Note: This book was submitted by the author in exchange for an honest review.
Greetings! The Review Board here to give our thoughts on Where is Heaven? by Phil Bowie. Before we proceed, let’s present the blurb vis Amazon:
A near-death experience turned out to be inspirational for author Phil Bowie. A firm believer in God but a long-time skeptic concerning the believability and practices of humankind’s many organized religions, he has gathered a lifetime of experiences, proven facts, and conclusions from the best and brightest minds on the planet in the writing of this book. If you’ve ever doubted what you’ve been taught about religion and the Bible, this book will give you true, fact-based answers that you can firmly believe. Among other insights, it will tell you where heaven really is.
Now to provide her take, Wordsmith Andi:
I’ve never read a book before that seemed to be tailor written for me. Or maybe I just never realized there were other skeptical believers out there that had the same questions I did and do. Apparently Phil Bowie did have that realization and he’s given us all a book to be proud of.
I grew up in a family that wasn’t particularly religious. I remember being a Jehovah’s Witness as a child; there are still clear impressions of the kingdom hall and the orange chairs we used to sit on (or that I would get down on the floor and crawl around under). For one reason or other both of my parents were cast out of the congregation through something known as “dis-fellowship”. This happened around my tenth birthday, or so I think, because I don’t remember celebrating any holiday until I was ten years old.
As I grew older I went to church with my grandmother on the Sunday morning of our occasional weekend visit, but I was always stuck in with the Sunday school kids who were all kids I didn’t know. As an introvert, being thrust into that kind of social setting was probably the most awkward of all so I never absorbed much from any of the lessons and if I did it was always to question the logic – or apparent lack thereof – and be met with scorn. So eventually I just shut up.
I’ve always felt, like Bowie, that there was some divine power at work but the Bible and my ideas of spirituality, over years of sampling from different churches and religions, have never met up with success. So imagine my elation when I was handed this book with a request to review it.
Phil Bowie writes with the ease and flair of a well-educated and informed old-timer sitting on his porch telling stories to his children and older grandchildren, explaining his thoughts and feelings about God, Heaven, organized religion and the Bible with unabashed candidness. His factual accuracy adds an element of much needed realism in what is otherwise a pretty abstract concept the world has spent thousands of years wrestling with, warring over, and contemplating.
I appreciated his in-depth examination of the root of organized religion, its purpose and affect on society from ancient to modern times. Laying bare the mysticism and exposing the juxtaposition of a wrathful, vengeful, punishing God with a merciful, loving, unconditionally loving God by taking an objective look at many of the stories and books of the Bible, Bowie questions the merits in taking the Bible literally given all the scientific knowledge we now have at our disposal. Is there a “real” Heaven or Hell and where are they if they do? How does prayer work? How do evolution and creationism science co-exist? Why do we refer only to Darwin’s theory of evolution instead of the Darwin-Wallace theory of evolution? Bowie covers all of these topics with admirable aplomb, and sometimes even through light humor to prove the ridiculousness of a particular point.
Taking things a step further, Bowie begs us to consider what influence blind faith accomplishes and what it means for the future of our planet and survival of our species. Having professed to living through several decades, Bowie attests to how society’s values and morals have changed over the years and gives us an honest picture of what the future holds if we do not hold ourselves in check, not by strict adherence to outdated traditions but rather by harnessing our innate goodness – that divine spark that exists with each of us and compels us to achieve greatness, and to preserve our Eden, planet Earth. Exploring topics such as population control, global warming, space travel and the implications of confirmed extraterrestrial life, Bowie draws distinct connections between religion’s potential effects and influence on survival of our species both ill and to the good, many of which were astounding and alarming, each based in irrefutable fact.
I want to thank Phil Bowie for taking the time to thoroughly research each of his many subjects and for the writing of this book. He answered a great many questions I had, and tuned me into a great many more than I never knew I should be asking. This is a book that will stay with me in thought, and be referred back to again and again whenever I find myself engaged in any sort of intellectual conversation or debate on this subject.
A definite “would recommend”, I give Where is Heaven? a maximum rating of 10 stars.
Now, let’s see what Mini Truth has to say.
There is so much I need to and want to say about “Where is Heaven?” that I honestly haven’t the remotest idea of where to start.
That being said, I suppose the best tactic would be to start at the beginning; that being the blurb.
Like any reader, before diving into a book or opting to purchase one an individual looks at the cover first (the cover was nice—an eye peeking through the universe—pretty cool) and then the person reads the blurb. Here it is, once again:
“A near-death experience proved inspirational for Phil Bowie. A firm believer in God but a long-time skeptic concerning the believability and practices of the world’s major organized religions, he has gathered a lifetime of experiences, proven facts, and conclusions from the best and brightest minds on the planet in the writing of this book. If you’ve ever doubted what you’ve been taught about religion and the Bible, this book will give you true, fact-based answers you can firmly believe. Among other insights, it will tell you where heaven really is.”
WHAT A MISLEADING BLURB!
However, today I’m going to do things a little bit differently than I usually would. Today, for efficiency purposes, I’ll tell you about my overall thoughts on the book first, then dive into the pros (not that there were many) and cons.
