Where does this image come from?
First of all it is clearly Christian because it has St. Peter, it has heaven as something in the sky and it has a concept of rewards after death for good behavior. All signs of Christianity.
I am struck by the image because it is really quite old.
In Roman theology Janus controlled the entry to heaven and Peter is clearly at the same rank among angels as Janus was.
The more I think about this image the more I wonder how it continues to be perpetuated. It is primarily perpetuated in cartoons but cartoons represent a legitimate conception of how human beings are judged for their earthly behavior.
I think that this image is persistent and influential because most people have an internal moral compass that is in constant operation throughout the day. That moral compass is too difficult to focus on or think about.
The solution is to have this humorous image of St. Peter as the judge. The judge is clearly not God, which allows for a sense of discretion and consideration when it comes to evaluating moral behavior.
I was just thinking about this.