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Where is God in the Pandemic?

Posted on 27 April 2020, 8:29

The pandemic has ignited another battle between the philistines of atheism and those of evangelical religions.  The atheists – more properly, the nihilists – see the God of religion as a mad puppeteer, amusing “himself” by pulling strings and pitting man against nature.  These nihilists ask the evangelicals, “Where is your great god now?”  “Why is ‘he’ permitting so many people to die?”  “What good is such a god if ‘he’ can’t protect you from such hardships?”  Indications are that most of these nihilists are former religionists who left their faith because they could never find answers to those questions.  They never looked outside of orthodox religions.

The evangelicals respond to the nihilists by saying that God’s ways are not understood by man, that adversity is necessary for us to learn and earn a place in heaven, that we always come out of such adversity better than we were before it, even if there is a price to pay. That’s just the way it is.  The nihilists, expecting a life of hedonistic pleasures with absolutely no adversity, don’t buy it, and the battle goes on. The evangelicals add fuel to the fire by constantly using the “W” word – worship, suggesting that their God is like some narcissistic king of ancient days, requiring constant praise and adoration while rewarding only those who totally idolize him. 

I’ve heard or read about a number of such exchanges over the past two weeks, the latest coming from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who was quoted as saying, “The number is down because we brought the number down.  God did not do that.  Faith did not do that.  Destiny did not do that. A lot of pain and suffering did that…That’s how it works.  It’s math…”  Meanwhile, the evangelicals protested hither and thither over not being able to gather together in worship services. 

During my youth, I attended obligatory Catholic mass every Sunday out of fear that if I didn’t and died before I could confess my sins that I would spend eternity in hell.  Of course, the fact that my mother expected me to attend with her was also a factor.  I recall watching the priest bowing, kneeling, petitioning, and praising God while wondering why such a benevolent and loving God would condone such pagan-like ceremonies and demand such adoration. It never made sense to me.

At some point, after my emancipation, I tried a few Protestant churches, but they used the “W” word more than the Catholics did and that turned me away from them.  Moreover, they stressed “faith” more than “works” and had no middle ground between heaven and hell, as did the Catholics. It made absolutely no sense to me that salvation would depend on what we believed or whom we accepted as God rather than how we lived our lives. Nor did it make sense that we would be judged either righteous or wicked after death, when nearly everyone seemed to be in a gray zone between the black and white of those extremes. 

I was looking for something more than a God who wanted to be worshipped incessantly. I was looking for evidence of a dynamic eternal life, not one in which we strum harps and float around on clouds for eternity, praising God twenty-four-seven.  If there is a God or Being of some kind overseeing it all, great. If it’s Jesus, well, that’s even greater. From what I had learned from the churches, he seemed like somebody I could look up to and be further taught by. However,  the Christian Bible tells us to “Seek ye first the kingdom of God.” (Matthew 6:25:33)  It doesn’t say to first look for God and then look for his kingdom. No doubt the fundamentalists can come up with their own interpretation of that, just as they can come up with a broader definition of the word “worship” than the one I and so many others give to it.   

The Catholic Church did something for me, however, that I don’t think the Protestant churches would have done had I stayed with them long enough.  It introduced me to the more mystical side of religion – apparitions, levitations, healings, and other miraculous events that defied natural law. Many of them seemed to go well beyond delusional minds and the parameters of science.  While I couldn’t accept the worship part of what the Church had to offer, the miracles provided a link to the mystical and eventually to psychical research where I got many answers. At some point in my early pursuit, I began to realize that I shouldn’t be searching for God but for the survival of consciousness at death. 

Proof of God, if there can be such proof, does not necessarily mean proof of an afterlife.  On the other hand, evidence of survival does suggest a God of some kind, perhaps not an anthropomorphic (humanlike) one, but a creative force or intelligence that is beyond human comprehension.  I was able to find that evidence in studying the research carried out by the pioneers of psychical research during the period 1850 to 1935. It provided a scientific approach to the mystical.  I know the nihilists don’t see it, because they have never really dug into it and rely on references like Wikipedia to be “informed.”  It is clear to most who have thoroughly studied the old research that Wikipedia writers have a will not-to-believe and really don’t understand the subject matter.  At the same time, the evangelicals don’t see it because there are certain things coming out of it that they can’t reconcile with church dogma and doctrine.  Therefore, they conclude that it must be demonic.

The teachings of the group soul called Imperator, an assembly of 49 advanced spirits, that communicated through William Stainton Moses, an Anglican priest who became a medium during the latter part of the nineteenth century, make much more sense to me than what I learned during my church days.  When Moses asked the Imperator group who they were, the reply came: “We are they who preach a definite, intelligible, clear system of reward and punishment, but in doing so we do not feign a fabled heaven, a brutal hell, and a human God.”

