Thursday, December 17, 2015

Because the Bible Tells Me So


The Secular SpectrumBecause the Bible Tells Me So

Some kids feel anxious about their first day in junior high; others are excited. I was a little of both. I had the usual worries about finding new friends, the new teachers, the schoolwork, etc., but I was also eager to be able to stop praying before lunch. I was sure once I left my elementary school, the praying would stop.

This was a major source of anxiety for me as a secular child. I was picked on and/or beaten up on a daily basis, so I couldn't afford for the other kids to know that I wasn't really reciting the words to our lunchtime prayer. So, I mouthed the words, sneaking glances to see if anyone seemed to notice that no sound was coming from my lips. Fortunately, I was never found out.

But in my new junior high homeroom, I chose a desk, put down my book bag, and as I settled into the chair, the teacher asked who wanted to read their favorite passage from the bible.

My heart sank.

I sunk down in the chair and tried to remain invisible. Another girl raised her hand. After the teacher handed her the bible, the girl read. I heaved a sigh of relief.

The same scene repeated every school day until my mother and I moved to LA.

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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.