No, this is not some portal to the next life, or a detailed instruction as to how to perform a séance and communicate with departed loved ones. Rather, after finishing my book, Called To Serve Again, several readers have come to me with many questions and have asked where they can learn more about the Spirit World. I thought it might be helpful to gather together several of the links to some of the sources and stories that I used in researching my story. I will group the links according to topic, and this will be a work in progress as I will add additional links from time to time.
Much of this information comes directly from the LDS.org website, but in order to avoid any copyright infringement, I will not copy and paste the quotations on my site. Instead, I will only include the links and describe where to look for the pertinent information. I wish to emphasize that these links are in no way meant to promote my book, but these are only listed in an attempt to help those who wish to learn more about death and the state of the spirit until the resurrection. I hope all will know and understand that death is not the end, but through the Atonement of Jesus Christ, all mankind will be resurrected and live again.
Are there spirits?
- see 2 Kings 6:15–17 for one of my favorite stories about Elisha and his servant.
- The Savior gave a parable in Luke 16:19–31 about the fate of a beggar and a rich man in the Spirit World.
- President Ezra Taft Benson: http://lds.org/ensign/1971/06/life-is-eternal?lang=eng, see paragraphs 2 and 3.
- There are many references to spirits, especially unclean spirits, in the scriptures. For just a few examples, see Mark 1:23-27, Acts 8:6-8, or Matt. 8:28-32 (Jesus casts the evil spirits into a herd of swine).
- In the most recent General Conference (April 2012), Elder Richard G. Scott mentions the assistance of those on the other side of the veil who have preceded us in death. He talks extensively about revelation and improving our communication with not only God and the Holy Ghost, but also with those in the Spirit World. This link will take you to both the written address as well as the video clip of his talk at:http://www.lds.org/general-conference/2012/04/how-to-obtain-revelation-and-inspiration-for-your-personal-life?lang=eng&media=video
Where is the Spirit World?
- Brigham Young taught that the Spirit World is around us here on earth: http://lds.org/manual/teachings-brigham-young/chapter-38?lang=eng, particularly the first 4 paragraphs.
- Parley P. Pratt also taught this: http://lds.org/ensign/1977/01/the-spirit-world-our-next-home, see paragraph 22.
- Joseph Smith: http://lds.org/ensign/1977/01/the-spirit-world-our-next-home, see paragraph 19.
- President Ezra Taft Benson: http://lds.org/ensign/1971/06/life-is-eternal?lang=eng, see paragraph 25.
What do our spirits look like?
At one point in my book, I talked of some spirit children holding hands as they cross the monorail platform. I took some liberty with this because of some accounts of people seeing children or infants as departed spirits in their dreams or in visions. However, in the LDS Gospel Doctrine manual, it is taught that all spirits assume their adult form even if the person passed away as a child. Then when the person is resurrected, they will come forth from the grave in the same form and age as when they passed away, and they will grow to adulthood in their perfected body. Here are some of the links:
- see Ether 3:16 of the account of the brother of Jared who saw Jehovah as a spirit.
- see the teachings of President Joseph F. Smith at: http://lds.org/manual/teachings-joseph-f-smith/chapter-15?lang=eng. Look at paragraphs 8 thru 13 where he discusses both the appearance of children’s spirits, as well as what happens to children after the resurrection.
However, to write about something, you need to have a clear vision of it in your head, and it seems that I ended up with many more questions than I could ever get answers to. I think it kind of started with facial hair. Do spirits have facial hair? I believe so. If your uncle wore a moustache his whole life on this earth, would he still have a moustache in the spirit world? I believe he would. What about a goatee? Or lamb chop sideburns? Then we move on to hairstyles — what if you always thought you looked best wearing a mullet? Head-banger hair? Would Michael Bolton or Fabio be allowed to have long hair still? I believe so, it is their choice. So then, what about hair color — does everyone have gray or white hair, or does your hair resort back to its natural color? Can you change your hairstyle as a spirit? I am not even sure if your hair will grow or you will need to have haircuts. Then come other related hygiene questions, such as if you have a very, hairy back as a mortal, would this still be a problem as a spirit? Will women still have to shave their legs? or arm pits? Not a lot of answers out there to these questions.
