Tuesday, July 21, 2009

The Devil in our hearts or our pockets

The latest from the Misfits below:

"We met last week to discuss C.S. Lewis' intriguing book, The Great Divorce. The novel is subtitled, A Dream. The action in the novel takes place as a fable wherein the writer finds himself in Hell boarding a bus bound for Heaven. Or is the bus leaving Purgatory? We weren't certain about that. You will have to decide for yourself when you read Lewis's wonderful allegory.

Lewis says that he wrote The Great Divorce to confront the author, William Blake, who he considered to be greatly wrong in his denial of an atonement for sin and a final judgment. Lewis in fact, derived the title of his novel by changing the title of Blake's 1790 book, The Marriage of Heaven and Hell to what Lewis believes is The Great Divorce between heaven and hell. Lewis believed that Blake was terribly wrong in asserting "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." Furthermore, Lewis considered Blake's "theology" in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell a "disastrous error". He thought Blake to be grievously wrong in asserting that, given enough time, all roads will eventually lead to a right path e.g., heaven. This fact, Lewis amply demonstrated through the characters one encounters on the imaginary bus that travels between Hell and Heaven.

In the novel, Lewis used the writing of George MacDonald (1824-1905) to help refute Blake's assertion that all will get to heaven given enough time. MacDonald asserted that "There is no heaven with a little of hell in it--no plan to retain this or that of the devil in our hearts or our pockets. Out Satan must go, every hair and feather." Lewis agrees with MacDonald and asserts "If we insist on keeping Hell (or even earth) we shall not see Heaven; if we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest most intimate souvenirs of Hell."

In the end, the Misfits at our meeting declared that The Great Divorce is a wonderful allegory with sound Catholic theology (even though Lewis was Anglican). We highly recommend the book if you haven't read it.

Our August book is Roger Lancelyn Green's classic retelling of The Adventures of Robin Hood. It is a story of social justice and outrageous cunning but also of thievery...we will have to talk about that! It is set in twelfth-century Catholic England and pits Robin and his men against the cruel power of Prince John and the brutal Sheriff of Nottingham. Robin takes refuge with his Merrie Men in the vast Sherwood Forest, emerging time and again to outwit his enemies with daring and panache.

For September, we are going to read The Death of a Pope by Piers Paul Read. I have read three previous books by Read...he is an excellent author and he is professedly Catholic. Misfit Brad Lindberg has read the novel and recommends it highly. Here is what Ron Hansen, author of Exiles, says about the book: "Piers Paul Read has managed to combine sheer storytelling power with great learning and insight about the inner workings of the Church to fashion an entertainment of the highest order. If John LeCarre took on Vatican politics, his book of suspense might aspire to be much like this one." It is available from Amazon for $14.93 in hardcover [and will be available from Loome Theological Booksellers by the middle of August].

In October, we will return to one of our favorite authors, G. K. Chesterton, when we will read Manalive. As one reviewer observes, "In this long-hidden yet highly entertaining classic, author G.K. Chesterton shows readers, through the delightful story of a windy evening with the mysterious Mr. Innocent Smith, the soul-refreshing secret of the love of life itself. While readers are unlikely to emulate all the adventures of Mr. Smith, each of us can recover the innocent joys we knew or hoped for when we were younger by learning from Smith's 'radically sane' philosophy."

But there is another reason we are reading Manalive. It will help prepare us for viewing the movie Misfit Ahlquist and crew have been busy filming! Misfit Ahlquist's movie, Manalive, is projected to be released in the fall...go to http://manalivethemovie.com/ for details of the movie, "trailers", news, etc. Wow! One of our own Misfits is a real movie producer! Who knew? Now we all do!

Yours in Christ,

Misfit Buzz"

1 comment:

  1. re: from Hell or Purgatory in The Great Divorce

    FWIW from Alan Jacobs' "The Narnian", Chapter 8:

    "In [The Great Divorce] Lewis envisions a modern retelling of a curious but ancient idea that Christians have sometimes considered: the refrigerium, a kind of holiday for the damned. The idea seems to have originated in the thought that through the power of his Resurrection Jesus earns an annual Easter "day off" for the denizens of Hell."

    Wish that I were a Misfit. I enjoy your group vicariously through your postings. I hope that you will keep them up.