Book and Movie Review – The Screwtape Letters AND Affectionately Yours, Screwtape

Screwtape Letters

The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis
AND
“Affectionately Yours, Screwtape: The Devil and C.S. Lewis”
Directed by Tom Dallis
2007
available on Hoopla

The Screwtape Letters is an epistolary novel in which the correspondence between Senior Demon Screwtape and his nephew Wormwood, a junior inexperienced Tempter. Screwtape is giving guidance to Wormwood about how to secure the damnation of “the Patient” (a mere mortal) through temptation. One of my favorites quotes is from Screwtape: “Why use adultery when golf will do.” The point being a series of lesser temptations that are persistent will grow to bigger sins and culminate in a mistrust of God, a series of frustrations and annoyances are causes for temptation.

The letters are easy and entertaining to read. Since it is an interesting twist on the topic of damnation, the book does not feel overly religious. In fact I think that was Lewis’ intention. Lewis was a self-proclaimed atheist until his twenties. In fact, in 1929 he called himself “the most dejected and reluctant Christian convert in all of England” (he was 31 years old). Lewis liked reversals – i.e. taking our accepted way of thinking of Christianity and turning it around. He broke away from the traditional view of Satan (with a goatee, horns, forked tail and dressed in a dapper red suit) and made him into the CEO of a multi-layer organization.

He initially wrote the Screwtape Letters as a series for “The Guardian” in 1941. The were published in book form in 1942, with a dedication to Lewis’ friend J.R.R. Tolkien. Lewis says the writing was easy, but he did not enjoy writing them – in fact he felt smothered by them. Although I have not read other books by Lewis, you would not know he did not enjoy writing this book. The tongue-in-cheek humor of teaching theology from the devil’s standpoint is pure entertainment.

“Affectionately Yours, Screwtape” is a documentary about C.S. Lewis and the Screwtape Letters. It shines a lot of light on the intent and writing of the book. In my opinion, a 51 min. documentary on a 128 page book is a little excessive, but in matters of religious debate it is understandable.

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