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Monday, August 24, 2015

Reviving Ritchie, Part 2, His Visions of Hell

Source: George G. Ritchie, Jr., MD, My Life After Dying, Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads, 1991, 1998. Italics are quotes from the book.

In Part I of this series, we followed George Ritchie’s life as he joins the Army, dies of double lobar pneumonia, meets Jesus Christ, the Son of God, and accompanies his mighty Lord on a tour of inter-dimensional realms. When he returned, he married, went on to med school, became an MD, then proceeded to receive a degree in psychiatry. It took him many years to be able to process and describe his experience in 1943 when he was only 20 years old. He describes Jesus more fully in this second book. He had blue eyes and chestnut hair parted in the middle. He was over 6’2”. This was no sweet, gentle Jesus, meek, weak or mild. Here stood a robust male who radiated strength. [Note to the UFO community: Jesus was not an alien.]

The young George Ritchie was shown five inter-dimensional realms. The beings in those realms could not see Ritchie and Jesus, nor could they see the other realms. They could only see their own. This fact alone was worth the price of the book for me, because I have studied these realms long before being aware of Ritchie’s book, and I wondered why they were all so different and so oblivious of other modes of existence. When Jesus was on earth, He spoke of “many mansions.” Perhaps he was referencing what Ritchie called ‘realms.’

The first realm was earth. After an exquisitely detailed life review, in which Ritchie understood that the whole purpose of life is to learn to love, he and Jesus just went up through the roof and flew at an impossible speed toward a large city. There was no mention of them climbing into a UFO or flaming chariot, by the way. They just flew. In the earthly city he saw living humans and ghostly entities sharing the streets and offices together. The living, who were distinguished by an aura of light surrounding them, were utterly unaware of the ghosts, who had no such aura. Ritchie saw people who died in the thrall of addiction, unforgiveness, greed, selfishness, a desire for control, suicide, etc. They were all chained to the earth by their unresolved obsessions and emotions and the consequences of their actions, but they couldn’t touch, change, or influence anything. Still, they tried. They grabbed for cigarettes in a bar, fought over drinks they couldn’t lift, apologized over and over to hurt loved ones, and spewed advice to deaf ears. They were suspended in misery.

Ritchie calls this realm “astral.” An important insight from his first book is that certain conditions, like passing out in a drunken stupor, can crack open that protective aura, leaving an opportunity for a lingering ghost to actually enter that body and share its space and experiences. The original soul must then share the body with a completely different soul that can influence the mood and thoughts of the person affected.

The second realm, “Astral, Purgatory? Terrestrial?” was deeper into the astral dimension and was not mentioned in the first book. It was like a city imposed over the earthly city, but it wasn’t actually of earth. Dr. Ritchie wasn’t sure what to call it. It was a city like any other, but it was totally inhabited by astral beings. We were still in the same area where the large city had been visible, but all I could now see were dwelling places where the astral beings lived, which were definitely of a less dense, or more ethereal material than our dwellings. I had the impression they were more of a product of these beings’ thoughts than are dwellings in our human realm. In this realm people of like thinking congregated together. When souls arrived, as many did due to the war, they lingered in a trance-like state until angels helped them to awaken and realize that they are still alive in an eternal sense. There was no “soul sleep.” In spite of what Ritchie referred to uncertainly as angels, there were places in this realm where a soul might feel uncomfortable or threatened. In his uncertainty, he writes, Maybe this is the realm Jesus referred to as paradise when he spoke to the thief on the cross. As you can see by the various titles that I have placed upon it, I do not know what to call it.

The third realm was not difficult to name—“Hell,” but perhaps only a layer of hell. Here were suicides who killed themselves out of revenge, hatred, bitterness, jealousy, and a disdain for themselves and others. We were in another location of this plane. We were standing on a high porch in front of this huge building. What I saw horrified me more than anything I have ever seen in life. Since you could tell what the beings in this place thought, you knew they were filled with hate, deceit, lies, self-righteousness bordering on megalomania, and lewd sexual aggressiveness that were causing them to carry out all kinds of abominable acts on one another…Here was a place totally devoid of love.

My question: did these souls receive a life review? Dr. Ritchie wrote of his impression that it was still possible for these horrid beings to continue spiritual growth if and when they choose. Whether he was given to understand this or assumed it due to his own caring nature I cannot say. Christian doctrine says hell is final and eternal. Frankly, I hope Ritchie is right. Some NDEers have described being thrown into fiery caves or even total darkness. Robert Monroe’s weird OBE world was full of creepy, lewd, and dangerous entities that had to be avoided very carefully.

The fourth realm, “Knowledge, Paradise? Terrestrial?” It is this realm which removes forever the concept that we stop learning or progressing in knowledge when we die. I could call this realm the realm of research, or the mental realm, or the realm of intellectual, scientific, and religious knowledge. All would be correct. In his first book, Ritchie called this the Temple of Wisdom. In the second he describes a musical observatory from whence came glorious music. There seemed to be ‘centers of learning’ similar to our universities and research facilities. There was a building with at least four floor levels connected by escalator-like stairs.

