The Truth for Which Men Ought to Die 1

IN THE CLOSING MONTHS of 1911, Howard Colby Ives paused at a small book stall in Manhattan and looked upon the face of a man who would reorder the whole course of his life.

Ives was a Unitarian minister whose life had been a protracted, and often desperate, struggle for spiritual meaning. He was a voracious reader of weighty tomes on theology, philosophy, and social thought, but on this day he picked up the December issue of Everybody’s Magazine. On page 775, amid leaves of advertisements for Waverly electric cars and AutoStrop safety razors, he read a story about the birth of a new religion.

“My life divides itself, in retrospect, sharply in two,” Ives later wrote. The years before he met ‘Abdu’l-Bahá he defined as “forty-six years of gestation.” His autobiography, Portals to Freedom, casts aside these nearly five decades in a few short paragraphs.

New York, New Jersey, Massachusetts 2

‘On Saturday the talks and interviews continued all day long. Dr. Bagdadi recalled, “…He used to take a walk in the park along Riverside Drive. Often He went alone, and, knowing that the friends would like to accompany Him, He said, ‘I sleep on the grass. I come out of fatigue. My mind rests. But when I am not alone, surely I talk, and treat of body and mind cannot be gained.’” 3

 The power of the Holy Spirit 4

Among those visiting ‘Abdu’l-Bahá were some New York clergymen. One of them, Dr John H. Randall, while the Master and His retinue had been absent, had spoken to his congregation about the life and teachings of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá. He expressed the hope that he would follow in the footsteps of the Master. So effective was his talk that many of his listeners burst into tears. He came with great humility to ask ‘Abdu’l-Bahá to deliver an address in his church. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá replied that since He had been invited to speak that week at several gatherings in Boston, He was not able to accept the invitation until after He returned.

  1. Sockett, Robert. “The Truth For Which Men Ought To Die.” 239 Days in America, May 18, 2012. [return]
  2. Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 70. [return]
  3. Zia Bagdadi, “‘Abdu’l-Bahá in America,” Star of the West, 19, no. 6 (Sept. 1928), 182. [return]
  4. ’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. []. [return]