First of all, I need to say, I love C.S. Lewis. Actually have a literary crush on him. And aside from his science fiction stuff, I've read most every word he's had published, including Letters to Malcolm, which I recommend. I also have two collection of his letters. ok, ok, how much more proof do you need that I didn't have to go out and buy this book or check it out from the library to read? ;-)
I pulled out the copy I've had since college. highlighted in different colors, notes scribbled in different pen inks. There's something so familiar and comforting about revisiting an old favorite. Rediscovering parts you've forgotten or never noticed in the first place.
I'm not going to talk specifically and give away anything you won't read in the Preface.
In the first sentence Lewis mentions William Blake's Marriage of Heaven and Hell (which I feel like I need to read since Lewis mentioned it) and says he's not trying to antagonize Blake or even pretend to understand what Blake wrote about. This is simply his idea.
I think one sentence in the Preface sums up the entire book. "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 the most intimate souvenirs of Hell." He writes like Hell, Purgatory and Heaven are all our own choices. And I believe they are, but he goes beyond my agreement to say that we can move freely from one to another as we wish.
He writes about the things that keep us out of Heaven: greed, lust, violence, arrogance, selfishness, materialism, pride. Just to name the most obvious ones. He tells stories of people's encounters in Heaven and how they are unwilling to give up these things so they can stay in there. Most believe it's easier to stay the same and live in Hell.
It's such an interesting read. And it always pushing the boundaries of my own theology. I'm excited to start discussing it tomorrow!
My first C.S. Lewis book was The Screwtape Letters and my favorite may be A Grief Observed (my favorite changes a lot).