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.