Thursday, July 23, 2020

Near-Death Experiences (NDEs)

I have not had a near-death experience, but my father did when during surgery he suffered cardiac arrest. A scientist by training, he had never heard of this experience and doubted his own memory of it. Yet seeing himself outside his body, observing the surgeon trying to revive him, moving through darkness toward a clear vision of my deceased mother, and feeling unconditional love from the brilliant light behind her, before returning to his body . . . was life transforming for him.

He lost his fear of death, he told me, and I saw that he became a warmer person. My life was also transformed by his experience, as researching NDEs has altered my view of life, death, consciousness, and God.

For surgeon Bernie Siegel, “the knowledge that God is a loving, intelligent, and conscious energy” has come from dreams, drawings, and near-death experiences. He believes: “first, there was consciousness and consciousness was with God” and “consciousness was God, because God speaks in dreams and images―the universal language.” In his experience with patients, Siegel has learned that consciousness can be healing. To a cancer patient Siegel proposed: “visualizing God’s light melting a tumor that appears as a block of ice.” To another: “Let go and let God.” Siegel tells his patients: “By accepting ourselves as God’s creation, seeing beauty and meaning in what we are, just as we are, we accept others as God’s creation too.”

Bernie S. Siegel, The Art of Healing: Uncovering Your Inner Wisdom and Potential for Self-Healing
(New World Library, 2013), 198, 42, 36, 163, and 92.

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Going Home

The third verse of the hymn “Amazing Grace” ends with the affirmation that “grace will lead me home.” Home surely refers to heaven, but when I noticed this I thought it was unusual for Christians to think of heaven as home. I discovered, however, that African American spirituals often affirm heaven as home.

The spiritual based on the story of Elijah riding to heaven in a chariot of fire includes the phrase, “Swing low, sweet chariot, comin’ for to carry me home.” In the song “O Freedom,” each verse ends with: “And before I’d be a slave, I’d be buried in my grave. And go home to my Lord, and be free.” And the chorus in “Steal Away” includes this phrase: “steal away home, I ain’t got long to stay here.”

Early in the 20th century William Arms Fisher, a student of Antoin Dvorak, wrote a hymn to reflect African American spirituality using the Largo melody from Dvorak’s Symphony #9, known as the New World Symphony. The chorus affirms: “Going home, going home, I am going home.”

Modern hymns rarely refer to heaven as home, but survivors of near-death experiences often note the presence of a brilliant Light, a feeling of overwhelming Love, and that they are “home.” Here are three examples from physician and researcher Jeffrey Long’s 2016 book, God and the Afterlife.

Anna: It was the most real thing that’s ever happened to me. The life I’d been living was an insignificant experiment that I’d volunteered for. The me, the I, wasn’t Anna, the woman who’d just given birth. I was a light being—“light” in every sense. I was made of the same light as the light that shone from the clear pool in front of me. The light sensed and felt everything, thought and understood everything; it knew I was finally back home! The light was God.

Andy: The Light knows me, knows my name! Surrounding this Light form are millions of other Lights welcoming me back home. I know them all and they know me; we are all pieces of the same Light. I tell them, “It’s good to be back home.” I know we’re all home together again.

Sandy: The Light was a sparkling glowing cloud. I heard a voice in my head and knew it was God. We never talked about God at my house, and I never went to church, but I knew it was God. And I knew that this place, with this beautiful light that was God was my real home.

Going Home is about the spiritual reality of life after death, which we can experience before death, as the New Testament promises. And now thousands of those who have survived near-death are witnessing to their loss of fear of death and the Love that awaits each dying person.

With hope . . . Bob Traer

Gödel's reasons for an afterlife

Alexander T. Englert, “We'll meet again,” Aeon , Jan 2, 2024,