Howard Storm (author)
||This article possibly contains original research. (October 2008)|
- For the film, television director and actor, see Howard Storm (director).
October 26, 1946 |
Newton, Massachusetts, USA
|Church||United Church of Christ|
|Covington United Church of Christ, Covington, Ohio|
|Title||Senior Pastor, Covington United Church of Christ|
Howard Storm (born October 26, 1946) is a former art professor and chairman of the art department at Northern Kentucky University, best known as the author of the book My Descent Into Death, which is about his near-death experience (NDE). According to Nancy Evans Bush, a near-death researcher specializing in "distressing" near-death experiences, Storm's NDE is the best known of contemporary distressing NDE accounts. Storm's account has been termed "probably the most complete description among NDE accounts of evil spirits in another world".
Storm's NDE has been cited in many near-death studies literature both before and after his book was published. The book was originally published in 2000, and after being noticed and supported by author Anne Rice, was acquired by Doubleday and re-published as a hardback book in 2005. Storm has told his story to many audiences and has appeared on NBC's Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, 48 Hours, Discovery Channel and Coast to Coast AM.
Howard Storm was born in Newton, Massachusetts, and graduated from the University of California Berkeley with a masters degree and later became an art professor at Northern Kentucky University, a position he would hold for 20 years. Storm said that he was an atheist and did not believe in the afterlife. In various interviews, he also described himself as a man with a "dark side" who commanded everyone around him with angry passion. In a 1997 interview with Unsolved Mysteries, Storm said that even his own wife and children feared his threats and rage. The show also featured an interview with his daughter Rees, who said that at times he was "the best father in the world" but that he could also be a very scary, evil and frightening man.
Near death experience
In June 1985, Storm took a group of his students on a field trip to Europe. After returning to his Paris hotel room with his wife around 11:00 a.m. after a morning excursion, he experienced a sudden puncture to his duodenum caused by an ulcer or foreign object. He was transported to the biggest and best hospital in Paris, had a diagnosis, and was told he needed surgery immediately. Because the hospital was understaffed on weekends, however, surgery did not occur until around 9:00 p.m., causing Storm to suffer severe and debilitating pain for 10 hours, with no medical attention or medication. Storm later said that the agony was so unbearable he would have killed himself had he the means. As he lay waiting for surgery, he believed he was going to die, gave up the will to live and mentally prepared himself to die. After saying goodbye to his wife, he eventually passed out and believed he was dying.
Storm opened his eyes again and found himself standing outside of his body, looking down at the hospital bed, with his wife crying at his bedside. He said that he felt no pain and that his senses were suddenly very acute. He tried to talk to his wife, but she ignored him as she could not see or hear him. Storm's experience was unpleasant but was about to get far worse. He was then drawn by seemingly friendly voices calling his name outside the hospital room, and he followed them. The creatures, who looked like pale human beings, urged him to walk down the hallway, pushing him and insisting him to walk this way, saying that he has to come with them and that they have been waiting for him. He eventually realized that they were malevolent, as they increasingly became hostile towards him, and turned on him and attacked him savagely in the darkness, physically and psychologically. 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 survive he experienced severe pain. He says that his overall impression was of a process of "initiation". Storm later said there were things these creatures did to him that he couldn't even talk about.
His book continues with him feeling a voice within him telling him to "Pray to God" and half-heartedly recited fragments of religious material mixed with fragments of the Pledge of Allegiance. He said that whenever he mentioned God, the creatures would get agitated and angry using the most obscene language imaginable, but were backing away from him, until he was left all alone. After a time of deep despair, he resorted to calling out "Jesus, please save me!" 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. To his surprise they were more interested in his relationships than his personal achievements. In his book, Storm said that he was appalled at how he had hurt others especially his wife and children. He said that the beings acted with love and told him he needed to see these things. He was then 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.
He states that, at one point, he asked about the near-future of his country, and says that he was told that the US was a "blessed nation", but if it did not change its ways it would lose its prosperity. This was in no way portrayed as a punishment of God, but rather as a natural consequence. He claims to have seen visions of a future plagued by war, natural disasters and despair, but notes that he was told that this scenario was avoidable if there was a major spiritual "shift" in the consciousness of the world. The core of his message was 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 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".
Storm concedes there is no medical evidence that he ever died, as there was no doctor in the room to confirm that he was dead. Storm later awoke back in his body in the hospital room, and a nurse walked in and said that a doctor has finally arrived, and the surgery will now be performed. Surgery that evening was successful and he appeared to be healing rapidly, but 'a Voice' told him to ignore the advice of doctors and buy tickets to return to the U.S., only a week post-surgery (doctors advised no travel for at least a month post-surgery). According to Storm'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 during the trip back to the U.S. Storm credits his supernatural experiences as leading to the fact that he is alive today.
