Do Mediums really produce supernatural phenomena that baffle Science? What did Houdini, Thurston, and others learn? What about the witch of Endor? What does the Bible say of Spiritism? Here is the first of two eye-opening installments revealing the surprising truth on a mysterious subject of world importance.
London, England THIS GENERATION is suffering from "mass softening of the brain," quips a leading writer in an American magazine. And right he is! Never has any generation so rapidly lost its moral and spiritual balance. The breakdown of family life, the loss of sound judgment, the unconscious fear of the future — these and many other factors are creating a DANGEROUS WORLD-WIDE atmosphere in which almost anything can happen! Many youths, otherwise normal, sometimes commit the "craziest acts." Their only explanation is that they felt an uncontrollable urge to murder or rape or steal; or they heard a voice that haunted them until they committed an obnoxious deed. Not only insanity, but neurosis and psychosis affect millions of ordinary individuals. Then there are the thousands of psychiatrists who try to understand the subconscious problems of OTHERS. because they can't understand themselves! Whether we like to admit it or not, we are BREEDING A RACE OF MENTAL AS WELL AS PHYSICAL WEAKLINGS. We eat wrongly, we think wrongly, we live wrongly. Is it any wonder that people everywhere suffer emotionally, mentally and spiritually?
The FUTILE Search for Security
The most impelling passion today is the quest for security and for the assurance that all will be right in the future. Young couples want to be "assured" that their marriages will be successful. Businessmen want to be "assured" that the signs of the zodiac are promising. Many seek to the mysterious in order to know if they are pursuing the right career. Here, for example, is an illustration of this trend: Nearly everyone has heard of Monsieur Dior, the famous Paris designer of clothes for women. In a recent article describing this international figure, we learn of his driving passion to know how his designs will appeal to the feminine world. He consults "lady medium for advance information." In the flickering light of a candle, these spiritist mediums consult the "next world" and give him assurance that his latest collection will be a wonderful success! Monsieur Dior is only one out of millions who do the same thing! I have been especially conscious of this since I reached London. Spiritism and kindred occult doctrines have spread their influence far and wide. From a local newspaper I quote the following: "An interesting meeting is being held in one of the committee moms of the House of Commons this week for the benefit and instruction of Members of Parliament who may want to know more about our subject" — spiritism and psychic phenomena. Men and women — and particularly women — of high and low rank, dictators, kings of Europe, even past presidents of the United States, business men, politicians, scientists, theatrical stars, clerks and housewives — all consult the mysteries of occultism and spiritism. This practice is an international menace, bringing ruin upon nations. During the last war, Adolf Hider ordered the establishment of the Occult section of the Health Department. According to the Spiritist newspaper "TWO WORLDS," those present at the seances of the noted medium Lillian Bailey included "the late King of Greece and Mackenzie King, one-time premier of Canada, as well as many well-known film stars and others of show business." The influence of Lillian Bailey extended to "Loniel Logue, the brilliant Australian voice specialist who cured King George VI of his stammering." A medium is one who pretends to contact the "spirits of those who have died and gone to the next world." In Scotland "the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland had declared that psychic research was not contrary to the teaching of the Presbyterian faith. Members of the church were not forbidden to take it up," states the newspaper "TWO WORLDS." Such famous men as Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, the writer and lecturer, Sir Oliver Lodge, one of the greatest scientists of our day, Sir Edward Hall, famous British barrister, have given their unreserved support to spiritism.
Trickery, Fraud and Deceit
Many who have heard of Houdini the magician, who conjured up all kinds of "magic," have recognized that trickery, fraud and deceit are often associated with spiritism. Any number of spiritist phenomena are the direct result of hypnotism, of the clever frauds perpetrated in semi-darkness, of the fact that the hand of the medium is quicker than the eye of those attending a seance. Many direct-voice contacts with the "other world" are purely the result of ventriloquism. Photographs of the materializations of "spirits" have been demonstrated to be frauds — the result of miniature pictures attached to tiny flash lights, often secreted in the palm of the hand or in the pockets of the medium. In the semi-darkness the opening of the camera was cleverly timed with the flash of a miniature flash light bulb on which a picture was pasted. Though there was actually no materialization of a "spirit" from the other world, there was a photograph! Frauds have been so prevalent in spiritism that there is hardly a prominent medium who has not on certain occasions had recourse to deception. Case after case has been carefully documented against scores of mediums who have been caught red-handed in perpetrating their trickery. Fingerprints, supposedly of deceased, have often been faked in semi-darkness. Finger print experts have been called in and have proved that the prints were not those of the deceased but of the medium. Acts of levitation — being lifted up into the air without physical means, or floating in the air — have been demonstrated, in certain cases, to be the result of hypnotic suggestion. Documentary evidence of these examples which I have mentioned is accessible to nearly anyone. H. Dennis Bradley, a one-time proponent of spiritism, presents an excellent case of fraud in his book " — and After," published in 1931. So does Harry Price, in his demonstration in the "Bulletin of the National Laboratory of Psychic Research" (1931). Certainly the most thorough works have been those written by Herbert Thurston, S.J., a Roman Catholic. Two of his books are The Church and Spiritualism and The Physical Phenomena of Mysticism. Anyone who has investigated spiritism recognizes that much of what is performed in the flickering light of seances is plain dishonesty and common fraud! But it is NOT ALL FRAUD!
