A passel of thinkers, psychics and revived near-death patients attests to the immortality of the soul in Rydell’s (Of Love, 2011, etc.) latest spiritual exploration.
Rydell cops to being a “practising Christian,” but inconsistencies in the Bible drive him to secular sources for assurance that the soul lives on in Heaven after the body dies. He examines a wide range of authorities—Socrates, Descartes and William James—who have offered up logical proofs of an incorporeal reality. Also featured are psychics—primarily the medium George Anderson—who channel messages from the beyond, and people who have made “direct contact” with ghosts. Rydell is especially impressed with survivors of near-death experiences who have gone into the light and returned to write about it, and with subjects who have been hypnotically regressed to the celestial interludes between their past lives. Their relentlessly detailed recollections of Heaven take up many pages. The author tries to reconcile Christianity with New Age spirituality, but many of the notions he embraces—like reincarnation and the unimportance of sin—will seem heretical to orthodox Christians. Skeptics may need even more convincing. Rydell insists that “scientific data … confirm” the immortality of the soul, but his argument rests on an uncritical acceptance of paranormal phenomena and spiritualist authors, while sidestepping objections scientists and atheists raise against the notion of an afterlife. Yet the author cheerfully admits that he ignores opposing viewpoints and “picks and chooses” his evidence. His exposition of this material is lucid, but in the end rather banal and dispiriting. Rydell envisions the afterlife as a realm of all-pervading light and joy, lovely flowers and majestic landscapes, and ceaseless learning on campuses where souls “graduate” to higher “levels.” During “recess breaks between classes” spirits can engage in “spontaneous conversation,” relax in “pools of vibrating, restorative liquid energy” and pass the time “dancing and singing in unison.”
A rapturous but unpersuasive compendium of New Age consolation.