Be honest. At the start of the year, was there anyone who said out loud, “You know what’s going to have a huge 2011? Hell.”
Probably not. But at this point, there’s no denying it. I can no longer ignore the cultural shift in conversation that’s been underfoot for months. (That’s my usual approach. Allow every other blog on the planet to talk about a subject. Wait until it’s gone cold and people are tired about hearing about it, then blog about it like it’s brand new. I’ll be talking about Spotify in about a year.)
But this topic isn’t cooling off. (Zinger!)
Hell has had a hot year! (Zinger 2!)
Rapper Nelly tried to warn us all those years ago about the rising temperature and the appropriate response we should all take. (Zinger 3!)
Hell is the real Inconvenient Truth! (Zinger 4 plus a nod to a second controversial subject, that’s a controversy sandwich!)
Alright, there. I’m done. I’m zingered out.
But the topic isn’t. In fact, both hell and heaven were top of mind for a lot of people this year.
Right now, the book Heaven is for Real about a little boy who died and went to heaven is number 6 on the Amazon best-sellers list. It’s been in the top 100 for 237 days in a row. It’s sold millions and millions of copies.
There’s also another New York Times Best-seller called The Boy Who Came Back from Heaven.
There’s a book called 90 Minutes in Heaven that’s in the top 200 on Amazon right now. And someone recently gave me a copy of 23 Minutes In Hell. Francis Chan’s book Erasing Hell is a New York Times Best-seller right now.
There was this other small book that you might have heard of too. It made a minor splash in some Christian circles online. There was perhaps even a video trailer that caused a ripple or two. I believe it was called Love Wins.
And, last but not least, there’s the movie Heaven is a Playground. Maybe you’ve seen it? It stars Bo Kimble, Hakeem Olajuwon and DB Sweeney, who you might remember from The Cutting Edge, easily one of my top 10 favorite figure skating movies. I’m not really sure how this movie ties in to the whole discussion, but I’m pretty sure Hakeem dunks on DB Sweeney at some point, so that’s pretty enjoyable.
All in all, it’s been a busy year for both heaven and hell, and we’re only in August. What do I think about our focus on this topic this year?
1. Dang you Donald Miller.
I wish I had written what Donald Miller wrote on his blog about “Love Wins.” Once he posted that, I knew I would never be able to top it and retired the subject from my head.
2. Could I write a sequel or a spin off?
That’s how I felt about The Shack too. Could I write a version called “The Shed” or “The Lean To” that might sell? Maybe I could do a book titled 22 Minutes in Hell: Why I Didn’t Need One Minute More, like the guy in Something About Mary who was going to release “7 minute abs” instead of “8 minute abs.”
3. Am I the worst human ever?
Did I really just suggest a spin off called “The Shed?” Unbelievable.
4. I’m not blogging in-depth until I’ve read them.
I used to tell people that I “lived” in Costa Rica until my wife pointed out that visiting for 3 weeks didn’t really count as “living” there. I tend to exaggerate or “lie” as it were sometimes. Same with books. I’ll offer you an in-depth opinion even when I haven’t read the book. So until I do, Love Wins, Erasing Hell, Heaven is for Real, aren’t something I can really speak on.
My fifth thought was the Nelly joke. But to be honest with you, I think that one an awful lot. When I was in Dallas three weeks ago and it was 1 billion degrees, every time someone would say “It’s getting hot,” in my head I would think, “in here, so take off all your clothes.” That’s not good, right? I didn’t think so. Dang you Nelly and your infectious hooks.
Have you read any of the books about heaven and hell mentioned in this post? (Feel free to Jesus Juke and say, “Yeah, the Bible.”)