Book in Review: "The Great Divorce"

I have read this classic yet short book several times, and every time there are new insights. Lewis writes (in a way only Lewis could write) of a bus ride transporting residents of hell to heaven; and the reader is surprised to discover that hell is largely preferred to heaven. I may go as far as to say this is my favorite C.S. Lewis book.

Lewis's imagery is brilliant. Heaven is all too real. Painfully so. The residents of hell are "see through" in heaven--they are shadowlike ghosts. The unbending grass pricks the feet of the sojourners like nails, for heaven is made for things that are.

"Reality is harsh to the feet of shadows. But will you come?"

In "The Great Divorce" the reader gets to be a fly on the wall of many conversations. We follow the Moralist--the man who sees himself as an honest man--who only wants his "rights." We follow the post-modern Intellectual who rejects any notion of Truth. We follow the nagging wife who would rather be confined to the fires of hell than be in a heaven where she cannot control her husband. In many of the conversations we see how seemingly small "character flaws" or reasonable deficiencies on earth--reveal the blackest hearts in heaven.

Lewis reminds us, "Hell is a state of mind...And every state of mind, left to itself, every shutting up of the creature within the dungeon of its own mind - is, in the end, Hell." This book is then about the brokenness of mankind. It is about how each of us are far worse than we thought; and left to our own devices we are not only doomed to hell--but we'd choose its sorrows over heavenly wonders.


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