Last week I finished reading Todd Burpo's mega-selling book about his son's three-minute trip to heaven, and wished I could have died, too. Heaven is for Real had that kind of effect on me. But not for the reasons one might think. (Keep reading.)
It's a good enough read, as far as reads go, but the bulk of this book (more than 95% of it) is about events leading up to the heavenly vision, or conversations, or family history rather than heaven itself. And the book is well written (thanks to Lynn Vincent, this veritable ghostwriter of best-sellerdom who seems to be ghostwriting everything on the New York Times best seller list these days). Reading this book may do a lot of things, but it will probably leave you with more questions than answers. Or, if you need a fuller read on the phenomenon of "near-death" experiences, go back forty years and re-read a used copy of Dr. Moody's Life After Life, a book that contains hundreds of "case studies" of people who saw tunnels, bright lights, long-lost loved ones, and felt an overwhelming sense of peace and calm as they floated above the operating table. I have several copies of this book, too, and this week found one copy stuffed next to an old photo of my wife (Freudian wish?).
Ah, but what does it all mean? That's the rub, Jimmy.
My journey actually began when I read the acknowledgments to Heaven is For Real. (Weird, I admit, but I always read the acknowledgments first to see who the writer knows and who the writer needs to thank.)
Here I discovered that in addition to securing Lynn Vincent's significant talents, the Burpos also found the help of a top literary agency in Colorado Springs (which used to represent me) and they thanked their literary agent (yes, a really great fellow who was, up until a few years ago, my agent as well). Reading the acknowledgements was like going home again, hearing the familiar names, seeing those names listed, and being surrounded by the indescribable light of "three million copies in print."
I wonder if that is what heaven is like? Could be.
But I wouldn't know about that. Really.