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Herbert stepped into a large corner room with four windows, draped with clean, white Nottingham lace curtains-no easy achievement in Chicago. Against the south wall was a huge mahogany roll-top desk, open. A luxurious couch backed up to the east wall, a revolving book­case filled with dictionaries, lexicons, atlases, and a morocco-bound set of the Encyclopedia Britannica stood between the windows on the north side, while a terrestrial globe two feet in diameter, elaborately mounted, occupied the northwest corner. A heavy Brussels carpet covered the entire floor. On the walls were life-size portraits of Dr. Dowie, Mrs. Jeanie Dowie, Gladstone Dowie, their son, and' Esther Dowie, their daughter.

Dr. Dowie had risen from a big leather-upholstered swivel chair in front of the larger mahogany desk. He was dressed as he had been when Herbert first saw him, except that a black silk skull cap covered his baldness. Smiling genially, he extended his pudgy little hand.

"Ah, Renbrush, I'm delighted to see you again. Had you a pleasant journey?"

"Yes, Doctor, and I'm glad to be here."

“And you are ready to begin your duties?"

"The sooner the better."




"Ah, I am glad to hear it. Keeping close to God?"

"I hope· so," answered Herbert, slightly embar­rassed.

"Sit down, do, and let us have a little talk."

Herbert took the mahogany arm-chair indicated, at the left of the desk.

"Now, my dear young man," said the General Overseer, leaning back in his chair and crossing his short legs with difficulty, holding an ankle in one hand to keep it from slipping off his knee, "you are going to work in an organization where conditions are different from those in the outside world. God called me to proclaim His full Gospel of Salvation, Healing, and Holy Living, so long lost to the world through the apostasy of the churches and the coward­ice of those who called themselves His ministers. He led me to form the Christian Catholic Church in Zion Throughout the World. I am the head, the Gen­eral Overseer, of that church by His authority-not by the vote of a majority. You are an American and you make much of your precious crule of the ma­jority.' You forget that Cone man, with God on his side, is a majority on any question.'

"God's church, in the beginning, was never ruled by votes. The majority of people are weak and fool­ish. Therefore, the rule of the majority is a tyranny of fools. That is true in politics as well as in churches."

Herbert was still young enough and democrat enough to believe that the voice of the people was the voice of God, and the United States of America the greatest and best nation in all history. A rush



of hot protests jammed in his throat-so he said noth­ing. Dr. Dowie smiled.

"You find that a hard saying, do you not? I have no great liking for harsh language. My own taste is for the beautiful, the classical, the poetic. But I found, early in my ministry, that you cannot fight the devil with rose water and eau de cologne. I might tell a smoker in sweet, literary language about the harm­fulness of nicotine poisoning. Would that knock the pipe and cigar out of his mouth? You know-you have read-that mild, lovely talk. How many does it affect?"

"Not many, I'm afraid," admitted Herbert.

"But when I call smokers dirty stinkpots, they are shocked. I heap it up, pile on the disgust. That knocks the pipes and cigars out of their mouths.

"So there is no voting in Zion. I may as well tell you frankly, I am a despot. We have no committees -a lot of weak men sitting around a table talking, interminably talking. Passing resolutions! What has ever been done by resolutions? God does not work that way. He chooses one man-and gives that man full and final authority. And I am that man in Zion -make no mistake. I did not appoint myself-God put me here. He sets His seal upon my authority by the works He does through me. I would be a traitor to Him if I were to turn over to a committee, a presbytery, a board of trustees, or the votes of a con­gregation one shred of the authority for which He holds me responsible. Rather than yield my power to anyone else or divide it with any man or body of men, I would smash the whole thing.



"So, absolute, instant, unquestioning obedience to the General Overseer is the rule in Zion. To disobey me is to rebel against the will of God."

Herbert was having a bad time. He did not agree with his new employer. He instinctively rebelled against autocratic authority and a demand for un­questioning obedience. He began to wish himself well out of this scrape. He suspected, miserably, that he had been too impulsive. Yet he could think of noth­ing to say to fit the circumstances. He thought of that line of patient, bearded elders and evangelists on their hard chairs in the waiting-room. They had looked as if they belonged in an atmosphere of "com­plete, instant, and unquestioning obedience." Meek preachers, they had always had to knuckle under to the leading members of their churches, had been bossed around by domineering women. Probably it was a relief to them to have only one boss-and that a man. But he wasn't that kind.

