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The Day of the Dead:  What is their life like the rest of the year?

Posted on 31 October 2011, 23:10

Growing up a white Anglo-Saxon Catholic, I observed All Saints Day November 1 and All Souls Day November 2.  In other words, I said a few prayers to my favorite saint and said a few more for the anonymous dead a day later.  I had no idea what kind of fun I was missing because I wasn’t born in Mexico or Guatemala.

November 1 and 2 are the days of the dead (Día de los Muertos).  Mexican-Americans believe that their dead relatives descend to earth and enjoy a kind of homecoming.  True, it’s rare that anyone reports seeing the spirits of their beloved dead, but the stories about them get told one more time—and in their presence.  The mood is usually festive, seldom solemn—though tears will often flow.


But how do the spirits of the dead live the rest of the year?  The old timers among us might be inclined to tell us the dead are in Purgatory, the younger folk that they’re in Heaven.  Can we know the answer?

In the last twenty or so years there has been a breakthrough in afterlife research.  It might seem incredible, but some scholars, including myself, think we know what the afterlife is like: its laws, its various sectors (hundreds, possibly thousands), its location relative to earth, its appearance, its inhabitants, its diverse cultures.  My book The Afterlife Revealed summarizes this research by letting the “dead” speak for themselves, and my new novel The Imprisoned Splendor makes them come alive.  If you are expecting something based on the Bible, you’d be looking in the wrong place.  If you are interested in knowing what really happens to us when we die, check out these two works or similar books.  They are likely to change your worldview and your sense of life’s meaning.  They will leave you changed—and for the better.  (Search “Stafford Betty” at Amazon.com or b & n.com.)

Stafford Betty’s new novel The Imprisoned Splendor

is published by White Crow books and available in November 2011 from Amazon and all good online book stores.

 

 

 


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Why society needs belief in an afterlife

Posted on 20 October 2011, 1:14

Last month the 14th annual Bakersfield Interfaith Conference addressed the question of afterlife.  Representatives of the world’s three largest faiths—Christianity, Islam, and Hinduism—shared their convictions, and a professional philosopher with materialist convictions made the case for extinction.  It was a lively time with almost 250 in the audience—by far the largest crowd we have ever had.  Who said the subject of afterlife is uninteresting!

I’ve thought a lot about this subject.  My recent book The Afterlife Unveiled is evidence of this, and my new novel, The Imprisoned Splendor, to be published next month by White Crow Books, takes place in the afterlife.  Allow me to make two points.

A number of my colleagues at the university where I work assume that my interest in the afterlife comes from disappointments in life—a happy afterlife would be compensation for a botched life in the here and now.  They could not be more wrong.  Instead it comes from a concern for life in the here and now.

To put it simply, if a society stops believing in an afterlife where its members are held accountable before God (or Higher Power) for what they do, they will tend to drift from the moral and cultural norms that are crucial to its existence.  As Ivan said in Dostoevsky’s The Brothers Karamazov, “If God does not exist, then everything is permitted.”  This drift, I believe, is occurring right now in our own country, especially among our youth.

It is not fashionable to say this, but every society needs absolutes.  Nazi Germany didn’t have any.  It was prepared to violate its treaty obligations if they became inconvenient.  And they did.  It was Himmler who asked the question, “What, after all, compels us to keep our promises?”  The answer was, Nothing.

The influential post-modern philosopher Richard Rorty couldn’t do much better.  He, too, lived without absolutes.  When asked how he defended his sense of moral outrage at the Nazi Holocaust, he could say only that it was based on his “personal sense of revulsion.”  But the Nazis didn’t share that revulsion.  So who is right?  Without absolutes, there is no answer.  Everything is relative.

The eleventh-century philosopher Al-Ghazzali, widely regarded as the most influential Muslim since Muhammad himself, classically makes the case against all this relativism.  To deny the existence of a surviving soul, to “deny the future life—heaven, hell, resurrection, and judgment”—is to invite moral chaos.  He predicted that men and women living without absolutes would “give way to a bestial indulgence of their appetites.”

And that’s what’s happening—in government, on Wall Street, in our cities, in our neighborhoods.  How many sacrifice their own interests when no one is policing them?  There are those who say that men and women are capable of policing themselves by using reason.  My experience of people who talk this way is that they are often the first to reason their way out of the policies and standards they helped create!

We need to feel we are being policed by a Power far bigger than we are and that there are penalties for our inhumanity.  In his book The Devil’s Delusion, David Berlinski, a secular Jew, makes this point.  No fan of the Catholic Church and the atrocities of some of its priests, he nevertheless defends it.  “Just who has imposed on the suffering human race poison gas, barbed wire, high explosives, experiments in eugenics, the formula for Zyklon B, heavy artillery, pseudo-scientific justifications for mass murder, cluster bombs, attack submarines, napalm, intercontinental ballistic missiles, military space platforms, and nuclear weapons?  If memory serves, it was not the Vatican.”
   
The other point I want to make is that people suffer from metaphysical depression when they reject belief in an afterlife and a God to govern it—though they might not know it and would probably deny it if buttonholed.  One of Bakersfield’s most respected citizens, Stan Simrin, the city’s unofficial Torah teacher, put it this way a few days after 9-11 at the 2001 Gleaners’ breakfast: “If there is no God, then the existence of all that is beautiful and good is but accidental, the byproduct of blindly swirling atoms, or the equally unpurposeful mechanism of present day physics. . . . Atheism leads not necessarily to badness, but certainly to incurable sadness and loneliness.”

Along with Simrin, I am convinced that it is easier for people of faith to face death than for their materialist friends who deny the realty of anything beyond the physical body.  All of us are glad to be alive; we don’t want life to end.  But what a blessing to know that death is just the dropping of the physical shell.  That is what the paranormal evidence I study turns up—over and over and over again.

Stafford Betty’s new novel The Imprisoned Splendor

is published by White Crow books and available in November 2011 from Amazon and all good online book stores.

 


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The Role of Affinities and the Group-Soul by Anabela Cardoso – Affinities seem to play an important role in the next world. We have touched on the subject in a previous chapter and I have discussed it in earlier publications (Cardoso, 2010, 2003). Indeed, the meaning and importance of the Group-Soul described in the mediumistic literature, e.g. the information received purportedly from the deceased Frederic Myers by Geraldine Cummins (Cummins, 2012), have been emphasized in my own contacts. Read here
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