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Book Reviews
The Medium and The Minister
By: Roger Straughan - 6th Books, $16.95

Description: Simply put, you don’t have to be religious to believe there may be a life after death!

Ergo, this brand new book The Medium and the Minister (from Roger Straughan) explores psychical and religious approaches to the possibility of an afterlife.

Verdict: Covered with an almost intense desire to fully bring forth the relevant cornucopia of information that is dedicated within the world to this thoroughly engrossing conversation, the tensions and conflicts between these two approaches and the heated controversies they have generated are finitely illustrated by a number of case studies here in The Medium and The Minister: Who on Earth Knows about the Afterlife?

As we progress through the book, we discover that these focus on the challenges posed by psychical research and spiritualism to orthodox religion as the ultimate authority for information and teaching about the afterlife.

Indeed, prominence is given initially to the campaigns of Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Sir Oliver Lodge which aimed to publicize the psychical evidence and to the Church’s reaction to them.

Later developments and initiatives to try to reconcile the opposing positions are then examined in the light of further psychical research. The issues raised are shown to be still highly relevant to current beliefs and attitudes and to the question of what might constitute evidence for life after death.

Now, and taking a step aside to illuminate a belief of my own, this question above all others re: What constitutes evidence for life after death? is more than a mind-bender. For thousands of years, certain people have claimed to have actually visited the place that, Saint Paul promised, “no eye has seen … and no human mind has conceived,” and their stories very often follow the same narrative arc.

A skeptic, a rogue or an innocent suffers hardship or injury: he is hit on the head, he suffers a stroke, he sustains damage in a car crash or on the operating table. A feeling of disconnection comes over him, a sense of being “outside” himself.

Perhaps he encounters an opening: a gate, a door, a tunnel. And then, all at once, he is being guided through other worlds that look and feel to him more “real” than the world in which he once existed.

These realms are both familiar and strange, containing music that doesn’t sound like music and light brighter than any light, and creatures that may or may not be angels, and the familiar faces of loved ones lost as well as figures from history and sometimes—depending on the narrator—even Jesus himself.

The tourist is agape. Words fail. He leaves reluctantly to reoccupy his body and this earth. But the experience changes him forever. Convinced as he is of a wholly different reality, he is calmer, more self-assured, determined to persuade the world of heaven’s truth.

Regardless, he tells his story to the masses. “Heaven is real!” he proclaims.

Such experiences obvious go a lot deeper the more stories you hear, such as when people report a unique cognitive experience in relation to death. They may have a perception of seeing their body and the doctors and nurses trying to revive them, yet feel very peaceful while observing. Some report a realization that they may have actually died.

Later they develop a perception or a sensation of being pulled towards a type of destination. During the experience, they review their life from birth, until death, and interestingly this review is based upon their humanity.

They don’t review their lives based on what people strive for, like a career, promotions, or an amazing vacation. Their perspective is focused on their humanity. They notice incidents where they lacked dignity, acted inappropriately towards others, or conversely, acted with humanity and kindness.

They re-experience and relive these moments, but also, what’s fascinating, which sort of blows me away because I can’t really explain it, is they also describe these experiences from the other person’s perspective.

If they caused pain, they experience the same pain that other person felt, even if they didn’t realize it at the time. They actually judge themselves. They suddenly realize why their actions were good or bad, and many claim to see the downstream consequences of their actions.

So, and regardless of your own personal viewpoint on the posed question of Is there life after death?, my suggestion would be to read this book, allow your mind to freely embrace the debate, the discussion, the viewpoints reviewed and allow yourself to, perhaps, see things a little clearer (one way or the other).

About the Author - Roger Straughan (Ph.D) spent his career teaching in schools, colleges and universities, culminating in his holding the post of Reader in Education at the University of Reading, UK specializing in the philosophy of education.

His university research has led to the writing and editing of many books and articles on issues in education, philosophy and ethics. He lives in Newbury, UK.

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