Tuesday, November 8, 2016

Review: The Great Divorce

Book: The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis
Challenge Prompt: Read a book by an author you love
Pages: 146

Image result for the great divorce

If you know me at all, you know that I love C.S. Lewis.  Ole' Clive Staples has been one of my favorites since I read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe in elementary school.  Having read the entire Chronicles of Narnia series, Mere Christianity, The Screwtape Letters, and many more, he is far and away one of my favorite thinkers.  Part of the ending of The Last Battle is perhaps my favorite piece of prose ever.  And no matter how many times I read his work, I always find something new to marvel at.

Lewis takes his turn at allegory in The Great Divorce, where he tells the story of a man who finds himself on a bus going from hell to heaven.  One by one, he sees the "visitors" from hell confronted with whatever particular hang-up is preventing them from meeting Jesus, reinforcing Lewis' idea that the gates of hell are locked from the inside.  In many cases, it is heartbreaking to read.

Admittedly, this was not my favorite Lewis book.  Maybe it's because I've never enjoyed reading about hell that much, but I found it less compelling than many of Lewis' other works.  That said, it is still compelling reading, and it made me think about what hurts and hang-ups I am holding on to.

 In The Great Divorce, Lewis says, "If we insist on keeping Hell (or even earth) we shall not see Heaven: if we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell."  We cling to things that, in the end, don't matter.  Tonight, as I watch election coverage and see how many people are basing their happiness or sadness on the results, I am reminded that in the long run, it doesn't matter.

I think as humans, we have an inherent fear of appearing weak or needy - especially as Americans.  But a crucial part of following Jesus is acknowledging our own weaknesses and acknowledging that we really can't save ourselves.  It calls to mind another quote of Lewis', this one from Mere Christianity:

Give up yourself, and you will find your real self. Lose your life and you will save it. Submit to death, death of your ambitions and favorite wishes every day and death of your whole body in the end: submit with every fiber of your being, and you will find eternal life. Keep back nothing. Nothing that you have not given away will ever be really yours. Nothing in you that has not died will ever be raised from the dead. Look for yourself, and you will find in the long run only hatred, loneliness, despair, rage, ruin, and decay. But look for Christ and you will find Him, and with Him everything else thrown in.

Final Recommendation: Read it!  It will make you think and evaluate some of your choices.  Lewis is always a keeper, and this one is definitely one to add to your bookshelf - or digital library, whichever you prefer.  Just read it!

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