Yeah, sure, I wouldn’t mind visiting heaven. Round trip ticket, though, please.
Actually, it’s a real genre of books: all these crappy stories about people dying and recounting their visit with Grandpa and Jesus before getting revivified by doctors. It’s been a huge windfall for Christian publishing houses.
Published in 2004, 90 Minutes in Heaven: A True Story of Life and Death is Piper’s travelogue through God’s kingdom, experienced during the hour and a half he was pronounced dead at the scene of a traffic accident. In that short amount of time, he reconnected with loved ones, joined a celestial choir and marched to the gates of heaven. The book became an instant blockbuster, going on to sell 6 million copies and spend more than five years on the New York Times best-seller list.
Since then, Piper’s breakthrough success has paved the way for dozens of other Christians to write books about their miraculous near-death experiences, some of which have made fortunes for their publishers, booksellers and authors.
But now the market is collapsing, all because an author of one of these books, Alex Malarkey, has come out and admitted that he made it all up. I stand with my fellow atheists in saying, “Yep, we knew it all along…no surprise there at all,” but apparently it shocked evangelical Christians.
The news broke on Friday, causing shockwaves to ripple through the Christian community and generating dozens of headlines across secular media. In the days since, Malarkey’s revelation has cast a spotlight on a highly profitable and popular genre of Christian literature known as “heaven tourism.” Moreover, it has emboldened evangelicals who have long criticized the proliferation of such books, while sending publishers, booksellers and authors into a defensive crouch.
Some, as mentioned above, have been criticizing the genre all along, but I can’t believe there could be so much surprise at this turn of events — the stories were all ludicrous, silly, wish-fulfillment fantasies that made no sense at all, and were typically self-serving. I suspect much of the shock is at the fact that a fellow Christian (Malarkey still believes in Christianity) actually came out and openly admitted that he’d been serving up a load of horseshit. What? Could it be that someone might also admit that they’re not really hearing the voice of Jesus when they pray, too?
But I did enjoy the I-knew-it-all-along arguments from the objectors. This is hilarious.
Over the years, Peters and others, like popular evangelical pastor John MacArthur, have penned critical essays and books about the genre, highlighting their inconsistencies with one another, as well as the contradictions each poses to the Bible. They have also delivered sermons that condemn heaven tourism, while some in the Christian publishing world hammer the industry’s earthly appetite for money.
“They don’t care about the truth. They care about what sells,” Johnson says. “Evangelicals have been poisoned by the industry’s profit-driven pragmatism.”
Right. You blather on about Jesus’s will and the divinity of the Bible, and you care about the truth. And you think that Christianity isn’t already tainted in a thousand ways with profit-seeking. John MacArthur made over half a million dollars in 2011.
Hypocrites, frauds, and liars, every one of them.