Unprofitable near-death experiences

The New York Times reported that on Easter Sunday 2011, the number one book on Amazon.com’s Religion and Spirituality best-seller list was Heaven Is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back, an account of a four-year-old’s near-death experience as dictated to his pastor father.

It turns out that near-death stories are reliable sellers. There’s another book about a child’s return from paradise, The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven, just a little further down the Amazon rankings.

In fact, Amazon has a list of books that deal with near-death experiences.

For a moment, I felt a little left out. Having survived two legitimate near-death experiences (death #1 and death #2) and one that most people would characterize as close enough, I wondered if I had let an opportunity go by the wayside.

Maybe I should write a book about my experiences. After all, I’m a two-time survivor with a warm-up story to boot.

This has to be better than the unreliable ramblings of a four-year old. Right?

Then I recalled something that a former student said to me recently. Having read an online interview with me and done some research into my life, he asked, “You really had to be brought back from the dead twice?”

“Yeah. Bee sting and car accident.”

“We’re talking CPR, mouth-to-mouth… everything?” he asked.

“Afraid so.”

Then he paused for a moment, as if mustering the courage to ask the next question. Finally, he said, “Did you see a white light or anything like that when you died?”


“No sign of Heaven? Or God? Not even a little bit of light.”

“Nope. Nothing.”

“Damn!” he shouted, throwing his hands in the air. “I knew it!”

“No, no,” I said, suddenly realizing what I had done. While I am not a believer, I don’t want to spoil the belief of others on a whim. I'm a reluctant atheist. I'd like to believe. “That doesn’t mean there isn’t a Heaven,” I added. “Maybe I just wasn’t dead long enough.”

“Naw,” he said, resignation filling his voice. “I knew it all along.”

Perhaps I need to be slightly more inspirational and uplifting if I ever hope to profit from my near-death experiences.

Maybe add a little white light.