What If There Was A New Earth?

A few weeks ago, I stumbled across a promo for the 2011 sci-fi movie, Another Earth.  It immediately intrigued me because it promised to be a deeply moving, emotional sci-fi film about two earths, employing none of the usual sci-fi garb such as aliens and UFOs… interesting!  I searched and found it on VUDU, placed it in my wish-list, and finally found time to watch it late last night with my wife, whom I had successfully convinced to join me for the sake of “research.”  Convincing her wasn’t a chore; she was intrigued too.

Another Me?

Even though the movie has been out for four years, I want to be careful not to give away an spoilers, so I’ll be brief with the synopsis.  The storyline centers on a young lady whose life is filled with promise and possibility untea_anotherearthil something tragic happens, drastically altering the course of her life.  At the moment of this tragedy a second earth (Earth Two) appears in the sky and she, along with all the residents of Earth One, are captivated by this new reality.  Furthermore, they are challenged with the suspicion that there might be “another me” out there living a similar life but differently due to opposite actions, choices, and events.

This movie was made on an extremely low-budget.  The actors even did their own makeup, and the director created the Earth Two scenes on his personal computer.  However, you’d never know it.  The cinematography is great, and the depth of characters and storyline are superb.  Brit Marling did an excellent job playing the leading role of Rhoda.  She also was the co-writer of the movie script.  I’m sure you’ll recognize her from her many screen roles, namely in I Origins, and her role as Liz Garvey in the TV series Babylon.

Meeting Yourself

I was immediately drawn into Rhoda’s internal struggles and the new choices she labored to make in the light of Earth Two just over head.  The director Mike Cahill explains that Earth Two is “kind of this externalization of the interior world of Rhoda.  She could have dealt with those ideas of the confrontation of the self just by looking in the mirror, but I felt like there was something [more] powerful about really externalizing it,” by creating a situation where there really is another version of us all.  Co-writer Marling elaborated further by saying the image of another Earth provokes a primal reaction, “we all feel something [deeply] about looking back at the Earth.”  Definitely, this movie is a “feeling” movie, very personal, introspective, and surprising… especially the ending!

Ultimately, the movie is successful with taking a very high, external concept and internalizing it in order to explore the inner world of who we are, and what it means to be a human.  Rhoda has a strong desire to become an astronaut and explore this other Earth, but ultimately her greatest desire is realized—the exploration and discovery of herself.  For me, what makes this movie so deeply emotional is the use of the doppelgänger.

A doppelgänger is a look-alike or double of a living person, sometimes portrayed as a paranormal phenomenon, and in some traditions as a harbinger of bad luck.

In pop culture, when you meet your doppelgänger, “you see each other, and then one of them has to die, and so it turns into an action adventure movie in which one of them has to kill the other,” says Marling.  Another Earth “was never going to be a movie about an Invasion of the Body Snatchers style” confrontation, she adds.another_earth-1

Another Earth deliberately turns the usual idea of doppelgänger on its head.  Says Cahill:  “For me, I pushed completely the opposite [idea].  I think we, as humans, have this desperate yearning to connect, and we are so alone, no matter how many people we know, our close friends or whatever, we are ultimately alone.  And I think there’s a yearning to not be alone.  So, to confront someone who has your shared history and all your secrets… I think there would be the greatest amount of empathy.”

Don’t Watch It Alone

In short, this movie highlights forgiveness, hope, and our common need for redemption.  I love high concepts, and I especially love when they are employed in a pop culture medium that captures our imaginations while invoking a deep sense of wonderment and awareness.  This movie certainly did all of this and more for me.  If you’re in the mood to be entertained and challenged, watch Another Earth.  And I would advise not watching it alone.  Watch it with someone you love, someone you’ve dreamed with, and been forgiven by.  The impact will be greater.


If you appreciate sci-fi movies that make you think like this one does, check out my latest e-book priced at $2.99!

