The main theme of my book is that the afterlife is real and substantial and that all of us, when we arrive there at some point, will soon realize this. Our spiritual bodies are very much like our natural bodies, except that the spiritual bodies are in perfect shape. Life in the afterlife is, at least superficially, very much like life on Earth. People in the spiritual world live in real places: beautiful cities or country locations in heaven, and noisome slums in hell. People there work as they do on Earth—willingly and joyously in heaven, not so in hell. They also enjoy time off from work, which is marvelous in heaven and, within strict limits, somewhat enjoyable in Hell. We are full human beings in the afterlife, up to and including that dreaded word for most religions—sex. But in the spiritual world, time and space function differently, being fluid and connected to our thoughts and emotions; deception is nearly impossible, and the economy is a moneyless one.
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Read an Excerpt
The Wonders of Journeying in the Afterlife
By Joseph Lima Sconce
Balboa PressCopyright © 2013 Joseph Lima Sconce
All rights reserved.
August 2, 8:30 p.m., Bristow, Virginia
"Thanks for the birthday dinner, Mark. The prime rib roast was excellent," Joseph said to his brother as he entered his bright yellow car for the thirty-mile ride home.
"No problem, Joseph. Makes up for me forgetting your birthday last year. Pity Mae did not come. Still problems with her back?"
A distant flash of lightning reminded them of the severe thunderstorm warning issued for that night.
"Yeah, the physical therapy helped, but it was only a twenty percent solution—well, maybe a twenty-five percent solution," Joseph responded. "Well, looks like this cold front is coming through in big style. It will be one heck of a storm I will be driving into. At least this damn two-week heat wave will end! Can you believe it? Ten straight days of ninety-eight degrees or higher! It was one hundred four degrees on my actual birthday! Thanks a lot for the birthday present, Mother Nature."
Mark laughed. "You and your numbers and stats, Jos! Not that I was counting, but in less than fifteen seconds, you mentioned six stats." Sobering, Mark asked, "So what is next with Mae? Surgery?"
"Possibly. But you know how American doctors frequently use surgery only as a last resort. We are going to the neurology center next week to see what the next step is." Smiling, Joseph said, "As for my stat fixation, heck, I learned my times tables at the age of three, so it has always been an essential part of me, as you well know. Remember when you went through the papers on my computer desk and showed me virtually every paper consisted of numbers in little squares? That was before Excel. Now I have tens of millions of numbers in tens of millions of little squares! Heavenly."
Mark laughed. "You're hopeless! You know, I bet you would accept a job paying minimum wage just so long as you could do whatever you wanted to do in Excel."
Joseph laughed. "Minimum wage? Heck, if I could afford it, I would work for free on that job. Actually, I sort of do that right now." He started the car.
"Jos, you are sure where the turn into I-66 is?"
"Yes, I think I finally learned how to come to and go from your house." Joseph looked with concern at the heavy lightning to the east. "It's going to be a heck of a drive once I hit I-66."
"Right, so no funny business with the driving. Slow and easy, and no cell-phone calls!"
Joseph laughed. "As you well know, Mark, I consider a bashed cell phone the only good cell phone. Invention of the devil, those things. I am sure that in Heaven there are no cell phones."
Joseph waved good-bye and headed north on Route 29 to connect with I-66 East. As he drove, he reflected on the delayed birthday dinner with Mark. Over the past ten years, as Mark moved farther and farther away from his original home in central Fairfax County, social events with his brother had become rare. He could count on one hand the number of times he saw Mark each year. Also, ever since Mark had gotten rid of his landline phone and gone exclusively to cell-phone use, communicating with him was frequently next to impossible. And since a user could tell who was calling the cell, the user could choose not to return the call. Joseph remembered how on Mark's fortieth birthday, January 13 of last year, it had taken seven or eight voice mails over a two-month period for Mark to come over and pick up his birthday present. Joseph snorted in disgust. Cell-phone companies had done a good job promoting propaganda to convince people cell phones were indispensable, turning their customers into gullible addicts. The reality was that cell phones disrupted normal communication between people while turning those addicts into rude and oblivious "cyber robots" who were losing the sense of what constituted proper public behavior. He was not kidding his brother that he believed there were no cell phones in Heaven. And since Joseph had definite views about what Heaven was like, he did not take that belief lightly.
