Bahai, The Spirit of the Age.
By Horace Holley. pp. 211. Price $2.50.
Brentano's. New York, 1921. [online here
We are faced on the cover of the book with this sweeping assertion;
"Progressive people of all types and classes recognize the Bahai Movement as the long-awaited World Religion." The truth of this statement
depends wholly on the definition of "progressive people." If the comparatively few ill-balanced Americans and Europeans who have become
the followers of Abdul Baha are the progressives, then and only then is
the declaration true. Such exaggerated assertions as this are the Bahais'
chief stock in trade from Teheran to San Francisco; and this book in
this particular is a sample of all Bahai literature. Let us give one example.
Speaking of the Bab, the so-called forerunner of Baha'o'llah, (to use
the orthography of the book), as "the first of the three Cosmic Points,
which determines the plain of reality" (whatever that may mean), the
author launches out into this magnificent claim. "To that Point converged the History of all peoples, the progress of all nations. For this
Point Paul became a witness. For this Point Plato became a witness.
For this Point the pyramids were measured; the Zodiac hung to girdle
time ...... Of this Point Buddha meditated under the tree of Spiritual
wisdom. Before the emanation of this Point, History was naught but unintelligible chaos, without being, without ending, without purpose, without progress, without form save only as a secret to a few." And all this
we are asked to take on the word of — whom? The principle is a simple
one. If you will only speak confidently, earnestly and insistently enough
some one will believe you, no matter what your claim.
This book also illustrates a second characteristic of all Bahai propaganda, — a cool indifference to facts, or to speak more frankly, a deliberate misstatement of facts. Of this too we can give but one example.
We are told that Baha'o'llah was "a forty years' prisoner in a vile
Turkish dungeon." The facts are these. For two years he was confined in barracks at Acca; he was restricted to his own home for nine
more years; and for the rest of the time until his death he lived in a
palatial residence, called Bahja, which he built for himself outside of
Acca. In this period he had the freedom of the country, and was in no
sense confined. These facts have been so often pointed out that the misstatement we fear is deliberately put forth to win the undeserved sympathy of the uninformed.
A third characteristic of Bahai literature seen in this book to perfection, although we believe the author is a son of the West rather than of the East, is the absurdly mystic and meaningless phraseology with which
its thought is clothed and concealed. The Truth, which is to enlighten
the world is nothing but a fog, the Water of Life is as unfit to satisfy the
thirsty soul as a mirage in the desert.
The greater part of the book is given to the attempted illucidation of
the "Cosmic Trinity." Truth, Will and Love, which are manifested in
the three Points that fix the Plain of Reality, — the Bab, Baha'o'llah and
Abdul Baha; and to Bahai messages to Christianity, Judaism, Science,
Politics, Christian Science, New Thought and Theosophy. The message to Christianity is a brazen effort to arrogate to Baha'o'llah the
prophecies of the Old Testament regarding Christ, (such as Isa. 9:6;
11:1-4; 35: 1, 2), and many passages in the New Testament, which
are allegorized without rhyme or reason. The opening sentence of
this chapter is "Nowhere in the world today is such reverence paid
to Christ, such devotion felt for the spirit of Christ, such fidelity of
thought and action rendered the teachings of Christ as among the followers of Abdul Baha." This is palpably untrue, when we remember
that to the Bahai, Christ is a back number, his teachings out of date,
and his claim to be "the way, the truth and life" superseded.
We wonder that any one can read this book without realizing that
Bahaism has to offer the hungry soul nothing but a stone.
Robert M. Labaree
2. Page scans