E. Katherine (Emily Katherine) Bates.

Psychical science and Christianity, a problem of the XXth century online

. (page 1 of 13)
Online LibraryE. Katherine (Emily Katherine) BatesPsychical science and Christianity, a problem of the XXth century → online text (page 1 of 13)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook


7 4W £0*U*6* }

4 //^ dcUrrjoJtr&E-


C (/*,&/&& &



*y *7 '



Charlea Josselyn.




■ iddARV


A Problem of the XXth Century











to those dear relations and friends

in the " Unseen"

(G. G., C. E. B., G. E. and R. H.)>






Introduction .....


I. Theology — Ancient and Modern
II. Some Clerical Difficulties

III. A New Cycle

IV. Our New Continent
V. Science and Religion .

VI. A Summary .

VII. Spiritualism — Its Use and Abuse

VIII. Occult and Otherwise

IX. Automatic Writing — Its Use and
X. On Some Misconceptions
XI. The Bridge of Ether .
XII. In Conclusion











Build thee more stately mansions, oh, my Soul !
As the swift seasons roll ;
Leave thy low-vaulted Past,
Let each new Temple, loftier than the last,
Shut thee from Heaven, with a dome more vast ;
Till thou at length art free ;

Leaving thine outgrown shell, by Life's unresting Sea"
From " The Chambered Nautilus."

Oliver Wendell Holmes.

Yet if it be that something not thy own,

Is even to thy unworthiness made known,

Thou mayst not hide, what yet thou shouldst not dare

To utter lightly, lest on lips of thine,

The real seem false — the beauty undivine.

So, weighing duty in the scale of prayer,

Give what seems given thee — it may prove a seed

Of Goodness, dropped in fallow grounds of need."

J. G. Whittier.


Desperate diseases need desperate remedies.
The time has surely come when silence on
certain subjects is no longer discreet and ad-
visable, but absolutely criminal.

" If meat make my brother to offend, I will
eat no more flesh while the world standeth/'
said St Paul in one of his moments of magni-
ficent self-surrender.

Perhaps we have quoted this text sometimes
too liberally ; as an excuse for our silence, as
well as a reason for our discretion. There is
a time for all things : a time for silence and a
time for speech ; a time for discreet reserve,
and a time for speaking out — and speaking
boldly — even at the risk of offending some of
our " brothers' ' and sisters.

A man once passed an artist who was work-
ing in the midst of splendid mountain scenery.
He saw him put down his brushes, get up, and
step slowly backwards, the better to judge of



the effect of his work. Absorbed in this, the
artist had forgotten the precipice behind him,
and was quietly stepping further and further
back, to get just the right light upon his

The stranger, grasping the situation and
realising that a word of warning would only
precipitate the calamity, seized one of the artist's
paint-brushes and, with great presence of mind,
daubed the paint over the beautiful picture
which had cost him so many hours of patient
work. The latter naturally sprang forward to
save his beloved picture and to punish the
" wicked outrage," and was himself saved from
a hideous death.

The Churches have built up a beautiful
picture, founded on tradition, both true and
false, as to our Lord's life and mission ; true
and false because the groupings in the picture
do not always harmonise, but are often indirect
contradiction, the one to the other.

The noble lines of the most divine Life
ever lived are all there — easily filled in by the
devout and reverent soul. Our Lord said


quite enough of Himself and of His mission
to give the true idea of both. That accretions
and additions should be found, due to the
necessary limitations or the inherited prejudices
of His recorders, must be true of any book,
however sacred, that has not dropped from the
skies, with leather binding and gilt edges com-
plete. The critic may say, " What right have
you to take certain records and reject others ?
You must take all or reject all."

I do not think this is a reasonable remark,
although of course it is a very general one, and
for many centuries has effectually silenced all

When a beautiful, holy and consistent char-
acter is portrayed for us — when such teachings
as the Lord's Prayer and the Sermon on the
Mount are given to us in the name of Jesus of
Nazareth — then I think we have a perfect right
to reject any interpolations that contradict the
spiritual simplicity of these precepts, and to
courageously declare that we stand by our
Lord's teachings as a whole, and not by every
text in which they have been conveyed to us.


