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Monday, July 1, 2013

Book Review of Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife

1. how much credibility does he have?
2. what kind of words does he use to convince the reader that there is proof of heaven
3.what rheotorical questions does he use?
4 how did the book affect you? were any previous ideas you had on the subject changed?, abandoned, or reinforced due to this book? how is the book related to your own experiences? what other books or movies came to mind as you read this one?

Book Review of Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon's Journey into the Afterlife
            Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife is story about the near death experience of the neurosurgeon and the author of the book Dr. Eben Alexander. Since its release in 2012, the book has become a #1 New York Times Best Seller list. Currently, the book has sold millions of copies both in the bookstores as well as online. 

           One of the most interesting aspects of the book is the background of the author. For many years, Alexander had dismissed the idea of God, heaven, let alone near death experience as he believed that everything is explainable by science and the wiring of the human brain. His professional career involves working as a neurosurgeon at Brigham and Women’s Hospital, Massachusetts General Hospital, and Lynchburg General Hospital-Central Health among many others. He is similarly a member of the American Medical Association as a former instructor at Harvard Medical School and Duke University Medical Center. With such training and background, it is understandable why he thinks that heaven is “unscientific” and therefore, completely “unfounded”.  But in 2008, Dr. Alexander has slipped into a deep coma after contracting a type of bacterial meningitis. It is in this context that he explained how his consciousness is entirely independent of brain activities. 

Although there have been thousands of accounts about near-death experience, it is interesting how a very scientific person such as the author is convinced that there is an after-life. At first glance it seems quiet odd for the words “heaven” and “neurosurgeon” to be together in one title. As one reads the book however, it becomes apparent how the author with all his sophisticated medical training has accepted that there is indeed heaven. His argument is sound primarily because he was in a deep coma in which his higher brain function is inactivated. This then means that his experience of heaven was something that even a man of rigorous academic and scientific background could not explain.

Apart from the author’s credibility, the book by itself is very amusing to read. Since it was written by a neurosurgeon, I have some pre-conceptions that the book would be difficult to read and therefore comprehend. Surprisingly, Alexander employed simple, direct, and honest words that allowed his story to connect to the reader on a personal level. Instead of some snobbish and highfaluting account, the author related his story as an individual rather as a neurosurgeon.

On many levels, I resonated with the book primarily because it is a story of faith rather than proof. Although the author possess a rich professional background which makes him a credible figure to the impossibility of brain activity, I felt that the book seemed to focus more on his close encounter with heaven rather than his attempt to prove that his claims are true. There were still many parts of the story which is questionable in terms of being “scientific” and yet, this did not stop him from telling his message of an unconditional and loving God. In fact, one of the best parts of the book was how he was reminded that we “are loved and cherished dearly forever” and that “there is nothing we can do wrong”. This sends out a reassuring message of an ever loving supreme being. More than this, I feel that the book speaks to its readers with its simplicity and honesty. It does not try to impress nor does it try to persuade. Rather, the book simply recounts a wonderful and mysterious experience which is unexplainable by science. And it is through this, that the reader slowly is transformed to a believer.

Proof of Heaven
Alexander, E.  Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife. NY: Simon &
Schuster, 2012

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