Heaven: A Traveller's Guide to the Undiscovered Country

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9780006531579: Heaven: A Traveller's Guide to the Undiscovered Country

A stimulating inquiry into one of the great religious mysteries – and what theologians, artists, writers, psychologists, priests, historians and people from all religions and walks of life have thought of heaven, where many of us still hope to go one day.

The author writes: ‘While images of hell are firmly fixed in the human psyche, no parallel standard vision exists for heaven either within the Christian Church or more widely in the world’s various religious traditions…it has somehow been judged indecent or presumptuous to contemplate the better end of the post-mortem destination market. This book will break that taboo.’

Heaven’s mysteriousness has leant it a discreet but powerful allure. There are two basic views: first, the afterlife will involve a vaguely defined spiritual peace – eternal solitude with God alone; the second allows for some overlap between heaven and earth, and hence relationships outside the central bond with God. Or is heaven religion’s biggest con-trick but one that is impossible to debunk?

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Review:

Prompted by the death of his mother, Peter Stanford began to research the neglected idea of heaven. His journey takes us through the beliefs of the major world religions and philosophies to explore the "undiscovered country" of heaven. As a tour guide through the afterlife, Stanford not only shows us how the Christian idea of heaven developed from Judaism, which may have been cross-fertilised with Zoroastrianism, but also takes us into Eastern religions to explain re-incarnation. He goes on to explore the Islamic view of heaven and trace the medieval vision of paradise through the glories of gothic architecture and scholastic theology. He winds up with a whirlwind tour of modern sects, fundamentalism, the occult and modernist theology.

Stanford has produced and excellent and absorbing study. He writes with a sharp, readable style and, generally speaking, maintains an objective and fashionably skeptical tone throughout. It is easy for this "comparative religions" approach to become bland and slightly lofty, as if the author is confiding to his dinner party hostess, "Of course darling, we're not so ignorant as to actually believe any of this fascinating stuff." Stanford is wise, therefore, to interrupt his study with five juicy and totally different experiences of near death or contact between the living and the dead. These delightfully bizarre stories introduce just the right element of authenticity and put the rest of his book into context. They subvert the objective tone and help explain why the unknown world continues to mystify and fascinate us mortals. --Dwight Longenecker

Review:

‘Engaging and elegant. The main thrust of the book is in effect the history of the concept of life after death…fascinating.’ Antonia Fraser, New Statesman

‘Thoughtful…humble, informative and well read…pleading for the re-establishment of the power of the myth.’ Spectator

‘Through cloudscapes and spirit worlds, Stanford is a well-informed and never less than caring guide.’ Sunday Telegraph

‘A thoughtful and thought-provoking book.’ Sunday Times

‘A wise guide to the entire celestial anthropology [which] does elegant justice to the mental geography of heaven and the travellers’ tales of the elect.’ Guardian

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Book Description HarperCollins Publishers, United Kingdom, 2009. Paperback. Book Condition: New. Revised ed.. 197 x 130 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book ***** Print on Demand *****. A stimulating inquiry into one of the great religious mysteries - and what theologians, artists, writers, psychologists, priests, historians and people from all religions and walks of life have thought of heaven, where many of us still hope to go one day. The author writes: While images of hell are firmly fixed in the human psyche, no parallel standard vision exists for heaven either within the Christian Church or more widely in the world s various religious traditions.it has somehow been judged indecent or presumptuous to contemplate the better end of the post-mortem destination market. This book will break that taboo. Heaven s mysteriousness has leant it a discreet but powerful allure. There are two basic views: first, the afterlife will involve a vaguely defined spiritual peace - eternal solitude with God alone; the second allows for some overlap between heaven and earth, and hence relationships outside the central bond with God. Or is heaven religion s biggest con-trick but one that is impossible to debunk?. Bookseller Inventory # APC9780006531579

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