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“Why Such Silence of the Tomb?” a Sectarian Theocrat Asks

Posted on 15 February 2021, 19:14


The below letter was written to Dr. Richard Hodgson, then editor of the Journal of the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR) and was published in the Proceedings of the ASPR in March 1889.  The writer, identified only as “Mr. N. X.”, reports on some psychic matters and expresses his frustration at not being able to directly experience such phenomena.  He wonders why strangers hear from his deceased loved ones, while he experiences only “silence of the tomb.” The letter is reproduced here primarily for its educational and entertainment value.  It is dated March 4, 1888 and sent from New Jersey.

“Sir,  – The ‘New York World’ of this morning makes reference to you, to your investigation into certain mysteries of life, and relates some peculiar facts, so far as the events or incidents may be termed.

“I am not a ‘spiritualist’ in religious faith, and therefore do not associate the phenomena I now submit with the ‘unconscious cerebration’ of that belief, for I was trained in, and retain much of the hard-headed sceptic faith as to all faiths which are not of divine revelation; but the phenomena of life and the laws of nature are a legitimate study to all sectarian theocrats.

“I propose to relate some inexplicable phenomena within my personal experience, in which personal friends, absolute strangers to the actors in the phenomena, were witnesses, and to ask, if your interest is excited, for some rational explanation, and you may use this communication at your discretion, suppressing my name.

“Colonel Jno. A. Cockerill of ‘The World’ is a personal friend, if a reference is needed, and many more can be given to sustain my identity and integrity.

“In the year 1874 my attention was first directed to psychic sympathies; that is, to the correspondence in thought existing where warm attachments lived, though vast distances separated the parties; and later reflections and experiences confirm my then crude ideas that the thought in its physical structure possesses the same material characteristics that mark magnetism, electricity, and the other ethics, so to speak, of nature. On this point I will give my views later.

“In the winter of 1874 a most dear friend was in Florida for her health. I had known her in childhood: she had married, was the mother of two fine sons, and at this date was a widow. Her husband was a dear friend. The closest friendly relations existed between us for years, so close that in his last illness he would permit only me to aid his wife in caring for him. Financial reverses came to him, and he begged me to counsel his widow for their mutual sakes. Love was not engendered through this counsel, and she now resides in California, striving to eliminate the pulmonic tendency from her youngest son, a lad of eighteen years. But the deepest sympathy for, and interest in, a noble woman – noble then and now in all true womanhood – incited me, and the correspondence strengthened the friendly ties of years, which continues. So much for the dramatis personae.  I was ever a home-body, rarely leaving my room, books, and desk, as to me the younger men came for counsel; perhaps to smoke or chat, and otherwise find a surcease from their merrier joys.

“One of these visitors was a spiritualist, as were his family, all. A man of fine and sensitive sympathetic nature, he frequented my rooms more than any of the rest. One night as we were playing ‘casino,’ he, facing the door, had a startled look, which knowing or surmising its cause, made me ask, ‘What do you see?’  – [He responded] ‘A woman’s face and bust half leaning through the door.’ – ‘Nonsense,’ I said, ‘describe her features.’ He did so to the life. I had seen this – apparition shall we call it? – frequently, hence I was unmoved; he was the startled one.  He was an absolute stranger to the lady, had never seen her, knew not her name, history, or aught about her. I could understand the psychic action that made me materialize her face, though she was at Green Cove Springs, Florida, at that moment, as her letter to me proved; but why this visible appearance to an absolute stranger? It has ever been a mystery.

“Financial reverses came to me, and my wife, residing with relatives in a remote town in south-western Virginia, died suddenly of apoplexy on a Thursday and was buried on the Saturday following. Remoteness made the telegraph useless as a summons to me, and on the Monday morning following I received two letters, – one announcing her death, and one from a lady, a school-teacher, a principal, with whom I corresponded much on educational matters affecting her, in which she informed me that a spirit had appeared to her and desired her to inform me of her identity as my wife, and of her death.

“Neither party had ever met; one was ignorant of the existence of the other. The teacher lived near the Delaware Water Gap, and I had not seen her for some years. She was a spiritualist, sixty-five years old then, and is living now.

“Quaere: Why this communication to an absolute stranger, by a vision, and not to me, the only party in interest? Nor have I ever had a vision or, or spiritual communication with my deceased wife.

“The sudden death of my wife, a few hours’ illness, her ignorance of the existence of my correspondent, preclude all physical communications or any idea of any form of material ones.  Whence this phenomenon? I married again,  – a woman of rare beauty, accomplished beyond the high average of accomplished women. We were orthodox in religious faith, but we read, thought upon, and discussed psychic phenomena. Before and after marriage, when she was in trouble (for she had much trouble with property, and was robbed under the garb of friendship), I have known when at my writing that she needed me, and though miles away, found on arrival that I was; and in marriage, when in town, and she at our country home, something told me to come home, and the necessities proved it. Our lives were a symphony: both devoted to flowers, we wandered all over these hills, glades, forests, after ferns, wood flowers, and they seemed to grow by the incense of her breath.

“In music, painting, song, in the wide magnificence of astronomy, to the subtler mysteries of vegetable life, in the natural alembic of terrestrial laboratory, she wandered with me during the four short years of our married bliss; yet, close as was our ante-nuptial sympathy, close as were the harmonies of our married life, fearless as I am known to be as to spiritual realizations, I have never had a response to the wailing cry for her presence.

