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  #1  
Old Jan 11, '09, 9:00 pm
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tabsie3210 tabsie3210 is offline
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Default What does a Catholic do with NDE?

First, a note:

My atheist brothers and sisters, I love that you guys are here and I like that you're willing to come and chat with us, because everybody needs to stop and rethink from time to time. I also understand that you disagree with me. Hey, that's cool, I disagree with you, too, and I'm glad we get a chance to have a good old-fashioned debate every once in a while.

There's a tendency for some atheists to automatically respond to Near Death Experience posts with, "It's all a brain thing, you're not really having an NDE, it's just the dying brain, etc." I'm not saying in this forum; this is the first time I've posted about it here, that I'm aware of.

I greatly respect your opinion and if one of you decides to post about why you don't believe in NDEs, I'll be happy to have a dialogue with you. Unfortunately, I don't really have access to my usual set of NDE links. I'm sort of just asking about Catholic opinion of NDEs. I really don't have the capacity to do a proper research debate on the reality of them from a believer/non-believer standpoint right now (weird scheudle at work is going to mess me up all week).

I appreciate your understanding and hope that after this week I'll be in better shape to tackle that end of things, perhaps on another post.

All my love,
Tabs
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  #2  
Old Jan 11, '09, 9:22 pm
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tabsie3210 tabsie3210 is offline
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Default Re: What does a Catholic do with NDE?

Now then:

What DO Catholics do with NDEs and NDE research?

From what I've seen, Catholic belief is sort of split 50/50 about whether NDEs are from the Devil or are genuine experiences of God.

A good chunk of NDEs are negative, meaning they're hellish in some way.

Most children's NDEs, no matter what country, nationality, religion or race, are almost identical. Er, um, again, I don't really have access to the links, but I do recall that one gentleman from the Discover Institute (his name is William D... something. I can't think to spell it, Gah! I'm an idiot) had responses on his personal blog talking about the universality of chilren's NDEs.

Meanwhile, adults have very different opinions.

Two of the best books I've ever read about NDEs were SAVED BY THE LIGHT and 90 MINUTES IN HEAVEN. The first is by a spiritual New-Age type who went into detail about his life review. The second is an account by a Baptist preacher (who actually visited a church right near my house recently! But his talk confliced with Mass so I didn't get to hear him. Boo hoo! ) who had a very traditional image of Heaven when he was there.

The preacher doesn't have a firm belief in NDEs per say. He was of the opinion that they're something we all *wish* were real, but he found some of the things that people reported in their NDEs to be hard to believe. He is convinced that his own was real and that was good enough for him.

The other guy is fun to read but I have to take everything he said with a grain of salt. He's got some weird new-age ideas about a relaxation center he wants to open, to help people calm down so they're not so stressed. His vision of Heaven wasn't traditional in any sense, nor Biblical. But one thing that resonated with me was his Life Review.

In the Life Review, a person not only goes over all the things that he did in his lifetime, but he also *experiences* everything he did to/for other people. This is an almost universal theme.

There's an NDE account by a former-atheist-turned-preacher named Howard Storm. He spent some time in a hellish place being tortured before he started praying to God. He makes no mistake that the only reason he didn't remain there was because when stripped to his core...
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  #3  
Old Jan 11, '09, 9:22 pm
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tabsie3210 tabsie3210 is offline
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Default Re: What does a Catholic do with NDE?

... something inside him was worth saving, and that, in reality, he belonged where he was in Hell, but he believes firmly that Jesus did rescue him.

In *his* Life Review, he suffered greatly seeing and expriencing the pain of everyone he ever wronged.

So what do we Catholids do with an NDE?

I can totally get behind the Life Review aspect because it resonates with the feeling of Justice that is God. The idea is that God not only shows us what we did right and wrong in our lives, but that we end up taking all of the pain of others onto ourselves when we do wrong. It's like the ultimate wake-up call.

Now, I disagree with some theories about the Life Review. I *do* think that it's a judgement, and one part of either purgatory or hell (depending on the state of the soul). Some NDE researchers (Pim von Lommel comes to mind) are of the impression that there's no judgement, but I think that' misreading the evidence.

I also disagree that eveyone knows exaclty what happened during their NDE or that they come back and define it perfectly. I think that being back in the body can mess up your perception, and you get weird ideas from it. So I think that it's perfectly possible a young man has an NDE, and was really with God for a moment, but I don't think I have to believe everything when he says, "And then I realized God and I are One!"

On the other hand, does believing in the NDE give too much creedence to ideas that are blasphemous?

One NDE website said that we can judge the NDE by its fruits, just as Jesus taugh us - "If something gives good fruits, then the tree must be good, but if the fruit is bad, the tree is evil." To paraphrase.

Good points:
1) NDExperiencers have a greatly decreased fear of death, moreso than anyone else.

