Wednesday, July 31, 2013

The Remedy for Grief

One day last July I was reading headlines on the Google News site when I had an urge to do a search of the news for "spiritualism." I'd never tried that before and I don't think I've done it since but on this day a year ago my experiment struck pay dirt.

The news story my search turned up had appeared in a Kalamazoo, Michigan, newspaper just a couple of days prior and it concerned an author who was doing a book signing at a local bookstore. The author, Dr. Mary Leiker, was a former superintendant of schools for a district in Michigan state and her book, Just Behind the Door, had recently been released. I subsequently purchased the book through Amazon and found it intriguing.

Mary Leiker
Elsewhere on this blog we've commented about the many people who find spiritualism after the loss of a loved one. Grief drives them in the quest to find answers about survival after death and when they investigate they discover that evidence clearly and convincingly shows that this life is not all there is.
Mary Leiker's experience of grief, while similar to that of many others, is unique in its intensity. As superintendant of schools, Dr. Leiker was always "on duty" whenever there was a crisis situation involving students in her district. One Saturday she was alerted about a horrible automobile accident involving five seniors in the district's high school and she spun into action. She was present at the hospital, consoled family members and put into place services that would provide support and counseling for traumatized student friends. She explains in the book that the students "need hugs from their  peers to give them strength" when facing such a crisis. "They look to the adults for answers. When there are no answers forthcoming to explain the terrible events and the probable outcomes, they feel vulnerable and frightened. In essence, they look to the adults to 'fix it.' Death, however, doesn't get fixed."
Two of the students had died in the accident and the others were seriously injured. It was a gut-wrenching day for Leiker and when she returned home late that evening she wanted to go to bed undisturbed.  However, shortly after returning home she received a telephone call that would change her life forever ­‒ her adult son in Colorado had been killed in a construction accident that very day.
In the book Mary shares her innermost feelings in detail and reveals how she coped with these multiple tragic losses. More than a personal story, the book also serves as a guide to dealing with grief because her detailed individual account can be instructional to anyone coping with a loss.
Her quest for answers eventually led Mary to a talented medium who put her in direct touch with deceased members of her family including her recently passed son. The evidential and comforting messages that came through provided immense relief while it confirmed her belief that the so-called dead live on and are able to communicate with those of us remaining on this side.
This medium lived a considerable distance from Mary's home and she longed for the ability to communicate directly. Her grandmother, though not an acknowledged medium, nonetheless had psychic abilities and Mary apparently had them as well. Over time, she relates, she has been able to receive messages herself from family members on the other side which has enriched her life tremendously.
Mary Leiker's book is a sensitive, personal account with a vital message to those attempting to handle the loss of loved ones. Its author is an intelligent, well-educated individual whose approach to this topic is informed and rational.  The reader can easily profit from her experiences and perhaps even achieve what Mary herself did ‒ direct, personal contact with family and friends who still live "just behind the door."

Sunday, May 19, 2013

Was There a Séance on the Day of Pentecost?

May 19 was Pentecost Sunday on the Church Liturgical Calendar, a day for traditional Christians to recall the strange events occurring  on the Feast of Pentecost shortly after the crucifixion of Jesus. But for those of us who see things through the spectacles of spiritualism, that day of Pentecost long ago takes on a meaning much different from the one expounded from pulpits around the world on this Sunday.

Our only source of information about what happened with the disciples that day is the Acts of the Apostles, a book in the Christian New Testament. Bear in mind that this account was written perhaps 100 years later with the unknown author (Luke by name but not the apostle Luke) acknowledging that he relies on oral tradition. Nonetheless, there are enough clues in the account to convince spiritualists that the disciples on the day of Pentecost were holding a séance!

Remember that prior to their gathering on Pentecost the disciples allegedly had been seeing materializations (apparitions) of Jesus for some time and that he had promised a spiritual event in the near future. So with this expectation in mind, they got together in a home to await the appearance of what they called the Holy Spirit (or Holy Ghost) ­-- this term being used, according to Arthur Findlay, to describe the spirit control of a medium. Over the centuries that followed, the term was appropriated to designate one of the beings in the concocted Christian trinity.

