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"THE OLD claim formerly made here and there by highly imaginative and expectant calamity prophets, that the time was at hand for the great and final conflict, the battle of Armageddon, has died down until one rarely receives a crude tract or hears a pulpit warning to remind him of such impending disaster. Just about the time the wild prophets have yielded to the spirit of brotherhood and peace that has been taking fast hold upon the world, one finds a desperate contention and uproar amongst the ambitious warlords, egged on by mercenary makers of the machines and accoutrements of war and by ambitious hopefuls in uniform, to outdo each other in preparations for the Battle of Armageddon.
"If there had been announced in flaming lines across the sky the great and awful fact that the final battle of destruction and annihilation was at hand, it could hardly have led to more sudden and tremendous preparation for war than that now under way between three of the leading nations of the world, the very nations that boast of the Anglo-Saxon desire and purpose to encourage the arts of peace. The best that can be said of such untimely departure from the peace policy so loudly professed by these countries for the last decade is that the warlords in the saddle and interests which find profit in war and in preparations for war have grossly and outrageously misrepresented and misused the people over whom they have influence and power.
"Twenty years ago there began a promising movement to promote the peace of the world. The movement led up to largely attended conferences in all civilized lands, and The Hague Peace Court was one of the results of the work of wise and progressive men, including the leading statesmen of the time. Arrangements were consummated at great expense by which disagreements were to be settled according to rules of justice and not by a resort to butchery and fire. The peace movement did not stop here. Peace treaties became fashionable, and a week rarely passed without an account of some happy pact between the very nations now most desperately bent on preparing for the great Battle of Armageddon and some one of the nations whom their warlords and captains of the military industry pretended to suspect or fear.
"The unsound minds of a few ambitious warlords, reinforced by the greed and ambition of other men, have led to a sad loss in the courage, the morals and the purpose of the modern world. There has been no fall to be compared to it in many centuries. Just as the world had really begun to turn swords into plow-shares the whole policy of peace and brotherhood was exchanged in a night, as it were, for a war policy in pursuance of which the plow is now being converted into the sword. As 'The News' sees it there has been committed in this an awful crime against humanity. Mr. Birrel, Secretary for Ireland, submitted an apt comment upon President Taft's declaration approving the present policy in this country. He said:—
"'When I was young, America set the example of an unarmed nation, but things have not worked out as was expected. Mr. Taft's speech on the question of United States armaments were words of doom. They have shattered some of the best hopes of humanity, for they show that even across America they have joined the ranks of the armed and are to be supplied with a great navy and a powerful army. It is a miserable pity that hopes should be shattered, and that we are now to deal with the United States as a fully equipped military and naval nation....Wherever we go, we find armament, armament, armament.'
"What must be the end of this desperate game in which enlightened nations are actually striving to outbuild each other? Truly, as 'The Independent' declares, 'It is hopeless, for there is no end but utter collapse.' It has come to mean almost slavery for millions of the people of England and Germany already.
"'A nation which buys guns at $70,000 each when the slums of great cities are rotting, and millions of human beings struggle for bread, will, unless it repents, be overtaken soon or late by the same divine wrath which shattered Babylon to pieces, and hurled Rome from a throne which was supposed to be eternal.'
"'Yet it may even be that in this very costliness lies the best hope of ultimate restrictions, if not abandonment—that the sighing of the nations under the heaviness of the burden may at last find expression in the creating of some central controlling power, drawn from all alike, upon whose omnipotent will shall rest the decision of all issues which, in its absence, might plunge the world in war.'
At the meeting of the House of Commons Sir George Kekewich will present a bill "to amend the law ecclesiastical with respect to inter-communion between the Church of England and other Christian Churches."
The bill, which is a one-clause measure, provides that "it shall be lawful for any clergyman in holy orders of the Church of England, not suspended or deprived by order of an ecclesiastical Court, to preach or minister in any chapel of any other Christian denomination, or in any building, with the assent of the minister or owners [R4403 : page 164] or trustees thereof, as the case may be; and for any minister of any other Christian denomination to preach or minister in any cathedral or collegiate or parish church or chapel of the Church of England with the assent of the dean, incumbent, or clergyman or other person in charge thereof, as the case may be."
It will be observed that the bill refers to any building, as well as any chapel, and Sir George Kekewich told our Lobby Correspondent that the measure as drafted will apply to Roman Catholics as well as to Nonconformists.—Exchange.