Dr. Dowie went on:

“After all, Renbrush, I'm not such a terrible fel­low. My people love me because they know I love them. I have gone down into the valley of the shadow of death with many of them, fought with the devil for their lives and won. I have prayed for their chil­dren. I have lifted many of them out of lives of sin and shame and made them clean, happy, pros­perous, and healthy in Zion. I have prayed for thou­sands of mothers in the perilous hour of childbirth and God has delivered them of beautiful babies with­out doctors or drugs. Do you wonder they love me and find joy in obeying me?"




It was not clear to Herbert why a man should have despotic authority over people because he loved them, but he said nothing.

Dr. Dowie sprang up, took a few quick, springy steps about the office, then stood facing Herbert, feet apart, hands in trousers pockets.

“Now I want to do all I can for you. You have intelligence, you are well educated, you have had some good business experience. I made a notable suc­cess of business before I was ordained. Even now I handle many large business affairs. I am just a busi­ness man in the ministry. I want to give you the benefit of my business judgment. I want to see you make money. You should be a wealthy man.

“I have no patience with this chatter of fools about the blessings of poverty. Poverty is a curse. God wants His people to be rich, prosperous, powerful. As the leader of His people, I have plans for making them rich. Even now they are becoming rich. They work hard. They lose no time through drunkenness or sickness. Their brains are clear and their bodies strong. They save all the money other people spend on liquor, tobacco, theaters, cards, novels, dances, harlots, and other polluting abominations. Do you see what advantages they have at the start? And when, under wise guidance, they combine their capital, what a power they will have in business?"

The General Overseer strode about the office in growing excitement.

“You are a business man. You can appreciate these things. I can talk to you about them as I could not talk to many of those around me. They are dear, good,





faithful people and useful in their way, but they would not understand a business man's point of view. They do not, even now, appreciate the business ability that, in less than six years, has carried me from noth­ing to the possession of Zion Home, Central Zion Tabernacle, Zion Printing and Publishing House, Zion Home of Hope for Erring Women, and Zion College.

“Yes, we have a college. In the upper room at the publishing house I have the nucleus of what will one day be Zion University, with its colleges of theology, law, agriculture, engineering, classics, science, busi­ness, and finance. I want the children of Zion, born into clean homes, of clean parents, reared without contamination by the vices of the world, to be given the highest and best education. I want them to be a royal generation. And how they will shake this old world!

“Yes, Zion is already a brilliant success in business, but I am only beginning. If I have done some little during six years, starting with nothing, think what I, under God, can do in the next twenty or thirty! I am only fifty-one and I intend to live to be a hundred, at least, by God's blessing. And there will be great rewards for those who assist me in Zion's business enterprises. There should be. Jesus said, 'The laborer is worthy of his hire,' and I'm not niggardly with those who are faithful and able."

Herbert felt his enthusiasm returning.

“Best of all, of course," Dr. Dowie went on, “is the power for good of such an organization. Already there are branches of Zion in all lands and in the




islands of the sea. With the power of millions of dol­lars behind them, these will grow and spread and multiply until the 'knowledge of the goodness of God shall cover the earth as the waters cover the sea.'

“You told me you had given up your work in the Congregational church because you saw no results. And you did well. I have only this to say to you:

Walk around Zion, go into every department. Talk to her people. Get to know them. Read 'Leaves of Healing.' Attend our healing meetings. Everywhere you will see results-glorious results."

The General Overseer's eyes were glowing, his head flung back, his whole figure seemed to expand. Then lie resumed his seat, instantly dropping into a con­versational tone.

“Now the opening I had in mind for you is not ready yet, and I am glad it is not. I want you to know Zion, to get a little understanding of the Zion spirit -before you begin your actual duties. So I am going to set you at what may seem to you an odd task. Come."

Dr. Dowie rose, put his arm around Herbert's shoulders and drew him toward a door in the east wall. Opening this, the two men passed into a long, narrow room, with thick Brussels carpet and two great leather arm-chairs. Against the walls were oak book­cases with glass doors, filled with books. Going to one of the cases, Dr. Dowie pointed to a row of big books, bound in black morocco and lettered in gold "Leaves of Healing Volume I," “II," “III," and “IV."