Some skeptics who have followed Storm's claims note that his account of the professed near-death experience seems to have grown more elaborate since his first recounting it, and refer to a 1988 article about the event in the Northern Kentucky University newspaper The Northerner as it compares to Storm's later telling of his claimed experience. In this article, one of the first to detail the former professor's story, Storm made no mention of a great number of purported happenings in the NDE that later became a standard part of his account, leaving open the possibility of retroactive elaboration. To date there has been no known polygraph examination of Storm in regards to his assertions, nor has known substantiation from the medical community been presented to confirm Storm's claims of being near death.
Storm stated that over time he "became more tempered" about his experience. He became involved with a church that he felt "brought him closer to God", entered the seminary and was ordained. He served as pastor of Zion United Church of Christ in Norwood, Ohio from 1992 to 2005. Storm has made a number of television appearances to describe his NDE and is presently pastor of the Covington United Church of Christ in Covington, Ohio.
In a 2002 recommendation on her website, author Anne Rice called Storm's story "absolutely incredible" and called Storm a mystic. My Descent into Death was first published in Great Britain and was not readily available in the U.S. Rice saw Storm on a television show where he asked for help in finding an American publisher. She helped arrange for the book to be acquired by Doubleday and re-published as a hardback. Rice stated that the process moved quickly, "as though angels were kicking open doors. ... I'll do anything to help get his book to the public, because he has something important to give people." Rice wrote the foreword for the new edition:
Make no mistake: this man's a mystic. This is a book that fulfills a calling. This is a book you can devour from cover to cover, and pass on to others. This is a book you will quote in your daily conversation. Storm was meant to write it and we were meant to read it.
- Howard Storm, My descent into death: and the message of love which brought me back, London: Claireview, 2000. ISBN 978-1902636160.
- N. E. Bush (2002). Afterward: Making meaning after a frightening near-death experience. Journal of Near-Death Studies, 21(2), 99-133. "Among contemporary near-death experiences, the best-known of this type is no doubt that of Howard Storm (2000), self-described as an angry, hostile atheist before a harrowing experience that transmogrified into one of affirmation and transcendence."
- Craig Lundahl and Harold Widdison, The eternal journey: How near-death experiences illuminate our earthly lives, 1997, pp. 227-228, 261-264. "Probably the most complete description of evil spirits in another world is given in the well-known NDE of Professor Howard Storm from Northern Kentucky University."
- Arvin S. Gibson, Glimpses of Eternity: New near-death experiences examined, 1992, pp. 224, 250, 253, 261, 280-1, 298, 301, 306.
- Kenneth Ring and Evelyn Elsaesser Valarino, Lessons from the light, 1998, pp. 291-292, 293.
- Judith Cressy, The near-death experience: Mysticism or madness, 1994, pp. 19-34.
- Arvin S. Gibson, Echoes from Eternity: New near-death experiences examined, 1993, pp. 258, 270, 305.
- Arvin S. Gibson, Journeys beyond life: True accounts of next-world experiences, 1994, pp. 210-229, 258.
- Arvin S. Gibson, Fingerprints of God: Evidences from near-death studies, scientific research on creation, and Mormon theology, 1999, pp. 101-102, 188-189, 209.
- P. M. H. Atwater, The big book of near-death experiences, 2007, p. 245.
- R. G. Mays and S. B. Mays (2008). The phenomenology of the self-conscious mind. Journal of Near-Death Studies, 27(1), 5-45. p. 33.
- Carol Memmott, "Vampire author Rice gives lift to pastor's 'Descent'" USA Today, February 21, 2005. Accessed 2009-08-06.
- Howard Storm, My descent into death: and the message of love which brought me back, London: Claireview, 2000, front end leaf.
- Former atheist to tell how near-death changed life: Author, missionary says he was delivered from hell, Dayton Daily News, January 28, 2006.
- Storm, Howard (2000). My Descent Into Death: And the Message of Love Which Brought Me Back. Clairview. ISBN 978 1 905570 17 1. Retrieved 2013-01-14.
- History of Zion Church. Accessed 2008-05-09.
- Anne Rice, Anne's Book Recommendations, Anne's Chamber, December 26, 2002. Accessed February 17, 2010. "There's no doubt in my mind that he's a mystic."
- Anne Rice, Foreword to Howard Storm, My Descent into Death, New York: Doubleday, 2005, p. viii. ISBN 978-0385513760.
- Howard Storm's NDE story published on the NDE website
- Howard Storm at Google Video
- Excerpt from My Descent into Death on USA Today, February 21, 2005.
- Howard Storm on Youtube
- Howard Storm Official Website