“Tell me why these conditions in life, this silence of the tomb, now?

“Again, and repeatedly, for my correspondence has included many brilliant women, when remote from each other by hundreds of miles, we have felt a spirit move us to write, and from sleepless beds we have risen to write the night thoughts, only to find an identity of action as to time and theme….

“I am very truly, [signed] N. X. 

After Hodgson wrote to N.X. and requested the names and addresses of the friends so that he could verify the facts, N. X. replied on March 11, 1888:

“My Dear Sir, – In reply to your letter of the 8th inst. received yesterday, I have to state that my friend who saw the apparition is now a resident in Chicago, and there being no correspondence between us, – not from unfriendly reasons, but simply from the causes natural to a mere man of business, – I do not know his exact address, but the first time I am in town I will obtain it and send it to you. I never did attempt to learn what the lady was doing at that moment in Florida.  She was there for health, and what her social or hygienic pleasures were, to me were of little moment so long as she recovered her health.

“I possess no letters from my first wife. In the wide range of correspondence, and specially in the sacredness of the family relation, I do not believe in the retention of letters for the idle to read after I am dead, hence I retain few and have an annual holocaust of ‘friendship’s’ offerings. 

“By the term ‘idle,’ above, I refer to the curious-eyed class which are indigenous to all families.

“The school-teacher was named Miss B. of——-, N. J., where and by which name, a letter will still reach her, although she married some two years ago at the age of sixty-five: her married name I do not remember, as communication has ceased for various reasons….

“[signed] N. X.”

Hodgson then wrote to Mrs. B. Y., formerly Miss B. and received the following letter, dated April 6, 1888:

“Dear Sir,—...Mr. X’s report of my interview with his deceased wife is correct, and only one of many like experiences which have occurred to me and other members of my family.  [signed] Mrs. B. Y.”

Next blog post: March 1

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
His latest book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is published by White Crow Books.

Next blog post:  February 15




PPS Does ANYONE want to read how relativity supports acceptance of spirit phenomena?

Eric Franklin, Sat 20 Feb, 08:02

Yes, Eric, I would be very interested in reading your paper/book about that. I’m not a physicist, but rather an engineer and sometimes have an inquiring mind smile

You can send email me at:
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Chris Campbell, Wed 24 Feb, 18:26

Dear Newton,

I am grateful for your words. That I agree with them is, it might seem, an arrogant thing to say, as if MY opinion is important. But you deserve agreement to be voiced. I am grateful, Newton. Blessed are the peacemakers, for they shall be called the sons/daughters of the Great Being herhimself.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Tue 23 Feb, 18:15

Dear Amos,

A tentative immediate response:

At eighty years old, a thinker, a feeler, a life-long helper of other people, reverent towards the Great Being, I wonder how to suggest to you that a much less condescending manner of response might have advantages for all who comment here, including yourself. It is Newton who clearly understands us both, and he is prepared to say so publicly. Thank you, Newton. He realises that we are saying the same thing - of course we are; that ought to be obvious to every reader, and it surely is obvious to many, and I shall be responding to his comment soon - but, as you know, what we believe and what we actually evince in our actions and utterances are not always the same. Newton is a remarkably fine man and has a very fine mind, as is obvious from his writing style and from the content of what he writes. So is Don Porteous, whose unpublished book I am just now reading from first to last page for the second time, and hope to be able to help him bring to its well-deserved publication. It is an excellent book, worth all the effort I am putting into helping it to press.

I note that you, Amos, have never accepted my offer to show you how Relativity Theory supports from hard science, undeniable by sceptics, our shared beliefs regarding spiritual life. You asked me to show you first, and said that you would decide THEN whether you are interested in what I had to say on the topic. Do you understand why I declined to submit my work to you on that basis? Even after my very recent mention of the offer to you personally I receive no response on that topic, but only on the present matter. By our fruits we are known.

I shall say no more here; I want to send this and read Newton’s comment, and respond to him.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Tue 23 Feb, 18:02

Am I alone in seeing that Eric and AOD, like Jon and me, are saying essentially the same true and beautiful thing but in different words? One lesson that Imperator & Co. brought home to Stainton Moses was that we must avoid letting linguistic preferences, various ways of expressing spiritual truth, get in the way of uniting in that truth and thereby advancing it. It’s a lesson which I, as much as anyone, perhaps more than most, need constantly to keep in mind.

Newton E. Finn, Tue 23 Feb, 15:28

It is not appropriate for me to here enter into a personal discussion with any commenter, however I recognize the continuing pain you have apparently carried with you throughout your long life related to your upbringing and I am truly sorry that you had to go through that.

Forgiveness, as is love, is not an offer that is put before another to accept or reject.  Both are freely given and experienced by the one who ‘gives’ them.  I could be loved or hated by a thousand people and I would feel nothing. It would not affect me.  I could be forgiven by a thousand people but how would that change my current or past behaviors.  It is only to the extent that I love or hate that I feel anything, that any change is made. And if I love, I am restored; I become spiritually whole. If I hate, I am destroyed; I am spiritually prevented from returning to the Source of all life. Within love is forgiveness and understanding—-and acceptance; acceptance of the way things are and the way things were.