“This is my little nucleus of a library. Some day Zion will have the greatest library on earth. All the



knowledge-and foolishness-of all the past and pres­ent will be at your disposal. But now I want you to come here five days a week, make yourself comfort­able, and beginning at Volume One, Number One, read "Leaves of Healing,' every word, in order. If you get tired of reading, you may attend the healing meetings Monday, Wednesday, and Friday after­noons, in the healing-room off the lobby on the main floor, and at the Tabernacle on Thursday after­noons. You will be on duty eight hours a day. Of course, you will want to attend the regular Sunday meetings at the Tabernacle."

"But," said Herbert, "isn't there something I could do to earn my salary? I don't like to take pay just for reading and attending meetings."

"Now you are not to worry about that-I think I'll call you Herbert. Don't worry about that at all, Herbert. I am paying you for your time, and it is mine to do with as I wish. You must give me credit for knowing what I want."

Dr. Dowie had seated himself in one of the big library chairs. Signing Herbert to sit in the other, he talked-and encouraged the young man to talk-­about world affairs, Bryan, McKinley, the beginnings of recovery in business and finance, newspapers, Shakespeare, Dr. Dowie's early business experiences and political activities, Herbert's business adventures, education, and other subjects. The young man was amazed to find how widely and deeply his new em­ployer had read, at the breadth and variety of his interests and information. The charm, the geniality, the easy camaraderie of the man drew him. Serious



attention given his ideas and opinions flattered him. Hours passed. Then Murray came in with a discreet clearing of his throat, bearing another sheaf of tele­grams and filled-in printed blanks, which he placed on the padded arm of Dr. Dowie's chair.

"Ah, Murray, my boy, what do you want, with your ahem?" asked the great man playfully.

"Mrs. Dowie telephones that it is time for your dinner, General Overseer," said Murray, severely.

"Ah-dinner, Murray. Why do you lay the respon­sibility on Mistress Dowie? You know you tyrannize over me with your precious clock, your meal hours, and appointments. I suspect you want your own din­ner, isn't that it? Shocking! You make a god of your belly."

The man laughed with terrifying gurgles and gasps, in the midst of which he 'caught sight of the papers on the arm of his chair. Suddenly he became grave, snatched off his skullcap, placed his right hand on the papers, closed his eyes, and rapidly and silently moved his lips for a few seconds. Replacing his cap, he said:

"Here is another evidence of Zion's world-wide power. These are requests for prayer for the sick. They come in, every hour of the day and night, by cable, by telegraph, by telephone, by mail, and by messenger. See, here is a cable from Sydney, Australia: 'Dowie, Chicago. Pray. Daughter dying. Cranston.' This one is from Zurich: "Pray for me. Kettler.' There are telegrams from many American cities. These blanks, you see, are headed "Request for Prayer.' Those filled in in typewriting were taken over




the telephone by clerks employed for that purpose. Here, Murray, stamp them. You see, when I have prayed, each one is stamped with the date, hour, and minute. Then, when the testimony to healing comes in, we are able to check up the time, making allowance for difference in longitude."

Murray went into the General Overseer's office and began banging away with an electrically operated time-stamp, almost as efficiently accurate as himself -but not so quiet.

"Well, Herbert," said the General Overseer, taking the young man's hand, "I trust we understand each other. Are you comfortably located in Chicago?"

"Yes, Doctor, thank you. I'm staying with my brother on the South Side. I'm going to arrange to buy my lunches here at the Home."

"My dear boy, you do not need to buy them. You are my guest. Murray, make a note to tell Jeffords that Mr. Renbrush is to have whatever meals he wants here and to charge them to my account. I want you to be well provided for, Herbert. You have probably had some extra expense moving down here. Take this as part payment, with my love."

Herbert found himself rather sheepishly accepting a bright, new twenty-dollar gold piece and stumbling through a speech of gratitude. He was dazed.

"Now, off you go," said Dr. Dowie, gently easing him through the door into the foyer.

In the waiting-room patient elders and evangelists still sat on their hard chairs.




Chapter IV



John Alexander Dowie was born in Edin­burgh, the son of John Murray Dowie, breeches-maker. When still a child, he had gone, with his father and mother, to Adelaide, South Australia, where the canny Scotch tailor had prospered modestly and had been made justice of the peace.