2) If a person who attempts suicide has an NDE, he or she is considerably less likely to attempt it again, feeling that there's either no need or understanding why life is so important after the experience.

3) Attitude tests show that NDExperiencers have more positive outlook on life and are more enthusiastic about living than they were before the NDE.

4) Some people claim increased spirituality, a move away from materialism, and a move toward God. Howard Storm, as I said, became a preacher after an NDE, when prior to it he was an atheist.

5) One NDExperiencer became an avowed enemy of abortion after he was visited by numerous children in his experience, who said they were his but were killed before birth by his girlfriends' abortions.

So these are all good points.

Bad points:

1) Spirituality - A lot of times you get some really weird spirituality. One guy who was Catholic said he had a vision of being visited by Mary, only he "percieved" that she wasn't "really" the Blessed Virgin, and the he experienced her changing into a God Consciousness, that the Blessed Mother was simply an image to ease his mind, not the reality. Not sure what to do with that.

2) Negative impact - as I said, a lot of NDEs are negative or hellish. They can sometimes have a negative impact on people, who can become despondent.

3) Statanic presence - there's a chance that some NDEs are altered by Satan or demons, and they can cause someone to totally misinterpret what happened.

I'm sure there are other negatives out there. Blah.

I also believe that I read a story where one of the 20th Century Popes had a... Cardnial? I believe it was... who had an NDE. The NDExperiencer gave an accurate assessment of what the Pope was wearing at the time (I think this was during Lent, so his holiness was dressed up for an event, but again, I could be wrong), even though they were on opposit sides of the building.

And let's face it, I don't doubt at all the validity of the soul, so I don't see why NDEs shouldn't be real. But I haven't got a clue what the proper way to deal with it is. How do we define NDEs and can we use them in a positive way in our teachings?
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  #4  
Old Jan 11, '09, 9:54 pm
RobbyS RobbyS is offline
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Default Re: What does a Catholic do with NDE?

My humble opinion is that NDEs do call into question the theory that the human consciousness is a purely physical phenomenon, or at least that if it is then the model that neurologists propose does not explain NDEs.
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  #5  
Old Jan 13, '09, 4:17 am
Dameedna Dameedna is offline
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Default Re: What does a Catholic do with NDE?

Your first post was a bit confusing.

Are you saying that you would like a purely catholic perspective on NDE's and as much as you respect athiest views, you aren't looking to hear from them here?

Anyway is okay from me. Just wasn't sure what your whole athiest speil was about and what answers you are looking for.
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  #6  
Old Jan 13, '09, 10:21 am
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Default Re: What does a Catholic do with NDE?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Dameedna View Post
Your first post was a bit confusing.

Are you saying that you would like a purely catholic perspective on NDE's and as much as you respect athiest views, you aren't looking to hear from them here?

Anyway is okay from me. Just wasn't sure what your whole athiest speil was about and what answers you are looking for.

It was pretty much supposed to be, "I know me and I know I'll get off on a tangent if the thread turns into a, 'NDEs do exist/do not exist' conversation, and right now I don't have any of my links to my usual do they/don't they websites about NDEs, so I couldn't properly back up an argument."

I was kind of looking for, "What are Catholics supposed to believe about NDEs?" We believe in a soul and the afterlife, so I assume that most Catholics would accept the reality of NDEs, and therefore it's a matter of discussing how we're supposed to relate to them.

Unfortunately, it seems like nobody's really interested in them. I'm not getting any feedback... blah.

Anyway, it's not an offense, or not intended to be one. I was just looking for an answer to a specific question. It's hard on me not to have my usual links, because I prefer to argue with numbers and science than with theory and philosophy. And unfortunately, a "does it/doesn't it" debate really could use science to talk about it.
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  #7  
Old Jan 13, '09, 1:07 pm
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Default Re: What does a Catholic do with NDE?

NDEs?

I don't know...but they are interesting.

IMO they 'would' be consistent with Catholic faith if they confirmed the existence of the afterlife and/or the Trinity. However, the fact that some don't does not demonstrate that this is not the case. After all, those people did not actually die. They may have been dying - but the fact they were revived demonstrates that they were not dead.

My best guess is that people interpret their experiences (whether objectively real or the result of subjective processes) according to their own cultural and social beliefs. Emotional states would also have a major influence and this could account for the negative hellish experiences of people who have attempted suicide. It is also the case that similarities may be due to brain chemistry changes during the process of near death.

The Catholic Church does not - as far as I know - dismiss the role of biological processes in subjective and spiritual experiences. Our experiences of God may be mediated through our neurology for example.

However, the Church is clear on avoiding anything that is linked to New Age beliefs and philosophies.

