This is a continuation from Part 1
19. The Gateway We Call Death, Russell M. Nelson, Deseret Book, 1995 – I get the impression this one was written as something you would give to a friend who had just suffered the loss of a loved one but didn’t understand doctrines of salvation. It’s a good little book but just a little too basic for me. There is a chapter on Life after Death and one entitled The Veil is Sometimes Thin but there’s just not a lot there beyond what you can already read in the scriptures or should have learned in Sunday school. Elder Nelson reminds us that “Our purpose in life is to be tested, to develop faith, to make and keep sacred covenants and later, to leave.” I’m afraid there in nothing in this book about NDEs or any real detail about what the spirit world is like. Joseph taught that we ought to study this subject more than any other. I’m constantly surprised by how little some people know about life after death. This is a good starter book for those who need some basics.
20. Embarrassed by the Light, Douglas Beardall, LDS Book Publications, 1995 – If you haven’t read Embraced by the Light then you won’t appreciate this book. Doug wrote it to counter all the embellishments he found in Betty Eadie’s book. If you weren’t around back in the early 90’s you may not remember the uproar Betty’s book caused in LDS circles because of contradictions to LDS doctrine and beliefs. People were quoting her book in Sunday classes and over the pulpit. I am fairly certain I recall someone reporting Boyd K Packer getting up in a stake conference and denouncing Betty’s book. I thought Doug was a little heavy in his rebuke but then I always like forcefully stated points of view. Whether you believe Bettie or not, take the time to read Doug’s rebuttal to get both sides of the story. No, Doug wasn’t there but one of his main points is that Betty’s story was embellished by Curtis Taylor with new-age stuff that simply didn’t happen. You decide for yourself. I’ve gone back and forth on some issues but agree with many he made.
21. Saved by the Light, Dannion Brinkley with Paul Perry, Villard Books, 1994 – This is one of the more controversial NDE books because it’s full of predictions about the future that failed to materialize. When I read how the visions of these future events were presented to him I had to put the book down for some time before I could finish it. In his NDE, beings of light came to him with little TV sets in their chests that showed future world events. He claimed to have seen in his 1975 NDE numerous major world events that happened prior to the publication of the book in 1994. Of course, I was immediately suspicious, especially because he also claimed to have seen events such as a 1995 nuclear accident in Norway that didn’t happen and the economic collapse of the United States prior to the year 2000. I had a hard time with this book when I read it and I still do. I don’t doubt he had an NDE, or three as he has claimed but I’m not too sure about his interpretations. Either he didn’t remember very well or he embellished them for some reason.
22. NDE – Near Death Experiences, by Lee Nelson and Richard Nelson, Cedar Fort, 1994 – Lee, who has written several previous volumes of life beyond the veil, collected stories of NDEs from people around him and published eighteen of them in this book. They are amazing stories, all of them, and well worth reading. Apparently some are repeats from the first three Beyond the Veil books. I found some of the online reviews a little half-hearted. One said, “An OK book if you’re into this kind of stuff.” They gave it three out of five stars. The reviewer apparently wasn’t into NDEs. I would give it five stars since I’m obviously into this kind of stuff. Each story was well written and well told. I enjoyed the book. Lee Nelson is a good writer. I think you’ll like it. Note: This is considered volume four of the Beyond the Veil series. I have volumes one and two.
23. Beyond Death’s Door, Robert L Top and Wendy C Top, Bookcraft, 1993 – Don’t confuse this one with the book of the same name by Maurice Rawlings (1991). I have read excerpts from that one and thought it would be interesting but decided against buying it based on the reviews. This book from Brent and Wendy Top examines NDEs in the light of LDS doctrine. This is a well written, well researched and well organized book. It’s one of the best from a conservative or cautious LDS viewpoint. It examines all the elements of NDEs and discusses them along with what we are taught in scripture. You’ll read about meeting a being of light, the commonly related experience of feeling not dead but seeing your dead body, the rapid life review, the tunnel of light, communicating via thought, high-speed or instant travel, expanded 360 degree vision, beautiful scenery, vegetation and buildings beyond any earthly beauty and the wonderful feeling of unconditional love and peace. There is even a section on hellish NDE’s which we don’t read about enough. Coincidently, Dr. Rawlings book of the same title addresses just that subject. I highly recommend this book by Brent and Wendy Top. Get a copy of you can. It’s a good read.
