Spoiler Warning

Book reviews and discussions may contain spoilers. Read at your own risk!

Monday, July 18, 2011

SRBC Book of the Month - A Markie Pick.

Well, I had all but made up my mind to go with another Dystopian YA book and one that came highly recommended by my daughter Samantha. The book is called Divergent and while I'm sure its awesome, it's another first in a trilogy where the other books are yet to be written. I'm not a fan of being left hanging and I have such a short term memory that I always have to re-read the prior books again when the sequels come out so I usually prefer to wait until an entire series is finished before jumping into it. Having said that, my pick is not due to be released until a week from tomorrow (which works out nicely for me since we will be on vacation for the next week) so if you are interested you probably have time to read Divergent while you are waiting to get the official pick of the month - which is....

The Autobiography of Mrs. Tom Thumb: A Novel
Author: Melanie Benjamin

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Discussion HERE for Heaven is For Real

Heaven IS for Real, but .... what?

I tried to cling to the few inspiring things this little boy had to say about his visit to heaven. But the more I read, the more 'off' it all was and left a bad taste behind. I have, many times, reconsidered his assertion that his miscarried sister was in heaven waiting. And I've tried to consider if that could really be possible. And yet, what I already know to be true just makes more sense. But, she was sad because nobody ever named her? I think if we're all children of God and knew Him before, He certainly had a name for us before we came to earth too, right? I also tried to imagine that maybe he saw / described heaven a certain way simply because he was such a young boy. But, that didn't really pan out for me either.

I love a good died-and-gone-to-heaven-and-came-back story. I watch I Survived... Beyond and Back often. I've seen probably more than a dozen different people on that show describing their experience. There is a consistent theme to them all. I love hearing people, who aren't well acquainted with religion, describing things, such as God's voice as sounding like thunder or the rushing of water. I love that they all realize in the end that there isn't an end. But none of them talk about wings or that sort of thing.

Does this make me a weirdie? I don't really care, actually. Whether or not the little boy really saw what he said he saw is beside the point, I decided. The fact that his parents are now fully subscribed to the idea of heaven and eternal families is a good thing I think. But I'm not jumping out of my skin to recommend this book to people. Or, recommending it at all. It's a good story in that it was such a hard experience for them to go through and the little boy lived. Hooray! Yikes. From growing up in WY I know about those hospitals where they aren't equipped or experienced enough to really know much of anything. So pitiful. Even this week, my nephew is finally coming to Denver for his third knee surgery because the guys in Casper couldn't figure it out. Sorry. I guess this is all beside the point.

Loved that it was a short read. Loved that it made me question a little. Love that I already sort of know pretty much most of the answers, kind of. :)

Landee Calls BS

Thank goodness Pop had mentioned that he wanted to have Jesus in his heart a week before dying.  PHEW!!  Can you imagine if he hadn't?  No heaven for you Pops!  But luckily, that was all it took to get into the literal pearly gates.

But yeah.  This book was no bueno, as my dear friend Flemsta would say.

Now, I'm not saying this book doesn't have its place in this world.  It certainly does.  Say, for example, you have no religion in your life.  Say, you have lost a loved one and honestly don't know where they had gone.  Perhaps you have never believed in anything higher than yourself yet you've felt the light of Christ in your life but didn't know what to call it.   Then I can see this book being inspiring.  I can see it giving hope where there is none.  

Unfortunately for Todd Burpo that is not me.  

Now, if there is, at some point an addendum added where, when the kid is 25 and meets the missionaries and they show him a pic of Joseph Smith and he's all "Wait...that's who?"  and they're all "This is Joseph Smith" and he's all "Ok, this is weird.... he was like, the third dude who talked to me up in heaven but I am just remembering that now" and they're all "Well he restored the gospel to the earth" and he's all "Oh yeah!  He mentioned that!  Holy crap... when can I be baptized?"  then fine.

Side notes:

  • Burpo is one of the most unfortunate last names I've ever heard.
  • Sonja sounds like a B.
  • I've been to the Butterfly Museum, Beebs has held Rosie the tarantula and I can testify that part of the story is true.
  • I do love that picture of Christ at the end by that little girl.  Like, really really love.  The hair is slightly Hasselhoff but I love the face.

The Correct Answer?

I thought the book "Heaven Is Real" was clearly breaking the number one rule of the Smart Remarks Book Club - No nonfiction - but I was wrong. Heaven may be real, but the assertions in the book are pure fiction. I knew this at 8% through (Kindle version) when Colten mentioned that the Angels sang "Jesus Loves Me" and Joshua Fought the Battle of Jericho". We all know that if this book were real the Angels would have been singing "I am a Child of God" and "Popcorn Popping on the Apricot Tree".

The fact is that this story is completely tainted by the fact that the father of this misguided child is a Methodist Pastor. I just find it hard to accept that out of the over 4,200 religions out there that this boy comes back from his near death experience regurgitating everything that his dad had been preaching since the day he was born; including the interesting fact that we all sprout wings after we die. I hope mine are hunter green.

I would have found this story much more compelling and believable if this boy had returned from the other side telling about the 40 virgins that he is going to have waiting for him when he dies, or about the six manifestations of God - Ganesha, Shiva, Shakti, Vishnu, Surya, and Skanda - he spent time with; or if this had been a story written by a Budhist Monk who's son came back from the other side describing his meeting with Joseph Smith, or the Prophet Mohammed; or if it was the child of a Shinto Priest who claims he is now an Operating Thetan (see Scientology); Or if it had been a Mormon Bishop's son who's visit to the afterlife included an Easter mass.

The part at the morturary where they about had to gag and forcibly remove this kid from the room because of his panic attack about whether the deceased had Jesus in his heart was creepy. I think despite the insistance from Dad that he tried very hard not to ask any "leading" questions, the fact is that he had been "leading" this child since birth. I'm not saying that this kid, or even his parents were blatanly lying, but I think kids are much more observant than we give them credit for and this child drew on everything he had been taught and observed in his short little life to give an account of Heaven that fit perfectly with what his parents expected to hear.

Or I'm wrong and the correct answer is... The Methodists... yes Methodist is the correct answer. http://mormondirection.com/2008/10/18/the-final-exam-a-light-moment/