It is "the letter that killeth. ,> How many
stock arguments have been used by superficial
critics, anxious to belittle a character too far
above their spiritual apprehension ?

We are continually told that Jesus of Naza-
reth was hard, indifferent and wanting in rever-
ence for His parents and in sympathy with
their natural anxiety about Him ; as, for ex-
ample when He was lost to them for three days
and found at last in the Temple.

It is by clinging to the letter whilst rejecting
the spirit, that all these absurdities have been
made possible : misapprehensions on the part
of His friends, and futile criticisms (such as
the one just quoted) on the part of His foes —
foes only through lack of spiritual perception.

The clerical world as a whole, both in
Anglican and Roman Catholic communities, is
stepping backwards instead of forwards, admiring
its own handiwork in the Past, so absorbed over the
details of its craft that it is absolutely blind to the
fact that a few more steps will bring it to the brink
of the precipice.

If it is not to be Spiritual Evolution in the


Churches, then it will most certainly be
Spiritual Revolution outside of them! Is it not
time for all those who know that this accurately
describes the present crisis to come forward
boldly and attempt to save the situation, even
though this can only be done by becoming a
cause of offence to many ?

Some day we shall be judged more justly
and therefore more leniently.

It is a small matter that we shall then be
beyond the judgment of men.





In all thoughtful lives there must be critical
moments — revealing moments, when a new
truth flashes across our mental screen or an
old truth takes on sinews and flesh and the
breath of life comes into the dry bones, as in
the valley of Ezekiel's vision, and that special
truth lives for us for the first time in our

These revealing moments appear to come
to us " out " of the blue," but it is not
so in reality. For long months — often
for long years — the seed has been lying
and germinating under the soil of our sub-
conscious being, and then comes at last the



critical moment when it is strong enough and
sufficiently developed to push aside its old
environment and emerge into the sunshine of
the upper air. These moments come to the
individual and they come also to the Race.

It seems to many good and earnest and
capable men and women that such a racial
moment has now arrived. It is impossible any
longer to ignore that push from the heavy
superincumbent soil into the light of day.
The only question now is, How shall we deal
with it ?

" Crush it down by all means — at any cost"
has been the cry of many in past years. " 7/
is a poisonous weed — not a healthy and edible
plant — ignore it or crush it. We will have none
of this insidious poison in our well-ordered garden

But if the time is past when such growths
can be ignored, it is equally past when such
growths can be crushed. Root out the green
shoots in one place — they will inevitably crop
up in still greater force and number in a dozen
other spots.

To drop metaphor, new truths are coming
into the world, and the burning question for
all of us is no longer whether we can go on
ignoring and crushing them. Experience has


surely proved by this time the futility of
either course ? No ! What we need to find
is some means of readjusting the old bottles to
the new wine.

Now I think hitherto we have been doing
the best we knew in the way of patching up
these old bottles, and trying to make them
capable of holding the strong, new wine that is
being poured into them daily, both by Science
and by what has been clumsily designated as
the New Theology.

The attempt to accommodate the old to the
new, and to squeeze the new into the old is in
its way praiseworthy, and was almost inevitable
under recently past conditions. There is, in
fact, an evolutionary instinct involved. We
feel that there must be no gaps — no violent
break in the chain of events, either mental or
physical, and this tinkering up of the old to
receive the new is proof of this very sound
instinct. I venture to think, however, that we
have rather overdone matters in this direction.

We have been so busy in assuring people
that nothing essential is lost ; in stretching
texts to cover new conceptions of truth ; in an
almost Spartan pulling out or chopping off
process, in the wild attempt to fit new facts
into old sockets, that we have not always



taken time to notice the real outcome of our
laudable endeavours.

