Q & A with Tim Malone, Author of Latter-day Commentary


ldc-blog-imageQ: How has your perception of Latter-day Commentary changed since its inception?

In many respects, the direction of this simple blog has turned completely around. When I started blogging almost eight years ago, my intent was to help combat what I perceived to be a plethora of misinformation out there about the doctrines I knew to be true, or that I grew up believing. I now find myself presenting reasons why what I originally thought was false doctrine may indeed be worth considering, especially since early documents support that Joseph originally taught it.

In other respects, the intent and focus of the blog has not changed at all. My intent was to share my gospel study and learning experiences. I have always appreciated teaching, have taught the gospel all my life and enjoyed making lesson plans or outlines of subjects and then fleshing them out with scriptures and quotes. That has not changed. What has changed is my perception of the truth. I have had to jettison some false beliefs that were based solely on tradition. Gratefully, I was prepared. I frequented many LDS group blogs for several years before I started my own.

Although I felt prompted and inspired to start the blog and made it a matter of prayer, I do not say the Lord told me to start the blog, only that I find a way to bring greater motivation to my life in the area of gospel study. I have shared many talks and lessons on my blog that I also gave in the gospel doctrine class or delivered from the pulpit over the years. Sometime last year I felt to dedicate the blog to the Lord and let Him use it for His purposes. Things changed radically. I found myself led to invite others to share the audience I had built up over seven years of work.

ds-blog-imageQ: You’ve had both positive and negative feedback from readers about some of the content regarding DS and the work currently underway. What was your initial reaction to his writings? Can you elaborate on the challenges of retaining your faith in light of recognizing discrepancies in the traditional narrative of the church?

I appreciate both kinds of comments from readers, especially those who can and do form cogent arguments in response to what Denver has written and what I have tried to explain in my own words. I am not always successful in understanding all the intricacies of the doctrines put forth. I may be seeing only a small part of what is being presented in the post and entirely missing how such a radically different view affects families and individuals in situations dissimilar to mine.

My initial reaction to Denver Snuffer’s work was positive. It was a revelatory experience. When I tried to share what I had read with others, I was saddened by how negatively they reacted. It was especially difficult as I tried to discuss what I felt was enlightenment from the Holy Ghost with my wife, who I consider my equal in our knowledge of church history. After all, she served her mission in Independence Missouri, with a Mission President teaching the standard narrative.

On the other hand, my mission president was a convert and always encouraged the missionaries to “push the envelope” in our studies. He did not shy away from inspiring us to reach out and understand the mysteries. He would say, “They are only mysteries because you haven’t studied them.” It’s funny that both our Mission Presidents were CES employees but Carol’s had a much more traditional or orthodox approach to the history of the Church, especially the Nauvoo period.

Retaining my faith in God, Jesus Christ, Joseph Smith, the Book of Mormon and most of the revelations found in the Doctrine and Covenants was not difficult. I confess the idea that Section 110 may be of dubious authenticity was difficult for me at first. But when I compared Section 27 side by side with the original, and saw how it had been “expanded” under Sidney’s pen, I made a more careful consideration of section 110, took it to the Lord in prayer and came away satisfied.

40-years-in-mormonismQ: Are you still digesting the material laid out in the DS lectures last year, and if so, what specifically do you find to be significant?

I most definitely am still digesting the lectures and will be for years to come. I re-read lectures three and four again this past week, pondering carefully the enticing nature of how Denver has presented repentance. So many people I know try to “white-knuckle” it through repentance by using the “moving away-from” model as opposed to what Denver presents in a “moving toward” model. I have always favored that approach. It has always worked for me. I fully endorse it.

I’ve studied the lecture on covenants at least four times now and am just beginning to understand the significance and all-encompassing nature of what is found in that short lecture. I think it’s about twenty-two pages if I’m not mistaken. Yet I learned why the earth will be wasted at the Lord’s coming if we are not sealed to the fathers, as well as came to a better understanding that everything the Father is doing in our day is to fulfill that covenant he made with the Patriarchs.

I have had it reconfirmed to me once again how important it is that we are sealed to the fathers, the Patriarchs, and that this must be done in a temple, like the one Joseph was trying to get the Saints to finish in Nauvoo but which did not happen. There is not a temple found on the earth today which is acceptable of the Lord where He can come and seal us to the Fathers in that binding ordinance that is referred to in section 124 – a place to restore that which was lost.

I am still blown away by the priesthood lecture. I think I’ve read it six or seven times now and am still learning new things each time I study it. There was so much I thought I knew about priesthood that was simply wrong. I’m grateful to have been in attendance at the Mesa lecture. The idea of Preserving the Restoration resonates with me. I have seen so much understanding disappear from that we taught when I was growing up in the church in the sixties and seventies.

ds-interview-part1Q: Your recent interview with DS offered an opportunity for clarity on a variety of topics. How did this interview come about and did you find what you were looking for?

Although I could not attend the early lectures due to work commitments, I made it known on my blog I planned on attending the later lectures. I received an invitation from Denver to meet with him for dinner on the evening of one of the lectures. I suppose he wanted to meet this individual who had written so much about his writings over the preceding eighteen months. Carol and I had dinner with Denver and his family the night before the St. George lecture. We parted as friends.

This year, I celebrated ten years with my employer by taking a two week vacation, something unheard of for a computer guy in a small company. I wanted to make the first week a working vacation. I arranged interviews with several fellow bloggers and readers. On Wednesday, Carol planned an endowment session at the Brigham City temple. Obviously I would not be attending with her. I asked the Lord if there was someone else we wished me to add to my interview list.

He suggested Denver. I asked. He accepted. I asked if he would prefer the questions in advance. He agreed. I used to interview CEO’s and Marketing VP’s for a software newspaper I published years ago so the format was very familiar – sort of like a deposition. After Denver agreed, I went to the Lord for the questions. He provided. So the questions asked were what the Lord wanted to have expounded. I wasn’t necessarily looking for any particular answers. I wanted to understand some of the more controversial points from his lectures. Most of his answers were from PtHG.

As you can imagine, I have a lot of online and offline dialogs with readers about what Denver has written. I have no idea why they seem to think I know what is on his mind. It still amazes me how many people either haven’t or will not read his material. They will read what other people have said about it but won’t read it themselves. This astonishes me. If there’s one thing Mormons are supposed to be good at, it’s having an open mind about writings that are extra-Biblical. In other words, we want people to read the Book of Mormon in order to understand us better.

