“She already existed before her life on Earth began”

“She already existed before her life on Earth began” March 21, 2024


Blake does Jacob's Ladder
William Blake, “Jacob’s Ladder” (1804)
Wikimedia Commons public domain image

I’ve lately begun reading a new book by Robert Christophor Coppes entitled Impressions of Near-Death Experiences: Quotations from Over 100 Experiencers.  Dr. Coppes is an economist who is now retired from a career spent at the University of Groningen in the Netherlands, a French bank, and eventually the Dutch Central Bank, which is roughly comparable to the U.S. Federal Reserve.

There are several things of interest on every single page. Here’s a passage from the book that that I’ve chosen almost at random.

She floated outside her body up to the ceiling from where she could see a great consternation unfolding around her body.  She continued floating.  She floated out the hospital and came to rest in a “dense, velvet-black space” in which she felt at ease.  There was nothing there, but she felt free from all pain and fear, enveloped in a profound sense of peace and tranquility.

She had no body, but no pain, either.  Time did not exist.  Moreover, she realized that she was thinking and, therefore, that she must still exist.  She knew it was real.  She wrote that it was

as true, as palpable, and as certain as had been my life on Earth . . .   I was remembering something I had forgotten, something that had been erased from memory when I was born.  (Thornton, 2014, pp. 94-95)

What she had forgotten was that she already existed before her life on Earth began, that is, before her birth into her current lifetime.  She had returned to her source, which she recognized as her real home (Anonymous, 2013, June 17).

It’s striking to me how very many out-of-body experiences include floating up to the ceiling (if they commence indoors, of course) and looking down from there onto what is transpiring below.  And, of course, it should be no surprise that, as a believing Latter-day Saint, the mention of a pre-mortal life instantly caught my attention.

Richard L. Bushman, eight years ago
Richard Lyman Buahman in 2016
(Photograph from the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship))

Just so you’re clear on this:  Whatever The Usual Suspects may claim, this story actually has no connection at all with the Interpreter Foundation:  “What you need to know about the Shohei Ohtani interpreter scandal”

But this item is connected:  Hugh Nibley Observed: Hugh Nibley and Joseph Smith,” given by Richard Lyman Bushman:

“I am honored to inaugurate the Maxwell Institute lecture series on Hugh Nibley, surely the spiritual godfather, along with Elder Neal A. Maxwell, of the Neal A. Maxwell Institute for Religious Scholarship. Nibley’s mind was capacious enough to encompass nearly all of the institute’s multifarious projects. He may have been the first to grasp the scope of the scholarship required to comprehend the Restoration.”

Part of our book chapter reprint series, this article originally appeared in Hugh Nibley Observed, edited by Jeffrey M. Bradshaw, Shirley S. Ricks, and Stephen T. Whitlock. For more information, go to https://interpreterfoundation.org/books/hugh-nibley-observed/.

A still life by Van Gogh
“Still Life with Meadow Flowers and Roses”
Vincent Van Gogh (1886)

A friend called my attention to the fact that I recently misidentified this week, rather than next, as “Holy Week.”  I don’t quite know why that happened but, although I’ve been corrected on the date of Easter at least twice, I’ve somehow had it stuck in my mind that Easter Sunday was this weekend.  Which would, obviously, make this week Holy Week.  Perhaps it’s because my attention has been focused on Easter earlier than it usually is:  Because of a certain exceedingly cute presence in our home, for example, our house has been festooned with all manner of Easter decorations for a couple of weeks now.  And because the person invited to write this year’s Easter essay for Interpreter suffered a serious last-minute family emergency, I was obliged to step in to write that essay this year, getting it in just under the, umm, drop-dead editorial deadline.

In any case, this week isn’t Easter week.  Next week is and that’s actually a relief.  When I announced here on Tuesday that this was Holy Week, I was dismayed to “realize” that we were already well into it and that I hadn’t been thinking about it.  But now there’s been a reprieve.  Easter Week is next week, and the 2014 piece that I wrote on Holy Week for the old Hamblin/Peterson “Higher Things” column in the Deseret News is still timely.

So, well, alright.  I’m fallible.  Who knew?

An anti-Mormon cartoon from 1884
An important educational illustration first published in 1884. (Wikimedia Commons public domain image).  Documents like this contribute enormously to increased appreciation and enhanced understanding between religions and cultures.  Curiously, though, this valuable specimen of balanced journalism was not published in the UK’s “Daily Mail.”  See “Trust the Media” (https://www.patheos.com/blogs/danpeterson/2024/03/trust-the-media.html)

Friends, I regularly plumb the terrifying depths of the Christopher Hitchens Memorial “How Religion Poisons Everything” File™ so that you don’t have to.  It’s most likely the uniquely profound personal depravity that is regularly attributed to me by a small coven of my fiercest anonymous critics that has equipped me to do so.  (No normal person could cope with it.)  Personal reveries aside, though, here is a quintet of items that I’ve recently retrieved for your appalled but nonetheless gratified enjoyment:

Deseret News:  “How the Church of Jesus Christ Cared for Those in Need in 2023: Caring summary shows more than US$1.3 billion in expenditures”

Deseret News:  “Religion is often a safeguard against family abuse. And that’s not just my experience: I’m not the only one who has found my faith community a sanctuary from abuse. Plenty of research confirms the same pattern.”

Journal of Affective Disorders:  Mental health at religious and non-religious universities: Examining the role of student religiousness and sexual/gender minority identity”

Deseret News:  “Members of the Church of Jesus Christ Provide Aid to Families Affected by Chile Fires”

LDS Church News:  “Improving maternal and infant health in Africa with an innovative training approach: The Church of Jesus Christ is supporting UNICEF’s programs to train health workers in Ethiopia, Kenya and Tanzania to help newborns and their mothers”

Both John Lennon and Vladimir Lenin invited us to “imagine” a world with no religion.  Perhaps such specimens above, which are merely samples from a vastly larger supply that I’ve retrieved out of the apparently inexhaustible Hitchens File, will help you to do exactly that.  Just imagine!



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