Thursday, June 18, 2015

More than a prayer of a chance

I chose this pic for my Skeptical Inquirer bio because I look, um, skeptical in it.
When I submitted my new essay, "Sympathy for the Devil-Believers," to Free Inquiry, it was a bit of an act of faith, so to speak. Though it's something of a sequel to the first essay they accepted, "Without a Prayer of a Chance," it might have been too soon for them to want to publish another essay written by me. But I decided to take a chance...and it payed off.

In fact, to be honest, I actually expected them to accept it. This is a new experience for me, coming from the fiction-writing world, with its constant stream of form rejections. I lived for the encouraging rejections. Sounds like an oxymoron, doesn't it?

But I don't think this is really an indication of my nonfiction writing brilliance. Though I do think my nonfiction benefits from my ability with fictional prose, I believe my success with the skeptic/humanist market--three for three!--has more to do with my understanding of secularists. I understand them because I'm one of them. As a fiction writer, not a journalist, I tend to write for myself. In this case, I'm in tune with the interest of this market because I'm not targeting it from the outside. I have sympathy for the non-believers, because I am one.

The lesson I take from this is that I need to continue writing for the skeptic and humanist market. Four for four, anyone?

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Coma Girl

Coma Girl

Not a miracle recovery, but a miracle of modern medicine

In 2013 I fell into a six-week coma and nearly died after I contracted legionella. The Legionnaire's disease was in turn triggered by immunosuppression caused by the prednisone I was taking for my rare autoimmune disease, dermatomyositis.

I suffered a series of strokes on both sides of my brain when the sepsis caused my blood pressure to plummet. I fell into a deep coma. My kidneys and lungs began to fail, as my body was began dying one organ at a time. My doctors told my loved ones to give up hope for my full recovery. They expected me to die, and even if I somehow lived, I would remain a vegetable or at best left so hopelessly brain-damaged that I would never be same. But unbeknownst to them, while they were shining lights in my eyes and shaking their heads, I was telling them in my coma-dream--my secular version of a near-death experience--to leave me alone because I was trying to get back to sleep. I was experiencing what is known as covert cognition, the subject of my Skeptical Inquirer article "Covert Cognition: My So-Called Near-Death Experience," which appeared in their July/August issue.

But it wasn't a miracle--despite what so many continue to believe--that I recovered so fully. I owe my life not to God, but the miracles of modern medicine, as well as the nature of the watershed-area brain damage I suffered, as I detailed in my article and in this blog.