"I may be wrong, but I feel that things strange and terrible are in the air. Here property rights are violated and religion persecuted and here cabinet ministers are insulted in the streets. The government trembles before striking functionaries and finally retreats. Men talk of barricades and revolutions and of a republic which shall be run by trade unions composed of people who have no Christ. What more do you want? Months must see a change or the years—not more than five, perhaps, surely will see the end."
In a sermon in which he told of the effect of religious seances and the efforts of certain writers to shatter belief in a future life, the Rev. H. D. C. Maclachlan preached to a large congregation in Seventh Street Christian Church on "The New Spiritualism," in which he gave scientific proof of a future life and exhorted his hearers to be of good cheer and continue to hope. Mr. Maclachlan spoke in part as follows:—
"There has been no more remarkable change in public opinion than that witnessed within the last few years with regard to that class of facts known as spiritualistic. There was a time when it was not quite respectable to believe in them, but quite recently there has been a change. Ghosts have become respectable; planchette and table rapping are parlor amusements; the popular magazines vie with each other in saying nice things about mediums and their ways.
"The cause of this change in public opinion has been a similar change in scientific belief. It is not more than thirty years ago that orthodox science refused so much as to investigate the things of which we are speaking. When Sir William Crookes, the great chemist, brought in his report to the Royal Society of England, in which he avowed his belief in the leading phenomena of the seance room, his report was not even taken from the table. But since that day the history of Galileo and his telescope, through which the scientists of Padua refused to look, has repeated itself.
"Some twenty-five years ago the Society for Psychical Research was formed in England with such names as Crookes, Myers, Romanes, Eidgwick, Barrett and others on its list of members, and since that day telepathy, table rapping, clairvoyance, clairaudience, telekinesis, apparitions, materializations, mental healing and all the other phenomena which Professor James, of Harvard, aptly calls 'residual,' have been investigated. Mediums have been transferred from back parlors, where all sorts of trickery was possible, to the physical laboratories of the universities. They have been put under conditions of strictest control. Even the traditional darkness has been denied them. And still the wonderful results came. One after another leading scientists entered into these investigations skeptical and contemptuous, but came out of them believers in the facts on the evidence of their own senses.
"I am not speaking of professional mediumship, still less of Spiritualism as a cult—as a religion. I am not forgetting the so-called exposes of the Fox sisters and of Slade and that Cambridge experiment with Eusapia Paladino. Professional mediumship is undoubtedly to a large extent fraudulent. But when scientific men of the first standing tell us that out of the welter of fraud and delusion which has made mediumship taboo in cultured circles, they have rescued certain facts which they are investigating with all the patience which they give to their own scientific personalities, and when we are further told that on the basis of these investigations some of them believe they have found a scientific demonstration of a future life—we cannot afford to believe that such men as these are such easy dupes as to be arrant fools.
"But what about mediumship? How does it stand today? I spoke a little while ago about laboratory research in mediumship. This method of research has been adopted only within the last few years, and especially in the case of the famous Italian medium, Eusapia Paladino. This Eusapia has been investigated in the laboratories of several of the Italian universities by such men as Rochet, Lombroso, Morselli, Foa, Battazzi, etc., each and all of whom started into the investigations wholly skeptical and perfectly sure that under the conditions they would impose no results would be reached. They took no chances.
"'Let the medium impress a photographic plate,' they said; 'let her illuminate a screen treated with platinocyanide of barium; let her discharge a golf leaf electriscope without touching it; let her displace the rod of a metronome; let her register pressure on a manometer.'
"What were the results? At the latest series of sittings which have come to hand held in the University of Naples under direction of Professor Bottazzi, all these precautions were taken; yet objects were moved at a distance, phantom hands were seen; the scientific tests were satisfactorily made; and as direct evidence the existence of some force hitherto unknown to science, but as real as kathode and X-rays, a Morse telegraph key was displaced by the psychic in such a way as to leave a tracing on a cylinder, a photograph of which may be seen in one of the numbers of the Annals of Physical Science.
