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.

 

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