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Tuesday, November 29, 2011

Learning from "Learning from the Light"

In my first post about John Lerma, a review of his book Into the Light, I expressed my discomfort about the long, guru-like monologues that all of his stories relayed. All of the dying patients, no matter who they were or how old they were, sounded like a Lerma lecture. They all called him Dr. Lerma, using his name frequently. Never Doc, or Doctor, or John. They never have meltdowns. In this second book, published in 2009, I got the same squeamish feeling, even when he described the death of his own father.

When Lerma writes, “Dad said the angels told him…” or some other patient says the same thing, it almost becomes “ex-cathedra” dogma, as if Moses or the Pope said it. Who can argue with the angels? It certainly puts Dr. Lerma into the position of an authoritative, sacred scribe transmitting End Times truth. That is if you believe it all.

Dr. Lerma, who was raised Catholic, has worked many years in hospice care in Houston and San Antonio, TX, so I have to assume that at least half of what he wrote is based on real events and people. Many of the incidents are classic PDE and NDE fare, so there is no reason to question or doubt all of what is described. There are some persistent Lerma themes that come through the “angels” in the second book. One is the pre-birth covenant in which people agree to suffer and die to aid the enlightenment of mankind and the salvation of souls. Another is the need for self-forgiveness and self love (as opposed to forgiving and loving others, which of course he would also espouse). The angels apparently have a lot to say on self-forgiveness.

Then there is the theme, mentioned at least four times in the book, where our lower selves must discover our higher selves and the two must be united. That is what Jesus meant (in Lerma’s interpretation) wherever two or three of you are gathered together, I will be in the midst. The two are the higher and the lower self. I cannot begin to accept that New Age proposition as being so important to the angels of God, and I’m sure that that is not what Jesus meant when He talked about two or three being gathered together.

Toward the end of the book, there is another reference to Jesus Christ that takes Him out of the nebulous realm of New Age Christ-force Being of Energy and Light. Lerma tells the story of “Syriana,” a Lebanese girl whose family was bombed in their home during Ramadan. The mother, a sister, and the brother were instantly killed. The father and 15-year-old Syriana survived. But due to exposure to Plutonium shells, she, like many of her playmates, contracted cancer. That is what brought her to Lerma’s hospital and hospice care in Houston.

As her family paused at the gate of eternity, they told her that there was a secret about the One Truth that she would find within. This Truth is something that they had always heard was a lie. She promised them she would never stop looking for it. As a 12-year-old child she had met an entity that she knew as the Prophet Jesus. “He took me into Israel and spoke to me of the richness of the Islamic, Christian, and Jewish faiths.”

This entity continued to guide her in hospice care. At one point, Lerma asked her if she believed that Jesus was the Messiah. She still saw Him as a prophet at that point because He had never told her He was Messiah or the Son of God. She asked Lerma what he thought. He answered, “Syriana, honestly, I will never assume to know what Jesus is thinking or wants.”

Just before she died, Syriana saw Him at the foot of her bed.

“She looked at all of us with tears rolling down her face. ‘Don’t you see him?’ ‘See who?’ ‘Jesus. He said he is Jesus Christ who died for our sins. He was crucified and died for us, Dr. Lerma. Dr. Lerma, when he was washing my feet ever so gently and with a radiating sense of non-condemnation, I felt his wounds. When I looked up to look up at his wounds, I saw all of them. They were not bleeding. They had the whitest light I ever saw radiating from them. Before my daddy died, he told me he saw the light from his wounds as well. He is standing in front of all of us now. He is all white, and the angels, my family, and the other prophets are now singing to him. Oh my! He is God! The one God! My God! I’m so sorry, God! I’m so sorry!’” (p. 217)

Well, if that story is true, that certainly should close the book on who Jesus is. And if that doesn’t do it, the New Testament says the same thing.

However, there is a story about the UFO crash in Roswell, NM in 1947 that undermines the credibility of Lerma’s other stories. A Col. Marsh Bradfield wound up in his care as he died. Because death was imminent, he was ready to tell the story of his experience at Roswell, NM when the saucer crashed. He was stationed at Wright-Patterson AFB in Ohio, but he was visiting family on the 4th of July. There were thunderstorms in the region. On the morning of July 5th, Mac Brazel showed up at the Bradfield door to announce that something weird had occurred on his ranch. The two of them drove out to the crash site, arriving just and the Army did. There was time, however, to put some of the pieces together to get a better idea about the symbols. There was one symbol that they recognized. It was the German Iron Cross which was found on Nazi military vehicles and aircraft. The Army then began a disinformation campaign to convince the public that this vehicle, an experiment concocted by imported German scientists, was actually from another world.