Little John was a rack of slender bones, with head much too large for his bandy-legged body. His hair was thick, wavy, and black as anthracite. His big eyes were so dark and strange a gray they looked pur­ple in some moods, black in others. His digestion was treacherous but his appetite voracious, so he was often ill. Weakness of flesh, however, seemed only to add to the flames of mind and emotion that burned in him and lit up everything around him.

In school he seemed to drink in knowledge with­out effort-except arithmetic and science. Geography was a passion with him, spelling, grammar, literature, history, Latin, Greek, philosophy, he learned as if by contact rather than by study. And what he learned he remembered, not merely to recite, but forever.

Despite his scholarship and his physical frailty, he was not despised by his schoolmates. Some hated and feared him because of a temper which exalted him until, enthroned upon his rage, he seemed tall and



massive, and because of a tongue like a whip of poison ivy. Others were drawn to him, almost against sober judgment, and accorded him leadership. But he led them in crusades of mind and heart, not in sports. Nor was the way he took easy for them. Even grown-up men and women seemed to feel the aw­ful energies of his personality. An imitative polite­ness but sketchily screened the violent arrogance, and perhaps even more violent attractiveness, of his per­sonality. He would not and could not be treated as a child. He communed with adults, if at all, as an adult.

When twenty-one years old he went to his native city to attend the University of Edinburgh. The sailing-ship which carried him from Australia across the Pacific and around Cape Horn spent three months playing upon his emotions. When becalmed in the doldrums he was feral in caged fury. Fair winds made him a prince in triumphal progress. He was all over the ship, talking, joking, laughing, teasing, preach­ing, boasting. But in a storm he was like flame on an altar. There was a calm joyousness about him that drew poor frightened folk and made them forget his youth. Once and again, when Death sat grinning hor­ribly on the shoulders of the plumed seas, he held passengers and crew almost unafraid in the embrace of his courage. He could not promise them life, but he showed them the beauty and kindliness of Death.

Arrived at Edinburgh, he went to live with his father's sister, widow of a saddler and mother of two sons grown, married, and working in Glasgow. Poor soul, she loved and admired her nephew but never understood him. He was kindly--except when crossed



-but as aloof as the stars. She gave him a good home, darned his socks, fed him oatmeal, fish, orange mar­malade, toast, mutton, and broth in quantity if not quality, and thanked her cross Scotch God that he was so religious.

In his native city young Dowie distinguished him­self for his fiery debates with astounded professors on doctrine and scriptural interpretations; for a plod­ding, relentless, timeless attention to detail amazing in one so impetuous; and for a passion to preach which would not be denied. Mission chapels, soap-boxes, country churches, university classrooms, debating clubs-all were his pulpits. Whether his congrega­tion numbered two hundred or only two made no difference with what he said, how long he took to say it, or the dramatic fervor of his performance.

He made few friends. For social life and sport he cared nothing. Small talk was impossible to him, and in his religious passions people were but raw ma­terial.

After two years at the university he was suddenly called home to Australia. His father had guessed wrong about a chance to make a quick fortune, and John could have no more drafts from Adelaide. Many years afterward he said, “I could have gone on and become the head of my university but for the stupid­ity and selfishness of one who should have kept him­self out of my path."

There followed two years' work for a wholesale ironmongery-or hardware store-as bookkeeper, correspondent, and collector-with much lay preach­ing as recreation. Finally, he was ordained a minister



of the Congregational Church and went to Alma, a small country pastorate in South Australia. His elo­quence and fire made a reputation for him and he was called to the Manly Congregational Church in Sydney, whence he went to Newton, a suburb. At this time, also, he married his first cousin, Jeanie Dowie of Adelaide.

It was during his pastorate here that he passed through an experience which changed the whole course of his life, as a result of which he deliberately turned his back upon the brilliant career opening be­fore him and set out upon that lonely path of fighting against the mighty forces of pulpit, press, society, government, and individual enemies.

He discovered Divine Healing.

