Monday, October 04, 2004

“Heaven Will Work Backwards”

The Teacher explains Time:

‘Son’, he said, ‘ye cannot in your present state understand eternity: when Anodos looked through the door of the Timeless he brought no message back. But ye can get some likeness of it if ye say that both good and evil, when they are full grown, become retrospective. Not only this valley but all their early past will have been Heaven to those who are saved. Not only the twilight in that town, but all their life on Earth too, will then be seen by the damned to have been Hell. That is what mortals misunderstand. They say of some temporal suffering, “No future bliss can make up for it,” not knowing that Heaven, once attained, will work backwards and turn even that agony into a glory. And of some sinful pleasure they say “Let me have but this and I’ll take the consequences”: little dreaming how damnation will spread back and back into their past and contaminate the pleasure of the sin. 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. And that is why, at the end of all things, when the sun rises here and the twilight turns to blackness down there, the Blessed will say “We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven,” and the Lost, “we were always in Hell.” And both will speak truly.’

~C.S. Lewis, The Great Divorce (1946)

9 Comment(s):

At Mon Oct 04, 05:59:00 AM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

 
At Mon Oct 04, 06:30:00 AM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

Ack! Sorry about that folks. I should learn not to post before I've had my morning coffee.

Anyway, just wanted to note that the Anodos referred to in the quote is the main character from George MacDonald's book Phantastes. That is all. Keep moving. Nothing to see here....

 
At Mon Oct 04, 11:51:00 AM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Interesting concept, and up to a point I can see some truth in it, although there are things which come to mind which I can't imagine as anything other than evil (eg 9/11)even if you can see good emerging from them.

BTW I'm only posting as Anon 'cos I haven't set up an account yet ;o)

Delenn

 
At Mon Oct 04, 11:59:00 AM EST, Blogger Joelle said...

I don't know...although 9/11 was truly a terrible, terrible thing, I think just because it's not on the news what if through it some families were brought together that weren't previously talking? And remember how (for a time) our country was really brought together? And, who knows maybe because of that, something else (worse?) may be prevented because of the preparations put into place that wouldn't have been previously if not for 9/11.

Just food for thought.

 
At Mon Oct 04, 12:31:00 PM EST, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm sure you're right, and I've read of people who have been brought together and actually married as a result. But I still wonder whether anybody who had been through it could make the statement “We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven”. I would have thought that although time can mellow and give new perspective, there is still at the centre a spot which will always be black.

 
At Mon Oct 04, 12:47:00 PM EST, Blogger Joelle said...

I think where Lewis is coming from with the "We have never lived anywhere except in Heaven" is based on this verse, Revelation 21:4, "and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away."

Now...I admit, I've never been able to truly understand that verse, but then I'm not nearly as smart as Lewis. =)

 
At Mon Oct 04, 01:40:00 PM EST, Blogger Arevanye said...

Gee! I thought I had turned that anonymous posting option off. *looks for switch* ;-)

I have to say that I look at this passage and wonder too. Will any of this deep, dark evil such as we see happening to prisoners in Iraq seem to be heaven-like in retrospective to the Blessed at the end of all things? The only thing I can make of it is the totality of bliss (i.e. God) that would be heaven would not change the nature of the evil, but would forever take away the power that the evil and suffering had over happiness.

 
At Mon Oct 04, 10:16:00 PM EST, Blogger Anamire said...

I think I agree with you there, Arevanye. It seems to me that the Teacher is saying that in Heaven the pain and suffering felt in life will be taken away and replaced with happiness.

 
At Fri Oct 08, 06:08:00 AM EST, Blogger Bob said...

As well, what Lewis is saying (through the Teacher) is that mortal humans are not always capable of grasping this concept. We cannot fathom that an event like the attacks on 9/11 can be transformed, but Lewis is saying that eternity is a bit more than we can handle. I'm not certain I agree, but Lewis (I think) would have perfectly understood, and not been troubled, if some responded that they could not grasp how this was possible. I imagine he would have said some things are not quite graspable by us as we are now, and left it at that.

By the bye, sorry I'm a bit late to post. Oh, and on the TORN boards (from whence I have come) I post under the name Atlas.

 

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