The Real Purpose of Near-Death Experiences: An Interview With Betty J. Eadie
Last week on PJ Lifestyle I read with great interest a piece by P. David Hornik titled "What Near-Death Experiences Tell Us." With “great interest” refers to my long-time fascination with near-death experiences (NDEs), which began in 1994 after a friend gifted me the book Embraced By The Light by Betty J. Eadie.
The book, according to my friend, was a “must read.” As proof, she claimed it was still on the New York Times best seller list after an entire year. (For the record, Embraced By The Light was #1 on the New York Times list in September 1993 and in the top ten for 78 weeks. Subsequently, it became the fifth bestselling book of the 1990s.)
Embraced By The Light, published in 1992, was Eadie’s personal account of her near-death experience after an operation gone awry in 1973.
Then, for more than a decade, Eadie was hesitant to write or speak about her NDE out of fear that people (including family members) would think she was totally nuts, or would not believe her story.
What makes Eadie’s NDE so controversial and intriguing is the title of the book itself. Because, immediately upon reaching heaven, Betty was “embraced by the light,” and that light was Jesus Christ and he made himself known to her.
Betty is then taken on an unforgettable tour of heaven which she describes in great detail. Throughout the book, Jesus teaches Betty His message of eternal and unconditional love. But despite her pleas to stay in heaven, Jesus sends her back to earth because it was “not yet her time.” The book concludes with Jesus’ final message to Betty, “Above all else, love one another.”
Like millions of other readers around the world (the book was published in 130 countries, translated into 38 languages, and to this date has sold over 20 million copies), I was totally captivated by Embraced. This captivation stemmed from my belief in Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. But Betty’s NDE account, the first one I had ever read, only served as sweet confirmation that the “benign deity” (the phrase used by Hornik in his piece) not only exists, but that we will meet Him face to face “when it is our time.”
Here's a video of Eadie on the Oprah Winfrey Show in the '90s, when Embraced was a best-selling book:
Within the last few years, there has been a proliferation of books about NDEs, and several of them have been bestsellers. As Hornik’s piece mentions, sitting atop the New York Times bestseller list this week is Proof of Heaven by Dr. Eben Alexander, a neurosurgeon who chronicles his own heavenly experience.
Also, 2010's Heaven is for Real, a young child’s story of his trip to heaven written by his father Todd Burpo, still attracts readers.
However, Hornik’s NDE piece to my surprise makes no mention of the best-selling NDE book of all time, Embraced By the Light. And, as a long-time fan of Embraced, I was troubled by these two paragraphs in Hornik’s piece because of what I consider a glaring omission:
And NDEs show remarkably similar features all over the world, transcending religious and cultural backgrounds. One of those constantly reported features is the encounter with the deity. Strongly religious people usually perceive the deity (and sometimes other mythological beings) in terms of their own religion; but people of little or no religion also have the encounter and speak more generally of a “being of light.”
Most dramatically of all, the phrase “unconditional love” occurs repeatedly in these descriptions. The deity is reported to be what we would call nonjudgmental; entirely accepting; and a source of overwhelming love. Yes, the news is rather good.
Now, does any specific name come to mind when you read Hornik’s description of “the deity"?
Is there a possible name for “the deity” that Hornik neglects to mention?
(Hint: A beloved name that is most associated with light and “unconditional love,” one who is non-judgmental -- or forgiving -- and known as the source of overwhelming love?)
Hornik even writes that the NDE “news is good.” (Is he making a play on words referring to “The Good News,” which is the Old English name for The Gospel?)
OK, I will not be shy when stating that “the deity” described by Hornik is none other than Jesus Christ.
I am also not shy in revealing that, after reading Embraced By The Light in 1994, I had the opportunity to meet Betty Eadie. For the last 17 years, I have counted her among my closest friends.
She is the one I call when I need serious advice or, at the very least, a casual attitude adjustment. And I consider myself very fortunate to have a friend who has actually embraced Jesus and, as a result, can provide heavenly counsel, which many times over the last 17 years I have desperately needed.
Now, I know it sounds rather silly to write “a friend who has actually embraced Jesus,” and I would not blame you for clicking away from this piece right now.
But those who have met Betty personally and the hundreds of thousands of people who have heard her speak (and the millions who otherwise have seen and heard her via the media) know that Betty has a heavenly countenance about her. It is a countenance that could only have resulted from embracing Jesus after her 1973 NDE.