In Acts we read, "And when the day of Pentecost was fully come, they were all with one accord in one place. And suddenly there came a sound from heaven as of a rushing mighty wind, and it filled all the house where they were sitting. And there appeared unto them cloven tongues like as of fire, and it sat upon each of them." (Acts 2: 1-3)

The phenomena just described are often experienced in a physical mediumship circle. I myself have felt slight breezes and temperature changes in circles and I'm told that these can be much more pronounced within experienced circles sitting for physical phenomena. Botanist and Church of England clergyman George Henslow points out in his book The Religion of the Spirit World Written by the Spirits Themselves that similar winds accompanied spirit communication in the Old Testament (1920, page 203): "Behold the Lord [no doubt referring to a spirit control] passed by and a great and strong wind rent the mountain;" and "The Lord answered Job out of a whirlwind."
Spirit lights are also common in séances and in some cases they could be described as fiery lights atop the heads of sitters.

Another thing happened on the Day of Pentecost long ago that has fostered a whole movement within Christendom -- Pentecostalism. We are told that in the midst of this séance some of the disciples began "speaking in tongues," or talking in various languages. There were many present, the account explains, who were from different regions and they heard the entranced Christians speaking in their home languages -- much to their amazement.

In my youth I spent a couple of years attending a Pentecostal church and I heard many parishioners  "speaking in tongues" but I'm quite certain none of those utterances were genuine foreign languages -- instead they were merely babbling gibberish pouring out of an ecstatic worshiper.  However, on the Day of Pentecost we're told that foreign languages were heard. As any student of the history of mediumship knows, there have been many monolingual mediums who have fluently spoken in trance both modern and ancient languages with which they have no acquaintance. These communications have been transcribed or recorded and verified as genuine. Perhaps the disciples did the same.

A long-passed Greek Bible scholar, Dr. T.J. McCrosson, observed many years ago that, yes, on the Day of Pentecost there were those in attendance who were from distant lands and they heard messages in their native languages. McCrosson noted, however, that those from the local area were there also so they would have heard messages in a language commonly used by both the mediums and the listeners. So, not everyone in trance used a foreign language that day - - just some of them. Others spoke messages from spirit in their every-day language (most likely Aramaic).

So, could it be that mediumship was common in the early church? Most definitely, according to Arthur Findlay who thoroughly discussed the topic in his massive history of religion, The Psychic Stream. "Mediums are the primary cause of religion, which in time grows into a form of belief comprising doctrines, dogmas and rites requiring priests to protect and perform," Findlay writes (page 605). "Mediums always created the original idea, and thus Moses, the medium, was the cause behind Judaism, and Paul, the medium, the cause behind Christianity."

In the Old Testament we read of many prophets who allegedly uttered statements from the "Lord" (which Findlay feels always signifies the medium's spirit control). But few Christians realize that prophets were present in the apostolic church as well. Several are named in the New Testament and in Ephesians we read that in each church there was to be a prophet (along with an apostle, pastor, teacher, etc.).

Findlay makes a strong argument that these prophets were the same as today's mediums. "In The Encyclopedia Britannica we find that 'Prophet is a word taken from the vocabulary of the ancient Greek religion which passed into the language of Christianity, and so into the modern tongues of Europe, because it was adopted by the Hellenistic Jews as the rendering of the Hebrew nābi. The word, therefore, as we use it is meant to convey an idea which belongs to Hebrew and not to Hellenic belief.' Thus the word prophet, meaning a medium, was adopted by Christians, but its meaning was forgotten when they lost touch with the etheric world. In the fourth century mediumship was abolished and priests took the place of mediums. Since that time no Christian theologian has understood what Paul and other early Christians meant when using the words prophet and prophesy. The foregoing, however, makes it clear that a prophet was a medium, that a seer was also a medium, and that a prophet and seer referred to the same individual, namely a medium."

