Synopses & Reviews
If you have no cause worth dying for,
do you have a reason to live?
“Jedus say, ‘Come folla me! Bot de man ansa um say,
‘Sah, fus leh me go an bury me papa.”
Luke 9:59, De Good Nyews Bout Jedus Christ Wa Luke Write (Gullah)
While sorting through family papers following his fathers massive stroke, Dr. Luke Tayspill, Yale Medical Schools top infectious disease specialist, stumbles across a manuscript written decades earlier by his beloved grandfather. The book bears an ominous title, The Deaths of Lukas Tayspill-not death, but deaths.
A closer inspection reveals that the book is about three characters with the same name. The first two Lucas Tayspills were 19th century Quakers who suffered martyrs deaths. The third story-set in the future-ends abruptly with the arrival of a Dr. Lucas Tayspill in a plague-ridden, war torn African land. Was his grandfather foretelling Lukes own life story-and prophesying his death?
Luke sets out on a deeply personal journey to Sierra Leone. But his pilgrimage to understand death leads to a powerful and unexpected encounter with the essence of life. Will Luke fulfill his grandfathers vision?
This contemporary look at the spiritual journey of a doctor named Luke, The Healers Heart thoughtfully brings the Gospel physician into our twenty-first century world.
"Komp (A Window to Heaven), a physician and Yale medical professor, creates a fictional world around Dr. Luke Tayspill, an infectious disease specialist whose father is dying and whose at-times estranged wife Theo has a mysterious illness she refuses to discuss. In addition, Luke finds a manuscript his beloved grandfather wrote which comes close to predicting his own death. Luke's story covers the world: his childhood home in Ohio; war-torn Sarajevo, where Theo served as a war correspondent; London, where she deals with post-traumatic stress and a troubling diagnosis; a quiet Gullah island off the coast of South Carolina with unexpected family connections; and rebel- and illness-infested Sierra Leone, where Luke goes to try to fulfill the story his grandfather started. Komp also jumps between the present and past as she revisits Luke's childhood, his early married years and various points throughout the centuries-long Tayspill family history. Luke's conversion to Christianity is believable, but readers don't get to see the thought processes behind it. While the characters are compelling, there are so many stories here that none of them get the attention or detail they deserve, slowing the book's progress and leaving readers confused. Komp has great potential as a storyteller, but it's not fully realized here." Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
Yale AIDS physician Luke Tayspill arrives in Sierra Leone wondering whether the faith his ancestors died for is a creed by which man can live.Yale AIDS physician Luke Tayspill arrives in Sierra Leone wondering whether the faith his ancestors died for is a creed by which man can live.
About the Author
Diane Komp is a physician and retired Yale medical professor who has written extensively about the spiritual side of health care. For twenty-five years she has studied and taught about St. Luke, the Bibles “beloved physician.” Her previous books include A Window to Heaven: When Children See Life in Death.
Reading Group Guide
1. Luke Tayspill is a prominent physician who serves his patients well by using his world-class brain. His father would approve. But would you, if you were his patient, want him to be your doctor before he acquires a “healers heart”?
2. Have you dealt with an elderly and obstinate family member whose health is declining? Is Lukes father, Martin, like your family member or totally different? If you could sit down in Friends Care Center with Martin, what conversation would you have with him?
3. Do you empathize with Luke or give him a piece of your mind? Why?
4. How would you describe Lukes spiritual journey?
5. Do you find Lukes conversion believable? If not, how would you have written this part of the story?
6. Part of the story in The Healers Heart is about racial tension and reconciliation. Which parts of the story help you most with your own journey with folks who are very different from yourself?
7. Whos your favorite character in the book?
8. Other than Luke, which character in The Healers Heart would you like to meet in a sequel?
Luke Tayspill, head of the AIDS Care Program at Yale Medical School, is struggling with the most important people in his life. His father, Martin, is fighting for life after multiple strokes. His mother, Edith, wanders from one platitude to another. His wife, Theodora, has never recovered from her experiences as a war correspondent in Bosnia. Two important characters, one old and one new intrude into Lukes personal chaos. Bishop Paul Pinckney, an African American pastor who serves as chaplain to Yales AIDS team, challenges Luke to consider spiritual as well as medical diagnosis. Through an unpublished manuscript buried deep in a desk he had built, Lukes deceased grandfather emerges from his dreams to a pivotal role in the doctors life. “If you have no cause worth dying for, do you really have a reason to live?” Luke reads in the forward to a family story. As Luke reads The Deaths of Lucas Tayspill, he wonders if his grandfather was prophesying his own death. Grandpa Giles novel ends with a single paragraph about the third and final Lucas Tayspill, a doctor born Giles wrote his book but in the same year Luke was born. When Luke has the opportunity to travel to Sierra Leone, he is at first repelled by the risk to his life. But his desire to find a reason to live draws him to the plague-ridden, war torn land. In this modern reliving of the story of the Bibles Dr. St. Luke, Diane Komp asks her readers to consider the deepest meaning of their own lives.