I had no intention of reading this book. Although I knew I could approach it with an open mind, just knowing what effect it was having on the Christia...moreI had no intention of reading this book. Although I knew I could approach it with an open mind, just knowing what effect it was having on the Christian population was enough to dissuade me. When my husband put his name on the library hold list for this book, I was surprised but I still encouraged him to give it a try. Months later when the book was ours to borrow, he was occupied with other materials. I did not want the months of waiting on hold to go to waste, so I decide to take a leap of faith and assess the bestseller’s words for myself.
In short, I found the book highly questionable, manipulative, and heaving with false piety.
Firstly, let me clarify that even though I was seeing the effect of the book reflected on the bestseller lists and in the reviews of readers, I did not know much about it or the family involved. I plainly knew that it was about a young boy who had purportedly experienced heaven by means of a near death experience; his father had listened to the boy’s words and ideas and wrote them down. So, one can see how I would be astonished to learn that the father and author of the book is a pastor! Further amazement ensues when I read the first instance of self-preserving, defensive behaviour from the author: He professes adamantly that his son could not read, suggesting that for this reason, Colton could not have learned these descriptions of heaven from the bible. Not only is it possible for the sponge-like quality of a child’s brain to absorb these celestial descriptions in other ways, which other reviewers have argued, it seems the father is anticipating the oncoming criticism and is desperately attempting to conceal the blemishes of the story.
Although the author seems to have taken precautions to draw out sincere statements from his son without leading him, this book still seems only to be a series of statements that the child said about “heaven” paired with his father’s matching biblical verse. This matching verse is the father’s INTERPRETATION. The FATHER makes the connection between the bible and his son’s experience. So, if one were to look at the book from an analytical point of view, one would see that the result has been polluted with bias. The problem with bias is that it renders the resulting “proof” void. In result, I cannot agree with the readers who are proclaiming this book as truth or proof of heaven. If you are to agree with the author’s interpretation, I only concede that the book could be motivational and could bring feelings of security to a fearful world.
That said, I realize there are occasional instances where Colton does initiate the use of a Devine label, such as “angel”. But is it not more likely that being the son of a pastor, the child would be familiar with the label “angel”? Is it not more likely that if a person were to see a winged figure during an out of body experience, that he would label it with a familiar term? Also, if you are one who accepts that near death experience is a resulting function of the human brain/body under duress (see “dying brain theory”, “hallucination theory”: http://www.near-death.com/experiences...), then doesn’t it warrant that whomever has the experience would most likely have visions of their concept of the afterlife? I’m sure, again, as the son of a pastor that Colton would be very familiar with the concept of heaven, as opposed to the Islamic view (Jannah), or Hindu cosmology and its six heavenly plains.
Believe it or not, I do have a spiritual side. I believe in a higher power, granted I would probably call it the Universe. I am very interested in theories of intelligent design and I realize that evolution, convincing as it may be, is ultimately still a theory. In other words, I am not denying the possible existence of a higher being; I am denying the interpretation of events and bias suggested in this book. I have no doubt that this boy had some kind of near death experience and I have no doubt that Colton believes that he witnessed the events he did. I disagree with the father’s inclination to associate his son’s experience with specific biblical passages and the ideology of a Christian heaven. In this association, along with his guarded demeanour, the author illuminates his agenda. Oh, did anyone mention that using a child for financial gain is not very Christian? Really there are limitless, debatable circumstances in and about the book that we could dissect into nothingness.
Lastly, I would only suggest this book to the demographic of Christian-heaven believers who need a little encouragement. It is a nice story. Although it worries me to no end that the mind is so susceptible, if this is the book that motivates you to change your life for the better, that is your source of undying inspiration, then that is fantastic. However, I have one question: Why wasn’t the bible good enough for you? (less)