Stories about 'Abdu'l-Bahá

Juliet: June 2 — What can the Orient bring to the Occident?

The Diary of Juliet Thompson
June 2, 1912
Dr. Grant's Forum New York, NY

On the second of June He spoke for Dr. Grant’s Forum. And there He was simpler; He manifested less, or perhaps I should say manifested something different: a sort of brotherhood to the masses, still retaining His grandeur. And how He addressed Himself to that meeting and to the heart of Percy Grant!

The subject was: “What can the Orient bring to the Occident?”

That subject in that church!

Lua and I were in a front pew with Valiyu’llah Khan and Mirza Mahmud. Suddenly I was petrified to see Mason Remey coming in, through the door of the vestry-room. When he was last in the Church of the Ascension I was sitting beside him, engaged to him, while Percy thundered at me from the pulpit. The text of the sermon that Sunday was the same as the text today: “What can the Orient bring to the Occident.” “Nothing but disease and death,” said Percy, his eyes on me, “and God wants us to live; He wants us to live.”

But the Speaker this time was the Master. He said: “The Orient brings to the Occident the Manifestations of God.”

Then He defined the Church as that Collective Centre which, attracting many diverse elements, united them into one ordered system, adding that the Church was but a reflection of the real Collective Centre, the Shepherd, Who, whenever His sheep became scattered, reappeared to unite them. So the Church, established by God’s Manifestation, was the Law of God, and when Christ said to Peter, “On thee will I build My Church,” He meant He would build His Law upon Peter. Upon him Christ built the Law of God by which all peoples and creeds were afterward unified.

The Master had said it again to Percy Grant: “Be thou like Peter,” for this was His message sent by me last summer.

When, at the end of the marvellous address, Percy stepped out into the chancel, it was another man I saw: a man touched by the Hand of God, shaken to the very roots of his being. As Marjorie said, he looked ill and strangely upset. He could scarcely articulate.

The questions followed; it is the custom of the Forum to ask questions. In the centre of the chancel sat the Master, Dr. Grant on His right in a choirstall, Dr. Farid behind Him. How at home the Master looked there! He pushed back His turban and smiled as He answered, often very wittily. Once He raised one finger high. I caught my breath then. He was like Jesus in the synagogue confronting the scribes and Pharisees, except that His audience weren’t Pharisees.