Near Death Experiences and the Afterlife • near-death.com • A near-death experience is one in which an individual reports making a transition from earthly life to an afterlife, and then soon returning to earthly life rather than continuing in the afterlife, all while their body appears dead or nearly dead.
There are many sites which deal with one or a few examples of these phenomena, but this site collects several dozen of them in a systematic way. Among the outstanding stories on this site:
- Daniel Rosenblit’s experience verifies truths from several faiths, both Eastern and Western.
- Arthur Yensen, a former atheist, gives information on religion and reincarnation.
- Howard Storm relates how he first went to hell, then heaven, where among other things was told about the future of the United States.
Official Medjugorje site • medjugorje.hr • Alleged apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Medjugorje (or Međugorje), a village in Bosnia. These alleged apparitions started in 1981 to a group of what were then children aged 10 to 17, and they have continued daily up to the present. These messages of these apparitions emphasize peace, reconciliation, and turning to God.
Her basic message in her own words:
I have come to tell the world that God exists. He is the fullness of life, and to enjoy this fullness and peace, you must return to God.
In these messages, she does not seek conversion to Catholicism, but she does seek conversion from unspiritual to spiritual.
In another message, she replied to a Catholic priest who questioned the healing of a little child whose parents were Orthodox Christians. He questioned the healing because he viewed the Orthodox faith as the faith of the “enemy” of Croatian Catholics. The question was put to the Virgin Mary through one of the visionaries of Medjugorje, and the reply was as follows:
Tell this priest, tell everyone, that it is you who are divided on earth. The Muslims and the Orthodox, for the same reason as Catholics, are equal before God, as St. Paul says. It does not suffice to belong to the Catholic Church to be saved, but it is necessary to respect the commandments of God in following one’s conscience. Those who are not Catholics are no less creatures made in the image of God, and destined to rejoin someday the House of the Father. Salvation is available to everyone, without exception. Only those who refuse God deliberately are condemned. To him who has been given little, little will be asked for. To whoever has been given much, very much will be required. It is God alone, in His infinite justice, who determines the degree of responsibility and pronounces judgment.
The Workers of Our Lady of Mount Carmel (of Garabandal) • garabandal.us • Alleged apparitions of the Blessed Virgin Mary in Garabandal, a village in Spain, in 1961–1965. Over 3,000 apparitions were reported by four girls initially aged 11 and 12. The messages of these apparitions ask for everyone to turn back to God and to lead good lives. Otherwise there will be a great chastisement.
The messages predict three major events:
- The Warning. Everyone in the world, at the same time, will find themselves alone before God and will see their sins and the results of their sins. Others before and since have also predicted this event, calling it the “illumination of all consciences.”
- The Miracle. A public manifestation that will be so spectacular that everyone will recognize that it comes from God. It will show in an outstanding way that God loves everyone. It will come within 12 months after the Warning, and one will be able to see and photograph it but not touch it.
- The Chastisement. A terrible disaster which will befall those who do not heed the Warning. It will come from God, not man. Its purpose is not to punish but to reprimand those who do not follow God. The four girls said they were once given a preview of the chastisement, and they screamed the whole time. It can be avoided by turning back to God.
The Padre Pio Foundation of America • padrepio.com • St. Padre Pio was a remarkable Catholic priest of the 20th century. He had many powers, including clairvoyance, clairaudience, prophecy, and bilocation. He used these powers to inspire those who came to him to pursue a spiritual path within the Catholic Church. As he once summarized his message:
We must love, love, love and nothing else.
Lorna Byrne is an Irish woman who has regularly seen and conversed with angels since she was a baby. Her early life was difficult. She was thought to be mentally retarded, since she did not focus on her surroundings as others did and she was not allowed to express to other people the celestial side of life that she regularly interacted with. This eventually changed. She now regularly speaks and writes about her experiences, and troubled people often call on her for divine assistance.
Howard Storm was an art professor and self-professed atheist who had a profound near-death experience in 1985. During his experience, he was at first led to a hellish place and then to a very heavenly place. In heaven, he was able to ask numerous questions and obtain profound answers from those he identified as Jesus and other saintly persons. After his experience, he became an enthusiastic Christian and eventually a Protestant minister.
The following passages are from a mysterious book called Mister God, This Is Anna. The book identified the author only as “Fynn” but it is now known to be Sydney Hopkins, whose career in the oil industry had barely begun when it was cut short by a fall, after which he lived in a therapeutic community.
