Tuesday, August 2, 2011

90 Minutes in Heaven / by Don Piper

In 1989, Pastor Don Piper of South Park Baptist Church in Alvin was driving home from a minister's retreat north of Houston when his car was struck head on by a prison delivery truck. He was killed instantly. In the same instant that his body died, his soul, all of his conscious awareness and self-possession, were reconstituted in heaven. For the roughly 90 minutes he was within his celestial body, Piper very simply portrays his amazing and beautiful revelation--although he's very quick to stress the profound difficulty in translating his experiences into words. He was greeted by family members such as his great grandmother, his grandfather, and a childhood friend who died young. Simultaneously he was assimilated into a choral assembly which moved forward towards the gates of heaven (which he did not enter). Following this, Piper miraculously regained consciousness within his terrestrial body. Only by then everyone, including the paramedics who'd concluded their examinations and were simply waiting on the coroner, knew he was dead because well, he was dead. It took a great and overwhelmingly paradoxical compulsion on the part of a man named Dick Onereker, also a pastor on his way home from the same retreat as Piper, to convince the onsight medical personnel to allow him to pray for Piper's condition. The rest is (still) history.

From a fundamentalist Christian perspective (and of course in other spheres of belief), there are more of these than you might think. And as many of them that describe heaven also talk about the other place (i.e., 23 Minutes in Hell by Bill Wiese). Many of them are very reputable and thorougly authenticated and there are others which are maybe not so much. Now-deceased heart surgeon and author Dr. Maurice Rawlings has seen and experienced his fair share of death and near-death experiences (NDE's) and is a good individual resource to check out. Stories like this aren't excluded from Biblical reference (2 Corinthians 12:1-4, Luke 16:19-31, etc.) nor are they absent from modern and medieval history. But many of the contemporary resurrection stories and NDE's fail to present a carefully documented, biblically-accurate rendition of their experiences, something which, truth of fiction, leads to questions over quality and validity among both scoffers and believers. Piper's book is very much the truth. It isn't a perfect or even preferrable narrative--he's not a very interesting writer and he spends the overwhelming portion of the text describing his excruciating recovery and the current pain he still lives with--but few will doubt that the author's tale. Readers wanting to bolster their faith, curious about the afterlife or just in the mood for a true modern tale of miraculous occurrences will want to read this book. Further info about Piper and his story can be found here. (231.73092 PIPER)

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