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Heaven is for Real

Heaven is for Real: Will This New NDE-Related Movie Put Forward a Christian Interpretation?

One of the biggest selling books in recent years on the topic of near-death experiences has been Heaven is for Real, which tells the story of (then) 3-year-old Colton Burpo’s NDE during emergency surgery in 2003. The success of the book, which puts a rather heavy Christian slant on the near-death experience, has led to it being adapted into a movie, which will be released at Easter (yup). Here’s the trailer:

Veteran near-death experience researcher Nancy Evans Bush has posted a short blog entry with more information, and some of her own thoughts about the upcoming movie release:

You may have read Heaven is for Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip to Heaven and Back, if only because it is likely to wind up rivaling Agatha Christie for longevity on best-seller lists. In its simplest element, it is a sweet story. The little boy was three at the time of his NDE, four when he began mentioning it to his parents. He said angels sang to him, and he sat on Jesus’ lap.

If the resulting book dealt only with that part of his story, all might have been well. But the child’s father is a conservative Protestant pastor, a biblical literalist. By the time the sincere but hardly impartial father stopped asking questions, and the boy stopped adding details in response to those questions, seven years had passed and the entire project was in the hands of Lynn Vincent, the ghost writer behind Sarah Palin’s memoir, Going Rogue. Further, the relative simplicity of the few original details had grown as the boy grew, into an elaborated account of Christian exclusivity and holy warfare that puts Revelation imagery into the hands of human warriors resembling Marvel comic book heroes.

The book was published in November, 2010. Today, the end of January, 2014, its front cover announces sales of more than eight million copies; of 6,249 Amazon reviews, 84% (5,345) boast four or five stars. The writer of my email message is certainly right about the story’s hitting the stratosphere.

Link: Heaven is for Real: Alternative universes of NDE life

  1. There are some really hairy
    There are some really hairy afterlife stories that describe a classic Christian Hell too and plenty of well documented cases of exorcism resolved by Christian style intervention and Savior-ness. Yet, there are many afterlife mediums like Theresa Caputo who commune very, very convincingly with the departed and their family members here among the living without couching things in terms of Heaven and Hell or organized religion i.e. there are no generalizations that stick.

  2. conditioning
    It makes me wonder, let’s say the boy’s family was Buddhist, would his vision of the afterlife be completely different? One would think so since if he hadn’t been exposed to another religion, he would only know one form, one god, etc. I do believe this child had a “vision” or did see what he claims to have seen, but how much of it was truly what the afterlife is and how much of it was conditioning from his parents’ beliefs and what he learned in Sunday school?

    Well, as long as the boy is happy and well, that’s all that matters, and I know that what matters to his parents too. Faith and having faith isn’t a bad thing. If I had a near death experience I’m pretty sure I would end up in Hell and I know for a fact what it would look like since I’ve already been there…….my previous job 😛

    1. The NDE with an emphasis on
      The NDE with an emphasis on “Near” is an incomplete or unfulfilled voyage, right? What if these NDE stories are just chapter one with the experiencers’ conditioning coming to the fore initially but is something that is worked through and subsumed as the spirit actually “stays” dead? The Far Death Experience then would be much less colored by pre-conditioning – the pre-conditioning would be overcome and a more universal experience would happen.

  3. Distressing NDE’s – not really IMO
    I followed the link to Nancy Evans Bush’s website and then Googled her report on Distressing Near-Death Experiences published in the Journal of Psychiatry and read it. She outlines 3 types of distressing NDEs: 1 is the basic NDE but where the experiencer is afraid of the elements, 2 is where the experiencer enters a void of eternal nothingness and is told life was an hallucination, 3 is the hell type experience with demons and damned souls all around.

    As Emlong points out, the near death experience is likely influenced by a person’s preconceived beliefs. This has been somewhat documented in other studies where Christians identify the light as Christ, Buddhists as Buddha, etc… Likewise, if the “afterlife” is fluid, which if it exists as described in so much research, it is fluid, then the experiencer’s beliefs and fears and desires and doubts, etc… will all have an influence on the experience. Some NDErs report perceiving hell from their vantage, and seeing the miserable souls suffering, fighting invisible foes, etc… but all the while each has a guardian of light watching over them, eventually to aid them in returning to the light. Perhaps they are in a form of purgatory.

    I find it somewhat baffling why researchers like Nancy Bush seem bewildered by the diversity of distressing NDE’s and seem to lack an encompassing view to explain them. Perhaps they are remaining open-minded, or perhaps they simply have not researched enough viewpoints to form an opinion, or perhaps she fleshes one out in her book I have not read – I only read her 16 page report on the subject.

    My own opinion has from Cayce’s readings on the matter, combined with varying studies and books I’ve read, even including Nancy Bush’s report that just expanded my opinion, combined with my own (not NDE) but experiences I’ve recounted before of feeling the vibrations that precede an out of body experience, and repeated nightmares as a young child of being in a void with overwhelming feelings of dread and despair – very similar to the 2nd type of distressing NDE.

    My opinion – the short version – is God is consciousness, and we as souls, as parts of God sprung out of his consciousness and while connected to him, became separate and independent simultaneously. With our free will, we chose to experience life through the evolving life forms of creation, partaking in all their emotions and physical experience, therein uniting our pure souls with the laws of karmic debt, which distanced us from our source, and mired us in these lower levels of energy that is the material world – the material lowlands – in a state of amnesia about our origins.

    Ultimately our destiny and God’s will is for all of us, all his children to voluntarily reunite with him/her/it, but there is no guarantee, and the separateness from God for eternity is the true hell. So in a nutshell, the 3 distressing NDE types all fit into this scenario. The first is simply fear as our soul travels the tunnel to the light and enters the in between state where we review and decide what’s next for our soul’s journey – another incarnation on Earth, or lessons elsewhere… The distressing void can be explained by the wandering soul who is not ready or evolved enough, or carries too much turmoil to see or find the light, so they wander through the void, their fears shaping their reality. Does this last forever, not necessarily, but where time has no meaning, as past, present and future are all one outside Earth’s material plane, then an eternity it would seem. I wonder if my recurring nightmares as a child, being adrift in a dark layered void, with blowing shrouds and overwhelming dread, were lingering memories of my time between incarnations?…. The 3rd, the hellish vision is us battling our personal demons in the afterlife, as we did not resolve them in this life…

    Is life a hallucination? A dream as Nancy Bush reports in the distressing NDE’s? Yes, of course. When we dream, the dream seems real until we awaken. Won’t the same apply to this life, when we die and transition into the next? After all what’s 50, 60, or even 100 years in the span of eternity? But this dream is what so enticed our souls from their purpose in the first place, so we best enjoy it and grow from it, and prepare for what comes after so we can best navigate our way to the light, rather than wander aimlessly in a void of despair.

  4. Brad Steiger
    Famous paranormal researcher Brad Steiger has been more open about his childhood NDE in recent interviews. Here’s one recorded by Mike Clelland for his Hidden Experience podcast.

    Now the interesting thing about Brad, is not only the description of mandala-like fractal geometry patterns he observed when he was asking questions about the nature of reality & the meaning of life, but the fact that HE was raised in a very conservative Christian background, yet his experiences is completely devoid of the traditional evangelical imagery.

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