You might have noticed I’ve only posted twice over the last 18 months. Well, thrice if you include this one, I suppose. There’s a very interesting story that explains why.
In February 2021, as we were entering week 48 of “two weeks to stop the spread,” I was told the blood clots in my lungs needed to be removed ASAP. The procedure would be difficult but not especially dangerous. Oh, and for good measure, there were only two hospitals in the country capable of doing it. Temple University Hospital in Philadelphia, and UCSD in San Diego. We opted for Temple since flying cross-country during the pandemic was virtually impossible. Thus began 7 intense weeks of testing, doctors appointments, consultations, a couple of minor procedures to prepare for the actual surgery, and more tests.
Finally, the day for the actual surgery arrived. April 7, 2021, was the day my life changed. Due to the pandemic, my wife wasn’t allowed to come with me, but the doctors had assured me I would awake the following day and they would try to arrange a visit. I was apprehensive, my wife more so. But I needed the operation or I would be dead within the year, so I arrived ready for the surgery at 6AM that morning.
Only, I didn’t wake up the following day. Or the day after that. Or even the week after that. Instead, I slipped into a coma and didn’t wake up until June 26. I was awake for two days but then slipped back into a coma for another ten. I didn’t finally come about earnestly until July 7 – a full three months after the surgery.
Now, I obviously don’t know all that happened during that three months. Nobody even knows why I went into a coma.* But there are a few things I do know. While I was asleep, I suffered a series of trans-ischemic events (mini-strokes for the rest of us). I know at one point, the doctors were certain I was dead, only being kept alive by machines. My wife, knowing that wasn’t how I never wanted to live in that condition, made the heart-rending decision to terminate life support. I can’t imagine the emotional turmoil she was going through over those days. Only 3 years prior she had been tasked with making the same decision for her brother; he died within minutes. Now she was tasked with making the same decision for her husband.
Thankfully, I survived. They “pulled the plug” and expected me to expire. God had other plans – I just kept right on breathing. That brings up another thing I discovered about my time in my coma. When my wife announced on social media that she had to make an impossible decision, she asked for prayer. Boy, did you all respond! I have heard from literally hundreds of people, including a whole bunch of you I’ve never met, who told me they spent time pleading with the Almighty for Him to allow me to live.
I spent another 2 1/2 months in rehab. I had to learn to eat and talk. When I first awoke, it was as if I were paralyzed. I couldn’t even move my arms and legs. It was a difficult process that I again went almost alone. Almost, but not quite. Even though I was despondent and begging God to just let me die, he gave me the strength to push through. Finally, 25 weeks after going in for a difficult but not particularly dangerous procedure (except, you know, for the almost killing me part), I returned home. I still couldn’t walk, or even stand up. My left hand was virtually useless. I could barely grasp a spoon with my right. Even sitting up for a few hours exhausted me. But I WAS HOME. And alive.
The past 8 1/2 months have been difficult, to say the least. It is, I hope, understandable that I haven’t posted much recently. My rehab is going well. I can walk some – up to a half-mile, although it is slow and painful. The neurological damage from the strokes and, as we’ve since discovered, very poor care while in the coma forces me to wear a leg brace. It’s also badly disfigured my hands and wrists, so even common tasks like shaving and using a fork and knife have required many hours of therapy and experimentation. My speech is a little more slurred than it used to be unless I concentrate.
I’m not complaining, though. Quite the opposite. I’ve had people ask me how I can be actually happy with all the last 18 months have brought me. I think the answer should be obvious.
I AM ALIVE!
In His infinite wisdom, God has seen fit to give me another chance at life. I don’t know why. It may simply be to strengthen my faith. If that’s the case, He’s succeeded.
Anyway, I’ve mastered the two-fingered typing method. Sort of. I hope to be posting more frequently, although a daily post is probably out of the question. And a final thought: I noticed almost 1400 of you are still following this site, despite not very much content lately. I thank all of you. You are a big part of the reason I’m trying.
