le 4 mars 2014
C. S. Lewis is one of the best-known Christian writers and apologists. His works have made a huge impact on generations of readers, and have brought Christian thought and doctrines to many who otherwise would not have shown any interest in them. In “The Great Divorce” he tackles one of the darkest topics in all of Christian doctrine: the topic of Hell.
C. S. Lewis’ views and writings were always to a large extent designed to shake up the comfortable complacency of the society around him. This particularly holds for the Christians who were all too happy to give up the hard and sometimes uncomfortable tenants of their faith and embrace the ever more libertine ethos of the modern culture. Two of the most salient points that Lewis is trying to get across in “Great Divorce” are 1. Hell is real, and 2. Hell is not just reserved for the most egregiously evil people. Chances are, if you are a Christian today you’ll get more criticism and ridicule for the belief in these two points than almost any other tenants of Christianity.
This book more resembles “The Screwtape Letters” than any of the other of Lewis’ apologetic works. “The Great Divorce” showcases Lewis’ narrative skills and imagination, in addition to his deep theological insights. Presenting a clear and convincing vision of the afterlife can be exceedingly challenging. Most literary and artistic attempts fall short, as the picture they paint more often than not end up being cheesy and sentimentalist. This could be one of the reasons why today it’s much more likely to see the afterlife depicted in humorous cartoons or with a heavy dose of irony – those tropes help shield the author from potential ridiculing. Authors who manage to depict the afterlife in a convincing and profound ways – Dante, Milton – are almost invariably the giants of arts and literature. No one will ever put Lewis in the same category as those giants, but nonetheless he manages to depict a very believable and thought-provoking vision of what Hell is all about. It’s a vision that is in many ways at odds with most theological schools of thought – something that is mentioned quite explicitly in the book in fact – but it’s not entirely incompatible with them. This book will not please either a very strict fundamentalist Protestant or a punctiliously scrupulous Catholic, but for almost everyone else it will be a neat exercise in theological speculation. In fact, it’s much more than that – “The Great Divorce” is a powerful reminder of the Last Things and a call for all of us to a life of holiness. That’s, ultimately, what lays behind all of theological speculations on Heaven and Hell.