Is There Life After Death?
It Takes Research
I cannot understand them. More often than not there is a tunnel. At the end of the tunnel light. Along the way, a number of variations. Sometimes the sojourner meets people he or she once knew. At least one studier of this phenomenon with a medical background thinks that they are people being left behind. To be left behind is another big topic in matters spiritual. Are you ready? A big question. About NDE's and their authenticity, I cannot say. I am non-judgmental for a reason. I simply do not know. But much of what is reported by those who departed and returned suggests that we (everyone) are headed somewhere, the admission fee is death, and that what fully waits up ahead is not quite clear, or better put, utterly revealed. Also, it is useless to oppose the fact that people actually die, then, however infrequently, revert back to life. It happens. After four long days, Lazarus, a rotting corpse, arose. He did so at the behest of Christ, without whom such a scenario would strain credulity. But how about hope kept alive by scripture that four days is nothing compared to the great prepping for judgment day? Science can laugh the whole business off. That has always been its prerogative. But the theological mind remains largely unaffected. Anything is possible through means of belief and faith.
As far as research is concerned, it has been going on for years. The subject has only just piqued my own imagination. It is not new to me. It just never seemed important. For instance, every now and again, I have a memorable dream. Sometimes its nature is supernatural. That is, of course, until I awaken and realize I am dealing strictly with mental phenomena. Could not NDEs be similar? To be honest, I cannot say that either my dreams or NDEs are devoid of existential meaning. If nothing else excites the average inquirer into the paranormal, consider the fact that with few exceptions, though some are quite alarming, death is almost never remembered as either horrible or frightening.
In/Out of Body Experiences
One record of a series of out-of-body experiences has to do with a young woman in her early thirties. If not for the fact that she underwent constant pain, she could have been described as happily married, a mother, middle class, upwardly mobile, comfortable, and well-off. An accident in the mid 1970s turned everything upside down. Like many who suffer chronic pain, her spine was involved. It was in a hospital, undergoing surgery, heavily sedated, tied to tubes, unable to move, alone and incommunicado, that she began to literally see herself, objectively, from a distant perspective. It was as though she no longer dwelt within a physical domain. Not only did she have an out-of-body experience, but was able to observe a nurse in another room. Her disembodied vision penetrated walls. The incident was actually verified in a snippet of conversation ex post facto.
Sounds somewhat daffy, but there are many who give credence to otherworldly testimony. Not all of it, of course, which nobody could. But the pendulum has swung away from strict scientific explanation toward the mystical realm. As to how much one can handle, if only privately, the individual decides. Life beyond the confinement of an aging body is certainly a plus, especially for those who suffer various degrees of uncontrollable pain. It is also psychologically sound. Very few of us would want to be judged by our looks or how we feel. We have bad days; we have bad mornings and sleepless nights. Fewer still like the prospect of there being absolutely no compensation whatsoever for what life might chance to dole out. Finally, it is, I think, healthy to look forward to a resurrection that is not dependent upon the greatest skills of the finest surgeon. There are many who have perished, whose very atoms and molecules have returned to the proverbial dust, who may yet live again -- as long as it is not up to human agency. I only posit the possibility that God does not forget us.
The Artistic Vision
"That's What They All Say"
Is this what we hear while being kicked downstairs? Not according to most Near Death Experiencers, though there are a few who claim to have dropped into the fiery realms below. Then again, since testifiers come back, after having been on the way toward heaven, if not inside, did they not get rejected? Herein the atheist has the upper hand. Death is death, according to the non-believer. There is no space in between. Sleep, unconsciousness, fatigue, a coma -- not the same. Near death is incomprehensible. It is, according to a kind of logic, equivalent to no death. Either you are or not. You cannot say you were. Death is final and incontrovertible. Death cannot be life intermitted. A thing cannot also be its opposite. Further, when it comes to death, outside of the dreary medical definitions, nobody really knows. As a result, it is more sensible to simply say, life ends at death, which in fact it does. But many separate the physical from the spiritual. The theologian is not impressed by either the microscope or the telescope. Therein lies the strength of the believer, who will not let go of his or her convictions, scientific or not.
I admit to being new to the subject. If nothing else, the experiences I am learning about affirm the dynamic strength of belief in a mostly Christian system. If one can keep a sense of balance, NDEs are on the cutting edge of a predominantly friendly skirmish between believers and non-believers. They do not merely talk all around a heated topic but offer narrational evidence, if untested and psychic, that biblical truths are not just feel good substitutes in the absence of pills and booze. Testimonies are abundant and involve not just Christians, but Muslims and Jews as well. How much faith should one invest in their stories is a valid question. What difference does it make? Another. Just because a man was healed on his deathbed, or a woman gone astray with drugs and alcohol, brought back from the brink, does not suggest anything other than an anomaly, on the one hand, and a change of heart, on the other. Right?
The Choice is Yours
There is not enough space to cover belief vs. non-belief arguments, which have filled many, many volumes, some very popular, in print, and still selling like hotcakes. But You Tube has been able to present a new outpouring of testimony hitherto not unknown but not so well-documented. For those inclined, it is as if people are getting re-aquainted with Jesus Christ, since He is the central focus toward which almost all the recordings tend. No testimony has announced The Second Coming, only the existence of Christ, dwelling somewhere in a mystical realm. He is nearby, but where? Unless the tonnage of what is being put online is totally fraudulent, then the combined testimonies, as much as one can absorb, testify, possibly, to the approach of a new dawn. There are other, less inflammatory explanations. Scattered among the testifiers are depictions of a Savior destined for Glory not Calvary. During the First Coming, there were no Christians. Now, there are quite a few, if divided and, to an extent, lapsed. Once again, there are miraculous healings, divine comfortings, and the injection of hope into hopelessness . Especially relevant to our times are people being relieved of debilitating depressions, which were not as prevalent, it would seem, in Old and New Testament witnessing. The whole argument actually works better in reverse, or negatively. In other words, leaving out for the moment the fact or non-fact of Jesus, who would want the world such as it is? Who truly thinks that all it needs are improvements, adjustments, legislation, negotiations, well-funded charities, self-congratulatory pageantries, referendums, programs, pilgrimages, truces, bureaucratic watchdogs, or a magical understanding that will inevitably occur in its own good time? No, this world is irreparably corrupt and, bit by bit, headed toward a bad place.
You Tube Headquarters in California
Hearing and seeing heartfelt testimony caught my interest. Then I became aware of a certain, more established point of view that discouraged the idea of a personal relationship with Jesus. All of a sudden, I realized that I had stumbled at least twice, once onto plain-speaking, raw, unedited You Tube testimony, and second, onto an institutional admonition against the very same. It is not easy for me to sum up in a single breath a bias in favor of the former while, at the same time, admitting my own amateurishness versus an educated, experienced, powerful priesthood. I would not challenge the latter. It is only that I keep myself intellectually insulated, at a certain distance from organizational thought. Also, I actually want at least some of these encounters to be authentic. In addition, I would like to feel, if someone else better qualified could provide the intellectual grit, that something new has hatched. The better part of You Tube is multi-denominational or non-denominational. It is, after all, a basically neutral venue. As such, however, it permits, in accordance with the Bill of Rights, potshots contra faiths that are unquestionably out of line. I still feel, however, that there is more good than bad in what is being presented.
- Amazon.com: FULL CIRCLE: THE NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE AND BEYOND (9780553569803): Barbara Harris, Lione
Amazon.com: FULL CIRCLE: THE NEAR DEATH EXPERIENCE AND BEYOND (9780553569803): Barbara Harris, Lionel C. Bascom: Books