The Ground of Faith

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FEBRUARY 2004

The Afterlife

Letters to the Editors

Victor Zammit
James Gasson.

23 THE AFTERLIFE. (Editorial)

It is likely that we may have come by a belief in the afterlife through being members of Communities of Faith, and hearing their scriptures; through prayer and meditation, and through a sense of Spirit being our home.

But is there a way of objectively confirming that life after death is a fact?

We can turn to Psychic Research, hardly ever publically referred to by the churches, strangely ignored by theologians and Biblical scholars, and treated with near contempt by the materialists.

[The Anglicans and Catholics have not in fact forbidden psychic research. Read about The report of the committee appointed by Archbishops Lang and Temple. And see
The Churches' Fellowship for Psychical and Spiritual Studies. The Spectator (8/2/03 p16) writes of Bishop Hugh Montifiore: "Since his retirement he has collected evidence of ghosts, exocorcisms, telepathy, precognition, near-death experiences and religious visions, and has published The Paranormal: A Bishop Investigates -a great book."
Catholics have been more encouraging: 20 Since the 1970s the Vatican has continued to sponsor extensive research into all areas of parapsychology]

21 Retired lawyer of the Australian Supreme Court, Victor Zammit, produces a weekly web site Victor Zammit, a Lawyer Presents the Case for the Afterlife where he presents excellent short summaries of serious Afterlife research. Readers are recommended to download his The Book, at this site. There, from many sources in many fields, he assembles evidence for the Afterlife that can only be described as stunning. With his permission we have quoted extensively from his work.
Victor Zammit, as the lawyer he is, punches hard at his opponents. "Sparky and interesting," wrote a correspondent. The material he refers to and cites is provided by trustworthy academic researchers using acceptable methods of investigation. Zammit also provides extremely valuable links to many other first-rate sites, including the sceptical.

Zammit's adversarial stance can be defended. An insistence in the name of science, that one only investigate phenomena that can be replicated everywhere in laboratories, results in the total ignoring of a huge mass of impressive personal experiences. "Your experiences do not fit in with the framework that I have decided on. Therefore they do not exist, are illusory, are imaginery, fabricated, deceptive, and should be ignored."

Should this story be ignored? Flight 811 Aeroplane Disaster

Michael Cocks reports personal experiences related to him by parishioners:

"Several people have reported seeing loved ones seemingly well and clothed appearing to them, bidding them farewell, and disappearing. This at about the time that they had died in a distant hospital. Once, a young vestryman made an appointment to discuss a life-changing event. Early that morning, it seemed, his "dead" grandparents (on his father's side) appeared to him. At first he was frightened, and prayed for help, but then talked with them in an increasingly relaxed and friendly way for half an hour. They then disappeared. It was a life-changing experience." See Erlendur Haraldsson

24 The "Laboratory" and the "Lawyer" approaches.

The "laboratory" stance dismisses these happenings from consideration as "anecdotal" evidence, as stories someone tells, with no scientific significance. It is like saying that if people report that they have met a bear while walking in the woods, that we should take no notice of them, because we cannot repeat the happening at will in a laboratory.

The "laboratory" stance is claiming to be impartial and scientific, but has in fact judged in advance that the bear (psychic event) does not exist, and is refusing to look at evidence that it may. An honest and open-minded scientist would be prepared to look at these anecdotes and think out what possibly testable hypothesis there could be, which would make sense of them.

This is where the "lawyer" stance comes into its own. The lawyer (either for the prosecution or the defence) marshalls evidence that would enable a judge and jury to make a determination whether or not they met that bear in the woods, given that there seems to be no bear around right now. The lawyer would seek evidence about the standing and the credibility of those reporting the bear. Were they drunk or sober, were they awake or asleep, did other people normally trust them, could they be reporting a fiction to gain attention to themselves, were they hoping for some pecuniary advantage, were they credulous people who conjured up a bear out of the shadows, because someone had sown the idea in their minds that there might be a bear, were they capable of giving a clear and trustworthy report? After the evidence about these matters had been presented, and confirmed by reliable character witnesses, the jury might consider the evidence at length, and then come up with the determination that the evidence pointed to acceptance that they had indeed seen a bear (had a psychic experience.)

Thus with the stories related by Michael Cocks, all these questions and more could be asked about him, and the people who related these anecdotes to him, and thus we could determine what degree of credence we could accord him, and the people he mentions.

The "lawyer" approach surely has its place alongside that of the "laboratory".

