Outposts of the Spirit

Outposts of the Spirit

By William M. Justice
Charlottesville, VA: Hampton Roads, 2000. Paper, xxiv +213 pages.

When he was a young man, William M. Justice read about a journalist's out-of-body experience. Galvanized by the opening of a "new thought-world," Justice spent the rest of his life exploring nonordinary reality. Outposts of the Spirit is the fruit of his investigations.

Over the years, Justice, who died in 1985, encountered numerous spiritual adventurers, including Albert: Einstein, C. S. Lewis, and Edgar Cayce, as well as psychic researchers and a multitude of everyday people possessed of extraordinary gifts. Justice writes about a wide array of mysterious occurrences, such as telepathy, clairvoyance, automatic writing, out-of-body and near-death experiences, and the baffling appearances on electromagnetic tape of the voices of dead people.

Justice, who was also a Methodist minister, is intent on establishing "an empirical basis for a belief in life after death." Much of the material that he has assembled points to the existence of a metaphysical realm. However, his report would have been more balanced had he examined and challenged the contentions of skeptics that many of these occurrences are more psychological and illusory than otherworldly.

Nevertheless, Justice has written an illuminating introduction to a fascinating world. In one passage he describes his brother's mystical realization that "the universe is radiantly alive and animated by a living joy." In another, during an out-of-body experience, a woman finds herself in a great, silent void. Desperately lonely, she goes inside herself, and the void becomes "this warm, wonderful Something that enveloped me and with which I could communicate."

Sounding like a man who had been asked more than once to reconcile the psychic world with the Bible, Justice writes that the Bible is "probably the most psychically oriented book in the world." He cites many examples, such as Paul's conversion and Moses' encounter with the burning bush, The early Christian church drew much vitality from" 'gifts of the Spirit.’…essentially the same set of psychic events with which modern psychic research deals." He also notes that biblical sanctions against: paranormal activity are no more valid these days than the Old Testament dictate not to wear "a garment woven with two kinds of yarn."

Justice acknowledges that there are dark aspects to the psychic sphere, but believes that "as long as one's attitude is that: of love and trust toward God" the spirit world poses no risk. He believed firmly that "people have a right to know the kind of universe they live in." Readers will undoubtedly come away from this book with a heightened awareness of many mysterious events afoot in the world.

-Paul Wine

January/February 2001