Sunday, March 13, 2011

Boy Dreams, Parents Make Millions: Heaven Is For Real is Megahit

It's really sad to see a child's naive faith being exploited to make millions for his religious parents. But that's what has happened to young Colton Burpo.

Colton's appendix got infected and ruptured. He was rushed to emergency surgery and happily his life was saved (by modern medical science, I might add). But when he came out of the anesthetic, he had a rather startling tale to tell: he'd been to Heaven! And Jesus Himself was there (probably a white guy with a beard even though Jesus was probably dark-skinned), along with John the Baptist and even Colton's own great-grandfather!

Now Colton has a mega-seller book, Heaven Is For Real. Not just a sort-of-popular book, but the number one paperback on the New York Times bestseller list (login required).

Now you might think that this is just another of those Jesus-on-your-toast stories, that someone was just out to make a buck on this kid's delusions. But you'd be wrong! These are just humble Midwesterners who want to tell their humble story. "People say we just did this to make money, and it’s not the truth," said father Burpo. "We were expecting nothing. We were just hoping the publisher would break even."

How quaint. That must be why the publisher hired author Lynn Vincent, the very same writer who wrote Sarah Palin's book, Going Rogue.

I'm sorry, but I don't buy this baloney. This isn't some awe-shucks humble family. This is a well-planned exploitation of tiny boy barely out of diapers by a publishing giant and parents who are all too willing to rake in the money from their son's religion-induced delusions.

I wonder will happen as Colton grows up. He's eleven now ... will he ever have the opportunity to question the religious dogma that inspired his dream? If he has questions about his Christian faith, will he be able to ask them? Or will the economic and social pressure force Colton to keep it to himself?

Is it moral to make a kid into a Christian hero before he even understands what it means to be a Christian? Imperial, Nebraska is hardly a hotbed of open-minded secularism, so maybe Colton will never have to even think about these questions.

But I can't help but be cynical about how this four-year-old boy's dream is being exploited. All I can say is this: Colton, if the day ever comes that you have questions about your faith, there are plenty of open-minded people out here to talk to. The won't judge you, and they'll even respect your faith. The world is an amazing place and there is so much to learn. You may decide that Christianity is for you, and if you do then good for you. But don't be afraid to ask questions just because a bunch of people made a bunch of money off of your childhood dream.


  1. What gets me is that instead of simply sharing a story, a profit is being made. This puts the storyteller at an immediate disadvantage. You find out heaven is real, and you decide the best way to share this knowledge is via a for-profit platform?

    I hope that family remembers that camels have a better chance of getting thorugh the eye of a needle than rich folk do of getting to heaven.

  2. JL – I agree. But they're justifying it by pointing to all the good that's coming from the story. Just think how many folks will have their faith strengthened!

    Honestly, I don't mind if these people make a few bucks. After all, I'm happy that people buy my book. But I don't buy their "aw shucks" attitudes.

    My complaint is about how they've boxed this kid in. If he gets to be a young adult and starts questioning his faith, he's going to have all sorts of pressure.

  3. I was looking for a critical review of this book and I wondered if the family was profiting from it or donating the money they make (which is what really good Christians would do).

    I am religious. I attend a Methodist church and belong to a women's groupj. Many women had read and were so excited about this book. So I read it and was just angry. It is just Fundamentalist BS. I was not surprised then when I saw that the co-author wrote a book about Sarah all fits.

    The book i have read that I believe might be a true depiction of the afterlife is Where Dreams May Come by richard Christian Matheson....not the movie but the book.

    I agree with what you are saying 100%. Not everyone who goes to church is a fundamentalist!!! some of us are open minded!

    Carol Janes

  4. Well said, not every Christian ia a fundamentalist, but if you listened to popular rhetoric---that's what you'd come to believe. A story about an amazing experience like this would be golden, but a for profit effort backed by the conservative Christian movement is quite another matter. I look forward to reading the book, but not the ultimate betrayal I feel when my Christian beliefs are made ridiculous by other Christians.

  5. "And Jesus Himself was there (probably a white guy with a beard even though Jesus was probably dark-skinned), along with John the Baptist and even Colton's own great-grandfather!"

    That's a nice straw man argument there. Why don't you actually do some research into what the family is doing with the money before you condemn?

    "That must be why the publisher hired author Lynn Vincent, the very same writer who wrote Sarah Palin's book, Going Rogue."

    What is the big sin in having a ghost writer? If the publisher had hired a writer from the NYT who wrote an article about Palin would they also lose all credibility with you?

    Your arguments are weak and fallacious.

    Oh, and I am a Christian and resent being told that I am "closed minded." I believe that a man came back from the dead. What could be more open minded than that?

  6. God will bless the work which praises His name.
    As a "good" Christian, you are to tithe a tenth. If you are a Christian, you understand that the money you earn is not really yours. You want to share it with less fortunate people.

    When did being a "good" Christian imply that you should give all your money away. If God inspired this book and they wrote it, there was hard work that goes into writing. Should they not get paid for it because they are Christian. If they are true Christians, they will probably do things to glorify Jesus rather than being pressured by sinful people of the world. You try writing 180 pages and not get paid for it.

  7. Everyone needs to stop judging. Including me. It's up to us to judge.


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