24. Reborn in the Light, Cherie Sutherland PhD, Bantam Books 1992 – If you want to read a well written professional review of NDEs, this book is for you. It was originally written as a dissertation and as such, is full of facts, scientific methodology, analysis and case studies. In other words, it was not written for sensationalism or emotional impact. Bantam capitalized on the success of Bettie Eadie’s book when they came out with this one so it also sold well. I remember I enjoyed it better than Betty’s book it because of the scientific / academic approach. But the book is not for everybody. It’s long, detailed, drawn-out in places and contains stuff that you may not be looking for if you just want to get to the meat of NDE stories. There are thousands of such stories out there, perhaps millions. It seems every book has unique stories to tell. This one is no different but the commentary in dissecting the stories makes this one more worthwhile to me. If you want to know how experiencing an NDE changed fifty Australians into more loving, caring, sensitive, happy and fulfilled people, then this book will be helpful to you. It was to me.
25. Embraced by the Light, Betty J Eadie with Curtis Taylor, Gold Leaf Press, 1992 – This is by far the most controversial book on this list. If you haven’t read it, you must in order to be well informed about the NDE literature out there. It’s still available, it’s still being reviewed and it’s still causing strong emotional response on both sides. Good for you Betty and Curtis. In other words, it’s a successful book. Does it contain truth? Yes. Does it contain errors? Yes. Does it contain pernicious falsehoods that will damn you to hell if you believe them? You decide. I made my mind up years ago when I first read it. My review might have been a one-star because of how contrived and misleading it is, but if I were judging solely on the salability of the product, she gets five stars – or rather Curtis does, since he really wrote it. To understand the controversy, read the one-star reviews on Amazon and elsewhere. Or you can read number twenty on this list, Embarrassed by the Light from my friend Doug Beardall. But you really should read the book and form your own opinion. Betty is a nice lady who probably had an NDE but I’m not so sure the interpretation we got in her book is accurate, reliable or believable. It negates the good stuff. Read what Max Skousen had to say about Betty’s book here. He was responding to Jerry Lund.
26. Closer to the Light, Melvin Morse with Paul Perry, Willard Books, 1990 – This one is sad for me, mainly because I learned the author was recently charged with torture of his eleven-year-old daughter. This book was a bestseller at the time of publication. He was interviewed on Oprah, Larry King and other shows. It is specifically about Near-Death Experiences of children. At the time I read the book I thought it was well-researched and well-written. After all, Dr. Morse is a recognized authority in the field of near-death studies. His book was endorsed by Dr. Raymond Moody. I enjoyed the book and learned much from it. He published a later book on the same subject entitled Transformed by the Light (1993) which is about how NDEs transform people. It is similar to Cherie Sutherland’s Reborn in the Light (1992). Seems like everyone was writing some sort of book about NDEs back then and making sure they had something about the light in the title. I don’t know if you can get past his current problems and get some good out of this one that did well back in the 90’s. Perhaps focusing on the beauty and innocence of children will help. I hope the charges prove to be false. The torture charge stems from his daughter’s claim that he held her face under running water as a form of punishment and called it waterboarding. As his lawyer said, he has already been tried in the court of public opinion and the media. So sad.
27. Beyond the Veil – Volume Two, Lee Nelson, Cedar Fort, 1989 – For those who don’t know, Lee Nelson has published at least 36 books. He is mainly known for his Storm Testament series of fiction. I confess I haven’t read them. He relates in his forward that the reception to the first volume was enthusiastic and the outpouring of additional stories from readers prompted the second volume to be published. The publisher continued in their prologue to admonish their readers not to share these stories but to allow them to be read and cherished but not discussed from a doctrinal point of view. Where’s the fun in that? The stories are enjoyable, add to the body of available literature on the subject and enhanced my understanding of how the spirit world works. I recommend the book and will probably buy a used copy of volume three soon.
