Monday, 10 November 2008

The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

OK, I know, three books in one day, but I’ve just not had the time to blog about them yet. I did start Nicholas Nickelby in Oct., but didn’t finish it until November. The Screwtape Letters isn’t long and The Book Thief was one of those you can’t put down until your finished. That makes for a lot of books at once.

The Screwtape Letters was a philosophically interesting book. It’s the kind of book that makes me want to sit down and formulate arguments, agreements and general discuss. I probably agreed with as much of it as I disagreed, or rather with the principles behind the book. It is, of course, based on Christianity, as all of C.S. Lewis’ books are, and argues the best ways of undermining Christians and their beliefs from a demonic point of view. It’s written by Screwtape, an upper level demon, in the form of letters to his nephew Wormwood. In his letters, Screwtape gives his nephew advice on how to secure a soul for the ranks of hell. Lewis’ intention was to show Christians how the enemy works as a different form of learning how he should behave and react to temptations. It’s a sort of Know Thine Enemy treaty, although he does use the same viewpoint to show weaknesses within Religion, the Church and society, which is where the letters become philosophically interesting. Some of his points are debateable, but most only from a standpoint of belief in religion.

Lewis apparently had quite a difficult time writing the letters, which perhaps explains why there aren’t more. He first found it interesting to write from the perspective of the “enemy”, but slowly that strain of thinking began to pull at his morale and he was glad to finish them. I think that was a fully understandable reaction, even from the viewpoint of a non-Christian. After all, very few humans are truly evil and trying to put yourself into the frame of mind to think as evil does over a prolonged period would depress most people.

It’s not a book for everyone, but it’s certainly interesting for anyone who cares to dwell on the merits, advantages and disadvantages of good and evil and/or Religion. In that sense, it’s food for thought.

1 comment:

mari said...

Interesting. I don't know if I would be able to get through that.