Striking a balance isn't easy, even for the two authors. "Prior to this moment," says Crowder, "it felt like the present was where I was living too. I was trying—like a lot of my peers—to announce the story of God in a way that wasn't like a car salesman. My eyes were here and now. Then, all of sudden, death was upon me."

Crowder found that Kyle's death challenged his belief system. "I didn't focus on Kyle being in a better place. All I was feeling was this absence of relationship with him."

It was a turning point. Crowder says he realized then he needed to start "restructuring things in my head, so that I am looking forward rather than just staring at the present."

"Looking forward" in the book starts with looking back. The authors take you on a journey to the Golden Age of Greece, the Renaissance and the Reformation, among other eras. Least you consider skipping these sections, you would miss some great insights and funny asides.

Bluegrass in Focus

The other historical journey takes you, oddly enough, to Scotland and the hills of Appalachia, where bluegrass music was birthed. "Why are they talking about bluegrass in a book about death?" you might wonder. Crowder and Hogan gladly will explain.

"Bluegrass comes from such a deep place of suffering and sorrow," Crowder says. "For most Americans, we don't experience the toil and the struggle that this music was birthed from, until a moment like death happens, until you are up against tragedy."

Ultimately, any discussion on bluegrass is designed to take the reader to a place more eternal. "Since bluegrass is so eternally focused," says Crowder, "and tells us there is this ever after that's waiting, it brings hope to the present."

In most songs—even those from David Crowder Band—people sing about the present. According to Crowder, "That's because our culture has sort of robbed us of being able to talk about the eternal in any intelligent way that holds weight in intellectual or philosophical discussions."

Bluegrass is a genre that "points to the ever after and says it is real," Crowder adds. "Then for people to be able to sing themselves into that space is really amazing."

Considering that David Crowder Band provides congregational music, say the band mates, "we want to be able to create songs that allow people to sing themselves into a state that's better than where they currently are—to sing hope into the present."

Their book has a similar goal. "We want you to see the green pastures," says Crowder. "Death is not the ultimate calamity if the eternal presence of God is awaiting you."

When asked about his own vision of heaven, Crowder says quietly, "The only thing I can feel and say for certain is that to be in the undiluted presence of God with that knowledge of where you are is the thing that I hold on to. When I get glimpses of it, all I can think is ‘wow!'"


ABOUT THE AUTHORS

David Crowder is the pastor of music and arts at University Baptist Church (UBC) in Waco, Texas, where he lives with his wife, Toni. He is also a part of the rock-and-roll extravaganza known as David Crowder Band (sixstepsrecords/EMI CMG).

Mike Hogan plays in the David Crowder Band and, although Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven, but Nobody Wants to Die is his first venture into the world of books, he has done a good bit of music writing for various magazines.

For more information about Everybody Wants to Go to Heaven but Nobody Wants to Die, please visit here.

Janet Chismar, a former Crosswalk.com editor, now works as the Senior Writer/Editor for the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association website.  In her spare time, she enjoys writing about books, music and social issues.  She's also now learning to appreciate bluegrass.