The Reception of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Britain

East Comes West


In exploring ‘Abdu’l-Bahá’s visits to Britain, Brendan McNamara expands the jigsaw of our knowledge of how “the east came west”. More importantly, by exploring the visits through the motives of those that received him, The Reception of ‘Abdu’l-Bahá in Britain: East Comes West demonstrates that the “cultic milieu” thesis is incomplete. Focusing on a number of well-known Edwardian Protestant reformers, the book demonstrates that the arrival of eastern forms of religions in Britain penetrated more mainstream Christian forms. This process is set within significant developments in the early formation of the study of religions, the rise of science and orientalism. All these elements are shown to be linked together. Significantly the work argues that the advent of World War One changed the direction of new forms of religion leading to a ‘forgetfulness’ that has lasted until the present time.

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Brendan McNamara, Ph.D. (2017), University College Cork is a lecturer in the study of religions at that university. He has published journal articles, a book chapter and edited Connections; Early Links Between the Bahá’í Faith and Ireland (Tusker Keyes, 2007).

1 Introduction
 1 “East Comes West”
 2 ʿAbdu’l-Bahá and the Baháʾí Faith
 3 Documenting Missionary Travels
 4 Protestant Discourse
 5 Recovering the Obscure
 6 Sources and Materials
 7 Orientalism
 8 Forgetting the Past
 9 A New World
 10 The View from Where

2 Religious and Intellectual Milieu
 1 Comparative Religion
 2 Foundations
 3 Joseph Estlin Carpenter
 4 Political and Cultural Resonance
 5 The Cult of Omar
 6 Narratives Subjoined
 7 Conclusion

3 Establishing Parameters for East-West Encounters: Chicago and Oxford
 1 Filter and Grid
 2 Third International Congress for the History of Religions
 3 Oxford
 4 Cheyne’s Cosmology
 5 Conclusion

4 The Curious: the Celtic Dimension to Pre-First World War Religious Discourse
 1 Dean’s Yard
 2 Tudor Pole’s Quest
 3 The Celtic Revival
 4 Discovering ʿAbdu’l-Bahá
 5 Conclusion

5 New Protestant Theodocies: R.J. Campbell, “the Disturber of Our Comfortable Peace”
 1 The New Theology
 2 One of the Great Let Downs of the World
 3 Uncharted Dimensions of Early 20th Century Protestant Discourse
 4 Implications for the Religious Field
 5 Conclusion

6 ʿAbdu’l-Bahá in Britain
 1 What Was Understood
 2 In London
 3 At Westminster
 4 Indirect Admonishment
 5 Missionary Reaction
 6 Conclusion

7 The Elision of Memory: Forgetting Aspects of Early Twentieth Century Discourse
 1 Now Time and Afterlife
 2 A Dialectic of Rejection and Fascination
 3 Religion and War
 4 Religious Reformers at War
 5 Conclusion

Appendix 1: Significant Baháʾí Dates

Appendix 2: Arabic Notation in The Christian Commonwealth

Appendix 3: Tudor Pole, Campbell and the Glastonbury Cup
Academics, students and specialists concerned with ‘East/West’ encounters. All concerned with the study of religions, memory studies, Protestant history and Bahá’í studies.