28. Beyond the Veil – Volume One, Lee Nelson, Cedar Fort, 1988 – I think the publisher’s forward speaks volumes about these books. They expressed a concern that the stories would not be believed and a concern that the project to publish the stories would be seen as purely for commercial gain. Well, they wouldn’t be a book publisher worth their salt if they didn’t expect to make money off the project. As far as being believed, there are far too many people in the world who have experienced NDEs for themselves or know someone who has for them to not be believed. But I guess they didn’t know that at the time. They also expressed that many of those who contributed the stories were reticent to share for fear of being misunderstood. Thus, the publisher asked specifically that the stories not be passed on orally but only read and pondered in private in order to avoid any distortion or inclination to sensationalize. OK, I get it, but some of the stories were so wonderful that I just had to discuss them with others. Sorry. Get the books.
29. The Light Beyond, Raymond A Moody Jr MD, Bantam Books, 1988 – The follow-up to Dr. Moody’s best-selling first book, Life After Life, this must-read book adds to our knowledge of the spirit world as we learn about meeting deceased loved ones in the afterlife, experiencing an increase in knowledge and the ability to absorb knowledge, the idea of guardian angels, and the way an NDE changes us. As I’ve written elsewhere, my own NDE way back in 1974 changed my life forever. I did not go as deep into it as many experienced and mine was a descent into hell but I was never the same again. My values changed. I understood better the purpose of life and decided I wanted to use my life to prepare to the fullest for my eventual transition to the spirit world. This book addresses the transforming power of NDEs in the lives of those who survive and provides helpful commentary on why an NDE isn’t mental illness, something that is still a problem in our society. If someone claims they almost died and want to tell you about it, then we should be kind and listen with love. Who knows, you might learn something. I know I have.
30. The Journey Beyond Life – Volume One, Michele R. Sorensen and David R. Willmore, Family Affair Books, 1988 – Guess what? There is no volume Two. Not sure if this was written to capitalize upon the demand for books about NDEs but they did a good job and I’m glad I read it. It includes numerous NDEs not found elsewhere, great analysis and even better scriptural and doctrinal support for what is shared. Even though I picked it up at Deseret Book, I wonder why they didn’t publish it. In fact, the only two books from Deseret on my list are both very timid about the subject. Is reading about NDEs considered not acceptable in the LDS church? You decide for yourself. I like the study guides or question and answer section at the end of each chapter. The doctrine and the supporting scriptures are presented there while the interesting NDE stories compose the chapters. This is a good book. I enjoyed it. I recommend it. I wonder if the other book they published together called When the Spirit Whispers is considered volume two.
31. The Unquiet Dead, Dr. Edith Fiore, Ballantine Books, 1987 – Now this one moves beyond the idea of encountering spirits in an NDE and provides what for me is evidence of the reality of spirits who want to possess, to harm or destroy us. Because of my own experience with evil spirits in my NDE, I was fascinated that someone, a professional with medical experience was willing to publish a book that was sure to be mocked by our modern, sophisticated society. How many people do you know who are comfortable talking about spirit possession? Besides the idea that most people have a fear of even talking about spirits, so also many I talk to are afraid their friends will think them foolish for even considering the concept might be worth studying. Even in the LDS church, it is not a comfortable subject. I have written about it numerous times and still get private emails from both camps – one side claiming I’m doing everyone a disservice by writing about this stuff and the other side saying I am not being assertive enough in sharing what I know. Sorry, I’m not providing a very good book review. Bottom line: I highly recommend you read this book and take seriously the idea that there are spirits among us who want to possess us. Be aware that Dr. Fiore has some strange ideas about reincarnation that take some getting used to. Just remember that she’s talking about the past lives of the spirits who possess her patients.
