Thursday, April 1, 2010

Three Hours in Somewhere Other Than Heaven

A couple of weeks ago, my beloved wife, Anna, went to the library and checked out a book called 90 Minutes in Heaven. The book is the semi-autobiography of a Baptist minister named Don Piper, who apparently presides over a congregation with 10,000 active members. Really.

So anyway, Rev. Piper had a amazing experience in 1989: he died. We’re not just talking he died on the operating table, or his heart stopped, or whatever. This guy was killed in a car wreck; he lay there dead, under a tarp, for 90 minutes; and an acquaintance, who didn’t even know who was under the tarp, was prompted to pray for his restoration to life. And it worked. Very cool stuff.

That’s the good part.

The second, and somewhat more striking aspect of the book, is what happened while Rev. Piper was dead: he claims he went to Heaven.

Now, never mind that God wasn’t there, Jesus wasn’t there, and the Holy Ghost wasn’t there. Never mind that there was a gigantic, pearlescent gate that neither he nor any of his friends and family could pass through, on the other side of which he knew there was someplace better than where he was. Never mind the fact that nobody goes to Heaven right when they die. Never mind that Rev. Piper’s every last detail sounds exactly like Hell, but he’s unfortunately too ignorant to have recognized it. (And no, that’s not me being mean; we’re all ignorant of a lot of things, and I certainly don’t claim to be an expert on the subject. But I digress….)

So getting back to the point, let’s ignore all that for a moment. This amazing, supernal experience that has ostensibly helped so many people takes up a whopping eight—yes, eight—pages of a 200-plus–page book. Of the remaining 200 or so pages, about half deal with his fatal wreck—which is obviously important—and his recovery (which was also interesting; some really cool medical stuff in there), while the remaining half deals with how his experience affected him and others (which is, to be honest, not so interesting).

Let’s be succinct: this book is boring.

If you’re going to bother reading it at all, I’d highly recommend you bail out after the first eight or nine chapters, because after that you’re mostly just reading the same thing over and over again. In fact, my personal favorite example of this is chapter 14, where he spends a few pages talking about how his death and recovery affected his three children, then turns the time over to each of them to describe the exact same things he just talked about—often word for word!!!

The bottom line is that this book fails on two levels: first, it describes a “Heaven” that could be only described as such by someone that doesn’t plan to get to Heaven per se; and second, it spends about 100 pages telling stories that could easily have been summed up in ten. Having just discovered that there’s another, shorter version (at left; it’s about 80 pages shorter, which should be perfect!), I can only assume that that would be a much better use of one’s time.

1 comment:

  1. I read this book too, also thinking what a joke. It sold a bunch of copies and made the guy rich. But at what expense. Perhaps he "went" somewhere, but I doubt it.