Friday, February 26, 2010

The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis

The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis, 1945

Now I know why C.S. Lewis is quoted so many times in Christian texts and thoughts on religion.

The man makes it click.

In the book, the narrator finds himself in a joyless city called "grey town". Grey Town represents hell, but no one living there actually realizes that it is hell.

He finds a bus that will take those desiring to leave Grey Town to what turns out to be heaven. The passengers realize when they arrive at heaven that they are ghosts and the features of heaven are too extreme for them at first. Initially, they can't lift a leaf or stand the sharpness of the grass. Basically, heaven is too real for them.

Residents of heaven, spirits, approach the ghosts and try to convince them to repent so they can experience the fullness and joy of heaven. These spirits are the souls of people the ghosts knew on earth.

Most of the ghost choose instead to go back to Grey Town, which is more familiar to them and reject heaven even in the face of untold joy.

The narrator meets his mentor who, like in Dante's Paradise, guides him through heaven. They observe interactions between ghosts and spirits and discuss the reasons the ghosts turn back. The guide reveals to the narrator that hell is so small that the ghosts must actually shrink to the size of invisibility to go back to hell.

Heaven's dwellers are too big on heaven's joy to even fit into hell.

The allegory and metaphors in The Great Divorce are almost over powering and the interactions between ghosts and spirits strike a chord.

One such interactions reminded me of Girl Book Geek and just how rare and special the joy she has for other people is. Coincidentally, it is a spirit (angel) who exhibits the same traits as Girl Book Geek.

Lewis puts forth what I've always believed. We condemn ourselves to hell. Whether in this life or the next, the doors to hell are locked from the inside, and we choose to stay there.

God doesn't damn us. We reject Him and His love, thus damning ourselves. And rather than repent, we grow more and more bitter, burying ourselves further into hell when all we have to do is repent, release that bitterness and accept God and we can live in endless this world and the next.
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