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.

 

Led by the Hand of Christ


LedByTheHandOfChristI love reading books about NDEs – Near Death Experiences. Last year I gathered a few dozen from my library and wrote short reviews. It continues to be a popular post. Since that time several readers have written to advise me of additional NDE books I might enjoy. For example, in December I read and reviewed Home and Back Again by Imelda and Thomas Fowler.

Email from the Author

Suzanne Freeman wrote me a few weeks ago and suggested I might enjoy her books, starting with Led by the Hand of Christ. I purchased them and sat down one evening last week to read the first one. I couldn’t put it down. It was an easy read – straightforward story-telling, fascinating material and inspiring. I don’t think it took more than a few hours to get through the 150 pages.

Additional Works by Suzanne

As this was her first book, Suzanne used the services of Shirley Bahlmann, a professional author. Although I haven’t read her second book, Through the Window of Life, the synopsis contains wording to the effect that makes the book comparable with Visions of Glory with scenes from the future. Her third book is entitled The Spirit of Liberty, relating yet more of her spirit world vision.

Favorable Book Reviews

The book generated favorable reviews on Amazon, Goodreads, Barnes and Noble and Google Books. I few readers mentioned the same thing I felt as I read the book, that perhaps there was some embellishment or writer’s license involved. After all, the writer did not experience the NDE, so she had to interpret what Suzanne was telling her. Still, Shirley interpreted it well.

Died on the Operating Table

No two NDEs are exactly the same, but many of them have similar elements. Suzanne’s had a very unique beginning. She died on the operating table of an ectopic pregnancy. Hovering in the upper corner of the operating room, all she wanted to do was return to her body. Her family needed her. As Suzanne relates it, she was stopped by the hand of Christ upon her shoulder.

She Told the Savior No

There was no long tunnel, no sense of going toward a bright light, only the desire to get back to her body and return to her family. The Savior told her there were some people who wanted to see her. Suzanne said no and struggled once again to return. The Lord had to hold her back, sternly calling her name to let her know it wasn’t time, but promising she could eventually return.

A Tour of Paradise

With this reassurance, Suzanne began a tour of the spirit world, meeting family members and famous individuals. She met prophets of the Bible and LDS history, as well as founding fathers and many presidents of the United States. An especially touching chapter relates a conversation with mother Eve, whom she describes as being very tall, at least seven feet, as well as Adam.

A Tenacious Mama Bear

A humorous theme throughout her travels is that everywhere she went she was celebrated and recognized as the woman who said “No” to Christ. She continually downplays the action, explaining her only desire was to return to her children who needed her. She even equates it to the tenacity of a “Mama Bear” when someone is standing between her and her little children.

Writing in the Book of Life

Suzanne learns much from the Savior, including the importance of building our self-esteem. He illustrates this when he takes her to a room full of white books, where he takes one down – hers – and writes in it of her desire to return to her children. She relates she was astounded, mentioning she knew lots of mothers who would have done the same. The scene seems highly symbolic.

Prayer for a Return of Memories

In fact, you may perhaps feel that much of what she relates is symbolic and maybe it is, but it is how she remembers it. Oh, about that. Suzanne tells when it was time to return to her body, the Savior told her she would not remember anything, but if she prayed, the memories would return. I can relate as my own experience in the spirit world at age seventeen took years to remember.

Some Complained is was Too Mormon

I always read the one and two star reviews after I write my own. I can relate to what they were saying – mainly that it was told from a very Mormon perspective. Yet, at the same time, some of the Mormon reviewers wrote the story did not jive with what they believed about paradise, so go figure. I guess it depends on what you expect. Again, I stress perhaps some of it was symbolic.

A Well-Edited, Well-Told Tale

I recommend the book. It was well-told and well-edited. I’m always delighted when reading a book that is well-edited. This was not self-published so it had the advantage of good editing. I have read a few books from Spring Creek, and recognized several of the authors and titles when I went to their website. It’s good to see an independent publisher making it in the Mormon world.

I Recommend You read the Book

I look forward to reading Suzanne’s other two books, which I also bought, and wish her well on her continued publishing journey. I am pleased to add her books to my NDE collection and to be able to recommend at least the first one so far. It takes courage to tell your story, even today with so many NDE books on the market. Read it and determine for yourself how much truth it relates.

 

The near death experience of an apostle


In keeping with the instruction from Brother Brigham in yesterday’s post, I add today the words of Heber C. Kimball, also from remarks made at the funeral of President Jedediah M. Grant, who died of pneumonia at the young age of forty, while faithfully serving in the First Presidency with Brigham and Heber. Again, the source is the Journal of Discourses, Volume 4, pp. 135-138 and the date is December 4, 1856.

“Jedediah is not dead. I went to see him one day last week, and he reached out his hand and shook hands with me; he could not speak, but he shook hands warmly with me. I felt for him, and wanted to raise him up, and to have him stay and help us whip the devils and bring to pass righteousness.

