1. Spiritualism: Right or Wrong?
By Jim Allis
Picture a wonderful scene... ”There is a beautiful scene of happiness all around us. There are marvellous buildings of grandeur, blue lagoons, clear lakes of warm water and luscious green grassed meadows. The colours of the birds are of magnificent shades of blue red green and yellow as never seen before. Here there is also a sense of peace as never experienced before and such a peace as you never want it to end. All, yes all is so peaceful here” You might well imagine this to be the introduction to a holiday brochure but it is not. It is the description of the ‘other side’ to which Spiritualists say we go when we leave this present world. The words I have referred to are in fact words supposedly given to a medium by a departed spirit for the comfort of living relatives and friends of their departed loved ones.
Where And How Did It Begin?
Spiritualism began in a tiny home in Hydesville,USA To be more precise, spirit messages began to be received by a family of three girls on 31st March 1848. These young ladies were experimenting when suddenly they said they heard rapping noises from a spirit who claimed to be a murdered peddler. Kate, Margaret and Leah Foxe became very fascinated by it. However in 1880 Margaret Foxe admitted it was fraud and delusion. Some have said she only said this because she was envious of her sister. Leah who became famous in this movement. Since that time of course many fraudulent mediums have jumped on the band wagon faking supernatural noises and apparitions to make money. Some people will do almost anything to gain money as I am sure you my readers would agree. Leah Foxe is supposed to have received this message from the spirit world, ‘Dear Friends, you must proclaim this message to the world. When you do your duty, God will protect you and good spirits will watch over you.’ Within only a short space of time there were over a hundred mediums practicing in New York alone.
Since that time Spiritualism has grown into an international organisation throughout the whole World. Various groups under the one main heading but each have peculiar differences. However with Spiritualism there is one common ground on which they all stand. They all proclaim with one accord that ‘one can communicate with the dead.’ Spiritualism was mainly a middle- and upper-class movement, and especially popular with women. U.S. spiritualists would meet in private homes for séances, at lecture halls for trance lectures, at state or national conventions, and at summer camps attended by thousands.
The movement was extremely individualistic, with each person relying on her own experiences and reading to discern the nature of the afterlife. Organisation was therefore slow to appear, and when it did it was resisted by mediums and trance lecturers. Most members were content to attend Christian churches, and particularly Universalist churches harboured many Spiritualists..) During the 1920s, professional magician Harry Houdini undertook a well-publicised campaign to expose fraudulent mediums. He was adamant that "Up to the present time everything that I have investigated has been the result of deluded brains."
Despite widespread fraud, the appeal of Spiritualism was strong. Prominent in the ranks of its adherents were those grieving the death of a loved one. Many attend to this very day who are grieving the loss of a loved one and can’t bear the separation and so seek out a spiritualist medium who can bring them into contact again with the deceased. One well known case is that of Mary Todd Lincoln who, grieving the loss of her son, organized séances in the White House which were attended by her husband, President Abraham Lincoln. The surge of interest in Spiritualism during and after the American Civil War and World War I was a direct response to the massive casualties. Coming up tomorrow, our second study, entitled "Is it all Trickery?"
** Disclaimer: The author of this article, Jim Allis, is a guest podcaster and Partake Ministries may or may not agree with his opinions and writings, either in their entirety or part thereof.
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