"Heaven Is For Real" Countered By Atheist Gene Weingarten's "Me & Dog"

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Heaven Is For Real may be a best selling book, but now it has some competition from a children's book by an atheist author. Gene Weingarten says his book Me & Dog was written as an "antidote" to Heaven Is For Real which he called "a foul load of phony, credulous, opportunistic crap by a pastor named Todd Burpo, whose son almost died on the operating table and allegedly came back claiming to have met Jesus in heaven" in an editorial published by the Washington Post.

The idea for Me & Dog came about when Weingarten stepped on his dog's foot. "She howled and then asked me, clearly: 'What have I done wrong? What did I do? I won’t do it again.' The whole idea flashed in my mind: I am her God!" he said in an interview with the Washington Post, "The allegory sprung to mind. That there is a controlling presence. That we can importune him with favors. That all things happen for a reason. We may not understand the reason, but somebody up there does. This is a book that is a sweet little book. It’s not hectoring anyone, but it’s trying to start a conversation with a very young person: What if things happen just because? Is that something to fear? And the book says: No, we have each other, we have love and the world is full of endless possibilities. Why should that be frightening?"

Not only is his book intended to counter Heaven Is For Real, it's also designed to entertain kids while starting a conversation. "Atheists always get this question: How can you be an ethical, moral person?" Weingarten explained in the interview, "Which is annoying and insulting. It demonstrates a fundamental disconnect. Do you really need fear of hell to make you do good, moral things? I don’t need to fear the devil to do good. I know that it’s fundamentally right to do good. And that’s what I tried to teach my children. I have ethical and moral children."

The book has received good reviews so far from sites like Kirkus. "Shansby’s digital illustrations give a welcome, lighthearted feel to what might otherwise come off as too heavy a message," the review explained, "They march in step with Weingarten, though readers are left pondering the point of a conspicuous church that makes a cameo in the background of one page."