I’ve been reading about Roswell for decades. I don’t recall anyone mentioning that such a symbol was found among the wreckage. Furthermore, the Army tried to make the public believe that this other-world incident was really a weather balloon. They’ve been trying to explain it away ever since 1947. I suspect that this tale is total BS, but just in case I know who to call on to check it out. Stanton Friedman, a physicist, ufo researcher, and columnist for the Mutual UFO Network would know of this situation if it ever existed.

In the meantime, there is so much in Lerma’s books that I want to believe. I really would love to pass this book out to all my friends and family as a definitive commentary alongside the Bible as a guide to what the afterlife is really all about. But I keep recognizing things that one would find in books about our quantum universe, remote viewing, ufo contactee lore in which our DNA is evolving to a higher consciousness, things I heard from Don Ware when I wrote the Gulf Breeze Six story, thing from Robert Monroe, things from New Age and reincarnation stories. It’s quite a spiritual, consciousness-raising casserole.

Yet, how could someone who is trying to make the world a better place make this stuff up? Wouldn’t you reap a karmacopia of bad energy? When all is said and done, I don’t know what to think about Dr. John Lerma. I do know I won’t be giving his books to friends for Christmas.

Here is Dr. Friedman's quick response:

As the nuclear physicist who began the civilian investigation of the Roswell incident in the 1970s and who found many key witnesses, I can place no credence in the notion of supposed Nazi UFO with the Iron Cross.Anybody can listen to 27 first hand witnesses to Roswell (almost all now deceased) on a DVD "Recollections of Roswell" noted at my website Not the slightest hint of such nonsense. If the Germans had had technology to place such a craft in New Mexico with the materials that have been described such as in my "Crash at Corona", why didn't they use such vehicles during WW2?. The supposed Nazi connections with Roswell as described in the frequently erroneous book "Area 51" by Annie Jacobsen are not at all supported by evidence either.
Stan Friedman

Thank you Dr. Friedman!!!

Tuesday, November 22, 2011

Apparitions of Mary, Part I, Medjugorje

Sources: Wayne Weible, Medjugorje the Message and Medjugorje the Mission.

The quote below from Whitley Strieber’s recent journal is not added here to suggest that Mary is an alien (nor to deny it) but to suggest that apparitions of Mary are part of our strange paranormal/spiritual/miraculous universe. They should not be ignored.

“Everyone involved in these denials [of ufo and abduction phenomena] is an oppressor of the human spirit, and as life on earth becomes more and more difficult, their presence in leadership is going to become harder and harder for people to bear until, in the end, there will be an explosion against it, and whatever is known behind the scenes will finally be revealed. I would not be surprised if it involves a secretive ET presence here. But I would also not be surprised if it turns out that ET is NOT here, and that the origin of the strange phenomena that we see all around us is very much stranger.”

Why investigate Mary?

I want to look at the phenomenon from all sides, pro and con, but first I want to emphasize that these events, which have taken place since the sixteenth century, are Earth shaking, global, and, for better or worse, paranormal/spiritual in nature. I do not believe for a second that they are hoaxes.

Furthermore, it’s very easy for everyone on Earth who is not a Catholic to compartmentalize away these apparitions and just pretend they never happened. Don’t read about them. Don’t think about them. We do that with things that are beyond all possibility of comprehension. Understanding the Mary phenom, or at least noting its influential and mysterious existence, is important. And I have to admit that with all my study, I don’t have all the answers. I only have lots of questions.

Whole books have been written about all of the apparitions. Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico swept thousands of Native Mexican Indians into the Catholic Church and also rebuked the hubris and vanity of the oppressive church officials from Europe. After reading the story, I stomped around for an hour telling God that if He didn’t arrange that situation, He should have. It was something that the Earth was crying out for. It was a huge slap in the face to all that was going wrong in the European culture and the Catholic Church.