There are two other reasons I’m going to attempt returning to blogging. They are two fellow bloggers. First is Beauty Beyond Bones. She has gone through more than I, yet her faith remains strong and her voice, stronger. The other is Peter Venetoklis at Roots of Liberty, whose views don’t always align with mine but whose positions and arguments are always well thought out and reasoned. These people have inspired me to metaphorically pick up my quill and inkwell and get back in the game.
After all, we have a lot to discuss and I can’t wait to get the discussion started.
*My doctors think the coma was a result of systemic shock, but they aren’t sure. If you’re a long-time follower, you’re probably aware I’ve dealt with Crohn’s Disease for 30+ years. The doctors think the combination of being weakened from a few years of pulmonary hypertension and Crohn’s may have left me so weak that the coma was my body’s attempt at shielding me from the pain of the surgery.
I’m often asked by my irreligious friends how I, an otherwise intelligent and learned person, can also believe in the existence of God and also how I can possibly believe that Jesus Christ is both God’s Son and mankind’s salvation. I don’t take umbrage at the questions. After all, we’ve been taught – in school, in society and in the popular media – that the existence of God and the practice of logic and reason are mutually exclusive. This slow divorce of reason from the logic of God has been an element of neoliberal thought for well over 150 years. What was once an edgy, cool philosophical theorem primarily examined and debated on the most respected campuses made its way into the public consciousness by the beginning of the 20th century. By the 21st century, it was no longer cool or edgy – it had become accepted dogma, even among most of the religious, that logic and religion were non simpatico.
I was not immune to the modern doctrine. As I pursued my Baccalaureate degree in the sciences, it was only strengthened. Like most of us, I didn’t question the infallibility of idea that science and “mysticism” can not co-exist. And as I gravitated further towards the “rational” world, the religious world, the world of “mysticism,” became something not only to be ignored but shunned.
As Christians, we’re admonished to “take it on faith” that God exists and that despite our failings, he loves us enough to have sacrificed his own Son for our salvation. A powerful message, yes, but also pretty mystical as usually presented. This is largely because the majority of Christians fail to understand the actual meaning of faith. Yes, it is about belief (as explained by the apostle Paul, faith “is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” [Heb 11:1]) and when we begin talking about things we can’t see, that gets pretty mystical. But faith is not belief in the absence of evidence, nor is it belief in spite of contrary evidence. The New Testament is replete with stories of people who came to faith though knowledge and who used logic, reason and contemporaneous thinking to increase not only their faith but that of those around them. Perhaps the most famous of these is that of “Doubting Thomas,” who did not believe that the Christ had returned after his crucifixion.
I’ll leave out how my personal journey back to sanity and away from the secular commenced. Not because I don’t think it’s an interesting story, but simply for brevity’s sake. But 27 years ago when I began looking for the real meaning to life, rest assured I used every bit of the classic liberal education I received earlier to answer the question, “Is God real?” Not unlike Thomas, I wasn’t looking for absolute, irrefutable proof of His existence. Rather, I was searching for something that any reasonable person could look at as proving God lives.
The elegance of the answer is in its very simplicity. We can know God lives because every religious philosophy has, at it’s core, one tenet. In Christianity, we refer to it as the Golden Rule and it can be found in every religion, current and past, all over our planet. From the Brahmans to the Zoroastrians, EVERY religion espouses that the purest way to demonstrate their teachings is to love our fellow humans as we love ourselves.
Is this incontrovertible proof? Perhaps not. But consider this: over the thousands of years humans have walked the Earth, we’ve rarely found the capacity to agree on anything. We’ve fought, argued, warred over far less important topics. Yet, even in our ancient history, when scattered to the four corners with virtually no contact, our ancestors all came up with the same central religious philosophy? Perhaps someday, a statistician will run the numbers and give us the probability of that happening on its own. The odds, I imagine, will be astronomical. But with a spark of divine guidance, the odds suddenly become not astronomical but likely.
So, the proof God lives? It is as complex as quarrelsome nature and as simple as our belief that the highest goal is treating everyone with respect.