How Time Changed Us
Between the World and Me

The Great Divorce

The Great DivorceThe Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

In this book I think you've got Lewis at his best and worst. His worst is a very limited, non-critical, British academic view that caricatures the faults of various people. Too many entities in this novel are not characters but seem to be Lewis' making fun of people. I imagine he would sniff at my writing that.

But aside from these faults, there is much to enjoy in the book. Lewis crafts delightful sentences and the book is filled with theological insight.

What I have always appreciated most deeply about Lewis is that for him joy is central to theology. Almost everything else pales in comparison to whether or not one is participating in joy.

As a sixth grader I read the chapter "Farther Up and Further In" from The Last Battle and was filled with such exuberance that at recess I ran and ran and ran just like they did in the book.

I appreciate that in this novel, his vision of heaven and hell, the difference is joy. Even those souls which are in hell can make it to heaven if they fan even a small spark of joy. (I've always been surprised that American evangelicals are such fans of Lewis because his soteriology and eschatology are very different from theirs).

Here is a great excerpt from near the end of the book:

"The demand of the loveless and the self-imprisoned that they should be allowed to blackmail the universe: that till they consent to be happy (on their own terms) no one else shall taste joy: that theirs should be the final power; that Hell should be able to veto Heaven."

Every pastor knows the person who must be a victim and never find healing or transformation. Eventually one can do next to nothing for that person except tell them the truth about themselves, at which they usually get angry and accuse you of not being pastoral. I was glad to discover Lewis addressing this very point.

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