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Friday, February 19, 2010

G. Ritchie in the Presence of the Son of God

Several new Christian books on the afterlife have been published in recent years. A topic that was taboo in the 60's is now almost a fad. Reincarnationist authors have been discussing the afterlife for years, of course. One Christian story has been around since it was published as a book in 1978. It is cited in today's afterlife books, but not extensively. Thus, inspite of ready availability, it isn't well-known.

The story took place in 1943 when 20-year-old George Ritchie of Richmond, Virginia arrived at Camp Barkeley in Texas. He gave up attendance at the Medical College of Virginia in his home town to join the Army during WWII. He was ecstatic when the Army offered to send him to that same college, and they would pay for it. He was determined to be there when classes began on Dec. 22. On Dec. 10th, he contracted a fever which turned to influenza, requiring long days of recuperation, during which he lost a lot of weight. The Army arranged a jeep to transport him to Richmond, but first he needed to gain back 15 pounds and have a normal temperature. Ritchie feared that if he didn't show up on the 22nd, his place would be given to another, so he fought hard to recover. He also looked forward to Christmas with his family and girlfriend. He gained the required 15 pounds, but as the day drew near, his fever was still spiking and dropping. The day he was to leave, it spiked to 106. During an x-ray he passed out. The next day on Dec. 21, he died.

In the first minutes after death, the now non-physical George could only think of getting to Richmond. His soul went flying out of the hospital, across the desert, past farms and towns. He stopped at one town to ask directions, receiving the usual clues that no one could see him. Finally he got it. He was immaterial. He had to get back to the camp and find his body. After a long, crazy, lonely search throughout the hospital, he recognized his sheet-covered corpse. Dejected and confused, he 'sat down' on his body. Suddenly the room got lighter and lighter until it was so bright that he felt it would have scorched living eyes. He saw a being walk into the room. He heard a commanding voice say, "Stand up! You are in the presence of the Son of God." Ritchie was amazed at the wonderful, virile, appealing, and caring Presence, whom he instantly began to love.

Jesus took George on a long tour, but first there was a detailed life review in moving pictures. He even saw his birth. At the end of it, he understood that, although he had accepted Christ when he was 11 years old and had attended church all those years, his life was "only an endless, shortsighted, clamourous concern" for himself (Return from Tomorrow, Chosen Press, 2007, p. 59). He saw cities where disincarnate people hovered around the living. He saw regret, addiction, rage, and perversion. He also saw a hint of our technological future, growth in the arts, and finally a glimpse of a vast, bright heavenly city. Suddenly he was back in his body. The ward boy had alerted the doctor on duty that George was unresponsive. That doctor declared him dead and ordered that he be remanded to the morgue. The ward boy suggested maybe trying a shot of adrenalin straight to the heart. Surprisingly, the doctor agreed to try it and it worked (remember, this is '43). Weeks later, George was recovering and was on his way to med school. He became both a medical doctor and later a psychiatrist. His experience utterly changed his life. He spent the rest of it serving others and sharing his testimony.

In contrast to Dr. Ritchie's experience, I am reading a book about reincarntion called Journey of Souls, by Michael Newton, Ph.D., a counselor and hypnotherapist. His specialty, besides regressing his patients to discover their past lives, is to have them linger in the Bardo, the time between lives. Jesus, God, Mary, saints, theologians, Buddha, Mohammed, Krishna, heaven, hell, city of God, demons, aliens, etc. are never seen there. Souls are diverted by some unseen directors to clusters, where they hover like 'fireflies' until their next incarnation. They cannot cross over into other clusters, even if recognizable family members are there. There is LOTS of review and therapy in their afterlife. The idea is to return to earth so that one can improve, so discussions about improvement never seem to end there. Classes on behavior take place in schools that are screened to appear as temples or modern classroms. There are no evil entities, just souls functioning at low, intermediate, or high levels. Some may be so damaged that they need restructuring (like a spiritual frontal lobotomy, writes Newton), to which they are all happy to submit because everyone wants to do better in their next life. Misery is fleeting in this view of afterlife.

All that therapy is not very effective. Newton states that, "I have had many cases where a client has been incarnating for up to 30,000 (yes, count the zeros) on Earth and is still on the lower levels of I and II...One of my clients has not been able to conquer envy for 850 years in numerous lives, but she did not have too much trouble overcoming bigotry by the end of this same period. Another has spent nearly 1700 years off-and-on seeking some sort of authoritative power over others" (p. 124). Elsewhere he praised a client for entering an intermediate state after only 4,000 years (p. 147). Reincarnation is a lot of work.

In the next blog, I want to delve further into the contrast between Dr. Ritchie's experience and that of Dr. Newton. These souls never wonder why they see no angels or religious figures. Nor is there any hunger for such things, so the assumption is that these things don't exist and only the naieve look for them. It's all about us.