Better, in fact, than he had ever felt before

Better, in fact, than he had ever felt before May 29, 2022

 

We docked today a little past this bridge in Lisbon. It was built between 1960 and 1966 by the same firm that, much earlier, built the Golden Gate Bridge at the mouth of San Francisco Bay. I think that I don’t need to point out the similarity between the two structures.

(Wikimedia Commons public domain photograph)

 

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Episode Six in the Interpreter Foundation’s series of short video “reels” that are connected with its larger Witnesses film project has gone up.  It is entitled “Sidney Rigdon and the Witnesses.”  We invite you to watch it, to share it, and to subscribe to the Interpreter Foundation’s YouTube channel.

 

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I’m a very enthusiastic admirer of the writing and thinking of David French, and this article has done absolutely nothing to dampen my enthusiasm:

 

“A Commitment to Kindness Does Not Mean Surrendering Your Convictions: What civility is and is not.”

 

I can’t listen to this where I’m currently located, but it sounds quite interesting.  If anybody out there does listen to it, I wouldn’t mind hearing a report:

 

“Social Media Is Making America Stupid”

 

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I’ve run across some really good comments on travel over the years.  Here are five of them — three of which come from Mark Twain, who traveled a great deal by our standards — to say nothing of the standards of his day.

 

“All travel has its advantages. If the passenger visits better countries, he may learn to improve his own. And if fortune carries him to worse, he may learn to enjoy it.”  (Samuel Johnson)

“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines, sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”  (Mark Twain)

“Every man who possibly can should force himself to a holiday of a full month in a year, whether he feels like taking it or not.”  (William James)

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness” (Mark Twain)

“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness”  (Mark Twain)

 

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Many years ago, there was a period when my speaking engagements on behalf of the old FARMS — the Foundation for Ancient Research and Mormon Studies, predecessor to the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship and, organizationally, to BYU’s new-direction Maxwell Institute — got a bit out of hand.  I was being sent out at least once a month, often to one of the coasts and, once or twice, first to one coast and then immediately, on the same weekend, to the other coast, to speak to sometimes rather small groups.  It was wreaking havoc with my family and with my personal academic work.

 

On one such occasion, the father of the woman who had organized a fireside in a middle-sized eastern city at which I was to speak picked me up at the local airport.  As it happened, she wasn’t even in town.  I can’t recall the reason, but she had been obliged to go out of town at the last minute.  Moreover, the fireside had received virtually no publicity (and only about thirty people showed up when it happened), and her father plainly resented being obliged to take time to deal with me.  (It was right after this trip that I finally put my foot down.  I didn’t want to be a prima donna, I said, but I was also tired of flying across the continent sometimes twice a month in order to speak to only politely-interested groups of two or three dozen.)

 

Anyway, the fellow who fetched me at the airport was distinctly sullen about having to do so as we drove the considerable distance to where I would be staying.  It was more than bit uncomfortable.  I really hate being the unwelcome guest.  But I’ve always remembered that drive quite positively.  Why?  Because, for some reason or another, the topic of near-death experiences came up.  (I can’t for the life of me remember how or why.)

 

I’ve had one of those, he said.  I replied, Tell me about it!

 

Here’s a paraphrase of his account:

 

Once, in his late teens, he was driving very late at night along one of the densely forested rural roads in that state.  Suddenly, without warning, he was t-boned at an intersection by a truck that had run a stop sign.  Almost instantly, he found himself floating a least a hundred feet above the accident, looking down on the two vehicles.

 

From his vantage point above the tree tops, he soon saw the flashing lights of police cars and an ambulance coming from a distance toward the scene of the accident.  He watched as the medics worked on his body, trying to revive him.  He tried to tell them not to worry, that he felt perfectly fine — better, in fact, than he could ever remember having felt before.  But he couldn’t make himself seen or heard.  Then, without warning, he felt himself reenter his body and, he recalled, “it hurt like hell.”

 

That story has stayed with me for all the interveningyears.  It’s astonishing how often, when the subject of near-death experiences comes up, someone in the group will say that she or somebody close to her has had one.

 

Anyway, with that as a lengthy preface, you’ll readily understand why this story, which I came across long after that trip, struck me when I read it:

 

A young man lost control of his car during an evening snow storm.  He crashed and left his body as icy-cold water began to flow into the vehicle he had been driving.

 

I saw the ambulance coming, and I saw the people trying to help me, get me out of the car and to the hospital.  At that time I was no longer in my body.  I had left my body.  I was probably a hundred or two hundred feet up and to the south of the accident, and I felt the warmth and the kindness of the people trying to help me.(Reported in Nancy Evans Bush, Dancing Past the Dark: Distressing Near-Death Experiences [n.p.: Nancy Evans Bush, 2012].)

 

Posted from the Atlantic Ocean, between Lisbon and Porto

 

 

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