40 of 42 people found the following review helpful
on July 11, 2001
This book examines what happens to homosexuals and lesbians after they die. This is the first (and, as of 2001, the only) book to examine the Near-Death Experiences of [homosexuals]. Other than the preface, the stories are told by the experiencers themselves. Contrary to what some fundamentalist Christians would have you believe, God and angels are not against homosexuality. One homosexual who died and was later revived asked some angels, "It it OK to be [a homosexual]?". They laughed, and said, "Who do you think created [homosexuals]?", meaning God. One [homosexual] was told by his friend who died of AIDS when he met him in heaven, "I should openly celebrate and honor my sexuality as a gift from God. This was a startling revelation to me, especially after a lifetime of secrecy, fear, and guilt." This groundbreaking research shows that [homosexuals]' ultimate fate is no different from most straight NDEs.
I didn't give it 5 stars, since the Discussion chapter was missing, although listed in the table of contents, and there were a number of misprints, especially in the appendices. Still, it is a must for those interested in NDEs or homosexuality.
[the g-word was edited from my review, even though it appears on this Web page]
24 of 24 people found the following review helpful
on November 15, 2008
For those of you seeking a very short, to-the-point review of this book, I can sum it up in three words: God is Love. Those looking for the essential gist of the book can stop reading right now.
For those of you who want a little more insight into the book, you might want to read a little further. I thought it might be helpful in giving this review if I went into my own story a little bit, and what led me to buy such a book and read it so carefully in the first place.
Having grown up in a rural Kentucky, Southern Baptist household, I was taught the fundamentalist Christian doctrines of hellfire-and-brimstone, judgment and damnation, and all that kind of stuff. It was no problem for me because I became "saved" when I was 10 years old, (I am a 38 year old gay man writing this today) and so that was kind of like "insurance" in case something happened and I died and had to leave this earth. You don't have anything to worry about if you are "saved." (so I was taught) So I continued along in that path for quite some time, smoothly, until I got to the teen years. Then something happened -- I realized I was gay. Boy, did that really upset the apple cart! Now all of a sudden, I'm faced with the notion that what I was taught was all wrong, or maybe I'M all wrong, or maybe PART of what was taught to me was wrong. (part of it was right, by extension) I began the process of questioning a lot of what I had been taught, and that process continues to this day.
That's where this book comes in. I decided to check things out for myself, rather than to just simply accept blindly this prevailing notion that "All gays go to Hell," or something to that effect. By reading about the near death experiences of gays and lesbians, I can find out from those who have "gone to the world beyond," so to speak -- what it is really like, and if there is really anything to fear. After reading this and simlar books, I can say that the "preponderance of evidence" (as they say in the legal world!) suggests that that is just not the case. They don't go to Hell, if there even is such a place -- which after extensive reading of this and other similar books -- I have come to doubt whether there really even is such a place.
The near death experiences the subjects speak of were brought on by a whole myriad of causes. Some were suicide attempts, some were brought on by severe injury and trauma to the body. One was brought on by a near drowning incident when she was very young. And another was a very brief experience, apparently, that was brought on by a collision on a skiing course. So they were brought on by all different things.
And these are not dummies telling these stories, either. The author that put the compilation of these stories together holds a Ph.D., and works in private practice as a clinical psychotherapist/hypnotherapist/nurse in the California area. The credibility of the people telling these stories is not at question in my mind. The author's own near death experience starts on page 16 of the book, and was brought on by an apparently violent allergic reaction to a bee sting.
I put that clause in there about the credibility issue because some of my atheist friends that have said that these sort of things are just "the mind playing tricks on you" -- well, I just don't believe that. I have known people in my life that have had out-of-body experiences, in which a message was given to them by someone who had recently passed over to the other side. I don't think it was anything other than that. But read this book for yourself, and see what you think. Don't simply just take my word for it.