I picked up an intensity of concentration, dedication and loyalty to their fellow workers that showed a high sense of integrity. So these were not the evil scientists who falsified data or plagiarized another’s work. Some of the instruments that Ritchie saw there in 1943 appeared in a 1952 Life Magazine article about the second US atomic submarine. That particular experience put Ritchie in the company of remote viewers. Remote viewing as a spying technique did not develop until the 1970’s.

Next they moved to the largest building that Ritchie had ever seen. All of the holy books of the universe were stored there. The researchers in this library wore brown robes like monks as they studied the various approaches to God in the universe. Jesus communicated an interesting, if not contradictory thought to Ritchie, “You are right, for if I, Love, be lifted up, I shall draw all men unto me. If you come to know the Father, you will come to know me. If you come to know Me, you will know that Love includes all beings regardless of their race, creeds, or color. In the Bible, Jesus said that if you came to know Him, you would know the Father. Here he turns that statement around for those seeking God with no reference to Christ. So jihad, in which we kill the infidel, does not wash in this realm of existence. (Jesus seems to be implying that somewhere in time, or timelessness, these souls will find their way to both God the Father and thereby to Himself. This is consistent with universal love, but Jesus is still the gateway to the Kingdom of God.)

The Fifth Realm was also easy to name because it was a glimpse of “Heaven.” To see it, he and Jesus had to leave the planet. Unlike beings from the other realms, two beings from the emerging holy city were able to see Ritchie and Christ, and like Him, they glowed with brilliant light and love. But before Ritchie could interact with these joyful entities, Jesus and Ritchie started the trip back. The Lord had one more revelation for the young soldier.

Just before losing consciousness Ritchie was shown two timelines. In the first, natural disasters such as hurricanes and volcanoes became stronger and more destructive. People became more selfish; governments fell apart as people thought only of themselves. There were explosions all over the planet and armies marched on the US from the south. In the second timeline, love increased. We took better care of the planet and of each other. Rather than extinction, mankind began to thrive. Jesus stated that He came to earth to show us by the life He led how to love. We must pay attention to that life and choose which fate will prevail on the earth. My own feeling is that, if Ritchie’s experience is real, then both of those timelines are happening at once. There is more love and more hatred on the earth today than ever before. More concern for the environment, and more greedy poachers with AK-47s.

There is a lot that is missing in Ritchie’s messianic revelation. There were no demons, and no mention of Christ’s redeeming grace in the sense of a Christian theology. I would say that God’s forgiveness and grace was shown in the lack of judgment and anger in Christ’s demeanor. Scoundrels were cast into lower kinds of existence because they were not ready for anything better when they died. God’s children received the reward promised them in the Bible, but it wasn’t that God hated the one and loved the other. He loved them all.

There is going to be one more part to this series. I have already blogged about Dr. Ian Stevenson’s work in reincarnation research. It turns out that Ritchie and Stevenson were good friends, and worked at the same Department of Psychiatry at the University of Virginia School of Medicine. In Part III, I want to revisit Dr. Stevenson’s work in reincarnation.

Reviving Ritchie, Part 1, His NDE Journey with Jesus

From the book, Return from Tomorrow, by George G. Ritchie, 30th Anniversary Edition, Grand Rapids: Chosen, 2007.

In my last post, I blogged about Kat Kerr’s visions of heaven. My conclusions as to the integrity of her story were quite negative. In 2010 I blogged about the story of Dr. George Ritchie, who passed away in 2007. That story rarely receives a visit on my blog, perhaps because his near-death experience happened a generation ago. The event occurred in 1943. His book came out in 1978 and was a sensation for quite a few years.

Today, however, few know who he is, in spite of the fact that his NDE experience was particularly enlightening. It occurred long before talking about NDE’s was popular, and way before any medical or professional personality studied these experiences in a scientific way. In my two-part series of 2010, I glossed over the details of Ritchie’s experience because I wanted to contrast his narrative with that of Michael Newton, a hypnotherapist who regresses his clients to discover who they were in past lives. In this series, I want to focus just on Ritchie. Assuming that my readers will not bother to buy his book, I will reproduce here many of his own words about what he saw and heard.

The story began in late September,1943, when 20-year-old George Ritchie of Richmond, Virginia signed up to serve in the Army. He was stationed at Camp Barkeley in Texas. He deliberately delayed his planned attendance at the Medical College of Virginia in his home town in order to emulate his father, who had enlisted when we entered the Second World War. Ritchie was ecstatic to learn that the Army would send him to that same college, and they would pay for it, and he was determined to be there when classes began on Dec. 22. Recruits trained hard that winter, sitting on the cold ground as punishment for lapses. An influenza outbreak hit the camp, filling the infirmaries with coughing, feverish recruits, some of whom contracted pneumonia and died.

On Dec. 10th, Ritchie ran a fever which turned from influenza to double lobar pneumonia. During days of recuperation, 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. He was carried to a small, single room in the ward. The next day on Dec. 21, he died.

In the first minutes after death, the now non-material soldier found himself in a strange little room with a bed and chair and the prone body of a young man in the bed.

