This is my personal blog, on which I talk about a variety of topics purely as they catch my fancy. Some topics are serious, others whimsical. I love comments and questions so don't be shy, just courteous, even if you don't agree with me. I have another blog, The Story Template, on which I post writing-related topics on Tuesdays and Fridays.

Let's see, a bit about me... I'm married with two children, and spend much time taking care of our family. In my life BC (before children) I was a scientist who did bench research. I am a Christian who came to faith under protest through studying the historic circumstances surrounding the death of Jesus. I've written one novel, A Lever Long Enough, that I'm honored to say has won two awards. I also have written a nonfiction book, The Story Template: Conquer Writer's Block Using the Universal Structure of Story. This book is a programmed learner-type book that helps you, the writer, develop a complete compelling story (novel or screenplay) from a vague idea.

YOU CAN CONTACT ME at amydeardon at yahoo dot com.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Book Review: The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven

I started this book with unease, knowing I'd be reading about a young boy who becomes (and remains) a quadriplegic. And it IS sad, although suffused with hope.

The first-person story is told through the father's (Kevin's) eyes, with small sections throughout from other viewpoints, mostly the boy's (Alex). Kevin describes a horrific car accident and subsequent events as his 6-year-old son is airlifted with a C1-C2 neck injury to a tertiary care unit. Alex is at first not expected to live, but continues to make good recovery. Seven years later he lives at home, uses a self-guided powered wheelchair, had an implant to stimulate nerves that allows him to breathe independently through a tracheostomy (although some pictures show him with a respirator), and has a straight spine from surgery.

Most remarkably, two months after the accident when he woke from his coma Alex explained that he had been in heaven, and he continues to visit for short periods mainly when he is asleep. He also sees angels and occasionally demons. Alex describes spiritual matters that are consistent with a Biblical viewpoint. There are no sightings of or references to Mary, ruling out a strictly Catholic interpretation.

Kevin's book is written in a non-sensational and hopeful manner; it is simply Alex's remarkable descriptions that are difficult to accept. Skeptic that I am, yet Christian that I am, I enjoy pondering these "experiential" type books.

The book opens with the thought: "We were made for so much more than the things of this world." The tone of it is upbeat and positive. The book contains an x-ray with a C1 vertebra pushed up at a 45 degree angle. I'm not a physician but know enough to understand that this doesn't look compatible with life. The fact that Alex didn't require surgical neck stabilization and now lives in a stable condition at home seven years later is astonishing.

If these things that Alex describes are indeed true, then his descriptions of heaven and angels are what I might expect, or at least what I could accept. Based on the book's narrative Alex seems to demonstrate consistency of description over time without embroidery, and exhibits a hopeful character that focuses on God in heaven and not on his limitations on earth.

The negative, of course, argued either through a scientific or theological perspective, is that these could be fantasies. Scientifically none of these things can be proven, and many scientists don't believe in a soul or anything beyond this world (although I do, profoundly). Theologically speaking, strict Calvinists believe that revelation is CLOSED (Sola Scriptura) and therefore, a priori, these stories can't be true. The question along this line then becomes, would Alex's statements be considered "revelation" or simply description. I'm not a theologian, and so I continue to ponder this issue.

The author has nothing to prove to me, of course. He and his family are living through a wrenching continuing situation, and he describes profound things. These things may very well be true; we understand so little of the ways of God. I found this book uplifting and provocative, with an emphasis that we must focus on God and the eternal, not on self. I read this in two sittings, faster than my normal pace. It is beautiful and moving.

Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher through the Tyndale Blog Network book review bloggers program. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

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