Back to what I was saying above.
When one reads the blurb the first thing that comes to mind is that this story will be a type of biography. One that would take the reader on an adventure to ultimately discover where heaven is. As, due to the title and the blurb, that is what’s most clear.
Well, let me tell you folks, that ISN’T the deal at all! Not even close.
In the introduction the author sort of reiterates what is said in the blurb, and in the first chapter the author dives a tad into his Christian upbringing. THAT along with many 3 or so more memories, were thrown here and there throughout the book, was ALL that there was in regards to any type of biography. THAT was it! This took up approximately (tops) 10 pages of a 340 page book.
Now, I know what you’re thinking. You’re thinking to yourself, “Wow. So if that is all there is about the author’s personal experience, then surely the rest of the book explains where heaven is. Because, honestly, what else can it be?”
Oh, my beloved reader, how wrong you are.
Let me go ahead and tell you what it’s not…
It’s NOT what you thought at all.
An enormous percentage of the book was religion bashing. Yup, you got that right… the author went out of his way to trash all forms of organized religion, and took a keen pleasure in insulting Judeo Christian/Catholic/Western Christian beliefs. The irony is that in the bit that he speaks of his Christian upbringing, he narrates about it in such a fond tone, as if they were the best memories he’s ever had. There is also the fact that the author tells us time and time again how strong his faith in God is (Wait until you find out what this is all about!).
Had it been anything like me, who had a terrible experience in my Christian upbringing, I might’ve said, “Well, I can kind of see where he’s coming from.” but that wasn’t the case at all.
The other parts of the book consisted of religious politics, current news, science lessons, technobabble and literary lessons.
Some of the things that were completely unnecessary in this book were the constant veering off on tangents of miscellaneous things like Dante’s Inferno, the God Particle (also known as the Higgs Boson), the astronomy lessons, the religious & political mumbo jumbo, and so much more. No seriously, the author would constantly change direction and deviate onto things that just made absolutely no sense—babbling on for pages and pages.
Now here is where the book REALLY kills me…
I was only at about a quarter of the book when the author tells us where is believes heaven is.
In the memories we leave behind of ourselves. In the hearts and minds of others. Essentially, we live eternally in the hearts and minds of our loved ones and the people we impact in this world. THAT is supposedly heaven.
After the author relates where his opinion of heaven lies, he opts to tell us where he believes hell is.
The next thing was telling the reader who God really is.
The Higgs Boson (The God Particle).
Reader, I’m sorry to say it, but I HATE, HATE, HATED THIS BOOK! And, I’ll tell you why. What most people do not know about me is that I am an avid student of anything mythological, biblical, historical and scientific. Therefore, I know just about everything there is to know about religion and how history and science affects many religious beliefs. Due to this I was able to judge this book by utilizing my profound knowledge of such things. I’ll tell you this, as a science buff I hated it… as a history admirer I hated it… as a biblical enthusiast I hated it… and as a history fan I hated it. There was NOTHING I liked or enjoyed about this book whatsoever.
Not even l when I tried to rationalize the fact that this was supposed to be his, quote-unquote, “personal experience with God.”
People, you’re reading the review of a fellow skeptic, and a even as that, I hated it.
- The spelling was good.
- It is truly a damn shame, when the first thing you notice about a book is the never-ending, run on sentences. Before you pick this book up, be sure to prepare yourself for a race. It’s EXHAUSTING! Some sentences were up to 1 and 2 paragraphs long! I kid you not. I have pictures to prove it.
- Then there was the “And-a-topia.” I noticed right off the bat the incredible amount of “ands” in the writing. Some sentences having even up to 7. Due to this, curiosity took over, and I really wanted to know exactly how many there were throughout the book, so I searched them. 3,729 ‘Ands’ in a single book! (insert wide eyes gasp here) Whaaaaat??
- Tons of odd sentence structure. Things that seem off in some sentences.
- Bizarre placement of certain phrases and comments. Like, for example, on one page the author is writing about some more religion bashing, then suddenly says that he is going through the book for edits at that very moment and noticed something else interesting on the news. And the sentence that immediately follows is that he’s doing yet another overview on the book and noticed an additional thing on the news. Below you’ll see the page.
- The writing is the epitome of “preachy writing”. It almost feels like the author is trying to impose his beliefs on everyone. Very presumptuous.
- There were times when the author seemed to think he was being funny as there were a few one-liners here and there. He wasn’t.
- For such an adamantly professed believer in God, I find it strange that this author preaches throughout the book like Billy Freaking Graham about random religious crap, then says that heaven is in our heads, hell is on earth, and God is a cell. I mean, really, what’s the freaking point in believing in God at all if that’s the case?! I’m just saying!
Guys, I could seriously go on for days about the faults in this book, but I think I’ve said enough. I wouldn’t recommend this book to anyone. Well, maybe my worst enemy if I wanted to be mean. (giggling)
3 TRB Stars.
Now taking the two ratings and divided by two, The Review Board gives Where is Heaven? 6.5 out of 10 TRB Stars.
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