Messages From Beyond

Al Gabay
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Messages From Beyond
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Messages From Beyond

Subjects

History

Published

11 March 1997

ISBN

9780522849103

Subjects

History

Imprint

Melbourne University Press

Messages From Beyond

Al Gabay
Explores the origins of the Spiritualist movement and relates its rise and fall to the wider intellectual and religious currents in colonial Australian society.
The Spiritualist movement had its beginnings in the United States in the late 1840s and within a few years had spread to Australia. With its séances, mediums, trances, 'magnetisers', table-tilting and other mysterious psychic phenomena, it attracted media frenzy and public furore, but also many deeply serious converts—often highly intelligent and talented people who rejected orthodox religion in favour of scientific rationalism, but were still vitally concerned with moral debates. One of them was the young Alfred Deakin, later to become Prime Minister.Spiritualists sought 'rational, discoverable answers' to life's mysteries. They sought to 'prove' empirically the continued existence of the human personality after death, while maintaining—somewhat paradoxically—that the movement was a genuine religion. In Messages from Beyond , however, Al Gabay shows that for most believers the séance was not a 'scientific' enterprise but a religious and highly ritualised event.In this fascinating history, Gabay explores the origins of…
The Spiritualist movement had its beginnings in the United States in the late 1840s and within a few years had spread to Australia. With its séances, mediums, trances, 'magnetisers', table-tilting and other mysterious psychic phenomena, it attracted media frenzy and public furore, but also many deeply serious converts—often highly intelligent and talented people who rejected orthodox religion in favour of scientific rationalism, but were still vitally concerned with moral debates. One of them was the young Alfred Deakin, later to become Prime Minister.

Spiritualists sought 'rational, discoverable answers' to life's mysteries. They sought to 'prove' empirically the continued existence of the human personality after death, while maintaining—somewhat paradoxically—that the movement was a genuine religion. In Messages from Beyond , however, Al Gabay shows that for most believers the séance was not a 'scientific' enterprise but a religious and highly ritualised event.

In this fascinating history, Gabay explores the origins of the Spiritualist movement and relates its rise and fall to the wider intellectual and religious currents in colonial Australian society. He argues that the atmosphere of Freethought and Secularism in colonial Melbourne, as well as the passionate debates of the time on the authority of the Bible and Evolution, were fundamental to the success of the movement, and that it was a cultural product of its time.

About the author

Dr Al Gabay is Senior Lecturer in History and Religious Studies in the School of Arts and Education at La Trobe University (Bendigo campus). He has published numerous articles in scholarly journals on aspects of the spiritualist movement in Australia, and is the author of The Mystic Life of Alfred Deakin (CUP 1992) and Messages from Beyond (MUP 1997).

About Al Gabay

Paperback
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