Review

Angels and Others: 1932 J.H.Stowell, DD London MA Glasgow MA Oxford 159 pp

 ==================================================

 The following is a review from LIGHT, September 16, 1932. Page 454

AMONG THE PROPHETS

ANGLICAN VICAR'S TESTIMONY TO THE TRUTH OF SPIRiT COMMUNICATION:

IF it cannot be claimed that there is as yet any certainty that the Churches will "absorb Spiritualism, lock, stock and barrel," as desired by Mrs. St. Clair Stobart, there are at least, indications that a process of absorption is going on, slowly it may be, but with definite results.

The latest of these indications is to be found in a book entitled Angels and Others (Stockwell, 3/6), in which the Rev. J. H. Stowell, D.D., Vicar of Northmoor, near Oxford tells how, in a quiet home circle in London, he has become convinced of the reality of spirit communication, and in which also he makes a strong plea that the Church should acknowledge what he now regards as the clearly-proven facts.

Dr. Stowell's story of his psychic enlightenment is simple but interesting. His two nieces (daughters of an elder brother, a Congregational minister, who had "passed on ") unexpectedly developed "psychic powers in an unusual degree," and, in the home of one of them in London, he personally received messages through automatic writing which - in spite of deep-seated religious doubts and suspicions - convinced him that he was in direct touch with his father.

WHAT THE MESSAGES CONVEYED

After describing the messages, he writes: "What I have set down here, I admit is nothing stupendous in itself, even if an archangel should have blown it through a trumpet. But it is stupendous fact to me that my father has thrust himself lovingly out of the Spirit world to speak to me and even to wish he might grasp me by the hand. The bare material is :-

"(1) A fulfilled prophecy about an aged, dying man that he would not die then but live; and his testimony.

"(2) A series of messages, giving intimate personal details of my life from childhood sixty years ago to the present day, purporting to come from my parents, three brothers and two sisters In the Unseen.

"(3) A message from one of these sisters for a person not previously known to me but telling me how to find her and how she needed the message.

"(4) Messages for me from two intimate friends who have died.

" (5) Visions interlinked with these messages.

" (6) Advice and guidance of tested practical value to myself and others.

For me, (1) recalls the prophecy to Hezekiah that his life was to be lengthened. (2) is like the experience in Samaria of being "told all things that ever I did."
(3) is parallel to the messages at St. Paul's conversion and at his call to Macedonia. (4) with all reverence, I feel, gives me light on Moses and Elias in converse with Jesus at the Transfiguration. (5) and (6) are akin to very many recorded experiences. Taken together they move my understanding of Holy Writ forward from the guesses and abstractions of a mild rationalism, into the facts of a transcendent realism."

Dr. Stowell makes it quite clear that he does not like Spiritualism as a religious movement outside the Church. "People," he says, "occasionally warn us clergy to keep off the subject. ...For myself, I long ago had read enough: of it, and even now am sick of it, except that it has run into my life poignantly. I have never been to Christian Spiritualist Churches or to public seances. But now, as though I were being prodded physically from the other world in the Christ's name, unwilling, like Saul, I also am among the prophets. The foregoing pages [in which he tells his experiences] are a commission which I must carry out ot some great fish will swallow me and land me at Nineveh notwithstanding. They are true."

Dr. Stowell  thinks the Church must take action. "The Church," he writes, “should acknowledge again what once it counted precious but, in too much timidity, is still thrusting away as a peril. There is greater peril in neglecting the gift than in humbly accepting it. A denial  of the Devil has involved in a  vagueness as to Christ.  A neglect of the Angels has Impoverished our communion with the Saints. To attempt, as Protestants have largely  done, to confine Holy Communion to a fellowship with Christ, as it were in isolation from the Discipleship both in heaven and earth, has brought us to a damaging indefiniteness and depersonalising of our religion.”

 1n a whimsically written introductory "argument," and an equally whimsical "epilogue," Dr. Stowell discusses the relation of the Ch:urch (Anglican) to Spiritualism, even bringing  the Devil to state what may be supposed to be the Satanic Views.

For  Church people,.Angels and others should  be interesting and it may be hoped, instructive in regard to the reality and usefulness of communication. For Spiritualists and  Psychical Researchers, it has the value of a human document containing evidence worthy of careful study; and for the general reader, it should be entertaining and provocative on many points.

 [The following appeared on the same page of the issue of LIGHT.]

ANGLICAN VICAR'S TESTIMONY

TOLERANCE has broadened and is broadening, as psychic knowledge spreads and its implications are understood, but it still requires high moral courage for  an Anglican clergyman to proclaim publicly his assurance  of the reality and evidential value of messages from the  so called " dead," as has been done by the Rev. Dr. J. H. Stowell, Vicar of Northmoor, near Oxford, in his book, Angels and Others  (reviewed on page 454). Dr. Stowell may not be in any danger of martyrdom, or even  of remonstrances from his Bishop such as have fallen on certain clerics who could be named; but he certainly does run the risk, - which we hope will not materialise—of being misunderstood by friends and misrepresented by enemies, should he happen to have any.  He must have known this before issuing  his book - for he writes of being "unwilling, like Saul. ..among the prophets "- and he is therefore to be congratulated on the courageous  clearness of his testimony and the cogency of the reasoning by which he links up his psychic experiences with his faith  as a Christian man and his position as an active clergyman.  It is to be hoped that Dr. Stowell's book - which is entertaining as well as instructive - will be widely read by  Church people, so that they may appreciate how strong is the evidence on which he rests and how reasonable are the conclusions at which he has arrived - and so perhaps  be induced to follow his example.