Can we Keep our Friends in the Afterlife?

Here is a Spiritual Conundrum submitted to Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life by a reader named Maria:

Ever since I encountered Swedenborg, I’ve struggled with the mechanics of the afterlife: it sounds both beautiful and terrible. I’ve been told we forget much of our life on Earth and can’t remember the people we’ve loved. When I’ve expressed disturbance at the idea, the answer tends to be “you won’t care, you’ll find better people and will feel like you always had them, etc.” I’m sick to tears of the “it’s like growing apart from dear friends as you mature” simile, because it isn’t the same thing at all.

Say we’ve been open and genuine and generally dedicated to being who we are truly in life. Say we’ve built real and healthy relationships, loving and warm. Will it still be “bye, I’m off on my own way and I’ll forget you!” after passing the stage of the spirit world? Even if our loves are different, will we simply never see or know these people again?

With all due respect to my fellow Swedenborgians, some of them have not quite gotten the message about what the afterlife is really like. Many of them are still affected by the old, outdated view of heaven as a totally alien world where we have some sort of wispy, ethereal existence that is completely different from anything we’ve ever experienced here on earth.

But that’s not how Emanuel Swedenborg (1688–1772) describes the afterlife at all. Instead, he describes it as a seamless continuation of our life here on earth. We take with us everything that makes us the unique person we are. And we live a life very much like the one we had lived here on earth, only better (assuming we have chosen heaven over hell).

Old friends

Old friends

Although Herbert Hoover’s ideal of “rugged individualism” has taken on almost mythic meaning in much of today’s society, the reality is that we humans are not islands unto ourselves. We are community beings. Our loves, ideals, beliefs, identity, and character have no meaning or reality on their own, but only in the context of our complex web of relationships with family, friends, co-workers, and other people in our community.

This means that we take with us into the afterlife not only our individual character, but also the many and varied relationships in which that character exists and is formed. So it should be no surprise that Swedenborg describes heaven as an intensely human community. And the relationships we leave behind are not the ones we love, but the ones that don’t feed our soul, or that turn out not to be what we thought they were.

Let’s take a closer look. Along the way we’ll explode a few common Swedenborgian myths about the afterlife.

The afterlife is a continuation of this life

The Bible doesn’t provide a whole lot in the way of descriptions of the afterlife. It is much more concerned with how we live this life. That’s because our state in the afterlife depends upon what sort of life we have lived in this one.

However, people are naturally curious about what the afterlife will be like. And they naturally turn to the church to learn about the afterlife, since that’s the sort of thing that the church is supposed to know a lot about.

Unfortunately, traditional Christianity really doesn’t know much about the afterlife, precisely because the Bible doesn’t say much about it.

Over the centuries, Christian theologians have come up with many theories about the afterlife in order to fill in that gap. Most of those theories are based on rather materialistic ideas about human existence that require us to have a physical, material body in order to have any real, substantial life at all. So in traditional Christianity heaven is generally pictured as a wispy, ethereal place where the disembodied spirits of the deceased spend eternity in rapturous contemplation of the glories of God.

If nothing else, the afterlife is traditionally seen as something completely different from our life here on earth.

Then, in the middle of the eighteenth century, Emanuel Swedenborg published his most famous book, Heaven and Hell. And our concept of the afterlife hasn’t been the same since.

Swedenborg reported that contrary to traditional Christian belief, when we die, we don’t lose anything that makes us who and what we are except for our physical body. And even that isn’t as much of a loss as we might think, since in the spiritual world we have a spiritual body that is every bit as real, tangible, and anatomically correct as our physical body is here in the material world.

Not only that, we continue to live very much the way we had on earth. We live in a house or apartment in a town or city that has roads, public buildings, parks, workplaces, and everything else that we have here on earth—including, of course, a whole bunch of other people!

The main change is that as time goes by in the spiritual world, our true inner self comes out more and more, until we look, act, and speak outwardly exactly as we think and feel inwardly. In short, in the spiritual world we become precisely the person we are, both inside and out. Our inner self—meaning our true character, feelings, beliefs, and so on—becomes visible for everyone to see. In the spiritual world, before long we can no longer hide our true inner self behind an outward public mask.

