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Oliver Lodge's 'Raymond' Revised

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Oliver Lodge's 'Raymond' Revised

Post by Candlelight.kk on Sat 22 Apr 2017, 11:18

(originally posted on Mon, 03 Mar 2014, 5:21 pm )

Interesting piece here extracted from Psypioneer Journal
Volume 10, No. 02: February 2014


Perhaps the most influential psychic book of the war was Raymond by Sir Oliver Lodge (1916) containing messages from his son killed in the war. Less well known is a revised version of the book which appeared in 1922. We take the material below from a reprint.


RAYMOND REVISED is a much altered form of Raymond; it contains a totally new Chapter about more recent conversations (Chapter XIX) and an explanatory Chapter (XX) about points which have seemed specially open to hostile criticism; also each of the Three Parts has been shortened and simplified, and to some extent rearranged. A few copies of the fuller and original edition, now the twelfth, are still available, and will I hope remain so for a time, for students, though as it stands now the book is easier than the old one for the general reader.

I wish to call attention to Part III, and ask critics to read it, because that is the fruit of Part II; and it is easier to judge of these deductions than of the raw material of Part II, where rapid readers may stray among stumbling-blocks only tractable by serious students of the subject who are familiar with the Proceedings of the S.P.R. and other forms of psychical literature.

Raymond is rather keen about Raymond Revised and hopes that it may be of extended use.


I PROPOSE to take advantage of the opportunity afforded by a new edition to make a short explanation or commentary, which may incidentally meet some of the objections raised by the more reasonable type of critic – namely the critic who is willing to devote some time and attention to a book in order to arrive at its real meaning.

The main object of a book like this is to help to bring comfort to bereaved persons, especially to those who have been bereaved by war. I do not indeed recommend all sorts of people to visit mediums or try to investigate the subject for themselves. If they do, it must be on their own responsibility. When sane people, actuated by sound and good motives and in a reasonable spirit, desire to gain first-hand experience, in the hope of thereby mitigating their sorrow, it is natural to do our best to help them; but it is unwise to take the responsibility of urging such a course upon an unknown stranger. And some should be dissuaded.

Nevertheless, a considerable number of bereaved people have been helped; among them many who knew nothing of the subject beforehand. People in genuine distress have gone with careful recommendation and instructions to a reputable medium, quite anonymously, and have got into touch unmistakably with their departed. This has happened in numerous and some noteworthy cases. The result has been a considerable addition to the bulk of cumulative evidence in favour of the genuineness of the phenomenon, and incidentally, of the power of mediums who normally knew nothing whatever about their visitors, but who in trance gave many intimate family details. It is absurd to suppose that people who had never been to a medium of any kind were recognized; still more absurd to suppose that every anonymous stranger is personally known and has been looked up beforehand.

The best mediums are simple, straightforward people, anxious to do the best they can with their strange gift for the help of people in sorrow. Occasionally individuals may be encountered who pretend to powers which they do not possess, or who eke out their waning power by fraud; but in so far as these imitators are fraudulent they are not genuine mediums. If inexperienced novices go to charlatans who advertise by sandwich-men and other devices, they deserve what they get.

On the other hand, I have not usually found bereaved people too ready to be convinced. Some are; some are foolish enough to give things away in a careless manner; but as a rule it is a mistake to suppose that people who are really seeking for evidence are ready to be misled. They are often quite critical, and reasonably cautious. Their anxiety sometimes makes them even excessively anxious not to be deceived in so vitally important a matter. And even after they have had quite good evidence, they sometimes go back on it—very naturally—and become sceptical again. Many years of experience were needed in my own case before I was ready to admit the cumulative outcome of the whole body of evidence as finally conclusive.

Concerning the particular case of my son Raymond, I have had many further talks with him, but the stress and anxiety to communicate has subsided. The wish to give scientific evidence remains, but, now that the fact of survival and happy employment is established, the communications are placid—like an occasional letter home. He has, however, been successful in bringing to their parents a number of youths whom he knew before death, and the weight of evidence has accordingly heavily increased.

I hope that in time, when the possibility is recognized and taken under the wing of religion, that people will not need individual and specific messages to assure them of the well-being of their loved ones. They will, I hope, be able to feel assured that what has been proved true of a few must be true of all, under the same general circumstances. Moreover, it is to be hoped that they will be able to receive help and comfort and a sense of communion through their own powers, in peaceful times, without strain or special effort and without vicarious mediation.

