Heaven is a popular subject these days. How is Heaven and Beyond different than so many other books out there on the afterlife?
This is a work of fiction. I make no claim to have had a “vision of heaven” or anything resembling it. I do not present this story as a theological treatise, still less as predictive of what anyone may or may not experience in the next life. It is a “story” which I hope will be meaningful in unique ways to those who read it.
It’s a monumental topic, heaven. Tell us why you decided to tackle it.
My emphasis on this as imaginative fiction . . . does not diminish the fact that I have also written what follows to stimulate our thoughts, perhaps prompt discussion, and in the Apostle Paul’s words to “widen our hearts.” George MacDonald speaks often of the vital role the imagination plays in helping us know God and his ways. As C.S. Lewis says in the preface to his classic The Great Divorce, we do not and cannot know what the afterlife holds. Yet our imaginations have been created by God to point us toward him.
This being so, it has seemed to me that drawing upon a wide range of what Lewis calls “imaginative supposals” will guard against imbalance or over-emphasis on any one theme, and may in the end “widen our hearts” to possibilities awaiting us in heaven. As I have done so in this fictitious glimpse of the future, I should make clear that the narrator in what follows is not intended to represent a specific likeness of me any more than do the atheist and the gardener in the companion volumes of this trilogy, Hell and Beyond and The Garden at the Edge of Beyond. Hopefully readers will find themselves in these pages more than they find me. This is an imaginative fantasy and should be read in that light.
You’re a prolific author, having penned over 60 books with sales in the millions. What made you write one more book?
Mostly it is my desire to give hope to both the living and the dying—hope to believe the eternal truth expressed by George MacDonald’s brother on his deathbed, that “this is nae the end o’ it.” If this little story can encourage a few souls to anticipate the transition out of this life into more Life with greater faith, renewed hope, even joy, I will have succeeded in what I set out to do. As for the rest, borrowing from MacDonald himself, I hope you will enjoy it “for the tale.”