When this process of our true self being revealed is complete, we go either to heaven or to hell based on the choices we have made and the person we have become during our lifetime on earth. And even in heaven or in hell, we get up in the morning, eat breakfast, go about our daily work (or mayhem), and live in a thriving human (or inhuman) community. For more on all of this, please see these articles:

  1. The Afterlife: It’s Not as Different as you Think!
  2. What Happens To Us When We Die?
  3. Who Are the Angels and How Do They Live?
  4. Is There Really a Hell? What is it Like?

Heaven is a community

One of Swedenborg’s key teachings about heaven is that it is a community of people who all love God, love one another, and have jobs that involve serving their fellow human beings. And though most of the jobs Swedenborg describes are what we would now identify as service jobs, and especially jobs in education, the overwhelming sense is that life in heaven really is a lot like life on earth, only much better.

One of the ways life in heaven is very much like life on earth is that we have friendships and relationships there. Contrary to traditional Christian theology, Swedenborg said that most angels are married. And by the same token, angels have a community in which they live, and a circle of friends that they have their closest relationships with.

What would human community be without friends?

Remember, we are the same people after we die as we are before we die. And our friendships are an important part of who we are.

So let’s look more closely at what Swedenborg actually says about our friendships in the afterlife.

Some friendships do end in the afterlife

Those Swedenborgians who say that in the spiritual world our friendships on earth fade away and we forget all about them are probably thinking of passages such as this one:

It often happens that after death friends meet in the spiritual world, and remembering their friendships in the former world think that they will then resume the friendly relations they had before. But when their association, which is merely based on outward affections, is noticed in heaven, they are parted in keeping with their inward affections. Then some are sent away from that meeting to the north, some to the west; and each is removed some distance from his friend, so that they do not ever see or recognize each other again. For their faces are changed in the places where they live, so as to become a picture of their inward affections. This makes it plain that in the spiritual world it is inward affections that link people together, not outward ones, unless these are in unison with the inward ones. (Marriage Love #273.3, italics added)

So yes, some of our friendships from earth do end in the spiritual world.

But notice that Swedenborg is here speaking of friendships that are based “merely on outward affections.” In other words, Swedenborg is talking about superficial relationships.

He is talking about friends who inwardly, in their true thoughts and feelings, have very little in common with one another.

Superficial friendships, Swedenborg says, come to an end in the spiritual world. There, our true inner character comes out, so that eventually we no longer even recognize people with whom we had surface-level friendships, but nothing deeper in common.

In the afterlife, friendships are based on inner similarities

Here is another place where Swedenborg explains this a little more fully. Note that when he speaks of “the world of spirits” he means the area of the spiritual world where we first arrive after death, before going either to heaven or to hell.

After we die, [when] we arrive in the spiritual world, . . . we are still together [with people who are inwardly unlike us] and can talk to anyone when we want to, to friends and acquaintances from our physical life, especially husbands and wives, and also brothers and sisters. I have seen a father talking with his six sons and recognizing them. I have seen many other people with their relatives and friends. However, since they were of different character because of their life in the world, they parted company after a little while.

However, people who are coming into heaven from the world of spirits and people who are coming into hell do not see each other anymore. They do not even recognize each other unless they are of like character because of a likeness in love. The reason they see each other in the world of spirits but not in heaven or hell is that while they are in the world of spirits they are brought into states like the ones they were in during their physical lives, one after another. After a while, though, they settle into a constant state that accords with their ruling love. In this state, mutual recognition comes only from similarity of love, for . . . likeness unites and difference separates. (Heaven and Hell #427, italics added)

Here Swedenborg adds the other side of the picture: that although differences in inner thoughts, feelings, and character separate people who had been friends and acquaintances in the world, similarities in inner character brings people together.

Here is what Swedenborg says about people who share inner similarities:

Kindred souls gravitate toward each other spontaneously, as it were, for with each other they feel as though they are with their own family, at home, while with others they feel like foreigners, as though they were abroad. When they are with kindred souls, they enjoy the fullest freedom and find life totally delightful. (Heaven and Hell #44)

Isn’t this how we feel about our closest friends here on earth—the ones with whom we have shared our inner thoughts and feelings, and found that they share the same kinds of thoughts and feelings?

