Book review: Heaven: Our Enduring Fascination with the Afterlife

by Lisa Miller


I’ve found my soul sister! Meet Lisa Miller, a self-described journalist, religion expert, and professional skeptic. She sometimes wants to believe, but it isn’t in her. She misses her grandparents, and wishes she could picture them contentedly up there in heaven waiting for her, but she just can’t. Her journey in this book to learn about heaven may have been spurred by a certain emptiness.

In search of heaven, Lisa interviews dozens of people, from rock musicians to homemakers to heavy-hitting theologians. From Muslims to Jews (her heritage) to Christians and beyond. She finds that, for most people, heaven is the best of what they already enjoy on earth—only a little better. And forever.

Lisa likes statistics, and the statistics show religious views are changing. Today, 65 percent of Americans believe that many different religious paths can lead to eternal salvation. Only a third of Americans still believe in a God who controls human events. Yet, 81 percent of Americans tell pollsters that they believe in heaven, up from 72 percent ten years earlier. How can this be? “It’s hard to know exactly what they mean—beyond an automatic and understandable hope for something after death besides the terrifying end of everything.” Belief in reincarnation, for example, is trending upward, fueled in part because people today WANT to come back and live again. Life is better in our age. Where before, we wanted to escape the cycle, now we want another run at it.

A fun and thought-provoking book, I’d recommend this one for anyone.

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