Friday, April 18, 2014

Book Review: "The Screwtape Letters" by C.S. Lewis

Here's the last of our Holy Week posts! Hope everyone has a wonderful Good Friday and Easter. Remember when picking out your Easter Sunday outfit pick something with elastic so you can eat as much as possible at brunch! (Wait, is that just me?) Our next theme week will be all about space, the final frontier!

I've talked about how much I like CS Lewis on the blog before, here and here. Of course it was my first two posts so probably only 2 of you saw it, haha. At any rate, Mr Lewis is one of my favorites and Screwtape Letters is his first book that I remember reading, that was for adults (aka not  The Chronicles of Narnia).

Screwtape Letters is made up of letters between a demon named Wormwood and his nephew Screwtape. Screwtape is a new tempter, and Wormwood is a high ranking veteran. They write letters back and forth but the only letters we see are Wormwood's letters in response.It's obvious that Screwtape is testing his patience, at one point he gets so upset while writing a response that he turns into a centipede. (Because it's hell, so giant centipede, of course).

So Screwtape is on his first assignment and has been assigned to a man we only know as "the patient". The patient has just became a new Christian. Even an inexperienced tempter like Screwtape should be able to tempt the patient into his old habits, eventually chalking his dalliance into Christianity as an "adolescent phase". But the man's new faith runs deeper than either demon expected and Screwtape is not doing a good job.

At one point the patient falls in love, and at first Screwtape is excited by this process. But then Wormwood points out that the woman is a devout Christian from a devout family and that these people will be a strong Christian influence on him. Wormwood HATES this girl. This is what he says about her:
"Not only a Christian, but such a Christian - a vile sneaking, simpering, demure, monosyllabic, mouse-like, watery, insignificant, virginal, bread-and-butter miss. The little brute. She makes me vomit". It's quite the tangent. I like the last bit, because I feel like I've gone on mean spirited tangents and ended with a similar declaration. Which is obviously not a testament to myself and my personality and temper.

During the middle of the book WWII stars, which delights Screwtape to no end. Wormwood (irritably) points out that this is not necessarily a good thing.He points out that people turn to long forgotten faith in times of trouble and danger.After all they don't want people just to die, they want people to die who are firmly in their pocket.

I'm not going to tell you how it ends for our demon story tellers and the patient. You will have to read it for yourself. But I will hint for you and say that it ends badly for someone.

Random thoughts:
-I love that the demons refer to Satan as "Our Father Below". I don't know why I like that so much but when I re-read that I was like, man that's clever.

- One of the parts that resonate the loudest with me is the story Wormwood tells about one of his charges and an incident at the British Museum. I'm so easily distracted I know that the demon who is charged with tempting me uses my short attention span to his favor.

-I think that Neil Gaiman probably writes the best villains in the business,but CS does a wonderful job of his villains. Wormwood and Screwtape are main demons but there are also demons mentioned named Scabtree, Glubose,Slumtrimpet,Toadpipe, Triptweeze. Screwtape is my favorite, but Slumptrimpet is a closed second. Doesn't it sounds like a girl demon? I don't think demons have sexes. Right?

-There's also a point where Screwtape tries to get Wormwood in trouble with the demon higher ups. Like, really Screwtape, how did you think Wormwood is not going to hear about that?

So if this book intrigues you, you should read it. If you want to read it and talk to someone while you read it, you certainly can talk to me. If you want to talk to many people when you read it may I suggest you get in on The Inklings Series over at Books and Beverages? Jamie blogs about (wait for it) books and beverages and is a devout CS Lewis and JRR Tolkien fan. The Inkling Series is a monthly feature that features a CS or JRR book. At the end of the month Jame will post her review and a discussion. Check out her post here for more information. When she first mentioned this series I was enthusiastic about it to a creepy point. I've read a lot of CS but only "The Hobbit" from Mr Tolkien so I'm looking forward to expanding my knowledge of him. Ill give you a heads up on the official kick off when we get a little closer to go time!

I love this book. It is dear to my heart. It's funny, it's sad. I feel like this book mirrors things that I see in myself. The flaws, the struggles, and the Redemption that is offered. Whenever I read this book I feel so full, like my cup runneth over.
This is the edition I want. It's so pretty.

This is the edition I have. The demon isn't scary enough.

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