I was eager to see Oprah Winfrey interview Eben Alexander on the Oprah Winfrey Network (OWN) show Super Soul Sunday. Alexander’s book Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife details Alexander’s claims of visiting the afterlife while in a deep coma. I listened to the audio version of Proof of Heaven and found the book to be compelling, and also inspirational.
My interest in the Eben Alexander Oprah Winfrey interview was, as much as anything, to hear Alexander respond to the vocal skeptics of his account and their insistence that his experience was a product of abnormal brain function and not something spiritual. I believe many of these skeptics are criticizing Alexander’s story from a need to protect their own ego beliefs versus a genuine disagreement.
I’m saying this because some of the skeptics haven’t bothered to read Alexander’s book and / or are generally dismissive of experiences like Alexander’s, often referred to as Near Death Experiences (NDEs). If one wants to claim that NDEs are abnormal brain functioning and not spiritual experiences that look into a dimension beyond earthly human existence, at least carefully examine the evidence that suggests otherwise. To not do this, and there is much data available about NDEs, is evidence of a deep bias… is evidence of defending an ego conviction against perceived threats.
My guess is it’s only a matter of time before one of these outspoken NDE skeptics has an NDE of their own. This won’t be some sort of a punishment as NDEs are glorious experiences and change the duration of life for the better (once they’ve been accepted beyond the denials of skeptics). Many people, myself included, consider NDEs to be very fortuitous experiences and even enviable. That an outspoken NDE skeptic could have one wouldn’t be punitive then, but only a Divinity teaching for all — assuming the skeptic would tell of their experience in the aftermath.
The Oprah Winfrey interview would give Eben Alexander, a man with an accomplished medical and scientific background, the opportunity to speak directly to NDE skeptics about his experience in particular if not about NDEs on the whole… or so I hoped. The interview however was ultimately disappointing and also frustrating.
The problem with the interview, in my opinion, was Oprah Winfrey. I have an admiration for Winfrey: she seems quite open-minded and I get the sense that she sincerely wants to be a help to others. She seems as well to be a genuinely kind and compassionate person and is certainly very accomplished in worldly endeavors.
In the Alexander interview however Winfrey would not stop intruding. She seemed to interrupt Alexander in every one of his responses to her questions. She also spoke at great length. I didn’t do any timekeeping but I’d guess that Winfrey spoke during the interview as much as Eben Alexander did. Is it good interviewing form to speak just as much as the subject of the interview? I don’t believe so.
Winfrey appeared to be operating from a virtual second clock: once Alexander had spoken for twenty-five seconds Winfrey cut him off with a comment of her own and / or a question. In the process of this she stopped Alexander from revealing insights that I was interested in hearing. For instance, Alexander started to say something about NDEs. Before he could finish there again was Winfrey, with something to say.
I didn’t care much about Oprah’s opinion of Eben Alexander’s experience. I was very interested to hear Eben Alexander’s opinion about his experience. I got the impression at times that Winfrey was interviewing herself about the subject matter rather than allowing Alexander to speak freely and with minimal interruption.
I understand the time constraints of television, and Winfrey seemed enthusiastic about the subject matter and so perhaps wanted to cover as much with Alexander as possible in the time that they had. I think however that less in this case would have been more: less subject matter covered, with more time for Alexander to expound on what he thought was important.
I’ll be on the lookout for further interviews with Alexander, hopefully with more informative content from Alexander himself.