Whether the book is fiction or biography is still unclear. It tells the story of precocious girl named Anna, who lived in a poor part of London between the world wars and lived only to the age of six.
In this passage, Anna is complaining to Fynn about her math teacher.
“What’s wrong with Miss Haynes?”
“Do-lally-tap. She’s barmy.”
“Can’t be, she’s a school-ma’am. You can’t be a school-ma’am if you’re do-lally.”
“What makes you think?”
“She said I can’t know everything.”
“Guess she’s right.”
“Suppose your noodle’s not big enough.”
“That’s the outside.”
“Pardon me. I forgot.”
“I can know everything inside.”
“How many things are there?”
“More than numbers?”
“No, more numbers than things.”
“I know all the numbers. Not the names, that’s outside; just the numbers, that’s the inside.”
“Yes, I guess so.”
“How many squiggle waves on that ’cilloscope?”
“You know how to make squillions?”
“You seen them all?”
“No, that’s the outside.”
“Fynn, Mister God doesn’t love us.” She hesitated. “He doesn’t really, you know, only people can love. I love Bossy [a cat], but Bossy don’t love me. I love the pollywogs, but they don’t love me. I love you Fynn, and you love me, don’t you? … You love me because you are people. I love Mister God truly, but he don’t love me.”
“No,” she went on, “no, he don’t love me, not like you do, it’s different, it’s millions of times bigger.”
“Fynn, you can love better than any people that ever was, and so can I, can’t I? But Mister God is different. You see Fynn, people can only love outside and can only kiss outside, but Mister God can love you right inside, and Mister God can kiss you right inside, so it’s different. Mister God ain’t like us; we are a little bit like Mister God, but not much yet.”
“Fynn, why do people have fights and wars and things?”
I explained to the best of my ability.
“Fynn, what is the word for when you see it in a different way?”
After a minute or two scrabbling about, the precise phrase she wanted was dredged out of me, the phrase, point of view.
“Fynn, that’s the difference. You see, everybody has got a point of view, but Mister God hasn’t. Mister God only has points to view.”
… Let me see now. Humanity has an infinite number of points of view. God has an infinite number of viewing points. That means—God is everywhere. I jumped.
Anna burst into peals of laughter. “You see,” she said, “you see?” I did, too.
Gospel Gems • A collection of outstanding quotes from the Gospels.
Black Elk (1863–1950) was a famous holy man of the Oglala Lakota, also knows as Sioux, a North American Indian tribe. (I have heard that many Indians prefer that term, because it carries more emotional punch than terms like “Native Americans” or “First Nation.”) Black Elk was a second cousin of the famous Lakota warrior Crazy Horse. In 1876, at the age of 12, Black Elk participated in the Battle of Little Big Horn, and he was injured at the Wounded Knee Massacre in 1890.
In 1931, Black Elk collaborated with John G. Neihardt to write a memoir, published later that year as Black Elk Speaks (full text here). Black Elk had several visions in which he met the spirits that guide the universe. Here is an excerpt from a vision he had at the age of 9:
I could see … there two men were coming from the clouds, headfirst like arrows slanting down … Each now carried a long spear, and from the points of these a jagged lightning flashed. They … looked at me and said “Hurry! Come! Your Grandfathers are calling you!” … When I got up to follow … I was very light … Now suddenly there was nothing but a world of cloud, and we three were there alone in the middle of a great white plain with snowy hills and mountains staring at us … I looked and saw a bay horse standing there, and he began to speak, “Behold me!” he said, “My life-history you shall see.” Then he heeled about to where the sun goes down, and said: “Behold them! Their history you shall know.” I looked, and there were twelve black horses yonder all abreast … but I was frightened, because their manes were lightning and there was thunder in their nostrils … The bay horse said, “Your Grandfathers are having a council” … The oldest of the Grandfathers spoke with a kind voice and said: … “Your Grandfathers all over the world are having a council, and they have called you here to teach you”…
In his book Following the Equator, Mark Twain records how he met God in India. In 1894, after losing all his money in a publishing business, Twain decided to travel around the world, write a book about it, and use the proceeds to restore his fortune. It worked.
About a third of the book is about his three month stay in India. The following excerpt from chapter 39 recounts his meeting with God.
There was a rap at the door. Satan [the name Twain gave to his Indian servant] covered the ground with a single skip; there was a word or two of Hindostani, then he disappeared. Three minutes later he was before me again, militarily erect, and waiting for me to speak first.
