Episode 23 – Book Study : The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis ( Part 2)

Chapters 7 -11 


A female ghost is hiding and is met by another light spirit. The ghost is so preoccupied with focusing on self, and refuses to step out into the light. The light spirit tries to encourage her, assuring her that everyone here has been through this, and it will get easier if she only steps out. She refuses. Then the spirit says:

‘Shame is like that. If you will accept it – if you will drink the cup to the bottom – you will find it very nourishing: but try to do anything else with it and it scalds’. 

The Great Divorce by C.S. Lewis, page 61

What a vivid and brilliant way to put it! Shame that tells us we’re embarrassed and weak, or even more like guilt, can be so good for us if we choose to let it in and be consumed and transformed by love. It has the potential to become humility. Whereas the shame that simply sits on the outside telling us that we’re bad for whatever action or choice we may have taken, simply burns us and has no positive impact. 


Chapter 8

In the same conversation the bright spirit says to the woman “Friend, could you, only for a moment, fix your mind on something not yourself.” So often we consider how hard it will be to endure some aspect of Christian life. And yet if we looked beyond ourselves, to God and neighbour, we’d discover unspeakable joy. Joy is what is offered this ghost. She can’t accept it, because she has an inordinate focus on self. That’s the effect of selfishness, is that it actually stops us from experiencing joy, in this life and the next.  

Page 75

A conversation between the narrator and the teacher that he admired about the ghosts that he sees, and asks a number of questions including whether any of them can stay and whether some cannot get on the bus – The teacher -‘Thy will be done’ the line where he describes that in the end there are only two kinds of people, the kind that say to God ‘thy will be done’ and allow God to lead them home. And the kind that God says to them ‘thy will be done’, and he allows them to be separated from him for all eternity. What a powerful juxtaposition of such powerful words from Christ. It really brings to mind the weight of the decisions we make. Whether we choose to model the Fiat of Mary, or whether we choose our own will. Both of which God respects completely. 

Chapter 11 – PRIDE

Mother and Son dialogue with brother. Mother encounters her brother and shares with him her upset and confusion as to why her son is not with her in this place. The brother tries to explain to her that the son is in a better place and she can go there too, but she is caught up in possession.

  • What brilliant dialogue of possession which the mother falsely believes to be a higher form of love than any other mother. What saddens me is the words exchanged where she says a God that would separate a mother and son is not a God she would accept. She only accepts a God of love. Sad, that she doesn’t understand what love is. 
  • She would rather bring her loved one down to hell with her, then surrender and allow God to lead her to her truest fulfillment. 
  • Isn’t this what we do when we sin against someone we love? When we hurt someone with bitter words out of anger, when we withhold love out of resentment, when we slander out of jealousy and so on, aren’t we in effect saying: I’d rather bring you down with me, than watch you do well AND I choose that path, over being led by God, who is love, to the path of true love?

Excess love

Her excessive and possessive love actually causes her to despise good things in her life. Her husband and daughter were like enemies to her, because they threatened her inappropriate grieving.

This leads to another point which is that there is a proper way to grieve. Grief never leaves us, but it is meant to integrate with us rather than rule our lives and everyone else’s around us.

After this conversation the narrating ghost and his bright spirit are talking, and the narrator rightly asks: If all this is true, how can I possibly go up to someone grieving, and say that their grief is killing them, when I have not felt grief like theirs! And the spirits response is: No, my Son, Not you. You are not a good enough man for that yet.” 

Another encounter happens where a little red lizard is seen on the shoulder of a ghost, and there’s dialogue between the ghost and angel. The angel asks if he can remove the Lizard for him, and the dialogue is the ghost struggling to let the angel intervene – The permission seeking to kill the lizard ‘won’t kill him without consent, without his will’. It’s such a firm and loving voice. Then when the Lizard turns into a stallion, it was just striking. This is what God does with our weaknesses. He doesn’t just remove what is a recurring pain, and trauma for us, he turns it into something beautiful. But we MUST be willing to cooperate with him. 

Read remainder of book for next week.

Patreon – reading of Chapter 11 

Book study reflective questions + video questions

TBG (Truth, Beauty, Goodness)

Padre – Ministered to dying man

Stina – Out of Hiding (Our Father’s Song) – by Steffany Gretzinger 

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