North Gate

Devotional Series
The Great Divorce, C.S. Lewis



June 11th, Chapters 5-7

Charity vs. Rights

This week we discussed chapter 4 of the book.  This chapters opens with our narrator envying the birds of heaven, simply because they seem to belong to such a beautiful place, where he does not.  Then he stumbles upon a conversation between a saint named Len, and a character we come to know as 'the big ghost.'  

We find out the the ghost was actually the boss of Len on Earth.  And Len, being so overcome with anger actually committed murder to a man named Jack.  At first the big ghost is upset because Len ends up in Heaven, even though he made a commitment to Christ late in his life, but the big ghost himself, believe he deserves to be here more than Len does.  The big ghost believes he deserves his rights.  Len has a different understanding of the word 'rights' and tries to convince big ghost that he would surely not want them if he understood the truth about them.

What results is a painful scene, where the big ghost is unwilling to be ministered to by a murderer.  When confronted on his own selfish pride and religious attitude, big ghost blows a gasket and derails the conversation.  He makes threats, and eventually decides not to go with Len into the mountains.

May 25th, Chapter 4

We had originally planned to do chapters 4 and 5, but the discussion was really good and we got carried away.  So here are some questions for chapter 4.

  • What was the fate of the man that Len murdered?

  • What does the big ghost really want to understand? (p26)

  • Why isn't Len ashamed of himself?

  • What does the big ghost want?

  • What is Len's philosophy on "personal rights?" What is yours?

  • What are the differences between Len and big ghost's definition of Bleeding Charity vs bleeding charity?

  • Why was Len sent to big ghost? What's the significance of that reason for us today?

  • What attitude is Len dealing with when he warns the big ghost that if he continues in it, he will never learn to walk on the grass of Heaven?

  • What does Len mean when he says "there are no private affairs?" (p30)

  • Why did big ghost refuse to go into the mountains? How did that make you feel?

The Weight of Heaven's Leaves

In this week's section of reading we find the narrator walking through a place called Greytown.  There it's always twilight and always raining.  As he walks through the streets he notices that a group of people are gathered at a bus station.  People clamor to get ahead in line, but find that the bus is only half-full when they get on.

The journey reveals a lot about the fear of the coming night, and some people's motivations for leaving Greytown.  Furthermore, we find that Greytown is actually what we call Hell.

When the bus arrives at its destination, the description of the place gives us the idea that our main character (and narrator) has somehow arrived on the edge of Heaven.  He notices that the nature of the place he finds himself in, is far more real than Greytown.  So much so, that the grass is unbendable, and that a single leaf weighs as much as a full sack of coal.  Our section of reading ends with the large group of people coming down from the mountains.  They give off a brightness and are able to squish the grass beneath their feet as if walking on mud.

May 14th, Chapters 1-3

Here are some questions that may help you engage with the text, and perhaps help jog your memory for future meetings.

  • What's the significance of the bus being half-full?

  • Why, in Greytown, does everyone live alone?

  • Some people, like Napoleon, live so far away it takes 15,000 years of walking to get to him and back.  What can we learn about Greytown, knowing this?

  • What does the "Tousle-Headed Poet" believe he will stay where the bus is taking him?

  • What does the "Man with the Bowler Hat" tell us about Greytown?  Why does he want to leave Greytown?  Can you think of anyone in real life that resembles the Man with the Bowler Hat?

  • What happened to the physical appearance of the passengers? Why?

  • How long are the passengers allowed to stay?

  • What are your first impressions of the "Solid People?"