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Who Goes There?: A Cultural History of Heaven and Hell [Paperback]

By Rebecca Price Janney (Author)
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Item description for Who Goes There?: A Cultural History of Heaven and Hell by Rebecca Price Janney...

Pieces together a thoughtful narrative of American beliefs about the afterlife, evaluating thoughts from the Great Awakening to the American Revolution, through the tumultuous nineteenth century and the technological revolution. Original.

Publishers Description
Princess Diana, John Ritter, Saddam Hussein, Mother Teresa, Chris Farley... Does it seem reasonable to guess where each of these people ended up after they died? While it is comforting to suppose that everyone who's "good" goes to a better place when they die, and everyone who's "bad" doesn't, on what is that hope based?
To adequately understand how these thoughts influence us today, Rebecca Price Janney goes back to the colonization and founding of the United States. From the Great Awakening to the American Revolution, through the tumultuous 19th century, and all the way past two world wars and a technological revolution, "Who Goes There?" pieces together a thoughtful narrative of American beliefs about the afterlife.

Citations And Professional Reviews
Who Goes There?: A Cultural History of Heaven and Hell by Rebecca Price Janney has been reviewed by professional book reviewers and journalists at the following establishments -
  • Reference and Research Bk News - 08/01/2009 page 11

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Item Specifications...

Studio: Moody Publishers
Pages   240
Est. Packaging Dimensions:   Length: 8.8" Width: 5.9" Height: 0.9"
Weight:   0.85 lbs.
Binding  Softcover
Release Date   Feb 1, 2009
Publisher   Moody Publishers
ISBN  0802454933  
ISBN13  9780802454935  

Availability  0 units.

More About Rebecca Price Janney

Register your artisan biography and upload your photo! DR. REBECCA PRICE JANNEY is a theologically trained historian and the author of 18 books including Who Goes There: A Cultural History of Heaven and Hell, Great Women in American History, Great Stories in American History, Harriet Tubman, and two young adult series as well as hundreds of articles in magazines and newspapers. She began writing professionally as a teenager when she covered the Philadelphia Phillies for a New Jersey newspaper. A graduate of Lafayette College, and Princeton Seminary, Rebecca received her D. Min. from Biblical Seminary. She resides with her husband and son in suburban Philadelphia.

Rebecca Price Janney currently resides in Suburban Philadelphia Su, in the state of Pennsylvania. Rebecca Price Janney was born in 1957.

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Product Categories

1Books > Subjects > Religion & Spirituality > Christianity > Theology > Eschatology

Christian Product Categories
Books > Christian Living > Practical Life > Science, Faith & Evolution

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Reviews - What do customers think about Who Goes There?: A Cultural History of Heaven and Hell?

History, but not much heaven, hell or culture.  Feb 2, 2010
Not bad in its way, but rather light on the stated topic - more about the factual history of the North American revival movements, rise of the Pentecostal churches etc., than about the changing meaning/imagery of heaven and hell. I would have liked more theological depth, and a bit more psychological insight and imaginative colour in the treatment. An easy read (though the prose is a bit dull), and there were some interesting quotes from old 'hellfire' sermons.
IF you don't ask the right question, you can't get the right answer!  Apr 7, 2009
The book is easy to read and written in a captivating and refreshing style. It's informative without being too cerebral or wordy. Let's be honest, we rarely talk about heaven & hell in our normal conversations. We assume too much (and, perhaps, care too little) as we focus on the 'now' but not the 'next'. Yet, what happens after we die is central to the very way we chose to live today. This book will really help you explore your own theology and uncover the questions in your heart. It will provoke you, inspire you and, hopefully, encourage you. It will certainly point you in the right direction.

Historically excellent, theologically simplistic  Apr 4, 2009
I received a promotional copy of this book from Mike Morrell over at (Thank you)

Rebecca Price Janney's writing is simple and clear. Her subject covers the cultural evolution of beliefs regarding the afterlife in America - a subtitle that should take prominence over the more confusing "Who Goes There?" on the front cover.

