The Great Divorce

Just finished “The Great Divorce” by CS Lewis again… here are some quotes!

“… (the belief) that mere development or adjustment or refinement will somehow turn evil into good without our being called on for a final and total rejection of anything we should like to retain… this belief I take to be a disastrous error.  You cannot take all luggage with you on all journeys…”

“We live in a world where… every road, after a few miles, forks into two, and each of those into two again, and at each fork you must make a decision.”

“It does not move towards unity, but away from it and the creatures grow further apart as they increase in perfection.  Good, as it ripens, becomes continually more different not only from evil but from other good.”

“I do not think that all who choose wrong roads perish; but their rescue consists in being put back on the right road.”

“I believe, to be sure, that any man who reaches Heaven will find that what he abandoned (even in plucking out his right eye) was precisely nothing: that the kernal of what he was really seeking even in his most depraved wishes will be there, beyond expectation, waiting for him…”

“nothing in the past can be altered.”

“They won’t like it at a all when we get there, and they’d really be much more comfortable at home.  It’s different for you and me.”

“Capitalism did not merely enslave the workers, it also vitiated taste and vulgarised intellect.”

“What’s the trouble with this place?  Not that people are quarrelsome – that’s only human nature and was always the same even on earth.  The trouble is they have no Needs.  You get everything you want (not very good quality, of course) just by imagining it.  That’s why it never costs any trouble to move to another street or build another house.  In other words, there’s no proper economic basis for any community life.  It’s scarcity that enables a society to exist.”

“What’s the sense of allowing all that riff-raff to float about here all day?  Look at them.  They’re not enjoying it.  They’d be far happier at home.  They don’t even know what to do.”

“Everything here is for the asking and nothing can be bought.”

“You weren’t a decent man and you didn’t do your best.  We none of us were and we none of us did.  Lord bless you, it doesn’t matter.  There is no need to go into it all now.”

“Do you really think there are no sins of intellect?… There is hide-bound prejudice, and intellectual dishonesty, and timidity, and stagnation… The beliefs are sincere in the sense that they do occur as psychological events in the man’s mind.  If that’s what you mean by sincerity they are sincere, and so were ours.  But errors which are sincere in that sense are not innocent.”

“There was a time when you asked questions because you wanted answers, and were glad when you had found them.  Become that child again: even now.”

“You’re going in the wrong direction.  It’s back there – to the mountains – you need to go.  You can lean on me all the way.  I can’t absolutely carry you, but you need have almost no weight on your own feet: and it will hurt less at every step.”

“What are we born for?  For infinite happiness… you can step out into it at any moment.”

“Don’t you remember on earth – there were things too hot to touch with your finger but you could drink them all right?  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.”

“It depends on the way ye’re using the words.  If they leave that grey town behind, it will not have been Hell.”

“ye cannot in your present state understand eternity.”

“Both processes begin even before death.  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.”

“Hell is a state of mind – ye never said a truer word.  And every state of mind, left to itself, every shutting up of the creature within the dungeon of its own min d- is, in the end, Hell.  But Heaven is not a state of mind.  Heaven is reality itself. All that is fully real is Heavenly.”

“There is always something they insist on keeping, even at the price of misery.  There is always something they prefer to joy – that is, to reality.”

“Every one of us lives only to journey further and further into the mountains.  Every one of us has interrupted that journey and retraced immeasurable distances to come down today on the mere chance of saving some Ghosts.”

“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, “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.”

“That is what she once was.  That is maybe what she still is.  If so, she certainly will be cured.  But the whole question is whether she is now a grumbler.  The question is whether she is a grumbler, or only a grumble.  If there is a real woman – even the least trace of one – still there inside the grumbling, it can be brought to life again.  If there’s one wee spark under all those ashes, we’ll blow it till the whole pile is red and clear.  But if there’s nothing but ashes we’ll not go on blowing them in our own eyes forever.  They must be swept up.”

“They repelled every attempt to teach them, and when they found that nobody listened to them they went back, one by one, to the bus.”

“For to be afraid of oneself is the last horror.”

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

“I have asked you to forgive me.  What we called love down there was mostly the craving to be loved.  In the main I loved you for my own sake: because I needed you.”

“I am full now, not empty.  I am in Love Himself, not lonely.  Strong, not weak.  You shall be the same.  Come and see.  We shall have no need for one another now: we can begin to love truly.”

“Stop it at once… Using pity, other people’s pity, in the wrong way. We have all done it a bit on earth, you know.  Pity was meant to be a spur that drives joy to help misery.  But it can be used the wrong way round.  It can be used for a kind of blackmailing.  Those who choose misery can hold joy up to ransom, by pity.  You see, I know now.  Even as a child you did it.  Instead of saying you were sorry, you went and sulked in the attic… because you knew that sooner or later one of your sisters would say, “I can’t bear to think of him sitting up there alone, crying.”  You used your pity to blackmail them.”

“Our light can swallow up your darkness: but your darkness cannot now infect our light.  No, no, no.  Come to us.  We will not go to you.  Can you really have thought that love and joy would always be at the mercy of frowns and sighs? Did you not know they were stronger than their opposites?…  you cannot bring Hell into me… I am in Love, and out of it I will not go.”

“The demand of the loveless and the self-imprisoned that they should be allowed to blackmail the universe: that till they consent to be happy (on their own terms) no one else shall taste joy: that theirs should be the final power; that Hell should be able to veto Heaven.”

“Either the day must come when joy prevails and all the makers of misery are no longer able to infect it: or else for ever and ever the makers of misery can destroy in others the happiness they reject for themselves.”

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About Emily

I am a member of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since 2009. I serve as a Chaplain, and work as a counselor. I got bilateral cochlear implants in 2010, but will always love sign language. I choose books over television, and organics over processed. Nothing is as close to flying as ballroom dancing - except maybe running, when in the solo mood. I would rather be outside than anywhere else, especially at the river riding my bike or kayaking. PhD in Marriage and Family Therapy, and currently doing a post-doc in Jewish Studies and an MDiv in Pastoral Counseling. The best thing about Emily World is that it's always an adventure, even if (not so) grammatically precise. The only thing better than writing is being married to a writer. Nathan Christensen and I were married in the Oklahoma City temple on 13 October 2012, and have since fostered more than eighty-five children. We have adopted the six who stayed, and are totally and completely and helplessly in love with our family. Nathan writes musical theater, including "Broadcast" (a musical history of the radio) and an adaption of Lois Lowry's "The Giver". He served his mission in South Korea, has taught song-writing in New York City public schools, and worked as a theater critic for a Tucson newspaper. This is not an official Web site of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.

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