Who We Are and What We Do
Our expert teachers represent
a wide range of disciplines:
. Medical doctors, nurses, social workers, psychologists
. Hospice professionals, grief counselors, therapists
. Academic researchers and educators
. Progressive clergy, chaplains and religious scholars
. People who are reframing their religious perspectives
We are a think tank collaborative
with the following goals:
. Support for those recovering from religious abuse
. Explore the sacred without fear-based religious content
. Encourage dialog across the spiritual spectrum
. Break the bonds of spiritual orthodoxy and absolutism
. Contribute to research on religious trauma syndrome
A Message From Conference Founder, Dr. Terri Daniel
WHERE WE'VE BEEN
In 2009, with the help of a core group of counselors, educators, researchers and mystics, I created an annual event called The Afterlife Conference. Its purpose was to fill a gap in the field of death and bereavement studies, because at the time, the survival of consciousness beyond physical death wasn't adequately represented in traditional scientific or bereavement conferences.
Our first conference was produced in 2010, and it continued successfully for the next 11 years, attracting supporters from around the world and across professional disciplines. Our expert teachers included the best and the brightest in death studies, end-of-life care, near-death experience, after-death communication and bereavement, and we learned and grew together as a community.
WHERE WE'RE GOING
Over the years, in order to stay aligned with my emerging research interests, I expanded the conference content to include a wider range of topics and themes, including multi-cultural death traditions, ceremonial work, religious scholarship, clinical practice and the intersection of spirituality and psychology. The intention was to blur the boundaries between spiritual experience and scientific research, and between dualistic religious traditions and a spirituality of oneness. While still focused on increasing awareness of life beyond the physical body through a metaphysical approach to death and grief, the conference also provided a place where mystics and materialists, shamans and scientists could exchange ideas across an expanse that might otherwise divide them.
When we started out, we were riding a cultural wave of growing interest in death and the afterlife. Books on after-death communication, past-life regression and near-death experience were in huge demand, and "new age spirituality" had become a billion dollar industry. Most notably, a book called The Secret ushered in a package of “new consciousness’ doctrines that caught on like wildfire.
Key word: doctrines. And while not all doctrines are harmful, they are often accompanied by dogma… a set of principles established by an authority as the absolute truth about a practice or idea.
Over the years, through my work as an inter-spiritual clinical chaplain and educator, the more I engaged with people's varied religious perspectives -- from traditional believers and spiritual seekers to skeptical inquirers and atheists -- the more I encountered dogma and orthodoxy in all of those positions.
WHAT WE KNOW NOW
As the conference evolved and my research looked more deeply into social trends and spiritual health, I found myself in a new place, with a new message for an evolving audience. Responding to the rigidity and absolutism I’d seen across the spiritual spectrum -- from New Age ideologies and religious fundamentalism to radical atheism -- I am now issuing a new invitation to our community. For those who've been harmed by toxic doctrines from institutional religion, I support you in re-evaluating your inherited (or chosen) theologies. For those who’ve been wounded by harmful theologies and have thrown the baby out with the bathwater by rejecting all things metaphysical or supernatural, this is a space where you can consider the possibility that non-physical dimensions can exist without any religious context. For those who embrace a satisfying and supportive spiritual practice, we offer an opportunity for education that can enhance that practice.
So welcome to Afterlife Conference 2.0... The Conference on Death, Grief and Belief.
While I continue to believe that consciousness can exist beyond the physical body and that humans can interact with non-physical dimensions, I know that regardless of where we’ve been on our personal spiritual journeys, ingrained religious doctrines and cultural influences can inform the way we experience death, trauma, loss and grief. The mission of the new conference is to help people separate religious doctrine from mystical experience, and to support the religious deconstruction movement for those who are recovering from religious trauma.
I hope you will take a moment to read the description of toxic theology and religious trauma on this site, and also explore some of our many research resources. And I hope to see you at our next conference!
Dr. Terri Daniel, CT, ffgt
End-of-Life Educator, Inter-Religious Chaplaincy,
Bereavement and Trauma Support
Certified in Death, Dying and Bereavement, ADEC
Certified in Family-Focused Grief Therapy, The Portland Institute
EXPLORE - EDUCATE - EMPOWER
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