Tuesday, January 1, 2013


So I bought a Nexus 7 for myself.  Some Christmas presents are like that.  I'm digging it.  A lot.  It does everything my phone does (the apps, internet stuff), just on a bigger screen that still easily fits into my hand.  As I go through the process of downloading apps from my cloud, I decide to grab Kindle.  I hadn't bought any books to read on my phone, but thought I might on the N7.

I sat down a few days ago to explore the app.  Books are grouped by genre, bestsellers, etc.  Looking at the  list of bestselling books is always depressing ... thin gruel.  But I think I saw Proof of Heaven there.  It didn't register.  So I explored the Spirituality/Religious section.  Now the book registered.  From the short description I remembered a long article I read about the book when it was released.  

The guy had a near-death experience which he describes in some detail, but the book in more-than-equal part explores the medical side.  The author's a neurosurgeon.  His neocortex shut down from gram-negative bacterial meningitis.  Apparently, that's a bad thing.  The upshot is that without higher brain function, the things he experienced could not be the brain filling in some gaps with fun stuff whilst his body hung out in a coma.  He goes into sufficient detail on both events - his NDE and his intracoma physical condition - to rightfully claim that the NDE was just that ... a spiritual event.  I'm just finishing To Heaven and Back which describes a similar course of events (and also written by a doc), but is more an I-me-mine type of book.  The experience is good; the writing is annoying.  I wonder if she ever knew what it was like to be an adult with children and to fear being homeless, to wonder about the next day's meals, to fear as cars drove by because the next one might be the utility guy to shut off services.  "We vacationed [insert semi-exotic place here]" got real old real fast, yet continued through to the almost end (I'm at about page 200 of 232 (or so in the Kindle edition).  Regardless, it's an informative read.

I've never doubted - in a deep way - the existence of God, the role of Jesus, angels, Heaven, and all that.  I accept Christ in my life without reservation.  I've certainly acted out against what my beliefs were, but that's the folly of poorly exercised free will.  I always return home.  The challenge, of course, is not to leave home in the first place!  Anyway ...

NDEs have always interested me.  Never doubting the existence of life after death, these glimpses are fascinating to me.  I don't think they have much to do with me ... let me explain.  I don't think Heaven is a one-size-fits all place.  It may be.  Obviously I can't know.  But it seems to me that Heaven will be as much an individual as a collective experience.  To the extent that there is an individual aspect, then that's not the same from person to person.  Yeah, soft words without any backup.  Too funny.  Get your own blog.

To Heaven and Back states quite clearly that we all existed in Heaven before we came here.  It uses the words "opportunity" and "privilege" to come to Earth.  I'm OK with this claim, but it's not my previous understanding.  I find it perfectly reasonable that God creates us in our entirety in the womb.  But her related claim sits more uncomfortably - that we (while still in Heaven) have a say in the design of our upcoming life.  That troubles me.  Where's all the "it's for man to live once, die once, and then be judged" stuff?  If Hell is a real possibility for those that do not accept Christ, then why would any already-in-Heaven entity opt to come to Earth?  And then design a life where they're born in a some rancid place like North Korea or Michigan's Upper Peninsula?  Are they over-the-top risk takers?  Are they on God's Short List?  "Here's the deal," God says as he wags His finger at you.  "I've about had it with your antics.  This ain't no intergalactic kegger up here.  You can pass Go, not collect $200, and go straight to Hell ... or ... you can try to redeem yourself with a stint on Earth.  Your call, cowpoke."  That seems kinda harsh.  That would mean that we're all rejects of some sort.  Coal trash.  Ouch.  But accepting that He tosses in some angels for us to use as role models and accepting this pre-existence claim, then how do you get around the "reject" premise?

Overall, it's a tough subject.  Not quite sure what to make of it all.  It doesn't lessen or shaken in any manner my belief in God and His role in my life.  If anything, it broadens it, enriches it.

But it's confusing just the same.  Regardless of how well God has taken care of me, protected me, I've always been convinced that I'm coal trash, relegated to the breakers for 16 hours a day and utterly replaceable.  I found Proof of Heaven to be inspiring, uplifting.  To Heaven and Back just underscored the caste system.  Good story but depressing in its reminder that some of us are not as equal as others.

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