Monday, April 28, 2014

Review: The Screwtape Letters

The Screwtape Letters
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I came to this work expecting it to be a clever yet annoying apologetic for Mr. Lewis' vision of Christianity. While it is an apologia, it's remarkably fun listening. Mr. Lewis puts into Screwtape's letters some things he probably couldn't have gotten away with in a different format. I'm not sure, but it certainly seems like there were some very direct personal jabs in "Screwtape's" letters. Much to my surprise, there is a whole lot of really juicy insights into human psychology and the human condition here. Even when I disagree with his conclusions (most of the time) I have to admire his insights.

I also have to admire his rhetorical skills. For all that I disagree with him, I wouldn't want to debate him. The man is damn good at constructing a logical argument.

If I were a younger person, and had been raised in Mr. Lewis' variety of Christianity, I probably would have loved this work. I imagine a lot of liberal Christians take great comfort in Mr. Lewis's implicit contention that loveing Christianity is objectively true. I can see why this work has stayed so popular for so long.

Weirdly enough, this felt less directly didactic than his Narnia books. Then again, I read the Narnia series expecting a fantasy adventure story. If I had expected it to be apologetics in fantasy form I might have felt less beaten by the metaphor hammer.

I am very likely to re-read this one. While "simply" a series of letters, what Screwtapes includes and excludes from his letters shapes a story with a lot of depth and complexity. Aside from that, this is worth examining for the quality and depth of the rhetorical/argumentation skills displayed. I think I can learn alot about constructing persuasive arguments from this work.

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