T.D. Jakes to Make Heaven is for Real Movie

Movie news:

Sony Pictures has acquired screen rights to the bookHeaven Is For Real: A Little Boy’s Astounding Story of His Trip To Heaven And Back, written by Todd Burpo and Lynn Vincent.  Joe Roth will produce with T.D. Jakes.

Burpo is a small town Nebraska pastor whose four-year old son, Colton, nearly died during an emergency appendectomy operation. As he recovered, Colton began telling his family that he went to Heaven, actually looking down at the doctors operating on him and his family praying in the waiting room. And he slowly began telling them details about his miscarried sister, and his long-dead grandfather, none of which he should have known about. He then revealed to his family what it was like during his visit in Heaven, before he was sent back to his family. He’s now 11.

I blogged on the book here. “Revealed to his family” is not quite accurate: in fact, the details of Colton’s purported experience emerged during “conversations” with his father “over time”, becoming progressively more detailed. Colton saw the throne room where God the Father sits with Jesus and Gabriel on either side, met John the Baptist, saw various winged creatures, and had a chance to pet Jesus’ “rainbow horse”. II Corinthians 12:2 pales in comparison.

The primary attraction is doubtless the book’s claim to have positivistic evidence for the afterlife, although it also has apocalyptic elements:

“there’s going to be a war, and it’s going to destroy this world. Jesus and the angels and the good people are going to fight against Satan and the monsters and the bad people. I saw it.”

…”in heaven, the women and the children got to stand back and watch… But the men, they had to fight. And Dad. I watched you. You have to fight too.”

Todd Burpo will apparently be given a “bow and arrow”.

The book has become a best-seller for Christian publisher Thomas Nelson, and as well as the film, a children’s edition of the book is currently being planned.

Returning to the film:

Heaven Is For Real was brought in by Sony Pictures’ exec DeVon Franklin, a Christian minister who just published and has been promoting his inspirational book, Produced By Faith: Navigating the Road to Success Without Compromising Your True Self.

Franklin and Bishop T.D. Jakes recently worked together on a comedy, entitled Jumping the Broom, and in 2009 they made Not Easily Broken, based on a novel by Jakes. According to a profile at Urban Faith, Franklin is a Seventh-day Adventist, and his own book (co-written with Tim Vandehey) is a “how-to guide for believers looking to integrate their purpose and profession”.

It’s interesting to note that Burpo’s ghostwriter, Lynn Vincent, has also ghosted volumes for Sarah Palin and for Gen William “Jerry” Boykin (according to an article in Newsweek, Vincent complained that having worked on Going Rogue had led some reviewers to take Heaven is for Real less seriously). However, while Boykin sees Obama as a Marxist tyrant in cahoots with Islam (and Palin needs no introduction), Jakes supports Obama and recently took part in an Easter Prayer Breakfast at the White House. He has also rebuked Franklin Graham for his anti-Obama conspiracy-mongering.