"The next question is that of the interpretation of the facts. Three interpretations are possible. First, that these phenomena are the manifestations of an obscure and hitherto unknown form of vital energy. This is the biological explanation to which the Italian investigators (with the exception of Lombroso) lean; second, they may be explained as manifestations of what is known as the sub-conscious mind, or the subliminal self. This is the explanation in favor with perhaps the majority of the investigators. A third explanation is that held by a minority perhaps, but at least a very influential one, and is to the effect that while many of the phenomena are explicable in the two former ways, there is at least a remainder that can be explained only on the supposition that there exist intelligences (whether discarnate human beings or others) which manifest themselves through these abnormal types whom we call mediums or sensitives. To this view the following leaders in thought adhere: Myers, Lombroso, Hodgson, Hyslop, James, Lodge and others.
"What, then, is the gain to faith? Much every way. In the first place, if these things be so, it is no longer unscientific to believe in miracles. The significance of [R4404 : page 165] this is tremendous. For upwards of fifty years the whole tendency of modern science has been to deny the credibility of miracles.
"Science brings the message, 'Be of good cheer. God in these latter days is working marvelously, and before many years have passed belief in a life beyond death may be just as scientific as to believe in wireless telegraphy or the marvels of the X-ray. Only be patient—only work and hope.'"
Here we have it. Spiritism is becoming respectable, not only in scientific quarters, but now to the Church. Note well the arguments by which the foolish things accomplished by Spiritism are held up before the people as helpful to their Christian faith—as proofs of a future life. Another Exchange tells of a Spirit Exhibition in a Methodist Church by a minister.
What is more evident than that this minister himself lacked a full assurance of faith respecting a future life and had full confidence that his congregation also lacked such a faith; otherwise surely he would not have brought forward such matters as attestations and supports of faith. Only a poor, weak, rotten, tottering faith could be really supported by such stuff as Spiritism offers. And it will be noticed that while various theories are referred to respecting the power behind these spirit manifestations, the scientists whom he quotes are utterly ignorant of the real power and intelligence back of Spiritism, Theosophy, Hypnotism, etc. "The wisdom of their wise men shall perish; the understanding of their prudent men shall be hidden." (Isa. 29:14.) Their failure comes from the neglect of the Word of God, which would have informed them respecting the evil spirits, their origin, etc. Blessed are our eyes for they see and our ears for they hear the wisdom from on high. But alas, the poor world lacking this wisdom, misled by its trusted, scientific and theological teachings, is rapidly coming under the power of the evil spirits! "And for this cause God shall send them a strong delusion, that they shall believe a lie who believe not the Truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness."—2 Thess. 2:11,12.
The English author, Dr. J. Godfrey Raupert, is now in this country, under assignment from Pope Pius X. to lecture to the students of all Roman Catholic seminaries upon the dangers of psychical research and the evils of Spiritualism. During the last few months, Doctor Raupert has delivered lectures at many institutions of learning in New York and vicinity, and he expects to continue his stay in this country until he has an opportunity to visit many other institutions.
While a member of the English Society for Psychical Research and a personal friend of many of the most prominent European investigators, Doctor Raupert not only declines to accept the theory of spirit communications, but even declares that every phase of psychical research is produced by an evil force, which, sooner or later, will wreck the minds of those who subject themselves to its influence.
"'If there is any one thing in this world which the great mass of the American people need it is to have their eyes opened regarding the dangers of the psychical research. For many months the most popular periodicals have been devoting a great deal of space to these matters, and, as the result, people who had never given any serious thought of psychic problems are now inclined to try experiments that are fraught with the greatest perils to the mental and physical organism, as well as to the moral character.
"'Unfortunately, the writers of these articles have, almost without exception, entirely neglected this phase of the subject, leaving their readers to walk ignorantly into a trap from which they may find it extremely difficult to escape, and it seems as though it was time that somebody should come to the front to explain why psychical investigation is one of the most hazardous occupations in which it is possible for a human being to engage.
"'In any case, it is the opening of a door to the invasion of activities that we do not, and cannot understand, and all experience proves that, once opened, this door is not so easily shut. Moreover, as these invasions invariably play havoc with the victim's moral, mental and physical life, even when they do not—as they often do—lead to permanent afflictions, or to death, it is impossible to see where science has any right to invade this domain, or to invite others, still less guarded than themselves, to invade it for them.
"'Prof. W. F. Barrett, of the Royal College of Science for Ireland, and one of the vice-presidents of the English Society for Psychical Research, did not hesitate to admit the existence of these evils. "These practices," he said, "are dangerous in proportion as they lead us to surrender our reason, or our will, to the dictates of an invisible and oftentimes masquerading spirit."