But, the thing was impossible! I myself had just gotten out of that bed! For a moment I wrestled with the mystery of it. It was too strange to think about—and anyway, I did not have time.

All he could think of was getting to Richmond. As he raced down the hallway, no one at the infirmary would acknowledge his presence, so his soul went flying out of the hospital, across the desert, past farms and towns. He came to a stop at a café in a strange city. He tried to ask directions, but it was here that he finally understood. He was immaterial. He had to get back to the camp and find his body. Years later, he would find that same café again in the city of Vicksburg, hundreds of miles away from Camp Barkeley.

After a long, crazy, lonely search throughout the hospital, he found a small room where a sheet-covered corpse lay. The head was covered, but the arms were lying outside the sheet. On the finger of one pale hand was his fraternity ring. Dejected and confused, he lay across his body. Suddenly the room got lighter and lighter until it was so bright that he felt it would have scorched his living eyes. A man made of brilliance walked into the room.

The instant I perceived Him, a command formed itself in my mind. Stand up! The words came from inside me, yet they had an authority my mere thoughts had never had. I got to my feet, and as I did came the stupendous certainty: You are in the presence of the Son of God….This Person was power itself, older than time and yet more modern than anyone I had ever met. Above all, with that same mysterious inner certainty, I knew that this Man loved me. Far more even than power, what emanated from this Presence was unconditional love.  Pg.58

Ritchie then entered into the “life review” described by so many who have returned from eternity. It should have taken hours to see all of the scenes that were presented at that time. Although the data was immense, the purpose of it all became clear. It wasn’t to point out the minutia of his sins, but to ask, what did you do with your life? This was frustrating to a 20-year-old male who had never given the purpose of his life a moment’s thought. He realized that he was selfish. He saw only an endless, short-sighted, clamorous concern for myself. He thought, “I became an Eagle Scout.” The Voice retorted, “That glorified you.”

When Ritchie understood that the purpose of living was supposed to be about love, he complained, Someone should have told me! A fine time to discover what life was all about—like coming to a final exam and discovering you were going to be tested on a subject you had never studied….I did tell you…I told you by the life I lived. I told you by the death I died. And if you keep your eyes on me, you will see more. Pg. 64, 65.

At one point, Jesus laughed at him. He pondered the waste of having recently bought a life insurance policy that would last until he was 70. The words were out, in this strange realm where communication took place by thought instead of speech, before I could call them back…If I had suspected before that there was mirth in the Presence beside me, now I was sure of it: the brightness seemed to vibrate and shimmer with a kind of holy laughter—not at me and my silliness, not a mocking laughter, but a mirth that seemed to say that in spite of all error and tragedy, joy was more lasting still.

Then Jesus took Ritchie on a long tour. He describes in his next book (about his life after near death) that he saw a series of spiritual realms. First he was taken to a city with factory smoke stacks and lights burning in all the windows. He saw ghosts everywhere. Disincarnate people hovered around the living, trying to control what they can no longer touch. He saw regret, addiction, suicide, 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. I will discuss these visions in Part II.

When it was time for Ritchie’s return, the ward boy had alerted the doctor on duty that the patient was unresponsive. That doctor declared him dead and ordered that he be remanded to the morgue. The ward boy finished his chores and returned. He thought he spotted a movement and called for the OD (Officer of the Day) to recheck. The OD confirmed the call. George Ritchie was dead and was to be prepared for the morgue. Depressed at the loss of such a young life, the ward boy suggested trying a shot of adrenalin straight to the heart. Although it was not an approved procedure, the doctor agreed to try it (remember, this is ‘43). To their astonishment, George’s heart revived, but he was still unconscious for 3 more days. The doctor claimed that 9 minutes passed from the time they first declared Ritchie dead to when his heart began to beat again. He also averred that there is no natural explanation for Ritchie’s complete recovery.

Weeks later, George was recovering and was on his way to med school. Because he was late and in ill health, he flunked out that year, but the following year he tried again and passed all tests. 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 Part II, I will describe in greater detail the four realms that George was allowed to observe, and we’ll follow his own processing of those worlds.

An eternity like that—the thought sent a chill shuddering through me—surely would be a form of hell. I had always thought of hell, when I had thought of it at all, as a fiery place beneath the earth where evil men like Hitler would burn forever. But what if one level of hell existed right here on the surface—unseen and unsuspected by the living people occupying the same space? What if it meant remaining on earth but never but never again able to make contact with it? Pg. 72.

 Jesus described hell in several ways. One was “outer darkness.” It’s like being permanently locked out of a wonderful wedding feast. Another description was that it was a place where “the fire is not quenched and the worm doesn’t die.” Whatever it literally is, (and Ritchie may not have seen it all), it’s a place of regret…a place of “weeping and gnashing of teeth.” A place of spiritual “death,” reminiscent of the smoking trash dump outside of the city. George Ritchie told his story in the hopes that it would divert many from going there. Matt. 25:30; Mark 9:48. Please refer to Part II for more information as to what he saw there.