I recently read The Prologue: Two Brothers, by Chris Stewart. It was a well written book about a pre-mortal family and their struggle to get everyone on the Lord’s side so they could all come to earth and gain a body. In it, we get glimpses of Satan and his rise to power as the fallen one.
Although the characters were well written, I must say that reading about Satan isn’t one of my favorites—kind of gives me an uneasy/creepy kind of feeling. I know he won’t waft through the pages and haunt me, but just to make sure I’d rather not give him any more thought or attention than absolutely necessary.
It’s funny and even ironic then that the next book I picked up to read was, I Hated Heaven, by Kenny Kemp. I’ve had this book for a long time and didn’t remember reading it until I began reading it again.
Tom gets sick and dies unexpectedly of pancreatic cancer, but, on his deathbed he promises his wife, April, that he’ll come back and tell her if there is a God and an afterlife. Tom is a devout Christian and his wife only believes in science and things that can be proven.
So, Tom’s spirit-self ascends the stairs to heaven and finds himself in Paradise—a place where the righteous go while awaiting their final judgment. Jonathan, his spirit-guide or mystagogue is there to greet him. He’s a strictly-business guy who only gives Tom the shortest of answers to his questions, and is only interested in efficiency.
All Tom is interested in is keeping his promise to April. He knows that her spiritual salvation depends on it, and he has no interest in an eternity that doesn’t involve his beloved wife.
Jonathan does his best to distract Tom from his seemingly errant quest and sets him up in classes to learn all about the hereafter. He also sends him to be analyzed to know what kind of post-mortal job he’ll be good at. When Jonathan tells him that his memories of earth life and April will soon fade, Tom is determined to return to earth and keep his promise before it’s too late.
After coming across a crazy spirit named Stan, the pathway back to earth is finally made clear to him. He breaks all the rules to do it and after Tom finally gets through to April, Jonathan is there to return him to Paradise where he must face the Council and accept his punishment.
Mr. Kemp portrays an interesting view of Paradise—a place with buildings so tall they put the Tower of Babel to shame, and with lots of smudge-free stainless steel. The place is beautiful, however, and Jonathan has everything we all dream of in an afterlife—which is to reap the rewards of good behavior. However, he’s miserable there until he has the hope of sharing it with April one day.
Family is everything. The Prologue and I Hated Heaven are both good reminders of the importance of family and keeping our promises.