Friday, December 22, 2006

'90 Minutes in Heaven'

A local fundamentalist Baptist pastor from Pasadena has written a New York Times best-seller. I have some problems with it.

Twenty years ago Don Piper was in a horrible car accident. He says he died and spent 90 minutes in Heaven. Two years after his heavenly visit he finally told his wife. Almost twenty years later he gets a ghost writer and tells the story of his recovery and a very brief account of his 90 minutes in Heaven.

What is Heaven like? From his background what you would expect - Pearly gates, streets paved with gold, heavenly music, the feeling of love. God as an interior fashion designer with an unlimited budget and no imagination.

Every few years another book like this is published. This one doesn't appear well-written and tells little about his heavenly experience. He is making a good deal of money lecturing and selling this and related books. This also helps him in his chosen work - bringing people to Baptist beliefs. (I discovered there is a Mayor Manlove connection. His son works for Manlove's printing company.) A brief promotional video is available that doesn't show Heaven but does have a few views of his wrecked car.
Thus far in 2007, Don Piper is already scheduled to speak in 23 states and four foreign countries. His message of answered prayer, miracles, new beginnings, and the reality of Heaven, has led him to be known as, "The Minister of Hope."
This book I suppose is slightly better than 23 Minutes in Hell where the author has a vision(?), out of body experience(?), that exactly parallels all these verses he lays out from the Bible that he follows about his visit and rescue by Jesus. Then he also goes on the Christian lecture circuit. Videos are available of this lecture.

The best visit to Heaven story is Mark Twain's Captain Stormfield's Visit to Heaven. I'll introduce you to it after he has gone through the pearly gates.

All of these books should be classified as fiction, in whole or in part. At least Mark Twain's is satire. Even Christianity Today has problems with these two examples of Travel Writing from the Afterlife.

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