Sometimes one may try to find the reasons why things were the way they were but that is a futile exercise; a waste of mental and emotional energy. In relationships between people, between parents and their children, between husband and wife all participants are trying to do the best they know how.  And no one knows how! No one is the perfect parent or the perfect child.  All are groping to find a way and as has been said, the way is narrow and one often has to bend a little to get through it all. Some people are broken as a result of a toxic relationship but such brokenness can be healed only by love within which is forgiveness. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Tue 23 Feb, 14:46

Dear Amos,

Things are not quite so simple as quoting the NT. Do you mean that if you truly love you have already done the necessary forgiving, whether consciously or not? I would agree with that. But how do you interpret what you quote?

Life on Earth is lived amongst the ethically imperfect, whatever the nature of one’s own being. This often prevents one living by love because it produces the awkward scenario in which forgiving the other person degenerates into a failed two-way transaction, a frustrating stalemate. One can be willing and able to forgive, can actually make the first overt move to forgive, but the (self-righteous) person being offered the forgiveness cannot even see that forgiveness is indicated at all. Sometimes, such a person sees one’s offer of forgiveness as one’s submissive response to THEIR offence, as ONE’S OWN submission to their self-arrogated imaginary righteousness, as an admission that THEY have been right all along. The offered forgiveness and understanding are TOTALLY misconstrued, rebuffed, leaving the forgiver more hurt than before, not less. My very (VERY) sectarian-christian parents were of this mien. It was impossible, continuously from my own very early childhood to their departures from this planet half a century later to form even the beginnings of a satisfactory relationship with them.

To love, which you rightly advocate, Amos, often involves accepting the gifts offered by others that one has never recognised to be gifts one needs.

You quote the New Testament. My parents read the whole Bible every single year. They were people of THE BOOK, but (though they did not recognise it) not of the heart. My father was a man of extreme stubbornness and extreme ignorance on many matters, and an extreme legalist who claimed to advocate grace. My elder brother once described him as a bully. Such a man cannot live the life of love, but, yet worse, those around him cannot do so either because of his bad influence. It takes years of struggle to establish one’s own NATURAL, GENUINE lovingness after childhood and adolescence lived under such a shadow.

The life of love is not so simple to achieve as your comment suggests, Amos. Quoting the Bible without also giving an exposition of one’s interpretation of the passages quoted seems like mere words, a mere verbal description of a system of action. That is law, not the love the quotation advocates. The letter killeth; the spirit vivifies.

I have not expressed this very well. It has been a tiring, multi-tasking day. Apologies.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Mon 22 Feb, 23:50

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’  But I say to you, love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you, that you may be sons of your Father in heaven; for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust.”

Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 22 Feb, 20:04

The concept of forgiveness and the need that one forgive others for any insults they may have inflicted is part of religious dogma, primarily a Christian one.  In the larger reality love is the essential requirement for advancement toward Source.  Within love, there is no need to forgive.  Within love there is understanding and sympathy for those who may have wounded one’s soul.  Within love there is a loosening of attachments to one’s physical existence allowing a movement toward a newer reality of the spirit.  Within such love is acceptance of God’s plan for one’s life and a letting go of fear, hatred, anger, jealousy and resentment.  Love of God and his will allows a forgetting of physical reality and a focus on a reality larger than one’s current life.  There is no need to forgive if one truly loves.  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Mon 22 Feb, 19:37

Dear Amos,

I agree with the first half of your latest comment. But I am not in full agreement with its last paragraph. I believe that on the topic of that paragraph there is much more of value to say. While forgiveness is indeed central to christian teaching, as Newton emphasises, forgiveness as a gift from the offended one must be granted at least the status of being a very beneficial practice, and probably as an essential for further elevation in the spirit worlds.

I do not see the unstated reasoning that evidently leads you to your view that “The need to forgive is simply the need to relinquish earth attachments or more precisely to give up the most recent incarnation and allow oneself to move forward.” I wonder whether this is incorrect as well as undefined, and therefore vague as to its meaning.

I find again that I do agree with your final sentence, however: ” If additional learning experiences are needed to do that [ie to relinquish earth attachments and move on and up] then perhaps a return to a physical existence might be chosen, not as retribution or punishment but as an opportunity for learning and spiritual growth.” But it is surely good, and may be essential, as Newton maintains, to forgive those who despitefully use us (that’s roughly the KJV wording, if my ancient memory serves) if we are to advance ourselves to spiritually-higher realms.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Mon 22 Feb, 07:41


I am immensely appreciative of your enthusiasm for my humble efforts, and thank you sincerely. Your mention of a “crowd-sourcing” effort was deeply touching—but I’m afraid I must respectfully decline. I’m giving some serious thought to entering Mr. Bigelow’s competition, and will need my work to be “unpublished” to use it there. Perhaps a blessing in disguise…

Don Porteous, Sun 21 Feb, 18:28

I suspect that it is very difficult to give up ingrained dogmas learned in traditional religious teachings especially when the dogmas or fragments of dogmas lie hidden in the subconscious mind.  But a true Spiritist does not search for dogmas and is not inhibited by them.  God reveals himself in the moment and such revelation is not the same today as it was yesterday or will be tomorrow.  One of the attractions of Spiritualism to the Spiritist is that there are no dogmas.  That may be perplexing to some people searching for a better understanding of reality and God in Spiritualism impelling them to overlay Spiritualism with some rules or structure, as that is what they were comfortable with—-at least for a while—-in the religion they have recently abandoned.  But in doing so, they implement and perpetuate the same religious narrowness from which they are trying to escape.

