CS Lewis’s Hell

CS Lewis wrote about hell in two contexts.

The first was ‘hell is distractions.’ Getting torn away from something, being unable to do what you want to do because of interference, is a maddening torture. It’s small h hell. This is something I’ve always understood; I relate to this.

The second was a more elaborate discussion of literal Hell, and it’s frankly terrifying. It’s the only description of Hell I’ve ever been able to reconcile with Christian theology, and it’s best summed up, ‘In Hell, all the doors are locked from the inside.’ Basically, it’s not the notion of judgement or condemnation. God isn’t turning away from anyone. The damned turn away from God, and lock themselves away from him. Maybe because of bitterness or old grudges, maybe because of pride, fear, or selfishness, but they’re the ones with the locked doors. I could see that.

The two are related. One could easily lock the world out to focus, to exclude the distractions, and if that world involved God, one could easily put one’s self in CS Lewis’s Hell to avoid his hell.

On the other hand, one does have to be able to concentrate.

I suppose the difference would be malice, willfully shutting out people out of spite, to shut them out and not ignoring distractions to get something done: a negative focus as opposed to a positive focus.

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