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230 of 251 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A Leap of Faith, December 27, 2011
This review is from: To Heaven and Back: The True Story of a Doctor's Extraordinary Walk with God (Paperback)
In our analytical, data driven world, we are lulled into the belief that we know it all, or at least we can research what we don't know. That eliminates the leap of faith it takes to take part in many of the most rewarding experiences in life. If we spent time analyzing all the possible problems associated with experiences like having and raising children, getting married, moving to a new town and starting a career, most of us would stay in bed. Mary Neal has shown us that there is so much in our world that we can't actually see, but must take a leap of faith and believe. Her story is told in such a way that we are drawn in and vicariously experience all that she went through. After finishing the book, it's impossible not to continue to mentally revisit her experiences, and notice all that is holy in our own lives. This book shows you that faith comes in many forms, and can be strengthened through our interactions with those in our lives. It is hard to put this book down once you start it.
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Showing 1-3 of 3 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 14, 2013 9:41:59 PM PDT
Here's my only criticism of all this: unless the person writing the account had a verifiable NDE with monitors that proved beyond all doubt that the person "expired" then how do we know that all these people writing "20 Minutes in Heaven", "10 Minutes in Heaven", "31 Minutes in Heaven", "As Many Minutes As You Want in Heaven", aren't sitting down at their word processor and cranking out a good imaginative crock of pure fiction? I could just as easily write my own account and title it "My Journey to Heaven". What's to stop me? What's to stop you? After considering this, are you all still ready to believe every tome that comes along in which the person claims to have had a trip to heaven, or hell for that matter?

In reply to an earlier post on Aug 20, 2013 12:16:17 PM PDT
Well, yeah, you have a point. But this is all about personal integrity. If I keep reading these reviews, I find people who know her and her husband. Frankly, if she wanted to expose herself to ridicule, all she would have had to do was invent a tale like that which you describe. However, there's too much on the table here: a tendency to proseletize (just a little bit) from her childhood days, a need to tell the world of God's grace, mercy, and goodness, a deep personal faith of which she's seen more personal evidence ... no, I don't disbelieve her at all. Her real name is in use, her reputation is at stake. I'm glad she shared her experience with us. The more I read about NDEs, the more I become convinced that I made the right choice in nourishing my very hungry faith. For I am a scientist too, and it's hard for me to explain to my colleagues what my faith means to me as they demand evidence. But faith is sometimes defined as a "belief in things unseen"; and you cannot have faith without that trust which some would classify as gullibility. All I have to sustain my faith is my faith itself, often reinforced by subjective, anectdotal 'evidence' that no scientist would accept as level A support.

Deep inside, I started this relationship with a personal God as a sort of twist on Pascal's wager; that if I chose to be a better person because of my faith, then both I and the world are better off, God or no. But should there really be a God (as some forty years later I've had reinforced again and again), then this investment is going to pay off. And to me, stories like Dr. Neal's are just further reinforcement. Perhaps man doesn't know much about the mind of God, perhaps what scriptures of all religions describe as heaven and God's order are merely best efforts at divining what is really there, who God really is, and what His interest is in us, the planet we live on, and the universe in general. I hope so. I would think that God has revealed himself to members of many different cultures down the ages, when religious laws were about the survival of society, and mythology about creation had a certain ring of truth to scholars of thousands of years ago. Who knows? The scientists still aren't settled on what creation was: certainly there is a currently large consensus for the "big bang" theory; but it's not the "big bang fact" yet. Of God and His order, all we can have is faith, of which there is little objective evidence.

So I need to be careful about those sources and anecdotes that I choose to trust -- it's all too easy, like you say, to invent a tale from whole cloth and see how it sells. But this one's a keeper, in terms of trust. I'm sure I wouldn't mind having her and her family as neighbors, they seem like good, contemplative, empathetic people. And the things she says have that aura of truth around them, at least as far as she perceives it. I'll have to trust her judgment and her word, since these things haven't happened to me yet.

So, no, Dr. Neal wasn't hooked up to brain or cardio monitors as she drowned in that Chilean river -- we know that, and your standard of proof is impossible. So now I challenge you to look inside yourself, to see where those "coincidences" in your life have certainly occurred and ask: "was that the hand of God? What would my life have been like without Him?" Only you can answer those.

I wish you peace.

In reply to an earlier post on Dec 5, 2013 9:16:42 AM PST
Just saw her on Anderson Cooper on tv. I think I am much like you: I have a skeptical mind, but have a strong faith. I don't discount the possibility that things may work differently than our current evidence shows. I have read some accounts of NDE's, and dismissed them as fiction. Some are very compelling. But--as you say--Dr. Neal seems very credible. I am currently reading her book.
I seem destined to walk that line between science and faith--and have no trouble maintaining my balance. There have been enough instances of "the hand of God" in my life, that I am willing to try to learn more, so that I can hopefully do well what I am here to accomplish.
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