“I laid my hands upon him and blessed him, and asked God to strengthen his lungs that he might be easier, and in two or three minutes he raised himself up and talked for about an hour as busily as he could, telling me what he had seen and what he understood, until I was afraid he would weary himself, when I arose and left him.

Jedediah teaches of the spirit world

“He said to me, brother Heber, I have been into the spirit world two nights in succession, and, of all the dreads that ever came across me, the worst was to have to again return to my body, through I had to do it. But O, says he, the order and government that were there! When in the spirit world, I saw the order of righteous men and women; beheld them organized in their several grades, and there appeared to be no obstruction to my vision; I could see every man and woman in their grade and order.

“I looked to see whether there was any disorder there, but there was none; neither could I see any death nor any darkness, disorder or confusion. He said that the people he there saw were organized in family capacities; and when he looked at them he saw grade after grade, and all were organized and in perfect harmony. He would mention one item after another and say, “Why, it is just as brother Brigham says it is; it is just as he has told us many a time.”

“He saw the righteous gathered together in the spirit world, and there were no wicked spirits among them. He saw his wife; she was the first person that came to him. He saw many that he knew, but did not have conversation with any except his wife Caroline. She came to him, and he said that she looked beautiful and had their little child, that died on the Plains, in her arms, and said, “Mr. Grant, here is little Margaret; you know that the wolves ate her up, but it did not hurt her; here she is all right.”

Organization and buildings there

President Grant explained to Heber C. Kimball the importance of being true to our calling in this life and the effects of not being faithful. “To my astonishment,” he said, “when I looked at families there was a deficiency in some, there was a lack, for I saw families that would not be permitted to come and dwell together, because they had not honored their calling here.”

“He asked his wife Caroline where Joseph and Hyrum and Father Smith and others were; she replied, ‘they have gone away ahead, to perform and transact business for us.’ The same as when brother Brigham and his brethren left Winter Quarters and came here to search out a home; they came to find a location for their brethren.

“He also spoke of the buildings he saw there, remarking that the Lord gave Solomon wisdom and poured gold and silver into his hands that he might display his skill and ability, and said that the temple erected by Solomon was much inferior to the most ordinary buildings he saw in the spirit world.” This is consistent with the reports of others who have visited the spirit world.

Beautiful gardens in the spirit world

“In regard to gardens, says brother Grant, ‘I have seen good gardens on this earth, but I never saw any to compare with those that were there. I saw flowers of numerous kinds, and some with from fifty to a hundred different colored flowers growing upon one stalk.’ We have many kinds of flowers on the earth, and I suppose those very articles came from heaven, or they would not be here.

“After mentioning the things that he had seen, he spoke of how much he disliked to return and resume his body, after having seen the beauty and glory of the spirit world, where the righteous spirits are gathered together. Some may marvel at my speaking about these things, for many profess to believe that we have no spiritual existence.

“But do you not believe that my spirit was organized before it came to my body here? And do you not think there can be houses and gardens, fruit trees, and every other good thing there? The spirits of those things were made, as well as our spirits, and it follows that they can exist upon the same principle.

Jedediah Grant returns to his body

“After speaking of the gardens and the beauty of every thing there, brother Grant said that he felt extremely sorrowful at having to leave so beautiful a place and come back to earth, for he looked upon his body with loathing, but was obliged to enter it again.” He was very clear that the mortal body is very coarse and debilitating to our more fine and pure spirits.

“He said that after he came back he could look upon his family and see the spirit that was in them, and the darkness that was in them; and that he conversed with them about the Gospel, and what they should do, and they replied, ‘Well, brother Grant, perhaps it is so, and perhaps it is not,’ and said that was the state of this people, to a great extent, for many are full of darkness and will not believe me.

“I never had a view of the righteous assembling in the spirit world, but I have had a view of the hosts of hell, and have seen them as plainly as I see you today. The righteous spirits gather together to prepare and qualify themselves for a future day, and evil spirits have no power over them, though they are constantly striving for the mastery. I have seen evil spirits attempt to overcome those holding the Priesthood, and I know how they act.

Summary and conclusion

This is an apostle relating the experiences of another apostle who visited the spirit world two nights in succession before he died. I categorize it as a near death experience, obviously because he died immediately afterward, but also because he testifies that his spirit left his body. I have read many near-death experiences and believe them to be real, not figments of the imagination.

I was especially intrigued with President Grant’s description of his ability to see the spirits of his family members the next day when they came to visit him. He states clearly that some had darkness in them and would not believe that what he was relating was true. Apparently, the amount of light in our spirits is directly related to our faith and our obedience to the truth.

This is one of the most powerful near-death experiences that I have read from our rich history of spiritual experiences in the church. It teaches us so much about the reality of the spirit world and that there is work for us to do there. It is so important that we prepare ourselves for the rest of our education when we get there. We can do that best by faithful obedience to truth here.

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