Betty Eadie isn’t your average eccentric. She’s an order of magnitude removed from the mainstream, a near-death experience evangelist who claims to have met Jesus and traveled to other worlds. She is also the author of the first book picked for Kim Kardashian and Chrissy Teigen’s new book club.
That 1992 memoir in which she documented her experience, Embraced by the Light, has sold over 13 million copies and spent 123 weeks on the paperback bestseller list. Eadie was interviewed by Oprah and probed on 20/20. A second book, 1996’s The Awakening Heart, was also a bestseller. Director Ridley Scott (Blade Runner) optioned the film rights to Embraced by the Light in 2014.
Eadie is an interesting interviewee—always warm and friendly, and at times unexpectedly funny, like when she shared an anecdote about a man meeting a giant teddy bear with the voice of Jesus in heaven. She is also at times controversial, describing Donald Trump as perhaps not “God’s perfect choice” for President. And she can be extremely disquieting; her belief in people choosing their destinies appears to extend complicity in their own misfortune to murder victims and the physically and mentally disabled.
It would be uncharitable to call her a charlatan. She appears sincere enough, and has unwaveringly promulgated her beliefs for over 40 years—although those beliefs have made her one very rich lady.
She doesn’t appear fazed—or even that in touch with—celebrity. Charmingly, she had to be prompted by her son, Jeff, to recall that the late music icon Prince had read her book, actively sought her out, attended her speaking engagement, and then invited the two of them to Paisley Park. Eadie described the convoluted requirements to pander to the singer’s obsessive desire for privacy as “cute.” It’s pretty hard not to like her.
Perhaps unsurprisingly, Eadie said that she knew little of Kardashian “except for what my granddaughters have shared with me. But other than that I have never watched her reality show or had any contact from her.”
That all changed on January 25th when Kim called Eadie and then, as is her wont, shared her review of the exchange on social media:
But Eadie remained disappointingly tight-lipped when it came to the most famous Kardashian, other than to say that Kim had said the book had been a favorite of her late father, Robert. “Years back, Kim’s father, before he died, had given her my book to read and so she was familiar with my book because of him,” said Eadie. “And then of course he passed away, and every now and then whenever she would run across a tough situation she would re-read the book.”
Her astonishing story goes like this.
Born in Nebraska in 1942 to a Native American mother and a Lutheran “Scots/Irish” father, she was raised on an Indian Reservation in South Dakota. After her parents split when she was four, she was placed into a Catholic boarding school—which seems to have been a formative experience. She didn’t fit in with either the Native children, wary of her Anglicized name, or the Catholic religion who taught her that she “was a sinner and a heathen because I was an Indian.” After leaving school, angry and out of place, she would “go to various churches to try to find God in them, and I just couldn’t find him.” A failed marriage, followed by a more successful one—and many children—later, found Eadie living an unremarkable existence in 1973 California. It was then that a hysterectomy procedure at a Seattle hospital changed her life forever.
“After the surgery a hemorrhage began and this was when I died,” she said, matter-of-factly. She then proceeded to have “the experience.” In her book, she describes her soul being “sucked out of her body” and rising up to heaven. This is where her story deviates from the tunnel-of-light, tremendous-sense-of-wellbeing that the usual near-death experience (NDE) witnesses tend to fall back on.
She is incredibly specific, and incredibly convinced as to what happened next: meeting Jesus Christ. “I recognized Him because I had always known Him, as we all know Him.”
So what happened when Betty Eadie met the Son of God? For starters, she was pissed. “I knew who He was and I was very, very excited to see Him, but—I was anxious to ask questions about why I was sent to earth because I didn’t like it here… I didn’t like my life at all. I was a mother of five children, happily married and everything was good. But I had struggled throughout my life from my childhood.”
In what could be seen as celestial victim-blaming, she claimed Jesus informed her that it had been her choice all along. “We select our parents, we select our circumstance. In other words, there are no accidents.” She likens it to heavenly higher education: “like going away to college, or going away to school because you needed to acquire certain skills.”
Instead, he sent her back to begin her “mission”—that is, to articulate what she had learned and try to make us see the error of our ways.
So does this mean we have only one shot at life? That there is no reincarnation? She is not so prescriptive. “We don’t necessarily recycle here on earth… You would go on to other worlds for another earth experience.” She chuckled. “I call that ‘earth’ but I don’t know where it would be.”
“He [Jesus] actually had a couple of guys take me to the other worlds. I traveled there with them,” she told me. But when pressed for details, she evaded with a good-natured counter: “The experience itself was removed from my memory so I don’t remember the details… what they looked like, what the worlds they lived in looked like, all of that. I don’t recall that. At all.”
However, she does remember clearly being shown, as she put it, “some of what lies ahead for the world.” “I was shown the future of the world and what was necessary to make a change so that we could have a better life here. We are at what you might call the 11th hour of destruction. We make [earth] ill, for instance, through pollution, through our lack of spiritual development: the hatred, the anger, the fighting, the wars.” This, it seems is the heart of the mission—the message Eadie feels she’s been sent back to relate.
“We haven’t reached the point of full devastation but it’s in the works, and we can make a difference if we realize that and change,” she said.
But what of the current divisions, protests, and civil unrest? She has a warning about that, too: “I was shown civil unrest, countries turning against countries… I was shown people on the streets killing each other, and we’re kind of doing that already.”
Given her environmental concerns, and the current administration’s ambivalent attitude toward climate change, she appears to be curiously unpartisan when it comes to politics. However, it seems she can’t resist slipping in a genteel barb about our new Commander-in-Chief. “I’m very happy with the President of the United States, Donald Trump, because I know that he is the choice of the people… Now, would it be God’s perfect choice? If He were to check mankind and single out one person? Maybe not.”
But her most troubling viewpoint, that the unfortunate and victimized in life chose their torment,
has not gone unnoticed by the church, prompting a number of refutations of her story and its message. In his article Deceived by the Light, pastor turned philosophy professor Douglas Groothuis raises a valid point: “Even if we grant Eadie’s unbiblical idea of preexistence, what sane spirit being would choose to suffer such unspeakable atrocities on earth? And if all Holocaust victims were not really victims at all but willing participants, then the Nazis should not be morally condemned; they were simply complying with the wishes of their subjects.”
It is worth remembering that under the comforting blanket of heavenly love and the afterlife, Betty Eadie is also providing an excuse for the perpetrators of all human suffering by implicating their victims in the crime.
The lady herself, though, seems to have nothing but positivity in mind. And her mission, as she sees it, includes promoting happiness and amity. “The only healing energy on the planet or even the afterworld—it’s love,” Eadie said. “God is love. And we must achieve that, and we aren’t there. At all.”