Wednesday, April 16, 2014
John 14:2-4 In my Father's house are many rooms; if it were not so, I would have told you. I am going there to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. You know the way to the place where I am going.
This could possibly be my favorite Bible passage. It is of course a very comforting thought for the afterlife. And more importantly, in case I never get to live in a mansion on earth, I can still look forward to being a permanent guest in God's big, beautiful, spacious estate.
But do I really believe this? Do I actually feel like we'll see a father God, Jesus, Mary and loved ones who have passed on before us? It's too simple a concept for my mind to accept. And I know I'm not alone. And then there's always the question of what will we be doing? Praising and singing to God? How much can he or we take of that? And what about the passages that speak of a throne? If God and Jesus and Gabriel or Mary are seated on a throne, that sounds too much like an earthly kingdom, with politics and favors and judgement, certainly not my idea of heaven.
The movie Heaven is for Real is based on the 2010 book of the same name by Pastor Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent. It tells the true story of this small town Pastor played by Greg Kinnear and his wife, Sonja (Kelly Reilly) and their 4 year-old son Colton (Connor Corum) who nearly dies on the operating table from an acute appendicitis. Between the doctors, the congregation's prayer chain and perhaps the boy's own will to live, he does survive. Shortly after Colton comes home, fully recovered, he begins to innocently tell his father about what he saw while he was on the operating table. He describes being able to see himself, his father yelling at God in the hospital Chapel and his mother in the waiting room making calls. Little by little he also reveals seeing Jesus, describing his eye color, and is adamant he looks nothing like the images of Jesus, we've all been force fed. He also describes the colors of heaven, meeting his grandfather, the fact that no one in heaven is old or wears glasses.
Pastor Todd is amused and somewhat intrigued by his son's revelations. His mother dismisses it, thinking of him as a child with a vivid imagination, particularly one who has been raised in the church; but once he talks of things like having met a sister that died way before he was born, one he never knew anything about, his claims become something the family can no longer ignore.
The core of the story deals with the fact that so many people, even ministers and those of the church, find the ideas of Heaven to be for children's stories and fairytales. When we really think about where we'll be after death, and who and what we'll see, none of it seems possible. There's far too many incongruities to wrap your mind around.
And yet, I believe in ghosts, aliens, winning The Publisher's Clearing House, and just a few days later, when watching Johnny Depp's latest movie Transcendence (post coming soon) my mind was sold on the idea that we may one day soon be able to upload a person's consciousness in to a computer. So why do I have trouble picturing Heaven?
For those of you who read and loved the book, and wonder if it differs or loses something in the book to film adaptation - I saw the movie with my friend Teresa who is a big fan of the book (#HeavenIsForReal) in fact, she read it twice, and read me passages of it after the screening, over some drinks and pork belly mac n cheese at Prime Stache (110 chestnut Street). She felt that other than missing some small details that would have made the movie too long, it was a wonderful adaptation.
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