Talk:Spiritualism

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Former good article nominee Spiritualism was a good articles nominee, but did not meet the good article criteria at the time. There are suggestions below for improving the article. Once these issues have been addressed, the article can be renominated. Editors may also seek a reassessment of the decision if they believe there was a mistake.
January 22, 2008 Good article nominee Not listed
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— Preceding unsigned comment added by 80.2.180.230 (talk) 22:47, 10 August 2011 (UTC)

Differences from Christianity[edit]

Anthon, I appreciate keeping due weight, but what you deleted are fundamental differences between the two systems that are not discussed elsewhere. If it is, point it out to me and I will agree with you. Tom Butler (talk) 16:15, 15 September 2010 (UTC)

Glad you're keeping an eye on things Tom.--Anthon.Eff (talk) 15:00, 17 September 2010 (UTC)

Spiritualism is a religion???[edit]

This assertion in the first sentence greatly surprised me. I consider myself reasonably educated, so I suspect my impression of "spiritualism" -- at least as it applies to the movement which had its greatest popularity between 1840 & 1920 -- is correct: it consisted of people who believed they could speak to the spirits of the dead thru seances, Ouija Boards, automatic writing & similar activities or devices, whose beliefs about God & worship did not enter into this activity. Perhaps there was a religious aspect to some (or most) of this activity, but AFAIK holding a seance was never portrayed as a form of religious worship, nor was a Ouija Board considered a holy object. If my impression is incorrect, this definition requires more explanation & reliance on expert explanation than what currently exists in this article. -- llywrch (talk) 20:28, 9 November 2010 (UTC)

Spiritualism is a religion. Not sure why it is necessary for a Ouija board to be considered a "holy object" for Spiritualism to be considered a religion. Nor why a seance must be a form of "worship"... Surely you don't think that Spiritualism was a science? Or maybe a form of atheism? Do you honestly think that one could speak to the dead without framing the experience within a religious context? There was variation in belief of course, but not much more than one sees in the Anglican church, with its latitudinarian approach. --Anthon.Eff (talk) 02:34, 10 November 2010 (UTC)
I do, indeed, believe that one can communicate with the dead without it being a religious experience. Communication with the dead is a supernatural belief, similar to belief in ghosts, vampires, magic, & so forth. Belief in one or more gods is not a prerequisite to believing that one can communicate with the dead. Or do you have an authority on religion who has said clearly that Spiritualism is a religion? Quoting in the lead paragraph said authority or expert in that field would satisfy my concern -- which is about surprising the reader, not about Spiritualism itself.

As for my mention Ouija board, I am explaining what I bring to the article, & what any person unfamiliar with the subject plausibly associates with Spiritualism; if you don't address the expectations of Wikipedia's audience appropriately, even if this article is verifiability accurate, they will mistrust the article & Wikipedia. -- llywrch (talk) 17:33, 10 November 2010 (UTC)

The article started out saying that Spiritualism was a "religious movement", and the pressure of editors soon converted that to "religion". If you have evidence that Spiritualism is not a religion, bring it forth, so that we can go back to the old language. As far as making distinctions between supernatural and religious--well, perhaps to be truly "reasonably educated", you should have taken one or two more anthropology courses--such distinctions have long since fallen by the wayside... Shalom. --Anthon.Eff (talk) 03:47, 13 November 2010 (UTC)
re: 'requires more explanation' -- isn't the rest of the article enough? Your concern is explained in the article. The lead sentence has the word "or" because the term refers to both the broad movement and the nominal religion under the same umbrella. - Steve3849talk 05:25, 10 November 2010 (UTC)
No, the article is not. The lead asserts that Spiritualism is a religion, & the rest of the article is written as if it is true. No where is this assertion substantiated with either an adequate explanation or reference to an expert in the field. (The footnote at the end of that paragraph appears to only confirm the contents of the second sentence, i.e. "A distinguishing feature is the belief, etc." -- not necessarily that it is a religion. And the rest of the article would make just as much sense were the lead paragraph to begin, "Spiritualism is the belief in the possibility, and the subsequent practice of, communicating with the spirits of the deceased." FWIW, some non-Monotheistic religions also believe in the possibility of communicating with the dead: a memorable example is the scene in Akira Kurosawa's film, "Rashomon", where the murdered samurai tells his version of what happened at the temple thru a spirit medium. -- llywrch (talk) 17:33, 10 November 2010 (UTC)
And I'd like to leave you with one further thought. One important fact about religions is that people can belong to only one. That is, one cannot be both a Catholic & a Methodist, or a Jew & a Hindu, at the same time. One can be raised in one religion, then convert to another, or outwardly adhere to one while practicing a second secretly & sincerely -- but not both at once. Stating that Spiritualism is a religion means that every person who labelled her or himself a Spiritualist thereby renounced membership in whatever religion they might otherwise be practicing. Nowhere in this article is this problem clearly addressed & detailed, nor the repercussions described. And there were severe repercussions to those who did not belong to mainstream faiths: for example, the first Mormon missionaries to Oregon were tarred & feathered. -- llywrch (talk) 18:18, 10 November 2010 (UTC)
This is not right at all. One can be a Unitarian and a Muslim (or Christian or Buddhist or Jew). No problem. One can follow Buddhism and follow Shinto (or Chinese folk religion) at the same time. With some religions, one can do two at the same time, and Spiritualism was one of those (Universalists and Unitarians were the enabling Christian denominations). The tragic treatment of Mormon missionaries is a red herring... As far as the Kurosawa film--maybe you should have taken your attention to the the article Spiritualism (beliefs), which aims to describe such beliefs occurring outside the religious movement described in this article. --Anthon.Eff (talk) 03:47, 13 November 2010 (UTC)


