brooklyn, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá returned to New York. A group of people had assembled at His residence to see Him. Saying that He wanted to be alone for awhile, He went to a small garden by the bank of the river near His residence. After a few minutes He returned and spoke to the friends of the heavenly melodies.

New York, Philadelphia, New York 3

On Thursday, June 6, one newspaper carried an article headed “Tracing Darrow Fund,” which described how the lawyer, Clarence Darrow, had been accused of jury bribing. Abdu’l-Bahá, in addition to speaking with the scores of people who surged to His home, took time for a ride in a public park in Brooklyn and a walk alone in the little garden near His home..

Talk at Church of the Ascension, Fifth Avenue and Tenth Street, New York, 02 June 1912 4

Question: Will you state the tenets of your faith?

Answer: First, investigate reality. Man must leave imitation and seek reality. The contemporaneous religious beliefs differ because of their allegiance to dogma. It is necessary, therefore, to abandon imitations and seek their fundamental reality.

Second, the oneness of humanity. All human creatures are the servants of God. All are submerged in the sea of His mercy. The Creator of all is one God; the Provider, the Giver, the Protector of all is one God. He is kind to all; why should we be unkind? All live beneath the shadow of His love; why should we hate each other? There are certain people who are ignorant; they must be educated. Some are like children; they must be trained and educated until they reach maturity. Others are sickly, intellectually ill, spiritually ill; they must be treated and healed. But all are the servants of God.

Third, religion must be conducive to love of all, the cause of fellowship, unity and light. If it be the cause of enmity, bloodshed and hatred, its nonbeing is better than its being, its nonexistence better than its existence. Religion and science conform and agree. If a question of religion violates reason and does not agree with science, it is imagination and not worthy of credence.

Fourth, equality between men and women. In all degrees they are equal. The readjustment of the economic laws for the livelihood of man must be effected in order that all humanity may live in the greatest happiness according to their respective degrees.

Fifth, spiritual brotherhood. All mankind must attain to spiritual fraternity—that is to say, fraternity in the Holy Spirit—for patriotic, racial and political fraternity are of no avail. Their results are meager; but divine fraternity, spiritual fraternity, is the cause of unity and amity among mankind. As heretofore material civilization has been extended, the divine civilization must now be promulgated. Until the two agree, real happiness among mankind will be unknown. By mere intellectual development and power of reason, man cannot attain to his fullest degree—that is to say, by means of intellect alone he cannot accomplish the progress effected by religion. For the philosophers of the past strove in vain to revivify the world of mankind through the intellectual faculty. The most of which they were capable was educating themselves and a limited number of disciples; they themselves have confessed failure. Therefore, the world of humanity must be confirmed by the breath of the Holy Spirit in order to receive universal education. Through the infusion of divine power all nations and peoples become quickened, and universal happiness is possible.

These are some of the principles of the Bahá’ís.

’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to It’s Spiritual Destiny

Mahmud: June 6 – The power of Bahá’u’lláh has created an affinity in the hearts of people from East and West

Celebrating the Centenary: The Master in America

Curated by Anne Perry

June 6, 1912

  1. Jones, Caitlin Shayda. “Can You Paint Me in a Half Hour?” 239 Days in America, 6 June 2012, https://239days.com/2012/06/06/can-you-paint-me-in-a-half-hour/.
  2. ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. 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=4#section74
  3. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 87.
  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, 169-170. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/12#954195323.

239 Days in America, Day 44: May 24, 1912 | Boston

The Invasion of the Easterners 1

THEY FIRST INVADED AMERICAN shores in 1883, when Protap Chunder Mozoomdar, a leader in the Brahmo Samaj, an offshoot of Hinduism in the Indian region of Bengal, traveled across America. Anagarika Dharmapala, a leader of Sinhalese Buddhist nationalism from Ceylon, had been in touch with Americans for many years before he was invited to represent “Southern Buddhism” at the World’s Parliament of Religions in Chicago. Then, in September, 1893, Swami Vivekananda, a young firebrand from the Advaita branch of Hinduism, wearing a red turban and bright orange robes, lit up the conference with his fiery oratory, in perfect, poetic English.

“After hearing him we feel how foolish it is to send missionaries to this learned nation,” the New York Herald wrote.

These eastern teachers were all from India, and Boston was kind to them. Sara Chapman Bull, of Brattle Street in Cambridge, became Vivekananda’s leading patron. And in Eliot, Maine, near Portsmouth, New Hampshire, Sarah J. Farmer provided a platform for them at Green Acre, her annual forum where she put the World’s Parliament of Religions on a permanent basis every summer. These were the men who offered American journalists the stereotypes that they would try to use to describe ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in 1912.

But these earlier speakers differed from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in several important ways…

New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts 2

On Friday, May 24, the inquirers and reporters visited Him until He went to Ford Hall in Boston and spoke to an audience of a thousand persons at the Free Religious Association of Unitarians. From there He drove to Brookline to speak and then back to the Boston hotel, Later He spoke for two hours at a meeting in the home of one of the friends.