Joseph turned the car onto I-66 and headed east. The car soon entered the center of the storm, and the wind started howling at forty to fifty-five miles an hour. The rain, falling in sheets, reduced visibility to nearly zero. Joseph slowed his speed to about thirty-five miles an hour.
A couple hundred feet behind Joseph's car, and one lane to the left, the driver of an eighteen-wheeler was having more problems than just handling his ten-ton truck in a vicious thunderstorm. Man! Stupid of me to spend three hours of my sleep period fooling around with my iPhone. Did I have to make those calls and watch ESPN on it for so long? Jack wondered. I am exhausted. Plus, that supersize meal at Wendy's did not help matters. Have to get this food load to the supermarket on time, though. The boss is not very happy with my late deliveries. The truck driver increased his speed to sixty miles an hour.
Joseph saw the eighteen-wheeler approaching quickly from the left. "Idiot! Some people never learn it is better to be a little late to your destination than risk not arriving at all." Joseph steered his car as far as he could to the right to give the truck as much room as possible to pass.
As the truck started to pass Joseph's car, the driver, despite his best efforts, dozed off at the wheel. He fell asleep for only five seconds, but it was enough time for disaster to strike. As Jack dozed off, he turned the steering wheel sharply to the right. The cab of the truck suddenly jackknifed into Joseph's lane, not ten feet from his car.
Joseph had fewer than two seconds to see the disaster coming and say, "Holy—" His car slammed into the truck's cab at thirty-five miles an hour. The front part of the car was smashed flat all the way to the windshield. The trailer part of the truck, slipping on the wet pavement, veered right, scrunching the left side of the car to half its original width.
After a brief sensation of pain and confused visions of things being rent apart, the night settled over Joseph's consciousness.
* * *
Six miles east of the accident on I-66, on the Capitol Beltway, a BMW carrying a couple in their midthirties headed south near the Tysons Corner exit at sixty-five miles an hour in heavy rain and high wind. "Dammit, Bill, slow down! Can't you see our visibility is near zero in this thunderstorm? Plus, we are going through a construction zone. These nearby concrete barriers give me the willies," Alice complained to her husband.
"Don't worry, hun. I have driven safely through worse in Florida. This thunderstorm is a baby compared to the ones we would get in Tampa," Bill responded confidently.
"Well, this storm is a big one for Virginia, and the drivers here react accordingly by slowing down. Why do you have to always pretend that the freeway is the Indy 500 speedway? Remember, you are one speeding ticket away from getting your driver's license suspended, for God's sake. Slow down!" Bill's only response to his wife's concerns was an irritated clucking of the tongue and a brief look at her that revealed his disdain for her opinions about his driving. Bill had always had full confidence in his driving abilities. His aggressive driving habits were a reflection of his overall nature. His aggression was what made him one of the most successful young defense attorneys in the DC area.
As Bill turned his eyes back to the road, he saw a single bright brake light about one hundred feet ahead and to the right. Assuming the light belonged to a motorcycle, he moved the car slightly to the left and accelerated to pass the vehicle. It was a fatal assumption by Bill. Ahead of Bill and Alice was not a motorcycle but a Suburban SUV with a defective left brake light. Their natural lives ended in a blink of an eye as Bill's BMW crashed into the rear of the SUV at sixty-five miles an hour.
* * *
Inova Fairfax Hospital was rated as one of the top fifty hospitals in the country. Its nurses and doctors were of the highest professional caliber and compassionate to the patients. But no matter how great the medical staff or the hospital, the widely known but seldom-mentioned truth was that medicine could only postpone death; it could never prevent it. Every doctor knew this, but as he or she was sworn to preserve life, the doctor fought a never-ending battle against the specter of death—a battle the doctor knew he or she would always lose at some point. When a doctor realized medical science could do no more for a critically ill or injured patient, it was his or her duty to make the patient's last moments on Earth as painless and peaceful as possible.
