Tuesday, April 23, 2013

A Gaze Into Heaven by Marlene Sullivan, BOOK REVIEW

I was excited to be asked to participate in a blog tour for this book, A Gaze Into Heaven by Marlene Sullivan. I have always had a huge interest in books that help us understand the pre-existence and life after death. Life's challenges seem a little bit easier to handle when we can look at them with an eternal perspective. A Gaze Into Heaven did exactly that.

Here is a synopsis of the book:

Gaze Into Heaven is a carefully compiled collection of more than 50 near-death experiences that occurred during the early years of the Church. These documented accounts give fascinating glimpses into the Spirit World by those who have actually been there. Besides being filled with stories of insight and inspiration, Gaze Into Heaven has pertinent quotes from latter-day Prophets and other leaders, scriptures, and perceptive commentary. After reading this book, you will never think of life—or death—in the same way.

Most of us have wondered exactly what will happen when we die. What does the Spirit World look like? Will we see departed family members and friends? What do people do there? Do spirits there know what is happening on earth? What did people who had near-death experiences learn from their visit? All of these questions and many more are answered in Gaze Into Heaven. There have been many books written about modern day near-death experiences, but this book is the first to focus solely on those that took place in early church history.

Studying near-death experiences can bless us with a better understanding of this life and increase our knowledge of the life to come. By reading about those who actually entered the spirit world and saw conditions there, we can benefit from the insights they gained and use that information to reevaluate our lives and use our time on earth productively.

Many times during the reading of the book I stopped and pondered the great gospel truths and profound teachings that were shared through these near-death experiences. For me it was a very moving and visual experience as the accounts in the book painted an incredible peaceful and beautiful existence that awaits each of us, after we leave this earth. Some of the accounts so vivid in description I felt my understanding of the great Plan of Salvation expand and deepen.

Let me share a quote from the back of the book:

“With this book, Marlene Bateman Sullivan has done a valuable service for Latter-day Saint readers. Previous life-after-death studies published brief extracts from numerous sources and combined them to define spirit-world events and conditions. Returning to those sources, she has compiled many of their complete accounts, which add additional insights that will be enjoyed by many. Well done!” Duane S. Crowther, author of Life Everlasting—A Definitive Study of Life After Death

Marlene was kind enough to answer some questions about how she gathered her information and did research for this fascinating book.

How did you come up with the book title?
By reading a quote by Joseph Smith. It’s really cool, but a bit lengthy, so I’ll shorten it a little. Joseph Smith said; “All men know that they must die . . . it is important that we should understand the reasons . . . of life and of death, and the designs and purposes of God in our coming into the world . . . and our departure hence. . . It is a subject we ought to study more than any other. . . Could you gaze into heaven five minutes, you would know more than you would by reading all that was ever written on the subject.” Joseph Smith, History of the Church, Period I, vol. 6, (Salt Lake City: The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 9 October, 1843), 50.
I was fascinated by the idea that if we could ‘gaze into heaven’ for even just 5 minutes, we would know more than studying for days and weeks! Incredible. Especially when you think that the experiences in “Gaze Into Heaven” will let us catch glimpses of heaven!

What kind of research did you do?
I lived in libraries for a while. J While I did some research at BYU and the University of Utah, I also went to Utah State. However, the majority of experiences came from the Church History Library and the Church Archives. I pored through old newspapers, early church magazines, and in the archives, looked at countless collections of papers, journals, letters, and microfilms.

What was your inspiration for writing the book?
It might sound a little cheesy, but my main focus was about trying to present these stories in such a manner that the book would be accepted and published, so people could read it and in so doing, have their faith and testimonies increased. After finding and reading these experiences, I was so touched that I wanted to share them with everyone! I wanted people to know that God exists, that He loves us, and that the gospel is true. I wanted people to know and read these incredible stories so they would realize that this life is but a fleeting moment and we should take advantage of our time here to learn and grow.

What will people gain from reading your book?
I hope it will build people’s testimonies. I hope people will be inspired to try a little harder and do a little better. To know that all acts of kindness mean so much, and to realize that this life is not just a testing period, but a chance for us to grow and learn. I hope people come away from this book with a firmer conviction that life continues on and that if we endure our trials patiently and learn from them, great blessings await us in the next life.

What does your book teach us that will help us in our daily lives?
I think that reading and pondering these near-death experiences can give us a better understanding of what is important in life. It helps us realize that this life is a time to learn and increase our knowledge of the gospel. It will help us become better people. We can benefit from the insights given by these near death experience and use them to re-evaluate our own lives—to see what changes we could make to improve. Learning about the next life can help us use our time on earth to be more productive.

Below are 3 links where Gaze Into Heaven can be purchased online.
Amazon: Click HERE
Deseret Book: Click HERE
Seagull Book: Click HERE

Gaze Into Heaven is also available at Deseret and Seagull Bookstores, as well as other LDS bookstores.

For more information and to get to know author Marlene Bateman better please visit her website: www.marlenebateman.info