I suspect that the Council of Nicaea, under Constantine, decided to elevate Jesus to the Godhead in AD 325 because its members realized that most people need something to visualize.  Praying to an abstract picture of atoms and electrons that might constitute a creative force just doesn’t do it for most of us. We need to visualize the recipient of our prayers.  When Moses asked about Jesus, the Imperator group replied:

“You inquire from us what position we assign to Jesus the Christ.  We are careful to not enter into curious comparisons between different teachers who, in different ages, have been sent from God.  The time is not yet come for that; but this we know, that no spirit more pure, more godlike, more noble, more blessing and more blessed, ever descended to find a home on your earth.  None more worthily earned by a life of self-sacrificing love the adoring reverence devotion of mankind.  None bestowed more blessings on humanity; none wrought a greater work for God.” 

I have no problem visualizing Jesus as the “Chairman of the Board” on the Other Side, while not recognizing him as God.  And I have no problem revering him or petitioning him in prayer, but I refuse to believe that he demands or wants worship. To again quote Imperator: 

“The outcome of the Revelation of Christ, which is only now beginning to be seen amongst men, is in its truest sense the abolition of death, the demonstrations of immortality.  In that great truth – man never dies, cannot die, however he may wish it – in that great truth rests the key to the future.  The immortality of man, held not as an article of faith, a clause in a creed, but as a piece of personal knowledge and individual experience, this is the keynote of the religion of the future.  In its trail come all the grand truths we teach, all the noblest conceptions of duty, the grandest view of destiny, the truest realizations of life.”

As I see it, the animosity toward religion will continue until the churches do away with the “W” word and realize that they must first seek the Kingdom of God, not God, per se.  Unfortunately, there is no indication that such will happen in the immediate future, and so the nihilists will likely continue with their savage attacks.

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
His forthcoming book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is due later in 2020.

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Musings on the Pandemic, Grief, and Death

Posted on 13 April 2020, 18:55

While watching the movie The Lost City of Z on Amazon last week, I pondered on the “adversity” we are experiencing with the current pandemic quarantine and thought about how much worse conditions could be.  The movie is about Percy Fawcett’s exploration of the Amazon during the early 1900s. It left me appreciating the comforts of my home and wondering why Fawcett would leave his comfortable home in England to endure the hardships of the Amazon jungle, not once but three times, the first two expeditions lasting around two years each. He had to deal with extreme heat, starvation, wild animals, snakes, piranha, deadly insects, and attacks by primitive natives in his search for a lost civilization.

The movie producers did a good job in depicting what life was like in England before electricity. Even though Fawcett lived in a nice home in the English countryside, it was dark and dreary during the nights, with only candlelight and not much more than a book to pass the evening hours.  It was nearly as dismal during the day, as the sun, when it occasionally peeked through the overcast, offered little light in the home. It seemed just as gloomy in the office and boardroom of the National Geographic Society in London as Fawcett discussed his expedition plans with board members. And there were many days and nights he endured in trenches in France during the Great War.  Pondering on all that, I could begin to understand why Fawcett chose adventure and light in the treacherous jungle over monotony and darkness in his home. 

Many of us are guilty of not appreciating how soft our lives have become over the past century.  Think about how our ancestors lived before electricity. There was little to do during the leisure hours beyond sitting in front of a fire place or on the front porch while knitting, whittling, or staring at the stars. As I have suggested here before, I believe there was better mediumship back then than there is now because they had so much quiet time.  I can recall sitting in front of fires on quiet evenings 70 or so years ago, before television and computers, and experiencing something of a hypnotic effect, and I can remember gazing at the stars in the still of the night while wondering what life is all about.  I have no difficulty in believing that a more sensitive person can go beyond that hypnotic effect and open him- or herself to another dimension, to the spirit world. 

In her 1946 book, You are Psychic, Sophia Williams, (below) whose direct-voice mediumship is described by researcher Hamlin Garland in his book The Mystery of the Buried Crosses (available from White Crow Books), wrote that it took her four years of sitting quietly each day while learning the art of relaxation and complete detachment before she began to develop as a medium. Williams went on to explain that the first spirit voice coming through her mediumship was weak and difficult to understand, but the voices became clearer as she continued to sit in silence. She added that the voices came through in many different languages. She stressed the need to achieve absolute relaxation as a first step and then sit in a state of expectancy with the mind cleared of all conscious thoughts and memories.  “Conscious thought must be avoided – consciously trying not to think is thinking,” she pointed out.


“I am certain that much of the information and phenomena I receive comes through intermediaries, those personalities who exist in another space dimension or function at a higher rate of frequency,” she wrote.  “It is apparent to me that when these personalities pass into the next dimension they carry with them all of the habits, faults, and ideas, which they retain until they learn to progress.”

While thinking about the “hardships” of my confinement, I also thought about Mary Lincoln, the widow of our sixteenth president.  After his assassination, and following the death of her son Tad, she lived in a downtown Chicago hotel for $45 a week, including meals.  Think what it would be like sitting in a dark hotel room day and night before electricity and electronic gadgets.  What does a person do to avoid complete boredom?  Mary found something of an escape from it all by browsing in nearby shops. Being gregarious, she probably got to know some of the merchants fairly well and felt obligated to make purchases now and then, even if she had no need for the item at the time. Shopping was a way to assuage her grief and despair.  While a man might choose refuge at a local saloon, that option was not available to respectable women. 

