The program says nearly 90 percent of Americans believe heaven exists; most of them, presumably, think they have a shot at it. It's a nice idea. As Mr. Albom, the best-selling author of "The Five People You Meet in Heaven," says, the idea alone can make life on earth better, sprinkling a little stardust on the drudgery and meaninglessness of daily life.Why pick on Americans? Well, we're the ones who support the existence of TV networks that put on shows like this? I wonder, if Mahmoud Ahmadinejad got a look at this show, would he put it in his spiritual or his triteness category? That's a big problem with religion, isn't it? It's supposed to be the most serious thing going, but it's also always threatening to be the most ridiculous. And when it's religion on television, the chances of it coming out ridiculous are unusually high.
Mr. Albom goes on to describe the dysphoria of being ordinary: "If you're not a celebrity, you can start to feel like you don't matter."
So that's it. The implication is clear. In the American creed - the one articulated on network news programs like this one - heaven is a place where we all get to be celebrities. At last.
December 20, 2005
Virginia Heffernan writes about Barbara Walters' TV show about Heaven.