On the night and early morning of August 2 and 3, the ICU unit of Fairfax Hospital was normal. But in some of the rooms, it was depressingly normal. Most patients in the ICU unit were in stable condition or improving, but in six of the rooms, the situation was quite different.
* * *
In room 5 of the ICU, Nurse Mayers looked at the heavily sedated form of Ms. Jane McCormick with mixed emotions. The latest EKG showed Ms. McCormick's heart was failing fast. It was extremely unlikely she would be alive in the morning. Nurse Mayers had been a registered nurse for twenty years, and compassion for dying patients was second nature to her, but this patient had tested the entire ICU staff's capacity for compassion and patience to the limit. Ever since Ms. McCormick had arrived in the ICU unit two weeks before, she had behaved as if the hospital were supposed to be a five-star hotel and as if her room were the presidential suite. She constantly demanded to be treated as if she were a princess. If the staff did not grant even the smallest of her requests, she was insulting and insufferably arrogant. What Nurse Mayers found most infuriating about Ms. McCormick was that while being so boorish with the hospital staff trying to keep her alive, she made constant references to how often she went to church, and because of her church attendance, she said, Jesus had saved her. If heaven means having to live in eternity next to this woman, Nurse Mayers thought, I might choose to go to the other place.
Mayers shook her head, shaking away the unprofessional and uncharitable thought from her mind. Back to work, she thought to herself. She checked Ms. McCormick's heart monitor and immediately realized that this was it. Ms. McCormick's heart readings were fluctuating wildly, a sure indication that the end was near. Mayers pressed the code-blue button even while knowing that it would do no good. Before the doctors arrived, the heart monitor flatlined.
* * *
In room 8 of the ICU, a similar diagnosis but a much different emotional reaction from the one in room 5 was occurring.
"It's hopeless. Her liver has just shut down permanently," Dr. Stokes said with great sadness to the attendant nurse. "Blood poisoning will reach deadly levels within two to three hours." Dr. Stokes had lost patients before but never like this. And rarely as nice, patient, and courageous as Professor Christine McGold, Dr. Stokes thought to himself. If there is a God, he sometimes wondered, why does He permit the nice ones to get the worst diseases?
Christine had arrived at the hospital seventeen days ago with what seemed like a normal case of hepatitis A, but no treatment or medication had helped her condition. In fact, the hepatitis A had eaten her liver like a starved dog offered a bowl of prime steak. Within five days of Christine's arrival at the hospital, doctors had transferred her to the ICU unit, but it had not helped. In his twenty-three years as a doctor, Dr. Stokes had never seen such a virulent case of hepatitis. While hepatitis A had always been a seriously debilitating disease, modern medicine had reduced the fatality rate to about 1 percent, with most of the fatal cases involving people who drank heavily, which was not the case with Ms. McGold.
In the twelve days Dr. Stokes had been Christine's (he thought of her on a first-name basis) doctor, he had had several illuminating talks with her. Her knowledge of history was of course extensive, but more importantly, her conclusions on the effects of historical events on future events were fascinating and original. He had also found out that Christine was a lonely person. She had never married, never had children, and was an only child. She had never had a lasting relationship with a man, because she felt that the men she had dated were more interested in sex than in friendship and love. So all alone, she had devoted all her energies to her job as history professor at George Mason University and had "adopted" her students as her children.
There was one other interesting feature that Dr. Stokes had observed in Christine: frequently when he entered the room, she had her eyes closed, her arms across her chest, and her mouth moving silently, as if in prayer. And yet in his conversations with her, she never mentioned God or Jesus and had once referred to organized religion as an "interesting" historical phenomenon.
As Dr. Stokes checked the monitors that were indicating the beginning of the final stages of Christine's disease, he gave a silent prayer of thanks for the benefits of heavy sedation in these terminal cases and left the room in a mood of deep sadness. It would be a long time before he would recover emotionally from the loss of this patient.
