Bad news: A kid who said that he'd died and gone to Heaven and proceeded to cowrite a bestselling book titled The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven has recanted. He now says he neither died nor went to Heaven.
The Washington Post reports that the popular Christian publisher Tyndale House has decided to pull "the book and related ancillary products out of print." One of many recent popular "first-hand" accounts of heaven (alongside Heaven Is for Real), The Boy Who Came Back From Heaven was a collaboration between Alex Malarkey and his father Kevin, purporting to tell of Alex's celestial adventures when he was six years old and horribly injured in a car crash.
Alex—now 17 and still paralyzed as the result of his injuries from the accident—told the website Pulpit and Pen straight-out that, "I did not die. I did not go to Heaven." He went on:
Referring to the injuries that continue to make it difficult for him to express himself, Alex writes, "Please forgive the brevity, but because of my limitations I have to keep this short. . . . I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention. When I made the claims that I did, I had never read the Bible. People have profited from lies, and continue to. They should read the Bible, which is enough. The Bible is the only source of truth. Anything written by man cannot be infallible."
Pulpit and Pen adds, going in: "We are publishing this story because Christian publishers and retailers should have known better. They should have had the spiritual discernment, wisdom, compassion, and intestinal fortitude to not sell a book which contains, along with all books like it, deep theological problems."
The Southern Baptist Convention has also expressed disapproval of the afterlife-vision trend, on the basis that Scripture and Scripture alone should be plenty to confirm the afterlife's existence. Also worth noting: Pulpit and Pen says his mother (apparently divorced from his father and a caregiver to Alex) has been disavowing the book for months, and criticizes it on her own blog, writing that she's become more familiar with her Bible in the years since and "I could continue to try to point out how Biblically off the book is (a few strategically placed scriptures does not make a book Biblically sound) and how it leads people away from the bible not to it."
In other words—sounds like there's a lot going on behind the scenes here, and Lord knows there's no fight like an intra-religion fight.
In Malarkey's defense, he was six years old at the time, having just emerged from a coma and likely confused and scared and hurting. He did something lots of people do as kids—invent some stuff they think their parents might want to hear. And it probably took a lot of nerve to come clean now. Unfortunately, nobody in the vast chain of adults involved in this book's creation and distribution (for instance, Lifeway Christian bookstores) stopped for five fucking minutes to say, "Hey, wait a minute," probably because they were all making piles of money off the fact that so many people desperately want to believe there's something wonderful waiting after we die.
ALSO, THE KID'S NAME IS LITERALLY MALARKEY.