Yet, so few will take the time to make a formal study plan, combined with prayer in an effort to understand the doctrines behind the writings and lectures. I think some of the questions I asked in the interview were brought up in an effort to get people more interested in going to the source. If there’s anything I wanted to accomplish, it was to get people to seriously read, ponder and pray about the lectures. But so many have made up their minds. They are closed. It is so sad.

ConqueringSpiritualEvilQ: You’ve written a lot on the subject of NDE. What has contributed to your interest on this particular topic? How would you characterize common elements found in many NDE based on what’s been revealed about life after death?

I am by no means an expert on NDEs. I have had two dreadful near-death experiences in my life. Both times I was met by beings of darkness. The first time was in my youth. I opened the portal through my own foolishness. It woke me up big time. It turned me around. It caused me to fear for my life and to seek to repent, which took a tremendous amount of effort to accomplish. It was nearly a year later that I came into the presence of the Lord, which I have described on my blog.

The second NDE was a couple of years ago when my son opened a portal in our home at 2am in the morning while doing drugs and porn with a fellow druggie. I’ve posted the story and shared it with those who have asked. I was mislead by a well-meaning individual who told me I could deal with the dark spirits by asking the Lord to bring them into my aura so I could get them to repent. Yeah, right! It was one of the most foolish things I have ever done in my life. I still suffer pain.

My interest in NDEs is a result of having the portal to the spirit world opened in a manner that was not at all pleasant. I suppose only those who have experienced being sucked into that world, even for a moment, can understand the resulting interest in trying to make sense of the things discovered or actually remembered, by entering into such a realm. There are things revealed to your soul that this world denies. One seeks to find others who have been there and can relate.

true-order-prayer-imageQ: Your posts on the True Order of Prayer resonated with many people. The prayer circle was a more prominent fixture in worship (both inside and outside of temples) until May 1978 when the First Presidency restricted its use to certain settings. How have your prayers in this manner affected your relationship with the Lord and/or the Powers of heaven?

I still have a long way to go in this area. I am focusing on altars in my personal study these days. I want to know the history of true altar building, why the Patriarchs built altars, how they built them – no hewn stone – and if there is significance to where they are placed. I wish I had land of sufficient size where I could dedicate a private space to building an altar for worship. In the meantime, I asked the Lord if I could substitute a dedicated home altar and received his approval.

There is something powerful about altar worship. What we learn in the temple is significant. For me, a prayer at the altar is so much more powerful than my usual morning and nightly prayers. I find repetition does not enter into my heart or mind when I pray at the altar. I am filled with desire and am given the words to say. These prayers at the altar have changed my life. It is clear the powers of heaven pay attention when we go to the trouble of praying at a dedicated altar.

At one time in the history of Mormonism, it was acceptable practice to have a home altar. It was a sign of commitment to one’s religion to gather the family together at the altar for worship. I use my altar when I partake of the sacrament in my home. It is so sad to read how such practices as altar worship and partaking of the sacrament in the home are now considered apostate. Joseph Smith would not be welcome in the LDS Church today because of “apostate” worship practices.

Think about what we learn in the temple from Adam’s example with an altar. When he prayed at the altar, he opened a portal to heaven. He received messengers. This is a true and powerful form of worship. Ask yourself why we are taught about prayer in the temple if it was not intended for us to go home and practice this in our own home. Yes, I recognize some have been deceived and have received false messenger, but we have got to learn to deal with this if we want to progress.

posts-on-evil-spiritsQ: You’ve shared experiences in which you’ve come into contact with malevolent spirits and the distress they can cause. Were these experiences connected to prayer? What is your view on possessions recorded in the New Testament versus certain mental disorders in our day as possible possessions?

I think my answer to the NDE question above would have probably been a better fit here. The spirits were not invited, but conditions were brought about that caused them to make themselves known. It is not a pleasant thing to come into the presence of spirits who intend to do you harm. The prayers involved were after the fact, as in, “O Lord, save me from these evil creatures who desire to take away my light and life. O Lord, remove the fear from my heart and give me faith like unto Moses to command them in the name of the Son of God to leave my presence forever.”

I have written at least two dozen posts answering that very question about emotional and mental disorders being caused by evil and unclean spirits. I will refer people to my blog for answers. I will also encourage you to read Doug’s book on Conquering Spiritual Evil. It seems the majority of people today do not want to believe such creatures exist in our day and age. They consider the idea of evil spirits to be a throwback to less enlightened times. Think again people. Think again.

tim-malone-baptism-postQ: You’ve written extensively about your reasons for resigning from the church while acknowledging that leaving the church is not the path for everyone. Are you finding that many people are choosing to stay notwithstanding their belief that something new is underway?

My decision to resign was due to my unique circumstances. I served in leadership positions in my current and previous stakes that made it hard for some people to accept what I was sharing on my blog simply as part of my gospel study. I have had former stake presidents, high councilors and missionary companions who now serve as mission presidents write to castigate me for what I have done in reading and writing about Denver and his books. What are they so afraid of? They are afraid for their children. I don’t blame them. They are trying to hold their families together.

My writings were a threat to them. I understand. That’s why so many went to my Bishop and Stake President asking them to rein me in. Because I served in a somewhat public position at the stake level, I felt it best to quietly resign instead of go the excommunication route. When the Bishop put me on informal probation for apostasy, I saw the handwriting on the wall. I knew I wanted to get baptized and to write about it on my blog. Why waste the time of sixteen good men? Others felt the desire to go through a disciplinary council. I had been through too many.

why-i-resigned-imageI do NOT recommend anyone leave the church to be baptized. If you want to be baptized, go ahead but don’t announce it like I did. My mission in life is different from yours. I am aware of several thousand who have been baptized. By the way, if anyone baptized reads this and has not yet submitted their name to Keith for recording, please do so before the deadline of July 1st. I wanted my name on that permanent record that will be presented in the temple when it is built. I want the Lord and the powers of heaven to see I am not ashamed to stand up and be counted.

I recognize I am a bit of a rebel, a risk-taker and a troublemaker. I am not afraid of doing what I feel the Lord has asked me to do. I know so many of my friends in the LDS Church are upset with me for what I have done and am doing. My answer is always the same. I spent just as much if not more time investigating the writings of Denver Snuffer as Brigham Young did when he investigated Mormonism. Hundreds of hours in study and prayer have led me to where I am today. No LDS Leader can say I didn’t follow the prophet – search, ponder and pray. I did.

