Library Journal’s Eric Norton on “Heaven”

Miller (religion editor, Newsweek) offers a sample of the myriad views of heaven held by Americans today, as well as surveying the inspiration for those views, from both the Abrahamic traditions and contemporary culture. She casts a wide net for her interview subjects, including Mormons, Lubavitcher Jews, Swedenborgians, and a Catholic lay hermit, along with theologians, religious leaders, and typical Christians, Jews, and Muslims. She presents us with the historical thought and writings as well as pop culture sources that are the basis of various current understandings of heaven, including chapters on different aspects of the question of heaven such as who will be there; she even goes so far as to address the question of whether heaven will be boring. Like the stories of many people today, Miller’s own religious story is complex; throughout the text, she interweaves her personal struggle with the idea of heaven.

VERDICT: Miller’s potpourri of ancient tradition and modern opinions should prove interesting to any general reader who has ever wondered about the great beyond. All of this will already be familiar to specialists.