A rather ecumenical Mary

In this post, however, I want to address the most recent apparitions which began in the Croatian city of Medjugorje. In 1981, Mary and the infant Jesus appeared on Podbrdo Hill to several teens of the rural village. Six of them became regular visionaries. Word spread quickly, changing the city’s destiny, and later appearance, forever.

Mary’s messages were fairly simple. Pray, pray, pray. Pray the rosary, pray at home with your your kids, pray for peace. Prayer and fasting can stop wars and suspend laws of nature. The way to conversion is through prayer, fasting, and penance. Confess your sins. Give yourselves wholly to God, to Jesus her son, and to her Immaculate Heart and her message.

She seemed to know that bloody, tragic war was on the horizon and had a plan to mitigate it or stop it altogether. But of course, her nemesis Satan was always on the prowl and was trying to thwart her plan, so that aspect of her plan was not successful. From the Balkans to the Soviet Union to the Middle East, war was lurking at the gates and hasn’t ceased even today.

She had some things to say that I found really surprising. (I use the word “she” with a grain of salt because in the spirit realm, what you see is not always what you get.) She verified that she cannot heal. Only God heals. People should pray to Jesus rather than to her. Hell is only for people who are exceeding wicked and really don’t want anything to do with God. Their rejection of Him is total. Most people go to Purgatory. Many are released from there on All Saints Day or on Christmas. Some people in Purgatory who pray a lot are allowed to communicate with the living.

To get to heaven, just live a simple and good life. No one has to do great penance or have a great amount of faith. (She didn’t say you have to be Catholic.) Every home should have one sacred object. Homes should be blessed regularly. (Any Christian who studies ufos or alien abduction could understand why ‘she’ might encourage that.) Respect all religions. Not all are equal, but “people of all religions are accepted by her son.” Basically, religions are similar. This is a crucial statement in a region where Roman Catholics, Eastern Orthodox, and Muslims kill each other on a regular basis (See Medjugorje the Message, Chapter 7).

The end of the world as we know it?

She also seemed to hinting at a future apocalypse of some kind. She had 10 secrets to give to the 6 visionaries. The first ones were personal. The 7th was quickly done away with through prayer and penance of the people. The last 3 were serious global judgments would occur close together. They could not be prayed away, but could be lessened. Each visionary was to select a priest to share these last secrets with when the time came for them to occur. I assume that the purpose of the sharing is to verify that the event is God’s prophesied judgment rather than just a natural occurrence. As the secrets come to pass, people of the earth will have to convert quickly or perish. It sounds as if more will die than be left alive.

Medjugorje and today’s charismatic movement

There were miracles. Silver rosary chains would turn to gold, sometimes while in the pocket, sometimes while the rosary was being used. The sun would dance and spin as it did in Fatima; people would be miraculously converted; some were healed of dread conditions; the ethnically diverse and scrappy city quit growing tobacco as a main crop; ethnic clashes diminished; people called into Mary's service would sometimes hear a gentle, guiding voice that corrected them like a mother corrects a child; obstructive difficulties were dealt with in miraculous ways.

Many of the priests favoring the Medjugorje apparitions are charismatic, believing in the gifts mentioned in the Bible such as healing, prophecy, speaking in tongues. They are full of the fruits of the Spirit: love, joy, peace, longsuffering, etc. So the Medjugorje tree has produced lots of good spiritual fruit. Many Catholics have been renewed in their faith and are living better lives.

Silver chains turning to gold is not much different than some very convincing Evangelical claims that gold crowns appear in the mouths of the needy. Gold dust appears on this speaker, that one finds manna in his Bible, feathers fall from the ceiling and gems are found on the floor. And of course, there are exorcisms and healings in the Pentecostal world. Everyone agrees that the greatest miracle is when lives are changed. Forgiveness replaces hatred, violence turns to peace. These things happen all across Christendom.

The nagging concerns

I would rather cut my hand off than speak a word against something that God really approved of. I would feel awful if I dismissed this whole affair as satanic, then got to heaven and found out that in my narrow, doctrinaire viewpoint I had trashed an important work of the Holy Spirit on Earth. After all, Mary made it clear that she cannot just make her own plans. She cooperates with the will of God.

