Quantcast

«

»

Nov 04 2013

Playing with fire when talking about the afterlife

Psychologist Susan K. Perry writes that books like Heaven for Kids by Randy Alcorn with Linda Washington that make heaven seem appealing can be dangerous. (Alcorn is described on the book jacket as ‘a leading authority on heaven’, which prompts the question of how anyone could earn such a title.)

But Alcorn makes heaven sound very cool to kids, and tries to answer all possible questions a child might ask (rather pathetically, in my opinion).

If you don’t know the basics, I understand them to be this, based on Alcorn’s book: you die, go to temporary heaven, then at some point Jesus comes (back) to earth, really nasty things happen to nonbelievers, then you go to real heaven, a.k.a. New Earth, where you live forever in the presence of Jesus and God and whoever you want to spend time with, maybe even a pet you once had, you will have a really good body, and you’ll keep learning new things, you can dance (but not in the way that causes impure thoughts), you can be with your wife or husband, but probably only as best friends, and you will never want to do bad things and you will be unbelievably happy doing only good things forever.

As to who we get to hang out with in heaven, other than Jesus, Alcorn writes, “Death isn’t the end of our relationships. It’s just an interruption. It’s like the people who have died have gone on a trip ahead of us, but later we’re going to join them. And then we’ll always be together.”

Heavens may be a harmless fantasy for most but can be a dangerous temptation for a few. As Perry says:

[A]nytime a group extols the extraordinary rewards of death and what comes after, you’re skimming the edges of being a death cult. That’s how terrorists happen, if the timing and culture align a certain way.

Perry says that we should stop teaching children about heaven, at least in such rosy terms that makes our one and only life on Earth seem so miserable by comparison.

12 comments

Skip to comment form

  1. 1
    raven

    (Alcorn is described on the book jacket as ‘a leading authority on heaven’, which prompts the question of how anyone could earn such a title.)

    Simple. You just make it all up.

    There are leading authorities on Leprechauns, Fairies, Elves, UFO aliens, alien abductions (at Harvard, no less), the Loch Ness Monster, demons, satan, Bigfoot, and on and on in an ever growing cloud of silliness.

    Perry:

    extraordinary rewards of death and what comes after, you’re skimming the edges of being a death cult.

    Skimming???? Fundie xianity is a death cult. That has been known for decades. Perry is being polite or naive here.

    Their best idea is to sit around in a catatonic daze, hoping and praying that jesus shows up 2,000 years late, kills 7 billion people and destroys the earth. The only way they could be any more of a death cult is if we discover interstellar space aliens. Then they can hope jesus kills them too.

    Predictions of the coming Apocalypse happen every few months. And preparing for the End Times is a popular hobby. IIRC, there is even a reality TV program about doomsday preppers.

  2. 2
    Trebuchet

    Ad currently at the top of this page:

    Is There a Heaven?
    mormon.org
    Death is not the end. God has a plan for His children. Learn More.

  3. 3
    Mano Singham

    Interesting. The catch is that the algorithm that places the ads uses the viewer’s browsing history as part of the input, so although two people may be reading the same page at the same time, they may see different ads. I did not see that ad.

  4. 4
    invivoMark

    I was going to contribute to this discussion. Then you said everything I was going to. Well said.

  5. 5
    Trebuchet

    I get one Mormon ad or the other on virtually every FTB page. I don’t think it’s anything to do with my browsing history, and in this case is almost certainly related to the content of your post.

    I wasn’t complaining, by the way, it’s just kind of humorous.

    I’ve got the same ad again just now, by the way.

  6. 6
    Mano Singham

    I find it funny too, and make game of trying to find what may explain an ad. Sometimes It has nothing to do with any searches by me.

  7. 7
    G. Priddy

    I thought for sure you were going to reference this recent tragedy:

    http://www.examiner.com/article/girl-12-commits-suicide-to-be-with-father-heaven

  8. 8
    oldymoldy

    I get an ad for Paslode nail guns. And another for Hilton Hotels. I’m glad no one else can see it so they can’t tell I’m not a Dr. guy.

    Seems to me there’s a new row of ads “SPONSORED FROM AROUND THE WEB” just above the comment
    section. Or am I just a lot more careless in my viewing then I want to admit. Hmmm, most of them seem to have scantily clad ladies in them. Guess now we all know some of my viewing habits.

    How in hell could one be ‘a leading authority on heaven’? Who makes this shit up?

  9. 9
    Mano Singham

    I saw that story and it triggered my interest in doing this post. But it turns out that there was no such suicide note saying she wanted to going her father in heaven.

  10. 10
    Pierce R. Butler

    So, Mr. Alcorn – did the people who went through Heaven’s Gate actually get there?

  11. 11
    Dunc

    Death isn’t the end of our relationships. It’s just an interruption. It’s like the people who have died have gone on a trip ahead of us, but later we’re going to join them. And then we’ll always be together.

    Unless they were sinners, of course…

    I’m curious to know what the scriptural justification for this idea of “temporary heaven” is. I’m no bible scholar, but I was always under the impression that there’s no justification for the idea of anybody going anywhere prior to the last judgement, and that the idea of people going directly to heaven, hell or limbo immediately after death was a medieval invention with no scriptural basis.

  12. 12
    raven

    I’m curious to know what the scriptural justification for this idea of “temporary heaven” is.

    Much of what xians believe isn’t in the bible including such things as the Trinity or imminent Apocalypse.

    But it isn’t that big a deal. The bible is mostly fiction and mythology anyway. It’s all make believe, start to finish.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite="" class=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>