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date: 09 December 2019

Abstract and Keywords

In 1969, Elisabeth Kübler-Ross published On Death and Dying, a manifesto calling for reforms in end-of-life care and translating into a psychological idiom the ancient religious idea of dying as a peregrinatio animae, a pilgrimage of the soul from this world to the next. In 1975, Raymond Moody published a slim book, Life after Life, that introduced the now-ubiquitous expression “near-death experience” and opened a new era in the modern search for intimations of human immortality. Coming after the unraveling of the spiritualist movement, and at the high-water mark of the death awareness movement, Life after Life offered a less outré approach to the mysteries of the spirit world. This article examines the debates about near-death experience, focusing on popular narratives and near-death studies. It also discusses critical perspectives about the subject as well as cultural differences and interpretations of near-death testimony. It then looks at the near-death experience of a skeptic, A. J. Ayer, and that of a Roman Catholic priest, Richard John Neuhaus.

Keywords: On Death and Dying, death, near-death experience, Raymond Moody, Life after Life, immortality, Ayer, Richard John Neuhaus

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