Tom Harpur (1929– ) Theologian, professor, journalist, and author of works on Survival After Death, Reincarnation, DREAMS, and other topics of interest to paranormal investigators.
Born in Scarborough, Ontario, Tom Harpur earned a classics degree at Wycliffe College (University of Toronto). From 1951–54, he studied theology and philosophy at Oriel College, Oxford, on a Rhodes Scholarship. In 1956 he graduated from Wycliffe College and was ordained as an Anglican priest. In 1964, he returned to the University of Toronto (Toronto School of Theology) as a professor of religion.
In 1967, Harpur began hosting an open-line radio show, Harpur’s Heaven and Hell, which covered a wide range of topics on religion and related issues. The show was popular, unorthodox, and controversial. Harpur expanded into opinion columns for the Toronto Star and commentary for the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation.
In 1971, he left Wycliffe College and became religion editor at the Star. In 1979, he resigned from the priesthood.
In 1983, Harpur left the newspaper for a year to promote his first book, Harpur’s Heaven and Hell, a collection of opinion pieces inspired by his radio show. In it, he indicated that he could no longer believe in the tenets of any given Christian denomination.
Harpur’s books have been bestsellers. His third book, For Christ’s Sake, was published in 1985. In 1991, Life after Death hit a particularly popular chord, covering survival after death, Reincarnation, Near-Death-Experiences, dreams, brain-mind functionality, the principles of world religions, and other relevant information. Harpur concludes that survival is not proven beyond doubt, but is supported by empirical evidence and sound rational thought.
Harpur appeared in the television series Life After Death, based on his book. He also hosted a 12-part series The Uncommon Touch. Harpur continues to contribute to newspapers and to appear on radio and TV shows.
- Harpur, Tom. Life after Death. Toronto: McClelland & Stewart, 1991.