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|Born||October 26, 1946|
|Congregations served||Covington United Church of Christ, Covington, Ohio|
|Title||Senior Pastor, Covington United Church of Christ|
Howard Storm (born October 26, 1946, in Flushing, New York) is a former art professor and chairman of the art department at the Northern Kentucky University, best known as the author of the book My Descent Into Death (ISBN 978-1902636160) about his near-death experience (NDE). The book was originally published in 2000, and after being noticed by author Anne Rice and supported by her, was acquired by Doubleday and re-published as a hardback book in 2005.
Near death experience
In June of 1985, Storm took a group of his students on a field trip of Europe. Toward the end of the tour they were in France, touring French art museums. One morning at the end of the trip, while still in his hotel with his wife, he experienced sudden severe abdominal pain that incapacitated him. He was taken to a Paris hospital, but no surgeons were available, and he suffered for hours in a rapidly deteriorating condition (and extreme agony) due to the hospital staff not realizing the severity of his medical situation. He ultimately would be diagnosed with peritonitis.
Storm describes that he felt he was dying, and after saying goodbye to his wife, eventually passed out. He was a life-long atheist and contemptuous of spiritual matters, and did not understand what was happening when (according to him) he soon opened his eyes again and found himself standing outside of his body. He says he was drawn by seemingly-friendly voices calling his name and he followed them, but eventually realized that he was being led into a place of misty darkness and the creatures were actually malevolent. He describes that he was walking in a place that seemed "timeless", but he said that subjectively it felt like he spent days or even weeks following them into the increasingly dark place. Eventually he was utterly lost and afraid, and so confronted them and refused to go any further. They turned on him and attacked him savagely in the darkness, and his NDE became a very negative experience (as opposed to the "typical" type of NDE which usually only involves benevolent "intelligent beings of light" or sensations of peace and calm). His book chronicles an experience that involved him being severely beaten, bitten and torn to pieces by many of these shadowy creatures, and though he managed to retain consciousness he experienced severe pain. The book glosses over the precise details, which Storm says he finds too harrowing to think about. However, his overall impression was of a process of "initiation", through which he would ultimately join with the beings who tormented him.
He says that at one point though he felt a voice within him instruct him to "Pray to God". He resisted and realized he did not know how to pray, but began to recite fragments of religious material. Though they were just rote recitals of "churchy stuff" that meant nothing to him as an atheist, the effect on the creatures was that it drove them away "as if they were being scalded with boiling water". He then describes that after a time of deep despair, he resorted to calling out "Jesus, please save me!". He said that he was rescued from that dark place by a being of light that he believes was Jesus, and he was also visited by other "spiritual beings of light" as well. He soon experienced a life review, which he found to be intensely discomforting because it highlighted the selfishness of his life, but the beings of light expressed unconditional love throughout it. He described his own life review as images of events in his life that appeared (about 6-8 feet in front of him and the beings) in response to the desires of the beings and what they wanted him to see. Howard details how the beings of light were relatively indifferent to Howard's material achievements (his academic awards, financial successes, etc) and they were very interested in his relationships with other people (was he loving and genuinely open-hearted or not). This life review apparently took a relatively long time, because the beings would stop the review often, when it became too unbearable for Howard to watch his own selfish and harsh life choices and their hurtful effects on other people.
He says that after the life review, he was asked by the beings if he had any questions, and he says that he proceeded to ask them every question that he could think of. Even though he was in a place that he described as being "timeless", he said he stayed with them for a very long amount of time asking questions.
He states that at one point he asked about the near-future of his country (the United States) and says that he was told that the US was a "blessed nation", but if it did not change its "greedy and selfish ways" it would "lose the blessing of prosperity". According to Howard Storm, the beings that he spoke to said that this was a natural result of the choices that were being made by people... like a person arrogantly trying to defy the law of gravity will naturally getting hurt if they step off a high ledge, what will happen in this future event is not from any kind of "punishment" from God. According to Howard, the beings tried to convey to him that God doesn't want to have painful experiences happen to any of his children, but out of love and respect for his children's independence, he will not force people to make correct and unselfish decisions in order to avoid the natural consequences of poor choices. According to what Howard Storm says that the spiritual beings told him, the selfish and greedy choices of people around the world, including his fellow US citizens, would eventually result in a worldwide total economic collapse, and the effects on the world economy will be worse than the severe economic and social problems experienced by the United States during the Great Depression. To put this in perspective: During the time of the Great Depression there were vast amounts of hungry people because food was difficult to get. There was rampant homelessness and jobs were extremely hard to find. Thankfully, back then many people still knew how to live off the land, grow a garden, hunt for game, and secure a shelter...therefore, many still managed to survive. The Great Depression event however, was just a depression of the U.S. economy, not a collapse of the entire worldwide economy as these “beings of light” were describing to Howard Storm.