The standard answer – I know, because I have received it in so many private emails from friends in my current and former stakes – is that I have been deceived. They shake their heads and make references to “even the very elect.” Fine. You think what you will. I understand. I tell you I am more certain of my path in life now than I have ever been at any time in the past. But my path may not be for you. Do as you feel directed by the Lord in prayer. There are so many who are doing a marvelous work in their wards and stakes by sharing truth quietly and with discretion.

One final word: please stop telling me over and over how important it is to focus on the Lord and not on Denver Snuffer. Don’t you think I know that? Everything Denver is doing is inviting us to rise up and come unto Christ – to come into His presence. I have a calling, an election and a sure promise as to that blessed event in my own life. I have years of work ahead of me. I know what I am doing and why I am doing it. Denver is a servant, a teacher, a witness. He cannot save you or me. We must come into the presence of Christ for that. Wake up people. I get it. Do you?

Home and Back Again: A Book Review


Not about The Hobbit

HomeAndBackAgainNo, this is not about The Hobbit. That’s subtitled, There and Back Again. This one is subtitled, My Journey Through the Valley of the Shadow of Death. Of course, The Hobbit was written by J.R.R. Tolkien. It is one of my favorites from the first time I read it in High School. By the way, I loved Peter Jackson’s screen adaptions. I don’t even mind he split the book into three movies.

Kindles and Books

Besides socks and other needed clothing, Christmas around our house always brings books, and lots of them. I suppose we’re old-fashioned that way. Even though we both have Kindles, there’s just something about holding a book in your hand. I think it’s the feeling of permanence. Kindles rely on battery power and electricity. Someday, Kindles will probably be useless. But a book…

Libraries Full of Books

Yes, I know paper degrades. Some of the books from my childhood are showing signs of age, but then so am I. We seem to treasure books, else why so many great libraries around the world? But I digress. This is a review of one of the eight books I received for Christmas. If you’re interested, I’ll share the list of other books found under the tree. The first three will take some time to read.

Books Received for Christmas

1. The Joseph Smith Papers, Journals, Volume 1, 1832-1839, published 2008
2. Light in the Wilderness, Explorations in the Spiritual Life, M. Catherine Thomas, 2010
3. Journey to the Veil, by John Pontius, compiled by Terri Pontius, 2013, Cedar Fort
4. Lectures on Faith, Joseph Smith, with minor updates by Robert Smith, 2012
5. The Journey, Receiving our Endowment, Jeremy Oakes, 2013, Journey to the Fullness
6. Joseph’s Interviews with Moroni 21-22 Sep 1823, private imprint (Thanks, Michael)
7. Correlation: An Uncorrelated History, Interview with Daymon Smith, private imprint
8. Home and Back Again, Imelda Lorayna Fowler with Thomas E. Fowler, 2012

Private Imprints / Self-Publishing

It’s interesting that the last five books on the list are private imprints or self-published. Things are changing in the book publishing world. It’s about the last book on the list I want to write. As soon as I opened it Christmas morning, I began to read it and finished it within a few hours. I could not put it down. I give it five stars, just like most every other reviewer on Amazon did.

Near-Death Experiences

Yes, it’s a book about an NDE, or Near-Death Experience. Last January I pulled a bunch of NDE books from my library and wrote short reviews of each. Someone then brought this book to my attention as one I would want to add to my library. Having read it now, I couldn’t agree more. Imelda and Tommy did a great job telling her story. If you read this, thank you both for sharing.

Died on the Operating Table

This is the story of Imelda Fowler, who, if your Google her name and Powerlifting, you will discover holds several records for her weight class of 97 pounds. But that’s not what her story is about. One day, back in 2004, her appendix burst and she died on the operating table. In fact, she continued to leave her body many times after that and described several of her spirit journeys.

Lives Forever Changed

In Tommy’s introduction, he wrote he had probably read hundreds of NDE’s. That’s something he and I have in common. He notes he has, like Dr. Moody, interviewed hundreds of persons who have gone to the other side and then returned. Their lives forever changed. I can attest to that, having experienced my own NDE in 1974. It changed my ability to sense and hear spirits.

Opinions of Skeptics

I like what Imelda had to say about skeptics on page 56: “I have to laugh at skeptics and experts who ridicule those of us who have had the privilege to visit the other side. What is considered reality on this side is smoke and mirrors when compared to the fullness of life that awaits us in our eternal home. My heart pities the nay-sayers for their blindness…

Ignorance and Arrogance

“…they ignorantly and sometimes arrogantly keep trying to prove that this life is all there is. Why they feel the need to do so is perplexing to me. Sadly, when they return home, and they will, that reality will hit them in the face like an iron fist. If you are one of those skeptics and when in the future, you finally come to the realization that you have died…

Some Spirits Wander Aimlessly

“…many wander aimlessly in that realm not knowing or else they are not willing to admit they are dead… I beg of you please, when you come to that realization, swallow your pride and just look up. There you will see a being(s) of light that has been hovering over you and is patiently waiting for you. He/she will guide you through the process of returning home.” (Edited)

Some LDS Perspective

Imelda’s account has some unique characteristics. Although never directly noted, she and Tommy are faithful members of the LDS church. They live close by me here in Southern California (San Pedro). I have never met them or heard of them before but immediately felt a kinship because of the good job they did in telling their story. They are also close to my age.

A Little Background

Tommy is an IT guy like me. He served his mission in the Philippines, where he met Imelda. After returning home, he wrote her. They developed a friendship. They agreed to fast together on a certain day and time. Both received a confirmation they were to marry. It took her nine months to make it to the states. Their first kiss was over the altar of the Oakland temple.

A Very Readable Story

Imelda has a delightful sense of humor in telling her story. Reading about their early days as young marrieds and her acclimatization to living in America was wonderful. This is not meant to be a theological treatise. It is simply her story, told plainly, without too much elaboration, but just enough explanation to keep it interesting. I learned several things and had others confirmed.

A View of the Plain of Hell

Many NDE accounts have commonalities. Imelda’s shared some of those, but what made hers so fascinating was the description of the plain of hell. I have read only a few others who describe it in a similar manner, one being Angie Fenimore’s Beyond the Darkness. It confirmed for me the idea of spirits being stuck in hell because of pride or arrogance. They won’t look up for help. See also Return from Tomorrow by George Ritchie.

