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The appeal of spiritualism

Identity outlives the test of time.

From the October 2001 issue of The Christian Science Journal

IN NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE, 50 people gather in an upper room of a metaphysical bookstore to hear messages from departed loved ones. In Tucson, the United Spiritualist Church of Mankind advertises "Holy Spirit communication." In a suburb of Boston, the First Spiritual Temple fills with believers in spirit communication. Across the United States, there's a renaissance of interest in spiritualism, or communication from the dead.

Current interest is most likely attributable to Americans' growing search for spirituality outside of mainstream religion. Over the decades, however, attraction to spiritualism has revived after periods of tragedy. It heightened during the post-Civil War era, after each World War, and during the civil rights/Vietnam era, for example. When people are looking for comfort, it's definitely comforting to have "proof" that a loved one is alive and well. It's also reassuring for people to hear advice and counsel from those they have loved and respected, and who have, one might assume, gained increased wisdom since their passing. Such "proof" also gives a measure of tangibility to the Christian teaching that there is life after death.

Interest in spiritualism isn't surprising, then, since the hope, comfort, and reassurance of "hearing" messages from the departed ring a responsive chord with the religious and non-religious alike. For some, communicating with those who've passed over is a tangible experience. A number of individuals all over the world believe that they have seen departed relatives or other spirits, angels, or ghosts.

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