Living with the Dead

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[Entertainment Today, June 23, 2000]

To you, the Dead may be loved ones, relatives, friends.

To you, the Dead may be those who wronged you, and those you hope are charbroiling like chickens in Hell.

Whether a channeler of 10,000 year old men named Grak or cynical bastard, you can’t help but wonder what life would be like if you could receive messages from those who’ve passed from this realm. Would it be via a voice, a dream, waking symbology or, as in Woody Allen’s “Oedipus Wrecks” segment of the film New York Stories, your not-so-dearly departed mother berating you across the skies of Manhattan?

When I first saw medium John Edward on CNN’s Larry King Show, I could not turn away, as he took call after call, validating the Dead friends and lovers of callers with specific details and passing along messages of hope and joy.

Edward is a clairaudient primarily, using mostly what he hears to connect two planes of existence. In talking to him prior to a recent Learning Annex appearance, I found a decidedly non-New Age figure, wearing a Casper (the Friendly Ghost) tee shirt and jeans, and talking straight talk like anybody who lives in Queens.

He came into the work as a disbeliever when, at the age of 16, his grandmother had a reading with a medium who heard her long-dead grandfather picking out a tune on a mandolin, an instrument he in fact had taught himself to play. He assumed she was a mind-reader, until predictions she made that day started coming true.

Working with a group of mediums (media?) at the University of Arizona, Edward has found the emotional need of those who have lost others to impact the ability to give readings. He’s currently working on a TV show to air later this year on the Sci-Fi Channel, entitled Crossing Over. One of the subjects had waited thirty years to get a message from his father. In another instance, the producers asked Edward to do a reading on a person brought in and instead, he received information for a member of the crew standing off to the side.

Edward has been given the nickname “The Terrier” because of his tenacity working with audiences, even when they do not recognize the information he receives. Sometimes, he will hear a name from a person’s past and get the sounds right and the name wrong. Other times, he will have startling clarity. He connected with the one woman in the ballroom of five hundred people whose daughter had been murdered, confirmed it via details and relayed a healing message.

There is a religiosity to this work, when you turn and look at the impact made on those people, knowing they will never be the same, that something has been healed.

“Someone in this area lost someone who fell through the ice and drowned,” Edward says, pointing to a part of the crowd.

Sure enough, a young woman is brought to tears, confirming Edward’s assertion the friend was an Indian and died not of drowning but hypothermia.

Edward refuses to disbelieve what he hears, even when his subjects are unsure in the moment as to a certain significance. “I have a rock on my desk,” he explained, “and it has one word on it: ‘TRUST.’”

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