Reviewed by Ciaran Farrell.
Rod Julian is an Australian author who has an interest in history and human experiences. He has published articles in a variety of magazines and journals such as Australian Natural History, The Newcastle Herald Weekender, and the Journal of the Royal Historical Society of Queensland.
Rod’s interest in ‘spiritual messages’ began when he received one himself while he was on holiday with his family in Crescent Head which is a well-known tourist destination on the north coast of New South Wales in Australia. This occurred in December 2001. The message was in the form of a warning that although he had done a lot to prepare his family’s new home against disaster, he had not done enough.
When he returned home he set about improving the firebreak around his house and making preparations against the possibility of a bush fire. He was right to have done so as many of the houses in his neighbourhood were consumed by a ravaging bush fire which started shortly after his return. Thanks to the warning and his prompt action he may very well of saved his own life and the lives of his family, as well as his house.
This prompted Rod to find out more about spiritual messages and the people who receive them, and why they do so. He joined a discussion and self-development group so that he could explore his experiences and those of others. His book Spiritual Messages is the result of this process.
In his book he has drawn together six other cases besides his own into a wide and varied ensemble collection of articles of a more or less formal nature. The slim one hundred and fifty page volume consists of cases which include those of a submariner, a pilot, a mother, a plumber, a film director and a teenage girl.
The two detailed military cases of the American submariner, Clayton Decker, and the German fighter pilot, Franz Stigler, are both from World War II and are well known and well researched. Rod has skilfully used the content of open source and other materials to create a unique and flowing narrative of these two men’s lives and wartime experiences. The accounts he has written are as useful from an historical perspective about the fortunes of war as they are about the phenomena of spiritual messages. These two case studies form the first half of Rod’s book.
The second half of the book covers Rod’s own experience plus those of others of a more personal nature. Rod worked with film director Bill Bennett who received a spiritual message in 1999 which changed his life. Rod helped Bill to tell the story of this spiritual voice experience through the medium of his book.
Rod has included several other cases of people who in one way or another he met along the way during his voyage of discovery about the phenomena of spiritual messages. These cases are those of ordinary people who have encountered the extraordinary in their lives in the form of a spiritual message that led to a life changing event of one sort or another. This shows that anyone can receive a spiritual message during a particularly critical time in their lives. It also illustrates the significance of acting on the content of the message even if the meaning contained within the message itself is not immediately clear.
Even after the conclusion of Rod’s voyage of discovery he was still very much aware that there remained far more questions than answers. He has written a short and open conclusion to his book as a general summary about how receiving a spiritual message has changed people’s lives. He has left it up to the reader to work out for themselves whether or not the spiritual message in some way came from within the person experiencing the message. Or alternatively, it may have come from a higher power with a particular reason or purpose to help a particular person in specific way at a critical time.
Whatever the truth may eventually turn out to be, those who have received spiritual messages know that without the intervention produced by the message they would have lost their lives. They also acknowledge that as a result of this it has given them an opportunity to see their lives and the lives of those around them in a new and different way. Therefore the experience of receiving a spiritual message has not only been a life changing event, it has also been a life affirming one as well.
Rod does not engage in much discussion of the reasons why and how certain people receive spiritual messages at particularly critical times in their lives whist others do not. Nor does he discuss in detail whether or not these messages originate from within a person or come in the form of help from a higher power. Therefore his approach to spiritual messages is a broadly secular one based on the wider concept of being spiritual without being religious. He sees this wider concept of being spiritual as an entirely natural one which arises out of nature itself. Therefore he has done his best to allow the characters in his case studies to tell their own personal stories so that they can speak for themselves about how they saw the world around them, and how this was changed by the message they received.
Rod has written his book in an open, easy to read and informal style. It is almost as if he were talking to the reader over a drink in a bar, possibly located on an Australian beach somewhere. He has included photographs to illustrate the narrative text of his book especially within the historic military cases which does bring them to life and make them feel more relevant and contemporary.
I would recommend Rod’s book on the basis that it provides the reader with some interesting and thought provoking case studies of a contemporary and historic nature as well as being a good and easy read. It is not however an academic or a scientific book. Therefore it may not appeal to those who are interested in reading a serious work on the origin, theory and causation of spiritual messages from a psychological or theological point of view.