I’m not sure exactly what made me purchase Lee Strobel’s 2021 book, The Case for Heaven: A Journalist Investigates Evidence for Life After Death. I think it might have been an impulse buy after Bill and I had a talk about near death experiences. I have mentioned a few times in this blog that Bill had a near death experience in 1980, when he was 16 years old. He and his buddies were drinking beer somewhere near Houston, Texas, when one of his buddies’ girlfriends was having a teen girl hissy fit. She wanted to leave, so Bill’s friend, with whom he’d gotten a ride, mounted up his Subaru Brat– basically a car with a truck bed in the back. As it was 1980, it was legal for Bill to ride in the back. He went to climb in, but his friend hadn’t noticed and started to back up. Bill lost his footing and was soon under the car’s tires.
Fortunately, because he was so young when he had his accident, Bill’s injuries didn’t kill him. Save for a couple of scars and arthritis in his chest, as well as a couple of crushed disks in his back, he was mostly left with no physical ill effects. But he did have an experience that changed his life and, in my opinion, made him a different person than he might have been. He says he experienced a NDE that day and described it as being very peaceful and comforting. I had long ago read Life After Life, Dr. Raymond Moody’s 1975 book about NDEs, and found it fascinating. So, I probably bought Lee Strobel’s much newer book, because I figured it might be kind of like Raymond Moody’s book. But Strobel’s book isn’t like Moody’s book. It has a much more religious bent to it, which, for me, made it somewhat less of an enjoyable read.
Lee Strobel is a journalist who has a Master of Studies in Law degree from Yale University. For a good portion of his life, he was skeptical about religion. But then he found himself in a medical crisis. When he came to in an emergency room, the physician tending to him told him that he was a step away from a coma and two steps away from death. Mr. Strobel suffered from hyponatremia, which is a potentially lethal deficiency in blood sodium. I was immediately intrigued by that, since Bill also has chronic hyponatremia, as well as hypertension. He’s one of the few high blood pressure patients regularly advised to salt his food, since his blood is naturally low in sodium. If a person’s sodium is too low, their cells can swell, which can cause health problems that range from mild to severe. In Mr. Strobel’s case, the hyponatremia almost killed him, and during the episode that landed him in the hospital, he reportedly had a near death experience. It profoundly changed his life, and he went from being a skeptic about religion, to becoming a true believer.
Strobel writes well, which stands to reason, as he was once the award-winning legal editor for the Chicago Tribune. His work has put him in touch with many interesting people, some of whom he describes in The Case for Heaven. I mostly enjoyed reading his thoughts on what happens after we die, as well as some of the stories he includes about people’s NDEs. The book attempts to provide concrete that Heaven is for real, and for some people, it will succeed and be a great comfort.
However, for me, this book was kind of difficult to get through. The religious aspect of it was a bit of a turn off, especially since it’s really directed at Christians. I was raised a Christian, and don’t quite consider myself an atheist, but I’m not a very religious person. I was expecting this book to be more about the actual experience of having a NDE, but after a couple of chapters, it sort of veers away from that topic and delves into other areas that seemed less relevant to whether or not there’s really a Heaven, and more about Mr. Strobel’s beliefs about faith and religion.
I do remember reading some of Strobel’s thoughts on Hell, which were kind of surprising to me. He uses Bible verses to explain what Hell really is, and what it’s actually like. Most of us think of Hell as a lake of fire with never ending suffering and torment for those consigned to go there. Below is a video in which he discusses his thoughts on Hell with podcaster, Alisa Childers. Strobel’s thoughts on Hell did interest me, in fact, probably more than most of the rest of The Case for Heaven did. I might recommend this book simply for that part of it.
I notice that many Amazon reviewers were already fans of Mr. Strobel’s work. He wrote a well-received book called The Case for Christ, that I’ve seen many people referencing. Some write this book isn’t as good as that one is, while others opine that The Case for Heaven is a perfect companion to the earlier work. I haven’t read any of Strobel’s other books, so this is my first experience with his writing. I can tell that he has a gift for grabbing his readers. I was into the book when I first started reading it. But then, after a couple of chapters, continuing to read became a real struggle. I found myself rushing to finish it, skimming instead of really focusing on the writing. I’m a pretty experienced and enthusiastic reader, and I try hard to finish the books I start. I just found this book hard to finish, even though it’s well written and researched. Strobel does, for instance, include an extensive reference section for those who want to explore more.
So, I’m left with a mixed mind about The Case for Heaven. I didn’t hate it, but I didn’t love it… and nothing really exciting sticks out for me about it, other than the fact that Mr. Strobel has had hyponatremia, like my husband has. But I’m sure that some people– particularly those who are very religious, and regularly read books about faith and Christianity– will enjoy this book and be comforted by it. For me, it was just kind of “meh”… and I much prefer Dr. Moody’s classic, Life After Life. I think I would prefer more of a scientific approach, complete with stories of experiences of NDEs, rather than discussion about the Bible or religion.
I think if I were rating this on a five star scale, I would give The Case for Heaven three stars. It’s probably best for people who enjoy religious books, especially from a protestant Christian perspective, and especially for those who have read Mr. Strobel’s other books. As for me, I’m happy to move on to my next title, which has already grabbed my attention.
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