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On the surface, Diane Komp and Richard Selzer have much in common. Both have taught and practiced medicine at Yale, and both draw from their experiences as physicians to craft books that are widely read and critically acclaimed. Both also write openly about their religious faith--and there the similarities end.
Richard Selzer describes himself as an atheist, although he admits, "my atheism is far from devout" and is marked with a kind of incontinent nostalgia for faith. He reads authors like C. S. Lewis, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, and Henri Nouwen, and he even subscribes to "The Door."
Somehow Selzer manages to get trapped in very compromising positions for an atheist. In his memoir, Down from Troy, he tells of impersonating a priest in order to grant last rites to a dying patient. More recently, he helped write a rock musical to be performed at an Assemblies of God church. Selzer had befriended a drug addict who became a born-again Christian. How could he refuse his transformed friend's request to choose Scriptures and write introductions for the songs of celebration?
Selzer retired from medicine in 1986 in order to write. His "Mortal Lessons," "Rituals of Surgery," and "Confessions of a Knife" have become classics. He has written nine books, all of which are currently in print.
Diane Komp described herself as an atheist also, for 15 years. Raised in a traditional Christian home, she graduated from Houghton College, went on to medical school, and ultimately became one of the world's foremost authorities on the disease histiocytosis. During that time, science edged out religion in her life. In a remarkable turnabout, she rediscovered her faith at the bedside of dying children, as she recounts in her first book, "A Window to Heaven."
Komp began writing about her faith in "Theology Today," and she has so far produced three books. (Zondervan/HarperCollins publishes the trilogy under a single cover with the title "Images of Grace.") She ultimately resigned from her position as head ...