But there are questions. Nagging concerns. Biblical passages to look at. Connections with Fatima. The Part II post will deal with those concerns, but gently, because the Medjugorje apparitions have born much good fruit and have not belabored the people with a load of dogma and superstition.

Part III will deal with the apparitions of Bayside, New York. When we get there, stand back. I have no hesitation as to what to say about that event.

Tuesday, November 1, 2011

Some Awful Facts About Dieting

I am not a nutrition expert, so I do not guarantee the accuracy of what is written below.

For the past several years I have been trying to deal with the weight I’ve gained since the mid-90’s when I was an aging seminary student. As a result, I’ve read bits and pieces here and there about the science of eating, weight gain, and dieting. It’s a grim pursuit. There is nothing but bad news to report, with the exception that early in the morning there are lots of slender elderly ladies exercise-walking at the local mall. Of course, it’s the light weight ones with white hair who are still walking in their seventies and eighties. The heavy ones are using walkers.

So, what do I think I have learned?

Well, people who carry their weight lower down need a low-fat diet and people with all that dangerous toxic fat around the middle need a low-carb diet. So sez Dr. Oz.

The expert lady on the car radio said that when you lose a lot of weight, your metabolism slows down. We all knew that, but what I didn’t know is that it slows down forever. For the rest of your life. The more you yo-yo, the worse it gets. Once you get to the same weight as your friend who was never on a diet, you will have to eat less than him or her forever to maintain your weight loss.

And of course, you have to eat less as you age anyway, because the aging process turns muscle to fat. We all know that muscle burns more calories than fat. That’s why men use more calories than women. That and the fact that women have five times more fat cells than men. O yes and the fact that their fat cells are bigger. But what is fairly new in the you-don’t-want-to-hear-this department is that fat cells, when they sense a consistent negative calorie input, fight back with enzymes that tell you that you are hungry and you need to eat eat eat.

If you eat until you are full and you stretch your stomach, your stomach sends a famine message to your body to store what you ate as fat.

If you try try try to eat less and you get hungry and your stomach starts to growl, your body makes an enzyme called grehlyn (sp?) which tells your metabolism to store what fuel there is as fat.

If you go to bed a little calorie starved because you don’t want to sleep on those carbs, your liver will make up for it by shooting stored carbs into your system while you sleep. That produces insulin just as if ate a jelly donut. Insulin produces fat.

If you go more than 5 hours without eating anything, your liver produces the fuel, which produces the insulin, which calls for fat storage.

If you are stressed, even about your struggle to lose weight, your body produces cortisol, which sends the message to your metabolism to store fat around the waist. So quit stressing about your flippin’ weight!!

The gurus used to tell us that it’s all about calories, so just make a simple adjustment on your diet and do everything else the same. The negative calories will add up and you’ll start to lose weight. Simple math. But it’s not simple math. Your body is not a computer. It’s an organic, responding, changing, morphing, pouting, adjusting, subversive chemistry factory that knows that famine is coming and the Huns are at the gates and you need all your fat cells to bring the hay into the barn. Your body doesn’t know about your bridge club and your Facebook account.

Furthermore, all those fat cells are a toxic waste dump. They store nasty, gooey things that mayhap will be released into your body if you do manage to shrink them a little.

So what’s the solution?

Quit dieting. Change the way you think about food. Change the way you eat, but make it a life change and not a diet, so make it be something you can live with forever. Don’t be thinking you only have to survive it for 3 weeks.

Lose the weight slowly. Firmly explain to your body you are not dieting and hope it believes you.

Don’t give up sweets and goodies altogether, but seriously reduce carb and sugar spikes. Don’t wait until you are 50 years old and are becoming insulin resistant to start that habit.

Eat breakfast, but make it a complex carbohydrate rather than the jelly donut.

Eat more often, but make it be less than a meal.

Put the cookies and cake in the freezer. Eat salad for dinner. Eat your heavy meal in the middle of the day. Go for the fiber. Even if you are young.

Don’t give up all carbs. Just eat less of them. Eat more protein. Have a protein shake.

Have a piece of meat or cheese before you go to bed.

Take a vitamin with iodine in it. Your thyroid needs iodine.

Drink a couple glasses of ice water each day.

Be a little more physically active. (Yeah, right. Easy to say.)

Last of all, have a happy life-change. I hope you are better at following all of this great advice than I am.