Monday, April 28, 2014

IS "Heaven For Real?"

During my vacation, one of the things we did was see the movie "Heaven Is For Real." We paid an outrageous amount ($63 for three adult tickets) at Cinopolis somewhere in the Del Mar area.

Before I discuss the film, that I enjoyed a great deal, I have to pause and talk about movie theaters. Cinopolis is trying to create the "at home" experience. You have a little table with a light, two very nice leather chairs that recline almost as flat as a bed and a menu to bring snacks and drinks...even beer and wine. While it tries to be an at home experience, the sound is a little better and the screen a lot bigger it is not home. We sat a few rows up from the screen on the edge of the room. For $1.39 at RedBox I could have had roughly the same experience, paused it for potty and snack breaks AND I didn't have to drive home when the movie was over. I also would have been $60 richer. From what I saw Friday night, the only reason movies are making more money is that they are charging about three times what they charged even a few years ago. I would bet that total number of patrons is down.

Colman Burpo of "Heaven Is For Real"
After about 30 minutes of previews (wait, was this cable TV or NBC?), the movie managed to start. And what a movie!

"Heaven Is For Real" recounts the true story of a ministers 4 year old son who had a near death experience in the midst of a appendix operation. He survives and afterwards relates what he saw a little at a time. It is disconcerting especially to the good "Christians" in the town and church. I'm sure the book goes into far more detail, my wife assures me that it does, but the main story is there. Even to the Christian faithful, it seems a bit too much to swallow and the minister, already struggling with debt, finds his job on the line. Listening to Colton talk made me think of the line, "Come to me as little children." No one could then and even fewer can do that today.

I was raised a Lutheran, my father was Saxon German. After getting married I started going to the Methodist Church and both of our children were baptized and confirmed Methodists. So I am pretty mainline but find the Methodist Church at least encourages thoughtful discussion.

As any military man and now woman knows today, there are no atheists in the trenches of warfare. Many of us in our daily lives are also touched by some superior force if we but pay attention. Only after a literal near death experience in New Orleans in 2001, I was 30 minutes away from dying because of genetic blood disorder that caused pulmonary embolisms, I went from a believer to a BELIEVER! Later my pulmonary doctor told me somehow I had survived an earlier event that was misdiagnosed but I would not have survived the second. I became convinced I flew to New Orleans to be saved...and I was.

Colton's tale is not very different from those recorded around the world. People have recorded events like this in every culture and nation on earth. It seems to say whether you are Christian or Buddhist, Muslim, Mormon or Sikh or Hindu, God is trying to reach out to us. I heard the Dali Lama once say "To follow your tradition. ALL paths lead to God."

I truly believe God has a design for us. We are part of a greater plan. However, like artists everywhere, I, like you, am not sure what that design is. Maybe that is the challenge!

I do urge you to see the movie. See what you think. It espouses no line, if anything it is almost non-denominationall. It just wants to you consider Jesus if you are a Christian and God for everyone else. it has a slow start and the critics hated it. That alone makes me pay attention. Critics these days seem to only endorse movies that are violent, have too much sex and love it even more if the two are combined and are over the top. Wouldn't you love to see their Internet history trail.

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