The power or, sensitiveness, or whatever it ought to be called, seems to be a good deal commoner than people think. I anticipate that in most families there will be found one member who may be able to help others to some knowledge in this direction. Elaborate proof is necessary at first, as it has been in connexion with many now recognized and familiar things,—such as the position of the earth in the solar system,—but when once a fact or doctrine is generally accepted, people settle down in acceptance and enjoyment of the general belief, without each striving after exceptional experience for himself. The inertia of the human mind and of the body-politic is considerable: right beliefs take time to enter, and wrong beliefs take time to disappear; but periods of anxiety and doubt and controversy do not last as a permanent condition. They represent a phase through which we have to go.


One difficulty which good people feel, about allowing themselves to take comfort from the evidence, is the attitude of the Church to it, and the fear that we are encroaching on dangerous and forbidden ground. I have no wish to shirk the ecclesiastical point of view: it is indeed important, for the Church has great influence. But I must claim that Science can pay no attention to ecclesiastical notice-boards; we must examine wherever we can, and I do not agree that any region of inquiry can legitimately be barred out by authority.

Occasionally the accusation is made that the phenomena we encounter are the work of devils; and we are challenged to say how we know that they are not of evil character. To that the only answer is the ancient one—“by their fruits”. I will not elaborate it: St. Paul gave a long list of the fruit of the Spirit in Galatians v. 22-23. Yet I do not mean to say that no precautions need be taken, and that everything connected with the subject is wholly good: I do not regard as wholly good any activity of man. Even the pursuit of Science can be prostituted to evil; as we see now only too clearly in the war. Everything human can be used and can be abused. I have to speak in platitudes to answer these objections; they are often quite unworthy of the sacred name of religion; they savour of professionalism. Chief Priests were always ready to attribute anything done without their sanction to the power of Beelzebub. The Bishop of Beauvais denounced Joan of Arc’s voices as diabolic. It is a very ancient accusation. In the light of historical instances, it is an over-flattering one: I wish to give no other answer.


Concerning the substance of the communications received from the other side, perhaps the most difficult portion is the account given of the similarity of the conditions as described ‘over there’ to the conditions existing on the earth; and it is asked, How can that be possible? I reply, in all probability because of the identity of the observer. I do not dogmatize on the point, but I conceive that in so far as people remain themselves, their power of interpretation will be similar to what it used to be here. Hence, in whatever way we interpret a material world here and now, so, in like manner, are we likely to, interpret an etherial world—through senses not altogether dissimilar in effect, however they differ in detail.

Surely the external world, as we perceive it, is largely dependent on our powers of perception and interpretation. So is a picture, or any work of art. The thing in itself—whatever that may mean—can hardly be known to us. I admit it is a difficult proposition,—but the evidence is fairly consistent on this point ever since Swedenborg,—the next world is always represented as surprisingly like this; and though that obviously lends itself to scepticism, I expect it corresponds to some sort of reality. It looks almost as if that world were an etherial counterpart of this: or else as if we were all really in one world all the time, only they see the etherial aspect of it and we see the material. The clue to all this seems to depend on the similarity, or rather the identity, of the observer. A nerve centre interprets or presents to the mind each stimulus in the specific way to which it has become accustomed, whatever the real nature of the stimulus; a blow on the eye, or a pressure on the retina, is interpreted as light; irritation in the auditory nerve is interpreted as sound. So, it may be, we shall be unable to interpret things save in a more or less customary manner.

To come to smaller details. If the accusation has been brought that such things as smoking and drinking are represented as in vogue among the denizens of the other side, that accusation is utterly unjustified and untrue. A statement detached from its context is often misleading. What is revealed in my book, if it has any trustworthy significance, implies clearly and decisively that they do not thus occupy their time; nor are any such things natural to their surroundings. Nothing but common sense is needed to understand the position. If there is a community over there, it cannot be a fixed and stationary one, new-comers must be continually arriving. My son is represented as saying that when people first come over, and are in a puzzled state of mind, hardly knowing where they are, they ask for all sorts of unreasonable things; and that the lower kind are still afflicted with the desires of earth. After all, this is really orthodox moral teaching; or I am much mistaken; it is one of the warnings held out to sensual persons that their desires may persist and become part of their punishment.

As bearing out this statement, a friend has recently sent me a sentence extracted from Swedenborg’s Spiritual Diary, vol. i, paragraph 333.

