An Interview with Dr. Bruce Greyson on Near Death Experiences: Part 1

The first part of an interview with a secular, materialist scientist who studies near-death experiences.

In the second episode of a two-part series near-death experiences (NDEs), Dr. Michael Guillen interviewed Dr. Bruce Greyson, the Chester Carlson Professor Emeritus of Psychiatry and Neurobehavioral Sciences at the University of Virginia, on the subject. I wrote about the first episode in which Michael Guillen reviewed evidence that NDEs are “real”.

They really happen, and they happen all over the world, in all cultures of the world, and going back in time. We have enough data to indicate that they are a real phenomenon with certain characteristics that can be studied in the data.

In his second episode focusing on NDEs, Dr. Guillen, an astrophysicist, interviewed Dr. Greyson, who has studied NDEs for decades with scientific rigor and published many articles in peer-reviewed journals. I have linked the 40-minute conversation here:

Guillen began by asking for a definition of near-death experience. Greyson defined them by saying they are “profound, subjective experiences” that people have when they are on the threshold of death.

Characteristics include a sense of leaving the physical body and an overwhelming sense of peace and wellbeing. They sometimes include an experience of leaving this physical realm and an experience of some other dimension or realm. People often describe encounters with other entities they interpret to be deities or divine beings. They often involve a review of their own lives in detail, and many of them conclude with a decision to return to life or being “sent back” against their will. 

Dr. Greyson speculates that the experiences suggest some sort of intermediate state between life and death. All of this may seem particularly unscientific, though.

These conclusions seem like the stuff of pseudoscience or metaphysics, but Dr. Greyson grew up in a scientific household with a materialistic worldview. He had no spiritual or religious familiarity. His background is science, and he still admits that he is more comfortable with a materialist mindset in which the physical world is all there is and everything else is simply fantasy.

Dr. Greyson’s has been trained and works within a scientific framework, but he no longer dismisses NDEs as fantasy. Something happened in his life that caused him to spend the last 50 years studying the phenomenon to try to make sense of it.

Continue reading “An Interview with Dr. Bruce Greyson on Near Death Experiences: Part 1”

The Intersectionality of Jesus Christ

Intersectionality is the focus of my Christmas thoughts this morning.

A recent podcast hosted by Justin Brierley, Debating the Statement on Social Justice – Jarrod McKenna and James White, sparks my thinking this morning. One might wonder what social justice has to do with Christmas Eve that I should be thinking about it. Quite a lot actually.

Before tying up that loose end, though, I feel the need to comment on the discussion. James White was a drafter of the Statement on Social Justice and the Gospel. The express purpose of the Statement is to clarify the meaning of the Gospel in order to guard against false teachings creeping into the Church through modern “sociological, psychological, and political theories”. Certainly, concern over false teachings and false gospels is a theme we find as far back as the Gospels, themselves, and the Pauline letters. We are right o be concerned.

On the other hand, as I listened to the discussion, another concern occurred to me. Yes, we are not of the world, but we are in the world, and the world is our mission field. Jesus left the 99 to search for the one lost sheep. Paul was a Jew to the Jews and a Greek to the Greeks, becoming all things to all people so that he could reach them with the Gospel. (1 Corinthians 9:19-23) Though Paul was concerned about false gospels creeping into the Church, he was also concerned about relating to the lost world.

Continue reading “The Intersectionality of Jesus Christ”

Becoming Mindful of God

The benefits of mindfulness and prayer are proven in the secular and spiritual worlds.

Depositphotos Image ID: 48782201 Copyright: danr13

The March 2018 issue of the Illinois Bar Journal includes an article by Ed Finkel, an Evanston based freelance writer. The subject is mindfulness for attorneys, inspired by presentations given by Naperville business and estate planning attorney, Mark Metzger. This all may seem too professional and industry-based for this blog, but it got me thinking.

First of all, the legal profession is where I spend a large chunk of my time every week, week after week, month after month, year after year. Finkel correctly notes that the practice of law is a highly stressful occupation. Other occupations also have their share of stress, of course.

We experience stress often in our everyday living as well. The stress of strained personal relationships, financial difficulty and burdens, raising children, and many other kinds of stress weigh upon us. We all feel stress from time to time.

So what does mindfulness for lawyers have anything to do with a blog on navigating by faith? Quite a bit, it turns out.

Continue reading “Becoming Mindful of God”

Equality in the Economy of God


“Culture tells us two great lies about success: you can be whatever you want to be, and you can be the best in the world.”

This was a statement in a newsletter I received. It couldn’t be truer. Not that we want to hear that sort of thing. We want to be told we “can do it”! And, we like believing the lie.

The truth is that we can’t all be the best. We can’t be whatever we want to be.