In the end, I kind of had to decide on certain rules and stick to them, and these were often based upon my best, educated guess. Also, the rules must be uniformly enforced and fair. For sure, we are guaranteed that when we are resurrected, we will have perfected bodies, but until that time, I felt that when we pass from this life, we take with us certain, defining characteristics and peculiarities that make us unique individuals. Further, when we do pass from this life, we may change our appearance, but it will likely take time and occur gradually. Thus, if someone is overweight, they will not change immediately to fit and trim when they die, but they will still appear large, or muscular, or thin. I didn’t want to debate about actual skin pigment, but I felt certain that cultural traits would still be present — not everyone changes to an anglo-saxon when they become a spirit. Rather, oriental people will still appear to be oriental, or polynesians will appear as polynesians, or aboriginals will appear as aboriginals, etc, and these traits may not ever change. This brought me back to hair, which I decided would have to be similar to how it appeared prior to your death, even if you had lost some hair, or allowed it to grow under your chin, or changed it to jet black. In that way, you will still be you in the next life, for better or worse.
What will happen in Paradise?
- See Alma 40:12–14 where Alma teaches about two divisions in the Spirit World.
- See D&C 138:30-33 which records President Joseph F. Smith’s vision of the Spirit World. He saw a vision of the Savior who visited the righteous spirits, organized them, gave them power and authority, and commisioned them to carry the gospel to those in Spirit Prison. See also 1 Peter 4:6 and 1 Peter 3:18–20 where Peter discusses this principle.
- President Wilford Woodruff taught that priesthood holders will continue to hold the priesthood and serve in the Spirit World. See https://lds.org/manual/gospel-principles/chapter-41-the-postmortal-spirit-world?lang=eng&signmein, paragraph 14.
- Some family relationships will continue in the Spirit World if they have been sealed by the priesthood. See https://lds.org/manual/gospel-principles/chapter-41-the-postmortal-spirit-world?lang=eng&signmein, paragraph 15. See also Matthew 16:18, 19.
What will happen in Spirit Prison?
- See D&C 138:30-33which records President Joseph F. Smith’s vision of the Spirit World. He saw a vision of the Savior who visited the righteous spirits, organized them, gave them power and authority, and commisioned them to carry the gospel to those in Spirit Prison. See also 1 Peter 4:6 and 1 Peter 3:18–20 where Peter discusses this principle.
- Bruce R. McConkie taught about the work going on in Spirit Prison. See http://lds.org/manual/preparing-for-exaltation-teachers-manual/lesson-7-what-happens-after-death?lang=eng&query=spirit+prison, see his quotation below the heading “The Righteous Do the Lord’s Work in the Spirit World.”
Is there really such thing as a guardian angel?
The scriptures never use the term “guardian angel,” but there are many references to “ministering angels,” or angels who assist mortals on this earth. A classic example would be the angel who comforted the Savior in the Garden of Gethsemane (see Luke 22:43).
- This question was addressed in the June 1995 issue of the Ensign. See http://lds.org/ensign/1988/03/i-have-a-question?lang=eng, particularly note Elder John A Widstoe’s comments in paragraphs 40 thru 43.
Stories of Glimpses into the Spirit World
- See http://lds.org/ensign/1995/06/sherries-shield-of-faith?lang=eng paragraphs 17 thru 26 about a little girl following surgery for cancer.
- Two stories appear in this article about guardian angels in the June 1995 Ensign (http://lds.org/ensign/1988/03/i-have-a-question?lang=eng). President David O. McKay relates a story from his mission in paragraphs 29 thru 33, and President Harold B. Lee discusses an experience in paragraphs 34 thru 37.