The need to forgive is simply the need to relinquish earth attachments or more precisely to give up the most recent incarnation and allow oneself to move forward.  If additional learning experiences are needed to do that then perhaps a return to a physical existence might be chosen, not as retribution or punishment but as an opportunity for learning and spiritual growth. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Sun 21 Feb, 14:32

Dear Don,

I am very pleased to see you ‘plugging’ your book, and in so unassuming a way. I read your book with both profit and pleasure, as people often say. It certainly should find a publisher, despite the reluctance of publishers to accept manuscripts of near-Myerian size in our age. The more knowledge one has to impart, the more words one needs to express it. That cannot be avoided, but modern printing technology will help, as short runs of standard-format books are economic now, in a way they never could be without today’s electronics.

Other writers responding to Michael Tymn’s Blog fill the gaps in my own knowledge, and I offer to fill the gaps in others’. We each have something to share towards a more complete grasp of the whole matter of living beyond the physical and beyond the visible universe. Perhaps the first paragraph of my own mere book chapter (intended for an anthology by SPR) expresses it well enough:

If we accept that the Whole that encompasses everything that exists would ultimately destroy itself if it contained internal inconsistencies we shall also accept that if a body of facts and reasons such as the fruits of centuries of human investigation - what we call science - is correct, then those scientific facts will be part of that Whole, and so part of what many would call “God’s truth”. Careful and honest science can therefore be expected to support any ‘religious’ belief it finds valid, but to refute those beliefs that are only human fantasy or misinterpretations of reality, erroneous despite long traditions of dogmatic adherence. It is from this axiomatic tenet that this chapter starts. 

And the second paragraph begins to explore and explain:

In interrogating Nature science necessarily challenges or confirms ‘religion’, the traditional locus of all beliefs in an after-life, not by denying its validity a priori, but by supporting only those ‘religious’ beliefs that it validates by its own independent and rigorous methods, or which are clearly aligned with its own findings. There may be a Great Being, a Whole, a Great Consciousness, even a beyond-which-nothing Conscious Universe Who encompasses every entity of every sort, and established science will not merely support that belief where it finds grounds for it, but will also provide, as parts of that wholeness of harmonious truth, its own independent evidence that the Great Being exists. Any entities and facts discovered by careful and rigorously honest science can be taken to be parts of that same whole body of self-consistent truth. Unfounded religious beliefs, on the other hand, must be relinquished, and ‘religious’ belief that there is a Great Being will then be as secure as its grounding in science. 

To return to Don’s book, his intensely information-packed 500-plus page book, why do we not consider whether we can crowd-fund a short run of books for him? That would be to use the blessings of science (ie today’s short-run print-production methods) in the service of greater spiritual understanding for an era that is in dire need of the blossoming of spirituality as it nears the terrestrial cliff-edge.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Sun 21 Feb, 11:00


Your analysis is very much of interest…the one main shortcoming I find with it, is that you’ve limited yourself to only one data source.

While Imperator and his crew, communicating through Stainton Moses, provide arguably the most “complete” picture of afterlife reality, they’re certainly not the only sources available. In my not-yet-published book “Spiritual Reality and the Afterlife: Materialism meets Immortality”, I look at input from 144 different communicating spirits… some famous, some infamous,some anonymous…and quoting them directly, examine their views on a wide range of questions of spiritual and/or religious importance. These views are then compared with the views expressed, on the very same questions, by the Virgin Mary in her many apparitions. The results are, to say the least, enlightening.

As noted, the book is not generally available. However, if you would be interested in taking a look at it (as some others here have)to get a more broadly-based view of spirit thinking…I’ll be happy to e-mail you a copy of the manuscript. Just send me your e/m address…you can send it directly to me at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address) you’d prefer not to post it here. Also, let me know whether you’d prefer the Microsoft Word or the PDF version…

Don Porteous, Sat 20 Feb, 23:39

Dear all,

I agree completely with both Newton’s and Jon’s latest contributions, and applaud both.

When I wrote of a new heavens and a new earth a few days ago I had in mind exactly what Newton foresees as the kingdom of God on Earth, and wondered whether that new world will be brought about quite naturo-spiritually by means of current and future viruses and climate change. If these and other scourges took their maximum expected effect the population would be reduced, probably in line with Robert Simpson’s thought that our behaviour really does affect what will befall us - it’s not a matter of what thoughtful christians abhor as “cheap grace”. And if that sounds ruthless and self-righteous it should not. The soul lives on, we believe, so many souls would find themselves in a rather effective teaching/learning situation, would they not? And then, perhaps they would learn, at last. Karma and reincarnation would seem to be the driving energy in such an evolving world. Perhaps it would bring the answers to all our questions and expectations, and show us all to be at least partially right in our current seeking. A harmonious fusion of views, a just result which only asks the present unbelievers to recycle themselves one more time (so long as they learn), an earth no longer rendered uninhabitable by stupidly arrogant and greedily criminal men, and higher ‘dwelling places’ to look forward to inhabiting as soon as we are worthy.

No need for any more words. Like the Norwegian Jon cites, I acknowledge that forgiving my father the severe harms he did me is not going to be easy, so I do not know whether I, myself, shall have to accept one more cycle of karmic suffering before being allowed to escape into that new heaven on earth. Even better would be to hear the words “Friend, go up higher” or “Well done, good and faithful servant, enter . . .”

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Sat 20 Feb, 21:33


I don’t know about karma specifically in Spiritualism but the notion of forgiving being inextricably linked with being forgiven is key in the teachings of Jesus (forgive us our trespasses /debts / actions as we forgive those who…), and it seems to be almost universal if we assume karma (action / cause and effect) is the same thing.

