The Spiritist Review - Journal of Psychological Studies - 1859

Allan Kardec

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On May 28th last, the newspaper L’Univers published our response to the article written by Abbot Chesnel about Spiritism, followed by the Abbot’s response. We could not respond to this second article, which repeats the arguments of the first one but now without the civil character of the first one, to which everybody applauded, we could not respond but through the repetition of everything that we have said before, seeming completely useless to us. Abbot Chesnel strives to demonstrate that Spiritism is, must be and could not be anything else but a new religion, since a whole philosophy stems from it, and through Spiritism we deal with the physical and moral constitution of the worlds. From that point of view every philosophy would be a religion. Well, considering that the different systems abound and that each one has a more or less large number of experts, this would significantly restrict the circle of Catholicism. We don’t know the extent of such imprudence and the danger in proclaiming such a doctrine since it would be the same as provoking an inexistent split. This is at least the proposal of an idea. Carefully observe its consequences. When science contested the meaning of the Biblical text about the six days of creation, anathemas were thrown; they said it was an attack to religion. Today, the facts gave reason to science; there no longer is any means of disputing it unless it is through the denial of light; Church has moved to line up with science.

Let us assume that over that time one had considered the scientific theory as a new religion, a sect, for it seemed in contradiction with the sacred books as it was destroying a secular interpretation. The result from all this would be that someone could not be Catholic and adopt such new ideas.

Let us think for a moment about the reduced number of Catholics in case those who do not believe that God created Earth in six days were excluded!

The same happens to Spiritism. If you consider it as a new religion, it means that it is not Catholicism to your eyes. Well, follow my train of thoughts. It is one or the other: a reality or a utopia. If it is a utopia there is no reason for concern since it will fall by itself. If it is a reality then not even all storms will preclude it from existing, in the same way that Earth was not impeded form turning in the former times. If there truly is an invisible world that surrounds us; if we can communicate with that world, obtaining information about the condition of their inhabitants – the whole Spiritism is in this – it will soon seem as natural as seeing the Sun at noon or finding thousands of living and invisible creatures in a crystalline drop of water. Such a belief will be so much vulgarized that you will have to surrender to the evidence. If that belief is a new religion to your eyes, it is outside Catholicism, since it cannot simultaneously be the Catholic religion and a new religion. If by the force of the facts and the evidence it generalizes, and it cannot be different once it is one of the forces of nature, from your point of view there will be no more Catholics and you yourself will no longer be Catholic since you will be forced to act like the others.

That is Mr. Abbot, the terrain to which your doctrine leads us to, and it is so absolute that you already gratifies me with the title of supreme priest of that religion, an unsuspected honor. But you go further. In your opinion every medium is a priest of that religion. I wish to stop you here in the name of logic. Up until now it seemed to me that the priesthood was facultative; that one could become a priest only from an act of will; that one could not be priest irrespectively, and as a consequence of a natural faculty. Well, the medium’s faculty is natural, depends on their organization, like the somnambulistic faculty; it does not require gender, age or instructions, once we find it in children, with the ladies and with the old folks; among wise as well as ignorant people. Could it be understandable that boys and girls would become priests, without knowing or willing to do so?

Really, Mr. Abbot, this is an abuse of the right of interpreting words. As I said, Spiritism is outside the field of the dogmatic beliefs, which are not Spiritism’s concern. We do consider it a Philosophical Science that explains to us a number of things that we did not understand and, exactly because of that, instead of smothering the religious ideas like some other philosophies, it makes them sprout in those who did not have them. If, however, you want to elevate it at any cost to the level of a religion, you throw it into a new path.

That is what is perfectly understood by many clergymen and instead of pushing it towards a rupture, they struggle to conciliate things, following this reasoning: if there are manifestations from the invisible world, those can only be by the will of God and we cannot go against God’s will, unless we say that there are things that happen in this world without God’s permission, which would be an impiety. If I had the honor of being a priest, I would take advantage of all that to serve religion. I would use it as a weapon against incredulity and would tell the materialistic atheists: Do you want proofs? There you have them; it is God who sends them.

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