In the last week I’ve been confronted with two accounts of near-death experiences. First, a friend handed me “Proof of Heaven,” written by one of his business acquaintances. It’s much better than its title, thank goodness. It’s the story of a highly regarded scientist, a Neurosurgeon, who ‘dies,’ and describes his NDE. The problem with the title is that it implies a scientific proof, therefore giving a doubter the upper hand from the beginning. Indeed that is how this work has been attacked (for example http://www.realitysandwich.com/when_proof_not_enough_eben_alexander While I was completely taken in by the author’s scientific methods and integrity, I’ve been reading enough criticism that I’m convinced that NDE experiences are hugely influenced by the teller’s worldview before the experience, particularly their spiritual beliefs. One of the compelling aspects of this particular book was that Alexander works so hard to keep his scientist’s objectivity. Eben Alexander is quite impressive in person—he made the rounds on all the talk shows I guess. Here’s one of the, which shows how he describes his experience without histrionics: http://current.com/shows/joy-behar/videos/dr-eben-alexander-i-have-proof-that-heaven-exists/
This weekend I attended Hawaiian Islands Ministries, a conference put on by a pastor we’ve known for many years, Dan Chun, that featured many great speakers including Don Piper, who was a Pastor who “died” for an hour and a half and wrote the book 90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Death & Life. His experience of heaven conforms to the folk theology of heaven (for example, pearly gates and streets of gold), which brings forth a considerably more theological criticism http://www.reclaimingthemind.org/blog/2007/08/a-near-death-experience-a-theological-evaluation-of-don-pipers-90-minutes-in-heaven/
I sat down with Don and his wife at lunch and was charmed by his authentic down-home sense of awe.
Both of these books have been wildly successful commercially; Don talked of selling three million books all over the world, and Eben’s book has sold even more widely. No wonder the list of NDE books on Amazon goes on for ten pages.
Causes Kevin Arnold Supports
Poetry Center San Jose -- President