'Knowing them by their fruits' is also questionable as we are told that Satan can appear as a very beautiful and light filled angel. His only objective is to turn us away from God. If that means leading us to false spirituality and gods - however nicely presented and well intentioned - then he'll do it.
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  #8  
Old Jan 13, '09, 8:19 pm
AndyF AndyF is offline
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Default Re: What does a Catholic do with NDE?

tabsie3210:

Well, it had me convinced for a while, but thanks to the knowledge given to Catholics, you can generally weed out the fiction. This is because the non-Catholic authors are prone to failure by incorporating their beliefs in the scenes.

For instance Howard Storm:

www.near-death.com/storm.html

He asks his "friends" the angels a question.

My friends answered lots of questions in funny ways. They really knew the whole tone of what I asked them, even before I got the questions out. When I thought of questions in my head, they really understood them.
I asked them, for example, which was the best religion. I was looking for an answer which was like, "Presbyterians." I figured these guys were all Christians.
The answer I got was, "The best religion is the religion that brings you closest to God."

That is absolutely the wrong answer, and it has a protestant ring about it, a "pick and choose" that echoes the current troubled stuation on earth, and is the root of our problems.


The angels would have told him the right religion is the religion that Jesus started and that is the Catholic Apostolic religion. There would be an absolute certainty to this. How would they even face Jesus after telling him this.?

So even in NDE's it is never certain, but for some they see a few bucks to be made.

Andy
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  #9  
Old Jan 13, '09, 8:51 pm
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tabsie3210 tabsie3210 is offline
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Default Re: What does a Catholic do with NDE?

My biggest problem with NDEs is, I don't believe the "New Age-y" stuff, and there's an abundence of it in NDE literature.

On the one hand, I could see them being real. The science has me convinced enough - the brain is too disordered to be functioning during an NDE. It's flatline, it's not working. And yet, people have vivid memories.

Also, I like the work done by Dr. Melvin Morse. He's made it very clear, over and over again, that he's not a spiritualist. He doesn't believe in God or even an "afterlife." But he believes in NDEs because of his scientific work on children who have experienced them. He's very non-biased, so I like to study his work.

In general, children have NDEs that are pretty universal, and for the most part they conform with Catholic teachings, if one is able to set aside the fact that kids don't interpret things the same way as adults.

But you're right about Howard Storm, and a host of others. P. M. Atwater also doesn't jive with me, even though I like her down-to-earth explanations of NDEs in the "Idiot's Guide" book. I don't believe her philosophies, though. They don't sit well with me. Also, I don't think she's as honest about her NDEs as she claims she is.

We know there's an afterlife. Jesus brought Lazarus back from it before returning from it himself. Revelations does a good job of describing it, too. We know that some saints have seen ghosts, that St. Faustina talked to Jesus himself, and knew about the afterlife. We know that Mary has appeared to people repeatedly, and look at what she told the three children about Hell.

Besides, the whole sky-opened-up big at Jesus' baptism is a pretty big exclamation point concerning Heaven.

NDEs are evidence of *something.* At the very least, they point to the mind's ability to live apart from the body, which is indicative of a spirit.

Could be that Howard Storm, a former atheist, came back from the brink and misinterpreted or misunderstood what he was told. I remember reading about a Chiense military man who had an NDE where he met someone incredible whom he felt was his older brother. He then came upon some literature about Christianity and assumed that Jesus was the person, and he ended up leading a pretty bloody revolt in China. I'd have to look it up for details, but that seems like a clear-cut case of a misinterpreted NDE.

Blahs.
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  #10  
Old Jan 14, '09, 12:41 am
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Default Re: What does a Catholic do with NDE?

Quote:
Originally Posted by tabsie3210 View Post
the brain is too disordered to be functioning during an NDE. It's flatline, it's not working. And yet, people have vivid memorie.
HI Tabs,

The brain is working and has not 'flatlined'. That is why they have 'memories'.When the brain ceases to function, brain death has occured and it is not possible to revive someone. Brain death is identifiable using a set of neurological tests over a period of time. and it is irreversible because of widespread death of neurons in critical areas.

As far as I know, NDEs occur as a result of cardiac arrest. This occurs when the heart stops beating or is quiviering so it cannot pump blood. (I should know I have a sudden death syndrome which causes cardiac arrest and can be induced by stress, exertion, alcohol, coffee and even chocolate). I have never had an NDE even though I have had two cardiac arrests induced during surgical procedures. My own rationale is that I wasn't 'out' for long enough to experience an NDE.

On the subject of memories, Elizabeth Loftus (a cognitive psychologist) has done a tremendous amount of work demonstrating that people often elaborate hazy slight memories and produce false memories - even without meaning to. Her work is covered in two books The Myth of Repressed Memory and Eyewitness Testimony. We have a huge drive to try and make sense of our experiences and Loftus proposes that without meaning to, we often construct and develop stories that have little resemblance to what actually happened.
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  #11  
Old Jan 14, '09, 4:11 pm
AndyF AndyF is offline
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Default Re: What does a Catholic do with NDE?

tabsie:

Quote:
and for the most part they conform with Catholic teachings,
All of the parts, that is our indicator of fraud. This life holds to error,amiguity and misinterpretations. If we are in conversation with anyone on the other side who has God's favor, he would proclaim the glory of Jesus and his Church, he could do no less. In absolute charity he would not give the person options of religions or beliefs. He would suggest nothing that would deviate from the focus of Christ and his Church and the correct path.

