Review of Michael Tymn's

              He expresses his great sadness that he could not convey this knowledge to his dying parents, who were Catholics. “The fetters that bound them to the walls of superstition were much too strong. That superstition includes a horrific hell, a humdrum heaven, and in between, a painful purgatory in which souls must spend time – probably years, possibly decades, perhaps even centuries.” (p.103) He continues to remark that had his parents been Protestants, they would not have felt much better.

            As an Anglican/Episcopalian priest, I do very much share Tymn’s frustrations. But I feel I should point out, as a church insider, that whatever the official doctrines and formularies of churches may be, churches are actually communities of faith, rather than of doctrinal belief, and that congregations consist of children, young people, all ages, rich and poor, educated and not, and that these days many people change denominations until they find one that fits their beliefs. In good churches there is communion with the Divine and with each other, there is care for each other and for the community, and much disparity of belief.  Some members will in fact be very open to and grateful for Michael Tymn’s work. And I hope that there will be many such readers.

            Nevertheless, inside the churches, and outside the churches there is a taboo about talking about the afterlife. There is definitely a taboo on information from mediums. “What makes Tymn stand out among afterlife researchers,” says Dr Betty, “is his perhaps uniquely vast knowledge of mediumistic sources. It is hard to believe that these sources, when assembled and collated, reveal nothing more than an enchanting chimera.”

.           In his Preface, Tymn explores the spiritual desert called Materialism. He writes, “Kierkegaard called “Philistinism” the worst kind of despair. The Philistine, as Kierkegaard saw him, is someone so tranquilized in the mundane or the trivial that he lacks the awareness that he is even in despair.”  On the other hand, “As Jung viewed it, the decisive question for man is whether he is related to something infinite or not. “That is the telling question of his life,” Jung declared. “Only if we know that the thing which truly matters  is the infinite can we avoid fixing our interest upon futilities, and upon all kinds of goals which are not of real importance.”

             As to Tymn’s Introduction: I do share his frustration with church leaders whose thoughts seem imprisoned in the Scriptures, and in Scriptures mistranslated. Of special note are the translations of the Old Testament Hebrew She’ol, and the New Testament Greek Hades as meaning “Hell.” The words never mean other than “the place of departed spirits”.  Even the English word “hell” meant “a covered place” – for the departed spirits.  In the Latin translation of the Bible, the Vulgate, She’ol and Hades are mistranslated as “Hell”. It is a fact that most of the gruesome imaginings about eternal punishment come from post-New Testament times.

            In his Chapter 1, The Messengers, Michael Tymn writes of the origins of the Spiritualist movement:  Actually, modern revelation really seems to have begun with the teachings of Emanuel Swedenborg*, a Swedish scientist, inventor, and statesman who began having mystical experiences in 1745, at age 57.” “Paramount among his findings was that there was an intermediate region between heaven and hell, where spirits dwelled in much the same conditions as those on earth. It was not the purgatory of Catholicism, however, but a place where man picks up where he had left off in the material world.”  With these words Tymn is expressing the nub of what is to come in his book.  That there is a continuity between this life and the next, where the focus is not reward or punishment but rather the growth of the soul. This life provides a stage in the growth of the soul, and in the next life we retain our experiences and learnings, and develop or not from that point.

            Some space is devoted to the impressive work in the spiritualist field by Dr. George T. Dexter, a New York physician. He was to become a reluctant but very good medium “and began receiving many profound messages from Swedenborg and Sir Francis Bacon. On May 22, 1853, Swedenborg communicated that the moral condition of the spirits of the lower spheres does not appear to differ materially from the moral condition of the unprogressive man in our world. ‘They may, it is true, have moments when their spirits yearn for the brighter spheres beyond their dark plane, when conscious of its birthright, the soul awakens to a sense of its own degradation, and realizes its true situation,’ he wrote through Dexter’s hand, ‘but they live and act as unprogressive man does, daily performing their accustomed round of malicious action, and carrying out the designs of their blunted perceptions.’ ”

             We read about automatic writing, and the phenomenon of “Patience Worth” manifesting in the automatic writing of primary school educated Pearl Curran. Tymn in his usual lively and interesting manner provides accounts of some of the most impressive people and events which clearly demonstrate the reality of life after death. For the readers’ sake it is necessary to have done this.  But Tymn’s ultimate aim is to demonstrate that this life and the next are continuous, and it is all a question of our spiritual growth.

            Chapter 2 is entitled Approaching Death. We read about Deathbed visits from departed friends welcoming them into the next world.. He remarks of the frequency of these phenomena in Rest Homes.

             In Chapter 4, The Second Death, he writes, “In the period immediately following physical death, there”is usually some confusion on the part of the spirit and some adjustment or adaptation is required. When this adjustment or adaptation is made, the spirit experiences the second death, thereby settling down in the new environment.”

            In Chapter 5, The Life Review, Tymn  writes about “The Last Judgement” of the New Testament, and remarks, “modern revelation, coming to us primarily through mediumship, the near-death experience (NDE), and various forms of mysticism, suggests a life review or self-judgment, if it can be called a ‘judgment.’ It further suggests that there are many levels in the afterlife environment and that we automatically go to a certain level based
on what might be called a ‘moral specific gravity.’ “  He believes that this is what Jesus meant when he said, “In my Father’s house there are many mansions.” There are states in the afterlife to which we belong according to our spiritual development. “Greek scholars tell us the Greek word translated to mansions originally meant a stopping place or a temporary abode.” 

            He elaborates around this theme in Chapter 6, Many Mansions.

“Almost without exception, we are told of progressive spheres, realms or planes by various communicators. It is often reported that there are seven basic planes, giving some credence to “Seventh Heaven” mythology, but many of the spirits communicating claim they do not know how many planes there are because they know only of the plane on which they live, those below, and perhaps, as with Mattson, those immediately above.”

            Chapter 7, Making Sense of the Afterlife, elaborates on a quotation from David Fontana, “Even those of us who consider there may be a next world are likely to conceive of it as some spiritual dimension quite unlike the hard physicality of this world. The idea that there may be not only landscapes similar to ours but even houses and cities takes us way past the threshold of disbelief.”

            Tymn quotes with approval from spirit communicator Silver Birch, “The ultimate is not the attainment of Nirvana,” he communicated. “All spiritual progress is toward increasing individuality.”

            In Chapter 8, You do take it with you, we read, There are many other stories suggesting that we take our concerns, anxieties, mistakes, obsessions, and regrets with us to the afterlife, including more than a few in which the communicators said that their biggest regret was not learning more about the afterlife when they were alive in the flesh.”

What I have written here will give the reader some picture of the contents of Michael Tymn’s book. What I cannot convey are the illuminating case histories, and fine and  engaging writing.  Everybody needs to read this book.