19.8.05

"My dear Wormwood..."

Soultrain
Channelsurfing on the Soultrain

It must be because of all those Narnia trailers on TV that J and I picked up a stack of C.S.Lewis' books. J has been reading the Narnia Chronicles (ah, his delight at the large font and pictures!) and Surprised by Joy, Lewis' autobiography of sorts about his journey from atheism to the Christian faith; while I finally read The Screwtape Letters.

Judged on literary merit alone, Lewis somehow doesn't come across as a great writer. He is never seen to be quite as talented as Tolkein, to whom The Screwtape Letters was dedicated. But I have to say that The Screwtape Letters has been a surprisingly good read. Though written as a series of letters from the demon Screwtape to his nephew, a junior tempter called Wormwood, Lewis resisted the more fantastical path such a satire could easily have taken. Don't get me wrong, the book is really quite funny and the irony is most biting when Screwtape gets impatient with Wormwood's "conventional" understanding of evil (not unlike a young man who delights in the grand movements of history, Wormwood delights too much in wars and human suffering, all of which which Screwtape judges as a good drama but not the essence of the battle with "The Enemy").

But unlike Tolkein, Lewis' heart was not in constructing that semi-fictional world (no matter how enjoyable the literary games, I imagine, must have been). His sight is fixed on showing the relationship between man and God to his readers. For the former, Lewis shows amazing insight into the corners our human reason works itself into, our meandering excuses, and the deception we weave so skillfully that we even fool ourselves... yet because the Christian faith tells him that man is made in God's image and that God's investment of faith and love in the human race is beyond understanding, Lewis also never resorts to cynicism.

I'm into my last pages of the book now, but took a break tonight to finish the illustration above - which displays its influence.

7 comments:

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ampulets said...

Hmm, I know I said i miss junk mail in the previous post...but not this sort of spam!?!

wahj said...

wow. That's the longest comment-spam I've seen.

You and Ru should start a comment-spam collection. You know - swap and trade, collect and display ... = )

samuraibunny said...

never got through the screwtape letters. the names of all the demons are amusing, but the material is toooo dry for my liking.

p.s. found you through fortycalibernap. since he's on holiday i come visit you =) nice artwork.

ampulets said...

wahj - good idea...why be only a victim?

samuraibunny - hope you enjoy your visit ;> yah, agree, when I tried reading it some years ago I gave up...Guess now I actually enjoy the expositions on man and God!

truthisasnare said...

Possibly my favorite book; a work of genius.

Funny you should title your illustration "soul train," as there is a train of souls, of sorts, in one of Lewis' other brilliant works, The Great Divorce.
Short, and well worth the read if you liked Screwtape.

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