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part of a small rebellion | by maryann johanson

Heaven Is for Real trailer: fantasy? or paranoid thriller?

If we can pull apart the inconsistencies of a fantasy story right in the trailer, I don’t see how it can succeed.

Let’s see: In this “Heaven” place, miscarried babies get to grow up to become, at least, small children. (“In Heaven, this little girl came up to me, she told me she died in your tummy.”) But old men get to revert to young adulthood. Is there a “perfect” age that everybody gets to be? Does everyone get to choose this age, or is it chosen for you? Just how rigorous is the worldbuilding here?! “In Heaven, everybody’s young,” says the kid who visited “Heaven,” but c’mon: to little kids, all adults are “old.” “Pop” should have still looked “old” to the kid.

Hey! Perhaps this isn’t a fantasy but a thriller about how the kid is being manipulated by adults to tell them things they want to hear. I mean, when Greg Kinnear is trying to get the kid to admit he’d seen “Pop” in “Heaven,” he didn’t show the kid an array of old-fashioned black-and-white photos of different young men asked the kid to pick out “Pop.” That would have been a way to ensure that the kid was being honest and not merely trying to please his father. No, instead, Kinnear shows the kid just one photo and a “please oh please say yes” look on his face.

Maybe this will be a really creepy movie. Can’t wait to find out.

US/Canada release date: Apr 16 2014 | UK release date: May 9 2014
official site | IMDb
posted in:
movie buzz | trailers
  • Heaven Is For Real

    After reading the article it appears that you may not be a Christian. I literally just finished reading this book a few minutes ago. God has allowed this story so that we can have a glimpse of what our Heavenly home is going to be like. I for one am looking forward to going to Heaven and seeing Jesus on his throne in his beautiful white clothes and sash of purple and crown upon his head. Can you even imagine being taught by Jesus himself. I had never thought about meeting John the Baptist. But guess what? He will be there as well. As a Christian I have often wondered what Heaven was going to be like, and now I have a good idea. What a glorious place it will be. What a wonderful time it will be reuniting with those that have gone before me and waiting for those that will come after me. What a magnificent future to anticipate. As for you, you can be in the presence of God as well. I prayed for you, that if you were not a Christian that the Lord would open your heart and you would receive him.

  • RogerBW
  • Beowulf

    Really…? C’mon, this is one of my friends, right? Are you Jim?

  • RogerBW

    Spambots need Christ’s love too?

  • hahahahah! This is a POE, right? No way this guy is for real,

  • Jonathan Roth

    Just remember, Jesus saves…

    …30% off mold removal in the florida area.

  • I have never thought about meeting John the Baptist, either.

    I think I’m mostly looking forward to meeting Groucho Marx in heaven.

  • Rebecca Dalmas

    I think there is a whole lot of interesting potential in films exploring NDEs or similar such experiences. The author of the book Proof of Heaven has a fascinating story to tell, as does the book Embraced By the Light. I personally know a woman who had a life-changing moment in an NDE following a blood clot.
    And, MaryAnn, btw, an objective way to give everyone the “Heaven age” is to put them in their bodies in full health, without aging. (Maybe babies get to grow until they get there, maybe not.)

  • Rebecca Dalmas

    I went over and read the first; it’s not a description of inconsistencies, he only asserts that it is without backing it up.
    The second barely if at all touches on Biblical teachings but rather asserts some philosophical contradictions.

  • Danielm80

    The article doesn’t need to touch on Biblical teachings. It just needs to show that the movie contradicts itself and presents a theology that makes no sense.

    I’m a religious person. My beliefs about the afterlife are based on Biblical teachings. But I can accept the Bible as true without also having to accept illogical, sentimental crap like Heaven is for Real.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Not really. There’ve already been several. Either the character sees the writer’s version of “heaven”, in which case you get schmaltzy glurge like this, or the see “demons” and shit, in which case you get inane “thrillers” and “horror” movies.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Maybe you didn’t notice, but the answer to your question is right below your comment on that thread. (Or above, depending on you have Disqus set up.)

  • Rebecca Dalmas

    The first article doesn’t demonstrate any contradictions, it only asserts them.
    There is very little in the Bible about specifics of the afterlife, yet a whole lot in Christian culture about it. We don’t have to accept anyone’s account of what they believe they witnessed of the afterlife.

  • Rebecca Dalmas

    Thanks, but which article, and by which sorting method? (Oldest, newest,…)

  • Rebecca Dalmas

    Or you see something different and unique, or more nuanced and well-done, asking more questions, ect…. Have you read or heard of Proof of Heaven? His story, as a non-devout neuroscientist, is fascinating.
    BTW, it doesn’t have to be theist to be schmaltzy.
    Jill Bolte Taylor, another neuroscientist, gives an account on TED talks of her stroke 8 or so years after the fact. It’s not an out-of-body experience but one of feeling and perceiving when one side of the brain is ceasing to function. It’s not about God or Heaven but it’s plenty schmaltzy, warm and fuzzy you could say, but also plenty of food for thought.
    Even if NDEs are purely products of our physiology and having no connection to any afterlife, they are interesting to me.