Just being real here.

I don’t want to buy into the lies. I want the truth, and I think most people (many people anyway) really want the truth. We get tired of the lies. Give me something I can stand on. I don’t want a pipe dream. Continue reading “Equality in the Economy of God”

What Have We Done to Protect Our Children?

Julia at Hershey - Copy“The Overprotected Kid”, published in the Atlantic, has been circulating on Facebook. The goofy kid with broken, taped glasses and a silly grin drew my attention, but the byline under the title sucked me in:

“A preoccupation with safety has stripped childhood of independence, risk taking, and discovery—without making it safer.”

I thought, “What?!!” We have protected our children from every conceivable danger, imagined or real. We yelled at them when they crossed the street, for their own good. We kept a wary eye on their every movement. We cushioned every bump and angle, plugged up the electric sockets and planned every part of their lives from dawn to dusk with supervised activities and busyness to keep them from wandering into trouble. How could we have possibly failed to keep them safe?!

In spite of our best efforts, the article reminds us that child abductions still happen, children still get hurt on our “safe” playgrounds and accidents still happen. In fact, stranger abductions are as rare as they ever have been. Most abductions are by family. Family abductions seem to be an extension of the control we think we must have over our children. Mom (or dad) takes off with the children to keep them “safe” from other family members or simply to keep control of their situations, including their children.

From my childhood to the present time, parents have become much more controlling over the movements of their children, but The Overprotected Kid calls that approach into question. The article suggests  that cushioning playgrounds inhibits healthy exploration of risk. Continual adult supervision prevents kids from being kids and owning their natural development as human beings. On the other hand, it does not make our children’s lives safer.

“… we have come to think of accidents as preventable and not a natural part of life.”

All of our efforts may not have made our children’s lives safer, but those controls have taken away the valuable self-exploration, freedom, creativity and independence that we had when we were children with consequences that are only now being realized and understood.

“There is a big difference between avoiding major hazards and making every decision with the primary goal of optimizing child safety (or enrichment, or happiness). We can no more create the perfect environment for our children than we can create perfect children. To believe otherwise is a delusion….”

As I was stewing on the controls that may have stunted my own children’s growth in comparison to the freedom I enjoyed and what that means for them, I read another article, “Difference Between Encouragement and Entitlement”, by blogger and author, Courtney Walsh. She suggests another game changer:

“Disappointment breeds greatness.”

Really?!! I don’t want my children to be disappointed… EVER! How many times have I wanted to give that coach a piece of my mind! How could they not see my kid’s greatness! How does this woman think that disappointment leads to greatness?!

Courtney Walsh cautions against rushing to our children’s defense at every sign of potential disappointment. She suggests that parents should “let” their children fail sometimes, that it is actually good for them. She believes that learning through failures leads to success.

Then the Sherlock Holmes in me detected a common thread: good parenting does not mean preventing our children from being hurt. Kids need to explore boundaries themselves, not the ones we put there for them, but the ones they discover and set for themselves. That does not mean that allow them to walk into actual harm, but they need some freedom to learn for themselves. They need to understand that missteps and mistakes hurt. We can not cushion every fall or rescue our kids from every disappointment and expect them to become healthy, well-rounded productive, creative members of society.

If we cushion our children from every disappointment by telling them always they are great, when sometimes they are not, and rescuing them from there not-so-greatness, we actually prevent them from growing. The “real world” is not full of people telling us we are great when we are not. If we continually tell our children there are great, when they are not so great, we are not, then, doing a very job of preparing our children to leave the safety of the nest.

Courtney Walsh suggests that people need to fight through disappointment and the consequences of our own not-so-greatness to become the best kind of people we are able to be, and we need to give (or allow) our children those opportunities.

Fighting through disappointment is actually the way to greatness. Great people are not born great. Greatness is not handed out like ribbons. The character of greatness is forged in the crucible of disappointment, failure, hard work, resilience, patience, perseverance and learning to believe in principals, values and, in the end, our own selves. That does not happen in a world that is controlled to be free of consequences.

I have included the links to both articles below. There is a theme. We parents cannot protect our kids from every harm or disappointment, and our efforts in doing so may actually produce another kind of harm and even more disappointment when our children find that the world does not think they are quite great as their parents told them they were – at least not without earning it!

I think there is a lesson of faith in there too. Jesus told us not worry. I worry more about my children than anything in my life. Does not God take care of the flowers in the field and the birds? Will He not all the more take care of us – and our children?! I am convinced more than ever that we (parents) have really blown it with the current generations. By “we” I mean Baby Boomers. We have “saved” our children from everything we feared and have stunted and stilted them in the process.

The Overprotected Kid

The Difference between Encouragement and Entitlement