Thus  in the Old Testament we read, "When a man went to enquire of God, thus he spake, Come and let us go to the seer: for he that is now called a prophet was beforetime called a seer;" (I Sam. 9: 9) and "The spirit of the Lord will come upon thee, and thou shalt prophesy... and shalt be turned into another man." (I Sam. 10: 6) Findlay remarks, "Nothing could describe in fewer words what occurs to a medium when he enters the trance state."

The fact that mediums were common and accepted in the early church is clinched by an extensive quote from the very early Christian leader and theologian Tertullian (c. 160–c. 225 AD). Since few are aware of this information, I want to quote it in its entirety. Tertullian wrote this in his work De Anima and Findlay quotes it in The Psychic Stream (page 1039-1040):

For seeing that we acknowledge spiritual charismata, or gifts, we too have merited the attainment of the prophetic gift. We have now amongst us a sister whose lot it has been  to be favored with sundry gifts of revelation, which she experiences in the spirit by ecstatic vision amidst the sacred rites of the Lord's Day in the church. She converses with the angels, and sometimes even with the Lord; she both sees and hears mysterious communications; some men's hearts she understands, and to them who are in need she distributes remedies. Whether it be in the reading of the Scriptures, or in the chanting of psalms, or in the preaching of sermons, or in the offering up of prayers, in all these religious services, matter and opportunity are afforded her of seeing visions. It may possibly have happened to us, whilst this sister of ours was wrapt in the spirit, that we had discoursed in some ineffable way about the soul. After the people are dismissed at the conclusion of the sacred services, she is in the regular habit of reporting to us whatever things she may have seen in vision;  for all her communications are examined with the most scrupulous care, in order that their truth may be probed, 'amongst other things' says she, 'there has been shewn to me a soul in bodily shape, and a spirit has been in the habit of appearing to me; not, however, a void and empty illusion but such as would offer itself to be even grasped by the hand, soft and transparent and of an ethereal color, and in form resembling that of a human being in every respect.' This was her vision, and for her witness there was God; and the apostle Paul most assuredly foretold that there were to be spiritual gifts in the Church.

And Findlay acknowledges this report by saying, "Here we have an account of a great medium who was treated by an outstanding early Christian with the respect which was due her, in such contrast to the way mediums have been treated since the Church organization became controlled by the priests. This information, which has come down to us from the hand of Tertullian, proves that mediums were employed in Christian churches in the third century, as what he tells us was written in the year 211."

At this point it is quite easy to say that there is MUCH that has been kept hidden from us and much that has been altered over the years. It's my wish that from now on Pentecost Sunday can become a time when all humankind will acknowledge the existence of natural mediumistic gifts and encourage their use.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

True Religion is This....

Pure and genuine religion in the sight of God the Father means caring for orphans and widows in their distress and refusing to let the world corrupt you. James 1:27

With all the hubbub surrounding the resignation and replacement of the pope, it seems like a good time to revisit a theme I've covered here briefly before, namely, the purpose and role of religion as seen by spiritualists and those friends who have communicated with us from the other side of that boundary we call death.

While I'm generally not one given to quoting the Bible, the verse above, disregarded by many in organized religion, seems to be pertinent to a discussion about the role of religion and it's a definition with which I heartily agree. Note that there is no mention in the verse of rituals or ceremonies, nothing about being cleansed of sin, nothing about sacrifice, the Eucharist or baptism, no requirement that one should hold certain beliefs, and absolutely no reference to a pope or any ecclesiastical structure whatsoever. Religion in this definition is confined to service and the individual pursuit of virtue (or building of character). In our verse, caring for widows and orphans is a metaphor for all types of service rendered to others.

It should be noted here that over the past 160 years of modern spiritualism this simple outlook on religion has consistently been the message from the other side. Spirit in message after message has repeatedly stressed the personal quest for truth and righteousness and downplayed the role of ceremony and  all activities and doctrines associated with organized religion. Service to others is seen by spirit as the single  most effective means of assuring one's spiritual growth. In other words, religion is conduct and nothing more as noted by scientist and clergyman George Henslow in The Religion of the Spirit World (1920).

