The Spiritist Review - JOURNAL OF PSYCHOLOGICAL STUDIES - 1861

Allan Kardec

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Up until now Spiritism had not been seriously attacked. When certain writers of periodicals in the press gave it an air of their attention, in their leisure time, they did so to ridicule it. Whether it be about filling out the space of a column, producing an article of a given number of lines, regardless of the subject and as long as it fits the space properly. “What can I say about it? Should I discuss this or that? That is what the editor of the entertaining journal asks himself. No, not this: it is too serious. The other one is something overly spoken about. Should I invent an authentic adventure of high society or a popular one? Nothing comes to mind in those fifteen minutes and the column with the scandal of the week is still empty. Ah! I had an idea! I found the subject! I saw somewhere the title of a book talking about the spirits and everywhere there are people foolish enough to take it seriously. What are the spirits? I know nothing about it. But who cares! It must be funny. For starters I don’t believe absolutely in spirits since I have never seen them and even if I had seen them I would not have believed because that is impossible. Hence, no man of wisdom may believe in such things. Either this is illogical or I don’t know myself. Let us then talk about the spirits since they are in fashion these days. This matter as any other will entertain our readers. The subject is very simple: There is no spirits; they cannot and must not exist, then everyone who believes in them is mad. Now, time to get to work and embellish this. Oh! My good spirit! How can I thank you for such inspiration! You spare me a great embarrassment since I need this article for tomorrow and I had nothing.”

Then comes a serious person and says: “One must not joke about serious things; this is more serious than initially thought; nobody should believe that this is something that disappears easily. Such belief is inherent to humanity which has always believed in the marvelous at all times, in the super natural, in the fantastic. Who would doubt that in the XIX century, in this century of enlightenment and progress, even after Voltaire had clearly demonstrated that the emptiness waits for us, and after so many wise people had sought and not found the soul, who would guess that people still believe in spirits; in turning tables; in witches and wizards; in the power of Merlin, the enchanter; in the divining rod; in Mademoiselle Lenormand, the fortune teller? Oh Humanity! Oh Humanity! Where shall you go if I don’t come to help you and pull you away from the swamp of superstition?

They unsuccessfully tried to kill the Spirits by ridicule. Far from that, the contagious disease made unceasing progress; ridicule seems to revive it and if it is not eliminated it may soon have all of humankind infected. Since this method, usually so effective has become powerless, it is now time for the scientists to get involved and stop it once and for all.

Bantering is not the reason. We speak on behalf of science. Let us demonstrate that human beings have been foolish in all epochs for believing that there is a power above them, that they could not overpower nature. Let us demonstrate to them that everything attributed to supernatural forces can be explained by the simple laws of Physiology: that the survival of the soul and its ability to communicate with those alive is an illusion and that the belief in an afterlife is sheer madness. If people are not convinced after digesting four volumes of good reasons, we can only regret the fate of humanity that instead of progressing, quickly moves backwards towards the barbarism of the Middle Ages and shortly then to its downfall.

Mr. Figuier should hide his face since he has so ostentatiously announced his book, highly praised by the champions of materialism, and which produced a result quite contrary to what he expected.

But here comes a new champion who asserts to crush Spiritism in another way: it is Mr. Georges Gandy, editor of La Bibliographie Catholique, who throws his hat into the ring, in the name of threatened religion. That is a good one! Religion threatened by something that you call a utopia! It means that you have so little faith in its strength that you suppose it is vulnerable enough to be shaken by the ideas of a few dreamers. Do you consider such an enemy so terrible to the point of attacking it with so much rage and fury? Will you achieve better results than the others?

We doubt it since rage is a bad adviser. In case you are successful in scaring a few feeble souls aren’t you afraid of arousing the curiosity of an even larger number of other people? Consider the following: in a town with a certain number of spiritists and a few private groups dealing with the manifestations, a priest once gave a scathing sermon against what he called the devil’s work, pretending that he alone went to speak at these satanic meetings, whose members were all notoriously doomed to eternal damnation. What happened next? On the very next day a good number of your listeners started to seek those spiritist gatherings, wanting to hear the devil, curious about what he could tell them, since you had spoken so much about it that your listeners were no longer afraid. Well then, they saw serious people in those meetings, respectable, educated, and praying to God, by the way, something that they had not done since their first communion; people believing in their souls, in its immortality, in future penalties and rewards, working to better themselves; striving to practice Christ’s moral, not saying anything bad of anybody, even of those who project hate towards them. These people then understood that if the devil was teaching these things the reason was that the devil had converted.

