Howard Storm (born October 26, 1946, in Flushing, New York) is a former atheist and art professor and chairman of the art department at the Northern Kentucky University. He is best known as the author of “My Descent Into Death” which details his near-death experience. Storm’s NDE is regarded as one of the most complete accounts of distressing near-death experiences ever recorded. It includes dramatic encounters with evil spirits, a trip to hell, a rescue by Jesus, and extensive conversations with Jesus and a group of angels. Storm’s NDE has been cited frequently in near-death studies literature. His book was originally published in 2000 and re-published as a hardback book in 2005. Storm has told his story to numerous audiences and appeared on NBC’s Today Show, The Oprah Winfrey Show, 48 Hours, Discovery Channel and Coast to Coast AM. Storm was so deeply affected by his near-death experience that he resigned from Northern Kentucky University and became a United Church of Christ minister.
Love The Person You’re With
In Part III of “The Redemption of Howard Storm” (from 03:00 – 10:25), Howard describes a remarkable conversation he had with Jesus. A video excerpt and transcript of Howard’s humorous and enlightening conversation appears below.
When Jesus told me I had to come back to the world and I was trying to convince him not to send me back, I asked him what would I do if I came back. Before he had a chance to answer, I said, “you know I am an artist and I would like to build you a shrine. I would make this shrine so big and beautiful and bizarre that people would come from all over the world out of curiosity to see what it was about. What they would find was it would be about you. That would make them think about you. That’s what I would like to do if I came back.”
“WHAT?!! People have been building shrines to you forever. There are lots of shrines. Why can’t I build a shrine? I would like to build a shrine.”
“You spent so much of your life hiding out in the studio, avoiding people, I would prefer it if you didn’t avoid people by building this big shrine… I don’t really care about shrines. People like to build shrines. I understand that. It makes them feel good. It does absolutely nothing for me or for God. We don’t have any use for them whatsoever. If that’s what amuses you, I guess that’s what you gotta do. But don’t do it for me. Don’t deceive yourself into thinking it’s something I want or need, because I don’t.”
“OK, you shot down my idea. What’s your idea?”
“Love the person you’re with.”
“OK, great, I’ll do that. No problem. What do you want me to do?”
“I just told you what I want you to do: love the person you’re with.”
“Yeah, but after I do that, what do you really want me to do?”
“No, that is what I want you to do: love the person you’re with.”
I said, “Well that’s simple enough, that’s easy, I can do that.”
“Oh really. Well, that’s what I want you to do. That’s enough.”
And I said, “How is it enough?”
“If you do that, you will change the world.”
“Oh, you want me to change the world?!”
“Exactly, that’s why I put you in the world in the first place: to change the world.”
“Well you know there have been a lot of people who have tried to change the world and that usually turns out pretty badly. I can think of examples like Adolph Hitler, and Joseph Stalin, and Mao Tse-tung. All of them wanted to change the world and they made it worse. If I go back and try and change the world, why isn’t it possible that I could make a lot of terrible mistakes and make the world a worse place?”
“The way I want you to change the world is by loving the person you are with.”
“Wait a minute, that’s a contradiction. You want me to change the world but you just want me to love the person I’m with?”
“Yes, that’s the plan; that’s The Big Plan… If you love the person you’re with, then that person will go out and love the person they’re with, and they will go out and love the person they’re with and it will be like a chain reaction and love will conquer the world and everyone will love one another. That’s God’s Big Plan.”
“It’s not going to work.”
“Why won’t it work?”
“I love the person I’m with. She walks across the street and gets run over by a truck. Everyone gets angry and upset.”
“Yeah, that happens. But it’s really God’s plan and nothing is going to stop it. It’s going to happen.”
“Even if you had a million people, I don’t think it’s going to happen.”
“There are more than a million people in the plan…”
“Well, from what I know of the world, you don’t have enough.”
“Actually, we have all the angels in the plan. There are a lot of them. There are more angels than people in the world… There are millions of people. There are all the angels. And there’s God. It’s inevitable. The plan is going to happen.”
“If that’s your plan, I’ll do it, but I just don’t really see much hope for it.”
“You don’t know enough to see how it’s going to happen.”
So, my solution to everything is to love one another. And when I read the Bible and found out that that was written in the Bible as Jesus’ commandment: “This is my commandment, that you love one another…” That’s the program. I have tried to be part of that program… So, I personally have no big plan other than to be loving.
The only fly in the ointment was that I thought it was going to be easy, and it turns out to be the hardest thing I’ve ever done. It sounds so simple, but it’s really difficult. It’s easy for me to love my mother because she was a really nice woman; a very loving woman. It’s not hard to love someone who is really good and really loving. But what do you do with someone who is difficult, or really nasty? Those are hard people to love.
And what does it mean to love someone? Sometimes to love someone means you need to incarcerate them. And that’s not a lot of fun. Sometimes loving someone means you have to put as much distance between them and you as possible and tell them to never call you. And that’s not a lot of fun.
Loving people sounds so simple, but it’s very difficult…