Friday, April 3, 2009

The Great Divorce by CS Lewis


I had the hardest time finding this book. The library didn't carry it, the used bookstores didn't have it in stock, so I finally had to go buy it full price at Borders. Having read his Chronicles of Narnia, I had no idea what kind of book I would be reading when I was directed to the Religion section of the bookstore to find this one.

The preface begins "Blake wrote the Marriage of Heaven and Hell. If I have written of their divorce, this is not because I think myself a fit antagonist for so great a genius, nor even because I feel at all sure that I know what he meant." I suppose I ought to go find who Blake is and see what his Marriage book is all about. It may or may not help me understand Lewis' Divorce.

The premise of the book is a man is taken away in a dream to a level of heaven. I say level because the book does direct the reader to believe that there is much more to heaven than what is observed by the man in his dream. He witnesses ghosts from what may be considered Purgatory join him on a bus ride to this realm of heaven where they are individually met by some who they knew while on earth. The spirits (as he calls those who reside in heaven already) try to convice the ghosts to stay rather than return back to Purgatory or perhaps even Hell.

I am not sure I completely agree with this view - that there can be movement between heaven and hell, but the idea that people will have the opportunity even after death to leave behind earthly desires and temptations - not the materialistic stuff, but the attitudes and emotions that bind us down resonates with me.

This paragraph from the preface struck a chord with me and hope you will find yourself enlightened by it as well. "But what, you ask, of earth? Earth, I think, will not be found by anyone to be in the end a very distinct place. I think earth, if chosen instead of Heaven, will turn out to have been, all along, only a region in Hell; and earth, if put second to Heaven, to have been from the beginning a part of Heaven itself."

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