When they saw the treatment of their dead friends and relatives with respect and reverence, and that they were given good advice and consolation, it was then impossible to believe that such gatherings were offices of Satan, particularly considering that they did not see owls, black cats, crocodiles, books of witchcraft, tripods, magic wands or any other accessory of sorcery, not even an old woman with a long and twisted chin and nose.

They also wanted to speak, one with his mother, the other with a dear son, and when recognizing them, it seemed difficult to believe that the mother and the son were devils. Happy for having the proof of their existence and the certainty that they would meet again in a better world, they asked themselves what was the objective of those who tried to scare them away? This led them to reflections that they had never thought before. The result was that they liked these places where they found consolation better than the other ones that scared them to death.

That priest, as we have just seen, took the wrong path, leading us to say: better to have an enemy than an unfit friend. Does Mr. Georges Gandy hope to be happier? We reproduce below his text, literally, for the enlightenment of our readers:

“At all great trying times of the Church and its future triumphs there were always diabolical conspiracies where the actions of the demons were visible and tangible. Sorcery and magic had never been so strong in the heart of Paganism when Christianity began to spread all over the world. Luther had dialogues with Satan unfolded into acts of witchery and diabolic communications in Europe when the Church was operating the great Catholic reform to triple its forces, and when the new world welcomed it with a glorious destiny in an immense space. In the XVIII century, on the eve of the day when the axe of the executioners should repaint the Church with the martyrs’ blood, the devil-idolatry flourished in the cemetery of Saint-Médard, around the wands of Mesmer and the mirrors of Cagliostro. Today, in the fight of Catholicism against all powers of hell, Satan’s conspiracy is visibly a supporting philosophy. Hell wanted to consecrate the works of violence and cunningness exercised for over four centuries, in the name of naturalism, promptly crowning it with a supreme imposture. That is the whole secret of the so called Spiritist Doctrine, a pile of absurd, contradictions, hypocrisy and blasphemies, as we will see below, which is trying with its last deception, to glorify Christianity only to shame it later on; to disperse it to later subtract it, affecting the respect towards the divine savior and so as to remove from Earth everything he had conceived with his blood, replacing his immortal kingdom by the dictatorship of ungodly daydreams.”

“By bringing about the analysis of these strange pretensions that we have not yet, we believe, sufficiently exposed and retorted, we ask our readers to follow our journey a bit longer, through this diabolic maze from which this sect expects to emerge victorious, after having abolished the divine name forever, to which we will see it bow down before.”

“Despite its ridicules, its revolting desecrations, its never ending contradictions, Spiritism is a precious teaching to us. The madness of hell had never paid such a dazzling tribute to our sacred religion. God had never before condemned it with a greater sovereign power, confirmed by these words of our divine Master: - Vos ex patre diabolo estis.”

Such beginnings may give you an idea of what is still to come. The readers who want to learn about the source of evangelical charity may have the pleasure of reading Bibliography #3, September 1860, rue de Sèvres 31. Still once more, why such a rage, such repulsion against a doctrine that, as you say, is the work of Satan, and cannot prevail against the work of God, unless you impiously admit that God is less powerful than Satan? We have many doubts about this rosary of slander and that fever, that profusion of epithets that Christ had never used against his greatest enemies, to whom he begged for God’s mercy and not his vengeance, by saying: - Father forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing. We doubt, we were saying, that such a language may be persuasive. Truth is calm and does not require deliriums, and with such rage that reveals your own weakness. We confess that this singular policy of Satan is not much understandable, glorifying Christianity and casting shame on it, spreading it now to suppress it later. In our opinion this is not very smart and seems like the farmer who did not want potatoes and so he plants potato seeds all over the farm in order to destroy the species. When we accuse others of committing sin by default reasoning, we must start with ourselves in order to be logical.

