The New Age: Notes of a Fringe Watcher

By Martin Gardner | Go to book overview
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29 The Channeling Mania

The medium is the message.

Marshall McLuhan

When I wrote the preceding chapter I had not read Out on a Broken Limb ( Harvest House, 1986), by F. LaGard Smith, a professor of law at Pepperdine University, in Los Angeles. A neighbor of Shirley, in Malibu, Smith is a Protestant fundamentalist who believes in hell, Satan, the Second Coming, and creationism, and that paranormal phenomena associated with spiritualism is the work of demons. His flimsy book is not worth reading, but I mention it here because it has some amusing pages about Kevin Ryerson.

Smith attended some of Ryerson's trance sessions without revealing his skepticism. When he falsely told Tom McPherson that his mother was dead, Tom replied to questions as if she were. "Wouldn't the Akashik Records know whether or not my mother were still on the earth-plane?" Smith sensibly asks.

Smith also told Tom he had dreamed that he and Shirley were friends. Tom instantly revealed to Smith that yes, he and Shirley had been pals in eleventh-century China. Shirley was a puppeteer and Smith was a Taoist scholar. Smith found Kevin bright and likable, performing an act that "is simply one of the best road shows in America."

On a late-night radio show ( January 17-18, 1987) I heard Ryerson talk and answer phone calls for several hours. He had high praise for trance- channeler Edgar Cayce, parapsychologist Thelma Moss, Jeffrey Mishlove Roots of Consciousness (a monstrous addlepated book published by Random House), several books about OBEs and NDEs (near-death experiences), and the books Mind-Reach, by Russell Targ and Harold Puthoff, and Mind Race, by Russell Targ and Keith Harary (see Chapter 7), though he was a bit confused about the authors. He credited Mind-Reach to "Russell and Targ" and Mind Race to "Russell and Harary."

It is hard to keep up with the hundreds of new trance channelers who are popping out of the woodwork--the greatest concentration is in the Los Angeles area--but here are some more who have been in the news.


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