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The Great Divorce

Discussion in 'Book Club' started by Shane2336, Dec 11, 2016.

  1. Yay

    4 vote(s)
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  2. Nay

    1 vote(s)
    20.0%
  3. It's a gray area...

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  1. Shane2336

    Shane2336 Slave of Christ Supporter

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    Hello all,

    I just finished this one by C.S. Lewis late last night. Quite an interesting read, and also incredibly strange. This is the first fiction, outside of Narnia, that I have read of his work. I'd like to hear some of your thoughts on what he presents in this book. Namely, the interactions of those saved and those damned, after death. To include what seems to be a "second chance" at justification after death. I'll start by saying that I do not believe these interactions to be possible (see Luke 16:26), nor do I believe in a purgatory. (Yes, I know this is a fiction work). But it might make an interesting discussion.
     
    Last edited: Dec 11, 2016
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  2. ewq1938

    ewq1938 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Luk 16:26 And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence.
     
  3. Paul of Eugene OR

    Paul of Eugene OR Finally Old Enough Supporter

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    I've read many of his works and he does write very well. I know how i would logically design heaven and hell. I would make hell a retraining area and souls there would be trained through punishment and reward until they began to act more like the loving person God wants them to be. But of course, I have no say in what actually awaits us all. You really should, however, check out his "Screwtape Letters". I'm sure you could find that in any local library, and most book stores. The picture of the afterlife there is a little more traditional.
     
  4. Shane2336

    Shane2336 Slave of Christ Supporter

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    I have it on standby already! It's next!
     
  5. jimmyjimmy

    jimmyjimmy Pardoned Rebel Supporter

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    Lewis is wonderful, and he is among the first people I wish to meet in the afterlife, if that is at all possible; however, he held some errant ideas, the most glaring would be his belief in purgatory.

    Having said that, Lewis seems to understand in the Great Divorce, that given the chance people in Hell don't want to go to Heaven. They wouldn't if they could.
     
  6. Shane2336

    Shane2336 Slave of Christ Supporter

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    I did particularly like that about the book!
     
  7. jimmyjimmy

    jimmyjimmy Pardoned Rebel Supporter

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    I think it bears some resemblance to reality. We don't want God. We want to be gods. That's preachily the problem.
     
  8. ewq1938

    ewq1938 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    We don't want to be Gods. We want to be more than just human.
     
  9. jimmyjimmy

    jimmyjimmy Pardoned Rebel Supporter

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    We end up less human because we try to be our owns gods, si the way the witness of scripture unfolds, beginning in the Garden.
     
  10. ewq1938

    ewq1938 Well-Known Member Supporter

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    Sorry, I mis-typed so I edited it please see the current version.
     
  11. ~Anastasia~

    ~Anastasia~ † Servant of God † Supporter CF Senior Ambassador

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    LOVE the book, as well as others of his. Maybe it's about time (after Christmas anyway) to go through The Screwtape Letters again. I just finished The Great Divorce (again!) a few months ago.

    I don't believe it's possible for those "in hell" to "visit heaven" (keeping in mind too that the final judgment has not even taken place yet). I think the whole thing is an interesting fairy tale that still well illustrates some spiritual truths.

    I did like many aspects of the book that he managed to illustrate with his fantasy though. Like others have mentioned here, one of the most telling is how people manage to hold onto things that keep them from God. I think that is very apt. He also illustrates several different kinds of things people use to do so, including familial love, religion, and other "good" things with which we might put away the "best".

    I also liked the transformation description of the man with the lizard who finally allowed the angel to kill it, but ... I certainly have doubts if such a thing is ever possible. I might hope so, but God gives us no promise of such a thing, and many reasons to doubt it, so I think it's safest to have that opinion for now, and if it turns out to be a wrong one, I will be happy for that.

    The description of "hell" or "purgatory" was most interesting. I can't say there will be anything at all like that, or that people will be that way, but it is comforting. Of course, no one should be in "hell" and even "purgatory" (which we reject) is not a good description because it doesn't seem those there are moving closer to heaven as the Catholic doctrine of purgatory teaches. But it's still interesting to see the weaknesses of humans played out in an eternal sense. I think that would be the most merciful scenario I can imagine, but again, it IS fantasy, and I wouldn't put any stock in it as theology.

    With that said though, I love Lewis' spiritual insights, and enjoy reading all of his works.

    I'm actually reading "A Grief Observed" for the first time right now.
     
  12. Quid est Veritas?

    Quid est Veritas? In Memoriam to CS Lewis

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    CS Lewis is one of my favourite authors. I have however noted that few seem to read beyond his most famous works.
    I myself love his Till we have faces, rereading it frequently.

    The Great Divorce is an interesting idea and is sometimes erroneously used to suggest that Lewis was an universalist - oddly so when even Macdonald sort of repudiates it in the work.
    It was not meant as a heavy work of Theology, but also not as completely a fable. The narrator is met by Macdonald who he hails as mentor which imitates Dante meeting Virgil as guide and it ends with a scene reminiscent of the end of Pilgrim's Progress.

    It is Lewis' belief that when you try and grasp something then it dissipates. When you are doing a pleasurable activity and you stop to examine why it is pleasurable, it ceases to be so. This is the purpose of myth and fable, to viscerally experience truth which is what is present in the Great Divorce. It is meant as experience, not substance.

    In his own words:

    "Human intellect is incurably abstract. Pure mathematics is the type of successful thought. Yet the only realities we experience are concrete- this pain, this pleasure, this dog, this man. While we are loving the man, bearing the pain, enjoying the pleasure, we are not intellectually apprehending Pleasure, Pain or Personality. When we begin to do so, on the other hand, the concrete realities sink to the level of mere instances or examples: we are no longer dealing with them, but with that which they exemplify. This is our dilemma—either to taste and not to know or to know and not to taste—or, more strictly, to lack one kind of knowledge because we are in an experience or to lack another kind because we are outside it. As thinkers we are cut off from what we think about; as tasting, touching, willing, loving, hating, we do not clearly understand. The more lucidly we think, the more we are cut off: the more deeply we enter into reality, the less we can think. You cannot study pleasure in the moment of the nuptial embrace, nor repentance while repenting, nor analyze the nature of humor while roaring with laughter. But when else can you really know these things? "If only my toothache would stop, I could write another chapter about pain." But once it stops, what do I know about pain?
    Of this tragic dilemma myth is the partial solution. In the enjoyment of a great myth we come nearest to experiencing as a concrete what can otherwise be understood only as an abstraction. At this moment, for example, I am trying to understand something very abstract indeed-the fading, vanishing of tasted reality as we try to grasp it with the discursive reason. Probably I have made heavy weather of it. But if I remind you, instead, of Orpheus and Eurydice, how he was suffered to lead her by the hand but, when he turned round to look at her, she disappeared, what was merely a principle becomes imaginable. You may reply that you never till this moment attached that "meaning" to that myth. Of course not. You are not looking for an abstract "meaning" at all. If that was what you were doing, the myth would be for you no true myth but a mere allegory. You were not knowing, but tasting; but what you were tasting turns out to be a universal principle. The moment we state this principle, we are admittedly back in the world of abstraction. It is only while receiving the myth as a story that you experience the principle concretely. "
     
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