Who was `Abdu'l-Bahá, and why did He come to the West?

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Responses to Luminous Journey

We have been rather overwhelmed by the messages that have poured in, in response to the release into the world of our film, Luminous Journey: 'Abdu'l-Bahá in America, 1912.  I will put some of these below, in case it will inspire anyone!


“We both think Luminous Journey is BEAUTIFULLY done and are learning so much about ‘Why Baha’i?’ from it!  It definitely conveys ‘Abdul’Bahá’s Mastery and Presence. I’m so proud to be a small part of this wonderful work coming into form!”  Carole Duncan

"With utmost joy, I received a copy of Luminous Journey today and my hands trembled with excitement as I loaded the disc in the DVD player. Oh! what an indescribable experience to watch this long awaited movie about ‘Abdul Bahá's travel to America. It was like I was travelling, too, with the Master and felt the excitement on His arrival in every city and the sadness when He left. The settings and costumes captured the spirit of the 1900s. The music and the narrations are superb. Thank you to all those who made the film Luminous Journey possible!"  Roland Maddela

Dearest Anne & Tim,
My community wants you both to know that we found the film to be exquisite. To a person, everyone was delighted with all aspects—the script, the pacing, the graphics, the charm and authenticity added by the period actors, the music, the production values, but mostly the dignity of the presentation and its focus on the Master and His words. When it was over, no one stirred—the credits were watched all the way through. You are both brilliant. We feel so honored to have seen it so early. Thank you. We are all excited about showing it at [the Minnesota] summer school.  Ann Jones Kazemzadeh

Dear Anne & Tim & colleagues,
You have done a truly MAGNIFICENT job on this film.  We especially appreciate that so many of the things we thought were "hearsay" are verifiable facts. Thank you so much for your work on this amazing film.  It is so good that you put it together while some of these buildings were still standing! With warmest Baha'i regards & love to all who worked on this remarkable film!  Mary (& Ken) Allen

“I treated myself to this lovely film over the Labor Day weekend. I was transported to that time and experienced what it might have been like to have met 'Abdu'l-Bahá. I experienced joy and tearful emotions—what a heavenly ride! If you're reading this and you haven't seen Luminous Journey, you need to make that change in your life!” Diana Rohrback

Dear Anne and Tim,  In Luminous Journey, you have woven 'Abdu'l-Bahá's travels to the West into a brilliant cloth that shall startle and fill with awe every heart that has the bounty of viewing it. With the highest of artistry and cinematographic craft, you have captured faithfully the stupendous sweep of His achievement. And you have truly raised the bar for all presentations of the Faith to a level that, when matched by others, shall spread Baha's message to tens, if not, millions of thirsty souls. The whole of the Baha'i world, the Great Beings of our Faith, and the attending Concourse thank you, Robert Michell

“It is terrific. Well done. Absolutely well done. A must for a collector and a wonderful tool for teaching.” Annick Elziere

“We just watched the film and are so moved. It is so beautifully done. I'm practically speechless. Everyone should see the film, either buy it or convince your community to get it and put it in their Lending Library. It will be watched again and again for many years to come. Thank you so much, Anne and Tim for having the vision and the fortitude to see it through to completion.  Linda Dunlap Oliva

Dear Anne,
A few nights ago I was peaceful enough to begin the movie and almost immediately began to weep with love for all that ‘Abdul-Baháis and has done and still does for us. I felt so revived and at peace. That night I slept better than I had in months.  In the morning, as I stood at my balcony, ‘Abdul Bahá came to mind and I thought how He was here last night, and instantly knew it was from you glorious presentation of his spirit.  (Movie is too small a word.)  The film is so rich, like eating Baklava or Greek Pesto!  I have to digest and savor the flavors. Something that I noticed as I was watching: ‘Abdul Bahá has blessed so many professions—painting, photography, filmmaking, journalism, and all of the sciences. Never before has a religion blessed professions. . . . I also thought about how you and Tim have integrated, panned, and enlarged the black and white photos and film clips with the color dramatizations, bringing the narration of His Visit to life and bringing the viewer into moments that have long passed in physical reality, yet live in the heartfelt emotions and positive knowing of every Baha'i. With love so much love and admiration for all that you have given to the world, Jalaliyyih Quinn

