The Coming Spiritual Revolution

From The Arthur Conan Doyle Encyclopedia
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The Coming Spiritual Revolution is an article written by Arthur Conan Doyle published in the Daily Herald on 29 may 1919.

The Coming Spiritual Revolution

Daily Herald (29 may 1930, p. 4)

There are two peculiarities of the treatment of Spiritualism by the daily papers which the public give the public a distorted view of the subject. The first is that they continually harp upon the physical phenomena if the matter began and ended there. To one who is in real touch with the subject the physical phenomena are only of use in calling attention to the truths behind them, just as the telephone bell is only useful as calling attention to the message which is coming along the wires. They bear the relation which Christ's miracles did to Christ's miracles did to Christ's teaching, and those who harp continually upon levitations and materialisations are like men of old who talked of the fish and of the leaves but had nothing to say about the sermon on the mount.

Only Failures Boosted.

That is the first error in treatment. The second lies in the fact that if you were to go to a hundred seances and obtain perfectly final results at each, you would find no paper in the country which would print those results. If, however, on the hundred and first occasion you found that a medium was a cheat and an imposter, there is no paper in the country which would not print it. All successes are ruled out. All failures are published. No wonder the public have, or had (for their vision is clearing) a very blurred impression of the hole vast subject.

I will try to clear this up as far as can done in a short compass, and I do it with the more pleasure when I know that it is for the reading of the workers who cannot always get access to the literature of the subject. Now, as before, it is the common sense and the moral instinct of the masses which will realise truth and put it to practical purposes when the religious professionals and the men of learning have missed their way. It is not chance that this great subject took its rise not in the study of a High-brow, nor in the vestry of a church, but in a little shack among folk who worked hard for their living.

How It Began.

Here the disturbances broke out in 1848, and here it was that one the great moments of human history was reached, when the little Fox girl, clapping her hands three times, cried "Do as I do!" on which the unseen power replied with three taps. There was only a half educated human medium upon one side, and an undeveloped spirit upon the other, but the ways of God are mysterious, and thus, in this humble fashion, was manifested for the first time modern records, that there can be an independent force and intelligence outside ourselves. That was the root from which all else has sprung.

There followed a spirit invasion manifesting many different countries and in many different shapes, though always essentially in agreement. Phenomena were many and took the general type of those Apostolic gifts recorded in the scriptures. Short of raising the dead there is not one of these which has not been reproduced during these years, and many new ones, such the voice and spirit photography, have been added. Allan Kardec was the chief prophet in France.

In Great Britain Home was the most striking medium, and his phenomena produced full light and witnessed have never once been seriously questioned. In America, Horace Greeley, the great Editor, and Professor Hare were among the first to recognise that a revolutionary event had occured. The use of darkness in seances led the prostitution of the subject by some rogues and imposters, which repelled many people, though the more thoughtful could understand that there was a vast amount of evidence which could not be shaken.

A Materialised Angel.

In 1874 came the conversion of Professor Crookes, and the publication of his short "Researches on Spiritualism," with an account of how materialised angel, Katie King, visited his laboratory, how she had been photographed over forty times, how she differed in every physical respect and in pulse rate from the medium, whose presence was necessary supply the chemical constituents of her temporary body, and how eventually she departed, after many had seen her and spoken with her, declaring that her mission was done. I believe that her mission really was accomplished, and that when Katie King returned to the spirit sphere she took with her materialism for good and all. When Crooke's researches are in a sixpenny edition — as they soon will be — they will change the world, for if any man can carefully read that book and yet maintain that it is not true, then I declare that there is something amiss with his own reasoning powers.

Since then the phenomenal side of the question has always been in evidence, though I am inclined to think that the phase is passing and that we are now supposed to have learned our lesson and to turning to higher things.

Psychic Telephone Exchanges.

For the phenomena were mere material appeals to a material generation, and were meant to call our attention to the messages. Having got in contact with unseen forces the next step obviously was converse with them by codes or such other means could be devised. Many means were devised — some of them extremely effective. Soon we were in the position of having psychic telephone exchanges, if such a term may reverently be used, upon the other side, where the Control in change could in many cases, aided by our love and sympathy, call up those with whom we wished to speak. Thousands assured themselves that the veil was really pierced, and that they were in truth reunited with then lost ones.

By every intimate test which could be devised the claim was confirmed. Again there were frauds and rascals, but the evidence of truth was overpowering. This was the second stage of the subject, arising out of those material phenomena which seemed so crude and so objectless when regarded in themselves.

But the third stage is the most important of all. Having not touch with our dear ones, and also with higher spirits who come as teachers, we naturally ask them what the conditions of their lives now are, and how they square with the old orthodox religions.

Their answer is of enormous importance. It is religion judged from the point of view of two worlds instead of one. What those answers are must learned from some fuller source than a newspaper article can be, but this at least one may say, that it is the most gloriously happy and the same time the most absolutely reasonable system which has ever been revealed by the centre of all truth.

A New Revelation.

It is indeed a new revelation though often have doubts whether this was not indeed Christ's revelation given so long ago, never understood by mankind. Certainly a Spiritualist can see all sorts of new meaning in the New Testament which clear away much that was obscure, and which had never been explained the orthodox churches.

There I must leave the subject, but I assure the reader that it infinitely the most important thing in the world, and that if he will go further into it, testing it for himself, he will be abundantly repaid. "Seek and ye shall find" has a deep meaning, though it comes strangely in the record of churches which have always discouraged all questionings.

To those who wish to know more I would only say that at the Spiritual Alliance, 6, Queen's-square, W.C., or at the Northern Spiritual Union, 18, Corporation-street, Manchester, there is always a good store of cheap literature, and plenty of sympathy for the inquirer.