Subscribe to get tough, fair journalism seven days a week.
Subscribe today

Day: November 5, 2012

Photo Gallery: Fine arts in focus at MHS

Sierra Banke adds color to a work in progress.

Two recent events spotlighted the many ways McNary High School students are putting their creativity to work. The Fine Arts Department hosted an open house Thursday, Oct. 18 and the choir hosted its annual Night of Hope, on Oct. 25, a fundraiser for Liberty House and the Mid-Valley Women’s Crisis Center. (Photos by Eric A. Howald)

[fbphotos id=10151106296026976]

“Proof of Heaven” by Eben Alexander, M.D.

“Proof of Heaven” by Eben Alexander, M.D.

c.2012, Simon & Schuster
$23.99 / $27.99 Canada
208 pages




Nobody packs a suitcase like you do.

A weekend away? No problem. Cram everything you need in a tote and go.

A two-week cruise?  Again, no problem. You can roll, fold, and stuff half-a-closet in a carry-on and still have room for a book.

It’s a gift. You’re like a squirrel when it comes to packing but there’s one trip you’ll have to make someday, and you won’t have to pack a thing.

Yes, you’re going to die. But what happens and what awaits us on our final journey? In “Proof of Heaven” by Eben Alexander, M.D., you’ll read about one man’s week-long experience, and the inspiring souvenirs he brought back.

It all started with a middle-of-the-night backache.

Neurosurgeon Eben Alexander awoke from the pain and headed for a warm bath, thinking it might help. It didn’t, and neither did a backrub from his wife, Holley. The pain, in fact, intensified.

By mid-morning, Alexander was nearly unconscious.

Rushed to the hospital, he landed in the ICU, surrounded by baffled doctors who believed that he’d somehow acquired spontaneous E. coli meningitis. His spinal fluid and the outer portion of his brain were filled with pus. There was no brain activity, and no precedent: the affliction was a 1-in-10-million rarity.

But something amazing was happening to Eban Alexander.

Alexander says his first notion was that he was surrounded by primordial jelly, aware but not aware, and he could hear sounds. Working his way upwards and toward “dazzling darkness,” he was greeted by a beautiful woman who took him on a breathtaking journey on a butterfly wing. She told him three things: he was loved, he was valued, and there was nothing he could do wrong.

One week after Alexander’s coma began, doctors informed Holley that he had virtually no chance of recovery yet, literally, as they were walking to his room to stop treatment, he opened his eyes. Within months, fully recuperated, he started to cautiously talk about his journey because what he saw, he says, opened his mind and his heart.

No doubt, “Proof of Heaven” is a thinking-person’s book.

Filled with serious science, medical information, and awe-inspiring theology, author Eban Alexander, M.D. gives his readers a lot to chew on. But this memoir isn’t just that: Alexander also gives us an abundance of absorbing back-story, so we know why his spiritual journey was mind-bogglingly significant and why he believes that it unfolded as it did. What’s interesting is that Alexander was a skeptic once, and now he struggles to convince the skeptics.

The only bumps in the road here are that he wrestles with descriptions of his experience. He admits that mere words don’t do his visions justice, but he tries anyhow – which is magnificent at first, then just repetitious.

Even so, most of this book will stick with you for a long time after you close its back cover, making you seriously contemplate what you’ve read. Whether you’re a believer or an undecided scoffer, in fact, I think “Proof of Heaven” will pack a wallop.

Terri Schlichenmeyer is based in Wisconsin.

McNary grad gets front row view of historic storm

S. Magnuson

Of the Keizertimes

At first Shawn Magnuson and his friends were laughing.

Seeing the firsthand impact from Hurricane Sandy Monday evening changed the mood rather quickly.

Magnuson, a 2010 McNary High School graduate, is a junior at Nyack College in Nyack, New York. That gave Magnuson a great view of the big storm.

“We have a pretty good view of cities across the Hudson River like Winchester,” Magnuson said. “So many explosions lighting up the sky, transformers exploding everywhere. Cities there were all black. Then the city here went black. There was a constant roar of the wind.”

Initially, Magnuson said there were jokes mixed with disappointment.

“It was cool,” the 21-year-old said. “Even when we lost power, it was cool. We could hang out. When we woke up (Monday), we were disappointed. There was not much of anything. We thought the media just hyped it up. Then we found out it was hitting later in the evening. It really did deliver everything the media said would happen.

“We were laughing at first,” Magnuson added. “Then when trees started to fall and there were explosions, it started to be not as funny anymore. It’s so dark, you can hardly see. You don’t know if a tree is going to fall on you. That’s when it got serious. (Tuesday) morning, we saw so many trees downed.”

Magnuson said the power went out around 6 p.m. Monday and a number of old oak trees were uprooted.

“It was one thing after another,” he said. “The wind was just roaring. You could hear the oak trees going down one after the other. That was a little intense. All night it was hard to sleep because the wind was so loud. It was a bit uneasy. I got some sleep, but it was pretty hard for a while there.”

Magnuson’s dad, Mike Allegre of Keizer, was not overly worried, for several reasons.

“His mom and I were not concerned because we knew the path of the storm,” Allegre said. “We knew it would go south. We also know he’s a smart young man and he would do the right thing, plus the school would protect them. But you know there is always the unknown. We watched all the weather reports for hours with interest. He was fine. We got reports from Shawn all day (Monday). His school is kind of like Corban University, a small community where everyone watches out for each other. We knew if he had a problem, he had places to go.”

One place for Magnuson to go Tuesday morning was around the campus.

“My roommate and I got up around 8 and looked around,” Magnuson said. “Trees were down everywhere, across the road, power lines were down. These were huge trees. I’ve never been through anything that intense before. People here said it was far worse than Hurricane Irene (summer of 2011). It was a  pretty intense experience. It was a very humbling experience.”

Also humbling has been the messages from friends back home in Keizer and other parts of Oregon.

“I have a lot of friends in Oregon texting me, saying they are praying for us,” Magnuson said. “That was pretty cool.”

Not so cool was hearing chainsaws at 5 a.m. Tuesday.

“There is a lot of clean up going on,” he said. “The crews here are amazing. They cleaned up trees off the road.”

Magnuson noted things were a bit out of the ordinary in the school cafeteria Tuesday.

“The atmosphere was a little different,” he said. “People were more surprised than shocked. No one really expected it. We didn’t know what to do with ourselves. We’ve worked so much with technology, today it’s been people just hanging out more.

McLeod subdivision hearing set for Nov. 8

A proposed subdivision would place 30 homes on this long-vacant six-acre parcel. (Photo by Jonathan Boys)

A proposed 30-home subdivision application on McLeod Lane across from Aldine Drive has a hearing date of Nov. 8.

The six-acre plot is the last remnant of the former Beilke farm. Developers Tim Smith and Lee Sjothun are backing the project, but Smith said market demand will determine when houses are actually built.

“I’m not gonna say it’s a good time to build,” he said. “We’ll go through the process and do some marketing before we decide to develop. It may get developed in 2013, it may not be until 2014 or 2015.”

Drawings show an extension of Aldine Drive across McLeod Lane, with the development abutting Whiteaker Middle School. Average lot size is 6,655 square feet, with 5,400 the smallest and 11,127 the largest. The sizes will allow a wide variety of possible house sizes and price ranges, Smith said.

“You can do a number of things with those size lots,” he said.

One factor that made the project attractive, Smith said, is the relative lack of buildable land in Keizer as opposed to Salem.

“You could say we’re crazy, but Lee and I think it’s so nice we wanted to have it,” Smith said. “… It’s just a nice piece of dirt.”