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Glimpsing Heaven: The Stories and Science of…

Glimpsing Heaven: The Stories and Science of Life After Death

by Judy Bachrach

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This is the most comforting book about death I’ve ever read. Oddly, it wasn’t written by a Christian. Bachrach remains an atheist. It’s about near-death experiences, but it has nothing to do with belief. Rather, it’s a study of what “death travelers” report as having experienced.

The thing is, we are better able to study these experiences than ever before, because medicine has advanced so rapidly. Cardiopulmonary resuscitation, a frequent way of reviving the dead, has become commonplace. More and more people are brought back from the dead, their brains stuffed with memories of what they experienced. We now have tens of thousands of reported cases.

Some common claims include a lucidity of experience even among people with brain damage like Alzheimers, a feeling of deep bliss, and feeling of going home. Speechless communication with other beings is often reported. Traditional Christian teachings are usually contradicted; warnings of eternal damnation or promises of a blessed eternity to the faithful hold no water with those who have been there and back, and most return with no fear of death. A very common word on the lips of survivors when recounting what they experienced is “love,” but this experience has no correlation with religious attendance. It just doesn’t much matter what you believe. It happens to Christians, Jews, Buddhists and Hindus. It happens whether you believe in an afterlife or not; whether you believe in God or not. Only two of the people Bachrach researched encountered Jesus in the afterlife, and none met up with the devil.

However, some death travelers do still report a deepening of faith. One person recounted that she discovered she was “perfect, endowed with love,” and later realized that so is everyone else. She had never before understood the passage in the Bible about being created in God’s image, and it finally made sense.

The one thing that I found not comforting about Bachrach’s research is how commonly death experiences cause divorce. People who have experienced death often undergo a radical change in priorities. Selfish desires make way for universal concerns–they feel united and at one with rest of the world–and this new focus is hard for spouses to understand.

But are these experiences “real”? We still don’t know, but the experiencers usually insist they are. Bachrach fairly examines the pros and cons and doesn’t pretend to be an expert, but her bias shows. She believes.

National Geographic Society, © 2014, 249 pages

ISBN: 978-1-4246-1514-8 ( )
1 vote DubiousDisciple | Dec 16, 2014 |
One of the greatest mysteries in human history is the ever evolving story of the afterlife. Does the soul continue to exist after the body withers away or does a person truly return to the earth? For thousands of years mankind has told endless tales that have described hundreds of variations of what heaven and hell is. The idea of death has always seemed to be a mysterious and frightening experience that has been used to terrify children and control the masses of congregations in church pews. One way that has helped shape more modern viewpoints of the afterlife is through the new concept of the ‘near death experience’. As medical technology has progressed many people are able to come back from the brink of death and share their experiences of heaven and hell. This book takes a hard look on some of those experiences and analyzes them both in a logical and honest way. It provides both the observations of the science side of a dying brain, but recognizes the importance of the spiritual side of humans. It allows the reader to make his or her decision by really taking a look at some very interesting stories that are not always pleasant.

First of all I want to say that I enjoyed the book. I liked how the author included ‘near death experiences’ that were of a hellish tone as well. It seems like authors are afraid to approach that subject and that it is almost taboo to a degree; unless it is for the over religious. I enjoyed the descriptions that were shared and liked how different they were from one another. The chapters and subjects were excellent and grouped together well. I liked how topics were analyzed, but not overly scrutinized. I could tell that the author was logical about things, but at the same time really wanting to believe in a higher power of some kind. This book was a very unique read for me since I have not read a book quite like it before. It was a little more analytical for me when it came to ‘near death experiences’. At times I did think she came off a little condescending, but I felt like the author was a person trying to find a needle in a hay stack. There seemed to be a sense of frustration scattered throughout the book as well. I still enjoyed the book and am very happy that I read it. There was a story about an older woman with dementia that came close to home for me. It was very comforting to me since I take care of my grandmother who has Alzheimer’s and often talk to her about the afterlife when she brings it up. I must thank both Goodreads and the author for this book since I did win it in a giveaway. I strongly recommend it. Thank you for the opportunity! ( )
  Jennifer35k | Dec 14, 2014 |
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