In this book Arthur Findlay gives the story of his life. He tells of his childhood, schooldays, business and social life and of his wonderful psychic experiences. He writes about the books he has written and how he has endeavoured by these books to help his readers in the outlook on life.
A good autobiography of Arthur Findlay
I enjoyed this book. It's the autobiography of Arthur Findlay (writer, accountant, stockbroker, expert on psychic matters; 1883-1964) written when 72. It's well-written, hasn't dated, and describes his affluent upbringing in Ayrshire (he went to Fettes), his business career, contact with Spiritualism, his interest in the history of religion and (after he encountered Spiritualism) the evolution of mind. Findlay wasn't psychic but he had lots of contact with mediums (especially direct voice and especially John Campbell Sloan).
Having made his fortune in stockbroking, and confronted by high tax rates he says discourage effort by the affluent, Findlay moved to Stansted Hall in Essex in 1925 and – apart from WW2 – stayed there afterwards bequeathing the Hall to the Spiritualist's National Union. After retirement from business his main pursuit was book-writing.
Findlay's trilogy (“On the Edge of the Etheric” [experiences with the medium John Sloan], “The Rock of Truth” which compares Christianity with Spiritualism, and “The Unfolding Universe” which covers the rise of world religion and Christianity) is a terrific achievement, and together with his other books is both a radical even damning analysis of Christianity and an intelligent placement of Spiritualism within the context of world religions. E.g., re Christianity he argues it consistently opposed education (including knowledge of the afterlife), that Charity pre-dates Christianity and was well thought through in Pagan times, that many Christian ideas were absorbed from earlier religions, and that large sections of the Old and New Testaments are interpolations by scribes.
Are his central arguments true? Well yes, I found his history of Christianity arguments persuasive; Christianity has a bad record of being open, honest, forward-looking. As for his views on science and the afterlife, Findlay makes survival seem almost too natural … whereas I'm in awe at the strangeness of things. A reality that's mind-stuff to it's core has remarkable properties and plasticity that Findlay, for all the excellence of his central views, understates.
Arthur Findlays Autobiography
After I'd read a few of Findlay's books the desire grew to find out more about the man. Often in the past this has led to disappointment with an author, when one finds him either to be a deluded guru or some kind of esoteric freak. People like Carlos Castaneda come to mind. But Findlay passes all tests of credibility with flying colours. Besides his connection with Spiritualism, his life story reads like the quite ordinary story of a Scot, born towards the end of the 19th century, who spent much of his active life involved in the Glasgow financial world, plus later to a certain extent, in local administration, serving as a Justice of the Peace. However, a considerable inheritance allowed Findlay to go into early retirement from the business world, and focus all his energies on his research and writing. Later in life he bought Stansted House in England, which he ultimately bequeathed to the Spiritualists' National Union.
The interest in this book lies primarily in showing that Findlay was a most ordinary man who'd witnessed some extraordinary things, and had the intelligence to interpret what he'd seen in a rational way. There are also some interesting asides in the book where Findlay expounds on various related themes, and the long chapter simply entitled 'Spiritualism' gives a good summary of the belief. Finally, if you have read his books, it is interesting to see what he says about writing them, and the reception they received at the time.
Any modern reader who's read this or other books of his will be left wondering though why the whole field is today ignored, or looked at with such scepticism, when the fact of the reality of these communications has been proved beyond doubt by so many. Perhaps it's that Spiritualism never really lost its connection with the Victorian, or at least pre-WWI era, and with the post-War space race and scientific development, the practice of Spiritualism lost its appeal and just seemed like something gloomy best left to morbid minds. I can imagine that after 2 world wars, many people wanted to completely ignore questions of death, a new materialistic age of youth culture was dawning with Rock and Roll, and communication with the dead was surely the last thing on many people's minds. I believe that someday though, the world will come to make a reappraisal of Findlay, his work, and his message. 495 pages.
(More recent but equally convincing books on Spiritualism are 'At The Hour Of Death', 'The Supreme Adventure' and 'The Scole Experiment'.)
A great Read
I do not usually comment on books as they are so personal. This is exceptional a great read and about a wonderful human being who has done so much for the Spiritualist movement.