“If ever there was a Son who loved His Father, and was true and faithful to the teachings of God, and was kind and generous to all, and was a servant to all humanity, and was, according to our beloved Guardian Shoghi Effendi, ‘endowed with super-human knowledge,’ and was referred to by Bahá'u'lláh as "this sacred and glorious being," it was Abdu'l-Baha, ‘the Glorious Servant.’ 100 years ago in 1912 Abdu'l-Baha blessed this continent with His presence, called the world to unity, and warned of the outbreak of war in Europe. This movie is a delightful and moving attempt to recreate that special time when the "Mystery of God" walked among us and gave us the means to spiritual transformation, if only we wanted it."  George Farideh Via

“Love and Blessings to you both and my admiration for you dedication to your art.  I am sure the film will inspire hearts around the world for many years to come and encourage many to follow in the Master’s footsteps.” Gordon Kerr

We bought Luminous Journey in Chicago last weekend and watched it tonight. It is a fantastic production; we enjoyed it immensely and learned so much about ‘Abdul-Bahá's trip to the United States and Europe. It moved us and we could not stop watching it. Thank you so much for a fabulous job." Bita Rahmanian

Dearest Anne and husband and all the artists who worked on the project, Luminous Journey,
Your work and service to the Cause by producing this film is truly a significant contribution to the field of education in America.  I couldn't agree with you more that this effort is the beginning of a new "chapter of American history destined to change the consciousness of a nation."  You work has far-reaching and wonderful implications!  As an educator, I envision this film and history, along with other current and future develoments (such as Robert Stockman's book on 'Abdu'l-Bahá in America) embedded in a formal curriculum in schools from early childhood to university.  I see development of educational objectives, a diversity of media creations, project ideas, service ideas, and, ultimately, the transformation that it could and would have upon all those who study its content in the spirit of independent investigation of truth.  It is a great service in His path!
May Baha'u'llah lead you from joy to joy and confidence to confidence!  Wishing you and this educational project much success!  Barbra Levine Pakravan

“I saw the film screened at Green Acre on August 12th during the Homecoming Week.  It looked lovely in that huge auditorium and the majestic sized screen.  The sound (which is never good for ears like mine) was just fine.  The evening started out with a jam-packed room - many friends came from the local communities, and they were very demonstrative as they viewed.  There were many smiles exchanged, elbowing each other about this or that vignette, wonder at the beauty of the production itself. . . . It is lush and generous to the audience, filling the senses with what it could have been like to be in New York or Washington or Chicago with ‘Abdu'l-Bahá.  It is a very effective suspension of time and place as the film transports you to the America of 1912 . . . an America engaged with such a special Visitor, delivering such an important and powerful message.

After 100 years we can clearly see that Abdu'l-Baha was warning us about four eternal spiritual laws that should not be ignored or broken. He was so forthright about the equality of women and men, really challenging America to see this basic denial of human and civil rights to half of the world's population.  Newspaper editors were shocked at the plain words He used about women and the right to vote, and the role of women in bringing about world peace. We ignore this law at our own peril, and we have done that for much too long. 

He was also so dramatic in his advocacy for the rights of African Americans, so long in slavery, so long on the tragic road of violence, so long in physical and psychological chains, so long reviled and so long the victims of a modern cruelty that still continues, even if the forms today are more subtle and polite.  He spoke emphatically and without any fear of being contradicted or attacked. The film depicts His bravery at expressing love across the color line beautifully. 

His warnings about imminent war, and more wars that would follow in a world that remains divided in every possible way, in every sphere of human interaction, where nationalism and materialism have taken over hearts and souls, and led to a century of human carnage unparalleled in recorded history.  He told us the antidote was authentic trust and authentic love at every level of life, and the world chose to ignore that.  And we still ignore it.

And finally, His bold and plaintive cry for the value of religion, raised in so many churches, synagogues and places of worship across all separations of color, creed and custom was vivid in the film.  The idea that religion would be a cause for unity was so innovative in our religious tapestry that was so torn and tattered, especially in America, where every individual feels that they can pick and choose what is best for them and then call it a religion  . . . and separate their communities from others.  Some of the clergy understood, most did not. His energetic inter-religious dialogue and fellowship was remarkable, but His warnings fell on so many deaf ears. 

