Tuesday, July 29, 2008

The Screwtape Letters

Whew! Finally finished. I have never had to renew a library book so often that wasn't research paper-related! I was determined to finish it this month!

I thought The Screwtape Letters was very cleverly written. Reading from the perspective of a senior demon is an interesting experience! I have to admit that some of the book was baffling and that, for me, it was occasionally like reading Isaiah in the scriptures. "Huh?" I just had to plow my way through some of it. And after reading a page or two, I wondered what it was that I had just read because none of it sank in! But other parts were clearer to understand and I found those parts fascinating.

It was amazing to me how contemporary the text seemed. In discussing the problems a person faces spiritually, this could have been written yesterday and not in 1942. Some things never change, and truth is one of them. I found Lewis's discussions on prayer, joy, silence, courage, and the historical Jesus to be particularly interesting, among others, as they were so easily relatable. There were times when I felt that I was Wormwood's "patient" and Screwtape was giving him directions on how to tempt me!

My favorite letter was 26, where Screwtape teaches Wormwood about Unselfishness. I thought that discussion was hilarious, especially when Screwtape described having "tea in the garden." I have seen that scenario played out many times (although not usually over "tea"), especially at family functions. I thought his description was right on and very funny. I also really enjoyed the various titles of people and places that were throughout the book: the Enemy, Our Father Below, the Infernal Police, the Lowerarchy, and the House of Correction for Incompetent Tempters.

I also thought it appropriate that Screwtape almost never praises Wormwood for whatever work he has been doing - we never know if what he has tried has been successful in turning his patient away from the Enemy. Nearly all of the letters chastise Wormwood for what he has done wrong. Considering the source, that the letters are coming from a senior demon who works for Our Father Below, I thought the negativity was very telling. Praise tends to make a person feel good; what experienced demon would want to produce such feelings? Not Screwtape, that's for sure.

Did anyone else read it?



Sarah said...

I'm almost done ... my comment (or another post, depending on how wordy I get) will be coming soon! Way to go Carly!

Mable said...

I've read a little bit of it. But I haven't finished yet.

Suzy said...

I have decided to add my "review" here. I admit, I didn't finish the book, but kind of got lost in it a little bit. I thought the idea was very interesting, but it got a bit repetitive for me. It really made me think, when I first started reading it, about how easily vulnerable we are to Satan and his friends. I loved the little antidote about the man in the museum who was on the brink of a breakthrough when the devil at first tries to tell him he's hungry to distract him, which doesn't work. The devil then gets more tricky and tells him he better eat so he can completely focus on what he's thinking about. However, its all forgotten after that. I think I am like that a lot. Sometimes things are so simple, but they get us and play to our weaknesses. It made me think a lot about how I need to be a stronger person. It was an interesting and inspired book.