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What would have made Light and Death better?
If there were more real-life stories and a LOT less scientific talk.
Would you ever listen to anything by Michael Sabom again?
What character would you cut from Light and Death?
Any additional comments?
I had thought this was going to be a collection of NDE (Near Death Experience) stories, but what it turned out to be - in my opinion - was some stories sprinkled in with a very clinical possible explanation for NDE's. I kept listening thinking, hoping, it would get better, but it just didn't — for me. If you think you would enjoy a scientific commentary on the mysteries of the mind, body and/or soul, then you'll probably like this one. It just wasn't what I was looking for... Next time, I'll read the reviews more carefully.
6 of 8 people found this review helpful
People who buy this book are not likely to find favor with this review, but here it is… I actually only got this book because one reader, apparently seeking some religious tickling, complained that it was “too scientific…” Well, that was what I was looking for, a neurological examination of the near-death experience, and this one was by a doctor, so I decided to give it a try. What I got was a lot of theological circular reasoning, a doctor’s “study” of a handful of cardiac-arrested Christians from the religiously-literally minded and superstitious south (I know, I grew up there) who tended to see a long-haired, very Caucasian Jesus, in white robes, or, yes, blue t-shirts (it is getting more casual in heaven as well!)
What is not addressed is why Buddhists see Buddha on their death beds, Muslims see Mohammad, and African tribe members see the spirits that govern their belief systems. Also, Dr. Sabom fails to give us the reality of this phenomenon, namely, that the whole of it can be explained with neurology, brain science, and a dime’s worth of knowledge about the given society of a person who checks out for a minute or so and then lives to tell the tale of a dream that also involved some dim perception of things that were actually transpiring around him—think of how often you have dreamt that your mother was screaming at you to get out of bed, only to discover that it was your alarm clock blaring, and you get the idea. In fact, the near-death experience is simply your brain’s “shock absorber” system, a way of quieting your mind and body during trauma to prevent further damage through panic or thrashing about. In short, it transforms your dim perceptions of your near demise into a peaceful dream featuring your culture’s favorite religious character. “BUT I ACTUALLY SAW THE VISION WHILE I WAS DEAD!” No, you didn’t. You had the dream either before your heart stopped or after you were revived. Later, your left brain confabulated (see the work of Ramachandran and Sacks) the timing and many of the details of the dream to account for its seeming reality. “BUT I WAS OUT OF MY BODY FOR SO LONG!” No, you weren’t—in fact, you were not out of your body at all. Think of how many sleep dreams you have had that seemed to go on for hours, but, in fact, lasted only a few seconds—this phenomenon has been proven in sleep labs countless times. Also think of night terrors, the illusion of being paralyzed, or the "astral projection" dream, in which one seems to fly about, untethered by the corporeal form. “BUT IT CHANGED MY LIFE!” That doesn’t mean it was real. People change their lives for all kinds of reasons, both logical and not, because of real experiences and imagined ones.
For those still not convinced, I will relate the story of a southerner I knew as a boy who died on the operating table, came back from death, and gloriously announced to all that would listen that God was indeed white and that heaven was a racist paradise in which there were, just as he had suspected, no blacks, Mexicans, or jews. I await Dr. Sabom’s reaction to this “revelation.”
8 of 14 people found this review helpful