“Heaven Is for Real”: Profound Truths Are Not Complicated

Greg Kinnear

by Kathy Winings

kathy-winings-2Hollywood these days is rolling out religiously-themed movies for the big screen with marquee name actors. So far we have seen Son of God, God’s Not Dead and Noah.  Exodus: Gods and Kings, starring Christian Bale, will be released in December. Heaven Is for Real is the latest in this line-up of the faith-based genre.

Based on the bestseller of the same title written by Todd Burpo with Lynn Vincent, the film focuses on the experiences of Burpo, a Wesleyan pastor in a small Nebraska town and his four-year-old son Colton, who has a near-death experience while he is undergoing emergency surgery for a ruptured appendix.

Colton’s experience is unusual in that he does not die during surgery, which is the case with most near-death experiences. On the operating table, Colton sees himself being operated on and is then escorted to heaven by angels where he ultimately meets Jesus. Jesus then proceeds to take him on a quick tour, introducing him to some of Colton’s relatives including his great-grandfather and older sister who died in the womb. As Colton describes it, heaven is more beautiful than anything he has seen before. The remaining focus of the film shifts to his father’s struggle to make sense both personally and theologically of his son’s experience. This in turn has a serious impact on Todd’s congregation.

The movie paints a picture of a typical Midwestern farming community in which everyone, the Burpos included, is struggling to make ends meet. Todd pastors a small Wesleyan Church, but like so many contemporary churches, he must maintain a full-time outside job in order to take care of his family.

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Applied Unificationism’s First “Blog-iversary”

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The Applied Unificationism (AU) Blog launched a year ago on May 1, 2013. Its hosts, Unification Theological Seminary and Barrytown College, as schools for people seeking to understand how to bridge faith and reality, aimed to create a site where worthy ideas applying Unificationism to all aspects of society can be discussed among members and friends of the FFWPU and related organizations. In a time of transition since the passing of our Founder, we have also sought to make it a place where the future of the Family Federation and its work may be thoughtfully discussed.

Since then, the AU Blog has received 48,000 hits from over 150 countries with more than 200 email followers, published over 75 articles and posted 400 comments. Our material is regularly linked to from Facebook (where we get the majority of our referrals), email listservs, the UTS Alumni site, and occasionally the FFWPU-USA opinion page. We began a Twitter account last year (@UTS_AU_Blog) and will create a Facebook page soon.

At the end of last year, we unveiled a new site design that has been very well-received, and from January have published a number of articles that generated a large number of site hits, in one case almost 1,000 in a day. Article contributors have expanded from largely UTS faculty to a broad and international range of writers, which continues to grow each month. In April, we began a new feature: film and book reviews, and especially encourage reviews from second generation Unificationists. As always, we welcome new op-ed/commentary submissions of 1,000-1,500 words.

And if you haven’t already, please “Follow” the AU Blog by signing up on the home page to receive an email each time we post something new.

If you like what the AU Blog is trying to achieve, please consider sending a monthly (or even one-time) donation to UTS/Applied Unification Blog.

This will specify the use of your donation for this Blog. Use the Donation Page on the Barrytown College website and select the “Applied Unificationism Blog” on the pulldown menu.

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