The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis

I am nearly done with the C. S. Lewis book, The Great Divorce, which I am reading for the first time. While the book isn’t a tremendously challenging read, nor is it long (150 pages), nor is it filled with theological depth, it is still very worthwhile and highly recommended.

In the Preface, Lewis emphasizes that his intent in writing the book was not for us to argue about the view of the afterlife he is presenting. His purpose was merely to force us to think about our lives in relation to the statements and ideas posited by the characters. If you go into this book looking for a Left-Behind-esque attempt at prophetical interpretation of Heaven and Hell, you will be sorely disappointed; my recommendation is to read it with grace and understanding.

Lewis’s strength is in statements that can draw you up short and say, “I never thought of it quite that way;” and this book gave me plenty of those. My personal favorite:

“I only want my rights. I’m not asking for anybody’s bleeding charity.” “Then do. At once. Ask for the Bleeding Charity.”

Lewis uses stereotypes and sets up his arguments carefully, but this does not in any way diminish the beauty and truth of the words. He exposes many of the excuses that people give for rejecting Christ in a fresh way. Two conversations that stood out were with the liberal theologian (Chapter 5), and with the artist (Chapter 9). The liberal theologian placidly believed nothing while using Scripture to support his arguments. The artist, who had begun his career in painting to show Christ through art, had ended his career in painting for painting’s sake; the art became more important than the reason for art.

The Great Divorce is an excellent book, and one that I plan on re-reading. It has encouraged me to look at my own excuses for not
following Christ on a daily, hourly, moment-by-moment basis; it has challenged me in many ways. It’s an excellent book, and one that I plan on re-reading.

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