“Christmas in a joyous celebration commemorating the birth of Jesus Christ. This Christian holiday is rich in traditions such as decorating pine trees with ornaments and lights, exchanging gifts among friends and family members, and singing classic songs created for the season. Christmas is not *just* a festive occasion for people on earth. Christmas is also celebrated in Heaven on December 25th in the presence of Mother God and Father God, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” – From the book
Popular psychic and Gnostic teacher Sylvia Browne has teamed up with her psychic son Chris Dufresne to create a lovely, inspirational gift book celebrating Christmas. According to Sylvia and Chris, Christmas is a joyous celebration held in the Rose Garden in heaven, where the nativity story is enacted before the angels, guides and spirits.
Replete with gorgeous photos in magnificent color, Christmas in Heaven finds Sylvia and Chris taking turns offering short thoughts about the Christmas season and life on the Other Side—as well as scriptures from the Bible. Here are some of the messages they present:
“Everyone rejoices as the miracle of Jesus’ birth unfolds before their eyes. The air is filled with white doves and every kind of bird you could imagine. They fly in formations creating circles and making crosses, all giving homage to our Lord.” – Chris Dufresne
“”The weather on the Other Side is perfect in every way. The temperature is eternally warm with gentle breezes and there are no storms or threatening weather conditions. While the temperature is always around 78 degrees, there is snow in Heaven. Snow in Heaven is not cold and icy like it is on our side. It is actually warm and fluffy!” – Sylvia Browne
“Regardless of how you choose to celebrate this Christmas, remember what the occasion is all about: the birth of Jesus Christ, our Lord. Remember what He taught us through His own example: how to love, forgive, sacrifice, and help others. Ask yourself this question: What gift can I give to Jesus?” – Chris Dufresne
“The greatest gift we can give to Jesus is our lifetime is to ‘love one another’ (John 15:12). We don’t have to wait until we go Home to show Jesus our gratitude, loyalty, and commitment to Him.” – Sylvia Browne
“Talk to your children about the first Christmas. Help them understand what the celebration is all about. Christmas is becoming so commercialized that our future generations may not remember the true meaning of Christmas.” – Chris Dufresne
Christmas in Heaven is filled with breathtaking images and uplifting sentiments. It’s quite an attractive gift book. However, a few things bothered me about this book:
1. Theologians and seminarians know that Jesus wasn’t born in December. In order for the “flocks to be out at night”, it would have had to been warm—in the Spring. Historians believe that Christians “hijacked” the date to coincide with the pagan holiday of Yule (Winter Solstice) in order to win converts. Why, then, would Heaven celebrate the birth of Christ on December 25?
2. Sylvia and Chris include the verse “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father also will forgive you; but if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” This is one of the verses fundamentalists use to scare their congregations. Sylvia has repeatedly spoken out against such tactics, including literal interpretations of Scripture and portraying God with base human emotions such as vengeance. Why, then, is this verse included in the book?
3. What, exactly, is the “true” meaning of Christmas that Chris speaks of? For fundamentalists, the “true” meaning is the birth of a Savior who redeems humankind (only IF they ask Jesus “in their heart” and do X, Y, and Z. The rest burn in hell). However, as far as I understand both Gnosticism and Sylvia’s theology, there is no need for a literal “salvation” and there is no literal hell.
4. Sylvia makes some unusual assertions about Heaven, including the “warm, fluffy white snow” and the fact that there are “movie theaters, tennis courts, and football stadiums.” Sports fans and paparazzi will no doubt rejoice in this information, but I can’t wrap my head around football stadiums. Football is a sport based on winning and competition, not to mention a tad violent.
Honestly, I don’t mean to rip up Sylvia and Chris’s latest book. I absolutely LOVE Christmas and I DO honor and love Jesus. However, I’m not a traditional Christian (and, really, neither is Sylvia or Chris). The above sticking points were like speed bumps on an otherwise beautiful road, and I just couldn’t get past them. They almost cancelled out any joy or inspiration gleaned from the other passages. It seemed like Sylvia was making God/Heaven in man’s image (something she criticizes in her books). I mean, she envisions Heaven at 78 F, the only insects are fireflies and butterflies (that she’s ever seen), and everyone is 30 years of age. Hmmm…
Christmas in Heaven is a truly beautiful hardcover gift book. I’m just not sure who the intended audience is. Some of it reads as a suck up to the fundamentalists, but passages such as “Whether it’s Buddhism, Islam, Judaism, etc., everyone has their day of celebration. In Heaven, religion doesn’t exist like it does here” will effectively offend most evangelicals. Verses and messages implying that Jesus is the sole savior of humankind will likely cause many Gnostics and New Agers to bristle. This book is a wonderful idea—and it does offer hope and comfort—but the sticking points leave me feeling disappointed and confused as to the authors’ intentions.
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