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Friday, June 11, 2010

Dr. John Lerma, Into the Light

Dr. John Lerma is a hospice doctor with the Houston Medical Center, hospice care. He is in a perfect position to examine afterlife experiences by interviewing his own patients and inquiring about their pre-death visions and revelations. His book is fascinating, enlightening, and perplexing at the same time. First of all, one thinks of angelic visitations as a relatively rare event, but in Lerma's book angels are everywhere. Of course, we only hear the stories where they appear, so that could make perfect sense. Second,the patients give long explanations as to what the angels tell them. Whether the age is 4 or 9 or 88, they all sound lecturish with consistent themes in several of the lectures such as the covenant agreement of the adult soul prior to conception in which the soul chooses its fate. That fate may include drug addiction, murder, drunk driving, or rape. It's all for the benefit of humanity. It all works out perfectly. Another popular theme is that there are no dark spirits. Every human has 'the dark' in them and if we let that take over our life, it can 'create' a temporary 'entity' that cooperates with the light angels in showing us that the dark is counter-productive. Third, all of the lectures given to Dr. Lerma sound like... well, like Dr. Lerma.

So I found myself wondering if he took the liberty to embellish the stories a bit or to insert just a tad of his own worldviews into the lectures. That's why the last two stories were so startling. Rachel was a Jewish lady from Argentina who had a really terrible disease called Huntington's chorea. It causes involuntary muscle spasms and ends with dementia and death. In hospice she had a tube down her throat so she couldn't talk. During that time she began to have visions of Jesus Christ. After a while they removed it and inserted a breathing apparatus through her nose. About a week before she died she stunned a roomful of people, including her husband, her synagogue friends, a nurse, and Dr. Lerma himself, when she announced what she had been seeing and hearing.

She claimed that Jesus Christ was standing at the foot of her bed washing her feet. I had a friend long ago who suffered greatly in her life who also had such a vision. Rachel gave a very personal message from Jesus to both Lerma and the nurse which blew them out of their socks because it was about their children. One child was deceased and was standing next to Jesus. The other was that God did not want Lerma to move to protect his children from predation. All would be well.

The Jewish friends and husband in the room were stunned and offended, thinking that she must be on some kind of medication. Lerma asked, "Are you sure it was Jesus?" She answered yes and said that she had accepted him as her Messiah and Son of God. She wanted her husband to know that it was real and that he must do the same. The reference to Jesus as the Son of God reminded me of Dr. Ritchie standing in the presence of the Son of God. Of course there was that tiny little nuance: "I chose to follow him as the Son of God." So... to her he is the Son of God, but his personna is fluid enough that for someone else he can be a nice teacher? That sounds a little wishy-washy. Either he is the Son of God or he's not.

The fact that she was so lucid and the messages were so accurate was considered a miracle. She did not have dementia. Then there were the other interesting insights. Her suffering was for the purpose of raising the level of humanity (a Catholic teaching and a frequent theme in the Lerma stories) and she and Jesus chose this path for her before she was born. Well, people have been suffering a LOT since we quit swinging in the tree branches. When is all the suffering supposed to bear the fruit of elevation and enlightenment? Rawanda? Idi Amin? Sudan? the Congo? Kosovo? The Middle Ages? Apartheid? Martin L. King assassination? Hmm, don't see it yet.

Even though Lerma was raised Catholic, I can't imagine that he would simply invent a Jewish woman who would tell her family and friends that Jesus is their Messiah. I could perhaps with enough compelling proof entertain the thought that our suffering might help others, although I can't see that the world is a better place for it all. I have to reject the idea that we agree with Jesus or the good aliens or the directors and masters of the universe to come to earth and do harm, to fall, to harm ourselves, to kill 4 teens in a drunken accident, etc. all to raise the level of humanity.

So the readers of Lerma's book will have to decide for themselves how credible it all is. I'm happy that the first and last couple of stories show Jesus Christ as the center of our advancement and salvation. Lerma asked Jesus through Rachel why some patients saw Jesus, but none had ever seen Buddha or Muhammud. Now that is a question I would love to ask Jesus myself. I feel I know the answer, but to hear him say it?? I would fall off my chair to have that opportunity. Rachel herself answered it: "That's not important." Rachel, Rachel....