Swedenborg goes on to say:

Further, people of similar quality all recognize each other there just the way people in this world recognize their neighbors and relatives and friends, even though they may never have seen each other before. This happens because the only relationships and kinships and friendships in the other life are spiritual ones, and are therefore matters of love and faith. (Heaven and Hell #46)

Many of us have had this experience right here on earth: of meeting people with whom we have an instant connection, so that it feels like we’ve known each other all our lives even though we have just met.

These friendships are based on an inner, spiritual connection. These are the sorts of friendships Maria talks about in her question: “Say we’ve been open and genuine and generally dedicated to being who we are truly in life. Say we’ve built real and healthy relationships, loving and warm.”

Remember, heaven is not a totally different place than earth. In heaven, the inner closeness of common character and perspective on life draws us together, while the inner distance of conflicting attitudes, perspectives, and worldviews drives us apart.

That’s not true only in heaven. Right here on earth, if “we’ve been open and genuine and generally dedicated to being who we are truly in life,” then we will form our friendships based on our true character and self, and on the true character and self of those with whom we become friends.

These friendships are not the ones that Swedenborg says fade away in the spiritual world so that we don’t even recognize each other anymore. These close and deep friendships are the ones that we keep even in the afterlife because they are based, not on external, superficial connections, but on deep connections of heart and mind.

Is it possible that we’re mistaken about some of our friends?

Yes. It can be a real shock to find out that someone we thought we knew turns out to be a completely different person.

But when we have built up a close friendship with someone over the years, and that friendship has stood the test of time and become only closer and deeper, we come to know the spirit of that person. That friendship will last in the afterlife, because it is based on a connection of mutual love, understanding, and commonality of spirit.

There is not a whole new batch of people in the afterlife

It’s not as though in heaven there is a whole new batch of people that never existed before.

Every angel in heaven and every evil spirit in hell, Swedenborg says, was once a human being living on this earth. So the people who are now living on this earth are some of the same people with whom we will be sharing heaven (or hell) in the afterlife.

And people who grow up in similar times and with similar experiences tend to develop similar characters. Swedenborg speaks of people from ancient times who still live together in community with one another:

I have been told by angels that those who lived in the most ancient times live today in the heavens, arranged by households, by families, and by tribes in much the same way as they had lived on earth, with hardly anyone missing from their households. (Marriage Love #205)

Doesn’t it make sense that even today, people whose character is formed by similar cultures, experiences, and events here on earth will retain that similarity of character in the afterlife?

Yes, of course, there is a wide variety of people on this earth. Some of them really aren’t our cup of tea. And in the afterlife, we’ll be living at a great distance from such people, and will have little or no contact with them.

But those with whom we’ve shared our life and our experiences, with whom we’ve grown into the person we are today, and with whom we’ve become very close at a heart level—these will be among the people we share our life with in heaven as well.

In Swedenborg’s writings, this is clear from his statements in Marriage Love that couples who have truly, inwardly loved one another here on earth continue to be happily married to one another to eternity. And what’s true of our closest relationship with the one we love most of all is also true of the other friendships that have become a part of the deep fabric of our lives.

Friendships for people who live in different parts of heaven

Some Swedenborgians seem to think that if people live in different parts of heaven from each other, they will forget all about their friendship.

We know that’s not true on earth. Especially today, with our modern communications technology, we maintain friendships with many people who live very far away from us. We even maintain friendships with people whose minds and hearts work quite differently than our own.

By traditional Swedenborgian principles, this couldn’t happen in heaven.

But Swedenborg himself tells of an experience in the spiritual world that proves otherwise:

One morning after I woke up, I saw two angels coming down from heaven. One was coming from the southern part of heaven and the other from the eastern part . . . . When they reached the lower regions below the heavens, they ran toward one another as if each were trying to be first [to reach the other]. They hugged and kissed each other. I heard that when these two angels lived in the world they formed a bond of deep friendship. Yet now one was in the eastern part of heaven and the other was in the southern part. (True Christianity #386)

The fact is, heaven has even more advanced communications “technology” than we do here on earth. And angels also have excellent memories. So although the memory of superficial friendships does fade away because such friendships are no longer of any interest to the angels, the memories and connections formed by “deep bonds of friendship” remain in heaven even among people who have settled in different parts of heaven because they think and feel differently than one another.

