‘GEMS OF THOUGHT: from Leading Intellectual Lights’, compiled by John R Francis, is a collection of scholarly papers. It begins with dissertations on spirituality, astral development and an introduction to theosophy. A forecast into twentieth century, especially, how the present developments in our scientific and spiritual ideas will shape future, follows next. Where, about our idea of universe, the book says "Now the “I” is supposed to be the center of the universe in every human mind. Just as soon as that is changed and the “I” is relegated to its own place," we stand to get a more appropriate idea of ourselves and the universe.
The immediate future is then discussed. The solar engine is in the imminent future and is to supersede steam and electricity as well. Those rays of light that now seem to be squandered, or are held in solution somewhere, will be made available. … The solar heat will be made available for the new motor power. … The destructive potential available with nations, perhaps, more than any sense of brotherly love, will prevent nations from warring.
Next paper is about dreams and its significance, where author suggests about a middle path, ‘not superstitiously believing everything and troubling your self about things which come to you in dreams, nor, on the other hand, foolishly rejecting everything. This is followed by a paper about one of t h e most prominent clergymen of this country: Rev. T. DeWitt.
Origin of Christianity is discussed in next paper. Constantine, the Roman emperor whose adoption of Christianity is what led to the growth of this religion, is studied critically. Constantine himself was a Mithraist, (an old mystic religion of Persia), and after conversion continued to follow the same observances as was following earlier, making Christianity, Mithraism by a new name. What follows this is a paper about science and its conflict with religion. Differences like, “All religions deal with the super natural. Science investigates only the natural” are listed to make clear, the stances of each on various matters. How spiritualism is awakening humanity is then examined.
Another paper examines the law of cause and effect. How this is dealt by Hindu religion using the name of Karma is described. Also, how they also apply the same term to the results which under it follow from action of any kind. The inevitable part of any discussion involving religions, afterlife, is discussed next. “Death is the gate of life”, author says, before continuing till the end of the book with guardian angels, spirits, clairvoyance, and many other esoteric topics from places like India, dovetailing in between the Church of Rome, as a monster.
I find the book full of optimism for 20th century. That it will release many things that have been chained in the past, letting people to express more. As far as the book’s predictions go, though, the most significant (as I see) one, that twentieth century will show less influence of religion, is nowhere near fulfillment, it is interesting to observe that many of the other forecasts, regarding women’s status, the social life, the impetus on solar power, etc., can be seen to have taken place.