The blog for the C.S. Lewis Society of Harrisonburg, Virginia The Society currently meets at Barnes and Noble on second Thursdays at 7:20 PM. Occasionally the group meets at other sites. You can keep track here or at the Facebook site. https://www.facebook.com/groups/CSLewisHburg/
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Thursday, September 7, 2017
Discussion Questions for Thursday September 14th The Great Divorce
1. In his preface to The Great Divorce Jack says that we are not living in a world like a circle where all roads lead to a common center but in a world much more like a tree, where every so often every road forks and one must make a decision about which way to go. What do you think of Jack’s statement as it applies to religion? Do you think it true or false? Why?
2. How do you react to Jack’s concept of hell as a place where each of the inhabitants is gradually moving further away from each other? Does this depiction of hell make it more real to you? Why or why not?
3. Upon his arrival on the outskirts of heaven Jack’s character in the story says he felt like he had gotten “out” in a way that made our solar system feel like an indoor affair. Is Jack’s description of heaven one to which the 21st century mind is receptive? Is his depiction of heaven attractive to you? Does it make you want to go there? Why or why not?
4. In one of the first vignettes on the outskirts of heaven one of the ghosts from the grey city says that he is not asking for anyone’s “bleeding charity”. The response of one of the solid persons is to encourage him to ask for the “Bleeding Charity” at once. What do you think Jack intends to convey by the solid person’s response? Why is it “Bleeding Charity”?
5. What do you make of the clerical ghost who doesn’t believe in a literal heaven and hell? Does The Great Divorce make it easier for you to believe in heaven and hell?
6. What is your favorite line from this book? How about your favorite vignette? Do you see yourself in any of the characters? In which ones–if you dare to say?
7. Jack says that the book is intended to teach a moral. What moral do you think it teaches?
8. Why do you think Jack includes George MacDonald as a character in this dream? What do we learn about MacDonald’s theology and Jack’s theology from this book?
9. What do you think of MacDonald’s statement about heaven and hell working retroactively?
10. Perhaps the major theme of The Great Divorce is that of choice with regard to salvation. Based on this book, what would you say is Jack’s view of free will and predestination?
11. One of the Spirits says that every artist, apart from the working of grace, is drawn away from love of the thing he or she writes or paints or makes music about to love of the art in and of itself, until in hell we find people who are no longer interested in God at all but only in what they can say about God. Can you identify with this at all or have you ever known anyone like this?
12. What do you think of MacDonald’s statement: that there is only one good and that is God? He says that everything is good when it looks to God for life and evil when it turns away from God. According to MacDonald, the higher a creature is in the natural order of things, the more demonic it will be when it falls. Demons are made out of bad angels, not bad mice or bad men. Lust is lower than the false religion of mother-love or patriotism or art, but then lust is less likely to be made into a religion. What do you make of this?
13. One of the sub-themes of The Great Divorce is the concept of Time. In several places throughout the book we are reminded that “this moment contains all moments.” What do you think Jack is saying about time as it relates to human free choice and predestination?
14. What do you think of Jack’s point that hell will not be allowed to veto heaven? Does this make the reality of hell more acceptable to you?