by Jennifer Ziegler

When Jennifer Ziegler proposed a panel on “the paranormal” for last year’s Festival, the response from the program committee was a tepid “Why not?” The session was assigned a small venue. Everyone but Jennifer was surprised. The room was packed. The audience was riveted and, as the word spread, those who weren’t there wished they had been. So, this year Jennifer has put together a new panel with two paranormal experts and the program – entitled “Life and the Afterlife” – will take place in the 300-seat Main Stage of the Milford Theatre.

Jennifer’s interest in the subject began with a very personal experience. Here is her story:

I got to know about George Anderson and Dr. Eben Alexander when I saw how much comfort their books gave to my family when we lost my sister and then her son years later. Recently, their books have helped me cope with the loss of both my parents, two friends and my husband’s Aunt Elaine, with whom I was very close. I have no doubt all of them are around me now, and I will see them again thanks to these two authors.

My mother saw Mr. Anderson on “Larry King.”  He was promoting his book “We Don’t Die,” which became the first book by a psychic to get on the New York Times Bestseller list. At the time she was in terrible emotional anguish at the loss of my sister; nothing could console her, until she found his book. It reassured her that my sister was still around us and not in any pain. A wonderful gift to a grieving mother. Anderson has given over 35,000 readings all over the world to families in grief over the loss of a loved one.

Years later I saw Dr. Eben Alexander on “Oprah.” He was talking about his book “Proof of Heaven, A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife,” also a New York Times Bestseller.  He told an intriguing personal story: He was trained as a neurosurgeon. The conventional wisdom among his colleagues is that so-called near-death experiences (or NDE’s), when a patient claims to have left their body and visited into the afterlife, are the result of the cerebral cortex stimulating hallucinations in the brain. When Dr. Alexander himself developed a neurological condition that shut down his cerebral cortex, he still experienced an NDE. He went from skeptic to believer.

As we age, it is necessary to face our mortality.  It is natural to want to get a glimpse and reassurance about our next step into the afterlife.  Even if you aren’t as confident as I am about the veracity of their skills and experiences, I am sure you will be intrigued by what the most scientifically tested psychic in the world and a Neurosurgeon that has visited the afterlife himself, have to say about the last great mystery of life.