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vol. 2, p. 55
from Adyar archives of the International Theosophical Society
vol. 2 (January 1874 - April 1878)


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Madame Blavatsky in a Christian Pulpit

To the Editor of the Banner of Light:

On Sunday evening last the Rev. Mr. McCarthy, a well-known minister of the Universalist persuasion, preached before a large congregation assembled in the chapel of the Now York University. Having myself been present, I venture to send you a few particulars, at least as far as they refer to our special work. The reverend gentleman took as his text the passage in the Acts of the Apostles, “In Him we live and move and have our being.” This, he explained, he did as a more matter of form, his real object that evening being to review a debate on Positivism which followed his lecture the previous week before the Liberal Club. In support of his arguments that Positivism was not only unscientific but Immoral, he quoted largely from Vol. I, Chapter 3, of a “new and magnificent” work, which he characterized as one of the greatest productions of thought in modern times, “Isis Unveiled,” written by a lady, Madame Blavatsky. “Having had the pleasure of an introduction to the gifted authoress,” continued Mr. McCarthy,” I was struck by the vigor of her majestic intellect, the force of her reasoning, and the immense range of her experience. But this lady is not of our race!” Producing the book, from which he read his extracts, the Rev. Mr. McCarthy recommended his hearers to purchase “Isis Unveiled,” assuring them that they would be repaid tenfold, though he wished them to understand that he did not agree with all its conclusions.

When Christian ministers place in the hands of their flock a work whose chief tendency is to show Christianity in unfavorable contrast with Oriental philosophy, we can only say “the force of” Universalism and self contradicting doctrines “can no further go.” Truly the whirligig of Time brings about its own revenges!

Speaking personally with regard to this wonderful book, I find it impossible to express in the form or space of a newspaper article my feeling of its importance and significance at the present juncture of the Spiritualist movement, but all thoughtful students must agree that the writer of “Isis Unveiled” has been the first to furnish an adequate solution to the difficulties which have beset Spiritualism from the first on every side, and that we should be especially grateful for its advent at a time when the unchecked and untrained developments on the physical plane are resulting in such direful consequences as have been frequent of late. I say it with extreme sorrow, but it is time that the fact should be acknowledged, and the difficulty boldly faced, that the tendency of physical manifestations in circles promiscuously held is to bring about the moral degradation of the medium. Much of the evil might be averted if every discouragement were given to mediums holding circles in their own rooms, without test conditions, and without a director in whom the public can have confidence. Some attempt to combat this evil, and to bring the Spiritualist movement into something like order, has been made in England by the National Association of Spiritualists, though as yet much remains to be done. By the arrangements there made for initiating inquirers into the subject, the medium is protected from the public, the public from the medium, and the medium from himself. A further knowledge and study of mediumship, as propounded by Madam Blavatsky in her book, and derived from the teachings and experience of Eastern adepts, founded on the psychological investigations of thousands of years, will, I hope, enable us to carry successfully into practice a new and true system of work, both as regards our treatment of mediums and our methods of investigation.

I have had the pleasure, during my stay in America, now almost concluded, of meeting many earnest and high-minded Spiritualists, and I sincerely hope that some attempt will shortly be made among them to organize the movement in a manner suited to the character of the country and of its people.

In conclusion, let me take this opportunity of warmly thanking all those friends, including yourself, Mr. Editor, whose kindness and cordiality have made my visit to America one of the pleasantest experiences of my life, and whom I sincerely hope I have not seen for the last time.

Most truly yours,

Emily Kislingbury.

New York, Oct. 16th, 1877.


<Untitled> (Isis Unveiled)

Editor's notes

  1. Madame Blavatsky in a Christian Pulpit by Kislingbury, Emily, Banner of Light, v. 42, No. 5, October 27, 1877, p. 2
  2. Isis Unveiled by unknown author, Daily Record-Union, The. In section "Review of Recent Publications"