Tag: hell

Screwtape: The Preface

This past week in my C. S. Lewis course, we have been discussing The Screwtape Letters. Every time I return to these letters, I see greater depth than before, and for some of my students, this is their first foray into the infernal world Lewis created to highlight Christian truth in an unusual way. The letters themselves obviously are the focus as we discuss, but I started by reading to them from his preface to the 1961 edition, which came… Read more »

The Descent to Hell Is Easy

One of the most difficult of C. S. Lewis’s books to read—at least for me—was The Allegory of Love. He referred to so many works of literature with which I am unfamiliar (and written in an early English that was hard to translate) that I almost failed to finish it. Yet, even in so difficult a work, I discovered passages that I’m glad I didn’t miss. At one point, in the midst of a long commentary on one of those… Read more »

The Iron-bound Prison of the Self

I’m a Protestant. I don’t believe in Purgatory. Yet I want to read Dante, so what can I do? Well, first, one can read Dante’s second volume of The Divine Comedy as a treatise that applies to this life also—God purges sin from our lives and we must respond properly. The second thing that helps me in this quest is that Dorothy Sayers, a writer I love, undertook to make a fresh translation of Dante back in the 1940s-1950s. It… Read more »

Only Two Kinds of People in the End

We love to talk about heaven. Hell, not so much. We get glimpses of both eternal destinations in Scripture, but not the full picture of either. C. S. Lewis is well known for perceiving both in imaginative ways. On the subject of hell, we naturally think of The Screwtape Letters, where in his preface he tells us, “We must picture Hell as a state where everyone is perpetually concerned about his own dignity and advancement, where everyone has a grievance,… Read more »

Hell Cannot Veto Heaven

One of my favorite C. S. Lewis books is The Great Divorce. This fanciful account of a busload of occupants of hell getting an opportunity to visit heaven allows Lewis, through conversations between the passengers from hell and heavenly denizens, to discuss all the objections to the faith raised by those who reject it. In one such discussion, Lewis deals with those who say it’s unfair that those who enter into eternal bliss should be so happy when the rest… Read more »

Hell As a Bureaucracy

“We must picture Hell as a state where everyone is perpetually concerned about his own dignity and advancement,” advised C. S. Lewis, “where everyone has a grievance, and where everyone lives the deadly serious passions of envy, self-importance, and resentment.” Lewis wrote those words in his preface to the 1961 edition of The Screwtape Letters. Although Screwtape is, in one sense, a comical devil, Lewis never lets his readers forget what lies at the heart of hell: the self, with… Read more »

Snyderian Truism #13–Sincerely Wrong Beliefs

Well, at least he’s sincere. How many times have you heard that? It’s a cliché that’s supposed to cover all sins. The problem is that we equate sincerity with truth, or at least we say we “respect” someone who is trying to follow what he/she believes. There is one thing we need to keep in mind, though: A sincere belief can be sincerely wrong. That’s Snyderian Truism #13 in my ever-expanding list of what I think ought to be undeniable… Read more »