Now I think one result has been that
orthodox people feel, and quite rightly feel,
that they have not been treated fairly. Dust
has been thrown in their eyes, but after a
short period of bewildered vision they have
washed it out, and are prepared to affirm with
imperturbable decision that nothing has been
really altered by our explanations and ingeni-
ous suggestions — that the Bible says one thing
and we say another, and pretend that the two
are really one, looked at from the proper
angle. Such persons may have honestly tried
to be open-minded, but the end of it is that
they feel they have been hoodwinked, that sym-
bolism and analogy have been played for all
they are worth, and that the result has been
complete failure, so far as they themselves are
concerned, and a failure accompanied by quite
unnecessary mental and spiritual confusion,
forced upon them by our methods. Black is
black and white is white, and although you
may get some shades of grey by mixing up
the two, it is useless to contend that the grey
and the original black, or the grey and the
original white, are identical

I have great sympathy for those amongst


the orthodox who feel that they have been
unfairly treated in this way. Our intentions
have been good, but I think our methods have
often been extremely bad. We have taken
texts and given them a symbolical meaning
when it suited our purpose, and we have taken
texts and given them a literal meaning when that
suited our purpose. The fact that the purpose
itself has been an excellent one, i.e., to reconcile
old texts with new truths, does not affect the
question except so far as motive is concerned.

It was perhaps the only possible method
some years ago, by which to avoid the un-
doubted disasters attending all iconoclastic
movements. But ever-increasing light has
been thrown upon many matters since then,
and I do not think it is any longer honest to
fool ourselves or to attempt to fool others into
the belief that the Evangelists and the Apostles
said one thing, but that they really intended
all the time to convey an entirely different
meaning — often a contradictory one — and that
exaggerated Eastern symbolism, plus types and
analogies, will cover the whole ground.

They will not, and I think the sooner we
are honest enough to admit this, the better
both for ourselves and for those we may
endeavour to teach.



That Christ's personal teaching should have
come down to us so practically intact, so little
stained by the orthodox beliefs of the
" milieu " in which He lived, is proof positive
of the Divine Spirit brooding over the work of
His recorders. But apart from this, we have
numerous examples of the " stained - glass "
element which accompanies, more or less, all
inspirational or automatic writing of the
present day. We have had volumes written to
try and prove that the disciples did not look
forward to a speedy and almost immediate
second coming of their Lord to reign in
majesty upon the earth. What does it all
amount to? Is anyone really convinced by
these ingenious suggestions? Has not the
time come when it is truer and therefore wiser
to acknowledge that the same difficulties which
all psychics experience in keeping the channel
unstained by the personality, must have affected
these recorders also ; in a lesser degree, doubt-
less, because we must believe that a book with
such a mission would have very special guardian-
ship. But the writers were human as ourselves,
and liable to make mistakes with the best of

I do not wish to plead for a broader theology.
We have that, thank God. Scarcely any edu-



cated man nowadays would get up in his
pulpit or on any public platform to preach or
teach the old crude horrors of a physical
and eternal Hell — terms which are in them-
selves mutually destructive. For how could a
Hell of physical flames and physical torture be
everlasting ? The very idea is absurd in a
scientific age. As an old Scotch lady said to
me once in New Zealand — not intending to be
blasphemous, I am quite sure — "Why, my
dear, if you come to think of it, it is impos-
sible ! Either it would kill us, or it wouldn't
kill us. If we were put out of existence it
wouldn't matter to us, and if we were not,
why then, we should be bound to get used to
it in time" I quote this to show the very
bathos to which such teaching must lead, so
soon as our mental conceptions are ahead of it,
and so soon as we have learnt to think.

I have heard my friend, the late Dr Alfred
Williams Momerie say more than once to his
congregation : €t My dear friends, I'm afraid
you really must think. I am extremely sorry
for you, because I know how you hate thinking,
and it is a nuisance sometimes, but I see no
way of avoiding it. I cannot do the thinking
for you."

The fact is, many of us don't think and


won't think, simply because we are afraid to
contemplate where it must leave us.