A good example is a deceased Norwegian killed in WW2, communicating via a medium reported in “Many Mansions” by Lord Dowding.

In this instance, Colonel Gascoigne, who died in 1937 is allegedly bringing the Norwegian to a medium (If I remember correctly the medium was Gascoigne’s daughter) to help him get out of the lower astral (my paraphrasing). Gascoigne fought in earlier wars and no doubt was himself performing service by helping the Norwegian.

The Norwegian can’t bring himself to forgive the Germans even though he knows it’s the only way he will be able to move forward.

“From a Norwegian.

“… I was shot by the Germans in Trondheim. I was a little shopkeeper—they shoot. I do not love the Germans. I never shall, but I am held up here by my hatred. I find that I cannot throw it off. I still feel so angry for their acts of unprovoked cruelty, and I am consumed with my passionate anger and cannot get free. I beg of you to help me—your father, [Colonel Gascoigne] he bring me to you to make a closer link with him.

“He tell me that we must forgive the Nazis, that they do not know what they do, that they are like sleep-walkers, and until I forgive them I cannot get free, to pass from this plane so near the Earth on to other planes.

“Here all that happens with you is known and felt in a greater form, and we go on feeling more and more animosity against the German race, and when they join us in the astral body we feel far more antagonism than we felt during our Earth life. It is awful, this anger that we cannot shake it off. Give me serenity and let me sleep. I want to sleep and forget them. I might be fairer in my judgment and come to forgive.

“I see why Christ quickly forgave everyone before He left his earth body. I see the reason and the need, and with the help of your Father and this contact that you have given me, I shall escape.
~ J. Ammussen.”

To me, it’s always about forgiving rather than being forgiven. Jesus again, “And when you stand praying, if you hold anything against anyone, forgive them, so that your Father in heaven may forgive you your sins.”

I would humbly suggest karma is the same thing.

Jon, Sat 20 Feb, 19:31

This if off-point, but I’m going to throw it in with apologies to Mike. I’ve been methodically working my way, for the second time, through the two volumes of the Spirit Teachings given to Stainton Moses. This close reading has allowed me, a liberal Christian clergyman, to see more clearly where spiritualist teachings diverge from liberal Christian ones. These divergences seem rarely to be noted and lie, I suspect, in areas other than those which most often (and erroneously) come to mind. Little divergence can be found between liberal Christianity (adhered to by millions of believers) and spiritualism when it comes to the fully human nature of Jesus, the fallible nature of the Bible, that the cross was not a necessity to appease an angry God, that belief in a creed can substitute for works of love and compassion, that “hell” is endless suffering rather than a self-inflicted and ultimately temporary state in which sin is purged from the soul, etc. No, on points like these and many others, liberal Christianity and spiritualism are almost totally in sync, at least extremely close. But there IS divergence in other key areas. A first would be the remoteness of God in spiritualism, that he deals with humankind only through spirit helpers and not personally and directly like a father: Jesus’ Abba. A second would be spiritualism’s ironclad law of karma, that there is no possibility of instantaneous and undeserved grace and forgiveness as taught in the parable of The Prodigal Son. The third would be an absence or at least a downplaying in spiritualism of the Kingdom of God, which, as liberal Christianity understands it, is a reification of the Jewish Prophetic Tradition concerned more about the unjust and oppressive actions of the rich and powerful than about, say, the sexual sins of common folk. I don’t know how to make it happen, but it would likely be highly productive were spiritualism and liberal Christianity to engage in a meaningful dialogue. I’m fairly certain at this point that, given so much common ground, the discussion would be beneficial to both sides, if you can even call them that.

Newton E. Finn, Sat 20 Feb, 16:25


I think it’s called the Rider-Waite deck of Tarot cards.

We all seem to be bewailing our aged infirmities at the moment.
At 80 on 14th April I have many infirmities. Memory is no longer reliable.

Eric F

PPS Does ANYONE want to read how relativity supports acceptance of spirit phenomena?

Eric Franklin, Sat 20 Feb, 08:02

Dear Newton,

I agree with YOUR latest contribution, too. To understand everything is to forgive everything. I have believed this for about five decades, legalism having been ousted from my mind by love for fellows and humility about my own human incompleteness, but despite this, in practice there is sometimes occasion to state somewhat firmly that someone else, or of course oneself, should pause and take notice of helpful but uncomfortable suggestions from fellows.

After all, even Yahshua overturned the tables of the money lenders, did he not?

We do have some reason to complain to, or about, (say) the physicists who oppose Brian Josephson and consider him almost or quite insane. At my own much lower-level grasp of physics I have experienced what he has to endure. I have shown in my oft-mentioned paper the support for belief in afterlife in other contiguous universes that THE HARDEST SCIENCE OF THEM ALL, relativistic physics, provides. However, it is not only conventional physicists who misunderstand my arguments and sweep them aside, but others, who do believe in afterlife and ought to be glad of support from hard science, totally ignore what I have to say. Is not this a situation in which some verbal firmness with my fellow believers is justified? You, Newton, are one of the exceptions, of course. You DID find my paper worth reading, logically sound, and REVELATORY. I wish a few others would take an interest in a matter which would allow me to love them by sharing my paper with them. It could even help to persuade conventional scientists that there is a whole array of not-this-world ‘dwelling places’ that are inhabited by people who formerly lived in this world.

