Rudolph (Eyre: The Forgotten Explorer, 2014, etc.) explores the phenomenon of near-death experiences through a Christian lens in this religious work.
When Rudolph was a boy, his father had a heart attack and underwent a near-death experience that he described as “wonderful.” Ever since, the author has been fascinated by the phenomenon of NDEs, which he has pursued, at various times, as a university student, a Christian, and a writer conducting independent research. Culling from thousands of NDE accounts from people around the world, Rudolph has formed an understanding of them based on his own Christian faith. As he sees it, “an NDE is a spiritual gift from God to act as a personal course correction; it is a learning experience during a brush with death.” Rudolph analyzes the reports of numerous individuals who have undergone NDEs (both religious people and atheists), searching for commonalities and attempting to establish the parameters of the process. He uses Scripture and the works of religious thinkers to hypothesize how these processes relate to the movement of the spirit and the soul, and how different types of NDEs might represent different messages delivered from God. Rudolph then extrapolates how the visualizations encountered during NDEs can tell readers much about the structure and nature of the afterlife, even down to the music, boundaries, and the absence of ethnicity in paradise. Rudolph writes in clear, conversational prose, quoting widely from the many chronicles he has collected. Those interested in the NDE phenomenon may appreciate the author’s take, but its fundamental religiosity will likely vex those of more skeptical or secular dispositions. In addressing something so difficult to explain or quantify, Rudolph comes across surprisingly confident in his NDE model and its religious implications. The excitement surrounding NDEs is due in large part to their suggestion that there is something on the other side of death. But Rudolph’s book proves that because readers still can’t know exactly what that something is, they are free to project upon it whatever afterlife they wish to imagine.
A thoroughly researched, if highly speculative, interpretation of near-death accounts.