"'And again, in speaking of a case resembling obsession, he said: "Possibly this is an instance of duplex personality; more probably, I think, it is what it purports to be, a lower influence or 'spirit,' acting through the medium....The danger lies, in my opinion, not only in the loss of spiritual stamina, but in the possible disintegration of our personality; in the liability to lose that birthright we each are given to cherish our individuality, our true selfhood, just as in another way this may be impaired by sensuality, opium or alcohol."
"'While this may seem to require a belief in "obsession," or the actual possession of unembodied spiritual intelligence, this phase of the matter is really of less immediate importance than might appear at first thought. Personally, I have witnessed scores of cases, that, while [R4405 : page 165] they were designated as "insanity" by the scientists, to me, at least, so closely did they resemble genuine "obsession" that I was inclined to think that there was some reason for the belief that the patient knew more about the nature of his disorder than the physician who attended him.
"'The Spiritualists tell us that everything depends upon the attitude with which we look upon the "spirits"; that if our life is pure and our purpose a noble one, we have nothing to fear from our experiments. This, however, is an entirely erroneous theory. As a matter of fact, it makes no difference how we approach the "spirits," for the best minds and the purest souls are wrecked quite as easily as those of less spiritual nature. Often, in the beginning of the experiments, there is a pretense at lofty utterances.
"'The "spirits" indulge in high-flown talk about the future of life and its conditions, and endeavor to impress the investigator with his own utter earthliness and ignorance. I have known many cases in which the "control" purported to be the discarnate spirit of some great novelist, poet or philosopher, and, for a time, the role assumed has been played to perfection. But, sooner or later, the change invariably comes.
"'The pure and beautiful communications become mixed with impure language, and, finally, the victim awakens to the fact that he is entirely at the mercy of a force over which his will no longer exercises the slightest control. These are the facts and it makes no difference by what theory we endeavor to explain them. Call them [R4405 : page 166] "detached personality," if you will; apply one of the many terms that science used to designate the several forms of insanity; say that the trouble is due to subconscious functioning alone—however you may explain it, the fact still remains that the study of psychical problems is the direct cause of the disorder.
"'To indicate how easily this disintegration of the personality may be brought about, I can refer to a case that has been brought to my attention since my arrival in this country. The victim is a young woman of exceptional intelligence and marked refinement—the wife of a man who is well known as a writer upon scientific subjects.
"'Somewhat less than a year ago this young woman became interested in psychic investigations, and commenced to experiment for herself, using a "planchette" for the purpose. At first there was little result, but, finally, after patient waiting, she became a fluent writer, not only with the planchette board, but with a pencil held in the hand, and the communications received were of a most convincing character.
"'About this time she began to experience pains at the base of the brain, and these gradually increased until they became almost unbearable. Her step was interrupted and her health began to fail perceptibly.
"'It was at this time that she announced that she was "obsessed"; that the intelligence that had communicated through her had taken full command of her body, so that she was no longer a free agent. Treatment of every kind was tried—all to no benefit. And now a new and more terrible feature developed. Hitherto the impulse had been to write—to write all the time, with pen, a pencil, or even a finger in the air—anything so long as the detail of writing was accomplished.
"'Now it was voices that sounded in her head. Sometimes one, but more frequently two, three, or even four voices, talking to one another and freely conversing about her. Some would commend her conduct; others would blame her. Some would swear and curse and call her names—names so vile that she could scarcely have heard them in her normal state, while others would try to defend her from the coarser and grosser forces.
"'In the early stages the things that the voices told her to do were practically harmless, but before long, they commenced to urge her to commit suicide, and she sought to obey them. Twice she attempted to take her own life, but was unsuccessful; yet all the time she has realized that she was being urged to her own destruction, and has been unable to resist. It was as though her own will was entirely in subjection to that of some diabolical intelligence.
"'And this is in no respect an exceptional case. I have heard of many similar experiences in this country, and I have a record of hundreds that have occurred in Europe. Since first taking this stand as an exponent of the dangers of Spiritism, people have written to me from all parts of the world, and all these letters have told practically the same story. Everywhere lives are being ruined, minds are being shattered, and personality is being disintegrated as the result of the most innocent experiments in psychical research.
