On Heaven and Hell

This book has stuck with me, hanging out with me in my spare time, chilling at the dinner table, poking me when I’m lost in thought. I keep thinking about it, which tells me it’s a good book. It’s an important book, that’s for sure. It’s about heaven and hell, written as an allegory and a story. It’s not meant to be taken literally, which is perhaps what makes it so powerful. You have to draw your own conclusions from the characters and the scenes, and in so doing, you have to think.

Here are some of the parts that have me thinking the most.

No soul that seriously and

The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis

The following are excerpts taken from C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce. Bold and italics and notes are mine. The rest is C.S.’s.

***

No, there is no escape. There is no heaven with a little of hell in it—no plan to retain this or that of the devil in our hearts or our pockets. Our Satan must go, every hair and feather.

– George MacDonald

“I can promise you none of these things. No sphere of usefulness: you are not needed there at all. No scope for your talents: only forgiveness for having perverted them. No atmosphere of inquiry: for I will bring you to the land not of questions but of answers, and you shall see the face of God.

I discovered that one sees them with a kind of double vision. Here was an enthroned and shining god, whose ageless spirit weighed upon mine like a burden of solid gold: and yet, at the very same moment, here was an old weather-beaten man, one who might have been a shepherd—such a man as tourists think simple because he is honest and neighbors think ‘deep’ for the same reason. His eyes had the far-seeing look of one who has lived long in open, solitary places; and somehow I divined the network of wrinkles which must have surrounded them before re-birth had washed him in immortality.

That is what mortals misunderstand. They say of some temporal suffering, “No future bliss can make up for it,” not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory.

Ah, the Saved…what happens to them is best described as the opposite of a mirage. What seemed, when they entered it, to be the vale of misery turns out, when they look back, to have been a well; and where present experience saw only salt deserts, memory truthfully records that the pools were full of water.

There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, “Thy will be done,” and those to whom God says, in the end, “Thy will be done.”

All that are in hell, choose it. Without that self-choice, there could be no Hell.

No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.

That’s what we all find when we reach this country. We’ve all been wrong! That’s the great joke. There’s no need to go on pretending one was right! After that we begin living.

“Do you mean then that Hell—all that infinite empty town—is down in some little crack like this?”

“Yes. All Hell is smaller than one pebble of your earthly world: but it is smaller than one atom of this world, the Real World. Look at yon butterfly. If it swallowed all Hell, Hell would not be big enough to do it any harm or to have any taste.”

You can buy the book here. :)

the great divorce cs lewis cover

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