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Why I Write About The Paranormal

I read because I enjoy reading.  At any moment, I usually have seven or eight books in various states of completion on my night stand, the kitchen table, and in my shoulder bag.  My wife is always picking them up and asking me if they can be put back on one of my three bookshelves.  She’s become accustomed to my predictable answer:  “Not yet, I’m almost done with that one… and that one… and that one…”

The Thread

My interests are varied, covering the gamut, from history, religion, and physics to poetry, philosophy, and comics.  My taste in movies are just as varied from documentaries to mystery intrigue, and sci-fi.  Oh, and I happen to like Bollywood movies too!  When it comes to books, I just don’t read any book on these numerous subjects.  There’s a common thread that leads me to each one.  Or, as I often feel, this common thread prompts the books (and movies) to find me.

The Alternative Narrative

So, what is this thread, and what happens when you start pulling on it?  I call it “The Alternative Narrative.”  You see, the storyline we commonly know is only a fraction of the whole story.  For instance, threadtake the story of electricity.  Everyone knows of Edison and the light bulb.  However, the story takes on a whole new light when you consider the alternative narrative involving his assistant Nikola Tesla.  If Tesla’s brilliance had not have been subverted and he had gotten the financial backing Edison enjoyed, electricity would look a lot different than it does today.  And, if his visions and life’s dream would have been honored, it would be free too!

The same “Alternative Narrative” can be found with religion’s Desert Fathers and mystic poets, science’s maligned explorers and innovators, history’s conquered native peoples, philosophy’s marginalized thinkers, and with the numerous comic book heroes often based on real-life, counter-cultural people.

Reality & Truth

What I’ve found is there’s a difference between what is real, and what the truth is.  In other words, the reality we know is ever evolving based upon the level of truth we observe and understand.  The greater amount of the truth that is seen impacts and changes the reality we are experiencing.  Do you follow?

Think About It

You think you know who you are, and what your highest potential is.  But as you age and mature, you learn more about who you are, what your primary influences have been, how you’ve limited yourself in the past, and what fears are really irrational and unfounded.  Armed with these truths you evolve and become more than you kn2012-09-24-EyesSidewFearew you could be.  Sadly, most people live trapped in the past, a past constructed by partial storylines and haunting fears.

Reading books and watching movies that highlight the “alternative narrative” help to shake us, and jolt us out of the groove created by general misunderstandings, misrepresentations, and more.  This is why I like writing about pop culture, the paranormal, and the supernatural.  Characters and storylines that have an alternative “other-worldly” dimension allow us to rehearse deeper dimensions of what it means to be alive, as opposed to actually “being alive.”  We are also prompted to explore what our lives could be like… now, and in the approaching future.

For instance, consider the following:

Why Angels?

Angels help us explore the reality that something benevolent is out there beyond our five senses.  It is largely believed that this “secret society” of winged beings is battling unseen opposing forces, all for the sake of aiding humanity.  As far as movies go, we especially like the angel characters who fall for humans, and in a way become more human-like, yet still remain capable of helping us push back the dark forces that threaten us.

Why Zombies?

Zombies are the all-purpose metaphor for something that has gone terrifically wrong.  They help us play out consequences, and explore remedies both present and future.  What’s more, they are perfectly suited as a general satire for those who go through life always feeding, always consuming, but never finding fulfillment and never really living.  Know any zombies?

Why Ghosts?

Ghosts are the oldest paranormal characters in history.  Dating back centuries, stories abound of people working hard to appease the departed spirits so that they don’t return and torment the living.  However, ghost stories are mostly about us than they are the ghosts.  They are about the general fears humanity is haunted by.  Like Dickens’ Scrooge, hopefully we are motivated to not remain haunted, but to become the person we are supposed to be.

Why Vampires?

Vampires allow us to explore the limits of life and death, and the age-old question of what we would be willing to do in order to find peace and fulfillment.  They make us think about our appetites, desires, needs, and wants.  And often, in the case of the vampire’s lust for blood, what we think we want does not measure up to what we would have to do in order to obtain it.  Vampires suck the life out of the living in order to keep living.  Know any vampires?

Why the Paranormal?