We know now that we have only exchanged
a physical Hell, of endless and impossible
torture, for a very real Hell, which begins here
and now, so soon as we become sensitive
enough to realise it, and will continue just as
long as we live in separation from and antagon-
ism to, the Divine Source of our being, whose
presence with us spells Love and Life Eternal,
and whose absence means Darkness and Hate
and Separation and Remorse.

An old friend of mine, one of our greatest
Mutiny heroes, who was more terribly wounded
than almost any other man who has lived to
tell the tale, said to me once when I was quite
a young girl : a How much more terriblef
mental suffering may be than physical, and
yet how little sympathy one receives with the
former as compared with the latter ! " He
continued : "When I was cut to pieces out in
India, everyone was full of sympathy and good-
ness to me. Yet I have suffered infinitely
more in my mind and spirit, and no one has
shown the slightest sympathy."

There are two obvious reasons for this,
which I was too inexperienced in my school-
days to suggest. One is, of course, that



mental scars don't show as physical wounds
generally do, and the other that many people
have not yet reached the point where they
themselves are capable of any deep mental and
spiritual suffering. But the words made a
deep impression upon me at the time, and they
occur to me now in connection with the
orthodox Hell, and the modern conception of
spiritual separation and remorse. Many, in
the terrible grip of the latter, might also be
inclined to think that any physical suffering
would be a relief from the spiritual torture.

That which makes even a spiritual Hell
impossible from the point of view of Retribu-
tion rather than Reformation, is the undoubted
fact that only the most spiritually advanced,
and therefore what we should call " the best "
people, are capable of realising such a Hell at
all. The sensualist, the materialist, the man
of crude and cruel impulses, would be proof
(either in this sphere or any other) against the
gnawing of remorse, or the agony of separation
from the more divine part of his nature ;
which is obviously at present a sealed book to

Therefore we are at once confronted by
the awkward fact that only the most highly
organised and sensitive people can ever be in



the most acute form of spiritual Hell, whereas
the least developed and most wicked men and
women would live in a sort of base material
Heaven of their own, absolutely protected from
all spiritual suffering when once they have left
the theatre of their evil deeds, where material
penalties might reach them. These two states
suggest little difficulty when looked at from
the evolutionary point of view, for they are
obvious and inevitable.

" The wicked man " may hug his base
Heaven to his breast for centuries or even
aeons, but some day the turning-point must
come ; if only because Evil has no life in
itself, and is only galvanised into temporary
life by its victims. When that day comes —
no matter where or when — then Hell begins
for the emerging soul, and will continue until
the purging process is complete.

We sometimes hear people talk about the
" New Theology " as a sign of the times —
of the lazy, luxurious, selfish, motor-car times!
" They even want to get rid of Hell, with
their nasty, selfish, luxurious ways."

I have actually heard this said. It
seemed to me just a step in advance of
the more general remark of a few years ago,
which has been addressed to me personally



many times : Oh y then if you don't believe in
Hell, why should we not all be as wicked as
we like ? "

The last time this was said to me, I felt
justified in answering the lady thus :

" If that is really your view of the matter,
I am thankful that you do believe in a physical
Hell ; and what you say shows me that,
repugnant as the idea is to most progressive
minds,rthe old orthodox teaching has had its^**/wc'<
uses from the police-office point of view." d£t *»&&■*£

Then again with regard to the old beliefs 2M- cidJy t
in the Atonement as a Blood sacrifice to (J^Aa €*&
propitiate an angry God whose laws had been
broken. I remember when I was quite a
tiny child, with possibly a fairly logical head
on very small shoulders, how that question
of the Atonement worried and perplexed me.
At times it seemed quite clear that only my
own wicked obstinacy and stupidity prevented
my being absolutely satisfied with the explana-
tions given me on the subject. But at other
moments something stronger than myself
seemed to rebel and to say, " No ! it isn't
clear, and it isn't fair, and all the faith in the
world won't make it clear, any more than it
could make two and two equal five.'' The
puzzle for me was this : I was told in the