At first the young preacher tried to tell of Jesus the Healer in his little suburban church. But it was not to be. Opposition drove him out and, at thirty­-one, he opened a divine healing tabernacle in Sydney. Immediately storms began to beat down upon him and his little handful of followers. With seeming reckless­ness he attacked churches, physicians, newspapers, theaters, and the liquor traffic. They naturally struck back and he began to be persecuted and martyred. There being no stronger magnet than the martyr to certain human types, his following grew. At thirty­-five he transferred his headquarters to Melbourne, where he built a tabernacle and was quickly in the midst of half a dozen fights, always against over­whelming odds. On one occasion his private office at the tabernacle was wrecked by a bomb only a few minutes after he had left it for the night.



Early in 1888 he started on what he announced would be a trip around the world to organize the In­ternational Divine Healing Association. After a few weeks in New Zealand, preaching, praying for the sick, and fighting his enemies, he went on to San Francisco, where he began five years of wandering from city to city west of the Mississippi, holding meetings, proclaiming his "Full Gospel," and making the welkin and the newspapers ring with his fights.

In the course of his wanderings he visited Salt Lake City. There he studied the Mormon Church and had an interview with its president.

Early in 1893 the little band of pilgrims reached Chicago, only four in number-"Dr." Dowie, as he now permitted himself to be styled, though he had no degree; his wife, Jeanie, and his two children, Glad­stone and Esther. Buildings of the World's Colum­bian Exposition were being finished in Jackson Park. Between the park and the elevated Illinois Central tracks, in Sixty-second Street, on the north side of that short thoroughfare, the itinerant preacher bought a lot and built an ugly little wooden shack, which he called Zion Tabernacle. The building had an unusually high, partly rounded false front, similar to those seen on stores in raw western towns. On this front was painted in huge letters "Zion Tabernacle, Headquarters of the International Divine Healing As­sociation, Rev. John Alex. Dowie, Founder and Presi­dent. Christ Is All and in All." Otherwise, the build­ing was unpainted. Inside were seats for about 350 or 400 people. Near-by he rented a two-story frame house which he called Zion Home. The word “Zion,"



so much used by the Mormons in Salt Lake City, had made a deep impression upon him. All conceivable glories are promised to Zion in the Bible.

One day during the World's Fair, Herbert Ren­brush, on his way to work as rolling-chair pusher in the fair grounds, passed through Sixty-second Street, using a narrow foot-passenger tunnel under the Illi­nois Central tracks. His eye fell on Zion Tabernacle. Curiously, he read the flamboyant sign. "Humph," he thought, "some faker trying to catch a few suckers, letting the fair draw the crowds for him, like a shell­-game man at a circus!" He went on and gave the little hut no further thought.

But “Dr." Dowie was giving it much thought. Al­though, at first, he preached to mere handfuls of less than ten hearers, his fire was undimmed. Meetings were held at almost every hour of the day and eve­ning. More and more people came. Many professed conversion, many others, members of churches, claimed to have been healed. Going to their homes in Chicago and all over the world, they carried the story. In the churches and out, they "testified" with an invincible enthusiasm. It was a compelling message. When a man says, UI was dying of cancer of the tongue. I could take only liquid food. I couldn't talk. Doctor Dowie laid hands on me and prayed, God heard his prayer, according to His promise, and the cancer fell out. It is now preserved in a jar on the walls of Zion Tabernacle, praise the Lord," you can't call him a liar, however incredulous you may be. If you profess to believe the Bible, which teaches that disease is to be healed in answer to prayer and the



laying on of hands, the logic of the case is all with the man who says he was so healed.

Pulpits began to thunder against the new "ism." Thus more and more people heard about that "bit of kindling-wood," Zion Tabernacle. A University of Chicago professor called it that, much to "Dr." Dow­ie's delight, who worked the epithet for all it was worth. He would use that bit of kindling-wood to start a fire which would sweep all over the world.

All these forces, for and against, brought people flocking to Zion Tabernacle after the World's Fair ended and some of its palaces went up in fire and smoke. All through that dread winter of 1893, when emaciated men slept by thousands under sidewalks, in doorways, in the corridors of City Hall, and in the flimsy lath and stucco buildings in Jackson Park, the tabernacle was packed day and night, and people stood for hours on snow-drifts, outside the windows to hear the preaching and the "testimony" of "God's Wit­nesses to Divine Healing."