A Special Treat: The Grand Council

You’re in for a special treat on pages 77-82 as Imelda describes her experience in meeting the Lord for the second time and going before the Father to determine what she would do. Like so many others have related, she was given the choice to stay or to return to her pain-filled body. She chose to return because of her love for her family. She knew her mission wasn’t over yet.

Meeting the Adversary

Chapter seven for me was also a delight, although you may think it strange. She describes meeting the adversary. This is an area with which I am familiar. I too have met him, or at least some of his agents. The way she described his language is exactly how he has talked to me, the same way his minions do. Mental discipline is the only thing that keeps the voices quiet for me.

Lots of Good Teachings

I’ll not give away any more of the story. I simply wanted to share it with my endorsement. There is too much good stuff in the book to describe in a short review. I believe I recognize Tommy’s contributions in the doctrinal portions. I’m not trying to take anything away from what Imelda has shared, especially the idea of relationships being so important from an eternal perspective. Tommy sounds like a great guy.

A Terrible Vision of the Future

Reading Imelda’s story is a classic example of why the subject of NDE’s is one of my favorites. It takes courage to share such accounts. Her story strengthened my faith and understanding. She even included a terrible vision of the future (page 64) that coincided with what I have seen in my mind’s eye as I have studied the subject in the scriptures. The issue is timing. Nobody knows for sure when such a vision will be fulfilled.

A Sweet and Valuable Book

Get the book and read it. It’s only 120 pages. Amazon has it for about $13, printed on demand. I’ll always remember the sweet peaceful feelings that came into my heart as I read it Christmas afternoon. There is a ton of truth packed into this little book. Imelda is bold in declaring that the Savior and the Father lives. She has seen them. I believe her and thank her for sharing her story.

An Invitation to Dialog

As always, this blog is open to your comments, questions, criticisms or anything you want to say on the subject. You can also email me privately. Want to know more about dealing with voices from the spirit world? I can share more. Want to know more about my own NDE? I can point you to previous posts where I describe it. Want to discuss the book? I’d love to read your ideas.

Here is a link to a recording of her speaking at IANDS Utah from Nov 2013: http://iandsutah.files.wordpress.com/2014/01/iands-13-11-nov-2013-medy-fowler.mp3 (It takes time to load)

 

Near Death Experiences Part 2


This is a continuation from Part 1

GatewayWeCallDeath19. 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.

EmbarrassedByTheLight20. 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.

SavedByTheLight21. 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.

NearDeathExperiences22. 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.

BeyondDeathsDoor23. 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.

RebornInTheLight24. 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.

EmbracedByTheLight25. 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.

CloserToTheLight26. 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.

BeyondTheVeil227. 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.

BeyondTheVeil128. 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.

TheLightBeyond29. 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.

JourneyBeyondLife30. 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.

TheUnquietDead31. 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.

ReturnFromTomorrow32. 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.

SpiritWorldManifestations33. 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.

LifeAfterLife34. 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.

TempleManifestations35. 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.

LifeEverlasting36. 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.

Near Death Experiences and Me


TimMaloneFacebookIn a recent Facebook post I mentioned I had dozens of books on NDEs. A friend asked for my recommendations of those books so I decided to review them. Obviously I won’t have space to review all of them in detail but perhaps a paragraph on each might be helpful to someone. At the very least it will be helpful to me to remember these books and my experiences in reading them.

The books are listed in reverse order by date published and are by no means comprehensive. It is simply a list of books in my personal library. As far as I can remember, I have read all of them. I may not be able to recall some of the details of the earlier ones but will share what stands out and why I thought they were worth reading. Someday I should transfer these reviews to Goodreads.

This review has taken the better part of a week because I kept getting sidetracked in re-reading. There are so many wonderful things I have learned from these books about the spirit world, life after death, suicide, the Savior, the adversary, evil spirits, forgiveness, peace, healing, comfort from loss, the purpose of life, visions of things to come in the last days and much, much more.

ProofOfHeaven1. Proof of Heaven, Eben Alexander, Simon and Schuster, 2012 – Loved this book. Eben seemed so unassuming in telling his story. He just lays it all out there for the reader and lets you draw your own conclusions. It’s very matter-of-fact which is in keeping with the idea that Eben is a neurosurgeon. I especially liked that he addressed all the opposing theories for what could have happened. No, his story is very convincing. His spirit left his body for nearly a week and he lived to tell about it. What he shares is fascinating, especially the love of his family members who pledged to stay with him until he died or returned. He felt their love and prayers drawing him back. I highly recommend this book to anyone who doubts the idea of life after death.

VisionsOfGlory2. Visions of Glory as told to John Pontius, Cedar Fort, 2012 – I reviewed this in great detail in a previous blog entry. I learned much from the first two NDEs he related. However, I was not quite ready for what he shared in his third NDE about the Last Days. There was much specific detail about events in and around Salt Lake and the Western United States after a huge earthquake and subsequent invasion by a foreign power. I agree that society and civilization will degrade to the point of tribes, but I had a hard time with his narrative of the journey to Missouri via Cardston. I especially struggled with his description of the Savior appearing at a special session of General Conference. It just didn’t fit in with what the scriptures teach about the Lord’s Second Coming.

ConqueringSpiritualEvil3. Conquering Spiritual Evil, Doug Mendenhall, 2011 – I also reviewed this one in a previous essay. You may think it doesn’t fit in a list of books about NDEs but I also include some books that help us understand the spirit world and life after death. Besides, Doug relies heavily on what he has learned from his daughter who suffered a diabetic stroke which destroyed half her brain and now lives without a veil. She had an amazing NDE which I review below. What would it be like if you could ask a family member about spirits in the room around you wherever you go? Doug has some amazing insights that go beyond anything I have read in any other book about the spirit world. However, as I warn in my essay, the content of this book is not for everyone. The subject is obviously dark, even though Doug treats it with power and even some humor.

ToHeavenAndBack4. To Heaven and Back, Mary C Neal MD, Waterbrook Press, 2011 – I enjoyed this one. I think I lean more towards intellectual investigations and explanations. Some of the NDE books are too emotional or subjective for me. This one, similar to the book by Dr. Eben Alexander was filled with logical and precise descriptions. It was well written, well edited and well presented. The description of her spirit rising up out of her body while the kayak was pinned at the bottom of the river was riveting. Her story of survival is truly a miracle, but her story of being escorted by a spiritual guide to her spiritual home was even more miraculous. But it wasn’t her time so she came back only to be taught by an angel while recovering in the hospital. An enjoyable book.

