What C.S. Lewis’ “The Great Divorce” Explains About Eternity

One of the most important factors for an artist is inspiration. Without constantly feeding himself inspiring new ideas, he often becomes stale and frozen in his current mode of thinking and creating. Inspiration breaks an artist out of this rigid state, and motivates him to greater productivity.

As one who wants to write a book with creativity and high quality productivity, I need to stay inspired. By staying inspired, I maintain an openness to ideas that will help me further my work.

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On of my favorite inspirations is reading (others include travel, new foods, photography and design, film, new music, etc.). One fascinating book I read recently was “The Great Divorce” by C.S. Lewis. Lewis was an extraordinary writer of both fiction and non-fiction, the most popular of which are “Chronicles of Narnia” series and “Mere Christianity.”

“The Great Divorce” is a fictional allegory of a man’s experience traveling to an other-worldly place which he comes to discover is Heaven. However, not all that’s expected of Heaven is accurate — rather, the man’s experience in the eternal realm is far different than he expected.

Although his thick English writing is a bit chunky at times, the possibilities presented by Lewis are very thought-provoking and worth a few moments of consideration.

Here are a few of the quotes that stood out to me.

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What “The Great Divorce” Explains About Eternity

“Hell is a state of mind- ye never said a truer word…But heaven is not a state of mind. Heaven is reality itself. All that is fully real is heaven.”


“The good man’s past begins to change so that his forgiven sins and remembered sorrows take on the quality of heaven: the bad man’s past already conforms to his badness and is filled only with dreariness.”

“Those that hate goodness are sometimes nearer than those that know nothing at all about it and think they have it already.”

“You cannot love a fellow creature fully till you love God.”

  • I like what this statement says about loving God: it’s essential to know and love the Creator if you want to understand how to treat Creation. God is the source of love, and we learn to love by knowing God.

A Warning to Storytellers and Artists

“When you painted on earth – at least in your earlier days – it was because you caught glimpses of heaven in the earthly landscape. The success of your painting was that it enabled others to see the glimpses too. But here you are having the thing itself. It is from here that the messages came. There is no good telling us about this country, for we see it already…If you are interested in the country only for the sake of painting it, you’ll never learn to see the country.

“Light itself was your first love: you loved paint only as a means of telling about light.

“Every poet and musician and artist, but for Grace, is drawn away from love of the thing he tells, to love of the telling till, down in Deep Hell, they cannot be interested in God at all but only in what they say about Him. For it doesn’t stop at being interested in paint, you know. They sink lower – become interested in their own personalities and then in nothing but their own reputations.”

  • These are sobering words. Often it’s easy to become enamored with art or stories themselves, but we must not tell stories for the sake of telling stories. Portraying an idea or a vision through art is both about the content and the delivery. We must not live in the shallowness of thinking everything we say or do is of utmost importance. Art always points to something else: beauty, truth, God.


“…We look on this spiritual city – for with all its faults it is spiritual – as a nursery in which the creative functions of man, now freed from the clogs of matter, begin to try their wings.”

“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.” All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.”

“Ye cannot fully understand the relations of choice and Time till you are beyond both.”

  • I think Lewis is on to something when he draws clear connection between hell and the personal choices of individuals. God gives us all the power of choice, and our depraved nature tears us away from attaining to the way of life in Jesus. I agree with Lewis; if we are serious about finding deep purpose and joy, then we will seek it and find it in Jesus, the one who fills our emptiness.


What books or other things inspire you? What are your perceptions of eternity?



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