Sue Farrow reports on an unusually fair and open-minded interview.
Popular Spiritualists Al and Geoff Potts have been interviewed on BBC radio.
Twin brothers Al and Geoff, respectively president and vice-president of Bournemouth Spiritualist Church, have each given many years service to Spiritualism. Their church is a lively, thriving place, with a strong emphasis on reaching out to the local community.
Speaking to BBC Radio Solent presenter Tim Daykin, Al stressed that belief in God as an infinite intelligence and creative force was central to Spiritualists, and then outlined the seven principles of Spiritualism. Tim asked if Spiritualists attracted much hostility, at which Al laughed a little wryly and said there was sometimes hostility, but it was “generally down to ignorance.”
Church member Aileen Kettle also took part in the programme, and Tim asked what had first brought her to the church. She explained that she had attended spiritual healing sessions from time to time but only decided to go to a Sunday service three weeks after the passing of her beloved husband of 35 years.
“The evening I lost him, if I could have gone with him I would happily have taken a pill and passed on with him because my life held nothing for me,” Aileen said. A medium had conducted the funeral and, refusing payment, suggested that Aileen might like to make a donation to Bournemouth church. She went along, and towards the end of that first Sunday service, a medium relayed messages from loved ones in spirit. Third to come through was Aileen’s husband, and the message helped her to embark on the hugely difficult process of adjustment.
In the latter part of the interview, the Potts brothers took the opportunity to dispel some all-too-common myths about Spiritualism, including the old chestnut about ‘disturbing’ the dead.
“We cannot call on them,” Al explained, adding that the link of love is what enables communication between the two worlds. “They come of their own free will when there is a need.” That communication, he said, was often what enabled the grieving to experience closure they could not find elsewhere.
Asked about the relationship between man and his spirit which moves into a new sphere after death, Al said that Spiritualists believe human beings are first and foremost a spirit. “We come from that level of consciousness that some people call Heaven – we call it the Spirit World. It’s only a label. It’s not up there in the sky, it’s all around us. We’re the ones with the limitations – we cannot perceive it in the heavy atmosphere of a physical world.
“We come here for a learning experience. The object is to try to balance the spiritual and physical aspects of our being and bring them into harmony, and to see difficulties, joys and adversities as an opportunity to learn and grow. Because what we’re going to do when we’ve finished with this physical body is to return to that level of consciousness which we have earned through this lifetime. In other words, we’re laying the foundations for the next phase of our lives. We’re either going to be pleased with what we receive, or we’re going to be disappointed. It’s down to us.”
Presenter Tim Daykin pointed out that some listeners would be asking what on earth was going on at BBC Radio Solent that morning, believing that Spiritualism was about “dabbling” in things we don’t understand, things the Bible warns against, and similar negativity. “How do you respond to that?” he asked Geoff.
Freely admitting that Spiritualists were used to hearing those views expressed, Geoff said: “There are so many programmes, and reports in the press, that degrade Spiritualism, that don’t really give the truths about Spiritualism.
“Spiritualism embraces all religions, so we strongly believe there is something to learn from every religion. Of course we get ridiculed and it’s basically because people don’t understand what we’re all about. We’re not here to take over the world; we’re not here to convince people at all. We’re here just to live our lives, learning from the lessons that come to us, and using those lessons wisely to progress on our spiritual pathway.”