Tuesday, June 27, 2006
The most effective aspect of Mina Nevisa’s Miracle of Miracles (Long Wood Communications, USA, 2004) is the personal voice of a woman who stood against the forceful captivity of thinking foisted by fundamentalist Muslims. All the pains, this devout Christian woman details, stood in her path of freedom from the reckless talons of Islamic laws hunting for the religious converts in Iran. Mina’s escape is indeed a living miracle that sends shivers through the hearts of many who do not yet know what it means to shun Islam in a fundamentalist Muslim country.
In her quest for freedom of thought and belief, Mina lost her friends to death by torture at the hands of Islamic authorities; her family to shackles of prejudiced hatred, and her first ever child to death before birth. It was a Pyrrhic victory for her, but her faith in Christ redeemed her from the dread of slavishly following something she did not choose. Miracle of Miracles is a touching account of her persistence in pursuit of what she believes the true path of salvation.
Mina’s account of her experiences is followed by an addendum at the end of the book that criticizes sharply the logical flaws of Islam’s basic teachings and tenets. She exposes the darkness incumbent on the developed world by the arrogant ideologies of Islamic fundamentalists and justifies her claims by instances from history.
Two features of the book pose a challenge to the reader’s faculty of reason. First, the account of several miracles that touched Mina’s life and those of her friends, family, and acquaintances, appear either contrived or just another interpretation of reality. For a nonbeliever, this certainly is a serious drawback of Mina’s work. Then there is the last part of the book, which acts counter to the whole mode of reading the author’s realistic account of Islamic barbarism. Mina directly addresses the readers urging on them to convert to Christian faith. Not only does this sound too preachy and unwanted in a book of mature discussion but also tames the bright image of the author’s personality. Perhaps, Mina could not subdue her emotions while thinking of ways to let people out of the claws of fundamentalist Muslims.
Touch of Christ Ministries: http://touchofchrist.net/
Sunday, June 18, 2006
‘Stand tall-think tall’ was the advice of Allan Lohaus’s physical therapist, as Dr. Lohuas was wanting in spirit while having just caught the road to convalescence. Earlier came in Dr. Lohuas’s life course a painful period of intestinal surgeries and dependency on medical aid. As he came out of the nearly helpless anguish, memories of pain and distress became the subject matter of his short book May Day! A Physician as Patient (Synergy Books, Texas, 2006).
Allan Lohuas himself was moved by the agony of his mother, a cancer patient, and he decided to become a doctor. Becoming a gynecologist was sparked by his observation of mothers losing their lives to death in the process of creation. ‘Salvaging infant life’ was the spirit behind the choice. All went well till his late adolescence when abdominal pain struck him. Later a boat accident reserved him a place in hospital for months demanding patience and endurance. No doubt, the doctor’s mettle was down as he witnessed his own decline.
The psychological scars, however, that came with Dr. Lohuas’s condition were deeper. A sudden reversal in social roles brings its shock. In Dr. Lohuas’s case, the shock was stronger since it threw him into a writhing thing looking for someone who he himself was supposed to be. Enduring the pangs of silently watching a doctor operate on you is the crux of Dr. Lohuas’s story. The stages of healing are always looking the patient’s way; only the latter must keep hope: with family, friends, and memories of the good old days.
Physical healing is not the only point in Mayday! As Dr. Lohuas finds during his illness, the spirit needs as much care as the diseased body. The doctor cum patient turned to prayer and feeling a superior being when his courage to cope with the pain started to yield. In the end, we read him drawing parallels between his regaining health and the Resurrection. It’s this walking out of a nearly dead state that makes our patient a voice of hope.
First-hand experience gives Dr. Lohuas’s voice a genuine sound and his autobiographical nonfiction story is moving and strengthening. The great thing is that the convalescent doctor regains his humor. We do hear him calling his stool a ‘bomb’.
Tuesday, June 13, 2006
When a Muslim scholar Ahmed Deedat claimed before the audience in Birmingham Hall, England, that Jesus promised his followers the coming of his successor, Muhammad, it was Dr. Anis A. Shorrosh who challenged Mr. Deedat to a debate on the divinity of Jesus. Two debates then ensued between the two religious scholars. The second, centered on the topic ‘Is Jesus God?’ resulted in a setback to the Muslim veteran. Dr. Shorrosh’s book Islam Revealed: A Christian Arab’s View of Islam (Thomas Nelson Inc, Tennesse, 1988) is inspired by this experience.
With a foreword by Dr. Adrian Rogers, Islam Revealed is divided into two main parts. The first part presents an overview of Islam as a religion, the life of Muhammad, Islamic convictions on Jesus and crucifixion, and the validity of Quran versus Bible. Dr. Shorrosh brings to light the turbulent life of Islam’s last prophet touching on his polygamy, alleged holy wars, literacy, and strategies adopted to expand his circle of influence. Startling secrets are revealed by the Christian Doctor of Ministries as he refers to some unspoken-of historical happenings. Comparing Muhammad’s life with that of Jesus, the author attempts to prove the divinity of the latter. Interesting connections are revealed between Quran and earlier Arabic texts; connections that challenge the divine claim to Islam’s most revered book.