Paranormal and supernatural stories help us understand more about ourselves in a way that we cannot do alone with limited human characters and storylines.  Yes, we need the normal, but… WE YEARN FOR THE EXTRA-NORMAL!  From this perspective, its obvious that the paranormal/supernatural will always be with us, as it always has been.  I think the ancients understood this better than we do today.  Certainly, the poet/prophet/creative types would agree with me on this point.  unnamed

The reality is, the alternative narrative is as close to us as our very own subconscious is, and it helps connect us to an ever-present reality that speaks directly to our hearts, and not just to our minds.  It’s this “other-worldly” narrative, which in general, has inspired all the great thinkers, inventors, mystics, prophets, and explorers to pull back the heavy curtains of accepted understanding TO REVEAL THE BEAUTY OF WHAT’S TRULY REAL.  And in turn, it has helped us face our fears, push the limits, and become more… SO MUCH MORE!

This is why I love writing about the paranormal and supernatural.

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Have You Talked To Your Angel Lately?

They didn’t sing?

Pope Benedict XVI startled the world a few years ago with his claims that angels never sang at Jesus’ birth.  His perceived anti-angel-caroling revelation, along with other claims of false nativity customs, quickly earned him the nickname “killjoy.”  He was really just trying to say that the angels spoke, rather than sang.

Recently, this past October, Pope Francis spoke candidly about angels. In his daily mass homily at the Vatican, Francis’ pro-angels message was perceived to be in stark contrast to his predecessor’s beliefs.  I don’t know if that’s really fair; you can decide for yourself:

“The doctrine of angels is not fantasist.  No, it’s reality… According to church tradition we all have an angel with us, who protects us and helps us understand things…  How often have we heard, ‘I should do this, I should not do this, that’s not right, be careful…’  So often!  It is the voice of our traveling companion.  [Ask yourself] How is my relationship with my guardian angel?  Do I listen to him?  Do I say good morning to him?  Do I ask him to watch over me when I sleep?  No one journeys alone and no one should think that they are alone.”


Currently, belief in guardian angels is widespread and traditionally accepted, but it wasn’t always the case.  Christianity was hundreds of years old before the initial idea surfaced.  Recently, I addressed the origins of this popular belief in my latest book.  The following is an excerpt from BEYOND THE RABBIT EARS:

The idea of “guardian angels” didn’t come about until the fourth-century. It was first popularized among European monks concerned about the morality of their new recruits. The brothers stressed, as a sign of moral success, worthy persons would receive their very own angel. This new guardian would teach and protect the monk, and assist him as he labored to meet the demands of monastic life. Martin Luther once wrote, when he was a monk his daily rations consisted of one pale of beer, one jug of wine, and a loaf of bread. It seems to me, this would have been enough to assist anyone with life’s daily demands—no angel assistance necessary.

As the belief in guardian angels grew in popularity and spread beyond the monastery walls, local parishioners began to complain that they wanted their own guardian angels too. The bishops, desiring to keep their congregations happy, assured congregants that everyone is born with their own guardian angel—no special monastic ascetics required. This didn’t go over very well with the monks who had given up every luxury, not to mention sex, for the sake of obtaining their own angelic life coach. They pushed back against the bishop’s new revelations with new revelations of their own. They claimed that even though you may have your own guardian angel, this doesn’t mean you automatically reap the benefits. For this, you must communicate with them! And of course, only the monks knew how to do just that. From their mystical teachings, various angel communication techniques have evolved through the centuries to include the following: angel cards, angel numbers, special prayers, medallions, herbs, candles, figurines and more. Hey, nowadays you can even get a daily email from your guardian angel!

Outside of Europe, some Egyptian bishops were addressing the drama by suggesting that the…


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What Are You Giving Life To?

In the past two weeks, I’ve been to the hospital three times… twice to congratulate parents with their new babies, and once to say goodbye to a dear friend.  Why do I share this with you?  Well… check out the following video, and you’ll understand…


What Are You Giving Life To?

“All of life is dependent upon something dying”


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Music video by Josh Garrels

“Child the time has come for you to go
You will never be alone
Every dream that you have been shown
Will be like living stone
Building you into a home
A shelter from the storm”

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FALLING UPWARD

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Dying Hard…

How will you die?  Peacefully?  Or, hard?

