Wednesday, 2 October 2013

Keeping Our Religion A Religion...

3rd September saw me take a short journey along the A736 to take the service at ASK Neilston.  Sheila Caruthers founder and president of ASK is an excellent medium in her own right.  Sheila started attending a spiritualist church as a young girl and has accumulated a wealth of knowledge which she is willing to share with others.  So anyone wishing to dip their toe in the water so to speak and learn a little more about spiritualism and their psychic abilities could think of visiting the Glen Halls, Main Street,  Neilston at 7.30pm on a Wednesday where they will be made welcome.  The Divine Service is help in the same Halls on a Tuesday evening at 7.30.

4th – An interesting night being interviewed on Spiritualism.  My comments will not appear in the media but hopefully it will enlighten those of another religion on what our beliefs are.  This particular church is having nights during the winter looking into various other religions.  This church felt Spiritualism so far removed from their own beliefs, the clairvoyance, that they did not feel it appropriate to invite someone of our religion along to talk to them.  But that they were including Spiritualism in their winter discussions of “Other Religions” I felt was a big step forward form them and I agreed on this interview”.

5th - It was my pleasure once again to take a church’s development group.

8th – I let the train take the strain as I attended the Perth Spiritualist Church (SNU).  Often know as the “wee church with the big heart”.

11th –I was asked to be guest at a private circle which has been sitting for over two decades.

12th – I attended The White Dove Spiritualist Church, Toryglen, and Glasgow, where there was the usual big turnout....

16th – 20th... We took a few days away to Blackpool and took the opportunity to meet up with a few psychic researchers that I am often in contact with via the Internet.

                                            Keeping Our Religion – A Religion...

These days, many religions are hitting the headlines because of in-fighting and /or other misdemeanours.  So far spiritualism has escaped this kind of public scrutiny, probably because our numbers are small and few outside our organizations think of Spiritualism as a religion.  But are we helping ourselves to be looked upon as a religion? I do not think we are. Currently, because of our own actions, we are more like a money making entertainment business than a true religion. If we claim to be Spiritualists, then we should all look on ourselves as "Ambassadors for Spirit" and act accordingly.  We have to look at what others will think of Spiritualism and Spiritualists, by our actions.

Take social networks, they should be a shop window for our religion, but often if we look through the posts of Spiritualists, we see a messy little corner shop rather than the superstore which it should be.   Comments on social networks can be detrimental to our religion when Spiritualists condemn each other there.  Some of this condemnation may be justified, but should not be aired in such a public forum.  I have not noticed such behaviour taking place with other religions.  So what will non-spiritualists think of us? 

There have been comments on social networks that a child may have disrupted a service for a short time, what other religion would complain at than.  And further comments that children should not attend our services till they are a certain age.  This gives the impression that we are not a child friendly religion.  Yet the SNU is more than happy for children to attend churches, unless of course they are very disruptive in which case one would assume the parent would take them outside or perhaps into another room until they settle down”.  Common sense prevails...  And we have to remember we have Christian and non-Christian Spiritualist Churches... With the former – who said “Suffer little children and let them come to me?”  
I have noticed that some of our churches, when advertising on social media, the next medium to work for them, come out with comments which are more suited to advertising an entertainment, than a religious service.  And after the service, it can be even worse, when they describe the medium’s work.  There are religious organizations that have regular guest speakers and there avert in the local newspaper will go something like “The guest speaker for Sunday evening will be Mr Smith from ****” Is that not more professional and more akin to a religion?
The aim of Spiritualism is to affect an at-one-ment and unison of Humanity with God until every action and thought of Humanity is in perfect harmony with the Divine Will."
(Adapted from the Spiritualists' Lyceum Manual)
Maybe our church committees should aim for increased ‘at-one-ment with the congregation by an informal meeting once a year, for everyone to have their say.  As I mentioned in an earlier blog, use a suggestion box in an easily accessible place.  Some will say “We have our AGM and that is the place to comment on likes and dislikes about the church," but as we all know the “Any other business" is usually at the end of the AGM, when many want the meeting to finish. 
To put a more presentable face on our religion, there are other ways we could behave more professionally.  I have seen those new to Spiritualism look surprised after a service, as the medium takes their diary out and books people for non church related private sittings.  Is this using the church as a source for financial gain?  Then there is another way to look at it.  Many churches have monthly private sittings to help pay their expenses, as the freewill offering does not cover all the costs. So taking such a booking is taking much needed income away from the church.
Then there are high profile mediums who breeze into town with their name in lights outside a theatre, or posters all over the town about their show.  Do these mediums/psychics ever check if their display is going to clash with a local spiritualist church’s service?  They don’t have to do this if they do not serve churches but surely those who do, should be more considerate to the local churches. If they don’t maybe it is time for churches to think twice before booking such mediums in the future for their services.
Evenings of Clairvoyance for charity have always been, and always will be part and parcel of Spiritualism.  But there are many who think that the charity circuit is running out of control these days.  Should church mediums not stick to ‘charity nights’ run by spiritualist churches?   And churches limit charity nights to two a year? Another area for being more professional that we need to look at are evenings of clairvoyance taking place in pubs and clubs.  That may be fine for psychics or non church serving mediums but many, both within and out with Spiritualism, find it distasteful to a religion, when it involves a church serving medium or SNU award holder. H
The SNU policy about this is as follows;-
“SNU award holders are not prohibited from working in rooms in pubs and clubs.  The only stipulation is that they do not demonstrate mediumship in a room where alcohol is consumed”
On being asked if the Union would take action the reply was; -
Yes the Union would take action, and has done so, if any award holder is reported to them. I would expect award holders to uphold the dignity of Spiritualism, and maybe there are few feeling that way, but who administer Union affairs certainly think that way”.
But what of non SNU Award Holders – what is the Union's advice to their churches on those who do?
“Churches are autonomous and therefore have to make their own decisions on who they book to work on their platforms”
So the ball is in the court of church committees.
There need be no conflict if the churches make sure they are first and foremost representing a religion and those who take to their platforms think and act in the same way.  Those wishing to use their talents for entertainment or financial gain go their own way not hang on to the coat tails of Spiritualism which is a religion. 
If we are going to save Spiritualism as a religion, it is time for the splitting of the ways.  Spiritualism should let it be known that many of the ‘readings’ that have attached themselves on to us, are nothing to do with what we are about. We should think what Spirit’s view is on all this and also take into account the suffering that the pioneers of Spiritualism had to go though, to make Spiritualism a respectable religion. Also as a last word - what must Gordon Higginson, the longest serving President of the Spiritualists' National Union, over 23 years from 1970 to 1993 be thinking? He devoted much of his life to Spiritualism, becoming a Minister of the SNU as well as a teacher of mediumship and also Principal of the Arthur Findlay College at Stansted Hall.   Will all his work have been in vain?

My next workshop at the Glasgow Association of Spiritualists 7 Somerset Ave, Glasgow,  G3 7JT  Saturday 5th October at 10am


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