In his voluminous writings on history spiritualist author Arthur Findlay shows how this "natural religion" as he calls it was corrupted over the centuries by both ignorance and deliberate manipulation from the priestly class. Rites and dogmas were added until nowadays almost everyone equates religion with these formal institutional-based practices and beliefs. The whole story is interestingly told in Findlay's 2,000-page masterwork The Psychic Stream (1939).

Put another way, scholar Karen Armstrong says that religion isn't about adherence to doctrines as literal truth it's about living one's life a certain way from hour to hour and day to day. And the remarkable spirit guide Silver Birch said, "Religion is living in a way that brings you closer to the Great Spirit. Religion is when the Great Spirit is expressed in your actions. Religion is service."

Spiritualism and New Thought have both taught that before each action there always is thought. The thought of unenlightened minds is usually rooted in self-service and only with spiritual growth does one emerge from this selfish frame of mind. Ignorant and undisciplined people who have not yet begun to look beyond self generally do what is wrong with wrong actions, according to Findlay, being those which "upset the harmony and aspirations of life." (Note the absence of the word "sin!")

"Wrong-doing comes from unbalanced and undeveloped minds, and, in its final analysis, can be reduced to selfishness, to the consideration of only our own wishes and the ignoring of those with whom we come in contact," Findlay elaborated in his two-volume history of the world, The Curse of Ignorance (Vol. 1, Chapter XI). "...The finer or enlightened mind could not find peace and harmony if others suffered from actions produced by its thoughts. The enlightened mind is so telepathically in touch with the minds of other people that it is upset if it produces disharmony in other minds. As the mind develops it becomes ever more sensitive to the thoughts of others, and adjusts itself to prevent the disharmony which leads to quarrels and unhappiness."

History, Findlay says, is the story of unfolding minds. Over much of mankind's past undeveloped minds constituted the majority of the population but during the past few centuries steady progress has been made and now there is less cruelty while efforts to help the less fortunate are abundant.

Our institutional religious dogmas and traditions, however, are products of an age when cruelty was the norm and ignorance reigned supreme. In assessing the impact of Christianity on the world's people, Findlay asks, "What, then, was the ethical standard of instruction in those days [when  Christianity was being formed], and how exactly did the people look upon life? They had their own crude ideas of right and wrong, just as a savage has, but they had no incentive to strive for something better, as they were taught and believed that their wickedness had been forgiven by God, because 'By the righteousness of one [Jesus] the free gift [of salvation] came upon all men... so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.' (Romans 5: 18) This being so, they had no reason to worry over their shortcomings."

This outlook, of course, persisted from the fall of the Roman Empire right up to the Renaissance and is still being promoted by many within organized Christianity. Nowadays parishioners are exhorted to secure their salvation primarily by endorsing certain beliefs followed by regular church attendance, tithing, baptism, partaking of the Eucharist, and any number of other things espoused by various denominations. And, oh, you should also clean up your act along the way but, don't worry, do these things the church asks and you're saved and won't go to eternal punishment in hell. Those who distance themselves from the church are looked upon with suspicion because, the preacher says, how can anybody be truly "good" outside of the "body of Christ" (code name for the so-called universal church)?

That's a lot of baggage wrapped up in religious clothes and, according to our verse at the top of this post, entirely unnecessary baggage at that. Since its emergence 160 years ago, modern spiritualism has attempted to lead people back to the important but simple foundations of living: Practice the Golden Rule, serve one another, love in abundance,  and recognize who you really are a self-conscious manifestation of  the Universal Life Force that is destined to live forever. That realization alone (which is proven over and over again through spirit communications) automatically alters one's behavior away from selfishness and toward a full, rich and loving relationship with All Life.

So, don't hold your breath that the new pope or any other leader in organized religion will usher in our New Age that task is just not one that has been assigned to any religious institution. Instead, look to enlightened science and to the prompting from within for the transformations we are longing for. As science edges closer and closer to discovery of spirit and as mankind as a collective realizes who he/she really is, then the resolve will be there to change our own world for the better. Then will our New Age truly be here.