I see what you mean. Yet, spiritualism is more than the simple belief. It was a significant social movement of the 19th century. One reference not yet in the article from Vieda Skultans (1974) refers to it as "essentially a domestic religion" replacing more traditional religions and allowing women to adhere to Victorian values being able to work at home. The article needs work. - Steve3849talk 00:17, 11 November 2010 (UTC)

Whoever wrote this is just biased, but alas I am too busy to fight this war. Shame but it's a endemic problem on wikipedia. It is pretty clear that for the vast MAJORITY of people, spiritism is NOT A RELIGION.

The fact that a small group of people have descided it is their religion, definatly deserves a small section at the end, but does not reflect the mainstream view (and i notice the fringe view once again is at the top of the article!). What do you guys expect to get new recruits here or something? Please rewrite this so it does not reflect your own bias, it will be a good challange to test your objectivity skills. (edited to be less grumpy) DarkShroom (talk) 19:21, 2 January 2011 (UTC)

Traditionally, "spiritualism" with lower case "s" is a belief. "Spiritualism with an upper case "S" is a religion. Considering that there is a disambiguation page, much of this article should be in the Spiritualism (beliefs) article.
Anthon, you said, “Do you honestly think that one could speak to the dead without framing the experience within a religious context?” Of course we do ... every day as an ordained Spiritualist and as a director of an organization dedicated to the study “phenomena of spiritualism” (visual and audio ITC, séance phenomena and "hauntings” phenomena) from both the perspective of survived personality and the alternative explanation of an undocumented human potential. I really do not know of anyone who is studying the phenomena from an academic point of view who thinks of it as the study of religious concepts.
In fact, Spiritualism is not a religion in the same sense that Christianity is a belief in a divine being, but it is a system of belief that is practiced as religion in that it is a community of like-minded people who believe in the spiritualism and all of its implications. The definition of Spiritualism I subscribe to is that “Spiritualism is the Science, Philosophy, and Religion of continuous life, based upon the demonstrated fact of communication, by means of mediumship, with those who live in the Spirit World.” NSAC The religion part is a reference to both the recognition of the community of like-minded people and the need to seek constitutional protection of freedom of religion. That definition (and similar for other denominations of Spiritualism) cannot be understood by the present article.
It is interesting to see how the belief in survival of personality and transcommunication is seen by people in the mainstream. For instance, I have yet to meet a woman involved in the suffrage movement, yet reading this article, one would think that is one of our root beliefs. I can understand the difficulty of finding current reference suitable for Wikipedia. Perhaps the answer is to say less about the historical part and concentrate on the bar-bones facts of Spiritualism today in the Belief article. Here, I would focus on the concept of the belief in survival and transcommunication without undue reference to religion. As Anthon observed, we have had this argument before and there seemed to be a consensus for the need to recognize the universality of belief in "spirit communication" as a concept and not confuse it with current religious practice. Tom Butler (talk) 00:24, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
Tom, this article focuses on the history of Spiritualism, as it existed between the 1840s and 1920s. The Spiritualist Church article developed as a fork to capture content after that period. The distinction has helped to keep the article objective (there were many editors who wished to describe their personal beliefs under the rubric of Spiritualism, and that collection of personal beliefs in turn attracted the attention of Christians and skeptics). But if you feel that significant improvements can be made by rearranging material, I'm interested. One possibility would be to create an article called History of Spiritualism, and transfer most of this content there. But what then would be placed under the current article name? I have no clear idea.--Anthon.Eff (talk) 01:42, 4 January 2011 (UTC)
I remember the conflict and I understand your concern about stability. I left that discussion back in 2008 but looking at the disambiguation page referenced at the top of the Spiritualism article, I only found Spiritualism (beliefs). That article has a pretty good "at a glance" view of how spiritualism has been incorporated into religions. What is missing from that article is Spiritism, as it is an important form of spiritualism.
The problem with being specific is that there are so many "Ya, Buts" that need to be considered. For instance, I see the Spiritualist Church of Canada with 14 affiliated churches is not mentioned. There are certainly many more. Some are Christian and some are not. Some still acknowledge a father god and some consider it a fundamental precept that there is no such thing.
As witness the heading of this talk page discussion, the Spiritualism article has a lot of appearance of being about religion. Trying to think of what the public might want to know, perhaps we can consider the questions: what is spiritualism the belief, how has it been incorporated in belief systems (philosophy and religion) and what are the primary organizations. Most of that material appears to be in articles, but perhaps not in the right ones.
As a NSAC Spiritualist, I feel pretty strongly about their Declaration of Principles (9 of them). As such, I would probably not affiliate with a church using some of the principles listed by other groups, yet we all share the idea of a few fundamental principles being pretty much the limit of our dogma. If you look at the Beliefs section of this article, you will see a list of principles express as concepts that I believe most if not all of the Spiritualists churches could agree are representative of what they intend. First, that list probably should be in the Spiritualist Church article, as it is about the system of belief as opposed to the concept, and second, that is probably the limit of specificity these articles should follow.
As an aside; too often when someone is not getting their way, they attack my ability to edit see here. I will be happy to comment but, as I suppose DarkShroom is saying, my possible time to edit is pretty well accounted for elsewhere. Tom Butler (talk) 18:18, 4 January 2011 (UTC)

