"What I have learned from my journey, which has spanned over 50 years, is that contrary to popular belief Spiritualism is about life, not death." -Minister Barry Oates

The Seven Principles, which have their origins in the mediumship and inspiration of Spiritualist Pioneer Emma Hardinge Britten, have formed the bedrock of our religious philosophy for well over a century. They have clearly stood the test of time, which has enabled a contemporary pioneer to take a new look at their impact today.

A 21st-Century View of the Seven Principles of Spiritualism is a short but engaging book by Honorary Vice-President of the SNU Minister Barry Oates. Many will recognise Barry’s name as a co-author of other SNU publications, “The Religion of Spiritualism” and “The Philosophy of Spiritualism”, both mainstays on many of our bookshelves. The book aims to revitalise our understanding of the Seven Principles and encourage deeper thought about them. In particular, this will be of interest to those who are new to Spiritualism but to the rest of us it provides food for new thought. He relates his concerns that our Principles shouldn’t be a list of statements that we recite in a mechanical way but, rather, a dynamic collection of values that work together to provide a window into our lives, both spiritually and materially.

Barry clearly has a love of writing and I was lucky enough to see an early draft of his memoirs. They are a fascinating narrative of his journey into Spiritualism and the SNU Ministry and provide a fascinating backdrop to how he arrived at his view of the Principles. His approach is laid clear when he says, “What I have learned from my journey, which has spanned over 50 years, is that contrary to popular belief Spiritualism is about life, not death. “It’s about having the courage to look inside, recognise your strengths and weaknesses and utilise them for the benefit of God and humanity.” He also shares his hope that “in my own small way, by using my knowledge I have helped others to realise their potential and the joy of living.”

Barry was ordained in 1992 and describes how he put his “heart and soul” into his Ministership, which opened the door to new experiences for him. This included becoming a prison chaplain for many years. It is clear that the diversity of his experience stood him in good stead for a role on the Philosophy & Ethics Committee, where he contributed to the exploration of the Spiritualist stance on many issues, helping us as a religion to better articulate ourselves to the world. It is perhaps this experience of delving into the exciting depths of Spiritualist philosophy that has in part supported him in writing the new book.

In “The 21st-Century View of the Seven Principles of Spiritualism” our Principles are discussed in a new and practical way, helping the reader to think for themselves how they might come alive in the frame of their own life. Barry shows us the connectedness of them and how they can work together to advance the support, insight and understanding that he has found they can bring. As Barry brings his memoirs up to date, he discusses his vision for the new book. I conclude with his own words, which describe how a restructured presentation has revealed new insight into the Principles and are “a modern version which I was hoping would appeal to newcomers of our Churches.  “I rearranged the Principles in what I considered was a more logical order, abbreviated the headings and added modern sub-headings with a write-up of each in…a more modern interpretation.”

You can buy Barry's book here