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The writings of author, therapist, and priest Robert Warren Cromey.

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Location: San Francisco, California, United States

Monday, November 18, 2013


Proof of Heaven
A Neurosurgeon’s Journey into the Afterlife.
Eben Alexander, M.D.
Simon and Schuster Paperback, 2012

Spirituality is hot today. Conservative religions flourish. Huge numbers of people call themselves “spiritual but not religious.” Even atheists are gathering in “church like” groups. Some people attend main line churches. Yoga, meditation and Buddhism attract many.

Spiritual seekers have one thing in common.  Except for atheists, they seek a sense of transcendence, something beyond our scientific view of earthly matter.

Eben Alexander’s book seeks to provide scientific evidence for an afterlife, something that transcends physical death.

He contracted a disease that caused him to die. No brain waves could be detected. His body was completely stilled, little pulse or breathing. He had tubes in him to help his heart and lungs function.

However, when he awakened after seven days he reported vivid dreams, thought processes, decision-making and fantasies. He completely recovered from the dreadful illness. In Proof of Heaven, Alexander recounts in detail what he remembers of the time he was brain dead. The 193-page book details his scientific training as a physician, his medical education and years of neuro-scientific study so he could become a neurosurgeon. He brings that vast learning to his experience of being able to see and visualize things although all the machines measuring his brain waves indicated his brain was dead.

He says if my brain was dead, how can I have had these visions, pictures and conversations? “While his body lay in a coma, Alexander journeyed beyond this world and encountered an angelic being who guided him into the deepest level of super-physical existence. There he met and spoke with the Divine source of the universe itself.” He believes that “true health can only be achieved only when we realize God and the soul are real and that death is not the end of personal existence but only a transition.”

As a priest of the Episcopal Church I do have a sense of the transcendent. It is part of my experience in liturgy, prayer and in caring for the sick, the poor and seeking justice for all. That is the message of Jesus. In worship we draw near or are drawn near to the transcendent God.

I also respect those who speak with the dead, have extra-sensory experience and report spontaneous healings and miracles. While those are not experiences which I have had or even trust, I do believe there is something beyond our human knowing. In the words of the Burial Office of our Church, I have a “sure and certain hope of the resurrection of Jesus” and life after death. A sure and certain hope is the best I can come up with.

So who am I to say that Dr. Alexander’s witness is false, unreasonable or weird?
The book is a thoughtful and fresh look at the age-old questions of life after death, heaven, and the possibility of things transcendent.

Robert Warren Cromey,
San Francisco, CA


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