The film is a chronicle of warnings, so perfectly delivered, and so universally ignored.  And we have 100 years of history to prove His message true and His warnings valid.  The film also shows, in exquisite detail, the souls who heard the message and who changed their lives, their orientation, their very purpose in life to carry out the wise and healing teachings proclaimed all over America in 1912.

Everyone at Green Acre was impressed with the attention to detail, the costumes, the cars, the trains, the hotels, the music, the very essence of that 1912 ambiance recreated so that we might become one of those noble souls who were changed by the message and the presence of the wondrous Visitor.

At the end of the Green Acre section of the film there was a break for refreshments . . . an intermission.  The conversations in the café were alive and vibrant . . . no one had ever seen such a production before.  This was a film worthy of the subject matter it conveyed, and the friends were seized with the idea that they were seeing something new. It was an experience of production excellence, a quality script, and a depth of reverence in a presentation that had not been seen before.” Bob Harris

Saturday, September 7, 2013

'Abdu'l-Bahá's Reflections on His Travels to the West; the notes of His music

Earl Redman writes:  

‘Abdu’l-Bahá used the time in Ramleh to start catching up on the huge amount of correspondence He had been unable to answer. In a Tablet to the Persian believers, He wrote of His travels:

After my return from America and Europe, owing to the difficulties of the long voyage and to the innumerable inconveniences of the journey, a physical reaction set in and I became indisposed. Now, through the Favor and Bounty of the Blessed Perfection, I am feeling better; therefore, I am engaged in writing this letter, so that thou mayest realize that the friends of God are never forgotten under any circumstances . . . Now is the time when the believers of God may imitate the conduct and manner of Abdul Baha. Day and night they must engage in teaching the Cause of God but they must be in the same spiritual state which Abdul Baha manifested while traveling in America. When the teacher delivers an address, his words must first of all have a supreme and powerful effect over himself so that everyone may be in turn affected. His utterances must be like unto flames of fire, burning away the veils of dogmas, passion and desire. Moreover he must be in the utmost state of humility and evanescence – so that others may become mindful. He must have attained to the station of renunciation and annihilation. Then and not until then, will he teach the people with the Melody of the Supreme Concourse.

I have tarried in Egypt for a few days because I was weakened by the fatigue of traveling through the cities of Europe; by the variable climates of the American mountains and prairies and by the length and hardships of the voyage. While in Europe one day we were in London and another in Edinburgh; now in Paris and anon in Stuttgart; once in Budapest and again in Vienna. We were almost every hour in another place, delivering lengthy speeches and addresses, and notwithstanding the indisposition of the body, day and night I cried and raised my voice in large meetings and important churches . . . As there were many obstacles, the door of correspondence was closed; but the faces of the illumined friends were manifest at every hour in the Court of Consciousness, and at all times they were present in my memory. As I have now found a little leisure, I address you this letter so that I may occupy myself with the servitude of the believers of God, and become the means of the happiness of the hearts. This is the utmost desire of ’Abdu’l-Bahá.
A humbling message, this. Still in Egypt, He gathers strength for the journey back to Akka. How marvelous to think that we are not forgotten. . . . 

Ahmad Sohrab wrote:

"How wonderful it seems to me, his power of adaptability to all people . . . how he enjoys the free and unimpeded association of men! Here was Abdul-Baha sitting in a small telegraph office of Ramleh, talking heartily in Arabic with an operator and how he listened to him. First he spoke about the brother of the Khedive, and how he met him in America and France, praising his progressive ideas and intelligence. Then he said:
  "‘When I was in America I was most busy. Often I addressed three meetings a day, and gave innumerable interviews from early morning till midnight. In Europe I spread certain divine teachings which will insure security to the human world, and taught them that the foundation of the religions of God is one and the same. Now I have returned to Egypt in order to rest from the effects of this arduous journey; but while I am here correspondence is uninterrupted with all parts of the West . . . I have done this, not because I expected the praise of men. Far from it! How foolish are some people who may think that we have accepted all these hardships and undergone forty years of imprisonment by Sultan Abdul Hamid, in order to receive the commendations of men! How thoughtless they are! Neither their adulation or blame shall reach me. I have done my work! I have sown my seeds, and leave it to the power of God to cause their growth! You wait a few years longer and you will then hear the notes of this melodious music!’"