FATHER DIVINE - TYPED LETTER SIGNED 02/22/1951 - HFSID 152182
Sale Price $1,700.00
FATHER DIVINE. TLS: "Rev. M.J. Divine, Ms.D.", 1p, 8x10½.
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, 1951 February 22 A.D.F.D. On letterhead of
Circle Mission Church, Home and Training School of Pennsylvania, to Mr. Howard
L. Haines, East Orange, New Jersey.
In full: "Your letter of the 19th is at hand and I AM responding that you may know I AM in receipt of same and that I do not know of anyone who has a hotel for sale. With best wishes to you and all who are concerned, this leaves ME as I AM Well, Healthy, Joyful, Peaceful, Lively, Loving, Successful, Prosperous and Happy in Spirit, Body and Mind and in every organ, muscle, sinew, joint, limb, vein and bone and even in every ATOM, fibre and cell of MY BODILY FORM." Accompanied by original typed envelope, which bears a sticker picturing Father Divine and his second, wife, Sweet Angel, who became Mother Divine. Credited with being one of the first Black leaders to combine religion with social activism, Reverend Major Jealous Divine (circa 1878-1965), better known as Father Divine, promoted a philosophy of peace and anti-discrimination. Believing his mission was to establish heaven on earth, the charismatic preacher set out to establish a righteous nation based on his moral code. To spiritually purify his flock, Father Divine forbade alcohol, tobacco and profanity and encouraged personal integrity and celibacy, even among married couples. Despite his strict teachings, Father Divine attracted scores of followers, partly through his dynamic preaching (even though he was never ordained by any religion), but largely because of his promise of a better life. Espousing positive thinking and self-reliance, Father Divine moved to Harlem in 1932, at which time his ministry became known as the Peace Mission Movement. Based on a cooperative system of social welfare, his first Peace Missions were restaurants offering low-cost meals. Father Divine eventually expanded to nearly 200 centers, called "Heavens", that provided food, clothing and job training to the needy during the Great Depression. His practical teachings against borrowing money, using credit and trusting in banks brought his movement through the nation's economic crisis and resulted in vast holdings of property for him and his followers. Despite his success, Father Divine's message and methods were often targets of criticism. Unlike most other Black leaders, Father Divine, seeing race as a divisive force that was a product of negative thinking, discouraged racial pride. Controversy also arose over his claims to be an incarnation of God and his encouragement of his followers to recognize him as such, as evidenced by his use of the capitalized "I AM" in this letter and the "A.D.F.D." after the date. Father Divine's marriage to one of his followers, a white woman with the spiritual name Sweet Angel, added to the furor, especially when Father Divine claimed she was the reincarnation of his first wife. Sweet Angel, who became Mother Divine, assumed leadership of the movement after the death of the man who brought hope for a better future to thousands of the downtrodden. Lightly creased with folds, not at signature. Fine condition. Framed in the Gallery of History style: 33¼x25¼.
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