Indications were that Mary was living within her annual income of $8,000, a significant sum at the time. However, her only surviving son, Robert, had her confined to a lunatic asylum after testifying in court to her unsoundness of mind, the primary focus being on her unwise spending, including sitting with some mediums. With the help of friends, especially one Myra Bradwell, a Spiritualist friend who had a law degree but was not allowed to practice law because of her gender, and her husband, Judge James B. Bradwell, Mary Lincoln was released from the asylum after just three months and three weeks of confinement. 

Picturing Percy Fawcett (below) in his dark, dreary home and visualizing Mary Lincoln in a bleak hotel room with little to occupy themselves, I was able to better appreciate my current confinement. It made me wonder what life would be like without electricity and electronic gadgets to entertain ourselves.  It made me think how it might be if we are ever hit by a hurricane and lose electricity for weeks or even months. I’m living in luxury now compared with how bad it could be.  Moreover, we have no fireplaces in Hawaii.


Before writing the last paragraph, I took time out to read Bob Ginsberg’s blog, Beyond the Five Senses.  Bob mentions that Chris Cuomo, a popular CNN newsman, was doing his show a few nights earlier from the basement of his home while in the deep throes of the Covid-19 virus.  Cuomo related that he was running a consistently high fever, causing him to shiver so much that he cracked a tooth.  He then reported that during the night he saw his deceased father sitting on the bed next to him, and even engaged in some conversation with him.  However, Cuomo dismissed it as nothing more than a hallucination brought on by the high fever. 

Ginsberg, who with his wife, Phran, heads up the Forever Family Foundation, thought of an alternative explanation.  He wondered if the deviation from normal brain process might have opened Cuomo up to reception of information that was normally filtered and never made it to his consciousness.  After all, the true definition of “hallucination” is “an experience that does not exist outside known reality.”  Just because mainstream science cannot grasp that other reality does not mean there is not overwhelming evidence supporting its existence. 

Consideration was given by Ginsberg to reports by near-death experiencers, mediums, and meditators who have had clear and lucid thoughts of talking with deceased loved ones while in an altered state of consciousness, experiences that went beyond the norms of lucid dreaming.

All that brought to my mind the fact that so many of the renowned mediums of the past reported developing as mediums only after suffering a serious illness, one that probably involved a high temperature.  I have not kept a record of them, but I recall that both Etta Wriedt and Leonora Piper, possibly the two best mediums of the past, were in this category.  Of course, there were many more diseases around then than there are now and that may contribute, in addition to the greater quiet time, to an answer as to why there were more good mediums in the past than there are now.  The bottom line here is that Cuomo may have heard from his deceased father, but since science doesn’t recognize spirits or spirit communication, it couldn’t have been “real.”

It is especially sad that so many of our mental-health “experts” subscribe to such a mindset.  In her March 30 column for The Atlantic, psychotherapist Lori Gottlieb tells of the great grief she experienced at the recent passing of her 85-year-old father. The grief was compounded by the fact that she opted not to visit him on his deathbed because she had a cough and was concerned it could be the coronavirus.  Her grief was so painful that she saw her own therapist to help overcome it.  Nowhere in her column is there any indication that she believes that her father’s consciousness survived his physical death. I inferred from her words that she is a total nihilist in that regard.

When I read about such grief, I wonder if I should feel guilty about not more seriously grieving the deaths of my father, mother, brother, and other loved ones.  I don’t know how grief can be measured, but my grief was minuscule compared with that reported by Gottlieb, and I doubt that it has anything to do with loving the person less than she loved her father.  With each death I have experienced, there has been a conviction that the person still exists and that I’ll see him or her again some day.  Such conviction significantly mitigated the grief.  If I’m wrong, which I’m confident I’m not, I’ll never know it and my false conviction saved me much grief and the cost of a therapist. 

Next blog post:  April 27

Michael Tymn is the author of The Afterlife Revealed: What Happens After We Die, Resurrecting Leonora Piper: How Science Discovered the Afterlife, and Dead Men Talking: Afterlife Communication from World War I.
His forthcoming book, No One Really Dies: 25 Reasons to Believe in an Afterlife is due later in 2020.

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The Only Planet of Choice: Visitations – Many people use the word ‘Alien’ to describe a visitor from outer space. Extra terrestrial is another word, which is rather more user friendly. For the sake of the question and answer format, the word used by the questioner has been left, though even Tom questions our use of‘Alien’. Should we wish to foster openess between all beings of the Universe perhaps we should also look at our vocabulary? In a discussion between Andrew and Tom many years earlier, Andrew had asked Tom about UFOs and whether they were created manifestations. Tom had replied: “Many of the flying things that you call UFOs come from our place, but they come from other places also, and they do come in physical form. But many of them are not physical. They are like your movie screen”. Read here
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