Through the Window of Life


ThroughTheWindowOfLifeThis is a short review of the second of Suzanne Freeman’s trilogy of books based on her near death experience (NDE) of 1999. I reviewed the first, Led by the Hand of Christ (2004) last week and hope to review her final book in the series, The Spirit of Liberty (2013) sometime in the near future. Through the Window of Life was published in 2006, “as told to” author Shirley Bahlmann.

A Trilogy of Books From One NDE

This book is different from Led by the Hand of Christ, which was more of a first-hand, “here’s what happened to me” sort of book. Through the Window of Life tells of a stopping point along the way in her NDE that is more of a vision and compares favorably to the book Visions of Glory by Spencer as told to John Pontius. This is not your typical NDE book. It is more of a vision.

A Vision of Potential Future Events

Many readers have shared with me their main difficulty in reading NDEs is the required faith or wiling suspension of disbelief to learn new and different things and even unique ways of looking at this life and life in the spirit world differently from what many people assume or are taught. Through the Window of Life is so well told it reads like LDS fiction, making it easy to consume.

The Book is an Easy Read

I read the 132 pages in about two hours last night. Carol and I had enjoyed a beautiful one-day trip to Santa Barbara to visit our son so I was tired and didn’t want to do any deep doctrinal study when I got home. Reading Through the Window of Life was just the ticket. I sat next to Carol while she read one of her romance novels. We listened to “The Voice” in the background on TV.

Some Things That “May” Happen

I was enthralled from the beginning. Having just finished her first book, she led us to the point where the Savior asks her to view some things that “may” happen before he returns to the earth. I looked back through Led by the Hand of Christ to see if she refers to the room where most of Through the Window of Life takes place. Maybe someone else can point it out. I couldn’t find it.

An Interesting Publisher’s Note

The publisher’s note of explanation is interesting. It reads in part, “Some generalized events have been condensed into one representative example for clarity.” Also, “…her interview included accounts of her consciousness moving back and forth between living through the events leading to the Second Coming of Christ and watching the action unfold through the Window of Life…”

Written as Though She Experienced it

“…her story is written as though she experienced all of it. This format provides continuity for the reader.” It then notes “…some lessons…are italicized so readers can differentiate them from the experiences that she personally experienced.” I had to think twice about this explanation. It can be easily interpreted, “what she shares is from her imagination, not necessarily what happened.”

“As Told To” Someone Else

I know that sounds a little harsh and I’m not saying Suzanne made any of this up. I’m just saying the publisher’s note can be interpreted that way. If you want to read the book as fiction, then it’s darn good fiction, just as some people have read Visions of Glory as a work of fiction. I’m not calling this book or Spencer’s book fiction. I’m just saying they both read as well-written fiction.

An Amazing Attitude Through Trials

I was extremely impressed with Suzanne’s faith. In her vision she lived through a deadly plague, generously shared her food storage, sent her husband and sons off to war, left her home forever, hiked over rugged mountainous terrain, dealt with death, threats by an unknown enemy, attacks of attempted terrorizing warfare on her group and lived with only a single change of clothes.

Pressing on to Jackson County

Suzanne and her group continue their journey to Missouri after getting through the mountains. But I had to ask myself, “Well, either the prophecies in the Old Testament are mistaken or Joseph was mistaken in declaring Independence to be the place for Zion to be built (section 57). There is a glorious future for Independence but Zion first gathers in the tops of the mountains.

Location of The City of Zion

If you’re a regular reader of my blog you know I disagree with the location of the city of Zion. I do not believe it is to be built in the flat land of Independence Missouri, but somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. I have shared my logic and reasoning on this unusual position in a previous post. I differ from most LDS folks, including Carol who served her mission in Independence.

Return of Ten Tribes and City of Enoch

I guess that’s the only difficulty I had with the book. I couldn’t quite place the timing of when all the events portrayed were supposed to be taking place. I agree with the prophecies of plagues, invading armies, collapse of the United States, both economically and politically, but somehow all of a sudden, Suzanne is walking alongside the Ten Tribes and then the inhabitants of Enoch.

Everyone Shall See it Together

I know you’re supposed to give spoiler alerts for works of fiction, but according to the publisher, this is not a work of fiction, but a foretelling of “one way things may happen” in the future. If the Ten Tribes are already here, then I can accept them just showing up, but not the City of Enoch. The lack of anyone pointing upward at an approaching planet or piece of the earth troubles me.

A Few Concluding Thoughts

So there you have it. I won’t share much more other than these two objections: 1) The location of the gathering of the people of Zion along with the building of the City of Zion and 2) The lack of any notice by anyone in the vision that the City of Enoch has returned. According to scripture, it is a big deal. The Lord will come with the City of Enoch. Not so in Suzanne’s Window of Life.