Mr. Georges Gandy mortally attacks Spiritism by the fact that the Gospel and Christianity support it, but in fact we don’t know the reason. What would he then say if supported by Mohamed? Certainly much less since a fact that must be mentioned is that Islam, Judaism and even Buddhism are subjects of much less virulent attacks than the dissident sects of Christianity. With certain people it is either everything or nothing. There is one point above all that Mr. Gandy does not forgive in Spiritism, which is that of not having proclaimed this absolute maxim: - there is no salvation outside the Church, thus admitting that someone who does good but is not with the Church may be targeted with the eternal flames. Evidently such a doctrine could only have come from hell. His ears burn particularly in the following passage:

“What does Spiritism want? It is an American import, initially protestant, that had already triumphed – allow me to say so – upon all fields of idolatry and heresy; such are its mundane titles. Would it then be the case that truth and wisdom would come to us from the grounds of classical superstition and religious madness?”

That certainly is a great offense. Had it been born in Rome would it then be the voice of God; since it was born in a protestant country, it is the voice of the devil. But what will you say when we have demonstrated – we will do that one day – that Spiritism was present in Christian Rome well before it was in the protestant America? What will you say about the fact that there are more Catholic-Spiritists these days than Protestant-Spiritists?

The number of believers who believe nothing, who doubt everything, even God, is considerable and grows in an alarming proportion. Will it be through your intense loathing, your threats with hell, and your choleric speeches that you will bring them back? No, since it is your own violence that keeps them away. Should they be blamed for having taken Christ’s charity and kindness seriously, as done with God’s infinite benevolence? Now, when they hear those who pretend to speak in God’s name throwing threats and calumnies they immediately doubt Christ, God and everything else. Spiritism conveys words of peace and hope to them and since they carry the burden of doubt and need consolation, they are thrown into the arms of Spiritism because they prefer the welcoming things rather than those who scare them away. Then they believe in God, in Christ’s mission and his divine moral. In one word, from incredulous and indifferent they become believers. That is what led a respectable father of the Church to answer one of his penitents who asked him about Spiritism: - Nothing happens beyond God’s will; God allows these things in order to rekindle the extinguishing faith – Had this father used another language he could perhaps have scared that person away forever. You want Spiritism to be a sect, at any price, when in reality it only aspires the title of a moral and philosophical science, respecting all serious beliefs. Why then try to pass an idea of separation to those who don’t think like that? If you reject those who Spiritism has redirected to the belief in God; if you don’t offer them another perspective but hell, you shall then be the ones responsible for a fissure that you have provoked. St. Louis told us one day: - They mocked the turning tables; they will never mock, however, the philosophy, the wisdom and charity that shines out of the serious communications.

He was mistaken because he did not count on Mr. Gandy. The writers often make fun of Spiritism and its manifestations, not thinking that one day they could be the target of jokes from their successors. Nevertheless, they always respected the moral part of the science. It was reserved to a Catholic writer, a fact that we sincerely regret, of turning into ridiculeaccepted maxims by using the most vulgar sense. He mentions a good number of passages from The Spirits’ Book. We will only mention a few that give a good idea of his appreciation.

“– God prefers those who adore Him from the bottom of their heart than those who do so externally”. The text from The Spirits’ Book continues: “God prefers those who sincerely adore Him, doing good and avoiding wickedness, to those who think to honor Him through ceremonies that don’t make them better with respect to their fellow human beings.”

Mr. Gandy admits the contrary but as a man of good faith he should have cited the entire passage, instead of truncating it and changing its meaning.

“- Every animal destruction that surpasses the limit of necessity is a violation of God’s law, meaning that the moral principle that guides pleasure is equally applied to hunting and killing.”

Precisely. It seems however that Mr. Gandy is a hunter and thinks that God created the hunt to give people pleasure, instead of feeding them, by the useless killing of innocent animals.

“Pleasures are bounded by nature: the limit of need. Excesses lead us to satiation. - It is the moral of the virtuous Horace, one of the fathers of Spiritism.

Since the author criticizes this maxim it seems that he sees no limit to pleasures, something that is certainly not very religious.

“In order to be legitimate a property must be acquired without any harm to the law of love and justice; - thus, someone who owns without respecting the duties of charity that commands individual or social reason, is a usurper of other people’s properties; according to Spiritism we are living a true socialism”.