HeavenIsForReal5. Heaven is for Real, Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent, Thomas Nelson, 2010 – Loved this little gem. Written by a pastor whose son, at four years of age, went to the spirit world during surgery for an emergency appendectomy, it is filled with sweetness and light. This book has sold well, been read and reviewed by thousands and had a great reception. I got that it was probably very colored by Todd’s background as a pastor. So what? I have enough experience with reading and interpreting NDE’s that most of what is told is figured out long after the events transpire. It’s the same with any spiritual experience. It takes time to fully understand it. I have no doubt that little Colton did see Jesus, angels and deceased relatives. He came back and impressed his family with what he was able to reveal. I’ll bet he is still remembering things about his visit to heaven years from now. I for one was happy to read this book and thank Pastor Todd for sharing it with us.

InHisArms6. In His Arms by Denise Mendenhall, Publishing Hope, 2006 – This has got to be one of the most amazing NDEs ever told. Denise was 16 years old at the time she penned this book. It is full of grammatical errors and typos. Please get past that. You will be astonished at what you discover. Her father told her story in two previous books. This one adds more detail, especially about Denise’s life in living without a veil after the coma. When Denise was ten years old she slipped into a diabetic coma and suffered a stroke which destroyed most of the left side of her brain. When she awoke, life was completely different. Denise can see the spirit world around us along with the spirits in it, both good and evil. She also had a wonderful visit with the Savior, who took her to visit with Heavenly Father and her Heavenly Mother. She writes that he showed her many things which she is not yet able to share, although she had been sharing a few things in the last few years. She claims to have met all the prophets and said she watched Joseph Smith translate the Book of Mormon. She says she does not want to be anyone’s “oracle chick.” You’re either going to love this book or hate it. I happen to love it and highly recommend you read it.

AndShouldWeDie7. And Should We Die, Ron McMillan and Randy McMillan, American Family, 2003 – Ron tells the story of his brother Randy, who struggled with Leukemia and ultimately succumbed. I’m not sure this one should be on a list of books about NDEs since the only reference we have to life after death is Randy, now dead, visiting his father in the hospital when his father was sick. If you know the story, you know that Randy served as Lance Richardson’s spirit guide as told in his cousin’s book, The Message, listed below. The book is well written, uplifting, enjoyable, and very LDS. Ron did a good job but there are so many references to the LDS lifestyle that a person not of the faith would have a hard time understanding much of it. This book is a great tribute to Randy and a good follow-up to The Message but doesn’t add much to understanding NDEs.

Possibilities8. Possibilities…Lessons From the Spirit, Doug Mendenhall, Publishing Hope, 2002 – This is a follow-up to My Peace I give Unto You, reviewed as number 11 below. It recounts the amazing experiences of Doug and Denise as they go about sharing her story. I say amazing because most people I know don’t have casual conversations every day about spirits they see everywhere they go. Denise lives without a veil and thus can see them around and often in people. This is another book that has heavy LDS themes, culture and vocabulary throughout. It may prove difficult for some who have no exposure to the LDS faith. I include it in my list of NDE books because it adds so much to understanding the spirit world around us. This book is also an introductory text to Doug’s latest book, Conquering Spiritual Evil, number three above.

VisitsFromBeyondTheVeil9. Visits From Beyond the Veil, Marlene Bateman Sullivan, Horizon, 2002 – Marlene has written three books in this series. The First is And There Were Angels Among Them (2001), this is the second and the third is By The Ministering of Angels (2006). I remember buying these at Deseret Book in St George while visiting family there, and then reading them in one evening. There are also revised later versions available now. I happen to have first edition autographed copies. I contemplated if they belonged in this list but remembered that some of the stories involved near death or at the time of death of a loved one. The stories are all true and well documented. Marlene did a lot of research in early journals in the LDS Church archives. The time period for all three books is 1800’s. I see these books as evidence that we were once a much more favored and blessed people. Where are the modern stories of angels among us? Too sacred?

ThereIsNoDeath10. There is no Death, Sarah LaNelle Menet, Mountain Top Publishing, 2002 – A sad book in many ways. I was sad for the terrible life that she had to endure both before and after her suicide. I was sad to learn about the reality of hell she had to endure for a few moments reserved for those who commit suicide. It was similar to the hell Angie Fenimore told about in her book, Beyond the Darkness. She teaches a lot of truth in her book but I had a little difficult time with the claim that she foretold the 9-11 twin towers attacks, especially since the book came out shortly after the event. It seems to me that those who see future events in their NDEs are seeing possible scenarios, not events that will happen. Interesting reading but let’s not treat Sarah like a psychic. She’s not a spokesperson for God as to how things are going to come to pass in the very last days. For example, she talks about biological attacks that she said would happen sometime after the twin towers attacks. They haven’t yet. You can watch interviews with her on YouTube.

AngelsAmongThem11. And There Were Angels Among Them, Marlene Bateman Sullivan, Horizon, 2001 – This is the first in the series of delightful easy-to-read short stories about angels in early LDS history. I enjoyed reading this book because the stories are uplifting and faith promoting. I recommend each of the three books in the series. They are wonderful collections, each fully documented with original sources. There is an index by name of the individual involved. This is a great source book for those still in the uncorrelated church (email me if you don’t get this) who appreciate the early history of our church dealing with the spirit world. I see that Marlene has a new book out just a few weeks ago that should be on this list: Gaze Into Heaven – Near Death Experiences in Early Church History. I will be making that purchase and reading it in the very near future.

MyPeaceIGiveUntoYou12. My Peace I Give Unto You, Robert Lake with Doug Mendenhall, Publishing Hope, 2001 – This is the first in a trilogy of books about Denise Mendenhall who suffered a stroke as a result of a diabetic coma at age ten which resulted in the loss of the left half of her brain, and, the loss of the veil. Yes, that’s right. She sees the spirit world around us including all the evil and lost spirits that inhabit this world with us. Talk about a near death experience, this one is one of the most profound you will find anywhere. And this book is only the first part of the experience. Each successive book reveals more and more about what Denise saw in her NDE and what she continues to see as she goes through life. The first book was written by a family friend who did a pretty good job. It’s not perfect but a very enjoyable read. The focus is on the Savior instead of the weirdness of the world around us – both seen and unseen. I’m glad they wrote it that way. I highly recommend it. You may be incredulous at what you find but it will touch your heart.