In heaven, deep friendships remain

In heaven, simply thinking about a person makes that person present to us even if she or he might live a vast distance away. So in heaven, any time we want to visit with an old friend, we are free to do so.

It’s easy to draw faulty conclusions from reading a few passages in Swedenborg’s writings and thinking we know what he’s talking about. But it’s important to read everything he says about a subject throughout his writings. And when it comes to the deep friendships we form on earth, it’s simply not true that in the spiritual world we will forget all about all of our dear friends and replace all of our friendships on earth with different ones in heaven.

Remember, heaven is a kingdom of love. When genuine, deep, mutual love develops between and among people, that’s something that can never die to all eternity. In fact, these deep human connections are the very fabric of heavenly life and heavenly joy.

This article is a response to a spiritual conundrum submitted by a reader.

For further reading:


Lee Woofenden is an ordained minister, writer, editor, translator, and teacher. He enjoys taking spiritual insights from the Bible and the writings of Emanuel Swedenborg and putting them into plain English as guides for everyday life.

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Posted in Sex Marriage Relationships, The Afterlife
25 comments on “Can we Keep our Friends in the Afterlife?
  1. Hoyle says:

    You’re quite amusing I must say! I really do enjoy reading your “spiritual insights”. However, I would like to issue a challenge. Put aside what you have learned from others about your spirituality. This may be difficult due to the preconditioning of your current spiritual realizations. Try not to use too much logic. Personal spirituality isn’t a one size fits all nor should it be defined by anyone but yourself. Good luck and God speed!

    • Lee says:

      Hi Hoyle,

      Thanks for your comment. I’m glad you find the articles here both enjoyable and amusing!

      Thanks also for your challenge. I do have a spiritual life of my own, but that’s not what this blog is about. Plus, for me, using the fruits of a lifetime of spiritual study and practice to help others find their way through the often difficult and confusing maze of this life is a key part of my own spiritual practice. I feel a deep satisfaction and joy in it.

  2. Alex says:

    Hi Lee!

    I think there is a reason why the Bible rarely mentions the afterlife. God does not want our minds to wander too far ahead.
    This is something I understood after our little exchange in the ‘Does God Change’ article. The Bible is not there to make us more scholarly, but make us more loving. The whole point is not to find the truth, but live of it, seeing as the truth is provided by God in manageable chunks at a time.

    By telling us what await, we would lose the focus on our current life and possibly our spiritual development.

    The is here to teach us how to become better human being and that is pretty much it. Thus it should be treated more as a guide to better living and spirituality.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Alex,


      The Bible is much more concerned with moving us toward living a good life and developing a good, thoughtful, and loving character than it is with making sure we have a correct understanding of the workings of the universe, including the afterlife.

      I don’t think it’s bad to know what awaits us in the afterlife. Swedenborg had a good reason for publishing Heaven and Hell. But he published far more about living a good life here than he did about the afterlife. Even Heaven and Hell itself has a heavy focus on what we need to do during our lifetime here on earth in order to build a life of heaven, and not of hell, within and around ourselves. This is a focus that many traditional Swedenborgians seem to miss in their eagerness to spread the “new knowledge” about the afterlife to the wider public.

      In short, even our knowledge of the afterlife is meant to spur us on to accomplishing what we are here on earth to accomplish.

  3. ghostwriter says:

    Wow! A great insight!

  4. Aruthra says:

    Hi Lee,
    I was once bestfriends with my school friend, we were so connected, true and loving. But when she moved onto a different college, I started to disappear in her life. I still long to speak to her and wish to be friends with her. Will it ever happen, atleast in heaven? Will she accept me there?

    • Lee says:

      Hi Aruthra,

      You can certainly reconnect with her in heaven. However, a long-term friendship there would depend upon whether you have enough in common to sustain a friendship. If you have gone in very different directions, the connection will most likely fade. But if you have gone in similar, or at least compatible, directions in mind, heart, and life, then the friendship may last there. This is true even if you don’t end out living in the same community in heaven as each other. Long-distance friendships are just as possible there as they are here. In fact, more possible, because in heaven just thinking of another person with affection makes them present with you, no matter what part of heaven each of you may be in.

  5. K says:

    Can one live in a community of people who came from a place one feels drawn to?