The Boston Traveler that day included an article headed “Abdul Baha Has Creed He Declares Will Finally Eliminated Criminals.” It reported His saying, “’No, I do not believe in capital punishment… If the Bahai movement is widely successful it will hold such sway over the moral, intellectual and physical character of the race that there will not be a criminal to be found.’”

Friday, May 24, 1912 3

Both believers and non-Bahá’ís came in groups to visit the Master. Among them were journalists who asked various questions and received specific answers from ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. The Master had been invited to a conference sponsored by the Free Religious Association. He quickly left for the meeting at Ford Hall. More than a thousand people were in the audience. The subject of His talk was the unity of the teachings of the Messengers of God and the oneness of religions.

Because another lecturer had spoken just before the Master criticizing religion, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s talk seemed extraordinary and produced a great effect. The former speaker, a zealous minister, had announced that a false Christ, a denier of Christ, had come to America. But when the people heard the Master’s address establishing the truth of all the Prophets and especially that of Christ, they were surprised, astonished and extremely interested. Moreover, the dignity of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá as He left the meeting became a further cause of attracting the hearts. The members of the association, as well as the Association of Unitarians, had offered to pay the expenses of the Master’s journey but the offer was not accepted.

At the end of the conference, the chairman held the Master’s hand while the audience applauded. He expressed his gratitude and appreciation to the Master. As ‘Abdu’l-Bahá left the hall He bestowed His favors upon all. From that conference ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went to Brookline… A banquet was held in a magnificent palace surrounded by resplendent gardens, situated on the summit of a hill and overlooking a large lake, the beauty of which is beyond description. Here a great number of visitors came to see the Master. He was pleased with the meeting and the surroundings. After a delightful talk, attracting all to Him, He returned to Boston to accept a previous invitation. After an hour’s journey in an automobile especially sent for Him, He arrived at the hotel [the Boston Hotel ] for a brief rest. He then went to the meeting which was held at the home of Mrs Nichols, who had sent an automobile for Him. A group of learned and eminent philosophers was waiting for Abdu’l-Bahá to ask Him many important questions, the comprehensive answers to which impressed and satisfied all. The discussion lasted about two hours. Their hearts were transformed by His explanations about universal peace among nations, the equality of rights of men and women and the education of women. Then, after tea, punch and sweets, the meeting ended.

Talk at Religious Freedom Association, or Unitarian Conference, Boston, Massachusetts 4

Progress is of two kinds: material and spiritual. The former is attained through observation of the surrounding existence and constitutes the foundation of civilization. Spiritual progress is through the breaths of the Holy Spirit and is the awakening of the conscious soul of man to perceive the reality of Divinity. Material progress ensures the happiness of the human world. Spiritual progress ensures the happiness and eternal continuance of the soul. The Prophets of God have founded the laws of divine civilization. They have been the root and fundamental source of all knowledge. They have established the principles of human brotherhood, of fraternity, which is of various kinds—such as the fraternity of family, of race, of nation and of ethical motives. These forms of fraternity, these bonds of brotherhood, are merely temporal and transient in association. They do not ensure harmony and are usually productive of disagreement. They do not prevent warfare and strife; on the contrary, they are selfish, restricted and fruitful causes of enmity and hatred among mankind. The spiritual brotherhood which is enkindled and established through the breaths of the Holy Spirit unites nations and removes the cause of warfare and strife. It transforms mankind into one great family and establishes the foundations of the oneness of humanity. It promulgates the spirit of international agreement and ensures universal peace. Therefore, we must investigate the foundation of this heavenly fraternity. We must forsake all imitations and promote the reality of the divine teachings. In accordance with these principles and actions and by the assistance of the Holy Spirit, both material and spiritual happiness shall become realized. Until all nations and peoples become united by the bonds of the Holy Spirit in this real fraternity, until national and international prejudices are effaced in the reality of this spiritual brotherhood, true progress, prosperity and lasting happiness will not be attained by man. This is the century of new and universal nationhood. Sciences have advanced; industries have progressed; politics have been reformed; liberty has been proclaimed; justice is awakening. This is the century of motion, divine stimulus and accomplishment, the century of human solidarity and altruistic service, the century of universal peace and the reality of the divine Kingdom.

’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to It’s Spiritual Destiny

Mahmud: May 24 – The Master’s Talk won over the vast audience at Free Religious Association

  1. Menon, Jonathan. “The Invasion of the Easterners.” 239 Days in America, 24 May 2012, https://239days.com/2012/05/24/the-easterners-invade-new-england/.
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 72.
  3. ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. 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=3#n114.
  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, 142-143. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/10#571510216.

239 Days in America, Day 39: May 19, 1912 | New York

The Brotherhood Church of Howard Colby Ives 1

“IT WAS AN IMPRESSIVE, even to me a thrilling sight,” Howard Colby Ives later wrote, “when the majestic figure of the Master strode up the aisle of the Brotherhood Church.” It was Sunday, May 19, 1912.