‘The souls of the dead take with them from the body all its nature, insomuch that they still think themselves in the body. They have also desires and appetites of eating and the like; so that those things which belong to the body are inscribed upon the soul. Thus they retain the nature which they take with them from the world; but this, in process of time, is delivered to oblivion.’

The same idea is independently expressed by me in the chapter on the Resurrection of the Body, towards the end of this book. But indeed the slander referred to in the preceding paragraph is so perverse and pernicious as to be essentially wicked. The truth of the position can be quite easily realized, and there is no excuse save stupidity for what must otherwise be purposed misrepresentation, akin to the accusations of devil-worship and necromancy.
Imagine an assembly of clergymen in some Retreat, where they give themselves to meditation and good works; and then imagine a traveller arriving, mistaking their hostel for an hotel, and asking for a whisky and soda. Would that mean that alcoholic drinks were natural to the surroundings and part of the atmosphere of the place? Would not the feeling aroused by the request mean just the contrary? The book says that in order to wean these new-comers from sordid and unsuitable though comparatively innocuous tastes, the policy adopted is not to forbid and withhold—a policy which might over-inflame and prolong the desire—but to take steps to satisfy it in moderation until the new-comers of their own free will and sense perceive the unsuitability, and overcome the relics of earthly craving; which they do very soon.

Whether the statement be accepted as true or not, or as containing some parabolic element of truth, I see nothing derogatory in it; and the process of weaning may be wise.

It must be admitted, however, that games and songs are spoken of, and I have heard it claimed that ‘spirits of just men made perfect’ ought not to be occupied in any such commonplace ways, even during their times of relaxation. To this I reply that when perfection or saintliness is attained that may be true: it is not a subject on which I am a judge. Games and exercises are harmless and beneficial here, even for good people; and surely if young fellows remain themselves, games and exercise and songs will not seem alien to them—at any rate not for some time. People seem hardly to realize all that survival with persistent character and personal identity must really involve. It is surely clear that the majority of people, whether in this or in another life, are just average men and women, and neither saints nor devils; and ecclesiastical teaching has grievously erred in leading people to suppose that the act of death converts them into one or the other. Progress and development are conspicuously the law of the Universe. Evolution is always gradual. Youths shot out of the trenches—fine fellows as they are-—are not likely to become saints all at once. They cannot be reasonably spoken of as ‘just men made perfect’. Let a little common sense into the subject, and remember the continuity of existence and of personal identity. Do not suppose that death converts a person into something quite different. Happier and holier, pleasanter and better, the surroundings may be, than on earth; there is admittedly room for improvement; but sudden perfection is not for the likes of us.

It is, moreover, highly unlikely that the experience of everybody on that side is the same: the few saints of the race may have quite a different experience: the few diabolical ruffians must have a different one again. I have not been in touch with either of these classes. There are many grades, many states of being; and each goes to his own place.

If it is urged by orthodox critics that the penitent thief went to heaven, I reply, Not at all: according to the record he went to Paradise, which is different. A sort of Garden of Eden, apparently, is meant by the word, something not too far removed from earth. As far as I can make out, the ancient writers thought of it as a place or state not very different from what in this book is called ‘Summerland’.

Against this it may be urged that Christ Himself could not have stayed, even for a time, at an intermediate or comparatively low stage. But I see no reason to suppose that He exempted himself from any condition appropriate to a full-bodied humanity. Surely He would carry it through completely. Judging from the Creed, which I suppose clerical critics accept, they appear to hold that Christ even descended at first—descended into Hades or the underworld, doubtless on some high missionary effort. Anyhow and quite clearly the record says that for forty days He remained in touch with earth, presumably in the state called Paradise, occasionally appearing or communicating with survivors,—again after the manner of transitional humanity. And only after that sojourn, for our benefit, did He ascend to some lofty State, far above anything attainable by thieves however penitent, or by our young soldiers however magnificent and self-sacrificing. After æons of progress have elapsed, they may gradually progress thither.

Meanwhile they are happier and more at home in Paradise. There they find themselves still in touch with earth, not really separated from those left behind, still able actively to help and serve. There is nothing supine about the rest and joy into which they have entered. Under the impact of their young energy, strengthened by the love which rises towards them like a blessing, the traditional barrier between the two states is suffering violence, is being taken by force. A band of eager workers is constructing a bridge, opening a way for us across the chasm; communication is already easier and more frequent than ever before; and in the long run we may feel assured that all this present suffering and bereavement will have a beneficent outcome for humanity.

So may it be!

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