It was most interesting that the central thread running through most of these stories was an experience of just absolute, unconditional, ecstatic love -- the experience of which can hardly be put into words. What was really powerful for me was that one of the authors who related such an experience described himself previously as an agnostic. (prior to the near death experience, or NDE, for short) He had an NDE brought on by the skiing accident that I mentioned a few paragraphs above. And during the NDE, he described that he "felt the presence of a being. With this presence was a feeling of love, the magnitude of which cannot be expressed. I have never known such peace, contentment, and most importantly, love." This was all from page 113 in the book.
So this was what was important to me. Having grown up with the notion of this "bogeyman, I'm-Going-to-Get-You" kind of God of my childhood, to read about this God of absolute, unconditional, unfathomable kind of love -- EVEN TO THOSE THAT ARE GAY OR LESBIAN, WHO ARE SUPPOSEDLY OUT OF THE BOUNDS OF THIS LOVE (!!!) -- that was quite a tremendous experince indeed for me. There were quite a few places in the book where I wept with tears of joy, or had the chills, or both together. It was that moving of an experience for me.
So I would advise anybody that has gone through, or is going through presently, the kinds of things I describe in their life here to buy and read this book. It is only 150 pages long, with some appendices at the back. It won't take you that long to read it. And it will probably be the best 150 pages you ever read in your life.
Buy it and see what you think. That's all I can say for now. Steve from South Florida is over and out. Thanks for reading.
18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
on February 5, 2004
Subtitled "Twenty-One Authors Discuss the Gay Near-Death Experience as Spiritual Transformation," this book concerns an absolutely fascinating and compelling phenomenon. What a great idea! Obviously gay people die too. We must have interrupted experiences of dying just like the people who are written about in books like Life After Life or depicted in movies like Resurrection. And with so many people hospitalized with life-threatening conditions resulting from AIDS, maybe we have even more such NDEs in our population.
Liz Dale, a research psychologist in San Francisco, set out to investigate this topic after hearing a speaker at the 1996 convention of the International Association for Near-Death Studies mention that there was no research on this phenomenon in the gay community. Over a couple of years, she gathered a group of about thirty gay men and lesbians. It was a liberating experience, she reports, for them being able to talk about their NDEs without fear of dismissal, ridicule, or bafflement. She has collected twenty-one of the stories for publication.
In some ways, the research did not result in the findings Dale was probably expecting. That is, most of the accounts end with the subjects' answer to a couple of questions about how their sexual orientation affected their NDE and how their NDE might have affected their attitudes toward their sexual orientation. Since the subtitle suggests the gay Near-Death Experience is a spiritual transformation, one would expect the subjects to report positive changes in these attitudes. But, in fact, almost every account ends with the subject saying their sexual orientation had NO effect and their attitudes toward it were unaffected.
Nonetheless, the accounts themselves are wonderful, moving, and even inspiring. What they seem to describe isn't so much about death, but about the mystical component of the subjects' lives. While most of the accounts are of true NDEs, that is, experiences of leaving the body following a medical emergency, like an automobile accident, several are of more generalized mystical phenomena and several are of drug-induced states (often suicidal overdoses).
The book is less important for arriving at scientific findings than for offering examples of how to think about and prepare for dying.
The NDE phenomenon seems to demonstrate that "afterlife" happens in the process of dying. The brain's shut-down procedures can be experienced as timeless and eternal and infinitely meaningful and blissful. It really doesn't matter what happens next. We can never know since truly no one comes back from having fully died. (Interestingly, even Jesus whose great saving act was dying and rising again never reported what was on the "other side." Did the Apostles just forget to ask? Maybe there is no intelligible answer.)
But if dying can provide a mystical experience of entering into bliss and reunion with all the love in one's life, then it'd be a good-and necessary-thing to prepare for it by creating some self-fulfilling prophecies for how you're going to react when you realize the time has come and you're about to die.
That's the beauty and importance of this book. It offers templates. It promises to get you thinking. It might inspire you to plan your dying.
