Life After the Afterlife

One recent rainy Sunday, bored and scrolling through Netflix, I landed on a six-part documentary series examining death and what comes after. It sounded like a sure-fire opportunity to watch an obvious bunch of hooey, so I settled in. As I later learned, the series is based on the nonfiction book Surviving Death: a Journalist Investigates Evidence for an Afterlife by Leslie Kean .

The approach in the series turned out to be more scientific and historical than I expected, although Kirkus Reviews said of the book:

Those given to believe in ghosts, heaven, and white lights will find this a fine example of confirmation bias, while those who are not will not be swayed.

While I haven’t read it, reviews seem to suggest the book doesn’t lean on a believer-centric foundation and does a better job presenting evidence to suggest that consciousness survives death. 

As part of episode one of the Netflix series, viewers are whisked off to a Seattle meeting of IANDS (International Association for Near-Death Studies), an open support group for those who’ve had near-death experiences (NDE) and others who wonder about loved ones who have died. Both types come together–now meeting online–to hear the NDEs directly. The series explores other paranormal phenomena including apparitions, contemporary mediums and reincarnation. 

Compelling case studies involving unlikely, level-headed persons (a spine surgeon, and an Oklahoma law enforcement officer, to list two). A historic look at many aspects of the unworldly–including fakers, debunkers, cheerleaders, medical doctors, academics and organizations–makes for an entertaining binge watch. Who knew the case to continue research to lift the veil between life and the afterlife could be mysterious and informative? Netflix did.

One I wouldn’t have guessed to be interested in parapsychology was William James, known as the father of American Psychology and the first to offer a psychology class in the U.S. He co-founded the American Society for Psychical Research (ASPR) in 1884, the oldest psychical research organization in the United States dedicated to parapsychology.

Check out Kean’s book now. The Netflix series, which launched in January, is not available on DVD at this time. If it becomes available, the library will purchase it.

If you liked Surviving Death, you might want to read The Hairbrush and the Shoe : A True Ghost Story by Jeanne Stanton. When a workman in her home is pushed, Stanton takes action. The former Harvard Business School case writer embarks upon a rigorous search to learn what is happening, which makes for an absorbing, creepy and sometimes funny read.

Soul Survivor: The Reincarnation of a World War II Fighter Pilot by Bruce and Andrea Leininger. This story details how the authors finally accepted that their young son was the reincarnated WWII fighter pilot, James Huston. This account is also featured in the reincarnation episode of the Netflix documentary series.

Life with the Afterlife : 13 Truths I Learned about Ghosts by Amy Bruni. In this autobiography, Bruni, co-star of the popular paranormal show, Kindred Spirits, discusses what she has gleaned from ghosts, her unique approach to paranormal investigations, and tips for amateur ghost hunters. 

Spook: Science Tackles the Afterlife by Mary Roach. Science writer Mary Roach–Everett Reads! author a few years back–moves on from the cadavers in her book Stiff to what happens after death. From Kirkus reviews: “Truly deft handling of the (mostly) daft.”

Whether it’s buying and demolishing what he believed was a ‘demon house,’ hanging out at his popular haunted museum in Las Vegas or starring in the widely popular Ghost Adventures on cable, Zak Bagans knows how to stay in the spotlight. He’s done it for a long time. Last year, for instance, he released his third book, Ghost-hunting, part of the For Dummies series, and turns out it could be just the guidebook you need if you have a hankering to investigate spooky stuff. He also relays an assortment of unearthly experiences, much of it one of a kind.

Life After Life by Raymond Moody. Originally published in 1975, this remains essential reading. Moody, considered the grandfather of the Near Death Experience (NDE) movement, introduced the world to the phenomenon.

Also worth a check out: 

Between Two Worlds: Lessons from the Other Side by Tyler Henry

Near-death Experiences: Understanding our Visions of the Afterlife by John Martin Fischer

To find more information and materials all about this subject, try searching the catalog using these keywords and phrases: 

Near-death experiences.

Parapsychology — Investigation.

Ghosts.

Haunted places.

Ghosts — History.

Haunted places — History.

Parapsychology — Investigation — History.

Mediums — United States — Biography.

Clairvoyants — United States — Biography.

A Diamond in the Rough?

There’s a reason that the nightly news ends with a ‘good news story,’ we need hope. Hope gives us energy. Hearing and watching stories of how others have triumphed over the odds inspires and helps us to think better of others and ourselves.

We had our own good news story live last evening when we looked out our living room window and spotted a young couple setting up a Covid 19 style birthday party in our neighborhood. We stood in awe as decorations went up in the pouring rain and the little family waited a good 40 minutes until a trail of young families, including the 32 year old birthday girl, arrived dressed to party. We joined in from our deck as everyone sang happy birthday. 9AE6593F-91F3-4616-AFBD-EBE8A02EDC1F

Last evening was remarkable, but other days it’s been a bit like searching for diamonds in the rough. I’ve found Cloud Library the easier of the two online ebook apps to use when doing a subject search. I began my search on self-care and health but, landed on inspirational books and stories of courage. I encourage you to do your own search. Cloud Library has an extensive topic search although some titles overlap.

Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me by Anna Mehler Papemy

I don’t want to die, however in my more broken and vulnerable moments I feel like I need to be fixed. Author Anna Mehler-Paperny tracks her quest for knowledge and her desire to get well. Impeccably reported, Hello I Want to Die Please Fix Me is a profoundly compelling story about the human spirit and the myriad ways we treat (and fail to treat) depression, a condition that accounts for more years swallowed up by disability than any other in the world.

Last May I blogged on depression. No one was more surprised than me on the response I received, which attests to the importance of mental health. More recently co-worker Linda blogged on the subject as part of her Did You Know series.

Almost Everything by Anne Lamott

I’ve enjoyed and shared my enthusiasm for Lamott’s candor in a previous post. I can’t think of a better time to revisit her in Almost Everything. In this profound and funny book, Lamott calls for each of us to rediscover the nuggets of hope and wisdom that are buried within us so we can make life sweeter than we ever imagined. Her work is divided into short chapters that explore life’s essential truths. Candid and caring, insightful and sometimes hilarious, Almost Everything is the book we need and that only Anne Lamott can write.

The Boy, the Mole, the Fox, and the Horse by Charlie Mackesy

Whimsical comes to mind when reading this short summary: From the revered British illustrator, a modern fable for all ages that explores life’s universal lessons, featuring 100 color and black-and-white drawings. “What do you want to be when you grow up?” asked the mole.“ Kind,” said the boy.

Walking with Peety: the Dog Who Saved my Life by Eric O’Grey

Eric was 150 pounds, overweight, depressed, and sick. After a lifetime of failed diet attempts… sound familiar?…Walking with Peety is for anyone who is ready to make a change in his or her life, and for everyone who knows the joy, love, and hope that dogs can bring. This is more than a tale of mutual rescue. This is an epic story of friendship and strength

Broken Places & Outer Spaces by Nnedi Okorafor

A powerful journey from star athlete to sudden paralysis to creative awakening, award-winning science fiction writer Nnedi Okorafor shows that what we think are our limitations have the potential to become our greatest strengths.

We’ve heard it, and we’ve said it a thousand times over these past weeks “We’re in this together.” Author Philip Yancey once wrote “We don’t get to choose the family we’re born into.” So much of life is about not having control, yet seeing a spontaneous birthday party outside in the rain and finding books with amazing stories and insights helps us along our way. A bit like finding a diamond in the rough.

When Life Gives You Lemons

When life gives you lemons, make lemonade

lemonWhen I think of this quote, it is spoken in the voice of a dear friend who has suffered the loss of a marriage, the pain of adult children with drug and mental health issues, physical disabilities, and recently the loss of her mother and the subsequent rejection of her elderly father. She holds to the attitude ‘when life offers lemons, make lemonade.’ Her strength and faith inspire me and bring to mind one of my favorite inspirational author’s, Anne Lamott.

lemonadeMs. Lamott needs little introduction, but I didn’t discover her writing until a few years ago. I like the grittiness with which Lamott writes and her ability to dial in on the subjects of life, death, grace, hope, and prayer. She doesn’t claim to know “all the answers or even that much about God,” yet she somehow manages to strike a chord of truth. In a world where there exists a myriad of belief systems, Lamott is able to tap into the things that tether us together in our humanness: feelings of pain, sorrow, excitement, and joy. Whether you’re inspired by a beautiful sunrise, an unexpected blessing, or the written word, you will find a few touch points in one of these three books.

helpthankswowIn Help Thanks Wow: The Three Essential Prayers, Lamott describes ‘Help’ as the prayer when hope seems hopeless: the admission we’re stuck, can’t fix it, throwing up our white surrender flag. She concludes this may be the miracle in itself; realizing you’re lost, but that in surrendering you’ve won… which may lead you to give ‘thanks.’ ‘Thanks’ prayers, Lamott continues, may be as simple as the relief and gratitude of dodging a bullet, and the ‘Wow’ prayers she sums up can be spring. Spring being hope, beauty and glory all wrapped up to awaken our winter dulled senses to new life.

stichesIn her book Stitches: A Handbook on Meaning, Hope and Repair she describes the book as “a patchwork of moments, memories, connections and stories.” Drawing from her personal life, she poses the question: how do you make sense out of the curve balls life throws. She echoes the cry of many by asking the tough questions, questions that arise as we go through life. Lamott writes with an openness and transparency providing insight by illustrating our humanity.

smallvictoriesLamott’s latest inspirational book, Small Victories: Spotting Improbable Moments of Grace is summarized this way: the author offers a new message of hope that celebrates the triumph of light over darkness… Our victories over hardship and pain may seem small (she writes) but they change us. Lamott writes of forgiveness, restoration, and transformation and how we can turn to love even in the most hopeless situations. Theology aside, Anne Lamott speaks the language of the heart which is hard to deny. It is why I’ve come to respect this author.

I read for pleasure, for knowledge, and for inspiration. Anne Lamott is just one of many inspiring and encouraging authors that I read. The library has been a great resource for meeting my need to be encouraged and helped along the way.