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Elbert Hubbard was a prolific writer of the early twentieth century. He was a major figure in the Arts and Crafts movement having establish a hand crafted publishing house called Roycrofters, famous for beautiful, illuminated limited edition volumes, bound in leather.
His book “Hollyhocks and Goldenglow” is a collection of essays on topics from the Titanic to Abdul Baha. (I recently made an entry on the Talisman9 discussion forum about this and what follows was drawn from that post.)He writes movingly about the Titanic recounting the bravery, loyalty and love of Mrs. Straus who refused to leave her husband for a life boat. Ironically Hubbard and his wife, Alice perished three years later aboard the Lusitania. Survivors told stories of their courage, matching the characteristics of Mrs. Straus.
There is also an essay about Abdul Baha entitled “A Modern Prophet.” The first sentence reads “A very great man has recently visited America.” It continues: “So out of Persia comes Abdul Baha, who calls himself “The Servant of God.” His followers are called Bahais. This man has diverted one-third of the population of Persia from Mohammedanism. …. This man is the modern Messiah.”
I find this essay an engrossing report by a non-Baha’i. Particularly interesting is this:
“Christian Science interests Abdul Baha greatly. It is somewhat humiliating thing for us when we think that this new American religion was never heard of by Abdul Baha until recently. Now he has practically embraced it. He says it represents one arc of the great circle of truth, and that if he had learned nothing else from his trip to America but the truths of Christian Science, he would be amply repaid.He says he comes more as a learner than a teacher. Nevertheless, he is obliged to give out the light that has been given to him. He keeps the good by giving it away.He quotes Ralph Waldo Emerson freely, delights in Walt Whitman, and loves the memory of Tolstoy, and is on terms of great tenderness toward every good and noble thing that makes for human betterment.No man of recent times has shown such a magnificent affirmative spirit as this Abdul Baha.”
Hubbard was a prolific writer who is not very well known today — not the household word one might think he would be. (The exception might be his “Message to Garcia” that I believe was read in grade or high schools years ago.)His contemporaneous account of Abdul Baha’s visit is precious I think. There may be errors in the essay but it rings true. He doesn’t say that he met Abdul Baha but I think he must have. Does anyone have knowledge of this possible meeting? I find the comments about Christian Science, Emerson and Whitman intriguing and perfectly consistent with my mental and emotional image of Abdul Baha and his approach to life.The book is available as a reprint or as an antique in its original leather bound form if you can find it.I love the idea that Abdul Baha quoted Emerson and loved Whitman but this is the only reference to that I know of. I think many Baha’is would reject the idea. If you are a Baha’i what do you think? And please let me know of other references like this that you are aware of.Many thanks,Frank
(Photo of Gandhi statue in New York’s Union Square)
Faith is defined in many ways but Gandhi put it this way:
“Faith is putting your foot on the first rung of a ladder when you don’t know where it leads.”
I think belief requires more evidence. It requires knowledge, whereas faith results from the sum of many things — emotion, experience, gut feel, desire, hope — adding up to a decision to put your foot on that rung of that particular ladder.
Belief is somewhere between knowledge and faith. Yet Abdul Baha (son of Baha’ullah, founder of the Baha’i faith) said that
“Faith is conscious knowledge.”
Knowledge to belief to Faith? Does it work that way? Or must faith be a leap?
I think we require all three to live a happy, useful life. Some people focus on one or another. Intellectuals want knowledge so they can formulate beliefs. Religious people tend to have faith — sometimes for reasons they can’t articulate. Many of us have weakly defined beliefs that may inform decisions such as who to vote for but often beliefs, by themselves don’t result in action.
If you believe in God do you act as if you had faith in God? Do you really trust in God? You know God — the creator of heaven and earth who we can’t see, never meet and who seems indifferent to human suffering. Or do you define God differently? Do you have knowledge of God if you believe in God? If so how have you achieved this?
(To help answer this question, I recommend Tolstoy’s book “The Kingdom of God is Within You.” It will test your understanding of belief and faith in God.)
The longer I live the more I have faith in people. Emerson wrote that God was an Over-Soul — near as I can tell this is a collective made up of the souls of all people. To me this is another way of saying that man created God, but not as a fiction.
I am starting to believe this but don’t yet have faith in it because I don’t have enough knowledge.
Know what I mean?