This will be the final foray into the remarkable Eric Fromm quotation. One of the respondents to my message was scholar, Ismael Valesco (Spain), who offered the following explanation for Fromm’s quote, which is so strikingly similar, if not entirely identical, to the main lines of Baha’i theology. If Ismael’s source is correct, it would be a very plausible, if not probable, explanation of why Fromm’s statement is identical to Baha’i teaching. Could such a close textual resemblance be entirely coincidental? You decide. (By the way, possibility, plausibility and probability in law and in science show ascending degrees of certitude).
Ismael tells me that the source is “kosher.” He heard it form Hugh McKinley himself. I don’t doubt that Hugh was able to change Fromm’s mind. This is not to say that he turned him into a theist, but I think it seems clear that Mr. McKinley convinced EF to see religion in a new light, one that agreed with his progressive, socialist mind-set. And I should add, that if all this is true, Hugh did a very good job and Eric Fromm was a very perceptive and articulate student. The time frame, as Ismael has pointed out, also fits since The Sane Society was published in 1955.
Of course, the whole theory would fall down if Hugh McKinley arrived at his pioneering post after 1955. So perhaps Ismael, or some other enterprising soul, could check that date.
Here is Ismael’s comment:
“I believe that it may very well be that it was a Bahá'í who was responsible for that passage by Fromm. One of the Knights of Bahá'u'lláh for Cyprus, Hugh McKinley, lived on a little Greek island and wrote a literary column for the Athens Daily Times. He reviewed new books and took the opportunity to correspond with authors, striking solid friendships with great figures such as Kathleen Raine, Helen Shaw and May Sarton. One of these exchanges took place with Erich Fromm, in which Hugh questioned Fromm's dismissal of religion, and engaged him in a debate that led Fromm to change his treatment of the subject subsequently. For years I have been meaning to look for the passage in question, and I believe the quote you shared, coinciding perfectly with the timescales involved, is a prime and highly probable candidate. It explains the seeming anomaly of such a Bahá'í description of world religion, precisely in those dates, from an otherwise consistent dismissal of the subject.”
With love and gratitude,