Yesterday, some sections of the media decided to focus upon British TV celebrity Noel Edmonds, or rather his personal views on spirituality and the afterlife. Below is a link to the report in the British newspaper, 'The Independent'.
The article doesn't start promisingly...'Noel Edmonds has given a bizarre new interview...'
What is perhaps more interesting is the media portrayal here, covering what is essentially one man stating his personal views on metaphysics, spirituality and what he believes may lie beyond physical death.
Reading the comments from 'Independent' readers is also interesting - mostly ranging from 'this man is a raving lunatic' and 'what the hell is Noel Edmonds smoking these days?' to other members of the general public who believe that he 'makes a reasonable point'.
In the 'civilised' West, we tend to deride anyone who wanders into conversational matters concerning the afterlife, or even the crazy, wacky possibility that it exists as a viable, alternative option.
Is this because we are more afraid of death here in the West?
Is it because 'Science' has become an ultimate authority over the recent centuries...replacing religion as the supreme body of all-knowing and enlightenment?
Is it simply too easy to point judgemental fingers at individuals and groups and take the piss, for cheap laughs, rather than focus on anything 'deep' and 'meaningful'?
Perhaps we should take these feelings further and focus upon hurling derisory coconuts at all Christians, for harping on endlessly (for two millennia and counting) about talking snakes, magic apples, arks filled with every animal on Earth (except dinosaurs), flaming, desert bushes proclaiming to be God and conjuring tricks involving wine, bread, reanimation of the dead and walking on water?
What Noel Edmonds is stating can be placed under a metaphysical 'umbrella' - essentially, we are all comprised energy, we can focus that energy for good (or bad) and that physical death is not the end of us.
All of these concepts are a very long way from Noel saying 'I see Elvis riding unicorns when I ride my dragon to Atlantis through the magic wardrobe in my bedroom', yet - as usual - the media delights in writing biased articles, which can't help but give the image of a smirking reporter, regularly consulting his thesaurus to find words that mean the same as 'lunatic'.
The main reason that this is constantly annoying is perhaps more serious. As anyone who has had any form of paranormal/spiritual encounter will understand, it is not encouraged for anyone to share our tales with a vast section of the general public, as the most likely result will be complete derision. The 'snowball' effect of this is that people simply stop sharing (or are much less likely to share) any experiences which involve the paranormal, as this is currently deemed to be a socially odd practice. Naturally, this then results in far less experiences being mentioned at all, fuelling any cynical arguments of 'so why aren't there more personal accounts of the paranormal/metaphysical?'
The media plays a huge role here, but what perhaps is most encouraging to see are some of the responses in the comments below the article in the 'Independent'. Yes, there are the obligatory 'Noel is a nutter' jibes, along with the standard 'there is no scientific evidence for an afterlife whatsoever'. It's also clear that the vast majority of the people writing such phrases have done precisely no research or experimentation into anything remotely resembling the parapsychological/paranormal/metaphysical areas and are relying purely on lazy, stereotypical concepts.
'There is no evidence of life after death - not a single shred' say many of these comments - yet how many of these same people have explored (or even considered exploring) research dating back over nearly 200 years, including near-death experiences, paranormal accounts, alleged spirit communications and psychic phenomena, tales of reincarnation and many, many other aspects of parapsychology?
It's easy to sit back and throw stones at other people's 'stupid' ideas, but - if people are not prepared to get off their idle backsides and, at the very least, study the mountain of past and ongoing research into the possibility of life beyond our physical deaths, then who really is the idiot?
Ultimately, as some commentators on this article noted, we do not know what happens when we die. We can all have views and ideas and notions and theories - based upon personal concepts within religion or conventional science, but none of us know for certain, because we're still alive and not there yet.
Opinions are opinions, whether you're the Pope or a rocket scientist and faith - no matter how strong - is not fact. Otherwise, every religion in the world would be right and we would never be wrong - ever - meaning that all arguments and disagreements would endure to infinity.
How do you cope with derisory or judgemental opinions when they're directed at you for your spiritual or personal beliefs?
Do you think that this is changing socially? As more discoveries are made in the future, will the tide turn and will society become more accepting/liberal/tolerant in their views towards the paranormal and spiritual worlds?
Do the current crop of paranormal TV shows and movies play a positive or negative role in public perceptions?