Friday, March 24, 2017

The Great Divorce

I can't remember now when or how, but someone* quoted something from the book The Great Divorce by C. S. Lewis that intrigued me enough that I wanted to read it myself. So I did. I'll admit I was curious as to what the great divorce might be, and fortunately Lewis tells us in the introduction. Basically he says that many people are trying to "marry" good and evil and make them one, but that can never be. It reminds me of the verse in Isaiah of those who call good evil and evil good. I agree with Lewis. We want to make the divide between good and evil in our own lives as great as possible.

I liked his allegory or fable or story or whatever you want to call it, but I'll let you read it for yourself. The one line I want to remember, and it's near the very end of the book when he's talking about the dimension of time, is this: "The Lord said we were gods**. How long could ye bear to look (without Time's lens) on the greatness of your own soul?"

Isn't that a wonderful thought to ponder? Maybe not the "bear to look at" part, but the "greatness of your own soul" part. It's something I need to do more often.

Imagine her eternal possibilities and potential! It's the same for us.

* I remembered because I came across it again; it was in the notes of Elder Renlund's last conference talk on repentance, where he quoted the same line Sister Kapp did below.

** Psalms 82:6 - "I have said, Ye are gods; and all of you are children of the most High."

The Great Divorce is quoted, among many others, in the following talks and speeches:

Education: Molding Character by Elder Backman in 1991
     with an oft-quoted sentence“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’.”

Please Forgive Me by Sister Kapp in 1976 
     with another oft-quoted sentence: “A wrong sum can be put right: but only by going back till you find the error and working it afresh from that point.

Come Joyfully and Partake of the Gospel Feast by Sister Brown in 2004
      with the following summary:
"In his fable The Great Divorce, C. S. Lewis described a busload of souls from hell who travel to the outskirts of heaven. Without exception, they have the opportunity to dwell there permanently and experience the eternal joy available to all our Father’s children. But the invitation is conditional. In order to stay, they must give up something they hold dear: one desires popularity and fame; another continues to nurse a grudge; one is committed to a false principle; another wants the power felt through selfishly manipulating others. Unfortunately, most of the travelers from hell are so immersed in their self-centered preoccupations that they don’t recognize the beauty, abundance, glory, and, yes, the joy of heaven! They refuse to see that what they would have to give up is nothing in comparison to what they would gain. Most of them choose to cling to their misery and return to hell. (See C. S. Lewis, The Great Divorce [New York: Simon and Schuster, 1996].) The point here is that we are free to choose the comfort, peace, and joy of the gospel—or we can choose otherwise."

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