What the World Needs

Extract from the Two Worlds Journal February 1906

Less sham and sentimental gush - more truth and sound common sense.

The world does not want this, but whatever it wants, its greatest need is the possession of those realities - realities which will lift it to a higher plane far above the sordid squalor of much of its present life.

What has been said of the world at large can be truly said with regard to the smaller Spiritualistic world.

One of the greatest existing difficulties is that of lifting the ideals of the people, and of giving them a dignified view of the Cause which they have espoused. Over and over again we have felt compelled to return to the discussion of this subject; for to us the realisation has come that unless the movement of Spiritualism be placed upon the highest possible plane, it can never achieve success.

First and foremost, above all other things, the phenomena of the movement need to be lifted from the almost degrading level to which they have sunk to a plane, the elevation of which will command the respect and esteem of the intelligent onlooker.

When we speak of phenomena as pre-eminent we do so realising that the very foundation stone of Spiritualism is that phenomena which is often most derided by its so-called demonstrators. What often passes for 'clairvoyance' or 'psychometry' on public platforms appears to us to be on a level with an ordinary guessing competition, with a pinch of sentiment and a spice of religion thrown in.

Is it necessary that a series of 'descriptions' should be heralded by a fervid, but often meaningless petition to the Deity, in which the Father of All is instructed in His duty towards His children, and implored to send blessings which in His infinite wisdom He has seen fit to withhold? Yet this is what often happens.

Some have suggested that the invocation is a fifteen or twenty minute's padding to help out the service. We do not believe this. The bulk of platform workers are in our opinion perfectly honest in this matter, but they have failed to grasp the great needs of the public, and respond rather to the call of the sentimental, which is so easily stirred in the bulk of human hearts, rather than to the force of intelligence, which often lies farther from the surface.

The great question of what are and what are not tests rarely troubles a large proportion of Spiritualists. The sifting process of the Psychical Research Society is looked upon as enmity towards the spirit world. The investigator who wants to know, is often told - if not in so many words, yet plainly by the action of the other sitters - that he must believe.

To doubt that a spirit (who appears through some well-known medium and calls himself John King) is the person he claims to be is the rankest heresy; and to suggest that the trance may in some cases be the result of auto-suggestion, is to be told, in some quarters, that you are not a Spiritualist.

To suggest that clairvoyance is often but the outcome of the development of psychometric powers, is to be looked upon as a recusant; and to ask that mediums shall be some-what developed ere they stand upon the public rostrum, is to be howled at as 'an enemy of mediums.

We will say at once that we put the movement before the public display of so-called mediumship. We feel that, whether these public demonstrations go on or not the movement will go on. Mediumship is not confined to the public professional or amateur; the angel message is not delivered alone through their instrumentality. In the quite of the home, by the fireside, away from the jar and discord of public elements, the spirit forms still appear, the spirit voice is heard. Here the rational mind is free to sift and winnow the phenomena, to probe and test without fear of the wrath of the medium, and his or her supporters.

The Spiritualist platform is being rendered weak, and its work futile, by the often lamentable displays of so-called mediumship which are made. The world needs truth, and an appeal to the reason, especially from a movement which claims to be a scientific one; and the displays of gush and sentiment which often fail to cover the breakdown of clairvoyant power upon the platform not only fail to satisfy, but actually disgust the beholder.

This article, written nearly 100 years ago, describes the state of the Spiritualist Movement as it is today.

Have we really moved forward in any way?