One distinctive feature of this popular collection of near-death experiences is the careful connection Berman draws between such experiences and the broader experience of mysticism. A large part of the massive (and still growing) body of material on near-death experiences is largely or exclusively focused on questions about life after death. Berman consciously shifts attention to the experience of life before death and probes the contribution of mysticism to the deepening of that body of experience. The result is an accessible account that should appeal to a broad audience. ((Reviewed January 1 & 15, 1997)) Copyright 2000 Booklist ReviewsReview by Library Journal Reviews
Berman, an oral historian and author (Search for Meaning, Ballantine, 1993), believes there are common themes and insights into near-death experiences (NDEs) through which we can obtain a greater appreciation of life. His collection of interviews is less comprehensive than Near Death Experience: A Reader (Routledge, 1996), but it is more thorough in underscoring common themes in NDEs. Most NDEs relate the participant's need to become closer to his or her God, to gain knowledge; individuals do not lose a fear of dying but do lose a fear of death. The transformation in the individual after the incident demonstrates that he or she has had a glimpse of a profound spiritual vision. Berman includes in this collection Howard Storm, a former art professor, whose NDE was a trip to a dark place (hell); in his despair he called to God for assistance and moved to the bright light. Whatever the outcome, individuals feel self-transcendence, timelessness, ecstasy, and unity. A compelling study; recommended for public libraries. L. Kriz, West Des Moines Lib., Iowa Copyright 1998 Library Journal ReviewsReview by Publishers Weekly Reviews
Readers who stop short of this book's final section may dismiss it as a savvy marketer's creation: multicultural spirituality focusing on near-death experiences replete with angels and dazzling light. Furthermore, Berman's list of virtues includes self-actualization, ecological sensitivity and tolerance, while the roster of vices lists materialism, dogma and ecclesiastical authority. Berman, the award-winning author of The Search for Meaning and The Courage of Conviction, is without doubt a gifted communicator in the spiritual idiom of the 1990s; he has not, however, succumbed entirely to spirituality lite. From the book's premise that death teaches us how to live to its ethics-based conclusion that "when you love something,... responsibility quickly follows," Berman proclaims the goodness of creation without losing sight of the starker side of classical mysticism: sin, judgment, hell. The book's always fascinating and sometimes sensational stories are anchored by the last two chapters, in which Berman works out an "eternal theology" that ranks with the best of contemporary wisdom literature. (Dec.) Author tour. Copyright 1996 Cahners Business Information.
Brings together inspirational accounts of near-death experiences and considers the universal truths that such experiences can teach about life and deathReview by Publisher Summary 2
Brings together inspirational accounts of near-death experiences and considers the universal truths that such experiences can teach us about life and death, as examined by a student of comparative religions. Tour.Review by Publisher Summary 3
Drawing on hundreds of interviews with people who have had both near-death and mystical experiences, Berman explores the universal truths these moving stories reveal. As a student of comparative religions, he shows us the similarities that exist in these stories across time and cultures, similarities that allow us to define the enduring themes of these encounters. Berman argues that these experiences are the wellspring of all the world's great religions, and that their message of the oneness of creation and the Divine spark within us all, forms "an eternal theology".