"'During a trip on the continent some three years ago I made the acquaintance of a successful business man, who told me incidentally that he had acquired the power of "automatic writing." He said that it was the source of much entertainment and amusement to him, and, as he did not believe in "spirits" or the survival of human personality after death, he was not in the least interested to discover what the source of the strange messages might be. He thought that the phenomenon might be due to the action of some undiscovered or unknown law of our mental life.
"'It had become a habit with him to resort to his "mystic" writing on all possible occasions, and he not only asked advice in perplexing questions, but was guided by that advice. His physical health was good except that he complained of a pressure over the back of his head, which would come on suddenly, and continue, increasing in severity, until he yielded to the impulse to write. As soon as the message had been given, this feeling would pass away.
"'I pointed out some of the dangers of these experiments, but my warning only caused him very great amusement. About two years later, being again on the continent, I made inquiries regarding my acquaintance. I was told that he had met with a serious accident and had just been discharged from the hospital. Accordingly, I went to see him, and, at my request, he gave me a full account of what had happened.
"'The promptings to take the pencil and write had gradually, but very steadily, increased, and, as it was always accompanied by severe pressure over the head, he had never been able to resist the impulse for any great length of time. The amusement of the thing wore off with the increased and compulsory frequency of the experiment, and it had finally come to the point where he considered the writing rather a nuisance. In consequence he had again and again offered determined resistance to the impulse, even at the risk of passing sleepless nights and injuring his health, but he always had to give way in the end.
"'Thus a kind of domination had been established over him, and as he could not conceive how a mere tendency or habit could so thoroughly establish itself, he questioned the pencil, and was informed that he was under the influence of the spirits, and that if he did not do their bidding they would ruin him.
"'It was at about this time that the impulse commenced to assume a different form. Instead of the prompting to write, a thought suggesting some absurd if not quite unreasonable action would come to his mind, and, regardless of his own judgment, he would finally yield to it to obtain relief from the painful pressure in his head.
"'I have quoted these cases at some length because they are typical of the experiences of so many persons who have become the unfortunate victims of these dangerous practices. In most cases the first false step is taken through a chance introduction to "planchette," the "ouija board," or some other apparently harmless and extremely amusing contrivance. Perhaps at the first trial there may be little if any response from the board, but if sufficient patience and persistence are shown and the proper attitude of passivity is maintained conscientiously it will probably not be long before the desired results will be realized. And it is from that moment that both the mind and the body of the operator are in danger.
"'I have had my attention called to many of these cases of alleged "obsession" or duplex personality since coming to America, and I have no reason to doubt that there are quite as many victims of Spiritualism and psychical research in the insane asylum of this country as there are in Europe, and that means thousands, if not tens of thousands.
"'One particularly sad case is that of a metaphysician who was well known to New Yorkers only a few years ago. An extremely brilliant woman and a successful practitioner, she exhibited no indications of mental derangement until after the accidental discovery of her ability to write "automatically," when, within a very brief space of time, her mind began to show the effects of her experiments, and a few months later it became necessary to send her to one of the institutions for the insane, and there she is still confined.
"'Though a woman of pure mind, noble character and great intellectual attainments, the ruin of her life was the price required for the privilege of making a few innocent psychical experiments. Certainly "like" did not "attract like" in her case!
"'And, in view of all these facts—for there are hundreds of equally well-established cases that might be cited—does it seem unreasonable that we should demand that psychical researchers show us some good object that is being attained by these investigations—some purpose that can justify this sacrifice of health and reason, if not life itself. For many years this work has been going on, and, so far as we can ascertain, its history can be traced by the trail of insanity and death for which it has been responsible.
"'More than thirty years ago Dr. Forbes Winslow reported that "ten thousand unfortunate people are at the present time confined in lunatic asylums on account of having tampered with the supernatural."
"'And what have we learned in return? We have faith that there is a life beyond the grave, but has psychical research been able to demonstrate its reality? We believe that there is a spiritual as well as a material world, but what evidence of this fact has science been able to gather?
"'If we are to judge the character of that plane of existence by the lying, malicious and mischievous intelligences with which we come in contact through psychical research, the fact is almost irresistibly borne in upon us that we have been in communication not with departed friends, as we may have so fondly imagined, but rather with a company of spiritual burglars and confidence men.
"'Does mob law reign in the "borderland," and are there no spiritual police? If there are, how come all these "obsessions" to take place, and who devises the frauds and tricks that are played so successfully upon people who are neither fools nor knaves?'"