BOOK REVIEW – “Proof of Heaven: A Neurosurgon’s Journey into the Afterlife” by Eben Alexander, M.D. (Simon & Schuster, 2012)
By Tom Brown
At least two dozen books about the afterlife cram my bookshelf, but Dr. Alexander’s book, which I just found at a thrift store last week, is by far the most persuasive. He details the 7 days he spent in a coma with bacterial meningitis, which invaded his brain’s neocortex, an outer layer that controls most higher functions, like speech, memory and consciousness.
During this period, his family and friends held a vigil in his hospital room around the clock, with someone holding his hand at all times. Alexander had what he calls a very deep Near Death Experience, more intense than the fairly common NDEs that occur with cardiac arrest. He lays out the various images he saw or felt in this coma – some nightmarish (feeling buried in muck at earthworm level), others delightful (flying over hills and villages). I won’t give you the spoiler of his peak experience, except to tell you it was NOT the blinding white light found in other NDE testimonies.
The result was that Alexander, formerly a skeptic about an afterlife, became convinced it exists and is more than just a last-minute chemically-induced hallucination as we pass into death. He now is an ardent advocate of prayer and meditation and a co-founder of www.eternea.org, a web site about science and spirituality.
I have ordered a couple of copies of his book for our church library, in case you’d like to peruse it. I will caution you that his book is simply a testimony about an afterlife and unconditional love, not an argument that any particular religion is the one true faith. He says nothing about seeing Jesus (or Moses or Mohammad or Buddha), or his own deceased relatives. Nor does he discuss such theological doctrines as sin, hell, end-times, repentance, salvation, final judgment, free will, or accountability.
The book uses a lot of medical jargon about the brain, but it is explained clearly for the layman. Included is a reading list for dozens of other books about near-death experiences. An unexpected bonus for me was Alexander’s chapter about being an adoptee and how feelings of abandonment weighed him down for years before his biological relatives agreed to meet him.
FOOTNOTE: Dozens of additional reviews of the book -- some positive, others negative -- can be found at www.goodreads.com. If anyone is interested in meeting informally for a God Gab disucssion of the book, speak to Tom and we'll see if we can set up a date.