Sunday, January 18, 2015
My Sunday Feeling
It is a remarkable thing that Alex Malarkey survived the car crash that occurred when he was 6 years old. Indeed, the crash was so horrific that the responders called for the coroner to come to the scene. You note that I didn't use the word "lucky" to describe young Alex as the accident rendered him a quadriplegic. I know other kids left in a similar state after accidents. I wouldn't describe them as "lucky" either. Beloved, brave and inspirational maybe. But "lucky" never.
As you might think, boy's condition was grave after extraction from the vehicle. Indeed, he lapsed into a coma that lasted two months. And when he woke up, he allegedly claimed that he had gone to Heaven and that he had communed with angels and met Jesus. He and his father Kevin, who holds himself out as a "christian therapist," wrote a book about Alex's claimed experiences called "The boy who came back from heaven" which was touted by Tyndale Publishing company as "a true story." It became a #1 best seller in the category of inspirational books. It got a 4.2 rating on Amazon.
Except it wasn't true.
Earlier last week Alex-now 16 or 17 by my math-recanted the testimony about his cameo appearance in the Hereafter. In a letter to Christian bookstores posted to the "Pulpit and Pen" website, he plainly stated "I did not die. I did not go to Heaven." Tyndale issued a statement in which it said it was "saddened" by this turn of events (I'll just bet) and that they were taking the book out of print.
Alex's parents are divorced. Last April Gwen Malarkey posted on her blog that Alex's objections to the continued sale of the book had been "ignored and repressed." She also stated that Alex had not received any money from and that his medical needs-which must be staggering- had not been funded by it.
According to the Huffington Post, Kevin Malarkey, with whom Tyndal contracted to reduce Alex's story, or at least Kevin's version of it, to writing, has not commented on his son's recantation and neither his blog nor his Facebook page have recent posts.
I am painfully aware that my profession is widely reviled in polite society. But we are useful at times. And Tyndale would have been well-served if it had run the manuscript past a lawyer before publishing it.
If Tyndale had brought it to me my first red flag would have been their idea to pedal Alex's testimony as a "true story." Because, not to put too fine a point on it, in the first place,Alex didn't die. He may have been near death while in a coma. But he didn't die. Indeed, Alex has recently made the self-evident, if lugubrious claim, that he neither checked out nor visited the Far Shore after doing so.
"I did not die," he stated. Of course he didn't. And this would be, and I can't believe my sudden compulsion to type these words-the generally accepted condition precedent to joining the Choir Invisible.
Look, I'm not busting the kid out. He was 6 at the time he was in the coma. Who knows what a child under such dreadful circumstances and full of all kinds of medication is going to believe he thought he saw in such a state? I used to see ghosts when I was that age. My claims of contact with the restless departed were met with skepticism and outright occasional annoyance by my father who usually would patiently explain that "there are no such things as ghosts." Other times the explanation consisted of "Get back in bed."
But the literature of "near death experiences" or "NDEs" is a popular genre with all kinds of otherwise unreliable informants leaving us here on this vale of tears only to return to relate their unprovable tales in exchange for a fat paycheck.. Even Mitch Albom, who occasionally writes about sports when he is not cranking out "inspirational" and exceedingly lucrative potboilers, has written a recent book about "phone calls from Heaven" or some such foolishness. Nobody is going to tell the paying customers to get back in bed.
I wonder how a phone call from Heaven would show up on Caller ID? "Burning Bush?" "Fear Not?" But I ramble.
It sounds like to me-cynic that I may be- that fantasies related by a badly injured little boy-if they were related at all-got turned into a cash cow by somebody betting on the sustained gullibility of an reliable audience for this kind of hooey . I bet Tyndal Publishing gets lawyered up for real now in an attempt to get back the money they paid the Dad. After all, it is only here in the temporal world that people part with hard earned money for-pardon me-complete and utter malarkey. It is here that Tyndal will have to regain what passes for credibility in a genre that relies on that which is completely unverifiable. And the I also bet the next time poor Alex tells this story it will be under oath.
I don't much know what I believe anymore. But I don't believe in ghosts. I don't believe that you go to Heaven while still a life-in-being as they say in probate law. And I while I don't know for sure what happened here, I do believe that it is all going to come out in the wash both in the fullness of time and before the statute of limitations runs in any event.
And I also believe that there is a special place in Hell for somebody that tries to mine the commercial potential of a disabled child.