Bottom line Recommendation

This is a great book to read and a fascinating story, but it doesn’t seem to jive with the scriptures, or at least my understanding of the scriptures. Still, I recommend you read this book, Through the Window of Life. You don’t need to read her first book before this one. It stands on its own. I found it an enjoyable experience. Just remember, things “may” or “may not” happen in this way.

 

In the Tops of the Mountains


IndependenceTempleSignAs I was preparing my talk for sacrament meeting next week I thought I would look up and see what Denver Snuffer had to say on the subject. Oh boy. There’s no way I could share some of that stuff from the pulpit. It simply goes against what prophets and apostles have taught over the years on the same subject. Yet, as I read it, the majority of it made sense. See if you agree.

The subject is Becoming the Pure in Heart. Of course, that has to do with preparing for Zion. I suppose it doesn’t really matter where Zion is to be located. That’s not the essential point of the talk. But it is a matter of history that we believe Zion is to be located in Independence, Missouri. In fact, we have it in the scriptures. In the heading to section 57, we read that Joseph asked:

Independence Missouri is Zion

“When will the wilderness blossom as the rose? When will Zion be built up in her glory, and where will Thy temple stand, unto which all nations shall come in the last days?” The Lord’s response in verses 1-3 was “…the land of Missouri, which is the land which I have appointed and consecrated for the gathering of the saints.

“Wherefore, this is the land of promise, and the place for the city of Zion. And thus saith the Lord your God, if you will receive wisdom here is wisdom. Behold, the place which is now called Independence is the center place; and a spot for the temple is lying westward, upon a lot which is not far from the courthouse.”

Zion Shall Not Be Moved

After the saints were expelled from Jackson county, the Lord revealed in section 101:17-19: “Zion shall not be moved out of her place, notwithstanding her children are scattered. They that remain, and are pure in heart, shall return, and come to their inheritances, they and their children, with songs of everlasting joy, to build up the waste places of Zion — And all these things that the prophets might be fulfilled.”

And yet from Denver (23 Feb 2012) we read: “I do not think Zion will initially be where people think it will. I do not think Zion will be at all what people think it will be. … I do not think Zion will be an institutional enterprise. …there is reason to suspect that our presumption that the New Jerusalem will be in Independence Missouri is somewhat misplaced.

A Preliminary Gathering Place

“I am persuaded it will not be there until after the Lord’s return. There will be a location elsewhere, in the Rocky Mountains, where the preliminary gathering to a Holy City to be built will occur before the Lord’s return. Then, following His return, activities will also involve Jackson County. … The initial gathering before the Lord’s return will be in the Rocky Mountains.”

And from an entry dated 12 Sep 2010, we read: “…when it [Zion] is built, it will be at the place always prophesied for its construction. Zion was to be located on the top of the high mountains.  (Isa. 40: 9.) Jackson County has no mountains, no mountain range, no possibility of fulfilling the promised environs for establishing Zion. (Isa. 2: 3.)

Fulfillment of Ancient Scripture

“Make the descriptions ‘spiritual’ if you want, but a mountain setting is clearly required for the prophesied Zion. … Zion was always intended to be built upon the mountain top. (Isa. 30: 17.) Even a valley location in Salt Lake cannot answer to the description given in prophecy. A valley floor is not the “top of the mountain” upon which the beacon will be set. Zion has never been moved. Nor will it.”

Continuing a little in that entry: “There is no doubt a glorious future for Jackson County. But that will be by and by. There is a gathering in the tops of the mountains which must precede that. If there is not a gathering in the mountains first, then ancient and modern prophecy will fail. There is to be a gathering within the boundaries of the everlasting hills. (D&C 133: 31-32.) Zion will flourish upon the mountains. (D&C 49:25.) There aren’t any places in Missouri that qualify for this preliminary gathering.”

What do you Think?

I think Denver is right. The initial gathering of Zion will be somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Which makes me wonder about the visions of Spencer in Visions of Glory who wrote very specifically about being involved in the building of the temples in Independence and his activities there as a “base of operations” so to speak. Will there be a temple in the tops of the mountains or is that reserved for Missouri? What are your thoughts?

By the way, here are the talks I was given as resources, and from which I will quote from the pulpit (only):

Come to Zion! Come to Zion!” (Keith B. McMullin, Ensign, November 2002)
Come to Zion” (D. Todd Christofferson, Ensign, November 2008)
Becoming the Pure in Heart” (Spencer W. Kimball, Ensign, May 1978)
Stand Ye in Holy Places” (Lance B. Wickman, Ensign, November 1994)

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