Is "Heaven is for Real" the Worst Con Job Ever Perpetrated on a Movie Audience?

The basic premise follows the ideas laid down in the 1970s by people like Kubler-Ross claiming that there is proof of an afterlife in the anecdotal evidence of after-lifers who were technically dead on a gurney or in the operation room and saw a bright white light and then the faces of all departed friends and family. Here, it is a small boy who undergoes such an experience and comes back insisting he has gone to a place called heaven.

Wouldn't it be pretty to think so. Like the disappearing aneurism of the woman who claimed one of two miracles resulting in the canonization of John-Paul II, there are any number of scientific explanations for why a child would come up with such a thing. Nothing in the movie can be validated as authentication of an afterlife. No, I have not seen it yet and am willing to be convinced if the evidence is there. I have watched the trailers, and of course they always give away everything you need to know about a film. (I recently rented a movie about old farts trying to stage a last bromantic adventure in Las Vegas because the trailer had one of them saying the long-term spat between friends was nothing since he'd endured a hemorrhoid for 17 years. Turned out to be the only good line of dialogue in the entire movie.)

It saddens me to see greedy Hollywood producers pandering to the gullibles just to make a buck.

Tags: Afterlife, Movies, Science, Superstition

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I agree with you, James. It's all to make a buck. I've not seen the film myself but how could any of this be validated? It simply cannot. At this point the child must feel super special because adults have reinforced his belief in his dream sequence beyond belief. The child thought it was real before. Now he knows it is real. The problem is that he has been lied to and everyone has been had. That doesn't matter to the theist community however. They want to believe things like this, and they do believe things like this every day.

I think it's important to remember that the father, Todd Burpo, is a minister of a small church and there is no telling how much 'coaching' his son had along the way to this experience and after when the father was writing the book.

My question is why all the faithful had to wait for this book/movie to come along before they really believed. Wasn't the word of the Lord enough for them?

No, the word of the lord is not enough ... not when their faith is under constant challenge from us, never mind the fact that any kind of serious scrutiny of their faith makes it too much resemble a cheese that's been "Swissed."  Anything they can use to reinforce that faith, to fool themselves if not fool us, repeated incidents like this show us, they will go for and apparently without embarrassment.

Such behavior might be pitiable were it not so ludicrous.

It's not just that it's pitiable or ludicrous. It's dangerous. Imagine all the tambourine banging, bibble thumping ignoramuses out there taking their children to see this. "Hey Tommy and Suzie. Don't look to science or reality to explain things or solve actual problems. You get hit by an 18 wheeler on an Interstate at 70 mph. And guess what. You'll go to the fairy land in the sky!" Training another generation to be ignorant, religiously motivated bigots and imbeciles.

And of course there are more dangerous scenarios, such as teaching children that if you die fighting for your religion you go to a far out place where there are 72 virgins (or rare raisins) waiting for you. (Actually, with children, the raisins makes more sense, as children are not likely to be enticed by virgins.)

Of course it's dangerous, never mind a severe disservice to the kids.  Reality is a tough enough row to hoe as it is without having to deal with the cognitive dissonance religion layers on top of it.  What's even worse though is that you have adults scared of something that doesn't exist, teaching their children to be scared of that same nothing.

Now THAT is a travesty.

Well, I found the movie on the Internet but asked myself if I really wanted to watch this drival? Sugar coated nonsense with subtitles on the screen. (I can watch anything but this was a foreign release version.) I chose not to watch it.

Instead I saw trailers and everything on You Tube about it. We find that Colton Burpo was 4 when his appendix burst. A very bright kid, he was close to his pastor father, Todd Burpo, who told him stories, etc. (That is your evidence right there.) They almost lost Colton, but he did not die. He had a "near death experience." Is near death close enough? Young Colton went to heaven, saw his dead relatives, (all a youthful age now) saw Jesus in a robe and on a multi-colored horse, and he even saw the virgin Mary kneeling at a cross. Colton sat on Jesus' lap and even saw the hand and feet wounds in his body.

Todd Burpo was angry that god was going to take his boy, and he prayed in anger. Jesus later told Colton that was why he had to send him back, and everyone admits that Colton was not really dead.

Over time this story came out as an ebook and later the movie. Critics say the story is bogus and nothing here is biblical. Colton, now 14, says he knows that his story is helping a lot of people. Lots of christians who really want to believe agree. Note that it was the father, Todd Burpo, who really wrote the book. Thisi is a message they just had toget out to us all.

Washington Post write, Susan Jacoby, said that the success of the book shows that "vast numbers of Americans lack the reasoning ability of adults."

The book has spent 179 weeks on the NYTimes bestseller list, making millions for its author and publisher. It is well on its way to becoming one of the best-selling non-fiction book of all times with over 7 million copies in print. It has 8,895 Amazon reviews of which 6,779—76%—give it five stars, the highest rating.

This is America. You can't argue with success. Americans know a winner when they see one. Heaven is for real, it consists in making yourself rich with a book about heaven.

This movie is just Christian saccharin porn. It’s meant to stir up feelings and cement Christian idolatry into young children's heads by teaching them to sweep aside their early rationalities and embrace the fantasy of magic.

I have little doubt this movie was made in reaction to some of the recent surveys showing that non-religious “beliefs” have been on a steady increase over the past decade while Christian enrollment has been taking a nosedive.

If you got enough money you can make a ridiculous movie about any old stupid thing these days. I bet the word is spreading among believers like wildfire: "Man, heaven is for real ! I know for a fact. I saw all about it in a movie made by people who are not trying to make a financial killing off us gullible believers, and they have no ulterior motives" !

Go to Patheos and read movie reviews there. Our own Richard Haynes writes some of them and they are pretty good.

Just another way to bamboozle the flock to make a buck.  I agree with Dr. Allen the minister/father is the puppeteer pulling the strings.  

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