TheMessage13. The Message, Lance Richardson, American Family, 2000 – You may not like my review. I’m afraid I’m like some of the one-star folks on Amazon. I felt there was something wrong with the book the moment I read it. It felt contrived. It seemed packaged. It was slick even though it was in need of further editing. I don’t know how else to say it. I know 95% of people who reviewed it said it was wonderful. I think that’s because the message is so focused on…well, on the message of the LDS Church today. To me, it was a bit over the top in hammering the point of the family. Did Lance really die? I won’t call it cheap inspirational fiction, but I was put off by The Message. I didn’t feel I gained any unique insights from it like I have from others who share their NDEs. Lance passed away in 2004 from complications of Crohn’s disease. If you enjoyed this book you may be interested in a follow-up book by Ron McMillian, And Should We Die – number 7 above.

LifeAfterDeath14. Life After Death, Robert L Millet, Deseret Book, 1999 – I hate to say this about a Robert L Millet book. The book’s OK, not great, just OK. It seems very correlated, meaning it uses only the safest of church sources. I didn’t find a lot of depth or new material in here. It seemed very basic and straightforward with only stuff from the scriptures or what is taught in Sunday school. There are no quotes from people who visited the spirit world, no modern evidence, nothing other than what you can find anywhere else in standard church material. It’s good for teaching a lesson or giving a talk, but to me, it wasn’t faith-promoting or helpful to understand what life is like after death. In short, it didn’t fulfill the promise of the title. Like the description on the book jacket, this work is “stripped of any sensationalism or speculation.” Sorry, I guess I like that stuff because it gets me thinking and pondering about possibilities. I wouldn’t recommend this book.

IStandAllAmazed15. I Stand All Amazed, Elane Durham, Granite Publishing, 1998 – I remember this one well. Elane is one of the few up to that point who had been certified by a competent medical authority and by a Catholic priest to have died. They thought she had a drug overdose but she had suffered seizures, a massive stroke and then cardiac arrest caused by an Arteriovenous Malformation in the base of her brain. She was pronounced DOA at the hospital. As with several other NDEs I have read, Elane had a difficult childhood, having been sexually molested by her father for years. She carried great guilt and shame. That all disappeared when she met the Savior and felt His unconditional love for her. She was spiritually healed but continued to have numerous physical problems after she came back to life – discovered by the nurse prepping her body for the morgue. Elane was shown some amazing things that have great significance for members of the LDS faith. She was also shown things pertaining to the last days. Her visions of the future were profiled in the television documentary entitled “Ancient Prophecies.” Elane has spent her life ministering to those who are dying. I love her book and highly recommend it as helpful to all.

ISawHeaven16. I Saw Heaven, Lawrence E. Tooley, Horizon, 1997 – This is one of those Duane Crowther specials. His editing is evident in the presentation of the story and the checklist at the end. I’m not knocking what we got. In fact, I would say this is Crowther at his finest. But because of the editing, I’m not sure that we got Larry’s story as he remembered it but as Duane discovered it. I know it’s a small distinction, but an important one, at least for me. In any event, the story is well told, especially because we have multiple viewpoints – Larry and his wife. It’s a little confusing that Larry’s spirit guide is also named Larry, and their conversation is such well written dialog – again, a probable contribution from Duane – but it makes the story interesting and enjoyable. Duane also added all the chapter subtitles. I do that when I’m editing. It helps readers who want to skim through the text faster, looking for interesting phrases that catch their eye. The book was well received by most reviewers, although many non-LDS folks struggled with the LDS focus. It confirms many of the basic NDE themes of the importance of forgiveness and kindness to others.

HeavenlyAnswers17. Heavenly Answers for Earthly Challenges, Joyce H Brown, Jemstar Press, 1997 – I re-read this book to remember the story from the first time I read it 15 years ago. Joyce suffered so many health problems that she prayed for death. Her prayer was answered. She had literally willed herself to die. But what she found out when she got to the other side caused her to ask to come back to her pain-wracked body to be given more time to complete the things she came to this world to do. This book is targeted at anybody who is contemplating suicide. She published a later edition in 2000. Reading online, I learned she then lost her home of 35 years to fire. In spite of continued tragedies including the loss of her husband, Joyce continued to work to help people struggling with thoughts of suicide. The book is well written, enjoyable to read and worth your time. There are unique insights and many revelations confirming the NDE visions of others. Her relating the life review common to many NDEs is perhaps one of the best I have ever read.

BeyondTheDarkness18. Beyond the Darkness, Angie Fenimore, Bantam Books, 1995 – This one has a special place in my heart. I have discovered over the years that I learn best from opposition and adversity. Angie’s story touched me deeply when I first read it and still does. I seem to read it every year at Christmastime. Angie has become my friend on Facebook. I believe she is trying to get the book published in Kindle format. It is well worth the read. There is so much truth in it. I read it to my son one night when he was contemplating suicide. He may not remember because I think he was drunk at the time, but it was a spiritual and emotional experience for me and Mike’s still with us. Thank you, Angie for sharing your story. It took courage to write and has greatly blessed my life.

I am glad we have multiple accounts from people who have attempted to take their own lives and recovered. My mother attempted suicide once. I will be forever grateful my father was inspired to return quickly from an errand on which she had sent him to find her still alive before the drugs had completed their work. I think that’s why Angie’s story is so close to my heart. Although Angie’s tale has more darkness in the beginning, her response mirrored my mother’s story of disappointment and sorrow at the way her own life was going before she tried to end her life. Angie’s story is well written and evidences an intelligent analysis of what she found beyond the darkness. Suicide is not the answer. It is the worst thing you can do with the life God gave you.

In reading reviews of others online, I came across a few additional books I will be adding to my library that are not on this list: Gaze Into Heaven (2013) by Marlene Bateman Sullivan, My Walk Through Heaven (2008) by Kim Rives, Through the Window of Life (2005) by Suzanne Freeman and My Descent Into Death (2005) by Howard Storm.

