Is coming! Is coming!! Is coming!!!

As Leopold Bloom walks riverwards at the beginning of the Lestrygonians episode, he is handed a throwaway bearing a sort of poem. The revivalist John Alexander Dowie, sings the throwaway, is coming to Dublin.

Is coming! Is coming!! Is coming!!!
All heartily welcome.

That part of Ulysses, as Kevin McDermott documents in entertaining detail, is fiction. During the first half of 1904 Dowie, who styled himself Elijah the Restorer,  toured much of the world, but Dublin wasn’t on his itinerary. A month after Bloomsday, he returned under a dramatic sky to the headquarters of his cult in Zion City, Illinois.

The two tall girdered structures that loomed over the ceremony of welcome were known at the time as moonlight towers. They held arrays of arc lamps which illuminated a large area, and what they signify in this image from 1904 is that Zion City was technologically very up to date. The air view, too, represented an amazing accomplishment for 1904. It was achieved by the photographer George R. Edwards, who used an array of seventeen kites to lift a 49-pound camera to an altitude of 2000 feet, where its shutter was triggered by an electric signal transmitted through a 2000-foot wire.  But Elijah the Restorer was soon to be overthrown in a cathedral coup, and Zion City then ceased to be monumental. Now called only Zion, it is now only one more Chicago suburb, its cult only the cult of the outlet store. All that remains of Dowie and his Christian Catholic Church is a few pages in Ulysses about disposable language. At the beginning of Lestrygonians Poldy will throw Elijah’s throwaway away, at the end of Oxen of the Sun the sound of Elijah’s sermon will be drowned in Stephen’s vomit, and in Circe his prayer for the whores goes unanswered (“Our Mr President, he twig the whole lot and he ain’t saying nothing”).

I’ve posted elsewhere about this (, and McDermott’s post includes one of the many newspaper articles from the time about Dowie and his scandalous reputation. But (a) the photograph of Zion City here is a better reproduction than the one in my earlier post, and (b) I’ve now discovered a couple of items from the Hawaiian Star (now the Honolulu Star-Advertiser) which entertainingly demonstrate one more affinity between the giant story of Ulysses and the little stories of Dubliners. To live either on a small island like Ireland or on a small island like Oahu is to learn experimentally the meaning of the term insular, so in the spirit of the insular I now offer you Honolulu’s view of Elijah the Restorer, 1904. The first two images are the full newspaper pages; the third is trimmed and pasted to show only the two main stories about Dowie, leaving out the third story about his acrostic bank.


Kevin McDermott, “A. J. Christ Dowie and the Harmonial Philosophy.” Music in the Works of James Joyce,

Meredith Rizzo, “Before Drone Cameras: Kite Cameras!”

The originals of all three images here are downloadable from the Library of Congress. I’ve photoshopped all of them for clarity and tonal balance. Click any image to enlarge it.