People came from far. Many of them remained for weeks. To shelter and feed them other houses in the neighborhood were rented, until there were Zion Homes Nos. 2, 3, and 4. Money began to pour in, not only from the free-will offerings in the tabernacle, but also from the twenty-five dollars a week paid by each guest in the Zion Homes (many who could not pay were entertained free of charge) and from gifts of gratitude given by those who had been healed.

Still another building was rented, this one a two-­story brick in Stony Island A venue, which runs along the western side of Jackson Park.



The first floor was fitted up with second-hand printing presses and other equipment and became Zion Printing and Publishing House. Here began "Leaves of Healing," a weekly paper. The second floor was equipped with platform and seats, and be­came Zion Tabernacle No.2. The growing design of wall decoration, made of crutches, canes, braces, high-sole shoes, and other trophies of the healing ­rooms, was removed from the old "bit of kindling­-wood" and nailed to the walls of the new tabernacle, and Zion Tabernacle No. 1 was torn down.

Newspapers in Chicago began to see good copy in the strange community clinging to the flank of the dead and burned World's Fair. Reporters with sensa­tional pens were sent. Their stories were copied in newspapers all over the world. In these stories "Dr." Dowie was called a mountebank, a charlatan, a quack, a lunatic. His followers were all dupes or ac­complices. Many sick people came from distant places, were robbed of their money, and died in agony, being denied medical attendance. Those who lived in the Zion Homes were starved and bullied. Many of Dow­ie's accomplices were dissolute thieves and prostitutes, who preyed on the dupes and shared their plunder with the head of the cult.

Dr. Dowie's attempts to have the worst of these errors corrected met with ridicule or abuse, or were ignored. Ethics of the press in Chicago in those days were not as high as now and this "healer" was despised and rejected of men. It was perfectly safe to lie about him.

But Dowie flourished on this publicity. Zion Tabernacle



No.2 was crowded and circulation of "Leaves of Healing" and of a constantly growing list of tracts boomed.

An ordinance was prepared and passed by the Chicago City Council, providing that every hospital must procure a license annually. Fines and imprison­ment would follow any attempt to conduct a hos­pital without one. And a hospital was defined as any place or building where the sick were cared for. Dowie and his wife were arrested while he was in the midst of a sermon, were taken to a police station in a wagon used to transport smallpox patients to the pest-house, and were locked up in a cell on a Sun­day evening. No magistrate's office was open. They could not get bail. It was a telling blow, and Mon­day morning's papers were jubilant. But they had not counted on the loyalty and energy of Dowie's people. Within an hour a reluctant and cursing mag­istrate had been run to cover, ten times the required bail had been provided, and the martyrs had returned in loud triumph to the still-crowded tabernacle.

When the case came to trial Dowie pointed out that any home in Chicago where a baby had the colic became a hospital, according to their precious ordi­nance, and the child's father and mother liable to arrest unless they either got the baby out or paid twenty-five dollars for a license. That killed the or­dinance, and the healer's crowing derision was loud, long, merciless-and galling.

The fight was on and Zion's leader did not wait to be attacked. Often he was arrested, sometimes on a charge of practicing medicine without a license, at



other times, paradoxically, on a charge of man­slaughter-because he had let one of his patients die without medical assistance. But he was never con­victed on any of these charges. No matter how much you hated a man because his prayers seemed to be answered, you really couldn't send him to jail for praying for the sick. All the ministers and all the rela­tives and friends of all the sick did that.

About this time Dr. James Michael Darling, a former practicing physician, became a member of Dowie's staff. For many years he was Dowie's chief assistant, doing everything from preaching to keep­ing books and buying groceries.

In 1896 Dowie organized what he called "The Christian Catholic Church in Zion Throughout the World," and appointed himself General Overseer. That same year he moved out of his Zion Homes Nos. 1, 2, 3, and 4 and took up quarters in Zion Home, a seven-story hotel building at the corner of Michi­gan Avenue and Twelfth Street. This building he purchased, a remarkable bit of financing for one who had arrived in Chicago penniless only four years be­fore. A few months later he had bought and begun alterations on Central Zion Tabernacle, at Sixteenth Street and Michigan Avenue, a far cry from the ugly little bit of kindling-wood just outside the World's Fair gates.

At the time when Herbert Renbrush met him, "Dr." Dowie was General Overseer of a church of about 35,000 members. Many of these lived in Chi­cago and its suburbs, but others were indeed scat­tered "throughout the world."