So last week after reading Hornik’s piece, I forwarded it to Betty. Then this week I called and asked if she would like to discuss her thoughts on the latest round of NDE bestsellers for a piece I was planning to write. Betty, always eager to share her message, was pleased to grant my request.
My timing, it turned out, was “coincidental” because it has been exactly 20 years since Embraced By The Light occupied the #1 spot, where Proof of Heaven now sits. Betty believes that is no coincidence, as you will read below.
Below is a telephone interview with Betty J. Eadie that took place on January 30, 2013.
PJ Lifestyle: Why are there now so many new NDE books?
Betty J Eadie: Heaven is sending us a message. This message is to make people know that Jesus Christ is Lord. We have to prepare ourselves to meet the Lord. He wants to awaken the people of the world, to prepare us before we go to the other side where there is no death. He wants us to love one another, that is the message I most often share with people. Of course it was also the final sentence in Embraced By The Light, Jesus’ words to me, “Above all else, love one another.” My book touched hearts because people truly felt that message of love.
PJL: What do you think about all the new bestselling NDE books?
BJE: I get excited when another NDE book is published, for it allows me to take a deep breath because people used to say I was crazy. I am especially pleased when doctors write NDE books. It is no coincidence that more doctors are having NDEs because it is a gift to skeptics who need someone of a higher intellect to have an NDE in order for the skeptic to believe. Greater numbers of people are more willing to accept "proof of heaven" coming from a doctor’s own account than when it comes from somebody like me. Doctors can reach people at a different level. If I were God, I would have chosen a neurosurgeon, someone like Dr. Eben Alexander, to educate the educated about heaven.
PJL: What about NDE books that do not mention Jesus by name? (Proof of Heaven is one such book. It mentions a divine force that Dr. Alexander refers to as “the Core” but Jesus is not named. Heaven is for Real, however, does mention Jesus by name.
BJE: Anyone who has had a real NDE knows that Jesus lives, but some authors choose not to say “we know him," “we saw him,” or “we met him” because of the fear that people or the media will call you crazy. I know because I have lived that experience and it is not pleasant. Now, there are best selling authors of NDE books who did not mention Jesus by name in their books, but later admitted to me that they knew the bright light was Jesus. They said they left out His name because they were afraid of coming forward with it. I can totally understand that thinking. My greatest fear was of people saying, “Why her?” Why did Christ welcome Betty Eadie to heaven? Who was she to receive such royal treatment? But I had “guts” and was not afraid of the truth. (Note: Betty was a married mother of seven children without a college degree at the time of her NDE in 1973.)
PJL: In the 21 years since Embraced By The Light was published, you have received countless letters from readers who practiced different faiths but had an NDE and saw Jesus. Do any specific letters stand out in your mind?
BJE: Yes and phone calls as well. I distinctly remember that a distressed woman called our office to tell us that as her mother was dying her last words were about seeing Jesus. We were pleased to hear that because we knew her mother was now with Jesus. But the woman cried out, “You don’t understand. We are Jewish -- we don’t believe in Jesus!”
Another example that stands out was a letter I received from a Muslim man who had an NDE. The man described how he met Christ, embraced Him, and remembered Him after the NDE. He wrote that “Christ was my brother, how could I deny my brother?” He went on to describe how his family had disowned him after he told them about his NDE. I could go on and on. I have huge boxes full of letters from people who met Christ during an NDE even though Christ was not in their belief system.
PJL: What is the message you would like to leave with our readers?
BJE: Here is the bottom line: He loves us unconditionally. Jesus is not concerned about people who don’t know him because He is forgiving. Even if you do not believe in Him, you will come to know Him.
PJL: You had such a high media profile in the 1990s when Embraced was on top of all the best seller lists, and now with this recent resurgence of NDE books, do you have any plans for “getting out there more”?
BJE: Myra, as you know the last 10 years I chose to be home caring for my dear husband, Joe, who was very ill. Since Joe went home to be with the Lord in 2011, I am just now starting to consider some of the media offers that have never stopped coming my way. You also know that my “celebrity” and any fame or fortune that came my way were not important to me. All I ever tried to do through writing Embraced and later with my other books was to be true to my experience with Jesus and his teachings. The Lord sent me back to earth in 1973 to be His messenger of His truth. That is what I have tried to do and that is what I will continue to do until He takes me home so I can "Embrace Him" once again.
This video of Betty was from the DVD of the 2002 movie Dragonfly with Kevin Costner about NDEs. Betty served as a consultant on the movie.
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