By Dave O'Connor
LILY DALE - A full house and then some expressed delight and astonishment during Medium James Van Praagh's three hours on the Assembly Hall stage here Saturday.
VanPraagh began 35 minutes late because of long lines for parking and seating. He danced out on stage and told the crowd he was there "to change (their) perspective and perception."
Interviewed following his appearance, Van Praagh said he stresses specificity of communication between the departed and the living.
He began his messages with a name and physical description of the departed and asked those who recognized the information to stand. As he poured out information he would ask those who didn't recognize it to be seated. If, for example, he identified a grandfather and one of the folks standing said they recognized their father he would politely ask them to be seated. "I don't like close," he stated repeatedly.
Just one example of his detail occurred during a long and very personal session with a woman. He said he was made aware she had recently had car trouble. "Yes, I ...," she said before he quickly stopped her. "This was Thursday," he said. "No Tuesday," she responded. Van Praagh then said he was aware her first appointment was canceled by the mechanic and a second appointment was made. "Yes," again. He then described the nature of the repair and the parts involved.
Many of the sessions were very poignant and brought tears from the recipient of the information and "oohs" and "ahs" from the more than 800 in the hall. Information from the spirit world according to Van Praagh is "like feathers on the wind."
These messages, he claimed, are not in language, but are thoughts and feelings. Animals "think" in this way combining images with emotions, he said, and thus many humans regard their pets as intuitive.
Most human beings drag guilt with them either consciously or buried, and this must be dealt with either here or hereafter, Van Praagh said. Judgment at death will, he said, mean a detailed review of the immediate past life and facing those we harmed, cheated and otherwise hurt.
He repeatedly stressed love. "Love is the closest we come to the truth of existence," according to Van Praagh.
During his interview, Van Praagh said he was aware of the spirit world from the time he was a little boy and thought it was a common and shared experience. He explained he decided to devote himself to Spiritualism when in about 1983 while working for Paramount Pictures he perceived a person on a set whom he said was deceased.
"It was a test of faith, a calling," he said about his decision to quit Paramount and enter Spiritualist ministry full time.
He has prospered doing so. He became well known in the early 1990s on NBC's "The Other Side," he has written several New York Time's No. 1 best-selling books, including "Ghosts Among Us" and "Healing Grief." Most recently he was executive co-producer of "Ghost Whisper" a top offering from CBS for five seasons.
"This life is our school room; we come here to grow," was part of the noted medium's concluding remarks.