“What is it, Satan?”
“God want to see you.”
“God. I show him up, master?”
“Why, this is so unusual, that—that—well, you see indeed I am so unprepared—I don’t quite know what I do mean. Dear me, can’t you explain? Don’t you see that this is a most ex——”
“Here his card, master.”
Wasn’t it curious—and amazing, and tremendous, and all that? Such a personage going around calling on such as I, and sending up his card, like a mortal—sending it up by Satan. It was a bewildering collision of the impossibles. But this was the land of the Arabian Nights, this was India! and what is it that cannot happen in India?
We had the interview. Satan was right—the Visitor was indeed a God in the conviction of his multitudinous followers, and was worshiped by them in sincerity and humble adoration. They are troubled by no doubts as to his divine origin and office. They believe in him, they pray to him, they make offerings to him, they beg of him remission of sins; to them his person, together with everything connected with it, is sacred; from his barber they buy the parings of his nails and set them in gold, and wear them as precious amulets.
I tried to seem tranquilly conversational and at rest, but I was not. Would you have been? I was in a suppressed frenzy of excitement and curiosity and glad wonder. I could not keep my eyes off him. I was looking upon a god, an actual god, a recognized and accepted god; and every detail of his person and his dress had a consuming interest for me. And the thought went floating through my head, “He is worshiped—think of it—he is not a recipient of the pale homage called compliment, wherewith the highest human clay must make shift to be satisfied, but of an infinitely richer spiritual food: adoration, worship!—men and women lay their cares and their griefs and their broken hearts at his feet; and he gives them his peace; and they go away healed.”
And just then the Awful Visitor said, in the simplest way—“There is a feature of the philosophy of Huck Finn which”—and went luminously on with the construction of a compact and nicely-discriminated literary verdict.
It is a land of surprises—India! I had had my ambitions—I had hoped, and almost expected, to be read by kings and presidents and emperors—but I had never looked so high as That. It would be false modesty to pretend that I was not inordinately pleased. I was. I was much more pleased than I should have been with a compliment from a man.
He remained half an hour, and I found him a most courteous and charming gentleman. The godship has been in his family a good while, but I do not know how long. … He is comely; also young—for a god; not forty, perhaps not above thirty-five years old. He wears his immense honors with tranquil grace, and with a dignity proper to his awful calling. He speaks English with the ease and purity of a person born to it. I think I am not overstating this. He was the only god I had ever seen, and I was very favorably impressed. When he rose to say good-bye, the door swung open and I caught the flash of [Satan’s] red fez, and heard these words, reverently said—
“Satan see God out?”
“Yes.” And these mis-mated Beings passed from view, Satan in the lead and The Other following after.
Marshall Ball • marshallball.com • Marshall (born 1986) cannot speak or walk. He communicates through a large keyboard while his mother holds up his elbow as a fulcrum. Yet since the age of five he has written amazingly precocious and touching poetry and essays. Strangely, he often knows the meanings and spellings of words he has never heard. Even more amazing is the powerful impact he has on everyone he meets. Here are a few pieces from his first book, Kiss of God.
Even though my individuality finds sweet knowing perfection, I listen for the answers to wishes from above. [written at age 6]
Victory is here. It gives us that room to quietly title our thoughts. To grow happily, quiet understanding takes bald, good, real thinking. That sweet thinking never attempts to arrange us. That pure, meager, bald, sweet victory, easily loves. [age 9]
I know I can finely love dear callused beautiful kissing real peoples’ golden listening hearts. [age 12]
I hope to gather thinkers to give them my thoughts about Love. Love to clean their ideas. That cleaning might loosen the love in their hearts. Good thinkers take LOVE to heart like gold in the evening, wild sun. [age 13]
The Atmosphere Perfect Love Touches the Listener
Really sweet words reveal my feelings, like somethig reverent. I think poor thinking touches sweet thought like something from the storm! Perhaps the storm may make you grow because feelings listen to their sweet tumultuous waves, very roomy. Would you like real waves touching sweetly like fine words victoriously received? I find there is something dear in freedom of thought to feel. I love sharing my thoughts. Perhaps, hate stops when find thinking is here. The poor only start to progress in the atmosphere of Love. Will we find the answers in the big knowing atmosphere of thoughts? My thinking is Love will take us to the atmosphere of Love! Clearly, the atmosphere of Love is finely touching our hearts! The Love is for you to take from your sweet real clear understanding. [undated]