Tag Archive: Heaven is For Real


Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

As Easter creeps closer, there are things to be done.

It is the traditional time of Spring Cleaning. So much dust and dirt collects in my house that I feel like I can never keep up with it. One week I clear cobwebs and the next week they are back again. Dirt and sand gather for some party I was never invited to join.

During this time of the year, now that taxes are done, I find myself going through a ton of paper that needs to be shredded. I always think I am going to get at those big closets or piles of clutter but the regular stuff gets me distracted every time. In the end my goal becomes to get through one nasty place a day.

All of this is in preparation for Easter, making sure the house is ready. Or maybe it hearkens back to the Jewish holiday of Passover in which cleaning happens in earnest. There can be no leavening agent left in the house before the start of Passover which is the night of April 3rd this year.

I always remember this because the Last Supper was the Seder dinner, the first night of Passover that Jesus and his disciples would have observed.

Image from Wikipedia

Image from Wikipedia

For this week we think about those Christian movies more than usual. And in the past few years, Hollywood has responded to people wanting more movies about Christian faith. I recently watched Heaven is For Real starring Greg Kinnear. I am not sure a movie like this would have starred a big name of a name or talented actor of an actor as Kinner as recent as a few years ago if the script was poorly written.

If you are looking for a movie that is family friendly, this one is beyond a few outbursts of anger and one scene in which dad tells his daughter she needs to punch someone without hurting herself. But content wise, this movie is better for pre-teens and up. Their minds are better able to understand the nuances.

The story is about a four-year-old boy who nearly dies from mis-diagnosed appendicitis. It is during this time that he goes to heaven, meeting family members, Jesus, and God. As the boy recovers he slowly begins talking about his experiences with his family. For the dad, who is a minister, it causes a crisis of faith. He is torn by people who support him and others who doubt that such a thing could happen.

Kelly Riley, Connor Corum, and Greg Kinnear in Heaven is For Real

Kelly Riley, Connor Corum, and Greg Kinnear in Heaven is For Real

Many of my friends who have seen this movie state that the book is better and I do not disagree. In the book, much of the action took over two years to happen. As the movie goes, much of the action takes place within a year’s time. But Greg Kinnear and Kelly Reilly give heartfelt sincere performances as parents trying to understand what has happened to their son and how that affects their life in the present.

I enjoyed the movie because of that sincerity. I likes the little boy who focuses on what he saw for minutes at a time while his father seems to want to dig deeper. That’s how we adults operate, we want every detail and the little kids want to play in the sand box. I believed the story that this child saw something but defining it for adults was not always easy. Isn’t that faith in a nutshell?

Until next week, see you in the rental aisle.

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Family Movie Night

by Karyn Bowman

Starting earlier this year with the release of Son of God, it is being said that 2014 is the year of the biblical movie.

Just looking at a list of movies shows that there are at least four major motion pictures with biblical or faith-based themes to them.

Last week, an independent movie called God’s Not Dead starring Kevin Sorbo was released. The story is about a college student who feels pressured to give up his faith by an atheist professor. Instead of giving in, that kid played by Shane Harper (Spencer from Good Luck, Charlie), chooses to defend his beliefs and does so scientifically.

While the critics have not been kind, I am interested in seeing this movie. I want to see how they portray the conflict and how our main character, Josh, is able to defend his beliefs.

NoahThis week, the big production of Noah makes it to the big screen. Russell Crowe stars as the man who is given the task to build a boat that will save his family and many of the creatures of the earth. I became excited about the movie after watching several trailers showing water rushing down and the very human story of all those people being left behind.

It has been reported that the word “God” is not used in this movie. Instead other names are used, which actually is appropriate considering this is a story from a Jewish standpoint. In the Jewish tradition, you do not call “God” by his name because that word is so powerful. “Yaweh” is a more common term that is allowable. I also read that the director, Darren Aronofsky, has been wanting to make this film for years but it took his great success with Black Swan to make that possible.