  • Rebecca Dalmas

    For the record, though, I am not betting on this film as being good, I am just not willing to knock it based on the trailer.

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    The article where you asked how the movie is unbiblical. I sort newest first

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    The first article doesn’t demonstrate any contradictions, it only asserts them.There is very little in the Bible about specifics of the afterlife, yet a whole lot in Christian culture about it.

    And therein lies the contradiction. There’s even a TV Tropes term for it: Word of Dante. This movie and its book are the theological equivalent of fan fiction. Some Christians might believe it, but that doesn’t make it part of Christianity. To suggest otherwise is to suggest that all apocrypha is True™, and do you really want to go down that rabbit hole?

    Bear in mind that the target of that article, and much of Fred Clark’s writing, is the segment of white Evangelical Christians whole like to proclaim things like biblical inerrancy and literalism. By those people’s own rules, “Heaven is for Real” is grossly contradictory to scripture. Go back and reread it, you’ll see that that is the point Fred Clark is making. While you’re at it, go back and reread the second article about doppelgangers, because your comment about explaining why no one in heaven would get older really misses the point.

  • Rebecca Dalmas

    A story claiming to be someone’s experience of the afterlife is not a contradiction with a theology that ascribes to an afterlife. There is a difference between being inconsistent with Biblical teachings and just being one of many possible ways the universe might fit with those teachings.

    I didn’t see the contradiction. You claim it’s there, feel free to point it out in your own words.

    ” your comment about explaining why no one in heaven would get older really misses the point.”
    Please forgive me if I don’t take your word for it. :)

  • Dr. Rocketscience

    Again, the target here are biblical literalists, the “If it’s in the Bible, it’s True; if it ain’t in the Bible, it ain’t true” crowd. Most of the popular conceptions of Christian heaven and hell are just that: popular conceptions. They are extra-biblical descriptions coming from non-church sources. (Much of it comes from Dante’s “Divine Comedy”, hence the term “word of Dante”.) That the literalists are going to embrace “Heaven is For Real” indicates that they aren’t concerned by that contradiction, so long enough of their tribal markers are on display.

    As for it maybe fitting, you can’t just make up any old shit you like, tossing Jesus in there somewhere, and call it “biblical”. Theology, exegesis, and hermeneutics just don’t work that way. Maybe if Todd Burpo was making up some non-denominational version of the afterlife, he might get away with whatever he liked. But as soon as he tosses Jesus in there, he’s claiming Christianity, and therefore the Christian bible. What’s more, he claims it to be a “true story”. So now the problem becomes, if Burpo is right about heaven, then the Bible is wrong, since the Bible doesn’t describe the things Burpo says his son describes. And again we run headlong into Biblical inerrancy.

    Please forgive me if I don’t take your word for it.

    Then allow me to explain. Your comment focused on the issue of why people in Burpo’s “Heaven” wouldn’t age. That is, why they wouldn’t get any older than the age they appear. That problem never came up in the piece. Fred Clark’s issue is why an unborn (miscarried) person would appear as a “little girl”.

  • Rebecca Dalmas

    Your description of Bible literalists seems more like a caricature. Do you have any primary sources, by evangelical theologians, for example? I grew up in the Bible Belt and have participated in countless conversations with evangelicals, some in agreeance but most in active debate, and this doesn’t accurately describe their doctrine. (For the record evangelicals by doctrine don’t believe I’ll be ending up in Heaven.)
    There is an evangelical belief that the Bible contains all doctrine that God wants for His children, but this does not mean doctrinally mean that the Holy Spirit cannot move people or guide them in their lives. The subject at hand is merely a trailer for a movie about a family’s experience with the NDE of their little boy. There is nothing heterodox as considering such a scenario as a possible glimpse into the afterlife. There’s nothing hypocritical about people believing or enjoying such a testimonial. The strongest meaning of any such story is in the title itself, and that, of course, is Biblical.
    Thanks for your explanation.
    The article indeed does discuss the grandfather and how he does not appear “old,” but “young.” There are possible explanations for why, if God allowed a soul to see Heaven when their life is not yet over, they would percieve people certain ways. Those that die before physical maturity may have a chance to grow into it, those that reach it may then never begin the process of aging in their new bodies. OTOH, souls may merely appear in ways that God wants them to appear.
    To sum up, there is a big difference between holding firm that doctrine is set in stone and rejecting anything that contradicts it, and that of considering possible ways known doctrine might play out in reality. I’m sure if there was an obvious contradiction with doctrine, many evangelicals would reject such a film, like say if Jesus appeared as a woman of if Joseph Smith was in Heaven. ;) (I am LDS)

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