My recent conversation with author Fred Grewe hit close to home this past week.  I got a call late in the evening to go the hospital.  A dear friend of many years had just received difficult news from the doctor:  “Your time on earth is almost over, possibly ending at any moment.”

As I entered her room, she greeted me with the same grace she always had.  We talked.  She laughed and cried; I listened.  She wasn’t afraid of dying, but she was nervous about the possible pain.  The only request she had was not to live longer, but to pass quietly in her sleep.  We prayed together, hugged, and agreed to talk again the next day.

We never did.  She passed away peacefully in her sleep.


Listen as authors L.A. Emrich & Fred Grewe discuss who dies with the greatest difficulty:


BONUS AUDIO!

Is grace amazing or awful?


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WHAT THE DYING HAVE TAUGHT ME ABOUT LIVING

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Angels, Forgotten Junk?

Widespread Belief

Belief in angels is popular and widespread, although not universal.  Italians and Croatians fall in line with 77% of Americans who believe in the existence of angels.  However, Danes fall somewhere between 25-33%, and the English slightly higher at 36%, according to Gallup.

Why is this?

Some analysts feel the poll results roughly correspond with the general belief in God.  Americans, Italians, and Croatians overwhelmingly profess belief in God, while less than half of Danes and barely half of Brits do so.  Though not all who believe in God necessarily believe in angels, these facts add up to suggest we are looking at a cultural dividing line.  On the one side live those who are open to the spiritual; on the other live those who are not.  Survey data reveals the former are obviously more likely to believe in angels, and the latter clearly are not.

Junk in the Attic

Other analysts say that materialism, not religious belief, is the primary divide. In other words, they feel that materialistic, consumer-driven societies inoculate people against the spiritual.  Stephen Freeman, an Orthodox priest and popular blogger, often speaks of the two-story universe to explain things.  Since the Enlightenment we have a tendency to divide the spiritual and the material and separate them off into distinct domains.  By consigning the spiritual to the second story, in time we forget it’s there.  Like a box of forgotten junk in the attic, it has little bearing on our daily lives.  Angels become an afterthought in a two-story universe, if they’re ever considered at all.

Sadly, the spiritual and divine often get demoted to theoretical concepts rather than an active presence in our world.  Spiritual experience gets confined to an ever-shrinking area, and angels are the casualties, such as for the Danes and Brits.

Two Cities

St. Augustine famously envisioned the world split into two camps, one of light and the other of darkness, one of love and devotion to God and the other of pride and alienation from the Creator.  He termed these camps “the city of God” and “the city of the world.”

Note that there are just two cities in this scheme.  Augustine said that we should not “suppose four cities, two of angels and two of men.”  Rather, “we may speak of two cities, or communities, one consisting of the good, angels as well as men, and the other of the evil, men and angels.”

Angels, as Augustine and all the theologians of the early church recognized, share the world with us, whether we believe in them or not.  Maybe it’s time we took a look at what’s in the attic that we may have forgotten.


 If you liked this article, you’ll find L.A. Emrich’s chapter on guardian angels interesting in BEYOND THE RABBIT EARS.  Download a FREE SAMPLE to read more.


Also, check out Joel J. Miller’s LIFTED BY ANGELSThe Presence and Power of Our Heavenly Guides and Guardians

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Stories We Die With (BONUS AUDIO)

In their recent conversation, L.A. Emrich & Fred Grewe discuss life, death, and the stories we ultimately die with…


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BONUS AUDIO!

Do you often feel like an outsider, always searching for where you fit in and belong?  I think you’ll relate to Jake’s story, former rock drummer, as told by author Fred Grewe.

FYI:  Give it a few seconds to buffer.  Refresh the page if need be.  It’s worth it!


Read Jake’s story here:  PILGRIM’S PROGRESS

Like the music?  Check out Josh Garrels.

His vibe is delicious!


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Moment Of Death & NDE’s

Listen as authors L.A. Emrich & Fred Grewe chat about the moment of dying, what it physically feels like to be present as someone passes away, and NDE’s.


