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Honest Words about Depictions of Heaven

February 16th, 2005 | 1 min read

By Matthew Lee Anderson

From an interview with the screenwriters of Constantine, the latest Keanu Reeves film:

Interviewer: So is that why you didn’t show Heaven more?

FRANK: The true reason for that is, no one knows how to depict it in a cool way. It seems like an audience will love to see Hell — they want to see demonic images. But if you show them angelic, and you show them light and white, they go, ‘Oh, gosh.’

Does Revelation manage to make heaven interesting? My hunch is that for most of us, the answer is "no." We have far too little exposure to precious stones and metals to allow the imagery to take effect. Does Dante's conception? Probably not, which is why everyone stops at the end of Inferno. Why did Lewis write Screwtape Letters and not an angelic equivalent? I don't have them in front of me, but if I remember right, it's because of this problem. Why is good so much harder to know than evil, and why does it seem so much more interesting?

Matthew Lee Anderson

Matthew Lee Anderson is an Associate Professor of Ethics and Theology in Baylor University's Honors College. He has a D.Phil. in Christian Ethics from Oxford University, and is a Perpetual Member of Biola University's Torrey Honors College. In 2005, he founded Mere Orthodoxy.