4. Cultural-Linguistic Constructivism and the Challenge of Near-Death and Out-of-Body Experiences
The Study of Religious Experience - Approaches and Methodologies - Bettina E. Schmidt
Ian Ramsey Centre, Oxford University
Ostensibly documentary accounts of near-death experiences (NDEs) are found in a variety of texts around the world: in religious literature, historical documents, and reports of ethnographers, missionaries and explorers. Despite local phenomenological differences, there is an essential thematic and structural continuity to the accounts cross-culturally. Furthermore, NDEs have a cross-culturally stable physical context (i.e., the individual is commonly near death), and basic interpretation (what happens when we die). Because beliefs in souls and life after death are commonly considered ‘religious,’ this has important implications for currently dominating postmodernist-influenced paradigms which state that because all religions are culturally unique and all experience is culturally-linguistically generated, there can be no such thing as a pan-human ‘religious experience’ type.