25 Near Death Experiences

Almost everyone has heard of Elizabeth Kubler-Ross and her work with the dying, and amongst much else, how she wrote down many of her patients' Near Death Experiences, with impressions of going down a tunnel into a place of light and love, where deceased loved ones are there to welcome. The details of course vary. But the comfort and confidence afforded by these Near Death Experiences (NDEs) to those having them, and the changed lives and much deepened spirituality of those patients who survived, convinced Elizabeth of the reality of the Afterlife.

The Case of Pam Reynolds and her NDE. A MUST READ!
Seemingly convincing as accounts of NDEs are, and the very positive effects they have on those who experience them, it has always been open to the sceptic to assert that one has these experiences before one is technically "dead", just before losing consciousness, or just after one is revived from technical "death" i.e. the period of time when the heart was stopped, and the brain was not functioning. But on January 12, 2004 I watched a TV production, "THE DAY I DIED" [Produced and directed by Kate Broome, a BBC/TLC production. BBC Bristol, 2002.], recorded it, and made a transcript from which this is an excerpt.

26 Cross-Correspondences

The Palm Sunday Case (C) Copyright 2003 by Troy Taylor. All Rights Reserved.

"Although no longer studied much these days, cross correspondences were used predominantly between 1901 and 1932 as a way to test and validate the powers of mediums who were being studied by psychical researchers of the time. Although largely forgotten now, these compelling experiments may have actually offered worthwhile proof of paranormal powers. The correspondences were made up of information that was purportedly delivered to mediums by discarnate entities while the mediums were either in a trance state or through automatic writing."

When you have The Palm Sunday Case on screen, click on the link "automatic writing" to read about the Fox Sisters, and Mrs Piper. These and other articles also will be of considerable interest.

27 Xenoglossy

"There are many cases on record of adults and children speaking and writing languages which they have never learned. Sometimes this happens spontaneously but more often it occurs while the person is under hypnosis or in an altered state of consciousness. In some cases it is only a few words remembered but in other cases the person becomes totally fluent and able to converse with native speakers sometimes in obscure dialects which have not been in use for centuries.

• Dr Morris Netherton reports one case of a blond, blue-eyed eleven year old boy who under hypnosis was taped for eleven minutes as he spoke in an ancient Chinese dialect. When the tape was taken to a professor at the Department of Oriental Studies at the University of California it turned out to be a recitation from a forbidden religion of Ancient China (Fisher 1986: 202)"

From Victor Zammit's The Book.

22 The Committee appointed by Archbishops Lang and Temple decided:

Victor Zammit, in his Afterlife Book, p.54 writes:

"John G. Fuller, a respected journalist who investigated the evidence on mediumship, points out the problem created by its sheer volume:

On examination, it is so persuasive that it points to a rational conclusion that life is continuous, and that articulate communication is possible. One problem is that the evidence is piled so high that it is boring and tedious to go through it. Like the study of mathematics and chemistry it requires painstaking labour to assess it (Fuller 1987: 67-68).

He points out that it took a committee of the Church of England two years to assess the great volume of the evidence on mediumship. The Committee was specially appointed in 1937 by Archbishop Lang and Archbishop Temple to investigate Spiritualism. Its investigations included sitting with some of the leading mediums in England. At the end of that time, however, seven of the ten members of the Committee—against enormous pressure— came to the conclusion that:

the hypothesis that they (spirit communications) proceed in some cases from discarnate spirits is the true one (Psychic Press 1979).

This report was considered so dangerous by Church conservatives that it was stamped 'Private and Confidential' and locked away in Lambeth Palace for 40 years before it was leaked to the media in 1979."

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28 The Vatican supports Psychic research

From Victor Zammit's The Afterlife book pp.23-27

The Vatican supports EVP

Unknown to many ChristiansCatholics, Protestants and Fundamentalists— the Catholic Church has been actively positive and encouraging towards investigation of the Electronic Voice Phenomena.

• Two of the earliest investigators were Italian Catholic priests, Father Ernetti and Father Gemelli, who came upon the phenomena by chance while they were recording Gregorian chants in 1952.

• Father Gemelli heard his own father's voice on the tape calling him by a childhood nick-name saying 'Zucchini, it is clear, don't you know it is I '.

• Deeply troubled by Catholic teaching in regard to contact with the dead the two priests visited Pope Pius XII in Rome.

• The Pope reassured them:

Dear Father Gemelli, you really need not worry about this. The existence of this voice is strictly a scientific fact and has nothing to do with spiritism. The recorder is totally objective. It receives and records only sound waves from wherever they come. This experiment may perhaps become the cornerstone for a building for scientific studies which will strengthen people's faith in a hereafter (Italian Journal Astra, June 1990 quoted Kubis and Macy, 1995: 102 ).