religion again[edit]

"Spiritualism is a religion" is being removed. One editor cited a radio program from Back Story, a program from the Virginia Foundation for the Humanities, to restore it. This definition has been there for a long time. Anyone has other sources for or against it? --Enric Naval (talk) 17:56, 21 July 2013 (UTC)

Define Spiritualism[edit]

The reason I came to this article was to research the idea of spiritualism being each rock, tree, and ice cream machine all having it's own 'spirit' and all of that jazz.

Mention spiritualism in the United Kingdom without adding further context and you will be assumed to be talking about one of the following;

Christianity.
Semi-prescious stones.
Any of a variety of pagan movements.

Why then is the definition of spiritualism so narrow as to cover a niche American movement?

Also, since when did the spiritualism mentioned within this article become monotheistic? I don't see why you can't believe in spirits and also polytheism. -Matthew Sinclair, 23:58 GMT, 10 August 2011

Matthew, in the religion, Spiritualists believe in one god as a concept, as in the idea that there is one source of which we are all part--rocks included. This is specifically not a father god sitting in judgement, as Spiritualists also believe in personal responsibility.
The religion of Spiritualism is focused on the relationship amongst people in the physical, loved ones in the etheric (survived personalities) and a source which is expressed as principles (energy-spirit) governing the operation of reality. These are my terms, but pretty much what you will find on their sites.
Not talked about so much, but within the scope of Spiritualism is our relationship with nature and the operation of this same energy-spirit in all parts of our world.
Spiritualism (small "s") is the belief that people have both a physical body and a nonphysical personality which survives the "death" of the body. That can take many different forms, but is not necessarily organized as a religion. "Spirit" as a form of energy is a rather different view that does not necessarily include the idea of survival of personality. The problem is that "spirit" as a term is used for everything amongst people who have not learned the different perspectives. This has been a struggle for Wikipedia and your ideas are welcome.
As for that American "crap," probably the majority of Spiritualist are in the UK. For instance, the NSU is probably much larger than the American NSAC. Yes, some of them are Christian, but many are not. Tom Butler (talk) 16:16, 11 August 2011 (UTC)

WP:Death Assessment Commentary[edit]

The article was assessed Start-class, for lack of sufficient in-line citations. While the majority of the article is well-written and referenced, there are several paragraphs, including an entire section, that are un-referenced.Boneyard90 (talk) 14:22, 20 May 2012 (UTC)

Mental Health[edit]

Alex Owen's The Darkened Room : Women, Power, And Spiritualism speaks of mania as a rite of passage. This reference was valid and should not have been removed. Please put it back. the connection between yoga and spiritualism is well known and spiritual emergence psychosis is a result of yoga too. There is a reason. — Preceding unsigned comment added by 70.49.124.58 (talk) 21:27, 10 April 2013 (UTC)