Daily News – 20 Jan 1917
By ROBERT LYND
Sir Oliver Lodge has written what is, perhaps, the most extraordinarily book of the war. His son, Raymond, was killed in Flanders in September, 1915, and Sir Oliver now claims that he and his family have been in frequent communication with the boy since that time. The most absorbing part of his book is taken up with the record of long conversations between the living and the dead. Not only Sir Oliver, but Lady Lodge and other members of the family, have visited medium after medium, “anonymously,” in order to guard against any suggestion of “faking” in the messages.” In the result of the communications have often been such as to appeal to the human sense of the ridiculous. But the issues at stake are so large that one quenches the sense of the ridiculous and reads on. The book is a kind of Blue-book, and one has to lay aside alike one’s incredulity and one’s credulity and face the evidence. It may be that there is nothing at all in spiritualism; it may be, on the other hand, that after many ludicrous failures, it may lead men to discoveries as real as, and infinitely more important than, the discovery of flying. It is one of those questions in regard to which most of us must be content for some time yet to preserve the attitude of the open mind.
Shortly after Raymond’s death, Lady Lodge had an “anonymous” sitting with the medium, Mr. A. Vout Peters, and messages came about the boy from a “control,” or second personality, called “Moonstone.” After “Moonstone” had described Raymond, and given “identifying messages,” the trance-speech went on.
“The boy—I call them all boys, because I was over a hundred when I lived here, and they are all boys to me—he says, he is here, but he says: ‘Hitherto it has been a thing of the head, now I am come over it is a thing of the heart.’
“What is more (here Peters jumped up in his chair, vigorously snapped his fingers excitedly, and spoke loudly):—
“ ‘Good God! how father will be able to speak out! much firmer than he has ever done, because it will touch our hearts.’ “
At the same sitting a group photograph of which the Lodge family knew nothing was mentioned, and at a later sitting, with a different medium, some details of this photograph were given. A copy of the photograph of Raymond and several other fellow-officers ultimately came from the front, and confirmed to some extent the description given by “Raymond,” through one of the “controls.” This and the Faunus prophecy are, perhaps, the two most important pieces of evidence in Sir Oliver’s book. There are a great many other things, however, which are only less interesting because they can be explained away as the result of thought-transference. One of the most remarkable of these concerns a “sittings” which two members of the Lodge family arranged to have with a medium about noon one day in London. At noon on the same day, their brother Alec, in Birmingham, suddenly carried off some of his sisters for a brief table sitting, “and the test which he then and there suggested was to ask Raymond to get ‘Feda’ in London to say the word “Honolulu.’ “ Feda, being the “child-control” of the London medium, with whom the others were holding a sitting. The sufficiently remarkable result was that Feda spoke the word. She told the sitters that Raymond wanted his sister to play. “He wanted to know,” she said, “whether you could play Hulu—Honolulu.”
Sir Oliver has boldly included in his book certain descriptions of life in the other world, which have no value as evidence, and the significance of which he is inclined to discount. One cannot help reading them, however, with an interest even stronger than one’s inclination to ridicule. In one of these conversations, it is Feda, speaking for Raymond, who communicates with Sir Oliver—“O.J.L.,” as he is called in the quotation below. Here are some curious passages referring to the life after death:—
“He says, my body is very similar to the one I had before. I pinch myself sometimes to see if it’s real, and it is, but it doesn’t seem to hurt as much as when I pinched the flesh body.
“Oh, there’s one thing, he says, I have never seen anybody bleed.
“O.J.L.—Wouldn’t he bleed if he pricked himself?
“He never tried it. But as yet he has seen no blood at all.
“O.J.L.—Has he got ears and eyes?
‘Yes, yes, and eyelashes and eyebrows, exactly the same, and a tongue and teeth. He has got a new tooth now in place of another one he had—one that wasn’t quite right then. He has got it right, and a good tooth has come in place of the one that had gone.”
“There are men here, and there are women here. I don’t think that they stand to each other quite the same as they did on the earth plane, but they seem to have the same feeling to each other, with a different expression of it. There don’t seem to be any children born here. People are sent into the physical body to have children on the earth plane; they don’t have them there.”
And a passage almost ludicrous follows:—
“People here try to provide everything that is wanted. A chap came over the other day, who would have a cigar. ‘That’s finished them,’ he thought. He means he thought they would never be able to provide that. But there are laboratories over here, and they manufacture all sort of things in them. Not like you do, out of solid matter, but out of essences, and ethics, and gasses. It’s not the same as on the earth plane, but they were able to manufacture what looked like a cigar. He didn’t try on himself, because he didn’t care to; you know he wouldn’t want to. But the other chap jumped at it. But when he began to smoke it, he didn’t think so much of it: he had four altogether; and now he doesn’t look at one.”
It would be unfair to suggest, however, that the entire account of the future life is of this seemingly—absurd character. There are also exalted visions communicated. It is claimed even that the dead boy has seen Christ. In any case, it is obviously the aim of the alleged communicators to paint the life after death, not as something terrifyingly new, but as a natural continuation of life here.