On his Beliefnet blog, Dr. Norris Chumley gives a glowing review to Mark C. Taylor’s new book Field Notes from Elsewhere: Reflections on Dying and Living, calling it a “must read,” and Taylor “a mix of philosopher, metaphysician, and medical theologian.”
He praises Taylor for his original and moving perspectives on what it is like to face death and what it means to recover from a life-threatening disease. Chumley writes,
Taylor finds himself in the category of survivor, yet reinvents the term into an entirely new reality. He fully lives the fragile existence between finitude and infinitude that is our predicament. We cannot escape death, yet we cannot fully live without embracing it; we cannot not live if we choose to live and that brings us to a mystery which is never fully solved. Taylor firmly, resolutely, chooses life.
In concluding his review, Chumley writes,
A lot of this book [is] satisfying in a strange and unexpected way…. Filled with haunting memories of those gone, chased with bitter pills of our limitations and eventual demise, there are glimmers of hope and happiness to be found. Taylor is aware of the challenges he’s placed in front of the reader. “Happy eras, we are told, are the blank pages of history, and so it would seem – of books. Perhaps it is because it takes more courage to write about happiness than unhappiness.” He points us to his favorite joyous writer, Nietzsche who is himself in a desperate mode. “Intense unhappiness becomes bearable by imagining that things might be otherwise elsewhere. The writer must write this elsewhere to get through the night and the darker the night, the better the writing.”
It is in this “elsewhere,” as the title leads, this vivid point of real and unreal playing together, where, or rather elsewhere, that Mark C. Taylor both uncomfortably and comfortably resides.