I'd have liked this book to report that the gay people who had NDEs all said there were gay pride banners adorning the tunnel of light and that the glimpse into heaven relieved them all of any fears or misgivings about their sexuality. Well, it didn't. But it certainly got me obsessed for days about how I want to die when the time comes and inspired my meditations with positive expectations. Clearly, one of the functions of meditation should be to routinely remind ourselves of our mortality and to prepare for how we'll react when mortality is realized.
"You do not know the time nor the hour," said Jesus. "Be prepared." Liz Dale's research could have truly salvific consequences in your life-and death.
Reviewed by Toby Johnson
in the Winter 2003 issue of White Crane
A Journal of Gay Spirituality
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
on December 30, 2009
Thanks for your review, Steve. I was raised in an Italian, Catholic, Republican and military family and remember being as scared of God as I was of the devil, so I can definitely feel your pain. Sometimes, it felt as though they were one and the same being. Anyway, growing up gay and Catholic was not easy. By the age of 11 or 12, I knew what I was and I knew enough to keep quiet about it. But it wasn't until I started to read the Bible to get a better understanding of God that things really went downhill. Needless to say, when I read that chapter in Leviticus, I knew I was screwed. My childhood ended abruptly that day, and at the same time a bargaining process with God began that lasted for at least the next twenty years. I can't remember how many times I prayed to God asking Him to make me straight. After many years of this, it became quite clear that wasn't part of His plan so I came up with another plan of attack. "Maybe", I thought, "just maybe, if I become a priest, God won't send me to hell. Surely, God would never send one of his priests to hell." This is just one example of my thinking process at that time. It ruined what was left of my teens and all of my twenties and most of my thirties. But I never did become a priest, thank God. Finally, at 45, I can put all that crap behind me.
So, obviously, I am very interested in what this book has to say regarding gays, God, and Heaven. I've been interested in NDEs since I was 16. And when it comes to the nature of God and Heaven, I choose to believe an NDEr above anything else, including the Bible. I mean, these people have been there! I doubt the writers of the Bible had any first-hand experience when it came to Heaven. I've chosen to give it 5 stars just for the fact that it was written.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on January 15, 2011
I was engrossed in this personal account compilation of Near Death Experiences through the eyes of Gay men and women. It brought one obvious truth to the surface for me, that we all basically have near identical experiences in the afterlife, and there is no difference between being gay or being straight in the scheme of things. That is a truth Ive long suspected, and now I am searching for more on the subject...Liz Dale shoudl compile another book, and next time, add to it with her thoughts and act as narrator for a discussion of the stories, maybe after each one even. It would give the reader more insight from a outside perspective instead of leaving all the work to the reader. Other than that, bravo!
and those writing reviews for what I am sure is book they never read, and who quote the bible and blah blah blah...you obviously do not get it, so why are wasting your energy trying to prove your moot point? Jesus may love you, but I think he also knows you are tragic mess.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on March 8, 2014
Thanks so much for reviewing this book ..... I am overwhelmed with joy that this book will bring some sense of comfort and clarity. My story is on page 25 (Beautiful Shining Eyes) and the experience is still conforming my life. My partner Russell and I are still together and were married in 1999. My ex Robert and I remained great friends until his untimely death in 2001, and I know he went straight to heaven. GOD is GOOD and GOD is LOVE.... let no one and I mean NOONE tell you otherwise. Jesus is the Light and the WAY and I WILL FOLLOW!
2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on January 30, 2013
This book can give a person a false sense of security. It only contained short stories of positive NDE's. Although they are reported less often, some people do have frightful, negative NDE's. The lack of negative stories leaves the book a little unbalanced.
1 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on December 18, 2010
I really didn't care for this book and couldn't finish reading it all. Reading near death incidents is unpleasant and disturbing. The stories were sketchy and choppy and poorly written; some made no sense--explanations were often lacking. It still doesn't say why we are all here and why we have to go through all this on the physical plane.