What is heaven? Eighty percent of Americans say they believe in heaven, yet very few of them can articulate anything specific about their belief. Numerous questions surrounding the concept of heaven have existed for ages, and Americans continue to grapple with these ideas. In her new book, Heaven: Our Enduring Fascination with the Afterlife (Harper; March 23, 2010; Hardcover; $25.99), Newsweek Religion editor Lisa Miller provides a groundbreaking history of the afterlife and offers a new understanding of this cherished spiritual ideal.
Notions of what heaven is vary widely, but the desire for afterlife has remained universal across all religious traditions throughout history. In Heaven, Miller journeys back over 2000 years to explore the roots of different beliefs in heaven. Drawing on her interviews with religious leaders, academics, and everyday Americans, Miller sheds light on many of the intriguing topics that influence our perceptions of heaven, including the ideas of resurrection, prophets and visionaries, and salvation. By exploring the earliest biblical conceptions of the afterlife and ancient theologies as well as modern-day views of Jewish, Muslim, and Christian believers, Miller examines what exactly these beliefs in the afterlife are, how they have impacted one another, and how they have evolved to meet the needs of their followers – for both good and evil – throughout the ages.
In tackling the many intriguing and enduring questions about the afterlife, Heaven addresses this complex notion in an accessible and engaging manner. Miller’s enlightening work offers a definitive look at a shared religious ideal and allows Americans to reflect on how their own views of heaven compare to both traditional and popular ideas on the afterlife.