Just reread: The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis
April 10, 2008
My UU "Science and Spirituality" group, as part of to push the balance away from the former part of its name, took on this book. I had previously read it in high school, and just retackled it today (it's a quick read). I was a bit surprised by the later addition "Screwtape Proposes a Toast", an almost Ayn Rand-ian rant against over-egalitarianism in the name of "not being undemocratic".
It was interesting stumbling over some overlap with "Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance" (TANGENTIAL RANT: why are all of Firefox spellcheck's suggestions for "Maintanence" variations of "Acquaintance"? It's such a little a+e swap that I don't see how the program is lead so far astray. This must be the fourth time I've made the same typo and been irritated by the results) -- the limits of human cognizance and the "Western Logic" view of the world.
There were a few nice turns of phrase, or of concept. "Humans are amphibians -- half spirit and half animal" is richly evocative. I suppose the logical mapping would be of the physical world to the aquatic, and the spiritual to that of the air. Also: "the union of change and permanence which we call Rhythm" is a lovely thought.
The form of the books, letters from a senior devil to his nephew who is charged with the tempting of one man during WW2 is rhetorically powerful; in particular C.S. Lewis is able to cast his opponents (Christian and otherwise) as food for demons. And some of the devil names are great: Screwtape, Wormwood, Slubgob, Toadpipe, Slumtrimpet, Triptweeze, Glubose along with clever inversions like the diabolic authority being the depths of the "Lowerarchy". Overall the book makes some good and deep points about how to live a Christian life, even if the format gives broader authority to the author than might be otherwise warranted.
Video of the Moment
And now for something completely different: