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Slowing Down/ Fledglings/ Social Prescribing and Nature in Partnership/ Spiritualism – Can We Do More at Christmas?

Slowing Down.

As I have said before cutting back a bit on my church activities does not mean I am turning my back on Spiritualism no way.  I will still be taking services at a few churches. I also planned to take in a service one week at the Glasgow Association of Spiritualists and the next at other churches.  I was looking forward to soaking up the atmosphere and watch how new mediums work with Spirit from sitting in the congregation rather than from the platform.

This plan started off well with a Sunday morning at GAS.  With Aberdeen medium Wendy Lyons taking the service.  Then the following week to the Prestwick Spiritualist Church to a lovely service taken by Medium Paul Erroch.  Although knowing Paul for many years and we stay not that far from each other it is a good few years since we last met.  Unfortunately, a few health problems got in the way of my plans, but just about ready to get things going again.

PS I will still be taking a few workshops and giving a few talks.

Fledglings.

Last month I was commenting that we must give support to our fledglings.  Mediums who tutor their own trainees have been asking churches to allow them to hold special nights at the church so they can gain experience working in a church environment.  Maybe this is the way forward, but does not let churches off the hook in providing well-structured education.  And off those trainee Mediums getting this sort of chance I hope a good percentage will take the path of church work and not floor shows. 

Social Prescribing and Nature in Partnership

Often, I have commented on the power of flowers in being an upliftment for those who are suffering from depression, anxiety, low self-esteem or being housebound etc.  My way has been small troughs / window boxes and making sure there is something in flower all year round.  The results have been amazing.

So, it was with great delight I read in the Psychic News (November 2019) “GP Practice Prescribes Pot Plants”.  A Manchester inner city GP practice has decided to prescribe tending plants rather than automatically offering pills for some conditions like depression.

In this case the plants are not flowers, but pots of herbs and vegetables.  Tending a plant in remembering to water and watch it carefully from its first shoot to a bud opening can make a colossal difference for many people. That little spark of wonder can ignite a new way of thinking and getting back on their feet.  Well done the Cornbrook Medical Practice.  Let’s hope that other medical practices consider social prescribing.

Spiritualism – Can We Do More at Christmas?

We have both Christian and non-Christian Spiritualist churches with most mediums serving both.   In the past few years I have heard the odd comment that the latter should not celebrate Christmas in any shape or form in their churches.  Special services, whether it is a simple candlelight service, an hour of contemplation or meditation is out saying some.  Others have said that a Christmas tree should not be in our churches. This got me thinking.

If you stay in this country, you cannot escape Christmas no matter what religion you are or if you are of no religion.  How many Spiritualist do not give and receive presents/cards?  Willing to volunteer to work on Christmas Day to allow those who are Christians have the day off to celebrate with their families?  Sit down to a special dinner on the 25th?

Hindus do not recognize Christmasas a religious tradition, but many do celebrate it, treating the holiday as a secular festival.

Those of the Sikhs religion give presents on Christmas Day.  Although Christmas is a Christian Festival, it is celebrated as a Cultural holiday by many Sikhs who live in western countries.  Although many do not sing Christmas Carols, they do enjoy them.

Since the Buddhist teachings are all about peace and goodwill toward mankind, Christmas is a time when Buddhists can focus on some of the similarities between their religion and Christianity. They enjoy decorating their temples with what most would recognize as Christmas decorations. They send and receive cards from loved ones. They hold vigils late at night and light candles.

Muslim groups are joining forces with Christian groups in Britain to help the country’s homeless and other vulnerable groups during the Christmas period. 

So, with Christmas being a sad and lonely time for many, surely, we should be doing a little more at this time of year.  It will be impossible for our churches who rent premises to hold a service on Christmas Eve or on the 25th as premises will be closed. 

What about those churches with their own buildings?  I don’t mean a midnight service, but doors being open on the 25th for a prayer, hymns, music, meditation and a get together for a cup of tea afterwards?   That again may not be suitable as committee members work hard all the year round to keep the church doors open.

How about in the lead up to the 25th we do that little bit extra do something different?  Open the church for a gentle relaxing night something like I have mentioned in the previous chapter.  Missing out the clairvoyance.  SACRALIGE!  I can hear many shouting.  But do churches at times leave out the address and still advert the evening as a service?  A little give and take in our religion would not go amiss.  I am sure that would get the approval; from Spirit.  Why don’t you ask them before saying “yea” or “nae” to this proposal? 

It will be said “We do celebrate Christmas we have parties and dinners, etc in our churches”.  We do, but I am thinking more of the need of those in the locality of the church not the members who we rightly do cater for.

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I RESIGN … WE MUST SUPPORT OUR FLEDGLINGS – THEY MUST BE GIVEN CHURCH PLATFORM EXPERIENCE … HONOURABLE

I Resign.

After long consideration I decided to resign as vice-president and committee member of my church.  I will still continue my membership and attend services, but I feel that I would be more beneficial working for Spirit in other ways.  I will still be taking services at a few churches, give a few talks and take some workshops.

Fledglings Must be Given Support.

Well done the Glasgow Central Association of Spiritualists – Berkley Street for giving over their three weekly services to fledglings (New mediums to the platform) I am sorry I missed the services.hurches should revert back to the old ways to give fledglings platform experience.  A church would invite another church to send along their fledglings to take their service if they felt their trainees were at a stage to do so.  This was the way I was introduced to the platform.  And I have to thank Paisley Church SNU, Dumfries SNU Church (2) and the White Rose Spiritualist Church Gourock.    On each occasion five of us fledglings took the services.  Where possible church committees should make an all our effort to give the right sort of training to their members who wish to advance in this field.  Not always possible for small churches and those who have to rent a hall. But those who have their own premises there should be no excuse.  Not just a development circle, but at a minimal cost.  In today’s financial climate, many cannot afford the cost of many workshops, etc.  This is where mediums should think of giving their time free only asking for travelling expenses.

There are those who say that in the past many a church took too long before saying a student was ready to take the platform.  Today it is the exact opposite.  Those in charge of the development groups have a big responsibility to Spirit, their students, those on the receiving end of the students link and of course themselves.  Not to hold a student back, when with all things added up their proteges are ready for their first platform venture.  At the same time, not to put the fruits of their labour in front of a congregation before they have ripened sufficiently.  And certainly not let the first steps of a fledgling take place at charity events.

Honourable.

The word honourable has to do with people and actions that are honest, fair, and worthy of respect. An honourable person is someone who believes in truth and doing the right thing — and tries to live up to those high principles. When you lose a game, it’s honourable to shake hands.

Our politicians at this time constantly using the words ‘honourable lady / honourable gentleman’ when parliament is sitting.  But although they may be getting the gender correct the individuals they are addressing   So why continue with this word.

With positions of leadership, whether it be government or in a committee one has be responsible and strive to do the best for those individuals and institutions they represent.

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No Excuse for not having Music.   / A Service for Absent Friends / Making A New Spiritualism. /.

No Excuse for not having Music.

So much talk about raising the energies at a service and there is no better way in raising the energies than with music.  There should be no excuse as to why a church does not have any form of music at their services.  Singing hymns or other suitable tunes unaccompanied is no substitute.

Unfortunately, it is not possible in most cases to have someone playing a piano, organ or guitar, but a CD player and a CD can fill the gap perfectly.  Some of our churches have CD of the music to accompany the hymns in their hymn books.  With more modern and popular tunes with suitable words, it is not a problem to download the music from the internet. 

I like organ music and often go on the Internet to listen to my favourite tunes played on the Yamaha Tyros organ.  A good tip for churches that are thinking of adding music to their service.  There does not need to be singing from the congregation a suitable piece of music giving a few minutes for contemplation helps with the link.

A Service to Absent Friends

Alloa Spiritualist Church held a special service – A Service to Absent Friends – on 28th July.  Alloa has led the way and I hope others follow suit.

It is time we promoted our services rather than put ‘psychic nights’ to the fore.  Many variations of services could follow like a service for our pets and a harvest festival etc.