* * *
Well, that was a close one, Gabriel Leonard McCoy thought to himself. He knew his heart attack had been a good sign that he needed to get his act together health-wise. Fortunately, no permanent damage seemed to have occurred, and he would be out of ICU in a day or two and home in a week. At 280 pounds and with very high blood pressure, McCoy knew he had been lucky. He was determined to follow the strict diet and exercise regimen prescribed by the doctors and to lose the doctor-recommended one hundred pounds as quickly as possible; he felt there was no sense in taking any more risks with the only life that Mother Nature had given him.
McCoy was not one to believe in the fairy tales that the religions of the world put out, although he understood how those fairy tales came about, of course. The idea of sentient beings like humans existing for, in almost all cases, less than a century and then ceasing to exist was instinctively abhorrent to the human mind. So humans invented the concept of a loving God who had given them an eternal soul that would exist in some weirdo airy-fairy spiritual plane. Yes, McCoy thought to himself, understandable why religions came to exist—but still rubbish! For McCoy, science was the only true religion. Science was based on logic, facts, and reality—not on ridiculous tales that a clear-minded eight-year-old could see through.
Thinking back to his childhood, McCoy remembered how he had been the clear-minded eight-year-old who had seen through the rubbish that his strict Presbyterian parents constantly talked about. How could any god be considered loving if He had predestined a tiny minority of the human race to heaven and condemned the rest to hell? What was so loving about that? And how arrogant his parents were in believing that they were among the few who were "saved" just because they were Presbyterians! His parents were not particularly nice people outside the doors of the church that they attended at least twice a week. His father, a small-business owner, treated his subordinates with an irritating paternalism at best and was downright insulting, humiliating them at worst. His mother was a housewife, following the strict tradition of her religion, with no hobbies of any intellectual content. McCoy felt that his mother released the frustration of a boring and empty life on her children. Yes, ever since he was eight, he had made his goal to leave that poisonous household as quickly as possible and to go as far away from it as possible. And he had—he had started attending a university on the other side of the country at seventeen and had never looked back. Religion had poisoned his parents; it was not going to poison him!
Excerpted from The Travelers by Joseph Lima Sconce. Copyright © 2013 Joseph Lima Sconce. Excerpted by permission of Balboa Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
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Table of Contents
Author's Note.................... v
List of Characters.................... ix
Part 1 The First Day in the Spiritual World....................
Chapter 1 The Transitions.................... 3
Chapter 2 Welcoming the Newcomers.................... 15
Chapter 3 Getting Ready for Lunch.................... 58
Chapter 4 Lunch and an Invitation.................... 69
Chapter 5 The Conference.................... 81
Chapter 6 Organizing the Group over Tea.................... 99
Chapter 7 Dinner and Preparing for the Travels.................... 116
Part 2 The First Adventures of the Journey in the Spiritual World..........
Chapter 8 The Travelers Head toward Harpers Ferry.................... 149
Chapter 9 The Lessons from Harpers Ferry.................... 180
Chapter 10 Cathy and Albert's Story and Their Home in Heaven............... 201
Chapter 11 Dorothy Fabrizio and Her Mental State.................... 210
Chapter 12 An Eventful Day Shopping in Edgewood.................... 222
Chapter 13 In the Spiritual Bryn Athyn.................... 243
Chapter 14 Dorothy and Alvaro in the Badlands.................... 267
Chapter 15 Lessons Learned the Day Before the Rescue.................... 281
Chapter 16 Rescue in the Badlands.................... 306
Chapter 17 Preparing for the Imaginary Heaven.................... 340
Chapter 18 The Catholic's Imaginary Heaven and Bill's Find................. 354
Part 3 The Journey to Eastport....................
Chapter 19 A Liberal Muslim Joins the Group and Cathy's Crisis............. 391
Chapter 20 The Threat to the Group Develops in Montowese................... 420
Chapter 21 Reincarnation's Problems and Group Tension.................... 442
Chapter 22 Origin of Spiritual Food and Giving Hints to the Group.......... 463
Chapter 23 Temptations & Preparations on the Way to Yarmouth............... 490
Chapter 24 The Day before the Revelation.................... 520
Chapter 25 The Secret of The Earths in the Universe Revealed............... 541
Chapter 26 Endings and Beginnings in Beddington and Hell................... 575
Chapter 27 The Endgame for the Travelers in Eastport.................... 605