Last month saw us host an exciting one-off event; Question Time – Death and the Afterlife. We invited three religious leaders to join our Chairwoman, Ann Treherne to explore the possibility of life after death. As well as stating whether they each believed in survival (in some way or another) after death, they also discussed finer details of exactly what happens to us when we die, according to their own personal interpretations.
Joining Ann Treherne were the Moderator of the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland, the Rt Rev Dr Derek Browning; Rev Canon John McLuckie, Vice Provost of St Mary’s Episcopal Cathedral in Palmerston Place and Very Rev Mgr Philip Kerr, Parish Priest of St Patrick’s Parish in the Cowgate.
The evening started off with the general question of “Do we survive death?”. As the founder of the Sir Arthur Conan Doyle Centre and member of Edinburgh’s Association of Spiritualists, Ann Treherne was solid in her stance that life does indeed carry on in some way after death.
Dr Derek Browning gave his thoughts: “I think a qualified yes. I believe we move on to something else which is not yet spelled out as far as the Christian church is concerned but there is a sense of transition, movement and journey.”
A member of the audience asked “How do you see life after death and do you rely on scientific or spiritual evidence? Why are there so many different opinions of life after death all over the world?” to which Dr Browning answered, “I reflect on that theology used to be called “the queen of sciences” in medieval times – it’s all about knowledge. I do get slightly nervous when people are only looking to understand life after death – I wish sometimes people would put the same amount of energy into life being lived here and now because I believe God looks after the rest.” Mgr Philip Kerr responded with “as Dr Browning says, the question of ‘why are we here at all?’ is a big a question as what happens when we’re not here. And we wrestle with those things. And I think the more we learn to trust ourselves to the source of life, the better place we’re in to face that question.”
An audience member asked how the panellists felt about communication with the spirit world to which the Moderator answered “It depends entirely what you mean by the spirit world. If you mean talk to dead spirits, I don’t know, that’s not my experience so I’m not qualified to give an answer to that.” He went on to say that he understood that it can be part of the grieving process, enabling people to move on.
Ann Treherne went on to say: “I’m sure there is a lot of opinion out there about what I do – if Mediumship really is a form of healing, and you’re right, Mediumship is about helping those who are so bereft and bereaved that they believe they can’t cope or function and if you’re able to assist them in some way and to continue their life and to understand that their loved one lives on somewhere then it’s a form of healing that we really do. And Mediumship really is in its truest sense – it’s a form of healing to assist a journey.”
The evening was a huge success with audience members and panellists alike coming away with food for thought. Bringing leaders from different Christian denominations helped to paint a fuller picture of different perspectives of what awaits us when we exit this world. Each church leader believed that when we leave our physical bodies, there may be something else out there. But as for what, where and how – stay tuned!