There are eighteen more NDE books reviewed in Part Two

19. The Gateway We Call Death, Russell M. Nelson, Deseret Book, 1995
20. Embarrassed by the Light, Douglas Beardall, LDS Book Publications, 1995
21. Saved by the Light, Dannion Brinkley with Paul Perry, Villard Books, 1994
22. NDE – Near Death Experiences, by Lee Nelson and Richard Nelson, Cedar Fort, 1994
23. Beyond Death’s Door, Robert L Top and Wendy C Top, Bookcraft, 1993
24. Reborn in the Light, Cherie Sutherland PhD, Bantam Books 1992
25. Embraced by the Light, Betty J Eadie with Curtis Taylor, Gold Leaf Press, 1992
26. Closer to the Light, Melvin Morse with Paul Perry, Willard Books, 1990
27. Beyond the Veil – Volume Two, Lee Nelson, Cedar Fort, 1989
28. Beyond the Veil – Volume One, Lee Nelson, Cedar Fort, 1988
29. The Light Beyond, Raymond A Moody Jr MD, Bantam Books, 1988
30. The Journey Beyond Life , Michele R. Sorensen and David R. Willmore, Family Affair Books, 1988
31. The Unquiet Dead, Dr. Edith Fiore, Ballantine Books, 1987
32. Return From Tomorrow, George G Ritchie with Elizabeth Sherrill, Spire Books, 1978
33. Spirit World Manifestations, Joseph Heinerman, Magazine Printing, 1978
34. Life After Life, Raymond A Moody Jr MD, Mockingbird Books / Bantam Books, 1975
35. Temple Manifestations, Joseph Heinerman, Magazine Printing, 1974
36. Life Everlasting, Duane S Crowther, Bookcraft, 1967

I welcome your comments and opinions on other NDE books that should be on this list.

Visions of Glory and the Last Days


VisionsOfGloryNote added 6-11-13: Greg Smith has published a much more complete review on the FAIR website. And I thought I was being a little harsh in my review here. Well, it’s good to have multiple sources to make comparisons. I hope I made it clear that I got a lot of good from the book even though I had problems with it, which I delineate below. Let the spirit be your guide.

I had not intended to write this review, but could not resist because the impression to share was so strong. I had intended to review chapter three of Passing the Heavenly Gift, but that can wait. I finished Proof of Heaven a week ago and did not feel the desire to review it as I do with this book. Proof of Heaven can stand on its own, already reviewed by many people. Visions of Glory has also been reviewed in several places, but the negative reviews are too dismissive for me.

I’m not going to say my review is negative, and I am going to recommend you read it, but I’m going to offer a few words of warning. There’s just something strange about this book that I can’t put my finger on at the moment. Maybe by the time I finish the review it will be clearer. The negative reviews on Amazon and elsewhere declare that Spencer was deceived. I’m not going to go that far. I believe Spencer was sincere when he described what he said he saw.

Visions of Glory combines two of my favorite topics – Near Death Experiences (NDEs) and the Last Days. Like several of the reviewers, I was fascinated with the first third of the book as he describes what he learned in his first two NDEs. I had little problem with what he offered and found myself nodding my head in agreement with some of his descriptions. The spirit burned in my heart as I recognized and understood that Spencer had shared some wonderful truths with us.

LDS Blogging on Last Days

I don’t doubt that Spencer did indeed experience the NDE’s as he described them. But I am just blown away by the detail in the last two thirds of the book in his third NDE. Cedar Fort’s wording on the cover that this is “one man’s astonishing account of the last days” causes me to immediately think, “Well, that’s just his interpretation.” And indeed, that’s the first warning I’m going to offer. These are just one man’s views of the Last Days. Mine are certainly different.

With John’s recent passing, Spencer, not his real name, has contributed more to John’s blog, now maintained by others. You can get a better feel for Spencer there by reading his contributions as he answers questions put to him by readers. It kind of reminds me of the early days of Denver’s blog in which he was much more interactive with his readers. Having a popular blog in the LDS community can be burdensome because so many readers are at different levels of understanding.

In any event, after reading Spencer’s book (it really is his even though John wrote it), you can interact directly with him on the Unblog. Although I found Spencer’s description of some of the events of the last days to be fascinating, my focus has been different. What I would like to ask about, he would not be able to answer. I am more interested in how the widespread destruction is caused and how to interpret the events from the Books of Revelation, Daniel, Joel and others.

Invasion of America

Those who have read essays from my early years of blogging know my interest in the books of Anthony Larson, known as the Prophecy Trilogy. In there, you’ll find a description of the pillar of fire, for example, that is radically different from what Spencer describes in his book. You’ll also find much more reference to the cosmological causes of the great destruction that is to take place before the coming of the Lord, which are barely mentioned in passing by Spencer.

Now, I hate to go “out there” but I want to make a point that there are multiple claims of how the great destruction is going to come about. Spencer notes that there are many nuclear explosions, most caused by internal radicals, not by the foreign invaders. I read that part to my wife. She said it sounds like someone watched “Jericho” or “Revolution” and had a bad dream. I must admit I have never read anyone else talking about floods in Salt Lake as one of the signs of the last days.

Are you familiar with Denise Mendenhall, daughter of LDS author Doug Mendenhall? She lives without a veil. She gave a talk at Confetti Books in Feb of 2012. I have a recording of the event. In it she relates how the Lord told her to share that he is going to cause a huge EMP (Electromagnetic Pulse) to hit the earth which will wipe out all technology based on the use of electricity and electronics, which is just about every means of modern communication and transportation.

Civilization will be Destroyed

Here’s my point. We’ve got Spencer claiming there will be a huge earthquake that will destroy most of the West Coast, cause massive flooding in Utah and precede an invasion by a large body of foreigners who take over the country. I’m not sure I understood the explanation for the flooding but I thought Spencer was describing the return of Lake Bonneville. He related that everything south of Point of the Mountain was under water as far as the eye could see. Strange.

So in addition to the huge earthquake, which is prophesied in the scriptures, without the floods, we’ve got Denise sharing that there will be a huge EMP and Anthony Larson pointing out that the great destruction of the last days will be caused by Earth’s close encounter with another celestial body. Spencer writes in his book that the earth passes by a huge planet on the journey back to God’s presence but that it has absolutely no effect on the earth or the inhabitants.

Although Spencer and Denise both claim that their visions of the end times are from the Lord, I’m going to go with what I have long held that the destruction of the last days, including the massive earthquakes, tidal waves and volcanic activity, are caused by the return of the Ten Tribes, who Joseph said were taken from the earth. This is in direct contradiction with what Spencer claims in his book – that they are living in deep caverns long hidden under the ice.

Celestial Mechanics and Time Travel

This is all conjecture and fun to think about but back to the point of this review. I offered one warning about Spencer’s book at the beginning. Here’s another: How is it possible that God could tell three different people, one of them a prophet, that the destruction of the last days will be caused by three different things: a massive earthquake, an EMP and a planet coming up alongside the earth? Could they all be correct? Well, actually I suppose they could be.

