The year 1991 opened with evil clouds of war again smothering our earth. You may ask, how can this be when Christianity has dominated the world’s history for twenty centuries, teaching and preaching, “Love one another”? England, a devout Christian country, in less than three hundred years has spent in the game of human slaughter billions of millions of monies drawn from the people of our country for the persecution of war. But no figures can estimate the horror, suffering, torture, heart-rending misery and privation – not to speak of the terrible cost in human life or the inhuman suffering of those children left orphans to battle with the hardship of living.
We may ask, “Is there a pure, spiritual, religious nation on earth? When shall we become civilised, spiritualised, true followers of the world’s great spiritual leaders?” When indeed? In an age of guided missiles we need guided men. It is certain that religion has less influence in today’s world. Millions profess spirituality – being Christian – but our civilisation has never been spiritualised because we measure the degree of civilisation by the accumulation of the means of living, wealth, gold, jewels, national wealth, instead of its true definition: ‘the character and value of the life lived’.
We are always being told by “religious people” the things which are God’s will and what we must do to please God. But what does God think about it? Have you ever tried to think what His opinion is?
What does He think of the scores of different religions, each one claiming to be the sole avenue of His truth?
Can He have any respect for the set prayers, mechanically uttered, year in, year out, by congregations to whom they have long ceased to have any meaning?
What is His opinion about the orthodoxy of today which worships a revelation of the past but refuses to accept revelation of the present?
Can God respect religious bodies who build noble, beautiful and priceless edifices around religion, yet are oblivious to the slums, starvation, suffering and today’s ‘cardboard box’ men and women, which often lie in their shadows? There are those who do care but they are the minority.
What is God’s opinion about those who held up a book of a few hundred pages and say that that is the limit of His word? How narrow can one be! Spiritualists have been given the “Torch of Truth” to remove this darkness of ignorance.
How God must smile at those who believe that He only once revealed Himself to a favoured few in a land known as Palestine two thousand years ago and has preserved silence ever since and intends to be eternally silent even though the world is sick and slowly dying. Millions of men, women and children have been slaughtered in His name. Yet He still remains silent!
I believe that war is wrong and that world religions have failed to unite the nations of the world together into Universal Brotherhood. I believe that one of the greatest needs of today’s world is a larger, more intelligent, more adequate, more worthy conception of God the Divine. An external God is a limited God, though such a God may be more easily imaged, but an external God is no longer possible from the Spiritualist’s point of view. That tremendous presence and Power which is the Spiritualist’s conception of God is the inmost of all things, the soul of all, the Power that energises all, the cause and explanation of the whole wonderful evolutionary process that has brought into existence worlds and man.
We have learnt by our Spiritualism to regard this life as spiritual, and death as an incident in our eternally progressive career. We have had revealed to us the existence of the spirit body through which we operate upon the physical form and which will still be ours in the after-death experience. ‘Heaven is life’s divinest freedom’ wrote Lizzie Doten.
Despite the claims of the Christian Church regarding heaven and hell, the fact remains that the ‘so-called’ dead are the only people who can give us any real evidence of and information regarding life beyond the grave. Proofs of spirit presences and identity can only be afforded to sad and doubting mourners through mediumship and it is indisputable that the spirits who communicate from the other side have helped us to realise that the spirit world is a fact in nature. They have shown us that the law of continuity operates in all realms of life and that death is not a tragedy but a transition, and a continuity of life beyond the veil. The one shining and incomparable jewel in the crown of Pure Spiritualism is the proof beyond doubt or question that MAN survives and that death can never triumph over life. That is the one outstanding claim which our mediums set out to establish.
No organised religion can claim to have done so much. No creed or systemised form of faith has professed to find justification for its pretensions as regards survival in anything more substantial than hope and faith. Through Spiritualism we can claim knowledge – knowledge not only for our own satisfaction but that can be passed on for others.
Spiritualism, in my eyes, is the revelation of the scientific basis, the natural laws upon which all religions in the world are founded. It has brought us the knowledge that the established creeds have failed to bring us, a knowledge so stupendous, so priceless, that in it I believe lies the future salvation of the world, the end of wars, a lasting peace, the knowledge that man survives what is called death and that those we love are still within reach or waiting for us just a breath away. The spirit world have consistently proclaimed the idea of our Fifth Principle, Personal Responsibility, and have ever accompanied that teaching with the cheering prospect of progression both here and hereafter and of the ultimate realisation of human brotherhood in the Fatherhood of God.
The Higher Spiritualism is revealed in us when we strive to live the spiritual life in this world and help others to do the same.
Looking back on the events of the past year 1990, the Centenary Year of the Spiritualists National Union, I consider it has been a vital and active year for Spiritualism. We will remember for many years to come the opening of our Centenary Celebration at Wembley on March 31st, 1990. It was a huge success, a never-to-be-forgotten experience for the several thousand people who attended.
On Saturday, March 30th, 1991, we end our celebrations at the Free Trade Hall, Manchester. Another excellent day is planned to put forward our future plans to take us into the second century of our Union. I appeal to all Spiritualists and to all churches to remember that it was at the inaugural meeting held in Manchester on July 6th, 1890 that the SNU of Churches came into being. Let us pack every road leading to Manchester on March 30th, 1991 and show the world that Spiritualists are proud people. We intend to grow stronger each year until every household has heard of us and respects us for the excellent work we do in removing the fear of death and in providing all nations with the true purpose of life on earth.
We must, if we are to survive the next century, examine from time to time the forms of religious worship used in our churches so that, where necessary, recommendations for their revision can be made in harmony with our teachings to meet the needs of a changing world.
I close this letter with the words of Senator Bankhead: “We stand at a decisive moment in history. Forces of unmeasured strength are on the march. Is there a force which can rally the recuperative powers of mankind and win the race with chaos? There is a force that can outmarch all others and which, if we will, can shape the future. It is the mighty onslaught of a new spirit challenging men and nations to a change of heart. It is the cumulative effect of millions of people who listen to God and obey.”