A reader asks about Near Death Experiences

I realize this subject has the potential to drift into “new age mysticism” but my questions are serious and I hope I can convey that.

I have read a little on this subject and seen a couple of talk-style TV shows about it.

Two things I’ve learned have struck me.

First, many people who claim to have had this experience claim to have seen Jesus. I wonder if this occurs in non-western societies. In other words, is this perception culturally-based, or is this a true spiritual phenomenon? If non-westerners, without the life-long cultural experience of Christianity see our Lord when they have these experiences, it would surely be powerful evidence.

Second, It has also been claimed that a large percentage of the people who have had these experiences quietly convert to Catholicism afterwards. Is this true?

As I say, my questions about this are serious and the “testimony” of those who have had this experience played a role in my personal journey from faithful Catholic into agnosticism, atheism, protestantism and finally back to the true church. There is a quiet peacefulness about those I’ve seen talking about this, and all claim to now be ardent Christians. I find it very impressive.

Any information you can direct me towards would be appreciated.

I doubt a blog as heavily people by Cranky Conservative Catholics will drift into New Age Mysticism. :) As for me, the only Near Death Experience I’ve ever had was trying to read “Don Juan” by Lord Byron. (C.S. Lewis wrote on the back leaf of his copy, “Never again!”) So I’m not much help in that department and I don’t know anything about the stats on those who convert to Catholic faith, or what happens to non-Christians who have such experiences, etc. In short, I don’t know anything but that the experience happens to some and that my own Tradition remains customarily agnostics about what, if anything, is really going on there. God can do what he likes, of course. So I have no reason for supposing that experience which do not directly contradict revelation are false. But beyond that, I’m kind of a zero in the insight department. If any of you reader have some experience or want to comment, you’ll probably be more help than I am.