Love the podcast, but have not screwed up the courage to post anything truly meaningful out of the fear that the triumvirate of intellect at the CHP will expose my own mediocrity.
Michail, from the picture on the website, I see that married life is really agreeing with you. You are a lot handsomer!
Wayne, I’m fully comfortable displaying my mediocrity so here goes…
RE: The Great Divorce, a couple of notes:
First, I’m always struck by the gray city’s resemblance to suburbia and its ethos of freedom/mobility/isolation. (gentle hint: when can we expect an episode on architecture/economia/polis?)
To Farmer(?): At least one of the gray people does move on to the bright city: the dude who had the lust demon pinched off by the archangel (if memory serves). Several of the bright people also talk about their having made the journey.
As to TGD and Orthodoxy, you’re right to note the harmony. You’ll even find TGD in many Orthodox bookstores. It’s not seen, though, as being in line with the Orthodox vision of Hell (which is largely mystery), but in line with the Orthodox view of salvation. Lewis suggests that was his own intent at the end when it becomes clear that the book’s narrative is a dream and the narrator is commissioned to awaken and share with the living that they have the choice to make to enter Heaven or remain in Hell. The book is not about Hell, but about movement toward God.
The gray town is not so much Hell as it is the state of fallen Humanity. It’s the condition we’re born into and must escape. Moving toward the bright city is difficult. It requires effort and struggle which results with each step forward in the souls becoming less shadowy, more solid and real. In Orthodox language, they’re being deified. Dante placed purgatory in the afterlife but it’s better seen as the essence of the Christian life and the reality of salvation.
Actually, #2 was my bad, Robert. And you’re right: I’d forgotten about the lizard-ectomy, resulting in the gray ghost’s salvation. And, yes, the fact of gray people “converting” is asserted several times. My point (if I recall correctly) was that TGD can hardly be taken as evidence that Lewis was a near-universalist, optimistic about the fruits of postmortem evangelism. (And I’ve read some critics of Lewis who try to argue precisely this.) I think your reading is the proper one, and I think it was one of Nathan’s “meta-points” for the episode: that literary Hells are really more about our experience of sin and evil in the here-and-now.