In his book he says that he saw images of the possible near future (remember that this NDE occurred in 1985) that showed increasing numbers of earthquakes, increased volcanic activity around the world and destructive changes in weather patterns. These changes in the weather patterns were described in ways that are similar to today's understanding of the more severe effects of global warming, such as massive floods hitting areas over time, increased hurricanes, tornadoes and cyclones, drought-caused famines etc. This eventually resulted in massive food shortages around the world and the collapse of the world financial system. He was also apparently shown images of persons actually "killing for a cup of gasoline". He described the world economic system as eventually being in total collapse, to the point that "the electricity was off and didn't come back on". He says that the images that he was shown included many terrible things, and that in the United States specifically, the population dropped to "just tens of thousands of people left alive" due to food shortages and the resulting violence caused by the starving population. In a recorded discussion that he made, he said that much violence was apparently committed by middle-class workers who had the means and desire to violently take what they could no longer buy, in order for themselves and their own families to survive.
It is important to note that he was told that this scenario was avoidable if there was a major spiritual "shift" in the consciousness of the world. The "shift" away from greediness and selfishness would help soften or eliminate the occurrence of a world economic collapse; less greed would mean fewer problems with the economy, as well as increased willingness to find mutually-beneficial solutions to large financial and economic problems. None of Howard Storm's publicly available works state if he believes that he knows a precise date for this predicted event, or even if he thinks there is enough of a "shift" that has occurred since 1985 that this predicted event will or will not happen.
Howard Storm asked about the much farther future of the Earth and its people. He said that he was shown a future that he described as "paradise", like a worldwide garden tended by humanity. Basically all of humanity had discovered how to do what miracle workers claim to be able to do — use psychokinesis and telepathy to do and create anything that is desired, just by thinking it. Therefore, there was no real need of possessions and technology, no suffering, no war, and the people lived in simplistic peaceful communities. The description of the way of life was described as "loving" and the primary focus of the people was raising their children. He said that people normally chose when they died, by simply "laying down and their spirit would go up to heaven", which was seen as a time of honor and celebration by friends and family. Howard says he asked when this paradise would come about on Earth, and he completely rejected the higher dimensional being's statements that this future was going to occur within about 200 years. His disbelief was largely because his NDE occurred in 1985 while the Cold War was still threatening total nuclear devastation of the entire planet from the massive US and USSR war machines. Apparently these beings re-asserted that their statements were correct, that "it was God's will that this would be humanity's future".
Howard Storm's main focus of his message is primarily about the importance of love and peaceful unity among people, who he says are "all loved by God". He constantly reiterates the importance of caring for others and seeking spiritual truth. In his book he states that he was informed by these beings of light that the "correct religion" is that religion that "brings you closest to God", negating his attempt to force them to say that one specific religion or denomination was "the only correct one". He says that the spiritual beings have no interest in having any one person or exclusive group of persons "getting ahead of other people" (getting preferential treatment or exclusive assistance from God), they apparently want all of humanity to advance spiritually. He states that any use of the name of God and religion to perpetuate violence, or similar acts is seen as "utterly horrific" by spiritual beings. In addition, he states that these advanced beings have no intentions of control or dominance over humanity, but are guided by higher ethics of peace, service and unconditional love. He states that the deepest desire of these beings is only to serve "the One" (which humans refer to as "God"), and part of their acts of service include assisting humanity to "return to the One".
He said that eventually (after an unknown amount of time in that place) he was told that he was supposed to go back to living his life (on Earth). He states that he tried to argue his way out of doing this, but was eventually convinced that he must return. He said that he soon re-entered his body, and began to instantly experience again the agony that his body was going through as the hydrochloric stomach acid was continuing to slowly burn his internal organs. Though it seemed to Howard Storm that he was gone for months or even years in that "timeless" place, he said he re-entered life only an hour or two after he said goodbye to his wife and passed out.
He eventually was admitted into surgery at that French hospital, and several days later he was flown to the U.S., where he eventually made a complete recovery. According to Howard's statements, most of the doctors stated that there was no way that he should have been able to live through the amount of damage his body sustained.
His book describes how the experience had a major transformational effect on him. His personality was so changed (as a result of his experience of spending so much time with those beings in that "timeless" place) that apparently his wife said that she absolutely did not know anything about him after he had his near-death experience. When he said goodbye to her and passed out on the hospital gurney in France, he was a complete atheist and a somewhat emotionally cold and distant academic professor. His wife experienced that he woke up just a few hours later, and he was unable to control his overwhelmingly powerful emotions of love and desires to talk about angels, Jesus, heaven, hell, etc. He would often break down and cry from his deeply felt emotions and would spend hours expounding on the Bible and talking about God to anyone who would listen. Howard states that the change was so extreme that his wife (after several weeks of this) stated to him she did not know him at all anymore and she was leaving him because his extreme personality change was just too difficult for her to handle. She did not leave him though, and both she and his two children eventually adapted to the new changes.
He says that over time he "became more tempered" (calmed down) about his experience. Eventually he found a church that he personally felt "brought him closer to God", he entered the seminary and became a minister of Zion United Church Of Christ in Norwood, Ohio, where he served from 1992 to 2005. He has made a number of appearances on television to describe his NDE.
Storm is presently Pastor of the Covington United Church of Christ in Covington, Ohio.
- ↑ Carol Memmott, "Vampire author Rice gives lift to pastor's 'Descent'" USA Today, February 21, 2005. Accessed 2009-08-06.
- ↑ History of Zion Church. Accessed 2008-05-09.