New Light on Death, Dying,
In his celebrated novel, Moby Dick, the great nineteenth-century American author, Herman Melville, presciently remarked, "And death, which alike levels all, alike impresses all with a last revelation, which only an author from the dead could adequately tell." Those "authors from the dead," who in Melville's time, could scarcely be said to exist, are in our own time today's NDErs of course, and their collective testimony is giving us a new view of death.
There is little doubt that in the Western World, at least from the time of the devastating plagues that caused the death of millions of Europeans in the thirteenth century, the dominant symbol of death has been "the grim reaper," that hooded and faceless figure who comes to take us away, we know not when, we know not where. This forbidding specter, who haunted Europe for centuries before Mr. Marx suggested we should be frightened of another kind altogether, has thus long been a part of our collective psyche, and its image is still powerful enough to conjure up in us feelings of dread concerning the inexorability of our own deaths. And yet, in just the last quarter of a century, ever since the advent of modern research into the NDE, this frightening scythe-bearing harbinger of death has finally begun to be eclipsed by another image—the Light of the NDE itself, or to personify it, perhaps we should say by the oft-mentioned radiant figure that Raymond Moody called "the being of light." Can there