But in a world about to go over the cosmic cliff almost no-one is interested. The tarot card depicting the Fool in the most common edition (I forget what it’s called) comes to mind. A few harsh words spoken urgently as he approaches the edge are not to be seen as unloving.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Thu 18 Feb, 18:13

Who among us should feel justified to judge a struggling soul like N.X., who reached out to Hodgson, a soul with his own struggles, in an attempt to find some understanding or consolation? The brief biographical facts contained in N.X.‘s letter indicate, at least to me, a most sensitive and compassionate person, one willing to go the extra mile repeatedly to aid others in difficult circumstances. Is this where spiritualism has taken us, to this puffed-up sense of knowing enough about ultimate things, ever-mysterious things, to be able to judge another person, to explain where he fell short, missed the mark, which in turn explains why he didn’t find the answers to his heartfelt, disturbing, deeply human questions? I have learned much from spiritualism and continue to learn more. It’s marvelous stuff in many ways. But I learned not to judge others long before I stumbled upon this wonderful blog and the literature it led me to. I learned it from one of the great religious traditions of humankind, all of which, despite the corruption that crept into them, teach this lesson as one of the most important there is to learn. Can’t we discuss N.X.‘s letter and the substantive issues it raises without trying to remove the splinters from his eye, ignoring the log in our own?

Newton E. Finn, Thu 18 Feb, 16:57

Robert Simpson…

Nicely put. The syndrome is obviously not limited to the topic of spiritualism however…whether it’s the love of fine wine, fine art, or fine anything else, “fine philosophy”, no matter how evidentially-based,is going to appeal to a limited and selective audience.

As to where it’s all heading…echoing your own thoughts, my current book-in-progress addresses the topic head-on, as there is an uncanny confluence, at this very moment, of a number of factors (I won’t list them here…I do, after all, want to sell some books) that all point unambiguously in the direction of a very-possible climactic event in the not-too-distant offing. We shall see…

Don Porteous, Thu 18 Feb, 15:17

Dear all, especially Amos, and Robert Simpson,

Amos, I think both your most recent contributions to Michael Tymn’s blog are at least 95% right. I have only had chance to read them once, but shall do so again, with growing appreciation, asap.

And I think your contribution, Robert Simpson, is also right. Incidentally, you share the names of one of Britain’s recent prominent composers, with whom, decades ago, I had a brief correspondence about a small composition of my own. (He commended my sense of harmony but criticised other features.)

Robert Simpson also mentions Brian Josephson, a physicist who has raised the ire of stubborn minds in his field. The minority of physicists who have open minds on the subject of survival is so small that the tiny proportion lends strong credibility to Robert’s claim that mankind WILL fail to change its views and its ways, and therefore faces probable annihilation as a biological organism. As I remarked a few days ago, the virus and the planet itself are stern teachers, but human minds are mostly incapable of learning. Perhaps a new heavens and a new earth will follow.

One thing seems to me to be assured. Being, that is our conscious-being-THERE, our Existence as a Consciousness, will not cease even if we destroy the planet. We shall all be Avicenna’s floating beings, and living in the Relativistic Elsewhere that no-one seems to be interested in. It’s interesting that today’s news is of an attempt to put a research vehicle down on Mars, to store samples of long-past life there until, in our future, we arrogant, human, Nasa-lives may be able to recover them, and so find out the whys and wherefores of the cessation of that life on Mars. Will there be humans on Earth to carry out that arrogant plan, or will the arrogance hasten the demise of everything here we should value, not destroy?

As too often, written in haste. The above thoughts are not an unconnected jumble. There is a thread, and I hope it comes across despite the unedited haste. E M Forster might approve of that.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Thu 18 Feb, 14:56

I sympathize with your thoughts generally in your recent comment.  However I do think that there is emerging another means of enlightenment about the spirit world that was not available before.  Medical science has advanced to the point where more and more people are coming back from the brink of death and some of them are able to share their experience on “the other side”.  Reports of Near Death Experiences seem to be increasing as people become more comfortable relating them to others and generally people are more receptive to hearing about them and allowing them some credence.  It may be as NDEs gain some respectability, acceptance of an afterlife will become more widespread. Who knows what change, if any, that acceptance will bring. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 18 Feb, 14:07

I have been reading and studying about the afterlife for 39 years now. I have been to several clairvoyant mediums over the years, and have attended one David Thompson physical mediumship seance where I know that genuine phenomena were in evidence. I have been included in email chain that ran for several years amongst some of the most well known people involved in this area, including Mr. Tymm, Victor Zammit, Michael Roll, Nobel Laureate in physics Brian Josephson, and many many others who know this subject well. There is no doubt, not an iota of genuine doubt, that the afterlife is real. The above noted inquiry, in my estimation cuts to the heart of why, I believe Spiritualism, and the reality of the afterlife in general, will NEVER, EVER, achieve the acceptance by the population of the world that it deserves. Since the inception of the study of psychic phenomena seriously, right to this moment, it is just too infrequent and unavailable to enough people to his critical mass. By that I simply mean it too damn hard for the average person to get satisfactory proof of the reality that their lost loved ones are still alive, and still close and available to them. It’s just too hit and miss. By whatever method, mediumship, trance, physical, mental, etc. Or by instrument, radio, automatic writing, Quija board, guided meditations, whatever. Until the average person can pick up a device like a cell phone, and reliably, at will, call his dead mother, father, uncle, friend, etc., and get repeatable, reliable results, the subject will remain inferior in respect and acceptance to the organized religions that are slowly and inevitably leading to a cataclysm and probably the end of human life on this earth. I had tremendous hopes for humanity when I first learned of this subject, (science really) in the early 80’s when I was in my early twenties. In my 60’s, I regret to say that at this point I think it will never “catch on”, and that it will remain an occult oddity to most of the world’s people. I fear the reality of it will never lead to that critical mass of understanding and acceptance that would enable most to realize that good behavior really really counts towards the next phase. And that is the only way really to avoid the inevitable disaster that man is headed for.

