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Heaven, the heavens or seven heavens, is common religious, cosmological, or transcendent place where beings such as gods, angels, jinn, saints, or venerated ancestors are said to originate, be enthroned, or to live. According to the beliefs of some religions, heavenly beings can descend to earth or incarnate, and earthly beings can ascend to Heaven in the afterlife, or in exceptional cases enter Heaven alive.
Heaven is often described as a "higher place", the holiest place, a Paradise, in contrast to Hell or the Underworld or the "low places", and universally or conditionally accessible by earthly beings according to various standards of divinity, goodness, piety, faith, or other virtues or right beliefs or simply the will of God. Some believe in the possibility of a Heaven on Earth in a World to Come.
Another belief is in an axis mundi or world tree which connects the heavens, the terrestrial world, and the underworld. In Indian religions, Heaven is considered as Svarga loka, and the soul is again subjected to rebirth in different living forms according to its karma. This cycle can be broken after a soul achieves Moksha or Nirvana. Any place of existence, either of humans, souls or deities, outside the tangible world (Heaven, Hell, or other) is referred to as otherworld.
- In the 1941 film Here Comes Mr. Jordan, heaven is shown as an airfield and Mr. Jordan is possibly God in disguise.
- In the 1943 American war film A Guy Named Joe, heaven is shown as an military air base.
- In the 1946 British war film A Matter of Life and Death, heaven is shown in black and white.
- In the 1957 film The Story of Mankind heaven is shown as an courtroom.
Made in Heaven, a 1987 film concerning two souls who cross paths in heaven and then attempt to reconnect once they are reborn on Earth.
Field of Dreams, a 1989 film in which heaven is symbolized by a baseball field. Several players ask Ray if they are in heaven, but he assures them that they are just in Iowa. At the end, Ray asks his father if there is a heaven, to which his father replies that it is the place where dreams come true.
What Dreams May Come, a 1998 movie that won an Academy Award for its depiction of heaven and hell as the subjective creations of the individual, was an essentially mystical interpretation of heaven, hell and reincarnation. It was based on the eponymous novel by Richard Matheson.
Heaven, a 2002 film that implies heaven can be reached the higher up one goes (in the film's case, in a helicopter).
- In The Twilight Zone episode The Hunt, heaven is shown as a forest.
- In the South Park episodes "Do the Handicapped Go to Hell?" and "Probably", it is revealed that Mormons go to heaven while everyone else lives in hell. Due to a war between heaven and hell in "Best Friends Forever", God allows more people in.
- In the American Dad! episode "The Most Adequate Christmas Ever", heaven is featured. Anyone who has done good in their life is flown from Limbo to the Gates of Heaven by a large griffin (which might be Ziz). There was a reference that Jim Henson tried to sneak into heaven only for him and Kermit the Frog to end up in a flat rectangle prison (similar to General Zod in Superman II) as Jim Henson begs for them to be released Kermit states "you will bow down before me son of God".
- In The Simpsons episode "The Father, the Son, and the Holy Guest Star" when Bart and Homer became Catholic, Marge imagines herself in heaven, which is split into two parts. First there is Catholic heaven, full of Irish, Italian, and Mexican people where everyone is partying, including Bart, Homer and Jesus. Then there is Protestant heaven, where people play croquet or tennis.
- In the Black Mirror episode "San Junipero", the consciousnesses of the dead can be uploaded into a virtual reality system, where they can live in a beautiful resort city (called "San Junipero") as their younger selves forever. Living people can visit San Junipero for trial periods but are limited to five hours a week, until they decide to undergo euthanasia and be permanently uploaded.
- Smith, Gary Scott, Heaven in the American Imagination (Oxford University Press; 2011) 339 pages; draws on art, music, folklore, sermons, literature, psychology, and other realms in a study of how Americans since the Puritans have imagined heaven.
Heaven on In Our Time at the BBC. (listen now)
Catechism of the Catholic Church I believe in Life Everlasting Explanation of Catholic teaching about Heaven, Hell & Purgatory
- Catholic Encyclopedia: Heaven
- Jewish Encyclopedia: Heaven
- Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy entry on Heaven and Hell
In Films, Heaven’s No Paradise New York Times, Wed. July 22, 2009
Heaven: A fool's paradise, The Independent, April 21, 2010
Swedenborg, E. Heaven and its Wonders and Hell. From Things Heard and Seen (Swedenborg Foundation, 1946)
Maps of heaven at the "Hell and Heaven" subject, the Persuasive Cartography, The PJ Mode Collection, Cornell University Library
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