Friday, February 12, 2016

Near Death Checks, Part 6: Howard Pittman's "Placebo"

From the Janaury 2013 E-Block.
For our last entry in this series (for now), I picked a subject out of the air, so to speak. On YouTube I discovered a video with over 2 million views that reported the content of an alleged NDE (Near Death Experience) by one Howard Pittman, as recorded in a book titled Placebo. Supposedly, Pittman had some urgent message for mankind as a result of this NDE, and given the level of viewership, I thought it worthwhile to order the book so as to be best able to evaluate the NDE.

The matter in sum is that Pittman's alleged NDE contains no measurable truth claims of the sort this series has pursued. It is, however, filled with all sorts of reputed details about how things are in the spirit world. How are things? If you've read Frank Perretti, you already know. According to Pittman, while in the NDE he could see all kinds of demons walking around the Earth, possessing and influencing people. Angels are hanging around too, though are not described as being as busy as the demons are.

Pittman also tells us that he had a visit with God during his NDE. God wasn't too happy with Pittman at first, and yelled at him, but later showed Pittman some mercy. That led to a pretty clear disconfirmation of the veracity of Pittman's NDE, as he described God in those familiar terms of overfamiliarity we have become used to from modern, American Christians, who don't realize how anachronistic such a description is.

At times Pittman is a painful read because of his naiveté. He adheres to one of the more primitive manifestations of dispensational eschatology, such that we are now, he says, in the "Laodecian Age" of the church as reported in Revelation. He also writes of having strange dreams -- mostly about dogs -- with utterly nonsensical symbolism: For example, in one dream, Pittman says he is carrying a bag of dog food, and a friend said that this symbolized the message he was to bring to the world. Apparently, God's capacity to create suitable metaphors has gone downhill since the time of the New Testament!

To round off the pedantry...this message Pittman was to bring was, as he admits, nothing that couldn't already be found in the Bible (i.e., basically, be sincere in your devotion to God). For this, Pittman was given the grand tour of Demon World, followed by Heaven Land? Didn't God get the message out right the first time?

We close this series with the observation that it seems NDEs, however real they may be -- and I tend to think many are -- by nature aren't particularly useful tools for providing revelatory knowledge.

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