32. Return From Tomorrow, George G Ritchie with Elizabeth Sherrill, Spire Books, 1978 – I loved this when I first read it. I was introduced to it by a friend who wanted to point out the things George witnessed when he saw a group of spirits in a bar just waiting to get into the bodies of men who passed out drunk. George had died and his spirit went on a journey trying to get back home when he witnessed this scene. He came back to life ten minutes after he died. I’ve written extensively on my other blog about this book and the things George saw. This book was instrumental in my accepting the idea that there are spirits of the dead around us in this world that are not in a separate place. They are alive and can see us even if we can’t see them. I’m still amazed by the number of people who have no clue about this fact, don’t believe it or worse, believe it is a false doctrine of the devil. Get over it folks, there are spirits around us. Once you can accept that fact, read The Unquiet Dead and then read Conquering Spiritual Evil. But be warned, that reading path is not one to be taken lightly. But then, I’m a fan of William James.
33. Spirit World Manifestations, Joseph Heinerman, Magazine Printing, 1978 – If you enjoyed Temple Manifestations (#35 below) then you’ll enjoy this one even more. It’s also more in line with the subject being considered. There are numerous stories of individuals being visited by angels, being taken on tours of the spirit world and of several NDEs which is why it belongs on this list. If you are like me and wonder why we do not hear as much about spiritual experiences or visits from angels in our church today, then this book will be a comfort and a revelation to you. Most all the stories are from our early church history, none later than the 1930s or so it seemed to me. What has happened to our church? Why do we not talk about piercing the veil and entertaining angels as we used to? Has our faith failed? Are we condemned for our lack of faith? In any event, this book always gets me thinking about how much more at ease the early members of the church were about relating experiences involving the spirit world. This is a great book.
34. Life After Life, Raymond A Moody Jr MD, Mockingbird Books / Bantam Books, 1975 – This is the classic that some say started it all. Personally, I say Duane Crowther’s book was first by a decade but of course it only sold in LDS circles at the time. Life after Life was a bestseller with millions sold – more than 13 million now. It did so well because for the first time, a medical doctor came out and said there may be something to these NDE stories that doctors and nurses had been hearing for years from patients who had been resuscitated. Modern medical emergency procedures increased the number of people who survived a near-death experience to the point where there were too many to ignore. Who better than the medical personnel who heard them first to share them seriously? So Dr. Moody did just that. He interviewed more than a hundred people who experienced clinical death and were revived. He then compiled and correlated the similarities into the standard NDE themes we know today – the out of body experience, the tunnel, the light, the interview, the boundary and the return. This is a great book with lots of case studies, commentary and impressions – not conclusions – at the end. You make those yourself.
35. Temple Manifestations, Joseph Heinerman, Magazine Printing, 1974 – You may wonder why I include this one in a list about NDEs, life after death and the spirit world. It’s one my favorite LDS publications in my library from the 70’s. It has some amazing stories in it. The stories are inspirational, unusual and faith promoting. They are also all true according to Bro. Heinerman. As is stated on the back cover, “…it has been a constant desire among Mormons to erect holy houses unto the Most High God so that heavenly personages can reveal themselves to mortals in wonderful temple manifestations.” And reveal themselves they do. There are numerous stories in the book of those who witnessed visits from relatives and others who had passed beyond the veil. One of my favorites is from a brother confirming at the font in St George who wondered if those whose work was being done were aware of it. He described the vision of seeing the good sisters react as their names were called and the proxy baptisms were performed. There are lots more similar stories in there about the first nine temples of this dispensation. I recommend the book.
36. Life Everlasting, Duane S Crowther, Bookcraft, 1967 – The book contains hundreds of NDEs published early in our church history. It also relates the personal experience of the author’s daughter drying and seeing those in the spirit world. It was one of the first books I read on the subject of life after death. I was a teenager when I read it just after my uncle died. It is a classic on the subject and has guided me for many years in my thoughts in this area. Many people think the NDE publishing phenomenon started with Life After Life by Dr. Moody but this one was the first for me. No matter what you think of Duane Crowther’s books, I highly recommend this one.
Suggestions and additions welcomed. Want to discuss? Leave a comment.
Filed under: Doctrine, Mormon culture, Personal Revelation | Tagged: Angels, Death, dreams, Eternal Life, Everlasting Life, NDE, Near Death Experiences, Spirit world, The Veil, Visions | 10 Comments »