In April, Heaven is For Real comes to the big screen starring Greg Kinnear as the father of a young boy who states he saw Jesus when the boy was very sick with appendicitis. Adapted from the book of the same title, I expect a very gentle telling of this story. I find Greg Kinnear can be very subtle and engaging, he is able to tell a story well. I wonder how they will deal with various parts of the book that show a family in crisis as well as the moments of joy.

This fall, Nicholas Cage stars in the remake of Left Behind. I wonder what kind of performance he will give knowing how intense this actor can be. Finally, we will go through Exodus starring Christian Bale (Batman series) as Moses and Ridley Scott in the director’s chair in the month of December.

Kelly Riley, Connor Corum, and Greg Kinnear in Heaven is For Real

Kelly Riley, Connor Corum, and Greg Kinnear in Heaven is For Real

What some might say is that Hollywood realizes there is some good money to be made by playing to Christian believers. But I believe these movies do not get made unless producers believe they will actually get their money back.

I also believe that there are people hungry for movies about faith and belief. Otherwise a movie such as Heaven is For Real may have never seen the light of day. Noah and Exodus are made for the spectacle they create. But movies like Heaven are made for us normal people to ponder.

Until next week, see you in the Rental Aisle.

Sometimes friends pass a book along your way and you don’t read it.

There are many reasons, I suppose.

You think it is not your style, not within your favorite genre. You don’t like the cover, don’t like the author, don’t want to hear the message. You are too busy doing this that and the other.

Image from Wikipedia

Image from Wikipedia

Any of these reasons could have applied when one of my friends handed me Heaven is For Real. I thought it was going to be packed with Christian gobbley-gook that I was not interested in hearing or reading.

That is until six months later when I made the effort to READ the book.

I was having one of ‘those’ days in which every plan I made was being re-routed.

The youngest declared he was sick with a sore throat and a slight fever. So then my morning was going to be spent in the doctor’s office. I had cleaned out this book from my bedside stash and decided to read it before giving it back to my friend.

After the son threw up not once but several times in the lobby before even seeing the doctor, I sat in the waiting room and started reading. Soon I was several chapters through and we were called in for a weighing. Then we were shuffled off to a patient room.

Sam curled up in a chair and slept some more while I continued reading. Once we were seen by the doc and sent on our merry way with a phoned-in prescription  I read the book while in the drive-through line at the pharmacy.

Later that day, when I sort-of caught up on all of the things that needed to be done, I finished reading the book.

The story is about a 3-year-old boy who suffers through a burst appendix – that doctors miss at first – and nearly dies. But he doesn’t. Somehow through the power of prayer and God’s mercy this boy lives. But as the months pass by, he begins to talk about his experiences during that time.

He talks about singing angels, about Heaven, jewels, gates, God, and Jesus.

The boy talks about what they look like, what the angels are willing to sing, the people he sees and the places he goes. None of this happens right away and the parents are careful to not ask any leading questions. But it is a fascinating read as a parent struggles with his faith during the worst of times and then sees the fruit of his faith.

One question that comes up time and time again is what does Jesus look like? They boy and his family saw many pictures of Jesus and with nearly each one the boy said it was wrong. That is until the parents began sharing their story with others in public settings. That is when someone passes on a link of a story about another child who claims to have seen Jesus.

Image from Tumblr

Image from Tumblr

But this little girl drew a picture when she was 8-years-old. It is an incredible picture and not just because of the subject. It is a beautifully done portrait of a man who could have been done by a person twice her age.

The detail of the picture in the beard and the cloth is incredible.

Now being the blasphemous that I am, the first thought in my mind was “Jesus looks like Kenny Loggins?”

That is until I was drawn in by the eyes. Green eyes do that to me. While one conversation at my sunday school has been about what was it about Jesus that made people follow him, I look at a picture like this and know that there was immediate trust.

In those eyes, there is a steadiness that comforts and calms. He is a mix of European and Middle East. And that nose, so straight, almost Aquiline.

I could fall in love with this picture.

Now, would I recommend this book to you?

Yes, I would if you are a Christian. If you are not a Christian, I would ask that you give the book a chance. Read it, ruminate on it, shift through chapters. In the end, you may believe more or believe less.

But I guarantee it will make you think about Heaven and if you are going there.