Wednesday, September 17, 2008
The Screwtape Letters
Two words... hated it. OK, perhaps that is a bit unfair but it was exactly how I was feeling before I headed off to book club last night to discuss one of my least favorite reads to date. I thought it was going to be a preachy little discussion where all the very-steeped-in-their-chosen-organized-religion women would feed off one another and devolve into a Sunday school discussion. Of course, I went armed with my more obscure (and what turned out to be thought provoking) quotes from the book and my insistence on religious tolerance for all. The book is written by C.S. Lewis who, I was surprised to find out after only knowing him from my childhood love of the Chronicles of Narnia, wrote more religious books on Christianity in his later years than anything. The book is a collection of letters written by an upper-level demon in Hell to his nephew, Wormwood, who is assigned to temp a human man and secure his soul for the Devil. Written very satirically, it is very hard to read. Each letter can stand on its own as a study of an aspect of the human nature. And, there is no return correspondence to round out the one-sided commentary. Very anti-climactic ending that I almost missed entirely at the end of the last letter. I found myself identifying with the poor devil more than what the author was apparently trying to get me to care about in his religious rhetoric of "thou shalt not". Several of the quotes I collected through my reading of this work almost make me wonder if the joke wasn't on those readers who read it superficially and assume they know exactly what Lewis was trying to convey. My favorite quote was this: "Leave them to discuss whether 'Love', or patriotism, or celibacy, or candles on altars, or teetotalism, or education, are 'good' or 'bad'. Can't you see there's no answer?" If you're looking for proper Oxford English and satire where God is labeled "the Enemy", pick up this book. But, I don't recommend it too highly. Much kudos and affection to my fellow book-clubbers who put up with my innate argumentativeness and never allowing them to get away with blanket stereotype comments on the subject of religion. In other words, thanks for putting up with all my shit and loving me anyway girls!