To the editors:

C.C. Pyle, in his article about the New Age and channeling [“Our Bodies, Their Selves,” January 15] mentions that channeling is just another word for spiritualism. I agree with this. He also says that this idea that we can contact the living beyond the grave is given great appeal when, “Luminaries such as Benjamin Franklin, Emanuel Swedenborg, Plato, and Saint Paul were heard communicating with the living.” It might be well to note that Swedenborg, an 18th-century scientist and theologian, claims to have had contact with the spiritual world for over a period of 25 years. But there is a difference. Swedenborg said that he was led to see into this other life by the Lord so that he could tell people what this world is like. Besides that, he wrote 35 theological volumes laying out what he called the birth of a New Christianity. His teachings are the basis for the New Church (Swedenborgian), which is a worldwide organization devoted to this new way of thought.

But it is interesting what Swedenborg says about contacting the dead. It is even alarming when thought of in the light of C.C. Pyle’s article on channeling, and how many people are attempting to do it today.

Swedenborg says, Don’t do it! He says good spirits don’t want to talk to people on earth for fear of taking away people’s freedom. But there are others who do. He writes, “It is believed by many that a person may be taught about the Lord by spirits speaking with him; but those who believe this do not know that it is connected with danger to their souls. It is rarely permitted to speak with spirits at the present day because it is perilous. For the spirits then know that they are with a person; which otherwise they do not know; and evil spirits are of such a character that they hold man in deadly hatred, and desire nothing more than to destroy him as to the soul and body. . . . When spirits begin to speak with a man he ought to beware that he believes nothing whatever from them; for they say almost anything. Things are fabricated by them, and they lie. They induce so strong a persuasion that a person cannot but believe and obey,” (Swedenborg’s Arcana Coelestia).

What does that say of Saint Germain, Ramtha, Lazaris, and other spirits who have been contacted and are practically worshiped today by some people? If we assume for a moment that Swedenborg is correct, then perhaps the people who go to these channelers are not only being duped by the mediums, but even the mediums themselves are being conned by those who speak through them. If this is true, what a shame that at least this part of the New Age movement is doing the exact opposite of the New Age plan: instead of bringing peace and understanding to this world, they’re channeling us something we’ve got enough of already, a pile of spiritual garbage.

Reverend Grant R. Schnarr

The New Church (Swedenborgian)