Imagine for a minute that you put aside what science teaches about celestial mechanics. Let’s assume that somehow a large planetary body could come close to the earth. Let’s further assume you accept the alternative theories of cosmology known as the Electric Universe in which plasma and electricity have greater influence than gravity, then yes, I suppose an EMP could accompany the earthquakes and other prophesied destructions found in the scriptures in rich abundance.

My apologies if my ramblings don’t make sense. I have tried to provide links to previous essays that might help if you haven’t been a regular reader of my blog. In Visions of Glory Spencer is clear that he has little to no background in technology. He marvels at the things he encounters as he becomes a translated being. I suppose his description of the portals will be the most difficult for scientifically minded people to accept. After all, he’s talking about time travel at that point.

All the Hot Mormon Topics

A few questions I am still pondering: Why such detail about the destruction in and around Salt Lake and little to none of the rest of the world? Why did they have to go to Cardston first before they went to Missouri? Why is the appearance of the Lord in the Conference Center to a select few not mentioned anywhere in prophesied events of the last days? Is the invasion of America by a foreign military a part of the events foretold in the scriptures? Why didn’t the plague kill more?

Is the book an exciting read? Yes, I couldn’t put it down. You’ll encounter plagues, earthquakes, floods, foreign invasion, changes in weather (kind of like Global Warming without the politics), changes in constellations as the earth travels through space, the return of the Ten Tribes, the long walk to Missouri, the building of the New Jerusalem, the gathering of the elect by the 144,000 and much more. But as some reviewers have written, it reads like a piece of good LDS fiction.

That is probably unkind. I don’t know Spencer. From everything I’ve read he is a kind soul. I would not have the courage to share what he has shared specifically because I know so many people would be inclined to mock. I have read the glowing reviews of others who said this is the most life-changing book they have ever read. Others have written that the Holy Ghost testified to them it is true. I’m not going to go that far. Perhaps I simply was not ready to receive it as such.

Inspiration for LDS Fiction

Some of my readers may know I am writing a trilogy of fiction based on the works of Immanuel Velikovsky and the Electric Universe cosmological views of Wal Thornhill and David Talbott. I have taken the opening chapter of Anthony Larson’s book, And the Moon Shall be Turned to Blood and have expanded it into what I hope will be an interesting and exciting story about how events could possibly happen in the very last days just prior to the return of the Lord.

My first book ends with the return of the broken off piece of earth containing the Ten Tribes. In fact, that’s the whole premise of the first book – that a planet will come close to the earth, cause huge widespread destruction and eventually position itself just above the magnetic North pole. In my second book I plan to write about life on Earth after the destruction of civilization and how we pick up the pieces. I confess I planned to write about the walk to Missouri to build up Zion.

As I read through the last two thirds of Spencer’s book I made mental notes about how I could expand this scene or that scene and incorporate it into my book. If I ever publish the first and find the anticipated satisfaction in its reception for which I hope, I’ll write about the return of the City of Enoch and again, the destructions that accompany yet another piece of Earth coming home. In my third book, I will write about what happens when the Lord does finally return.

One Man’s View

Most people don’t think about this stuff. None of us really has any material clue about how this is all going to come down, especially the timing and sequence of events. I like reading books like Visions of Glory because it gives me food for thought about how future events could possibly happen. Do I consider it a work of fiction? I’m not sure. Did the Holy Ghost reveal to me that what Spencer claimed he saw really will happen that way? I confess, no, I can’t say that.

I reiterate the point that Cedar Fort makes on the cover – this is one man’s view of things. He claims he was shown this in vision. At one point he made some reference that this may all be symbolic. At other times he was emphatic that he knew he was going to participate in these events at some future point in his life. I don’t know any translated beings but if you know Spencer in real life, maybe you should stick close to him to see if he is changed someday.

Please don’t be upset with my review if you feel I am mocking sacred things. I’m not. I have been a long-time reader of John’s blog. I have deep reverence and respect for those who have spiritual gifts that I don’t have. I suppose I am too caught up in making a living and relying on technology to do it. I spend every day working with routers, switches and wireless access points, servers, fiber-optic Internet connections and all kinds of things to keep the electrons flowing.

Technology for a Zion People

That’s why when I read in Spencer’s book how communications were cut off and yet there were some pockets of cities with electricity, I had to wonder why he claimed there would be no Internet. Wouldn’t that be one of the first things society would want restored once they had electricity? Even if it were just a small network in the local city not connected to the outside world, I am positive any civil authority would want that re-established as soon as possible.

He also mentions that the church had communications systems intact. OK, how did they do that? He never describes the fate of satellites, yet I believe in one case he noted the foreign invaders had some sort of GPS. The church relies heavily on the Internet and satellites to communicate with stakes all over the world. I realize that later on Spencer implies that they could keep in touch via their white seer stones but this is in the beginning, right after the big earthquake.

Spencer’s book is not about technology. It’s about becoming a Zion people. That’s why it fits in so well with John’s focus on the Unblog. It takes so many of the beliefs unique to Mormonism to levels that I confess I had never dreamed. Why would the Lord reveal such detail to Spencer that he hasn’t revealed to the prophets? Or if he has, why have they chosen not to discuss it, share it and teach us about it? Spencer doesn’t claim to be a prophet, but he sure shares amazing detail.

Fiction based on Dreams?

Final warning: John relates that as Spencer shared his visions he was impressed to tell Spencer about similar visions from other members of the church in our early history. Spencer claims he had never heard of them. Yet as I read Spencer’s visions I immediately called them to mind. Am I unique in that I knew of these things when a man with three advanced degrees had never heard of them? One could make an argument that the book was written from these previous visions.

The other visions and dreams are included in the appendix. The whole idea of going to Cardston first is based on a letter from Sols Caurdisto who toured the temple before it opened in 1921. The destruction of the cities of the East Coast that Spencer related the Angel showed him could have come directly from John Taylor’s 1877 dream, also included in the appendix. The 1884 dream of the plagues and Charles Evans dream of schools in New Jerusalem appear in Spencer’s narrative.

My conclusion: This is a fantastic book, a very enjoyable read. I recommend you read it. Don’t let my worldly skepticism deter you from gleaning wonderful truths shared about how the spirit world around us operates. But when it comes to how the events of the last days are going to go down, make sure you compare what you discover with what you already know from scripture. Then ask yourself as I did, “Has the Lord ever revealed such specific detail to anyone else?”

Note: Since I mentioned my book, you may be interested in reading a few chapters. It is tentatively entitled “Red Sky.”

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