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The BEACON – September 1962.  (The Association’s monthly magazine) ​

                                         Making A New Spiritualism

Many thousands of people join our Movement every year.  They find that Spiritualism satisfies their various needs and gives them a spiritual -understanding of life and a purpose for their journey while on earth.  Added to this are the psychic experiences which strengthen the natural ties between friends on earth and those journeying on through the greater universe.
  Many of those investigating Spiritualism seek, through their studies of the psychic faculties, confirmation of their basic theological beliefs.  Others are more interested in communication than the philosophy of Spiritualism.  They are not in search of a religion, believing that service to the humanity is all that is needed in this world.  They are not church goers; a philosophical or a theological Spiritualist church has no attraction to them.
 

When forming a Spiritualist society or church it should be realised that the members will have had widely varying experiences in a work-a-day world. A president should be knowledgeable in many departments of Spiritualism; a treasurer should have had previous experience in keeping records of monetary transactions; while there should be a church publicist with some knowledge of modern methods of advertising.

District council committee members should seek to serve the group of churches with area loyalty.  Members of the National Council must be capable of viewing the Movement as a whole.   They must be able to comprehend that there are many different approaches to Spiritualism and that the needs of member churches are widely   different.
 

Many class B members are also members of their local churches, to which they have a personal loyalty.  But as time goes on Class B members may increase in numbers with perhaps a greater loyalty to National Spiritualism than to   any particular church.  Some of them may have special qualifications – artists, engineers, musicians, poets’   architects, etc.  Such members would be a great asset if their talents could be utilised.  The District Council should   keep a special register of these members.  Some of them could provide entertainment on social evenings in the   churches in the area.
 

On a national scale those with special qualifications might be formed into groups.      There should be a musician’s   section, for example, composed of pianist’s organists, etc.  New hymns, special seasonal songs, and incidental   compositions are needed.  There is a need for Area and National Inspiration Committees.  Our Movement is in need of inspired stimulation.
  
  Ralph Walton. ​​

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WHY SHUN OUR SEVEN PRINCIPLES? / ALL THINGS BRIGHT AND BEAUTIFUL.

Why Shun Our Seven Principles?

My perfect format for our Divine Service is as follows. The reading out of the Seven Principles, prayers, hymns / suitable music, absent healing, a short reading, philosophy and the clairvoyance.  This package covers all aspects of our religion.  There is plenty of time for all this to take place in a 1 hour 15-minute service.

There are churches who have variations to the above format.  They replace one of the above with a few minutes of contemplation with music or in the silence.  I have no complaints with that as it gives those in the congregation a time to relax which adds to the atmosphere in the church.

I am surprised that all SNU churches do not have the Seven Principles as part of their Divine Services.  The SNU leaves it up to individual committees as to whether the Seven Principles are included in the service.

Asking around I am surprised so many are averse to the Principles are not part of the service.  Here are some of the comments; –

“The medium and the congregation are desperate to get to the messages”. 

So desperate that the reciting of 47 words = 60seconds will make much difference?  Those who put such comments forward have in the past been responsible for churches abandoning the address.  And no address means no Divine Service.

“People don’t like to be preached too.”.

Where is the preaching in the Principles unless it is the way the chairperson puts it over? The Principles are guidelines not hard fast rules and that should be explained. This gives an indication especially to newcomers as to what our religion is about.

At my first night at a Spiritual Church The 5th Principle “Personal Responsibility” stuck in my mind and I thought about that for days afterwards.  The little seed had been sown in my mind.  Maybe if it had not been for that I might not have returned to the church.  I have heard of many having a similar experience on hearing the 5th Principle, especially those going through a dark period of their lives.  Have we to deny them that chance by wanting another minute of mediumship?

 “The Principles are displayed around the church”.  Not a substitute for the spoken word during the service.  I have visited several orthodox churches in the past few years and did not read all the posters on the walls.

“Reading out the Principles sounds so religious”.  Is Spiritualism not a religion?  Admittedly we are a low-key religion.  If we have prayers and hymns why the aversion to the Principles? 

The SNU fought hard for years to be part of the wreath laying party at the Cenotaph on Remembrance Sunday.  Also, to be a member of the World Council of Churches.  Wanting to be accepted as a religion, but at the same time not wanting to be seen as a religious organization. 

Usually District Council Open Days end with a demonstration of mediumship in the evening.  Often there is no opening prayer at this.  Why – especially when the event is held in a Spiritualist Church’s own building.  Are we ashamed of our religion?  Are we trying to be all things to all people and not true to our religion?

                     “All Things Bright and Beautiful”

My mother’s favourite hymn, which was played at her funeral… I feel that these are the finest words ever put together.   And the second line of the first verse “All Creatures Great and Small” was my favourite TV programme of all time.I constantly get asked: “What is the Spirit World like?”  Instantly when I hear this question my mind goes to the words of this hymn. The words create such an idyllic picture – this could easily be what the Spirit

I constantly get asked: “What is the Spirit World like?”  Instantly when I hear this question my mind goes to the words of this hymn. The words create such an idyllic picture – this could easily be what the Spirit World is like.

World is like; –

With everything bright and pleasing to the eye.

All of God’s creatures wandering about with no fear.

Flowers in abundance and blooming in every colour of the rainbow, even colours that we have not seen here on Earth. 

Every species of birds known to man singing their hearts out.

All living things that have ever existed, still alive and thriving.

Magnificent purple headed mountains with peaceful rivers running by.  

Marvellous sunrises and sunsets.

Will we have cold winds blowing? – I believe we will have the four seasons in the Spirit World as each season has its own beauty and grandeur.

Ripe fruits in abundance, there will be no one starving.  

Plenty of tall trees and greenwoods providing homes and shelter for all species.

Lush meadows where animals graze and children play.

“We were given eyes to see and lips that that we might tell”. …  To tell our loved ones that a new world awaits them when their time on Earth is over.  On the ‘other-side’ we can still communicate with those whom we have left behind.

Those words by Cecil Francis Alexander were first published in 1884 for her “Hymns for Little Children”.  It has become oneof the favourite hymns of all time.  In days gone by Cecil could be a boy’s or girl’s name)

Yet – although I have said – the words paint a picture in my mind of what the Spirit World will be like; Ms Alexander was referring to Planet Earth. And her words would be a perfect description of our Planet if we add in the verse that so many hymnaries leave out;

The rich man in his castle,
The poor man at his gate,
God made them, high or lowly,
And ordered their estate.

Now add this verse and you will see that it is not the Spirit World that Ms Alexander is describing.  It is here on Planet Earth. Our World has all that is mentioned in the popular version of this hymn, but when one adds the verse above it becomes abundantly clear that it is Our World that she is describing.

In the Spirit World there will be no rich or poor, no starvation and no illness, but it will be no five-star hotel. We will still have to work, work our way towards even another life, another dimension, but with fewer burdens than we have here on Earth.

I seldom mention reincarnation as it was a very touchy subject when I first came into Spiritualism. Now-a-days it is more freely debated.  Some by the error of their ways may have another life, or several lives, back here on Earth.  For those that have committed atrocities while in this life, well, it will be a long time before they enjoy the full benefits of the Spirit World.

To those who ask me, “What is it like in the Spirit World? I try to get them to forget the Spirit World and look at all Planet Earth has to offer.  There is so much around us that we take for granted or have never paid any real attention too. 

Many of us in this life fail to notice the real beauty around us.  We don’t need to be deep in the country to be enthralled by something that lightens up our day.  Many a time we fail to notice the goodness in the hearts of many who do voluntary work to help those less fortunate than themselves.  Not even voluntary work being part of an organization, but a kind deed even as little as a smile to a lonely person…

Let us for the moment forget the Spirit World and concentrate on this life and making it a bit better for ourselves and in turn for others as well….

L
Fox Hunting and Spiritualism.

                  Fox Hunting and Spiritualism

Fox-hunting has been in the news this past week or so and there has been much heated debate on social media about this issue.  I have been surprised to see that many connected in one way or another with Spiritualism are not condemning this so-called sport.  Even trying to turn the blame around to those of us who do with the old chestnut that “We should not judge others”.

The lack of a list of “Don’t do this” and “Don’t do that” like other religions was in part why I kept returning to our churches. The 5th Principle put me in control of my thoughts and actions.  Since then I put myself in the shoes/paws of those whom I have negative thoughts about.  Then, and only then do I come to a conclusion. 

As far as blood-sports are concerned I feel that in the end it is down to the value each individual put on the lives of animals.   

