Praise for Lisa Miller’s Heaven: Our Enduring Fascination with The Afterlife:
“Heaven. The word evokes all kinds of images and feelings in the hearts of people virtually everywhere. In some corners, heaven is seen as a vague sense of euphoria, a state of everlasting bliss. In other corners, heaven is a busy place, where eternal progression is the challenge of eternity. In this fine work, Miller, religion editor for Newsweek, surveys this fascinating subject from the earliest days of Judaism to contemporary expressions of faith. Beneath her pleasing prose and often amusing observations about the afterlife, there is a longing, a desire to be part of what heaven really is. And it is this sense of personal yearning that informs her delightful and insightful study. Heaven is hope, “a constant hope for unimaginable perfection even as we fail to achieve it.” This marvelous work is a readable and wonderfully realized study of this “constant hope” that we share. And whether we align with Constantine or with the Mormon prophet Joseph Smith, whether we’re informed by scripture or by popular culture, Heaven will delight and edify readers at every level.”
– Publisher’s Weekly
“When Newsweek religion editor Lisa Miller was a child, she imagined heaven as a benevolent place in the clouds. Now, as an adult, she isn’t so sure, admitting candidly, “I approach religion from an uneasy, nontraditional place.” Like many Americans, she has long grappled with the most basic of questions: What is heaven? And how do we get there?
In her brainy, engaging book Heaven — a sweeping historical and literary geography of heaven — she talks to priests, a Dominican monk, Muslim clerics, rabbis, and professors (and even visits a psychic, who channels a balding Ed Asner look-alike — no one she knows, though she racks her brain). She doesn’t ignore pop culture, either, touching on everything from The Lovely Bones to the hugely popular Left Behind series. And what she finds is that heaven, to all cultures and religions, means hope. No matter how bad things are in this world, they will get better in the next one.
But once she has finished reporting and researching, Miller’s book loses its hard journalistic edge and becomes something else: a memoir. Her own qualms about faith have danced around the edges of the story, but finally they come front and center. What Miller ultimately concludes may surprise you. It certainly surprised her. EW Grade: A-”
– Entertainment Weekly
Heaven is a fascinating and enduring topic. While hell may be more vivid (after all, Dante’s Inferno gets higher marks among most aficionados than his Paradiso), we aim for heaven. Miller writes engagingly, intersperses her own reflections with those of the wide variety of personalities, and raises the central questions. While it is true that you may not finish knowing what heaven is like, you’ll feel, given the range of religious and other traditions she covers, that you’ve had as close as possible to a virtual tour.
– Huffington Post
“With grace and insight, Lisa Miller has done a remarkable thing: she has written a wonderful book that weaves together contemporary reporting and historical scholarship with skill and energy. The result is a smart and accessible take on the ultimate question: What is Heaven? Lisa’s book is a good place to begin to find an answer.”
–Jon Meacham, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of American Lion
“This fascinating, thoughtful and challenging study tells us a great deal about what it means to be a human being.”
–Karen Armstrong, New York Times bestselling author of A History of God and The Case for God
“Lisa Miller has long been the fairest and most engaging journalist covering religion in America. In Heaven, she has accomplished the impossible: She has written a book about religion that fundamentalists, moderates, liberals, and nonbelievers alike can read with extreme pleasure.”
–Sam Harris, New York Times bestselling author of The End of Faith and Letter to a Christian Nation
“A rare combination of journalism, memoir, and historical research by a self-professed skeptic who nonetheless believes in hope, this smart yet heartfelt book leads us into the center of one of the greatest conversations of all time. And Lisa Miller is the perfect conversation partner, regaling us with the wisdom (and folly) not only of the official theologies of the ancients but also of the everyday improvisations of ordinary Americans wrestling with the Big Questions forever swirling around this most audacious of hopes.”
–Stephen Prothero, New York Times bestselling author of American Jesus and Religious Literacy