In 1975, Dr. Raymond A. Moody coined the term “near-death experiences” in his bestselling book Life After Life.
Mormons have latched on to this concept, which is not surprising, considering our unique doctrine regarding the afterlife.
Dr. Brent Top has researched extensively near-death experiences, especially by those outside of the LDS community.
He has identified several common elements to these experiences such as the “life review,” encountering loved ones, and spirit communication.
Far from fading as a fad, the topic is becoming more and more popular.
While Dr. Top finds his studies interesting, he warns of the danger of trying to establish doctrine through experience. He emphasizes what the LDS doctrine is regarding the afterlife rather than anecdotal experiences. He also introduces a concept he coined as the “Apocraphal Principle” to help us evaluate these stories.
In the wake of the deaths of Carrie Fisher and Debbie Reynolds (Daughter and mother) just a day apart, Huffington Post published a surprisingly open article concerning the LDS beliefs about eternity from author Mary Bell.
We’re all here on Earth for about 10 minutes. OK, not 10 actual minutes. But relative to eternity, doesn’t it seem like it’s going to feel like we were here for just minutes?
Ideally, we would like these minutes to be… well, ideal. We would like to be consistently overflowing with joy, bursting with happiness, and swimming in purpose―like joyful, happy porpoises with retirement plans. But life, as we’ve noticed, can also be hard. And that, as I continue to learn, is “a good thing” (thank you, Martha Stewart).
Recently, I was in a situation with a lot of people that I loved but hadn’t seen for a while. It was joy to see them again. We were waiting for something to begin, and we were all trying hard to be quiet, but still, we were a little covertly giggly. I remember thinking, “This reminds me of being a little girl with my many siblings gathered around me, waiting for bedtime stories to begin.” We needed to settle down so the book could be read, but we were all so excited! We were all there in our pajamas! We were all snuggled near each other like happy puppies! We had a hard time stifling laughter.
I was remembering this that day when something suddenly surprising whispered to my soul. “Someday you will feel this with all those with you in heaven, for everyone is a literal child of God. You are all brothers and sisters.”
It hit me: love in heaven does not come just from God and Jesus and people of that caliber. It comes from the multiplied love of all of us. Individual relationships (deep, pure, and fun) are possible between each of us.
The iconic circles of Mormonism. You know what they represent the moment you see them on a blackboard anywhere in the world. You have probably drawn those circles yourself more times than you can count. For those of you who don’t know, this diagram is a visual representation of God’s plan for his children.
It goes by several different names, many of which are straight from the scriptures:
• The Plan of Salvation
• The Great Plan of Happiness
• Plan of Redemption
• The Great Plan of the Eternal God
• The Plan of Justice
(For the sake of familiarity, we’ll go with Plan of Salvation for this post.)
A few years ago, I found myself listening to yet another lesson on the Plan of Salvation. We had methodically gone through the collective effort of labeling each of the circles, and discussing what they each represent. Standard Operating Procedure for a lesson on the Pan of Salvation.
As we were finishing up, I noticed that something was missing from the discussion. I tucked that thought into some corner of my brain and didn’t do anything with it.
Fast forward a few years: I found myself preparing yet another lesson not he Plan of Salvation for a Sunday School. I found yet another blank diagram that I could pass out, so we could all fill it out together. yada-yada-yada. Then I remembered that I had previously noticed that something was missing from the last lesson I had heard on the subject – something important.