The Case for Reincarnation
Contains Illustrations, Bibliography, Index
J.B. Snelson is a librarian, bibliographer, and (antiquarian) bookstore
owner in Wolfville.
Reincarnation is a subject that, while never totally ignored by the West, has developed into a subject of great interest in the West this century. Montreal-born Ian Stevenson at the University of Virginia, the Anglican theologian Geddes MacGregor, and others have presented scholarly and documentary studies of great value. Canada’s T. Lobsang Rampa and many others have presented popularizations of questionable value. There has been a need for a popular presentation that makes the work of Stevenson and other scholars accessible to the untrained layman. Joe Fisher has taken up this task, and to a great extent he has succeeded. At least, he presents the layman with the most readable study that does not demand belief from the beginning, as do most popular presentations.
The first few chapters present a very brief survey of the history of the subject in the West and then discuss a few well-documented cases. Fisher, like many scholars, notes that while the evidence favors reincarnation, the phenomenon lacks the sort of proof that is not open to other possibilities. Perhaps the best chapter is his survey of the history of the doctrine within the Christian church. This survey is important since many believe, wrongly, that the doctrine is totally incompatible with Christianity.
On the other hand, the chapter on astrology and reincarnation may be ill-advised. If one is discussing a subject that many feel to be unworthy of serious consideration, it is not a good idea to introduce other subjects open to equal or greater questions of validity. Whatever the scholarly or theological status of reincarnation may be, it stands or at least ought to stand on its own merits. By suggesting that in some way astrology is either related to the subject or provides verification for it, Fisher is asking the reader to accept something that may well cause him to reject reincarnation, since he sees astrology as without redeeming value.
The Case for Reincarnation is not a perfect book; one can argue with Fisher’s presentation in many places. Even so, this is a better discussion of the subject for the layman than any I have seen and should be treated with respect. As Fisher points out, whatever one’s religious or philosophical beliefs, reincarnation is worthy of consideration on its own merits. In this respect, by presenting an easily readable introduction Fisher has achieved what he set out to do. Further, by giving a brief but excellent bibliography, he facilitates further study among those whom he can interest in the subject.