I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
Where I End by Katherine Elizabeth Clark
Published by Moody Publishers on January 2nd 2018
Genres: Christian Life, Death, Grief, Bereavement, Inspirational, Religion, Spiritual Growth
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Where I End by Katherine Elizabeth Clark is an interesting, thought-provoking book that could trigger much discussion on the nature of miraculous healing. The author’s story is harrowing. A freak accident left her legs and arms paralyzed. She was told she would never walk again. However, despite the prognosis, a few months later she was walking. It was, she writes, a miraculous act of God: “I am a miracle.”
Where I Begin
I start with an observation that I believe is pertinent to how you might regard this book.
Where I End is a Christian book. The author is an evangelical Christian. She works in a Christian company. She writes in Christian language. The book is published by a publisher of Christian books. It is targeted at Christians. It’s liberally scattered with verses from the Bible. Many of these quotes are expounded in detail, even preached on.
None of the above is problematic in any way whatsoever. I merely remark that conclusions drawn by the author are based on the fact that she is living and writing from within this “Christian Bubble.”
Manifestation of the Divine
This is particularly relevant concerning the main claim made by Mrs. Clark; that she has been miraculously healed by God.
From within the Christian Bubble, Mrs. Clark presents a compelling case for divine healing. But maybe the value of this book is to look at events from outside this bubble. When doing so, certain questions arise that could lead to some excellent discussions in book clubs, although maybe not in Christian book clubs.
“You’ll never walk again”
The basis of the miracle stems from the fact that the surgeon who operated on Mrs. Clark’s spinal cord soon after the accident told her that she would never walk again. In other words, her eventual walking is a miracle because what she had been told would not happen, actually did.
But what if she had told something else by that surgeon? Or sought a second opinion? What if she had been told that the chance of walking was slim, but paraplegics do sometimes recover? Would she have considered her recovery a divine miracle? After all, spinalcord.com explains that “patients who do experience paralysis still have a remarkable chance [of recovery] that is improving with research every day.”
At this point it might be worth asking why the surgeon told Mrs. Clark she would never walk again? Was he avoiding a possible lawsuit if he suggested recovery which then didn’t take place? It’s not an impossible scenario. According to CBS News, almost one in five neurosurgeons (19.09%) risk being sued for malpractice each year. This is an incredible figure. If I had been Mrs. Clark’s neurosurgeon, I would have been very careful not to make any rash promises.
The thin red line
Another aspect – or point of discussion – is where the line between miraculous healing and medical care is drawn.
Mrs. Clark was the recipient of superb medical care throughout her ordeal. Instant emergency medical assistance was provided. She was very quickly diagnosed and operated on. She received all kinds of therapy: occupational, respiratory, physical, pool, psychological, recreational.
Moreover, she was supported by a loving husband and family, neighbors, friends, church members and even strangers. Fundraising was instigated to ensure she received the best possible care. And she demonstrated incredible courage and mental strength. Including great determination to get better.
Full or partial healing?
Another aspect – again, in the spirit not of criticism but of asking reasonable questions for open-minded discussion – concerns the nature of the recovery / supernatural healing.
I am delighted as anyone that Mrs. Clark is able to walk again. However, she herself fully admits that her recovery has not been total. “Every minute of every day is punctuated, capped with pain,” she says. She “still attends therapy in an ongoing effort to maintain health and physical functioning.” And she touches on the “residual aftermath” that she admits is too shameful to detail in a book.
Unfortunately, her parallels with the healings of Jesus (e.g. of the paralytic: “take up your bed and walk”) which suggest an instantaneous and full healing, only draw attention to her continuing struggles.
Where’s the independent corroboration?
Finally, in these days of Big Data recording every aspect of daily life, there is an absence in this book of any quantitative data on her recovery. There are no recovery statistics. No comparison of her recovery to the norms. No independent examination or corroboration of either the initial diagnosis, nor the subsequent recovery.
Where I End is an interesting and thought-provoking book. I congratulate Mrs. Clark for her ability and courage to recall and write about such a horrendously traumatic event in her life. I rejoice along with her and her family and friends for her recovery.
But I do think this book leaves a lot of questions unanswered and open to discussion.
Readers inside the Christian Bubble may not be interested to address them. For them, the description of a miraculous healing might encourage and strengthen their faith. If so, then the book has achieved one of its goals.
For those outside, I can see this leading to some very interesting questions and debates.
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