Monday, January 10, 2011
Tyndale House Review: 'Gray Matter' by David Levy, MD
A perfect blend of medical drama and spiritual insight, Gray Matter is a fascinating account of Dr. David Levy’s decision to begin asking his patients if he could pray for them before surgery. Some are thrilled. Some are skeptical. Some are hostile, and some are quite literally transformed by the request.
Each chapter focuses on a specific case, opening with a detailed description of the patient’s diagnosis and the procedure that will need to be performed, followed by the prayer “request.” From there, readers get to look over Dr. Levy’s shoulder as he performs the operation, and then we wait—right alongside Dr. Levy, the patients, and their families—to see the final results.
Dr. Levy’s musings on what successful and unsuccessful surgical results imply about God, faith, and the power of prayer are honest and insightful. As we watch him come to his ultimate conclusion that no matter what the results of the procedure are, “God is good,” we cannot help but be truly moved and inspired.
I had a hard time making up my mind about this book. Overall, I liked it. I think that David Levy is a courageous man for being willing to do what he has done - pray with his patients before and after procedures - but a few parts of the book really bothered me. I admit that it could just be my being overly sensitive and possibly over analyzing the authors words or attitude, but there were several parts where, while trying to 'prove' how humble he was, he instead came across as arrogant. He tried way too hard (and way too many times) to show that he, a highly trained neurosurgeon who is basically regarded as God by his patients, had to come down to their level and show them that he was just a man, and God was there for them. If he'd only written it once or twice in the book, I would've bought it and never thought twice about it, but I would guess that he mentions that same thought at least 6 times. It just felt disingenuous at times. Now, that being said, I don't feel at all that that was his intention, and I don't feel that he is arrogant or self serving - I believe that he really is a servant of God and truly had the best of intentions.
And now, onto the positive part - I just had to get that out of the way first. David Levy, I think, has had a pretty remarkable ride to the place that he's currently at in his life. He started out as a nonreligious Jew (one Christian parent, one Jewish parent - neither one religious - and of half Jewish ancestry), while in medical school he started attending Synagogue and socializing and identifying with the local Jewish population. But, something just didn't feel right. Later, after he was already a surgeon, he started attending a Christian church and he felt that he had finally found what had been missing in his life - Jesus.
Over the next several years Dr. Levy starts feeling strongly that he should be praying with his patients. He is, understandably, quite leery of doing this and very nervous as to how he - and his actions - would be perceived not only by his patients, but by the medical community as a whole. His reputation was something extremely important to him and he was quite fearful of the ramifications of doing something so frowned upon - bringing God into the hospital. However, one day he decides that he can put it off no longer. He had to do what God was asking him to do. Once he starts, amazing miracles start to take place - and the reader is allowed the opportunity to be a witness to it all.
This book really was amazing - even in spite of my reservations. I admire the courage that it must have taken for Dr. Levy to take that first step. He seems to understand that medicine is only one part of the equation; if we don't have God, nothing will be complete. I would recommend this book for anyone that enjoys inspiring Christian literature - especially anyone that works in the medical profession. I think this one's a winner.
Disclosure of Material Connection: I received this book free from the publisher, Tyndale House Publishers. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission’s 16 CFR, Part 255: “Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising.”