The text actually says: The only legitimate property is that acquired without causing any loss to others. The law of love and justice forbids to do to others what we don’t others do to us; hence it condemns every means of acquisition that is contrary to that law. There is no “that commands individual or social reason” in the text, it is a perfidious addition. We don’t believe that someone may own something in detriment of justice, with a clean conscience. Mr. Gandy should let us know the cases for which he considers spoliation to be legitimate. Thankfully the courts don’t share his opinion.

“Indulgence awaits, outside of this life, the suicidal embraced by necessity and who wanted to avoid shame on his children or family. As a matter of fact, St. Louis, whose spiritist’ functions we will report soon, tell us that there are excuses for the suicide for love. As for the penalties of someone who commits suicide these are not fixed. What is certain is that there is no way out of disappointment. In other words, the person is trapped, as commonly said in this world.”

This passage is entirely adulterated by the requirements of Mr. Gandy’s criticism. We would need to transcribe seven pages of the original to reestablish the truth in this text. With such a system it would be easy to ridicule the most beautiful pages of our best writers. It seems that Mr. Gandy does not admit gradation in the faults or in the penalties beyond the grave. We believe that God is just and hope that Mr. Gandy may never need to claim the benefit of attenuating circumstances in his favor.

“Death penalty and slavery were, are and will be contrary to the laws of nature. Men and women are equal before God and must be equal before men”. Would it be the errant soul of some terrified SaintSimonist looking for a free woman, making this spicy revelation to Spiritism?”

Thus, death penalty, slavery and the submission of women that tends to be abolished by civilization are intuitions that Spiritism has no right to condemn. Oh fortunate medieval times, why have you gone and why haven’t you come back? Where are you oh! Burning stakes that could have saved us from the spiritists?

Here is one of the most benign passages: “Spiritism cannot deny such a salad of contradictions, absurd and madness that belongs to no philosophy or language. If God allows such impious manifestations it is for the fact that God gives the devil, as taught by the Church, the power of deceiving those who call him, violating his law.” The devil then comes handy since he unwillingly makes us love God.

“As for the truth, it is brought to us by the Church. It tells us through the sacred books that the angel of darkness transforms into an angel of light and that it is necessary to refuse even the testimony of an archangel, if contrary to the doctrine of Christ, from which its infallible authority is true depositary. As a matter of fact, the Church has the safe and evident means to distinguish between the diabolic prestige and the divine manifestations.”

It is really true that one should refuse even the testimony of an archangel if that is contrary to the doctrine of Christ. However, what is it that such a doctrine tells us and that Jesus preached by words and examples?

• Blessed are the merciful, for they shall obtain mercy;

• Blessed are the peacemakers, for they will be called the children of God;

• Anyone who is angry with a brother or a sister will be subjected to judgment. Again, anyone who says to a brother or sister, ‘Raca’, is answerable to the court. And anyone who says, ‘You fool!’ will be in danger of the fire of hell.

• But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be children of your Father in heaven; for He causes his sun to rise upon evil and good, and sends rain to the righteous and the unrighteous. For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax-collectors do the same? If you greet only your brothers and sisters, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? Therefore, you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.

• In everything do unto others as you would have them do to you.

Charity is thus the fundamental principle of Christ’s doctrine. From that we conclude that every word and every action contrary to charity cannot be, as we say with perfect truth, inspired by Satan, even if it had taken the form of an archangel. That is why Spiritism says: Without charity there is no salvation.

Regarding the same subject we refer our readers to our responses in the Univers, issues May and July 1859, and to the Gazette de Lyon, October 1860. As a refutation to Mr. Gandy we also recommend Letter of a Catholic about Spiritism, by Dr. Grand. If the author of that brochure * is condemned to be in hell, there will be many others there and we will see, strangely enough, those who preach love for all, while heaven will be reserved for those who lash out in abomination and curses. This would be a singular misinterpretation of Jesus’ words. Due to lack of space we will provide our answer to Mr. Deschanel, from the Journal des Débats, in the next issue of our Review.

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* Large, in-18, price 1 franc; by mail 1.15 francs. It can be found at the office of the Spiritist Review and at Palais-Royal, Ledoyen bookstore.

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