Racism and Intolerance in the Afterlife?
What could be more frightening than your consciousness surviving your own death....only to find that the otherworld is dominated by racists, eugenicists, and other intolerant souls of the dead? What about the positive transformative powers of near-death experiences? What about the love and light that characterize so many accounts of NDEs?
I wrote about this problem a bit in a post a couple of months ago, in relation to the American Nazi William Dudley Pelley in the 1920s. But let's delve into the issue a bit deeper....
In this article I examine descriptions of the afterlife found in early 20th century psychical research literature, ostensibly related through mediums by spirits of of the dead in the otherworld. While the afterlife ideas in these descriptions are obviously rooted in their social and cultural contexts, they also share continuities with NDEs. Not only that, but contemporary psychical researchers found these mediums to be credible, and argued that they provided genuine evidence of an afterlife.
But how can we reconcile the continuities with NDEs and the claims of evidentiality with the actual content of the descriptions? What are we to make of the many philosophical absurdities (monkeys in the sun, anyone?) and historical inaccuracies, and all the rank racism, classism, and religious intolerance inherent in the descriptions?
As a special Halloween-Samhain-All Soul's-Day of the Dead-Election Day bonus for all Patrons, I'm providing this (as yet) unpublished article, "'A White Man’s Sort of Atmosphere': Racism, Classism, and Religious Intolerance in Mediumistic Afterlife Narratives."
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