This set me thinking about the need for hope, not just religious hope, but hope in life generally. Victor Frankl wrote about "Mans Search for Meaning" and suggested that all manner of persecution can be endured if there is an understanding of meaning.
I think that I want to see that as an expression of hope, so... Heaven could be seen as an expression of future hope, and what more natural way of expressing that in the culture and time in which it was first expressed. Now that we are not sure where Heaven is (having travelled above the sky) I find this a helpful way to think about it. Of course as a post modern, I don't think that you have to!
And finally... This post reminded me John Cleese in Clockwise, couldn't find the clip, but the quote is:
"It's not the despair, Laura. I can stand the despair. It's the hope"Even though it completely contradicts the post J