The book's thesis is simple: American cultural beliefs of heaven and hell have been fragmented and dispersed far from their origins in Puritan Protestant orthodoxy. Proof is then given through a whirlwind tour through the history of the United States, particularly focused upon obituaries and views toward the afterlife. It is in the numerous sermons, poems, songs, articles and films quoted that Janney's work as a historian shines. The fact that it is a quick read is a testament to her clear organization of the material and consistent writing style.

The theological side, however, is slightly stunted. The strength here is on the history - while her theological biases are clear, they remain largely unargued except via correlations between each era's behaviours. The strong 'divine war' ethic that fueled many U.S. foreign incursions is sympathized with and as the years gain on the present the writing loses some of it's potency. Janney's examination of challenges to this theological hegemony sometimes comes off as dismissive - whether that was the true intent or merely a symptom of brevity is unclear.

Nevertheless, as someone strongly interested in history and theology, this was a wonderful book, and is highly recommended (chapters 3-16 in particular).

The Ameri-centricism and the emphasis on Protestant theology leaves gaps worthy of another's work, but within it's bounds this work is steadfast.
Great, thought provoking book!  Mar 27, 2009
Rebecca Price Janney has written a great book about heaven and hell creatively titled, Who Goes There?: A Cultural History of Heaven and Hell.

Janney is described on the book cover as "a theologically trained historian" and this book is a perfect example of what that means. The book begins with a quick overview of how our contemporary popular culture seems to think about the afterlife and then asks some important and critical questions. Just what are our thoughts about heaven and hell - and more importantly who goes there - based on? With this question on the table, Janney begins an historical overview of how Americans have viewed this subject from the founding of our country to the present.

There are fascinating nuggets of theological, ecclesiastical, cultural, academic, and sociological factors that have shaped and changed our views of the afterlife. How did the various wars shape our thinking? What about immigration? Did technology play any role? All of these questions and more are approached in a clear, easy to read narrative that shows how a nation that once viewed all people as "sinners in the hands of an angry God" has transformed into a kinder, gentler people who believes that all, or at least most, people go to heaven and "are looking down on us from up there." But the question is still the same, Just what are these beliefs based on?

While Janney subtly argues throughout the book that we need to resist the "feel good" conclusions of universalism the book is not preachy or apologetic in tone. Rather, it is a call for all of us (whether we are pastors or computer technicians) to think theologically about this important issue. At one point she says:

"When people think of the 1930s, images usually arise of unemployment and bread lines, hobos bumming cigarettes and train rides, and the Dust Bowl. It was also the age when secular mass media began to dominate American life. For example, as strapped for cash as they were, by the end of the decade some 80 percent of Americans owned radios, and seventy-five million went to the movies weekly. Radio, movies, and newspapers both reflected and helped shape the culture of that time, supplanting the church as the keeper of the keys to the American way of life. What Americans listened to and watched were aimed for the lowest common denominator in terms of intellectual content, good taste, and morals, and their influence was enormous."

Based on the currently popular views of heaven and hell it seems that many of us have aimed for the lowest common denominator in terms of intellectual content on this subject and Janney's book is a timely call to rethink things more carefully and theologically. Depending on how we answer the important question, "who goes there?" our thoughts on this topic shape everything else about how we live out our faith.
Who Goes There?  Mar 19, 2009
This book has been written on the premise of the organic unity of belief and behavior, convictions informing conduct and conduct mirroring convictions.
With this inextricable connection in mind, Rebecca Janney explores Americans' beliefs about heaven and hell over the course of our national history, observing their behavioral effects. She draws a distinction between expectations colored by sentiment and those anchored in the Bible. And what emerges is the compelling message that biblical theology matters.
Dr. Janney's expert analysis in a vivid retelling of successive turning points in the American experience makes her book engaging. Moreover, it challenges the reader to carefully examine the basis for his/her thoughts about heaven and hell, grasping their impliations.

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