Where on Earth is Heaven?


Author: Jonathan Stedall

Review by Lisa Attias

This is a book about contemporary spirituality. The author is on a journey searching for what is holy and enduring in his meetings with some of the great men and women who have shaped the times we are living in.

Although the book is a collection of fascinating anecdotes, thoughts and observations, the overriding implicit question is: When does an encounter become a relationship? The clue – that it is something to do with love and empathy, permeates every page of this lengthy and interesting book.

For 40 years Jonathan Stedall has been a documentary filmmaker, well-known for his sensitive and inspiring portrayals of artists, scientists and writers such as John Betjeman, Laurens van der Post, Fritz Schumacher, Alan Bennett and Ben Okri. He has directed films about Tolstoy, Gandhi and Jung and continues to explore the insights of these original and thoughtful minds, along with many others, in Where on Earth is Heaven?

However, just as he is clearly well read (and ‘well-met’) in contemporary philosophy and psychology, what radiates most is the tone of enquiring but challenging kindness.

Where on Earth is Heaven? is a celebration of the human potential. It is also a story of a life lived deeply and caringly, with thanks to the ‘awakeners’ along the way. We are all woven from the same tapestry and also need to recognise, as Stedall describes it: “Our interconnectedness … with all that exists on earth and in the cosmos at large – an ecology that embraces the whole of creation.”

Profound as it is, it also has the quality of a lively, entertaining anthology. And what a surprise when I reached the last chapter to find: “There is no ending; there is only life.” Heaven is here. Heaven is now.