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Dancing Past the Dark: Distressing Near-Death Experiences is important, because terrifying and hell-like near death experiences are as "realer than real" and ineffable as the blissful ones. They are also more common (up to one in five) than we may like to admit.
At the end of the day though, this is not a book about distressing and hellish NDE's. It's a book about the totality of spiritual experience itself. Here, Nancy Evans-Bush shines light in the darkness, a darkness not created by the experience, but by thirty-plus years of collectively and fearfully ignoring the Other Side. Any grade school philosopher knows how fear and ignorance intertwine.
That ignorance and fear was exacerbated by Maurice Rawlings in the early 1990's, when he came out with a series of books emphasizing the "hellish" side of the distressing NDE. On a mission to save souls, Rawlings put a spin on dNDE's that would help crush intelligent spiritual discussion for years. He used many since-discredited anecdotes, testimonies and "facts" invented out of whole cloth to sell a decidedly conservative brand of Christianity.
I like to think that most people - Christian and otherwise - would prefer to think with their mind and heart, rather than subscribe to a mind-bending dogma. If so, then this is the book for you.
Dancing Past the Dark is the only book ever written (until now), by a credible researcher that deals exclusively with distressing / hellish NDE's. I dare you to find another one. I promise, you won't.
Written in a compelling style that flows like a healing river, Nancy does more to support the the validity of every kind of near death experience than a boatload of Jeffrey Long's. I use Dr. Long as an example, because when he mentions negative NDE's in his book Evidence of the Afterlife: The Science of Near-Death Experiences, he flat-out says that they "are beyond the scope of this book". Most NDE book authors have that same move-along-folks, nothing-to-see-here approach toward distressing NDE's, if they mention them at all. Check any book devoted to near death experiences, and you might find three pages (at most) devoted to the negative ones.
The kicker is, there's nothing to be afraid of. Our fear is rooted in our ignorance.
Dancing Past the Dark is a cure for that ignorance.
Nancy starts by sharing her own distressing NDE, and the impact it had on her psyche and life. Her story, subsequent employment at IANDS, and mission to research the dark side of NDE's is a fascinating study in synchronicity and the collective unconscious. Carl Jung would have been proud. As a doctor, he would have been even prouder of her service to those that have been impacted by the Terrifying Void of No Tomorrow.
She moves on to describe and discuss the three types of distressing near death experiences - Void, Inverted, and Hellish - then builds on that foundation. Here we find an intellectually sharp defense of the veracity of the NDE itself, a detailed description of the history of hell in our culture, reporting on the pitiful reluctance of traumatized experiencers to tell their stories (who wants to tell the world they died and went to hell?) and tons of enlightening facts with insight. This leaves the reader more informed and spiritually richer at the end of the book, than than he or she was before they started.
Documented experiencer stories, their reactions and the reactions of those around them graces the book with a personal feel. The stories are not filler, though. Nancy uses them to illustrate and give life to her many, many points.
The best part, in my opinion, is Dancing Past the Dark's way of dealing with spirituality in a reductionist/materialist world swaying under the weight of bad politics and religion. It makes for a surprisingly riveting narrative.
She ends the book with an chapter and appendix that offers specific suggestions and resources for caregivers that's not only useful for professionals, but can be of great value to distressed experiencers and their loved ones.
With Dancing Past the Dark, Nancy Evans-Bush has given us a choice. We can live like the proverbial three monkeys and refuse to look at, listen to, or discuss the dark side of near death experiences, or we can face the subject head-on.
I like Nancy's method. Fear no evil. :-)