The second part of the book presents the readers with main points from the arguments of both debaters and rebuttals of both sides. While both show logical slips in their arguments against refuting each other’s position, Dr. Shorrosh maintains his composure and a greater degree of reason against his Muslim contestant. Questions for thought about God, Jesus, and crucifixion add to the flavor of this interesting religious debate.
Islam Revealed carries endnotes, bibliography, and a glossary of Arabic terms with English meanings makes it easy for a Non-Arab to apprehend the points taken up in Dr. Shorrosh’s arguments.
Thursday, June 08, 2006
Mind-body interaction has long been the topic of arguments in philosophy and science. Psychosomatic approach to painful symptoms is well known among physicians and psychotherapists. Doctor Scott Brady has, for the first time, designed a six-week cure for chronic pain ascribed usually to physical causes but rooted in reality in a patient’s history of repressed negative emotions. He gives an account of it in his book Pian Free for Life: The 6-Week Cure for Chronic Pain--Without Surgery or Drugs (Center Street, New York, 2006), co-authored with William Proctor.
Dr. Brady coins the term Autonomic Overload Syndrome (AOS) to describe the symptoms of physical pain, insomnia, and skin conditions like psoriasis arising from repressed emotions like anger, guilt, shame, frustration, and fear. Physical manifestations of AOS are varied and have been frequently ascribed to herniated disks, fibromyalgia, and other bodily conditions. Dr. Brady relates them to emotional overload of the mind’s unconscious part and advises on how to keep pain away by following his mind-body-spirit healing program. The six-week program includes harnessing a disturbed unconscious by practices of relaxation and fathoming repression of the past, and providing an outlet for this mental monster to flee via techniques like depth journaling and biofeedback.
By describing pain-prone personality types and asking assessment questions, Dr. Brady helps his readers judge their own situation and vulnerability to AOS. His book is encouraging in that it boosts the pain-prone soul’s confidence by asserting the fact that conscious part of our mind is stronger than the unconscious. While this defies the Freudian psychoanalytic approach to illness, a new hope of healing without surgery and chemotherapy is sparkled through Dr. Brady’s research: pain is controllable by will and insight.
The book ends with Dr. Brady’s answers to questions arising in the minds of his readers. He recounts how he recovered from chronic pain by tending to the urges of his mind. Certainly, his work is a landmark in motivating pain-sufferers to step on the path of healing with greater confidence, courage, and independence.
Brady Institute Homepage: http://www.bradyinstitute.com/
Thursday, June 01, 2006
‘Sleeping on Potatoes is the metaphor for the bumpy and lumpy ride I had in my formative years,’ Dr. Carl Nomura explains in the preface to his debut publication Sleeping on Potatoes: A Lumpy Adventure from Manzanar to the Corporate Tower (Erasmus Books, Washington, 2003). Nomura then extends this metaphor into a vivified mosaic of his life’s experiences by bringing them to view through the eyes of a child and all the way up to a person with aspirations.
Starting informally with his mother Mizuko’s story, a Japanese woman who married Nomura’s father because ‘she heard that in America everyone was tall’, Dr. Nomura creates a series of true, non-fictional, real life stories that border on the line between short story and personal essay. Reliving in linguistic light the hardship of poverty, a heartless father, the humiliation of being forced to move into relocation centers during the Second World War, and the travails of disease and bereavement, Nomura throws his readers into a joyous shock with the amazing optimism of his attitude and his lively humor that arises spontaneously from the interaction of situation and language. One instance is from his school days: ‘we thought her name (Sister Perpetual) fitted her because she beat us perpetually’. Certainly not to overlook the fun of fishing and poker, and giving smoking up for good when an angry woman comes inches from your face and calls you a ‘polluting pig.’
Though a doctor of philosophy in Solid State Physics, and an important figure in the corporate world of technology, it is Nomura’s flair of seeing things as matter of course that lures one to appreciate his magnanimity. Not going a braggart, he opens a window to the philosophy of life-contentment, be it a doctorate in physics and excellence in management of small businesses, or using a bathroom 200 feet away from his bed in a trailer. Life is joy if you have your guts tuned to its frequency of vicissitudes.
Marking Sleeping on Potatoes as a book to amuse would be a reader’s pitfall. It is a book enormous in its scope, though not in its volume (250 pages). By no means is this the adventurous story of a single person, reflecting on his past. It is the story of many characters that endured and fought against social injustice and untoward circumstances-from women like Mizuko and Louise, to the sufferers in relocation centers, and the motherless litter of cats who were lucky enough to make it to Nomura’s house. His heart touching memories of Mox, the neighbor’s dog, harbor all the richness and beauty of life. Nomura traces the causes of discontent in marital life, discusses issues associated with terminal illness, and informs on linguistic and the cultural relativism of English and Japanese native speakers.
Now in his eighties, retired and coping with prostate cancer, Nomura’s lumpy ride has not come to a pause. It is bumping all along with new interest in learning and doing things and new ways of adding to the richness of his life. With his new wife, children and grandchildren, pets, garden, books, and the untamed freshness of mind, Dr. Carl Nomura lives as if he is immortal.
Book Overview: http://www.sleepingonpotatoes.com/