Although Ives was employed as a Unitarian pastor in Summit, New Jersey, he had started the Brotherhood Church on his own. Every Sunday evening he held a service in the large hall at the Masonic Temple at Bergen and Fairview Avenues in Jersey City. On this evening, 500 people were waiting to hear ‘Abdu’l-Bahá.

Ives seated ‘Abdu’l-Bahá directly behind the pulpit and began an introduction. “You know something of his life probably,” Ives told the congregation. “He has spent over forty years in prison. . . . He comes out of this prison and steps into the great societies of Paris, London and America. He finds the world open to receive him. He comes with nothing to back him. He has no great letters of credit; he does not even speak our language.”

Five weeks before, Ives had stood amid 300 people wedged into a crowded home on West End Avenue in the Upper West Side, just a few hours after ‘Abdu’l-Bahá had arrived in America. All he could get that day were a few glimpses of the visitor. He peered over a shoulder and saw ‘Abdu’l-Bahá seated, wearing a cream-colored turban and a white oriental robe, and accepting a cup of tea. But what impressed him the most was the silence in the room.

It was something he often noticed around this visiting Persian. “I looked at this stillness, this quietude, this immeasurable calm in ‘Abdu’l-Bahá and it filled me with a restless longing akin to despair.” The pattern runs throughout his autobiography: the middle-aged clergyman thrown into turmoil as he contemplates the inscrutable serenity of the former prisoner.

He felt it again at the Brotherhood Church on May 19. After Ives’s introduction, ‘Abdu’l-Bahá took the pulpit. “Because this is called the Church of Brotherhood,” the Master began, “I wish to speak upon the brotherhood of mankind.”

Talk at Brotherhood Church , Bergen and Fairview Avenues, Jersey City, New Jersey 2

Because this is called the Church of Brotherhood, I wish to speak upon the brotherhood of mankind. There is perfect brotherhood underlying humanity, for all are servants of one God and belong to one family under the protection of divine providence. The bond of fraternity exists in humanity because all are intelligent beings created in the realm of evolutionary growth. There is brotherhood potential in humanity because all inhabit this earthly globe under the one canopy of heaven. There is brotherhood natal in mankind because all are elements of one human society subject to the necessity of agreement and cooperation. There is brotherhood intended in humanity because all are waves of one sea, leaves and fruit of one tree. This is physical fellowship which ensures material happiness in the human world. The stronger it becomes, the more will mankind advance and the circle of materiality be enlarged.

The real brotherhood is spiritual, for physical brotherhood is subject to separation. The wars of the outer world of existence separate humankind, but in the eternal world of spiritual brotherhood separation is unknown. Material or physical association is based upon earthly interests, but divine fellowship owes its existence to the breaths of the Holy Spirit. Spiritual brotherhood may be likened to the light, while the souls of humankind are as lanterns. The incandescent lamps here are many, yet the light is one.

New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts 3

‘Abdu’l-Bahá spoke on Sunday morning, May 19, at the Church of the Divine Paternity 4, where Dr. Frank Hall, the minister, noted in his introduction that “this teaching has the power to bring together men of all classes … to the Jew it sounds like Judaism; to the Christian, Christianity; to the Buddhist, Buddhism.” 5

Sunday, 19 May, 1912 6

The landlord [of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s] house had complained about the excessive comings and goings of the visitors, therefore the Master chose the house of Mr and Mrs Kinney for the gatherings of the friends. Among the new people visiting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá were some Jewish rabbis.

That evening ‘Abdu’l-Bahá went to the Brotherhood Church in New Jersey. At the opening of the service, Dr [Howard Colby] Ives, who was greatly respected and sincere, highly praised ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. He stated that this great teacher and proclaimer of the Cause of God, since His arrival in America, had stayed at the Hotel Ansonia and had not accepted any assistance from anyone, bearing all of His expenses personally. Indeed, He had even liberally contributed to institutions and churches serving the poor. When Dr Ives finished speaking on the bounties of the Cause of God and the majesty of God’s Covenant, the Master rose and delivered an address on spiritual brotherhood and the unity of the world of humanity. His talk increased the interest and yearning in the hearts of the listeners. Although all came to Him, one by one, to shake hands and depart, afterwards when He went into an inner room of the church, a crowd of people, after receiving permission, came to see Him and were delighted to hear the Master’s explanations in response to their questions. All offered Him thanks and praise.

’Abdu’l-Bahá in America, 1912-2012: Calling America to It’s Spiritual Destiny

Mahmud: May 19 — Dr. Howard Colby Ives Introduces ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to Congregation

  1. Sockett, Robert. “The Brotherhood Church of Howard Colby Ives.” 239 Days in America, May 19, 2012. https://239days.com/2012/05/19/the-truth-part-2/.
  2. 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, 129-130. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/9#458657664.
  3. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 70.
  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, 126-129. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/9#195141807.
  5. “Addresses Delivered by Abdu’l-Baha in New York City and Vicinity,” Star of the West, 3, no. 9 (Aug. 20 1912), 10.
  6. ’Abdu’l-Bahá, and Mirza Mahmud-i-Zarqani. 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=3#section56.