Monday, March 4, 2013

The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis

C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce. HarperSanFrancisco, 1946, 1973.

This is a theological fantasy penned by C. S. Lewis about heaven and hell. It is a response to William Blake's Marriage of Heaven and Hell. An important quote from the book speaking of heaven and hell is "There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.' All that are in Hell chose it." The book argues that those in hell chose it.

George Macdonald acts as a guide for Lewis to the book. You do not know the book is a dream till the very end. Hell is called the grey city. People from this city are allowed to go to an excursion to another city which is the outskirts of heaven. The people are given the choice to travel to heaven but they must leave their sins behind. The people form hell are called ghosts. The city that leads to heaven hurts the ghosts to walk on the ground. There are a series of conversations or dialogues where the ghosts are offered the choice to go to heaven. The majority of the people refuse because they cannot let go of their sin. Many of these sins are things we recognize in real life. For example, we have a theologian who doesn't believe in miracles. We have a husband who is unwilling to forgive his wife. We have a mother who wants to manage the life of her son and many more.

The Great Divorce is a great read. It both delight and teaches. Lewis is an excellent writer of prose but he is also a great guide to living the Christian life. In addition, he is a clear teacher. He is both a rational thinker with a highly developed imagination. Another important element from Lewis is that one is introduced to many of the great books by reading him. For example, The Great Divorce has similarities to The Divine Comedy, The Pilgrim's Progress, and other works. This is a good book for those wanting to read more of Lewis.

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