Here are a few comments from others; –

“The SNU as a body doesn’t have an official view on this – being non-dogmatic it wouldn’t be possible to issue views on every single thing, but would encourage individual thought to be given through the lens of the Seven Principles. However, I do think Spiritualist philosophy points towards a view on this.

In his recent booklet which the SNU published, 21st century View of the Seven Principles of Spiritualism, Minister Barry Oates refers to our second principle as “Unity of Life.” In qualifying this he says, “Unity of life is accepting that as you have a right to live your life in the best possible way, so it is with all life, animal or human.” He is therefore seeing the connection that extends through humanity as extending into the animal kingdom too. Philosophically, this raises the question of how we value all life, not just human life. There are many other views in Spiritualist literature that support this, Silver Birch’s teachings being prominent in advocating compassion towards animals. This theme is of course echoed in Lizzie Doten’s classic Spiritualist hymn, God of the Granite and the Rose. (“The mighty tide of being flows through all thy creatures back to thee…”

 I think anyone would have a struggle to find any teachings within Spiritualism that supported blood sports and other inhumanities towards animals.

Personally, as a vegan who avoids any cruelty or harm to animals, I find that Spiritualism has only strengthened my choices, and view that God has given animals a purpose, whereas humanity in general seems to have given them a use – two different things. It is always possible to highlight personal responsibility if someone chooses to use animals to their own end, but it is common sense that our personal choices are not always best for others, human or animal”.

 This is always a heated debate, Tom, but often we need to see things from the perspective of the animal itself, and within the greater spiritual context. Not everyone is able or willing to do this – however, I believe that Spiritualism encourages us all to do both”.  AH.

 “Fox hunting is a class thing.  Many are brought up believing that hunting the fox is part of country living.  This means that we should not be criticising the individual, but their upbringing”.  LG.

“Organized dog fighting, cockerel fighting and hare coursing have all been banned throughout the years.  Why try to hold on to fox hunting”?    KL.

Surely if one is to carry on along a smooth Spiritual path then not only must one be against all suffering, but also speak up?  Not only the individual also religions.

Fast Tracting or Taking Time to Blossom?

“Flowers do not force their way with great strife.

Flowers open to perfection slowly in the sun.

Don’t be in a hurry about spiritual matters.

White Eagle.

The first though that came into my mind this morning was the above quote from White Eagle.

Not only in Spiritual matters, but on life as a whole everything is forced these days.  Nothing is given time to ripen and mature so much is lost. In fast track life, work, leisure and Spiritualism loses out what was built up in the past.

Agricultural companies and large-scale farms strive to produce as much food as possible as quickly and inexpensively as possible, —even if that means sacrificing flavour. Few customers will complain as this has resulted in big savings for consumers. A typical five-pound supermarket chicken now costs less than one-quarter of what it would have cost in 1948 after adjusting for inflation.  Bred to be plump, not tasty.  That is the order of today.  It is the same with vegetables and some fruits.  I feel sorry for the younger generations as they do not know the real taste of the food they are eating. 

It is the same with work and training. It is as quick and as quick as you can do the job rather than quality that will last. When I started with Royal Mail the first three days, I had to write out the rule book each day.   Countless pages and I was suffering from writer’s cramp rather than sore feet I had expected.  The next nine days I was shown every aspect of how a sorting office functioned even though much that I would never be asked to do.   Today I have come across young lads put out on their own after a few days and then being sent for a few days training months later.

What about Spiritualism? As that was what White Eagle had in mind when making his comment.  Like everything else Spiritualism has joined the ‘fast-tracking era’. 

At one time a medium stepping on the platform for the first time would have spent years sitting in circle before they would even be considered for platform work.  Now, a few workshops, seminars, etc with so-called International mediums/Celebrates and many feel they are ready to represent our religion.  Gaining diplomas, here again is good that many now have an in-depth knowledge of our religion.  But to gain experience takes time 

I was friendly with a Church of Scotland Minister who had a photographic memory.  This gentleman said that this could be a curse rather than a benefit.  He had the knowledge, but not the experience and both are equally as important. 

There is also the ever-increasing cost of this learning.  We are getting to the stage where many will not have the money to take part.  We have to be careful that man-made rules do not override the will of Spirit.

The above will be the topic for our debating group’s first meeting of 2019.  I will put online some of the comments.