The Devil's Two-Decker

On December 6, 2019, nytimes.com ran a story on Rose Mackenberg, who worked with Harry Houdini exposing fake séance artists and commercial dabblers in spiritual phenomena.

One of the things that's interesting about early twentieth-century Spiritism (and presumably that of the Endorian distant past and present as well) is how many otherwise rational people, like Arthur Conan Doyle, were interested in it. One of these was the wealthy businessman who decreed a magnificent church incorporating his beautifully situated summer home, at which I worked as a sexton in my early twenties. His library, which became the pastor's study, had a large collection on the subject, complete with photographic plates of oozing ectoplasm and the like. Cleaning around those fascinating books was extremely distracting.

Over the years I have come to think it probable that the real practitioners, a small percentage of the mostly fraudulent lot, are in league with low-grade demons, and that most of the debunkers, for their part, haven't an understanding of the cosmic order sufficient to see any more than the fraud. This and similar ships of fools have two decks upon which a game is run that is enjoyed by devils and two kinds of people, the skeptics and the true believers, whose souls are being traded for at bargain prices.

S. M. Hutchens is a senior editor.

calling all readers

Please Donate

"There are magazines worth reading but few worth saving . . . Touchstone is just such a magazine."
—Alice von Hildebrand

"Here we do not concede one square millimeter of territory to falsehood, folly, contemporary sentimentality, or fashion. We speak the truth, and let God be our judge. . . . Touchstone is the one committedly Christian conservative journal."
—Anthony Esolen, Touchstone senior editor

Support Touchstone


more on america from the online archives

29.2—March/April 2016

Family Phases

The History of Family Strength in America May Reveal Good News by Allan C. Carlson

29.4—July/August 2016

Deep Roots

Russell Kirk: American Conservative by Bradley J. Birzer by Hunter Baker

30.5—Sept/Oct 2017

Passions' Republic

The Christian Cure for What Ails Modern Politics by David Bradshaw

• Not a subscriber or wish to renew your subscription? Subscribe to Touchstone today for full online access. Over 30 years of publishing!


personal subscriptions

Purchase
Online Subscription

Get a one-year full-access subscription to the Touchstone online archives including pdf downloads for only $19.95. That's only $1.66 per month!


RENEW your online subscription

Purchase Print &
Online Subscription

Get six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for only $39.95. That's only $3.34 per month!


RENEW your print/online
subscription

gift subscriptions

GIVE Print &
Online Subscription

Give six issues (one year) of Touchstone PLUS full online access including pdf downloads for the reduced rate of $29.95. That's only $2.50 per month!


RENEW your gift subscription

Transactions will be processed on a secure server.

bulk subscriptions

Order Touchstone subscriptions in bulk and save $10 per sub! Each subscription includes 6 issues of Touchstone plus full online access to touchstonemag.com—including archives, videos, and pdf downloads of recent issues for only $29.95 each! Great for churches or study groups.

kindle subscription

OR get a subscription to Touchstone to read on your Kindle for only $1.99 per month! (This option is KINDLE ONLY and does not include either print or online.)

Your subscription goes a long way to ensure that Touchstone is able to continue its mission of publishing quality Christian articles and commentary.


more from the online archives

30.2—March/April 2017

The Cross of Least Resistance

Our Path to Holiness Runs Straight Through Calvary by Robin Phillips

28.3—May/June 2015

Dumb Sheep

on the Truth About a Slanderous Accusation by James S. Spiegel

33.1—January/February 2020

Forbidden Lies

Speaking Truth About the Sexes Is Not Optional by Anthony Esolen