Two Lewis Classics

If you've read them, read them again.

It’s difficult to know how to categorize two books by C. S. Lewis – The Great Divorce and The Weight of Glory. Lewis insisted that, for every new book we read, we should read one old one. I have read each of these books more than once, but now, having just gone through them again – reading The Great Divorce with my daughter, Kristy, and The Weight of Glory with my friend, Charlie – it strikes me that these two are useful as companion volumes in thinking about our calling as disciples of Jesus Christ.

I describe The Great Divorce as a combination of Dante’s Divine Comedy, Dickens’ A Christmas Carol, and the Beatles’ Magical Mystery Tour. It has heaven and hell, a dream sequence, and even a bus. What more could you ask? This book is also a most excellent mirror for understanding the differences between life in the enlightened world of the Kingdom of God and the grey-but-ever-hopeful world of the lie. People caught up in the lie are not irreligious. They are in many respects very religious. It’s just that their religion tends to revolve around themselves, what they want, and their best ideas about what’s important to them. People who inhabit the Kingdom of God are the solid folk – not given to shifting values or the latest wind of doctrine. They understand what it is to love, forgive, and know the joy of living in the light of God’s love. People trapped in the lie are always looking for joy, but they can only conceive of happiness, and happiness is not joy, and is ever fleeting and therefore every disappointing. People who live in the light of Christ know the joy of knowing Him, and they long for others to join them in the new world He is making.

It's also a mirror reflecting our own souls, and helping us to make sure that the faith we profess is genuine and vital, and not merely superficial and cultural.

The Weight of Glory contains several of what to me are Lewis’ best essays (talks, that is). The title essay reminds us that joy is found in the Lord, and greater joy than we can ever know anywhere else. It is our duty to seek that joy in the glory of the Lord, and to help lead and bring others forward into that joy as well.

The essays “Transposition” and “Is Theology Poetry?” are very important to me, the first for encouraging us to learn to live from within the veil of eternity, rather than toward it, and the second to remind us that poetry is an important part of our lives, as is theology, and that the two of them together can be a powerful combination. This essay also includes the best brief send-up of the evolutionary worldview I’ve read anywhere.

Other essays encourage us to keep learning and growing in our understanding of life and the world; to take seriously our calling as member of the Body of Christ, and to seek deeper connection with Him as our Head; and to avoid the temptation to seek any kind of “inner circle” that makes us feel superior to others.

Both of these are books I know I will read again sometime.


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