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Heaven Is Beautiful: How Dying Taught Me That Death Is Just the Beginning Paperback – September 25, 2015
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"...Panagore's near death experience (NDE) changed his life and resulted in an intense spiritual journey that has continued for decades. His educational background coupled with 30 years of yogic and meditative practice and 20 years of professional work with the dying and grieving has given him unique insight, language, and perspective on heaven, God, death, life, love, beauty, and hope... In this state he experienced a classic NDE, but his description of it adds a powerful new interpretation to the commonly agreed elements. ... A quick and rewarding read." ~M. Knight NEW CONSCIOUSNESS REVIEW
"United Church of Christ minister Panagore offers a harrowing account of a near-death experience when he was a young man in 1980 on an ice-climbing adventure in Alberta, Canada. Along with a more experienced climber, Panagore set out on a trip that took him to Lower Weeping Wall, where the two mountaineers found themselves trapped as they descended the face of the frigid mountain wall. After their rope became snagged and they were overcome by hypothermia, frostbite, and exhaustion, Panagore lost consciousness, his body shut down, and he nearly died. What happened on the other side of death changed Panagore's life, resulting in his pursuit of a master's degree focusing on systematic theology and Christian mysticism. Feelings of overwhelming love, forgiveness, and caring--but also of shouldering the burdens of others who he hurt during his lifetime on Earth--met him on the other side; he also encountered God. Readers who have a fascination with near-death experiences and mysticism will be drawn into Panagore's remembrances of dying on the side of that mountain and the unexplainable feelings he encountered, and may find comfort in his assurance that death is not to be feared. Agent: Stephany Evans, Fine Print Literary Management (Oct.) --Publisher's Weekly, Reviewed on 08/07/2015
"Heaven is hot right now--not in temperature, but in public interest. Everyone who longs to get a glimpse of the afterlife will be grateful for this gripping first-person account by Peter Panagore, who dies on a cold mountainside after a heart-pounding ice climb in the Canadian wilderness. There he meets the God who made him and knows him--the God who is loving, all-powerful and real. This book will give hope and confidence to all who wonder about what lies beyond our earthly existence." --Henry G. Brinton, senior pastor of Fairfax Presbyterian Church in Virginia and author of The Welcoming Congregation: Roots and Fruits of Christian Hospitality
"Heaven is Beautiful is a profound, true story offering amazing proof that there is more. This book and its illuminating truth pushed my restart button! Best page-turning read of the year!" --Jennifer Skiff, author of God Stories: Inspiring Encounters with the Divine and The Divinity of Dogs
From the Back Cover
"Best page-turning read of the year!" --Jennifer Skiff, author of God Stories: Inspiring Encounters with the Divine and The Divinity of Dogs
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Top Customer Reviews
The second effort is perhaps the most noble as the author attempts what he acknowledges to be an impossible task: How does one narrate what is by definition ineffable? He wrestles with this repeatedly making sure we know that there are no words to convey the substance of his near-death experience (NDE) on the side of an ice cliff, because words themselves are limited symbols. And yet, with frequent reminders of the conundrum, Panagore plunges in. As warned, it left me feeling both eager to understand, and yet knowing I was unable to fully embrace what is by its very nature personal and intimate. However, the comfortable and
￼familiar manner of the prose helps the reader to simply trust, and enter into the author’s experience.
The narrative then shifts from an outdoor adventure to one of deep struggle as Rev. Panagore endeavors to live with the experience. Because he decided not to reveal it to anyone for years, the story is an internal one, bracketed by external events. We are drawn into a story of inner turmoil and struggle as he comes to grips with the aftermath of his NDE, working constantly to integrate it into his renewed sense of what it means to be alive and to be human. This, for me, was the most engaging part of the book.
Finally, interspersed throughout the narrative is Rev. Panagore’s effort to interpret his experience through the lens of 35 years of reflection. What does this all mean? While he easily draws on Christian scripture as illustration and metaphor to help him point to the indescribable, he never gets tangled in dogmatic or religious arguments about life after death and how it functions. He is not preaching about the afterlife, he is simply describing it as he experienced it on that mountain. He is less concerned with convincing the reader that his experience is authentic, but rather proceeds with the confidence that it is. This disarming confidence is replete throughout the book and caused me to evaluate the experience not as a skeptic or a believer, but as a curious observer.
In the end, I was not left wondering about the veracity of Panagore’s experience on the side of the ice-cliff. I was instead fascinated by the way the experience shaped his life: his focus, his work, his philosophy, his very existence. Some of this is not as simple or easy as the book’s title might convey. This book does not shy away from the pain and conflict that the NDE caused (and in many ways still causes) for the author. Indeed, the author’s definition of hell (not a physical place) is haunting and unsettling. The book is successful because instead of trying to convince the reader about the truth and nature of an afterlife, it instead gives one a sense that we should be focusing on our actions and behaviors’ in this life, attempting to live as loving and concerned people, and leaving our worry and fretting over the next life in the hands of a loving and compassionate God.
I really appreciated the effort he made in trying to describe the ineffable experience of the other side. It is always reassuring each time I read of people's NDE to know of God's overwhelming love, and the peace and joy waiting for us.
It was sad to read how difficult life was for Mr. Panagore back on this side of the veil, with one foot here and one foot on the other side. Like many who return, they don't want to be here -- at least for a while.
I am so glad he finally told people about what happened. I can't imagine keeping that inside all those years, although I understand his reasoning.
The writing in this book is a solid five stars, but given Amazon's description of five stars meaning "I loved it"--I have to go with four because I didn't like the part where the author says we are responsible for, and have to feel, the unintentional pain we cause others. I can understand our having to experience the pain we intentionally cause others, but it makes no sense to me--and I don't like the idea--that we have to feel the pain unintentionally caused by us. For instance, I'm severely hearing impaired. I remember a guy who used to come into the bookstore I worked at years ago. He came in one day so angry and hurt because he saw me across the street the week before and called my name repeatedly and I "ignored" him. I told him over and over I'm nearly deaf and didn't hear or see him, but he refused to believe it and continued to feel angry and hurt the rest of the time I knew him while I worked at that place. Am I responsible for his hurt feelings? Do I have to feel them and feel bad because he misunderstood and refused to understand when I explained what happened? I just can't imagine a loving God blaming me for this guy's misinterpretation of my behavior. I guess I'll find out one day.
Although most of the NDE people I read have similar experiences of an amazing, loving God, they often differ in other aspects of their experience. Sometimes I feel it's like that story about several blind men situated in different places around an elephant. They are each asked to define what an elephant is. One man by the leg says the elephant is like a pillar. Another near an ear, says it's like a big, flat wing. And so on. I believe the experiences of all the NDE's I've read are real, but I think perhaps they are each part of a greater whole.
The one thing the NDE's all agree on, though, is how wonderful God is. I'll take that!
Most Recent Customer Reviews
black, loving etc. So what is that?Read more