Heaven: Our Enduring Fascination with the Afterlife

Heaven: Our Enduring Fascination with the Afterlife

by Lisa Miller

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780060554750
Publisher: HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date: 03/23/2010
Pages: 331
Product dimensions: 6.40(w) x 9.00(h) x 1.40(d)

About the Author

Lisa Miller is an award-winning journalist and an editor at Newsweek, where she writes regularly about religion, values, culture, and politics. She lives in Brooklyn with her husband and daughter.

Table of Contents

Introduction ix

1 What Is Heaven? 1

2 The Miracle 27

3 The Kingdom Is Near 53

4 Green, Green Pastures 81

5 Resurrection 105

6 Salvation 125

7 Visionaries 157

8 Reunions 183

9 Is Heaven Boring? 207

Epilogue 239

Author's Note and Acknowledgments 249

Notes 255

Bibliography 297

Index 321

What People are Saying About This

Martin E. Marty

“Readers of HEAVEN will more likely than not find their own imaginations enriched, their experiences enhanced, their taste for exploration enlarged, and their impulse to reach out in empathy and hope quickened.”

Stephen Prothero

“A rare combination of journalism, memoir, and historical research by a self-professed skeptic who nonetheless believes in hope, this smart yet heartfelt book leads us into the center of one of the greatest conversations of all time. And Lisa Miller is the perfect conversation partner.”

Karen Armstrong

“This fascinating, thoughtful, and challenging study tells us a great deal about what it means to be a human being.”

Sam Harris

“Lisa Miller has long been the fairest and most engaging journalist covering religion in America. In Heaven, she has accomplished the impossible: She has written a book about religion that fundamentalists, moderates, liberals, and nonbelievers alike can read with extreme pleasure.”

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Heaven: Our Enduring Fascination with the Afterlife 3.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 15 reviews.
parishnurse More than 1 year ago
This book was well written, thoroughy researched and thought provoking. Lisa Miller is an excellent religious writer who also shares her own personal religious beliefs. She is Jewish. This book is a basic discussion of the many beliefs of many different religions regarding the afterlife; specifically heaven. There is also a very warm side to the way Lisa writes as she shares her personal feelings and descriptions of the people she is interviewing. I found her interview of Ann Graham Lotz especially thoughtful and meaningful. I highly recommend this to anyone who is interested in the afterlife. As a born again Christian, it did not change my belief system but it was a fascinating read.
DubiousDisciple on LibraryThing 5 days ago
I¿ve found my soul sister! Meet Lisa Miller, a self-described journalist, religion expert, and professional skeptic. She sometimes wants to believe, but it isn¿t in her. She misses her grandparents, and wishes she could picture them contentedly up there in heaven waiting for her, but she just can¿t. Her journey in this book to learn about heaven may have been spurred by a certain emptiness. In search of heaven, Lisa interviews dozens of people, from rock musicians to homemakers to heavy-hitting theologians. From Muslims to Jews (her heritage) to Christians and beyond. She finds that, for most people, heaven is the best of what they already enjoy on earth¿only a little better. And forever. Lisa likes statistics, and the statistics show religious views are changing. Today, 65 percent of Americans believe that many different religious paths can lead to eternal salvation. Only a third of Americans still believe in a God who controls human events. Yet, 81 percent of Americans tell pollsters that they believe in heaven, up from 72 percent ten years earlier. How can this be? ¿It¿s hard to know exactly what they mean¿beyond an automatic and understandable hope for something after death besides the terrifying end of everything.¿ Belief in reincarnation, for example, is trending upward, fueled in part because people today WANT to come back and live again. Life is better in our age. Where before, we wanted to escape the cycle, now we want another run at it.A fun and thought-provoking book, I¿d recommend this one for anyone.
richardderus on LibraryThing 5 days ago
I approached the book as a non-believer in any of the Big Three religions responsible for the idea of Heaven in the first place. I want always to keep my antennae out for changes in their belief systems, since the Big Three have a history of disliking people like me, and the only way to do that is to read up on where things began. Can't recongize change if you don't have a picture of the starting point, can you?Ideas of Heaven have always seemed so...well, silly is the only word I have for it...to me. I can think of nothing that fits more exactly the "are you KIDDING with this stuff?!" strain of unbelief than the notion of Eternal Delight or Eternal Punishment. What could one possibly do in one meager lifetime to merit Eternal Anything At All? It's a very exclusion-oriented, blame-fixated kind of concept.So that's what I learned about myself from reading this book: I chose wisely when I waved bye-bye to Jesus, I can't even buy into the rewards program, still less the nonsensical rules part of the contract.But the evolution of the idea, which remains one of the most powerful and motivating in the Big Three's arsenal, is fascinating. The author is a professional religion journalist in mainstream publications (!) and a sort of practicing Jew. Of the Big Three, Judaism is the lightest on the Heaven front, and isn't growing as fast as the other two, more nimble, marketers. She approaches each of her subjects with a profound respect for his or her beliefs, with the notable and quite rudely dismissive exception of a psychic medium. She delves briefly into the history of each of the Big Three's ideas of Heaven before going into a lot of detail about the current set of beliefs in the current version of their concepts.It's a shock to me that people buy this guff at all. It's transparently manipulative, and it's not in the least bit shy about its net effect of damning those Not Like You to eternity without happiness. What a horrifyingly vicious mindset that is.Well, the author doesn't agree with me, and she very carefully and very thoroughly explains what the Big Three's adherents today think without judging them. I wish I could be so kind. I judge them harshly for this mindset, and I think they should all remember that chickens always come home to roost...what goes out strongly flavors what comes back.Look at me! I give out rationalistic unbelief, and am engulfed in *tidal waves* of emotionalistic credulity. It is the way of the world. More's the pity.
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AnonymousMN More than 1 year ago
Ms. Miller has written a fascinating book on images of the afterlife as seen primarily in the beliefs of Judaism, Christianity, and Islam. Information is drawn from the early Biblical writings to modern day theologians and scholars to popular culture. Ms. Miller is objective in her presentation; she has no "agenda". A celestial afterlife is believed in by people across all religions. I liked this book because the author does not claim to know what heaven looks like. Extensive footnotes and a wide-ranging bibliography will be useful to any reader for further exploration of the subject. The information is presented; it is left to the reader to decide what heaven - of if there is a heaven - is like
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Mrs-Fox More than 1 year ago
I only made it halfway through this book before giving up on it entirley. I thought it was well researched but poorly written. Not the Heaven I know!
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unkadon More than 1 year ago
Well done and thoughtfully presented. Execellent background and history and very good interviews.