The Great Divorce, Ch.9-11, pt.2

This evening we are discussing chapters 9 through 11 of C.S. Lewis’s The Great Divorce.  One of the challenges of Lewis’s work is that it forces us to rethink the very nature of sin.  Too often see “sin” as simply the violation of a biblical rule.  However, the Spirit in Chapter 4 gets into heaven despite his being a murderer whereas the Ghost in Chapter 11 is kept out simply because she loves her son.   At its most basic definition, the word “sin” in Greek (hamarita) is an archery term meaning “to miss the mark.” (To sin, therefore, is not unlike a baseball pitcher missing the strike zone or a bowler putting one in the gutter.)  The mark to which we aim, of course, is simply to love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, and mind, and secondarily to love our neighbor as ourselves. Matt 22:37-39.  Each of the Spirits we meet has hit this mark, but the Ghosts have not. Rather, when our aim, like the Ghosts, is something other than God and neighbor we have merely created an idol, like the mother, and therefore have voluntarily separated ourselves from God.  Nothing in and of itself is good or bad (how can the love of a child be wrong) but when that thing takes the place of God, it causes us to miss the mark (i.e. sin).  Therefore, the challenge that Lewis gives us is to see those idols in our life that draw us away from God so that they can be put in their proper place.

As an aside, if you remember the Episcopal Ghost lamented that Jesus died too early. pp.43-44. The speculation on this question, however, is not new, and was directly addressed by Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) in his Summa Theologica (Q.46, Art. 9, Obj. 4).  To the objection that “Christ should have lived longer in the world, so that He should have suffered, not in young, but in old, age” Thomas replied that “Christ willed to suffer while yet young, for three reasons. First of all, to commend the more His love by giving up His life for us when He was in His most perfect state of life. Secondly, because it was not becoming for Him to show any decay of nature nor to be subject to disease. . . . Thirdly, that by dying and rising at an early age Christ might exhibit beforehand in His own person the future condition of those who rise again. . . .” (Thomas wrote his work in his 40’s and apparently saw his 30’s as a more perfect age.)  So there may still be hope for the Bishop if only he comes across Thomas during his Theological Society meetings.   


    – Wednesday at noon and 7 as part of St. Phillip’s Lenten services, George Wells will be giving the homily.

    – Saturday at 7:00 pm (or after the basketball game) is New Directions’ Compassion through Fashion fundraiser with handmade outfits crafted with recycled materials.  Beer, Wine, and food for $50 per person.

    – This Sunday at 7 is Beer and Hymns at Mellows Mushroom on 21st Ave. North.

Dinner is at 6. The menu is enchiladas. Discussion about 6:45. Compline at 8. Hope to see you here.

I know and am persuaded in the Lord Jesus that nothing is unclean in itself, but it is unclean for anyone who thinks it unclean. For if your brother is grieved by what you eat, you are no longer walking in love. By what you eat, do not destroy the one for whom Christ died. So do not let what you regard as good be spoken of as evil. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of eating and drinking but of righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit. Whoever thus serves Christ is acceptable to God and approved by men. So then let us pursue what makes for peace and for mutual upbuilding.

Romans 14:14-19

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