Thursday, December 23, 2010

Book review of Gray Matter by David Levy, MD

I received an advance reader, unedited copy of Gray Matter by David Levy from Tyndale House Publishers.  The rest of you will have to wait until March when it actually goes on sale. I feel sorry for you. That you have to wait so long, that is.

This book is a fascinating and well-written account of a neurosurgeon's spiritual journey from believing that he had to present himself as “god” to his patients to choosing to risk looking less than perfect or even weak to his patients and colleagues by asking each patient if he can pray for them before operating.

Levy honestly recounts the egotism involved in being a highly specialized surgeon.  Unlike most other surgesons, Levy reaches a point in his Christian walk where he admits the need to acknowledge God's personal involvement and power in every aspect of his life. His first challenge was breaking down his barriers of fear. The fear of exposing himself to others. He mentally lists all the reasons why he shouldn't or doesn't need to pray with patients. When he finally convicts himself (or God convicts him, I should say) that, in fact, he does need to pray for them he has to overcome the fear of asking them.

Through all my questions and doubts I felt an inner voice saying to me, 'If you are worried about being misunderstood, I can promise you that you will be. Jesus was. But you still need to do the right thing.'

Wow. Something we all need to remember. When he finally comes over the fear of asking his patients if he can pray for them, he finds that he doesn't want to pray in front of his colleagues. Eventually he knocks down these barriers to where he prays in front of nurses, technicians, and finally fellow doctors. It's not easy. The first response of others range from quizzical to shocked, uncomfortable silence.  Then, after the initial jolt, Levy is surprised at how many people react positively. Nurses request that he not pray without them. Technicians pray along while holding hands with each other, the patient, family members etc.. The doctors, well, the doctors for the most part tolerate it.

The biggest response is from the patients. Scared, angry, belligerent people who claimed not to believe in God lose their anxiety and receive peace. Many turn or return to God.

The next step Levy takes is when he realizes that some medical conditions are brought on by a person's inability to forgive others who have hurt them. So not only does Dr. Levy pray with these patients before surgery but walks them through steps of forgiveness afterward. Forgiveness for their own sins and the sins committed against them. The results are astounding and not just spiritual. He sees amazing physical transformations in many patients as they let go of the bitterness and anger against neglectful parents, abusive spouses and so on.

Levy allows the reader to connect with his world by recounting  many personal stories, including his own. His own testimony of starting out as an irreligious Jew to cultural Jew to Christian Jew is inspiring, not to mention his journey from anti-education mechanic to medical student to Neurosurgeon. His description of his patients and their personal trials and backgrounds shows a deep compassion and interest in each person he treats. Their stories draw you into their experience. Be sure to have tissues handy.

Some people may find his detailed description of aneurysms and his surgical procedures a little involved but I found them enthralling.

In conclusion, this book simply had everything for me. Medical science told on a layman's level, personal stories, the triumph of a godly man standing up for what he believes in, a step by step process of forgiving others (something that I needed and have already put into practice) and a powerful testimony of the power of God that is manifested through prayer.

Do I recommend this book? Absolutely.


Deb Nance at Readerbuzz said...

Lovely blog. I found my way here via the Literary Blog Hop. Love to have you stop by my blog.

I'm a new follower!

John and Deb Barker said...

Just one more reason to look forward to Spring. I anxiously await March so that I too can read Gray Matter! Merry Christmas! Debbie B.

Sharon Wilfong said...

You won't be disappointed. Merry Christmas!

Sharon Wilfong said...

To Readerbuzz: Thanks for visiting. I will definitely come visit.

laughwithusblog said...

Isn't it interesting how bitterness affects us physically? Merry Christmas! :)

Sharon Wilfong said...

That was one of the most fascination aspects of this book. A very Merry Christmas to you. Let me also add (since I was going to write this at your blog anyway) that I am really enjoying your charming stories of your life-especially your memories of high school and college.