• Pope Pius' cousin, the Rev. Professor Dr Gebhard Frei, co-founder of the Jung Institute, was an internationally known parapsychologist who worked closely with Raudive, a pioneer in the research. He was also the President of the International Society for Catholic Parapsychologists. He himself is on record as stating:

All that I have read and heard forces me to believe that the voices come from transcendental, individual entities. Whether it suits me or not, I have no right to doubt the reality of the voices (Kubris and Macy, 1995:104).

• Dr Frie died on October 27, 1967. In November 1967 at numerous taping sessions a voice giving its name as Gebhard Frei came through. The voice was identified by Professor Peter Hohenwarter of the University of Vienna as positively belonging to Dr Frei (Ostrander and Schroeder, 1977: 271).

• Pope Paul VI was well aware of the work being done from 1959 onwards on the Elecronic Voices by his good friend, Swedish film producer Friedrich Jurgenson, who had made a documentary film about him. The Pope made Jurgenson a Knight Commander of the Order of St Gregory in 1969 for his work. Jurgenson wrote to Bander, a British voice researcher:

I have found a sympathetic ear for the Voice Phenomenon in the Vatican. I have won many wonderful friends among the leading figures in the Holy City. Today 'the bridge' stands firmly on its foundations (Ostrander and Schroeder, 1977: 264).

• The Vatican also gave permission for its own priests to conduct research into the voices— Father Leo Schmid, a Swiss theologist, collected more than ten thousand of them in his book When the Dead Speak which was published in 1976, shortly after his death.

• Another Vatican-approved researcher was Father Andreas Resch who as well as conducting his own experiments began courses in Parapsychology at the Vatican's school for priests in Rome (Kubris and Macy, 1995:104).

• In 1970 the International Society for Catholic Parapsychologists held a conference in Austria and a major part of that conference was concerned with papers on the Electronic Voice Phenomena.

• In England in 1972 four senior members of the Catholic hierarchy were involved in the famous Pye recording studio tests conducted by Peter Bander.

• Father Pistone, Superior of the Society of St Paul in England, said in an interview after the tests:

I do not see anything against the teaching of the Catholic Church in the Voices, they are something extra-ordinary but there is no reason to fear them, nor can I see any danger (Bander 1973: 132).

The Church realizes that she cannot control the evolution of science. Here we are dealing with a scientific phenomenon; this is progress and the Church is progressive. I am happy to see that representatives of most Churches have adopted the same attitude as we have: we recognize that the subject of the Voice Phenomena stirs the imagination even of those who have always maintained that there could never be any proof or basis for discussion on the question of life after death. This book and the subsequent experiments raise serious doubts, even in the minds of atheists. This alone is a good reason for the Church supporting the experiments. A second reason may be found in the greater flexibility of the Church since Vatican II, we are willing to keep an open mind on all matters which do not contradict Christ's teaching (Bander 1973:103).

• His excellence, Archbishop H.E. Cardinale, Apostolic Nuncio to Belgium, commented:

Naturally it is all very mysterious, but we know the voices are there for all to hear them (Bander 1973: 132).

• The Right Reverend Monsignor Professor C. Pfleger commented:

Facts have made us realize that between death and resurrection there is another realm of post-mortal existence. Christian theology has little to say about this realm (Bander 1973 : 133).

• Bander's book (1973: 133) contains a photograph of the Right Reverend Mgr. Stephen O'Connor, Vicar General and Principal Roman Catholic Chaplain to the Royal Navy, listening to the playback of a recording on which a voice had manifested claiming to be that of a young Russian naval officer known to himself who had committed suicide two years earlier. Dr Raudive had recorded the message independently at an earlier session.

• Since the 1970s the Vatican has continued to sponsor extensive research into all areas of parapsychology including Electronic Voice Phenomena.

• Recently Father Gino Concetti, one of the most competent theologians in the Vatican, said in an interview:

According to the modern catechism, God allows our dear departed persons who live in an ultra-terrestrial dimension, to send messages to guide us in certain difficult moments of our lives. The Church has decided not to forbid any more the dialogue with the deceased with the condition that these contacts are carried out with a serious religious and scientific purpose (printed in the Vatican newspaper Osservatore Romano— cited in Sarah Estep's American Association Electronic Voice Phenomena, Inc Newsletter, vol 16 No, 2 1997 )

Clearly, the Catholic Church realizes that science is making enormous, inevitable, irreversible and cumulative progress which nobody is in a position to stop.

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Letters to the Editors

Victor Zammit
James Gasson.

In January we invited readers who felt they had experienced a Damascus event in their lives to tell us a little of what came of it.

Ineke Crawford, first Guardian of the Tauhara Centre, Taupo.

Phil Dyer, Wangapeka Retreat and Study Centre

George Moss, England


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