Universalist Readings Page Updated

I have updated my page “Readings in Universalism.”  A couple of books and articles have been added, and some of the commentary revised. I have also alphabetized the list.

If this is a topic that interests you, be sure to take a look.

Also take a grander at the latest comments. David B. Hart recently stopped by for a short visit and shared his own thoughts on apokatastasis. What he said may surprise you.

Edit: those who are interested in my past postings on universalism may find them by sifting through the articles catalogued under “Eschatology.”

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18 Responses to Universalist Readings Page Updated

  1. Mike H says:

    You da man Fr Aiden.

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  2. bradjersak says:

    Best comment thread ever!

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  3. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    In a 14 May comment there, bradjersak asks, “Would CS Lewis, Great Divorce count, as least as the first step across the bridge?” I would urge you to consider a post on The Great Divorce sometime. Brenton Dickieson has had a number of interesting posts about it at his Pilgrim in Narnia blog, during the 70th anniversary of the time-span of its original periodical publication. I had thought I had a sense of it, but thanks to various of those posts and the ensuing discussions, I have been realizing how much I did not know or had not really thought about with respect to it. It might be interesting if you addressed what Lewis seems to be doing in it with respect to MacDonald and universalism.

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    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      Great suggestion, David. I’ll keep it in mind. Perhaps one day I will have read enough MacDonald to feel confident in drafting a post on him, Lewis, and The Great Divorce.

      FYI: I do refer to The Great Divorce in two of my articles:

      Hell and the Solidarity of Love

      The Argument from God’s Love for the Blessed

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      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        Thank you! – I thought you might have attended to it already to at least some extent, but did not know how to start looking.

        In brooding over The Great Divorce, I’ve just reread/audiobook-listened to MacDonald’s Lilith and Lewis’s The Pilgrim’s Regress, as well as reading his Dymer for the first time. It’s fascinating how much Lilith is part of the background of The Great Divorce – it seems to me as if the latter is in dialogue with the former. And I was struck by the epigraph from Lilith to Book Nine of The Pilgrim’s Regress as well. My first impression is that The Great Divorce is probably also in dialogue with The Pilgrim’s Regress in its treatment of “Limbo” and “the black hole” (IX, 3-4).

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        • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

          I too noted the contact between the GD and Lilith when I read the latter for the first time a couple of weeks ago. The critical difference between the two: whereas Lewis appears to be content (or realistic) that the overwhelming number of folks who take the bus ride to heaven will ultimately return to the Grey Town, MacDonald clearly believes that God will not abandon even a single soul, not even Lilith.

          Do you agree?

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          • bradjersak says:

            Do you get the sense that the bus trip is a one time shot in GD or that there’s a chance they could try again?

            >

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          • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

            My sense, Brad, is that it’s one chance try, that the choice to return to the Grey Town is irrevocable, irrevocable not in the sense that they cannot get on the bus again but irrevocable in the sense that they will not get on the bus again. Does that rhyme with your reading of GD?

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          • bradjersak says:

            I wish it didn’t, but yes. I like the idea that they still have a posthumous opportunity, but where I think the story fails, as it does with the toll houses, is that there is no will-healing encounter with the glory of Christ himself. It seems they are still left to try to overcome their delusions and pride and those sent to help are basically trying to convince them they can’t necessarily see. Or again, if they still harden themselves in willfulness in a way that does not seem consistent with a ‘freed will’ encounter.

            Sorry so brief. Sent by thumb from my iPhone. 🙂

            >

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          • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

            In his comment on the 18 May post, Ed Smith quotes from chapter 13 from the conversation between Lewis and MacDonald which contines into chapter 14. I think a lot of brooding over this conversation from “She couldn’t fit into Hell” on is appropriate. There are so many points of importance: “Only One has descended into Hell” and that “not once long ago”: “All moments […] were, or are, present in that moment of His descending.” So that “encounter with the glory of Christ himself” (to quote bradjersak) ‘exists’ (I would suggest) not only in and through but also beyond any and all encounters with those “in Love Himself” (ch. 12), but is not shown.

            And “Ye can know nothing of the end of all things”, “the final state of all things”, or of “a choice […] made at the end of all things”.

            Moving back again, “Their fists are clenched […]. First they will not, in the end they cannot, open theid hands for gifts” – like Lilith in the novel of the same name! “Then no one can ever reach them?” “Only the Greatest of all can make Himself smal enough to enter Hell. There is no spirit in prison to whom He did not preach” – ‘did’ not, shall not, does not!