All those who enter heaven are Catholic on entry if not already.

Andy
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  #12  
Old Jan 15, '09, 6:51 am
wcknight wcknight is offline
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Default Re: What does a Catholic do with NDE?

I've heard from 2 folks who had relatives who had a NDE experience. One was a co-worker whose brother 'died' on the operating room and was resuscitated. The other was a friend whose son (when a teenager) touched a high power line in Isreal and was electricuted and subsequently revived.

I don't have any details on what they experienced. The brother had a vision or met a relative who had passed away. The son months later told his mother that he had some wierd experiences from the electrocution. He did not relate what those were, at least the mother did not tell me what they were.

I tend to believe that some of these events may be real, and some may be delusional (or maybe even demonic driven).

The stories I value much more highly are the experiences or visions of the saints. Folks who live very holy lives and who exhibit miracle working gifts, I think are much more credible. For one, my guess is that they would know (or sense) if the source were from God or from evil. And second, all of these great saints and miracle workers were 100% Catholic, not one proposed that any other faith was acceptable.

Some may say there were great miracle workers of other faiths, and I would challenge them to please name one and list some of the miracles that they performed.
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  #13  
Old Jan 15, '09, 8:26 pm
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Default Re: What does a Catholic do with NDE?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Fran65 View Post
HI Tabs,

The brain is working and has not 'flatlined'. That is why they have 'memories'.When the brain ceases to function, brain death has occured and it is not possible to revive someone. Brain death is identifiable using a set of neurological tests over a period of time. and it is irreversible because of widespread death of neurons in critical areas.

As far as I know, NDEs occur as a result of cardiac arrest. This occurs when the heart stops beating or is quiviering so it cannot pump blood. (I should know I have a sudden death syndrome which causes cardiac arrest and can be induced by stress, exertion, alcohol, coffee and even chocolate). I have never had an NDE even though I have had two cardiac arrests induced during surgical procedures. My own rationale is that I wasn't 'out' for long enough to experience an NDE.

On the subject of memories, Elizabeth Loftus (a cognitive psychologist) has done a tremendous amount of work demonstrating that people often elaborate hazy slight memories and produce false memories - even without meaning to. Her work is covered in two books The Myth of Repressed Memory and Eyewitness Testimony. We have a huge drive to try and make sense of our experiences and Loftus proposes that without meaning to, we often construct and develop stories that have little resemblance to what actually happened.

Le sigh. I don't have my links! Bah.

Pim Von Lommel (spelling?) made the case that I was trying to make here. If I can google and find him I'll slap up what he was saying that made me say that. Ugh, I'm not a medical doctor, I don't know why I try to explain things that I don't have the right terms for! Blah. I'll get back to you as soon as I can, I promise.
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  #14  
Old Jan 15, '09, 8:41 pm
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Default Re: What does a Catholic do with NDE?

Quote:
Originally Posted by AndyF View Post
tabsie:



All of the parts, that is our indicator of fraud. This life holds to error,amiguity and misinterpretations. If we are in conversation with anyone on the other side who has God's favor, he would proclaim the glory of Jesus and his Church, he could do no less. In absolute charity he would not give the person options of religions or beliefs. He would suggest nothing that would deviate from the focus of Christ and his Church and the correct path.

All those who enter heaven are Catholic on entry if not already.

Andy
Bravo, exactly. That's why I tend toward believing children's NDEs when described by kids shortly after they occur, and not so much adult NDEs or NDEs had by kids but related as adults. Kids may not understand things the same way, or explain them in a way that adults do, but the visions they see in their experiences are very close to the teachings of the one true Church. And again, they're more universal, whereas adults are definitely influenced by culture and age and personal beliefs.

Blah, they're hard for me to figure out. They exist for a reason, NDEs do, but I wonder what, and why.
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Hi, my name's Tabitha! I was named after a woman in Acts 9:36 - 43. Not the little girl from "Bewitched."

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  #15  
Old Jan 17, '09, 12:36 pm
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Fran65 Fran65 is offline
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Default Re: What does a Catholic do with NDE?

Hi Tabsie,

I don't mean, in my second post, that I don't believe in NDEs.
As a Catholic I believe in the afterlife. I just don't know if its possible to 'visit' and then be revived. I agree with wcknight, I'd listen to and trust great Catholic saints rather than to those who appear to have less authority - from a Catholic perspective.

God Bless
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