"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
Drawing on history and popular culture, biblical research and the beliefs of everyday people, Heaven offers a new understanding of one of the most cherished—and shared— ideals of spiritual life. In this groundbreaking, accessible history, Lisa Miller raises debates and discussions not just about our visions of the afterlife, but about how our beliefs have influenced the societies we have built and the lifestyles to which we have subscribed, exploring the roots of our beliefs in heaven and how these have evolved throughout the ages to offer comfort and hope. She also reveals how the notion of heaven has been used for manipulation—to promulgate goodness and evil—as inspiration for selfless behavior, and justification for mass murder.
As Miller demonstrates in this absorbing and enlightening book, the desire for a celestial afterlife is universal—shared by the faithful around the world and across religions. It is as old as the Bible itself. While there are many notions of what exactly heaven is and how we get there, Jews, Christians, and Muslims all agree that heaven is God’s home. From the Revelation to the Left Behind series, Augustine to Osama Bin Laden, Muslims in the West Bank to American Mormons baptizing their dead, Heaven is a penetrating look at one of our most cherished religious ideals.