by C.S. Lewis
ok, if I had to say, this is my all-time favorite book…..
Imagine a bus trip from hell to heaven–stop, don’t freak, this is an ALLEGORY, not a theology book. Of course, you can’t really do this! Sheesh, give me a break! So these people are in hell, and don’t know it, but are given the opportunity to visit heaven. What happens?
The book opens with a vivid description of this hellish place….a grey, drizzly, dreary place where it is perpetually twilight, but never has yet become completely dark. There are blocks and blocks of deserted streets, filled with shabby homes which are also deserted–no one can get along with his neighbor for long, and always moves farther out into the country–those who have been there the longest are so far away they can only be seen with a telescope, isolating themselves from all others. A queue has formed, waiting for the bus to arrive (remember the Magic School Bus?) An interesting description is given of the motley crowd that has assembled. Several eliminate themselves before the bus even gets there–too consumed with themselves to bother about such a trip.
After a fascinating voyage, the bus arrives at its destination. The people exiting the bus are shocked to see one another, they’ve became ghostly, wispish, transparent. And the ground they are walking on is more solid than any they have ever known–in fact, blades of grass pierce their feet like knives, and flowers are impossible to pick, the stems seem to be reinforced with iron, and everything there is so HEAVY.
They soon began to meet their guides, and are surprised to find many people they have known in their previous lives. Some become angry to find certain people there that they don’t think deserve to be there. They are many, many surprises. Most turn away and get back on the bus. A few, a very few, have incredible experiences and end up staying.
At the end of the book, the narrator has an encounter with George McDonald, who was a mentor of Lewis. There is a fascinating conversation, and revelations about the nature of heaven and hell.
I have read this book again and again, and hope others will find the same joy I have in reading it.