    For example, say someone lives in the USA their entire life, but they feel strongly drawn to Italy. After death, would they be able to live in a community of people who came from Italy in life?

    • Lee says:

      Hi K,

      In heaven, people live with other people who are similar to them in spirit. Physical location isn’t a factor. If an American is close in spirit to people from Italy, they can and will find each other despite the great geographical and even cultural differences separating them here on earth. Also, language is not an issue in the spiritual world, since everyone there speaks a universal spiritual language.

  6. Rod says:

    There is a friend of mine who is such a wonderful person and I love her very much. But we currently live and probably will continue living in different states, being quite far from each other. I have hope that in Heaven we will be able to spend more time together and be closer to each other. When I met her she was depressed and thinking of suicide and thank God I was able to somehow help her at least a little bit giving her some comfort and hope. Ever since we developed a wonderful emotional connection, having a similar mentality and feelings and lots of interests in common. As I said, we currently live far from each other but we talk regularly (thanks technology!) and I think of her every single day. Sometimes I feel that maybe I’m in love with her and that she might be my soulmate. At other times I think that maybe she is not my soulmate but simply a wonderful friend that God sent to me. Relationships and feelings are complicated. Besides living far away she also has a child (she’s a single mother) and I don’t think that we will be together in the near future (either as friends or lovers). We live very different lives, but enjoy each other’s company so much. Whenever she texts me I get such a warm feeling and a smile on my face. I’m not sure about what I feel for her, but I know it’s good and I want her with me in Heaven.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Rod,

      Glad to hear that you’ve made such a close connection, even if the two of you are physically distant from one another. As covered in the above article, whether you end out as lovers or as “just friends,” and that relationship lasts because you have a real inner connection, it will continue in the spiritual world as well.

      Of course, if you end out joining with her in true spiritual marriage, the two of you will live together to eternity in heaven. But even if you remain friends, and do not become lovers, you will likely live near each other in heaven. And if you do live in different parts of heaven, you can still see and visit with each other as often as you want. It’s not as though angels are locked into their particular section of heaven. They are free to travel wherever they want to, whenever they want to, assuming it is for good reasons—which, since they are angels, it normally would be.

      Meanwhile, I’m especially happy to hear that through this friendship you were able to help her out of her suicidal thoughts. If she had gone through with that, it would have been a tragedy not only for her, but for her child, who would have to continue on without a mother or a father. Love is a healing balm.

  7. Rod says:

    Thank you. Back in those days when I reached out for her I wasn’t sure what I was doing but I wanted to help and I’m glad I did. She also helped me with my anxiety and showed great compassion for me on my troubles. The funny thing is that she is so humble that she claims that she is “not that nice” (her words) but if she wasn’t nice how come I love her so much? Her personality is similar to mine except for the fact that she is a great leader and she is also tougher than me. About a year ago she started to follow Protestantism and even if I disagree with some of the doctrines I think it has been very good for her, giving her more hope and strength and also a meaning to her life, not to mention the fact that she is happier. Anyway, not only her but all my other friends are living in different places: other cities, other states, and one of them in a different country. Being the only one living in my town is tough for me, but fortunately such barriers do not exist in the spiritual world.

  8. Chad says:

    Hi Lee,

    My question here relates to the structure of communities in Heaven, and how deep our various “inner similarities” go. I am a man who greatly values a quiet, gentle and meek life, especially in personal and social conduct. Not necessarily “conservative” per se, but rather centered on politeness, mutual respect and humbleness, and conducting oneself with purpose at all times. For example, I have always found people yelling and hollering at a football game to be socially unnecessary, you could say. I understand why they’re so happy and excited about it, but I still think, “isn’t there a way you can express your joy in a way that doesn’t disturb others as much?” I honestly feel like, in terms of social demeanor, I have more in common with Fred Rogers, Bob Ross, and Emanuel Swedenborg himself, from how you’ve discussed his personality, than I do with patrons at a sports bar. Indeed, I consider my belief in politeness, gentle and humble interactions, and social harmony so important that it is a part of my personality, a core trait of mine.