Science Is Baffled
The very reason for the increasing prevalence of spiritism is that not all of its manifestations are fraud. Many documented cases prove beyond doubt that there is unnatural power present in spiritist sittings and demonstrations. Says Henry Thurston: "The knockings and the table movements... cannot all be explained by mere trickery. Investigators," he continues, "who, following in the track of Houdini the conjuror, began by denouncing all the manifestations as fraudulent, have found themselves compelled to modify their views." (From the booklet "Spiritualism.") Absolutely astounding occurrences have been proved to be associated with spiritist phenomena. In one particular instance, the testimony of a medium was used to track down a criminal. The case was that of Harry Dobkin, convicted of murdering his wife. The sister of the murdered woman, Polly Dubinski, grew suspicious of the long absence of her sister. She therefore visited a spiritist medium who told her that her sister was murdered and who revealed the manner of her death. The police were informed. They visited the medium and obtained the details. Upon checking into the case of the missing woman, they found the medium's account of the death verified. Harry Dobkin was arrested and convicted! The medium Marion Trevor recently received a message of the Sidon disaster in Portland harbor, nearly 12 hours before the submarine sank. This same medium apparently foretold the passing of King George VI and of Queen Mary. These and many other remarkable incidents associated with spiritism have defied the explanation of scientists. They KNOW these phenomena occur, but they are at a loss to explain them.
The Origin of Spiritism
Modern spiritism is little more than one hundred years old. It had its origin in Hydesville, New York, in 1848. A farmer, John D. Fox, lived in Hydesville with two of his daughters, Margaret and Kate. They had recently moved to their home. At night noises disturbed their sleep. As usual they attributed the nuisance to mice and rats. But upon retiring on the night of March 1, 1848, the rappings commenced with special violence. Kate addressed a few words toward the direction of the noisy rapping. Instantly the rappings responded! Shortly thereafter the mother of the Fox sisters received a message from a "spirit" associated with the rapping noise. The "spirit" claimed to be that of Charles B. Rosma, which revealed that he had been murdered in that very house several years previously. Upon searching in the cellar a large portion of a human skeleton was found. It was later determined that a man answering to the description of Rosma had been seen visiting the house, but his whereabouts thereafter was unknown. The neighbors soon discovered that there was intercourse with "spirits" in the Fox residence. They came to investigate. Lost articles were found; questions were answered from the unseen darkness. Many became convinced that the Fox sisters were in contact with the dead. Thus Spiritism spread from the little hamlet of Hydesville to the whole Western World! But let's notice what happened to the Fox sisters. After forty years in the service of spiritism, or "spiritualism" as it is sometimes called, the Fox sisters had become the slaves of alcohol. They were moral degenerates, cursed and swore. They died mental and physical wrecks, the objects of charity! These facts are admitted by spiritists themselves. You may verify them in any published work on the subject. This is what the influence of spiritism can produce! This is the kind of diabolical influence that motivated Adolf Hitler in many of his decisions. AND THIS IS THE INFLUENCE THAT PERMEATES OFFICES OF GOVERNMENT IN OUR NATIONS TODAY! Is it any wonder that we have sex perverts infiltrating the government of the United States — or any wonder that true spirituality is nearly dead in Great Britain, where many leading men have espoused spiritualism? Is it any wonder that women are now seeking to give birth to their children under the influence of hypnosis? But to continue — Remember that I mentioned that modern spiritism began in 1848. That date is not the real origin of spiritism. SPIRITISM IS THE OLDEST FORM OF DECEPTION IN THE WORLD TODAY! Let's understand how it began.
What Is a Spiritist "Medium"?
First, in every contact with "the other world" or with "spirits," there must be a "medium" — one through whom contact with the next world is supposedly made. Second, there is always a "guide" or "control" who is in charge of a medium. Usually women are mediums, as in the case of the woman whom Saul visited. The account of this amazing episode is found in I Samuel 28:7-25. According to the adherents of spiritism, spirit guides or controls direct the woman "until she is fitted to act as a permanent 'mouthpiece' through which he can give out the individual teaching, messages, demonstrations, healing, and so on that he came... to convey." These spirit guides so influence the medium that finally "the guide can order and direct his instrument as he wills." "On the medium in a passive condition is directed a stream of thought, originating in some attendant spirit entity, which expels for the time being the medium's ordinary consciousness and makes trance communication possible." These statements, by adherents of spiritism, explain what happens to a medium who is under the influence of a superior spirit entity. Now let's examine the first instance of a spirit using a medium. It occurred in the Garden of Eden! The first medium was the SERPENT in the garden. Notice that this account, given in Genesis 3, has been scoffed at by materialistic scientists as impossible. But it is no more impossible than the hundreds of other genuine spiritist phenomena which defy scientific explanation! That first medium "was more subtil than any beast of the field." Here was an animal which had subtil characteristics. Suddenly under satanic influence, it spoke! Eve listened. Then she was deceived! The overwhelming suffering, the sin, disease, sorrow, grief, misery, war and death that you witness today is the result of mother Eve attending a seance by a medium! She acted upon the advice given by the evil power that influenced the physical serpent. She persuaded her husband against his better judgment, to do what he knew should not be done. That is how spiritism influenced the world from the beginning!
