Reincarnation: Belief or Fact? How James Leiniger’s Christian Family Came to Accept Him As The Reincarnation of A World War II Fighter Pilot
Reincarnation is totally alien to a lot of Western folk yet there is a huge amount of evidence to support it, mainly from young children who remember extraordinary detail about their previous life. The case of James Leiniger is one that stands out and really gives us food for thought.
“When a child speaks of a past life memory, the effects ripple far. At the center is the child, who is directly healed and changed. The parents standing close by are rocked by the truth of the experience – a truth powerful enough to dislodge deeply entrenched beliefs. For observers removed from the actual event – even those just reading about it – reports of a child’s past life memory can jostle the soul toward new understanding. Children’s past life memories have the power to change lives.” Carol Bowman, author of Children’s Past Lives
For some people ‘reincarnation’ is an ingrained belief that they accept because of their religious upbringing, never stopping to investigate for themselves if reincarnation is ‘truth’ or ‘fiction’. Today’s Hindu, for example.
On the other hand, we have those whose religion supposedly denies, or fails to mention, reincarnation, such as today’s Christian, Jew and Moslem.
Yet the people of the Christian, Jewish and Islamic faiths may have an easier time accepting reincarnation if they recognise that teachings on reincarnation were once part of the doctrines of their own prophets!
Teachings regarding reincarnation in these major religions have been ignored and at times, purposely suppressed to keep the power where it is – in the hands of the priests and rulers.
St. Gregory, Bishop of Nyssa (257 – 332 A.D.), wrote, “every soul comes into this world strengthened by the victories or weakened by the defeats of its previous life,” yet reincarnation is glaringly absent in contemporary doctrine.
Looking back at history, Roman Emperor Justinian made arrangements for reincarnation to be removed from official Church doctrine in 553 A.D! If people believed they were coming back, then the church’s story about ‘going to hell’, and ‘eternal damnation’ wouldn’t wash, would it?
As well as those whose religion does not allow them to believe in reincarnation, for whatever reason, we also have scientific materialists who insist that life after death and reincarnation cannot be ‘proved’ by reductionist scientific means and is thus not real. This is a bit like saying thoughts are not real, or that feelings don’t exist because we can’t directly measure them.
This position quietly ignores the inconvenient empirical data of thousands of case studies of people who vividly remember being out of their bodies during a ‘near death experience‘ – some of them atheist! – and children from different countries and cultures who remember past lives despite the staunch opposing belief of their parents, culture and religion to the contrary.
One of the most famous cases is that of a little boy named James Leininger, who remembered dying as a fighter aircraft pilot in World War II.
His story came to light through four years of research conducted by his parents, Bruce and Andrea.
For Jame’s father Bruce in particular, this involved a great personal struggle because the proposition that his son is the reincarnation of James Huston, Jr. directly conflicted with his very strong Christian beliefs. Indeed, one of the most fascinating aspects of the story is Bruce’s conversation from evangelical Christian to one who has accepted reincarnation as a living reality.
James Leininger was born on April 10, 1998 to Bruce and Andrea whilst they were living in the San Francisco Bay area. Shortly afterward, Bruce was offered a job in Lafayette, Louisiana, and the family moved.
James started experiencing recurrent and vivid nightmares of dying in a plane crash just after his second birthday, frequently screaming, ‘Airplane crash! Plane on fire! Little man can’t get out!’
His mother Andrea saw James struggling, lying on his back, ‘kicking and clawing on the covers, like he was trying to kick his way out of a coffin.’
The same nightmare kept recurring four to five times a week!
When Andrea asked who the little man in the plane was, James replied, ‘me’. When Bruce asked who shot his plane down, James stated, ‘The Japanese’.
When he was asked how he knew that it was the Japanese, he replied, ‘The big red sun’.
Bruce and Andrea were impressed but they also knew he could not have known this information through his immediate environment.
James also had an obsession with airplanes, particularly WWII aircraft with propellers. His parents noticed that he would crash his toy planes into the coffee table, knocking off the propellers. In his car seat, Jame would put on imaginary headphones and face-mask, as if he was preparing to fly. James even created a simulated cockpit in one of his family’s closets!
He also demonstrated unusual technical knowledge about airplanes.
For example, when Andrea gave James a toy plane with what looked like a bomb under it, James looked at it and said, ‘That’s not a bomb Mommy, that’s a dwop tank.” James was referring to a fuel tank that is attached to the underside of a plane, which is ejected or dropped off when the fuel is spent.
His parents began to wonder, how on earth did this two year old know what a drop tank was? He didn’t learn this from television programs the family watched or books they read. How did he know about the Japanese and their emblem of the rising sun? It was beyond anything they could logically explain.
It was Andrea’s mother, Bobbi, who first suggested that James’s nightmares could stem from a past lifetime. Bobbi told Bruce and Andrea about Carol Bowman, author of “Children’s Past Lives”, whom Leiningers then contacted given that Ms. Bowman was an expert on a child phenomenon that was similar to what James was experiencing.
Carol gave invaluable advice on how to handle James’s nightmares. Carol related that it was vitally important to listen to James in a supportive way and to keep reassuring him that he was safe NOW. As a result, Andrea says, the nightmares decreased drastically.
“When we are dreaming, our conscious minds are not filtering material as when we are in a waking state, so unconscious material, including past life memories, emerge. It is not uncommon for young children to dream of their previous lives. We tend to notice the nightmares, because they disturb the sleep and are often dramatic, realistic stories, as in James’ case. They are often recurring, as the child relives the same dramatic events over and over. On some level, they are seeking resolution to these disturbing memories. When Andrea acknowledged what James was remembering in his dreams – his plane crashing – it helped him move through the trauma.” Carol Bowman
Over time, James revealed that the man in his nightmares was also named James, that he flew a plane called a Corsair, that the plane took off from a boat and that the boat’s name was ‘Natoma’.
He knew incredibly precise details of the Corsair, saying it would veer to left on takeoff and that it had the tendency to blow tires upon landing. In addition, James knew that US fliers gave Japanese bombers girl names and Japanese fighters boy names.
All of the persona and historic information given by James was later verified as accurate as Bruce and Andrea continued to meticulously research the details they were given by their son.
When his parents took him to the Lone Star Flight Museum, they were surprised to see little James walking around a Corsair, conducting a flight check like a pilot normally does before boarding his aircraft. Andrea mused that her son was not even potty trained but he knew details of WWII and aircraft of that area!
James recognised his previous friends at a Natoma Bay memorial, recognising and naming some of them on sight. He also knew many details of James Huston’s life, all of which were verified by Anne Huston, his surviving sister:
- James told Anne that he called her Annie. Anne confirmed that only James Huston called her Annie.
- James told Anne that they had a sister named Ruth, which was correct.
- James said Ruth was four years older than Anne and that Anne was four years older than James, which was correct.
- James reported that their father was an alcoholic and smashed things when drunk, and that he had to go into rehab for alcoholism. Anne corroborated this.
Even a resolute skeptic would have to admit that such specific memories cannot be coincidental.
Given the incredible facts of the case, Anne has accepted James Leininger as the reincarnation of her brother, James Huston Jr.
“I don’t have an answer for this, so I can’t explain it either,” Bruce said. “Through it all, there has to be an element of faith. There could still be the coincidence of dreaming this all up, but there are odd factors you have to calculate. Lightning can strike once, but when it strikes eight or nine times, you can’t say it’s a coincidence.”
James continues to recall his past life memories, even today.
Bowman says children usually lose their abilities to remember past life memories by the age of 7, especially if they are not allowed to talk about them.
Watch the preview of the video “Soul Survivor”