    In regards to how you mention angels come together based on their inner similarities, how “encompassing” are these similarities? What are the hypothetical “lines” that delineate whether a group of angels are compatible as a community? I would like to make an interesting observation that my best friend, who I’ve known for over a decade, and I have kind of “molded” aspects of each other’s personalities around each other, no doubt because we’ve been like brothers since grade school. We are still individuals, with our own likes, dislikes, and dreams, but as a “community”, we function astoundingly well with and around each other. Could heavenly societies work similarly, where angels do not lose their individuality (even if I strongly value social integration, I am very far from a conformist), but still “integrate” into a harmonious community based on core personality traits and just getting to know each other?

    God Bless,


    • Lee says:

      Hi Chad,

      It’s a good—and complex—question. Not one that can be answered simply. However, here are a few points to give some structure to it:

      First, speaking of complexity, human society in heaven is every bit as complex as human society here on earth, if not more so. Traditional religious art depicting bland, beautiful angels arrayed in orderly rows around a heavenly throne do not capture a thousandth part of what heaven is really like. The biblical passages on which that artwork is based are metaphors, not photographs, of life in heaven.

      Second, after we die, we are exactly the same person we were before. The only thing missing is our physical body. But since we have a spiritual body that is exactly the same physiologically as our physical body was, even that is not much of a difference. The main difference is that before long, we drop any masks we had put on for social, political, or financial reasons here on earth. We are, in fact, much more of an individual there than we are here. We are our own true character, with no masks and no pretenses.

      Third, yet as you say, we are also embedded in a community of people, and this shapes us as well. We are our own true self in relationship with the people around us, not in isolation from them. Who would we be without our relationships with our friends, family, co-workers, and so on? We build our character within the network of social relationships that gives our life meaning and substance.

      Fourth, in heaven, as on earth, there are communities of all different sizes, from tiny little hamlets, and even individuals (usually couples) living off on their own, to large metropolitan areas where millions of people live. And there, even more than here, we are free to choose the size and type of community we want based on our own character and personality.

      Fifth, it is not our character and personality that determines where we live, but rather what Swedenborg calls our “ruling love.” This generally expresses itself in some particular way through our character and personality, but our ruling love, not our character and personality, is the core element that determines our precise place in heaven.

      Our ruling love is whatever we love most of all. It is individual to each person, but falls into one of four general categories, as defined by Swedenborg: Love of the Lord, love of the neighbor, love of the world, and love of self. If our ruling love is in one of the first two categories, we will live in heaven. If it is in one of the last two categories (meaning we love worldly things and ourselves more than we love God and the neighbor), then we will be in hell.

      Both heaven and hell are arranged, not by the personalities, but by the ruling loves of the people living there.

      Why is this significant? Because in heaven we will not necessarily be living with a whole bunch of people who have the same personality as ours. Rather, we will be living with people who share a similar type of ruling love with us.

      To use an earthly example, think of one of our companies here on earth as an image of a heavenly community. Think, for example, of Elon Musk’s SpaceX.

      Presumably, everyone who works at SpaceX shares a common love of rocket technology and space travel. Otherwise, they would likely work somewhere else. And yet, SpaceX requires all different types of people, who have all different skills, in order to carry out its primary purpose of space travel. Yes, of course it needs scientists and engineers. But it also needs construction workers, receptionists, lawyers, lobbyists, and janitors, not to mention dozens, if not hundreds, of other skills. Each of the individuals and groups of people there is different from all of the others. Each has a character and personality suited to his or her particular function within the community. Engineers must have focus, concentration, and the ability to tune out people and distractions. Receptionists must be friendly, gregarious, and focused on relationships with people. And so on.

      In other words, people who share a common ruling love can have all different characters and personalities. Everyone at SpaceX wants to see rockets get built and travel into space. That could be considered the overall “ruling love” of the SpaceX community. But each person and group contributes to that ruling love in a different way.

      I think of the smaller and larger communities in heaven as functioning the same way. There, just as here, the different cities and towns require all different types of people to do the overall work of the community, and to make it function as a whole. And yet, they will all be united by a common love and goal for accomplishing some greater purpose.

      In heaven, I believe, we do not live only with people who are just like us, as some Swedenborgians seem to think. Rather, we live with the same great variety of people that exists on earth, all of whom are united by common loves and goals into a harmonious whole.