Ancient Greeks Were Spiritists
Little wonder that spiritism influences so many learned individuals today. It was believed and practiced among the Greeks, from whom comes our modern philosophy. An outstanding feature of the religion of the Greeks was the practice of divination or clairvoyance by entranced persons called oracles. Clairvoyance is defined as the power to see what others are unable to see. Clairaudience is defined as the power to hear what others are unable to hear. The most famous of these oracles was attached to the temple of Apollo in Delphi. It was not only a national, but an international institution! It influenced world politics! The Delphic oracle or medium, a woman who was a priestess, was consulted by rulers, military generals, legislators and innumerable others on important matters of law and order. Whenever international matters developed into serious controversies, the oracle was consulted. It advised when the nations should use their military strength. The written records and decisions of the oracle were kept with other official documents in the archives of the various Greek city-states. Plato is recorded to have written: "All questions of religious detail should be left to the decision of the oracle, as is the usual practice in Greece." Such has been the international influence of spiritism!
A Counterfeit of Truth
When asked the question, "How does Christianity square with spiritualism?" Margaret Lawrence gives this as her answer: "I suggest that we take the Bible 'by and large' as a wonderful old record in general; but do not try and live by every individual word in it... The main outline... is true. But much of the rest should be read with caution — and above all, with the help of common sense and knowledge. And this knowledge the study of Spiritualism can give you." (From "What Is this Spiritualism?") Compare this with what Jesus tells us: "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the month of God" (Mat. 4:4). And again, "All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works" (II Tim. 3:16-17). True knowledge comes from God. "The fear of the Eternal is the beginning of knowledge" (Pro. 1:7). The apostle Paul warns us against "the opposition of knowledge falsely so-called: which some professing have erred from the faith" (I Tim. 6:20-21). According to the spiritists, Jesus Christ is not the one true Mediator, but rather in His place is "that gifted class of people called Mediums, who can bring heaven to earth and unite the two worlds in one..." (Finlay's The Rock of Truth, pp. 297-8). Spiritism denies that Jesus Christ was God manifest in the flesh to redeem mankind from sin. It denies that Jesus is the ONLY Mediator between God and man. Paul writes that there is "one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; who gave himself a ransom for all" (I Tim. 2:5-6).
A Substitute for the Bible
Spiritism manifests itself as the one true religion which alone can bring the joys of a millennium to humanity. It masquerades as the final source of truth. Notice how its manifestations are meant to counterfeit Scriptural Revelation: Spiritist mediums, both now and in Bible times, claim the power of clairvoyance — the ability to see visions, and the power of clairaudience — the ability to hear what others are unable to hear. As Ezekiel says: "They have seen vanity and LYING divination, saying, The Eternal saith: and the Eternal hath not sent them: and they have made others to hope that they would confirm the word" (Ezek. 13:6). The visions and the voices come to the mediums because they want to believe what they think they see and hear. Often spiritist manifestations are the result of the subconscious mental desires, but at other times they are direct manifestations of "spirits." Here is what Jeremiah says: "They speak a vision out of their own heart, and not out of the mouth of the Eternal" (Jer. 23:16). What many fail to realize is that the human mind can be influenced by outside forces — for either good or evil. The great question which spiritist mediums are unable to answer with PROOF is how they know which influence they are yielding to! Spiritism does not reveal the future in a clear understandable LIGHT as does Bible prophecy inspired of God. Spiritism does not reveal the way man ought to live. Instead, the manifestations of spiritism deal with insignificant details, with unusual and unnatural signs, with ridiculous rappings. Where in Scripture did the true prophets of God use these manifestations to attract attention?
No Genuine Happiness
Look a spiritist medium in the face. SEE her abnormal expression. LOOK at her empty features, her shallow personality. She is not developing her mind. She is letting another power think for her! All mediums admit that they are not fully conscious of what they are saying or doing. Nearly all at one time or another have recourse to trickery, fraud, deceit — though at other times they obtain genuine manifestations which are NOT the result of physical laws known to science. These phenomenal manifestations — including the stigmata, bodily elongation, odour of sanctity, and incorruption of "saints" during the Middle Ages — are not limited to spiritism. They are associated with both Catholic and Protestant religious groups, and also heathen religions. Why? What is the power that manifests these strange influences? Are the "spirits" or "guides" of mediums really the spirits of dead men and women who want to communicate with the present world? How WILL SPIRITISM INFLUENCE THE NATIONAL DESTINY OF OUR PEOPLE? What is the real explanation of the magicians of Egypt who withstood Moses? And did Samuel really speak to Saul when Saul presented himself to the medium at Endor? These and other questions will be answered in the next issue of The PLAIN TRUTH in Mr. Armstrong's thrilling article: "SPIRITISM... fraud or fact?" Don't miss it!