Robert Simpson, Thu 18 Feb, 04:40

Most people would not want to hear the answer to Mr. N.X.‘s question which is that in most cases the departed spirit does not care any more about relationships he or she might have had while in a physical form, no matter how endearing or loving they might have been while he or she was alive.  That is not to say that sometimes such bonds of love or friendship do not continue to exist for a while but they are seen in a larger context than the very narrow one that existed on earth.  Grandmas remain grandmas for a while, at least the spirit can appear to be grandma, but most spirits become aware of their larger self, their oversoul that they are in entirety, meaning that they recognize that they have had many relationships while in physical form and their most recent one was simply ‘the most recent’ one.  And often relationships seen as loving and engaging on earth may from some other perspective be seen as smothering, controlling or domineering or otherwise not conducive to soul development.  The four-year marriage of Mr. N.X. probably is not going to take its place in the larger reality as highly significant in the spiritual development of the departed wife. And what about his relationship with his first wife?  Where does she fit in with all of this?

And that’s what it is all about in the afterlife. It is about the spirit entity.  It is not about the scene that was left on earth or other people left behind but it is about the development of the spirit as it finds its way home to its source.  It is about lessons learned and love shown to other living consciousnesses both human and non-human. - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Thu 18 Feb, 00:06

The Victorian writing style can be somewhat indirect at times.  I find it a little difficult to follow the letter from Mr. N.X.  to Richard Hodgson but I think the gist of it is that he queries why he has not had an after death communication from his second wife with whom he had much in common and apparently to whom he was devoted.  While he had previously seen apparitions of a lady friend alive in Florida, also seen by his ‘casino-playing friend, he complains that when his first wife died he did not see her apparition, instead she appeared to another female acquaintance and wanted her to inform him, her husband, that she had appeared and had died.

Now that his second wife has apparently died after four years of wedded bliss, he laments that, “[F]earless as I am known to be as to spiritual realizations, [that is, he is open to spirit communications] I have never had a response [from his second wife] to the [his] wailing cry for her presence.”

In his Victorian writing style he is complaining, “How come other people receive apparitions from my loved ones, but I don’t.”  Why are the spirit communications to an ‘absolute stranger and not me?’  He previously admitted that he had seen apparitions of his living friend in Florida but “Love was not engendered through this counsel.” and she eventually went off to live in California.  I think he acknowledges a kind of ESP between he and other female correspondents, but they were women with whom he apparently did not have any emotional attachment.  So, why was it that now when he is so in need of his wife’s affections and they had such a strong emotional bond when she was living does he not receive anything from her—-no apparition and no ESP?

I can imagine how Hodgson might have been in sympathy with Mr. N.X. but how could he reply in any meaningful, comforting and knowledgeable way.  What could he say? Hodgson, regardless of his reputation as a spirit inquisitor obviously didn’t know the answer ‘why?’.  - AOD

Amos Oliver Doyle, Wed 17 Feb, 22:10

That it has been, Don, which is why, in the presentation of my case, the lead witness would come from the hardest of the hard sciences, ju-jitsu style. Other than that, I reserve my right to remain silent. And, no, Yvonne, he didn’t. The ironclad law of karma is the weakest link in the lofty teaching of spiritualism. It cries out for strengthening by the bold and sublime forgiveness and grace so prominent in the Christian gospel. Thus far in my avid spiritualist reading, I have found this additional element, in all its power and glory, only in Patience Worth.

Newton E. Finn, Wed 17 Feb, 15:25

Dear all,

Perhaps the following is all obvious to all Mike Tymn’s readers. I hope it’s nonetheless worthwhile to spell it out.

Mr N X himself gives us the answer to his problem; his own words describe the problem he has as clearly as any doctor’s diagnosis of a broken leg.

N X says “I was trained in, and retain, much of the hard-headed sceptic faith as to all faiths which are not of divine revelation”.

He does not even question which religions these are, but we can assume, again from his own words, that the authorised religion is the one he has been told from childhood is of divine revelation. That must be the one he still espouses, namely the one he himself describes later as orthodox. CIRCULAR “REASONING” of the tightest kind, excluding, indeed PREcluding, all true thought, all logic, ie extreme prejudice, scepticism, the obtuseness of a stone wall, unwillingness ever to change stance and begin to believe the evidence for the UNorthodox “religion” of spiritualism. It can’t be right. Why? He wasn’t trained in it. Perhaps he is even proud of his stubborn othodoxy and his orthodox stubbornness. He sounds rather like my father.