      Who do we hang out with in our free time? That will likely be people who have similar tastes, personalities, and interests. But even there, it’s complex. We can hang out with whoever we want to hang out with. Some people love variety, and enjoy getting together with people who think differently than they do. We’re not required to have this or that relationship. God doesn’t tell us where we must be, and who we must be with. Rather, our own loves and interest draw us together with the people we most want to be with, whoever they may be.

      You see, a sixth point is that heaven is based on the freedom to follow our own loves, interests, and relationships. God doesn’t prescribe for us what we must do and who we must do it with. God loves to give us happiness based on who we are, and based on our loves and interests.

      For you, this means you could watch football games in a sports bar where everyone is shouting and yelling if you wanted to. But you could also watch the game at home with your best friend, analyzing the plays and enjoying the skill and artistry of the players. Even in heaven, your work may bring you into daily contact with people who are different from you in character and personality. But you can spend your free time with whoever you most enjoy spending it with.

      And if you prefer a quieter and more contemplative life, you can live in a small community where there are only a few people who share your love for peace, quiet, and politeness in interaction with others. The communities where we live in heaven are built from the ruling loves and from the character and personality of everyone who lives there. Each community is a perfect expression of all of the people living there, in all of their many and varied interactions with one another.

      • Chad says:

        Thank you very much for your thoughts and insight, Lee. That is indeed a question about the spiritual world that I’ve sparred back and forth with plenty: would a small but populated and close-knit town best suit me, or could some other living arrangement work better? It’s kind of tough to say at this point, but I think I’ll get a better idea as I travel more, and I’m sure by the time I reach the spiritual world, the answer will be clear. I imagine I would really enjoy my work in heaven involving diverse groups and personalities, same as I enjoy customer service now, but I would prefer a quieter, more serene environment and community of angels to relax with at the end of the day. So on that note, what you said makes great sense! I really appreciate your putting so much thought and consideration into answering your readers’ questions!

        God Bless,


  9. Moore says:

    If we are able to listen to every song recorded and read every book written in this realm, will it still be through the universal language in Heaven? A part of me laments the fact that we won’t be able to speak, read, or listen to English, Spanish, French, and whatever else.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Moore,

      Yes, that’s a tricky one. Honestly, I’m not sure how this works. Presumably even if the books are “translated” into the universal language of the spiritual world, they will still retain the flavor of the original language and culture in which they were written, because that’s part of the character of the book or song.

      Apparently this translation happens effortlessly, because in Swedenborg’s stories of conversations and interactions with angels and spirits in the spiritual world, they fairly often quote passages from the Bible, and Swedenborg records them in an earthly language—in this case, Latin.

      This is one I think I’ll have to wait until I get to the spiritual world to really understand.

  10. Moore says:

    Okay. Thanks, Lee.

  11. Rod says:

    Hello. What about pen pals? Yesterday I was reading some heartbreaking stories on a thread on Reddit about people who made friends online and they talked for years but over time lost contact and they miss those friends and can’t find them anymore. It reminded me of a lecture that I once heard about C.S. Lewis. Until the end of his life he answered every single letter that fans sent him and he ended up becoming friends with several of them, people from all over the world. There was a woman who even wept talking about the importance that Lewis had in her life, even though she only met him personally once, she kept his letters as a treasure. He supported many people in hard times, difficult marriages, raising a child alone, and so on, always giving support and encouragement or just chatting about life. I found out that there are also organizations that encourage the whole pen pal thing, including for prisoners.

    I don’t know, I just have compassion on those people and after all, those are human beings who created a bond and a sincere affection for each other. I really hope those who are pen pals can continue they friendship in the afterlife, even if they only met in person a couple of times (or in some cases not even once).

    By the way, I have read Annette’s articles about your move to Soweto and they are very inspiring. I really appreciate everything that you guys are doing, that is God’s work and no effort is ever wasted, that’s for sure!

    • Lee says:

      Hi Rod,

      If two people who shared a connection but then lost contact in this life still want to contact one another in the other life, that would be possible based on the connection they had, especially if there was an element of friendship and commonality in it.

    • Lee says:

      Hi Rod,

      Thanks also for your good words about Annette’s articles!

  12. Rod says:

    Thank you.

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Lee & Annette Woofenden

Lee & Annette Woofenden

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