Bible and in church that Jesus Christ had
died to save us and that God had promised
Him every soul in the human race as a
consequence of and reward for His death
upon the cross. Then again I was told that
a great many people would not be saved,
because they would die without performing
some act of faith or being converted — what-
ever that might exactly mean — a process at any
rate which appeared a very dim chance, so
far as I was personally concerned. Even at
seven or eight years of age I had tried hard —
and often succeeded — in working up some
kind of religious emotion, which made me
hope that this mysterious " conversion " might
some day take place — but it never did. One
was always naughty again under normal
temptations, and the exalted mood passed
and left a poor, little, lonely child, with no one
to confide in, and with less and less hope
of this mysterious event taking place in her
life. Then despair and depression gave way
to honest childish indignation. It was all so
horribly unfair ! What nonsense it was to
talk about God's promise to His Son that
every single human soul should be saved, and
then this mysterious f - belief and conversion "
were smuggled in somehow, to account for



so many people having to go to Hell on
account of their flagrant sins and wickedness !
It may sound very blasphemous, but I am sure
a great many more children of a thoughtful
turn, used to worry and perplex themselves
over such questions than any of the <c grown-
ups " realised. Again I say, " Thank God ! "
that however selfish and materialistic we may
be nowadays, the poor little children at least
have no such heavy burdens to bear. At
eight years of age I could have provided
material for another Cry of the Children,
from some such point of view, had Mrs
Barrett Browning been available to put it
into words for me. And how many of the
children of those days might say the same !
Now that the hideous old dogma of the
Atonement has merged by slow degrees into
the beautiful and inspiring doctrine of the
At-onement, through the fruition and the
example of the One perfect human life lived
upon earth, a life which must needs lead those
who can be inspired by it into still closer conscious
union with the Source of their being, have we
not reason to rejoice in the grand example
given to us of the continuity of Evolution ?

As in the physical world, inferior forms are
always being replaced by superior organisa-



tions, so we can trace — even within the last
thirty or forty years —how the crude and
often cruel dogmas of the past have been ever
tending towards higher forms of Belief and
nobler conceptions of Truth. Some great
truth has lain at the basis of all these crude
theological ideas, just as the protoplasm and
the amoeba have lain at the basis of all
organised human life. We don't hold that
protoplasm and those earliest forms of life
in contempt, if we are normal and intelligent
beings — we acknowledge our debt to them,
and this is just what I think we ought to do
with regard to the beliefs and dogmas of
earlier centuries. They have been, after all,
a sort of theological protoplasm, which has
formed the basis for our spiritual life, without
which the latter, so far as we know, might
not have been possible to our slowly evolving
consciousness. That many men and women
would disown such indebtedness has little
significance. It simply means that they are
taking short and strictly personal views of
a very big subject, and prefer to ignore the
unity of all life, physical and spiritual, and the
links by which they are held in the great
universe of Spirit, as well as in the great
universe of physical conditions.




A revolution in the domain of religious
thought, as radical, as far-reaching and, per-
haps, even more important than the revolution
in astronomy connected with the name of
Copernicus, has set in. It has practically
taken place within the memory of many
living men and women, in fact during the
last fifty years. The first feeble notes of pro-
test were sounded when the once famous
volume of Essays and Reviews was published.
That seems such a far-away cry, that it is
almost difficult to realise that our well-known
Mafeking hero, General Baden- Powell, is the
son of one of the chief contributors to that
well-known and much-abused book. Some
years ago I was crossing the Atlantic with
Mr Warrington Baden- Powell (another of the
professor's sons), and we chanced upon this
subject of Essays and Reviews. I said to him :
" It is years since I read the book, but I
suppose now it would be considered quite



mildly unorthodox, compared with later litera-

1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13

Online LibraryE. Katherine (Emily Katherine) BatesPsychical science and Christianity, a problem of the XXth century → online text (page 1 of 13)