            So, I would suggest there is a chance they might try again, and there is this, His descent into Hell, beyond any and all such chances.

            And then, too, a master image in Lewis’s “vision in a dream” is that of “the sunrise” (ch. 14) and “the evening […] really going to turn into a night in the end” (ch. 2). But even here, what if we compare MacDonald’s discussion of ‘outer darkness’ in one or another (or more than one?) sermon (as I remember it: I have not gone searching)? Does Lewis exclude the kind of most strenuous ‘outer darkness’ opportunity MacDonald includes? Or perhaps not?

            I think it is good to compare the sonnet, “Legion”, first published in April 1955 and published in a revised form in Poems (1964). In time, the speaker is “Legion”, with “all / My quarrelling selves”, but, unless “thou hast created me in vain”, there must be some possibility of salvation beyond all this, all these “multiple factions which my state has seen, / Or will see”. I think the prayer is finally, “intervene”.

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          • bradjersak says:

            Brilliant finds! Much to ponder! Would love to see you write this up as an article!

            >

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          • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

            Thanks!

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  4. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    As one of the blogless masses, I’m always open to guest-post invitations… 😉 (I’ve got one in the works for Brenton Dickieson at A Pilgrim in Narnia on the two Psalm-adaptations in The Great Divorce.)

    As an aside, I see your bradjersak moniker leads to a George Grant blog: my friend and mentor, Terry Barker, and I started a George Grant Society at Oxford in the late 1980s as a complement to the Lewis Society and Paul Marshall kindly came and spoke. Also, William Christian came and stayed at The Kilns (which I was looking after) when he was working on his George Grant biography and we went ranging round the countryside looking for the kind of place and gate where Grant had his convincing spiritual experience.

    The Grant blog title makes me think of Hegel’s image about which Grant writes interestingly: “Only when the dusk starts to fall does the owl of Minerva spread its wings and fly” [“die Eule der Minerva beginnt erst mit der einbrechenden Dämmerung ihren Flug”]. That, in turn, get me wondering if Lewis could have had that, among other things, in mind in his development of the evening/pre-dawn imagery in The Great Divorce! After all, Lewis taught History undergraduates Political Philosophy, including Hegel…)

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  5. David Llewellyn Dodds says:

    Lewis’s encounter with MacDonald embraces the whole second half of The Great Divorce, with many discussions between them and comments from MacDonald as they observe various encounters between other ‘excursionists’ and denizens of Heaven. So, there is a lot to comb through and brood over. And Lewis’s “vision in a dream” is not organized with the step-by-step lucidity of Dante’s Divine Comedy: my impression is, that any detailed organizing for the purposes of comparison is left to the reader.

    My general interim impression is, that what is presented is similar to what is entertained in Metropolitan Kallistos Ware’s essay in his Collected Works. When the Dream-MacDonald says (ch. 9), “There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done’ “, I think that phrase “in the end” means this goes beyond a MacDonaldian ‘as much as it takes, for as long as it takes’ to suggest a final rejection – though it need not imply anyone will manage to make that rejection. For, three sentences later comes, “No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it.” I think that can include ‘No soul that eventually comes seriously and constantly to desire joy will miss it forever.’

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    • Fr Aidan Kimel says:

      Does your reading of the GD hold up, David, if it is read in conjunction with Lewis’s chapter on hell in The Problem of Pain?

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      • bradjersak says:

        Also, is there any sense of development from early to late Lewis?

        Sorry so brief. Sent by thumb from my iPhone. 🙂

        >

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      • David Llewellyn Dodds says:

        bradjersak’s question is what I was wondering in this context, too. Plus, we have the interesting matter of “an imaginative supposal”. Lewis says in the “Preface” with reference to “the transmortal conditions” that they are “solely” that: “they are not even a guess or a speculation”. This, after stressing it “is a fantasy”. (A fantasy of a dream experience, I might add!) That may also give a more general flexibility and freedom even beyond something explicitly speculative. (I just finished “The Queen of Drum” for the first time, and was rather astonished to find it included a fairyland explicitly distinct from Heaven and Hell – but one “where they who dwell / Pay each tenth year the tenth soul of their tribe to Hell”! And this was something Lewis offered to Masefield for public recitation in 1938! So, Lewis’s fiction can clearly vary widely from belief or speculation.)

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  6. genesis2008 says:

    Can I suggest another real good book, 15 years in the making. “THE ALL MANKIND BIBLE COMMENTARY” on amazon books. Seems to cover almost every verse stating universal salvation for all mankind, living and dead.

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