I'd be remiss if I didn't respond with a personal story to this posting. For me, it has stood the test of time and, even more, the NDE.
I was raised in a household that believed in an organized sorta religion. As a kid, my idea of God was based on things I saw around me that made me feel loved and in-joy. Few things fit this bill more then my dog...and I adored him...and he, me. Anyway, while attending Sunday School, at the ripe old age of 5, I had an ephiphany that changed me forever. The jest of this episode dealt with the minister ministering some words of wisdom that, as a child, just didn't add up. The guy's message of the day had to do with how special people were and that if they believed in what he was saying, they'd get to go to heaven...they'd get to live forever.
Now, I thought this was just a jim dandy deal. Afterall, everything in my life felt like it was workin' out pretty cool and my dog and I were having great adventures together everyday of the week. Sure, Sunday mornings took a hit, but we made up for it on Sunday afternoon and, as always, I was lookin' forward to gettin' home and gettin' on with it. Nonetheless, there was some somethin' I didn't like about the minister's musings because he hadn't automatically included my dog into the forever thing and I had a need to here what he had to say about something as important as THAT...so I asked him.
I said, "My dog gets to live forever too, right?" Immediately he responded, "No, Mike, only people get to live forever because only people can decide to accept Christ."
AND, I KNEW.....right THEN & THERE...that this guy didn't know what he was talkin' about, because I KNEW my dog loved me...and I KNEW LOVE LASTS FOREVER.
Thus, thanks to my dog, I was taught not to buy into a lotta the stuff that gets peddled from pedestel or podium. And, during the coursing of my NDE wherein all else gets stripped away 'cept the priorities that matter most..it was a lesson well learned.