Prejudice shows further in the second-hand-“scientific” assumption (the assumption is not scientific at all) that telepathy MUST be similar to, an instance of, electromagnetism. He says “. . . the thought in its physical structure possesses the same material characteristics that mark magnetism, electricity, and the other ethics, so to speak, of nature.” Telepathy MUST (he says) reduce to something he already knows, something already “authorised” (whatever that may mean), something he has already been trained in. Telepathy MUST be electricity, the 19th century’s great discovery, new and exciting in his day, and therefore already set in his stone heart. He thinks he need not believe or investigate further because his half-baked layman’s “science” tells him the phenomena cannot be what the phenomena themselves implicitly, inherently, claim. (The providers of the experiences, eg the frequent sightings of the lady peeping through the doorway, cannot reach his mind directly and convince him of the reality they imply because his mind is closed. The lady can only reach him in his orthodox fortress via a total stranger’s witness of, and to, her presence. The same applies to all the other instances of messages brought to him via strangers. See below.)

He already knows what he already knows. He says “. . . knowing or surmising its cause, made me ask, ‘What do you see?’ I was unmoved; he was the startled one.”

He proves his certainty by refusing to acknowledge any need to know more, any possibility of learning. God has (via the “authorised” religion he was brought up with) already told him what to believe, all of it, and for ever. He cannot even believe there is anything new to learn and believe. Yet the science he claims as authority, albeit without understanding that science, is perpetually adding to its learning and its believing, or should be, for that is what science IS.

The Beings who wish to make their continued livingness known to him try to reveal themselves to his heart, but he refuses the evidence. In despair, they turn to the witness of strangers. Please, will THEY convey the message to him? That explains what he sees as an incomprehensible deprivation. The spirit world CANNOT get through to him direct. It has to ask ‘strangers’ to help.

He admits that “a spirit had appeared to her and desired her to inform me of her identity as my wife, and of her death.” But he cannot see the implications of this regarding his own stubborn heart.

What caused this appalling level of stubborn refusal to accept joyful truths? This, too, he tells us himself, though he does not realise it, for he clearly cannot himself discern in his situation the consequences of the mistaken authority that brought him up. He says “We were orthodox in religious faith”, and he adds

“. . . fearless as I am known to be as to spiritual realizations, I have never had a response to the wailing cry for her presence.”

His merciful and faithful widows, and the other lady friends, must be in despair.

Perhaps despair was not your motive, Mike (Tymn), in publishing this letter from N X. You mention the possibility of its entertaining us, and perhaps you are right. Speaking only for myself I find such glaring evidence of the stubborn pride and prejudice of many human beings extremely painful, anything but entertaining, but thank you indeed for bringing the letter to our attention. All part of the many leveled-evidence of life beyond the stubbornly stupid and phenomenally physical low-level life of those unwilling even to consider believing.

Again, this comes errors and omissions excepted - I am very busy with other things, and have written this in unrevised haste.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Wed 17 Feb, 12:41


First, I loved the language of this correspondence.

Secondly, upon completion of reading it,  I received a spirit response to his query…

“He did not deserve it.”

Warmest Regards, 

Yvonne Liimoges, Wed 17 Feb, 00:25


Care to elaborate???

If you’re correct, and if your approach is effective, it will be an absolutely stunning achievement…one which has eluded some very fine minds for well over a century.

The “will to disbelief” has thus far been totally impervious to any overtures of reason, rationality, or fact…

Don Porteous, Tue 16 Feb, 18:14

My Lord, how they could write letters in those days (at least those who were literate)! The quirkiness of spiritual communications is a genuine conundrum, which Myers and other psychic researchers quickly recognized. That there are such communications becomes evident to any fair-minded person who looks into them. The trick, as Mr. Bigelow and many others know, is getting people like the vast majority of mainstream scientists, instinctively dismissive of such communications, to open their minds and again begin to investigate them, as did those intrepid souls in the old SPR. They probably won’t let me into the Bigelow competition (not being a professional psi researcher or author or such), but I think I know how one might induce mainstream scientists to at least move in the right direction. And no, it has nothing to do, at least initially, with the mind-boggling aspects of spiritual communications past or present, quirky or not. We’ve been there, done that, to no avail.

Newton E. Finn, Tue 16 Feb, 16:43

Dear Bob Rosenberg,

Maybe you will be proved right. My own opinion is that the SPR has fallen a very long way since the days of its founders, and needs urgently to examine its present stances.

There are other societies supposedly investigating the spiritual that have lost the visions of their founders. Some rigorous self-examination by societies that are currently prominent in the field is indicated, but I’m sorry to say that I see no signs at present that they are waking up to their current failings, or are willing to remedy them.

Eric Franklin

Eric Franklin, Tue 16 Feb, 15:39

That letter is a perfect introduction to so much that is puzzling about the world. Again and again and again this sort of thing shows up to crack our comfortable, rational world. There will come a time when the founding of the SPR is seen as equivalent to Galileo‘s Accademia dei Lincei and the Royal Society.

Bob Rosenberg, Tue 16 Feb, 13:43

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The Only Planet of Choice: Visitations – Many people use the word ‘Alien’ to describe a visitor from outer space. Extra terrestrial is another word, which is rather more user friendly. For the sake of the question and answer format, the word used by the questioner has been left, though even Tom questions our use of‘Alien’. Should we wish to foster openess between all beings of the Universe perhaps we should also look at our vocabulary? In a discussion between Andrew and Tom many years earlier, Andrew had asked Tom about UFOs and whether they were created manifestations. Tom had replied: “Many of the flying things that you call UFOs come from our place, but they come from other places also, and they do come in physical form. But many of them are not physical. They are like your movie screen”. Read here
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