239 Days in America, Day 60: June 09, 1912 | Philadelphia
Acres of Diamonds 1
“IN THE ESTIMATION OF God all men are equal.” 2
‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s words at the Baptist Temple in Philadelphia on June 9, 1912, echoed the Declaration of Independence, conceived in that same city nearly a century-and-a-half before. ‘Abdu’l-Bahá explained that his father, Bahá’u’lláh, “taught that an equal standard of human rights must be recognized and adopted.”
It was something that the pastor at the Baptist Temple — Dr. Russell H. Conwell — had been practicing for over forty years. By the time ‘Abdu’l-Bahá visited Conwell’s church, it was surrounded by a university, and not one but three hospitals, all designed to uplift the community of Philadelphia.
Conwell first heard about ‘Abdu’l-Bahá during a visit to the Middle East. He later sent a cable to ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Egypt, inviting him to address his congregation. It wasn’t Conwell’s first trip to the Middle East. Forty years earlier he had gone as a journalist, a trip that set his life in motion …
Talk at Baptist Temple, Broad and Berks Streets, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania 3
I am greatly pleased to be present this evening. Truly this is a spiritual gathering. I perceive the fragrances of the heavenly Kingdom among you—devotion to God, sincere intention and spiritual love. Glad tidings!
From the time of the creation of Adam to this day there have been two pathways in the world of humanity: one the natural or materialistic, the other the religious or spiritual. The pathway of nature is the pathway of the animal realm. The animal acts in accordance with the requirements of nature, follows its own instincts and desires. Whatever its impulses and proclivities may be, it has the liberty to gratify them; yet it is a captive of nature. It cannot deviate in the least degree from the road nature has established. It is utterly lacking spiritual susceptibilities, ignorant of divine religion and without knowledge of the Kingdom of God. The animal possesses no power of ideation or conscious intelligence; it is a captive of the senses and deprived of that which lies beyond them. It is subject to what the eye sees, the ear hears, the nostrils sense, the taste detects and touch reveals. These sensations are acceptable and sufficient for the animal. But that which is beyond the range of the senses, that realm of phenomena through which the conscious pathway to the Kingdom of God leads, the world of spiritual susceptibilities and divine religion—of these the animal is completely unaware, for in its highest station it is a captive of nature …
New York, Philadelphia, New York 4
On Sunday morning, June 9, He [Abdu’l-Bahá ] drove to 15th Street and Girard Avenue where the Unitarian Church was located and told the congregation of some of the major Teachings of Bahá’u’lláh. In the afternoon He received visitors, including reporters, who came to His hotel rooms. That evening He spoke before the congregation of twenty-five hundred in the Baptist Temple, at Broad and Berks Streets. In His lengthy address He elaborated on nine of the principles of the Bahá’í Faith.
- Sockett, Robert. “Acres of Diamonds.” 239 Days in America, 9 June 2012, https://239days.com/2012/06/09/acres-of-diamonds/. [return]
- 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, 182. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/13#242057922. [return]
- 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, 170. https://www.bahai.org/library/authoritative-texts/abdul-baha/promulgation-universal-peace/12#110529474. [return]
- Ward, Allan L. 239 Days: ʻAbdu’l-Bahá’s Journey in America. Wilmette, Ill: Bahá’í Publishing Trust, 1979, 88. [return]