A WORD OF WARNING
Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
(The following article was printed in the Progressive Thinker of July 21, 1928, and seems particularly suited for reprinting at this time. We are indebted for it to Mrs Helen H. Edmonds, of 3962 Falcon St., San Diego, who has taken the trouble to copy it from her files of spiritualist publications. We have been obliged to condense some portions, and we have underscored a few phrases as being of special interest).
I write this article under a strong sense of responsibility. There are certain things which it is my duty to say, and this seems to be the time to do it. They are not easy things, nor things which make for popularity, but for many years I have had to plead an unpopular cause for the sake of truth, and one gets used to opposition and misrepresentation. As one grows nearer the limit of the Psalmist . . . one's only desire is to state the truth as clearly as one can see it.
For five or six years I have received in my own family circle certain messages which have every sign of being from a high spiritual source. Some of them I have actually published under the title PHENEAS SPEAKS. This part is not more than one-third of the whole, and the residue contains much which, if it be true, is of extreme importance for the human race. I was instructed that the time has not yet come for such publication, and indeed it was clear that a detailed account would tend to cause panic, and lend itself to vulgarization and sensationalism. I therefore refrained, but I went the length of indicating the general tenor of these warnings.
This was that the world had failed to learn the lesson of the great war, that only by such tragic visitations could it be chastened and humbled into a more spiritual state of mind, and that unless there was some sweeping change a second trial was coming. Its date would be soon, it would take the form of political and natural convulsions, and its effect would be absolutely shattering . . . If this message is a true one, then the situation should be faced.
But is it a true one? There are several considerations which bear upon this question. The messages have come unsought, are entirely outside the medium's range of thought or interests, and in many ways run counter to our own opinions. Since they began to reach us the whole trend of events, both in international affairs and in seismic activity has moved in the direction indicated, and shown itself active in the quarters of which we were warned. Finally, we have received a series of corroborations which now exceed a hundred in number, coming from every part of the world, and all dealing with one or the other of the events which are already foretold in our record . . . These I have carefully preserved, and they constitute a formidable dossier. If they are delusions of the subconscious mind, why should all these minds be moving in the same direction? . . . Many of the lesser prophecies of Pheneas have already been fulfilled. Again and again he has given notice of earthquakes and other events before they occurred. If  he is often right about the smallest matter, is it logical to suppose him mistaken in his main contention?
The only alternative explanation (of the psychology of war reaction) does not explain the exact detail of these sinister messages, nor account for the fact that signs of the times are pointing in the direction indicated. I have used the adjective sinister, but I would stress the fact that these (predicted realities) are but a violent remedial prelude to a great moral and spiritual advance. Therefore it is hope and expectation rather than fear and despair that should fill our hearts.
But what are these changes that should have been brought about by the war, and must be brought about if we are to escape the wrath to come? They are, as I understand them, of two different orders, religious and economic. I will take the former first. Mankind must learn once for all that religion has nothing whatever to do with theological beliefs, or forms or ceremonies, trappings or adornments. It depends only upon conduct and character. If you are unselfish and kind, you are of the elect, call yourself what you will. If you are dry and hard and bitter and narrow, no church and no faith can save you from the judgment to come.
(Doyle goes on to say that many dogmas and formal teachings will have to be discarded. The Old Testament must go, save as a literary production - and so too with all the dubious historical 'facts' of New Testament narrative, and with many vain ritualistic forms, interpolations of the 'Correctores', and spurious elements from Oriental legends).
But there is something to be added - something of infinite importance. We have to recognize that God . . . has not ceased to send messages to the world. Through Spiritualism we have learned that it is possible to get in touch with sources of Knowledge which are far higher than ourselves, and thus to obtain a clear explanation of the reasons for our existence, and of the fate that awaits us after death. This is the most weighty message that has been sent out for two thousand years, and it has been received in the main with ignorant derision and contempt. This also has to be answered for in the time to come. But it is toward this source of knowledge that we have to turn in the future.
The ethics of the Christ, with guidance and teaching of the other world, will constitute the whole religion of the future, fluid in form and dogma, but solid in the essentials, and consistent always with our reason . . . If men will not change themselves, something must come to change them, and there are signs that this future is not far away . . . I write in a conservative spirit, with my eyes fixed upon the majority who have been driven out of all communions by fantastic doctrines . . . if these could be made moderate and intelligible, the multitudes might be brought back again . . .
And it is clear that wealth must be regarded more and more as a trust for the common good . . . the solution is not to be gained by bloodshed or violent destruction of existing governments, but is to be gradually worked for. The present inequalities and miseries of life are among the causes which make for disaster . . .
In conclusion I wish to say that these experiences and views are my own, and are quite independent of the spiritualist organization.
Round Robin Presents
THE GREAT HOUDINI
Famous Prestidigitator and Illusionist, in Positively his Latest Appearance
Faithfully recorded on the Spinning Disk
"This is Houdini. Before leaving the body I was dreadfully opposed to these demonstrations. Now I must apologise - and tell all you people about another world. And I apologise to people for not giving them the knowledge that I really had. I want to tell people that these things are true. I was a victim myself when . . . (record not intelligible) . . .
"Many things which I did were tricks, but many other things were done by spirit force. At the time I had I had the sittings with the little woman in New York and Boston - the time when I had the sittings with Margery - the trickery was on my side. I fixed the book with the pencil so Walter couldn't budge it. I am to blame. I apologise. I am very sorry.
"Walter said to me, "You did it, damn you! You'll be sorry for this. You won't live three months." I sank back in my chair, overwhelmed. I knew that I was fixed (?), that I had failed. Three months from that time Houdini was in spirit. I told my wife, if anything could be done in this line (of communication) I would come back to her. I gave her a code and message no one but she could understand. I tried many times with different mediums but failed. At last I found a medium (Ford?). I gave the test through him and my wife recognized it. But the world scoffed and sneered, said my wife and Ford (?) were in accord and that everything was prearranged. She was just as anxious to receive the message that I was alive, as I was to give it to her. That is all I can say now. Goodnight.
(The foregoing communication was of course by 'trumpet voice', recorded at the time, in the seance room. Some imperfections developed in the record, indicated by (?) or other parentheses. The shorthand transcription here given is not quite verbatim, but nearly so. The Editor is familiar with the circumstances and knows the medium and sitters involved, and considers the communication veridical.)
William Stainton Moses, Anglican clergyman, brilliant student at Oxford ("M.A. Oxon" was his pen name), sceptic, strong opponent of Spiritualism - who afterward became an automatist, clairvoyant, and one of the greatest of modern mediums, through whom Imperator and his 48 companions worked long and well - such was the singular man described under the title The Moses of Spiritualism. The account of him in Psychic Observer for March 10 is well worth reading.
- The Progressive Thinker American Spiritualist weekly, July 21, 1928. Chicago-based?
- Doyle, Arthur C., and (Spirit) Pheneas. Pheneas Speaks: Direct Spirit Communications in the Family Circle. New York: G.H. Doran Co, 1927. Print. <http://amzn.to/1pSfpjC> [Digital: <http://lifeonotherworlds.com/[...]/PheneasSpeaks.pdf>]
- Psychic Observer. March 10, 1946.