Monday, 4 January 2010

Evolution of Spiritualism by Al Batten (continued)

So what is Davis' legacy? He taught himself to read and write, he spoke five different languages, and late in his life, at the age of 60, he even earned a medical degree. His books have been read by people from all walks of life; The Principles of Nature itself went through forty printing editions, a best seller by anyone’s standards. His view of evolution went far beyond Darwin to explain that, while man came up through the animal kingdom, his Soul evolves to other heights. His body of work is so extraordinary that to some it’s almost incomprehensible? Was he a truly spiritual man or was he a zealot embarked on an impossible mission? Is there a distinction between the two? Perhaps he was a bit of both, a spiritual man on an impossible mission. He was caught in a spiritual conundrum; he existed in two worlds, in this he had no choice. His life in the spiritual world, his precious Summerland, was an ambrosia which drew him closer and closer, never wanting to leave it but he was divided between that and, what he considered, his responsibility to mankind. To those who are not Spiritualists he might seem a work of fiction. But to those of us who are Spiritualists, we should realize that without him we would not be sitting in this auditorium today. Mediumship could not have stood the test of time without this philosophy to give it meaning. It must also be said that the philosophy would have had no meaning without the phenomena; they are interdependent. It was all started by an unschooled and functionally illiterate young man who for a period of 15 months in his life did something very special. He once said that the Truth is always simple and, in the final analysis, he left us with one simple Truth, and that Truth is Spiritualism.

So that was the beginning and what a beginning it was. After the events at Hydesville it took off like a rocket and spread like a wildfire throughout America and into the rest of the world. Its growth was phenomenal; at one point it is said that 10 million people in the USA claimed to be Spiritualists. In its first fifty years it went from its birth to its peak, but then it started to change. In fact it was destined to change right from the start, for after that initial spurt a rapidly changing world started to take its’ toll. Much of the modern world was in the midst of a religious revolution and religious institutions, in general, were facing an enormous problem; membership was on the wane and attendance had dropped to historic lows. What is surprising though, throughout all this, society’s attitude toward spirituality was changing. It was becoming a personal thing; people were starting to acknowledge that a principle of some higher truth was, and still is to this day, an important influence in their lives, regardless of religious beliefs or dogmatic influences. It seems that the more literate and well educated a society is, the less religious it becomes, and this search for individual spirituality increases. It could be said, that left to its own resources, man’s individual spirit takes over and becomes his focal point.

This change in attitude provided, and still provides to this day, a dilemma for the leadership of all religions, and ours in particular, for our problems were, and still are, compounded by the fact that we had changed in one important way; we had essentially become a one product religion; short on the noble faculties and harmony, and long on the communication we now call mediumship. And even this was and still is being redefined.. In the early days the credibility of mediumship rested on the proof of spirit through clairvoyance and physical phenomena, and the expectations were high.

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