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Made for Heaven

And Why on Earth It Matters

Made for Heaven by C. S. Lewis
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Why We Still Haven't Found What We're Looking For

We long for heaven, and we will never feel fully at home until we get there. This keen insight into our souls pervades the writings of C. S. Lewis. From his Chronicles of Narnia to Mere Christianity, Lewis's writings continually return to the theme of heaven as our true home, the land we have been searching for our whole lives, a place where all is finally made right and that all the joys in this life point to. With selections from The Weight of Glory, The Great Divorce, and The Problem of Pain, this collection includes some of Lewis's most beautiful and profound writing on heaven, revealing how our destinies transform every aspect of our lives.

HarperCollins; June 2009
112 pages; ISBN 9780061949364
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Title: Made for Heaven
Author: C. S. Lewis
 
Excerpt

Introduction

Heaven is always with us. That is one of the richest themes running through the writings of Clive Staples (C. S.) Lewis, the late Cambridge professor of literature and one of the most influential (and perhaps least likely) writers on faith and Christianity in the twentieth century. With an uncanny knack for communicating seemingly complicated spiritual truths in a way both the curious and the devout can understand, Lewis brings the lofty subject of heaven to our front door by explaining how every action we take moves us closer either to heaven or to its opposite.

But these riches are sprinkled throughout his works. Here we have gathered three selections where Lewis addresses the nature of heaven directly and which offer a more thorough presentation of his thoughts on the topic than readers could get from any one book.

First, in The Great Divorce, Lewis takes people on a fanciful bus trip from hell to heaven, where any of the travelers may stay if they so choose. Here Lewis explores a truly revolutionary idea: perhaps the gates of hell are locked from the inside. Ultimately, we choose whether we want to live in heaven or in hell. Lewis's preface, which we have included here, explains the either-or of heaven: "If we insist on keeping Hell (or even Earth) we shall not see Heaven: if we accept Heaven we shall not be able to retain even the smallest and most intimate souvenirs of Hell."

In Lewis's rich meditation on suffering in The Problem of Pain, he reveals how our very desire for heaven makes our experience of pain a problem that demands an explanation. In his chapter on "Heaven," Lewis writes of our deep unfulfilled longing: "We cannot tell each other about it. It is the secret signature of each soul, the incommunicable and unappeasable want, the thing we wanted before we met our wives or made our friends or chose our work, and which we shall still desire on our deathbeds, when the mind no longer knows wife or friend or work. While we are, this is. If we lose this, we lose all."

Many people point to C. S. Lewis's sermon "Weight of Glory" as his most profound meditation on heaven, including this oft-quoted passage on how our ultimate destinies should inform our daily interactions with others: "It is a serious thing to live in a society of possible gods and goddesses, to remember that the dullest and most uninteresting person you can talk to may one day be a creature which, if you saw it now, you would be strongly tempted to worship, or else a horror and a corruption such as you now meet, if at all, only in a nightmare. All day long we are, in some degree, helping each other to one or the other of these destinations."

In the end Lewis takes us far beyond the simple Sunday-school lessons on heaven and into the deep mysteries heaven was meant to signify. As the children run up the mountain of Aslan's country in The Last Battle and as the characters shout at the end of The Great Divorce, so Lewis takes us "further up and further in" to that sweet, sweet reality called heaven.

-- The Editors

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