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With his writing, L.A. Emrich investigates the voice of pop culture as it intersects with spirituality, myth, and the paranormal.  As a hospice chaplain who has been bedside with over one thousand persons passing away, Fred Grewe writes about what the dying have taught him about living.  Want to know more?

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What The Dying Have Taught Me About Living

Beyond The Rabbit Ears


Did you like the music in the audio/video?  Check out indie artist Josh Garrels.  He’s based out of Portland, Oregon.
Your going to love his musical artistry!

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Photo:  Out of Body Experience by Marinshe

Angels When We Die?

This past weekend, I talked with FRED GREWE.  Fred and I have been close friends for many years.  Recently, our careers find us both busy writing and sharing from our life experiences.  I write about pop culture and the intersection between spirituality with the paranormal, BEYOND THE RABBIT EARS.  And Fred writes about matters of life and dying, WHAT THE DYING HAVE TAUGHT ME ABOUT LIVING.  These subjects fit well together, like hand in glove, as you will soon see.

As a hospice chaplain for the past nine years, Fred has been bedside as over one thousand people have passed away.  Listen as we discuss whether people become angels after death.  Do some become ghosts?  Why do the dying often see and talk with deceased loved ones?  Are they hallucinating?  What if one believes there’s nothing in the afterlife, what then?


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Audio Clips Coming ASAP!


Did you like the music?  CHECK OUT ARTIST JOSH GARRELS!  He is a Portland, Oregon-based musician that crafts songs exploring themes of compassion, hope, longing, and liberation. The founder of independent label Small Voice Records, Garrels has released six albums, including the critically acclaimed, fan-financed 2011 release Love & War & the Sea In Between.  His site offers lots of FREE DOWNLOADS.  Enjoy!

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Photo: Angel Cloud Formation

Boiling Hot Trust!

In my recent book, BEYOND THE RABBIT EARS, I write about various unexplainable phenomena while connecting the dots between the rising obsession with the paranormal within pop culture, television, and movies.  I also share a number of stories from my childhood and adult life that are related.  One personal story I didn’t share was how when I was young (6-9 yrs.) my parents would take me to visit my grandfather’s cousin Margaret May.  She lived with her aging sister in a large stately house known as the “Emrich house” located in the center of our small midwestern town (Casey, IL).

Margaret May was a lovely lady, known for being gracious, kind, and genuinely interested in others.  As a young kid, I was drawn to her gentle disposition, yet scared of her at the same time.  With each visit, she would greet us, and insist that we sit down in the great room while she prepared to serve us tea.  From my chair, I would watch her walk to the kitchen, open the cupboards, heat the water on the stove, place the china on a silver serving tray, and then walk out to wait on each one of us in our seats.

What’s so scary about that?  One thing I neglected to tell you is that she was blind.  It wasn’t her blindness that frightened me.  I was mesmerized by her ability to navigate and serve each one of us in our chairs.  For an elementary age child, this was completely unexplainable!  What scared me was the hot kettle of water she was pouring from!  I had been burned badly by boiling, hot water once while I was in the hospital undergoing surgery to regain my hearing.  But… she never spilled… ever!  Margaret May was brilliant, inside and out.


Recently, I talked with movie director Clint Ross concerning his new project, BLIND COURAGE.  This film features the true story of Bill Irwin, the first blind man to hike the Appalachian Trail (2,168 miles).  Listen as I (L.A. Emrich) talk with director Clint Ross about choosing Actor Bill Oberst Jr. to play the part of Bill Irwin in the concept trailer:

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Please visit the website BlindCourageTheMovie to see the concept trailer and learn how you can help get this movie completed.  YOUR HELP IS NEEDED!  Together, we can get this story told like never before.  I’m doing this for my grandfather’s cousin Margaret May.  If she were alive, I’d tell her how she inspired me to trust and believe anything is possible…

Download a FREE SAMPLE of BEYOND THE RABBIT EARS to learn more about my life and the many unexplainable things capturing the attention of our generation!


Listen to the previous conversation between author L.A. Emrich & director Clint Ross:  IT’S LIGHTS OUT!
Be watching for more audio coming soon!

Curious to see raw footage of Bill Irwin hiking the Appalachian Trail with his seeing eye dog Orient?