To the editors:
It looks like the time has come to address an issue I was hoping to avoid . . . at least until the anti-Christ is elected president, or something.
Unfortunately, now that the Age of Aquarius is upon us (see Hair: A tribal love-rock musical c. 1967), and seems determined to keep pouring buckets of spiritual waters on top of heads that are practically submerged already--ADDRESS IT WE MUST!
I am referring, of course, to the hot new trend of the hot New Age known as Channeling ["Our Bodies, Their Selves," January 15].
Now it may be fun to joke about these new practices except that they aren't new, they aren't harmless, and they aren't what they claim to be. A new path to spiritual enlightenment? That's funny . . . just a few short years ago it was known as possession. It's been common knowledge among the shamans of the world but until recently, not exactly the kind of thing one would want to play around with at home. "Watch out for those flying dishes, dear. . . ."
Now I know that there is said to be a distinction, clearly defined, between positive and negative possession--the one resulting in ecstatic union, the other in loss of control. And though it all looks great in writing, the practice itself precludes the subject's choice of what kind of spirit will be on the agenda.
How so, you may ask?
First of all, God does not condone the practice, at least not for those to whom His Word is available; and secondly, because good spirits are not willing (even if able) to interfere with the God-given freedom of man. So what's left? You got it, Plato! They're not your friendly neighborhood ghosts. And you can bet they're just waiting for some babe-in-the-woods to open up a door that isn't nearly as easily shut.
It all may sound kind of melodramatic, but I've studied this stuff for years and had a "few" (Ha!) close encounters with people suspended in the supernatural pudding myself, so please try to look beyond this irreverent delivery into the heart of the matter.
Drugs may be on the way out, but the desire for "safe" ways to alter states of consciousness still persist, especially with those who grew up in the late 60's and early 70's. Benign techniques such as Transcendental Meditation apparently don't have enough spiritual "kick" for the jaded seeker of the 80's, and the idea of disembodied souls dropping in for a visit to one's bodily abode does have its appeal. But don't be deceived. Unless you're an exorcist or a holy man (and the two are not mutually inclusive), any spirits you've invited in for a visit are not about to just leave at your command. Oh sure, they say they're going--but then they go hide in the basement.
What's more, I've never quite been able to understand how people who refuse to put alcohol or toxic food additives into their systems are suddenly jumping at the chance to allow alien entities to take over their minds and bodies. I mean, our souls are part of an even more delicate system; one that makes the body look like simple mechanics. Go figure.
At least "Distilled spirits" make their presence known in relatively predictable ways and are bound to be dispelled--besides, it's easy enough to tell when they've outlived their welcome. "Supernatural spirits," on the other hand, are content to stick around, help you find your wallet, feed you false information about what's beyond the veil, and generally annoy your friends and spouse. And here you thought it was your personality!
So do I think it's all a bunch of "hooey"? Not at all. In fact, the Word and the Writings of Emanuel Swedenborg make it unquestionably clear that these phenomena exist. They also give explicit warnings against the Channeling of spirits. God, in His infinite wisdom, may allow us to experiment with any methods we want but only for the purpose of maintaining the freedom so necessary for our salvation. There is a big difference between Divine Tolerance and Divine Sanction. Remember that old line your second-grade teacher used to say. "If Johnny jumped off the Brooklyn Bridge, would you?" Well, knowing what the Word says on the subject, do you suppose we should deliberately go against it because we know God is on our side?
So you go see a channeler, and what about it? At the very least you throw away your hard earned pay on a fake who's laughing all the way to the Money Network; at the very most, you leave with some generic advice and a spirit following you home.
Suppose you decide to try possession as your new lifestyle, inviting them to reside in you, what then? At the very least you achieve a short-lived spiritual thrill containing insights almost as deep as the ones you had last time you got stoned. At the very most you become Linda Blair in The Exorcist.
Don't you think it's time to come out of the darkness and into the light?
I am not a fundamentalist, but these words hold special meaning to me: "Remember therefore how you have received and heard, and hold fast and repent" (Rev. 3:3). "Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear My voice, and open the door, I will come into him, and will sup with him, and he with Me" (Rev. 3:20).
Accept no substitutes!