I regularly get asked to review books for journals and periodicals so I thought I’d share some of the books I have reviewed. Keep checking the blog for new reviews.
I Close My Eyes to See: The Dan Rhema Story as Told to Kevin Wilson ISBN: 978-0-615-43042-3
When someone has a near-death experience (NDE), they usually undergo a profound spiritual transformation. Not only is their life thrown into turmoil through (sometimes) physical injury but more so from the deep spiritual insights gained during the experience. The experience is so unlike any other human experience that words fail to communicate the full intensity and essence of the experience.
While travelling inMexicowith his wife, Susan, Dan Rhema contracted Dengue Fever and Spinal Meningitis which led to a near-death experience. This book wonderfully conveys Dan’s journey of his near-death experience through both words and art.
Through his art, Dan succeeds in conveying the essence of his experience which words are inadequate to describe. As a result of his NDE Dan received ‘artistic inclinations and creative compulsions that did not exist before’. His words compliment his art which has so much more to say about an experience that is beyond words. Although I am not much of an artist I was struck by the vibrancy and powerful intensity of the art. I wanted to turn the pages faster to look at the next image and then I had to look at the whole book again to take in the images.
This beautifully illustrated book is unique in that there are few words but the images speak volumes. The art consists of both paintings and sculptures that Dan was inspired to construct from objects found in the desert. The paintings are powerful, vibrant and rich, almost shamanistic with many resembling primal images seen in ancient cave paintings around the world. His sculptures are striking.
Dan Rhema is not the person he was before he contracted the illnesses. He underwent changes in personality as well as extensive memory loss. His artistic abilities are not merely attributable to his illness but to Dan’s conviction that he now lives with a foot in two worlds. It seems that Dan has tapped into the collective unconscious and brought his experience to life through his art.
In this powerful book Dan has processed his NDE through his art and let go of his previous existence as Dan to embrace the new Dan.
The book succeeds in conveying the depths and complexities of a NDE in a way that words can’t.
For more information on Dan Rhema’s work visit: www.danrhema.com
Theater of Clouds: A Near Death Memoir
by Ken Ebert (Self Published) ISBN 9781460976258
In 1984 Ken Ebert experienced a NDE during a freak cycling accident. His encounter with a ‘celestial Being of light’ left him with a choice of whether to stay in the new magical place he found himself in or to return to the life he had been so suddenly extricated from.
This book is the culmination of Ken Ebert’s twenty-seven year search for an understanding of his NDE. It is beautifully written and highlights that not all NDEs leave the experiencer with only feelings of bliss and happiness. As is the case of many NDErs, although Ken describes his experience as ‘realer than real’ he was also left with its legacy of trying to fit into a world where he felt he no longer fitted.
The book spans the twenty-seven years following his NDE and recalls the difficulties with coming to terms with his NDE and the ways it impacted on his relationships with others. Although his physical injuries healed quickly (unusually quickly in most instances described) it seems that his psychological and spiritual needs were completely ignored by others and like so many other NDErs he was left to cope alone to make sense of something that made little sense at the time.
While striving for answers Ken meanwhile was open to the synchronicities in his life which had meaning for him. He describes some obvious after effects of the NDE such as heightened intuition and increased ability to heal which was very noticeable when the severe injuries of a cat healed within a few weeks of being around Ken.
The writing of this book has been cathartic for Ken but, again like so many other NDErs, it is still apparent that the integration of his NDE into his life is still ongoing. This highlights the importance of our society having a greater knowledge of the NDE and the impact it can have one one’s life.
This book is an honest exposition of the personal aspects of Ken’s life post NDE in his own words. It serves well to draw attention to some unpleasant after effects that many NDErs are left with and will be a source of validation and comfort to many who are also going through or have gone through a similar struggle. The book highlights well some of the complexities arising from NDEs that are all too easily ignored by many trying to explain away this very intriguing phenomenon. Ken’s testimony would be helpful to those seeking a greater understanding of the NDE, others who are also trying to come to terms with their NDE and also for the partners of NDErs who wish to be supportive and understand the changes in the NDErs life.
The first three chapters of the book are available to read free of charge at Ken’s website: www.kenebert.com