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The Screwtape Letters: Annotated Edition

von C. S. Lewis

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Nothing is as helpful to a young man's career as the doting advice of an experienced elder. This is a compendium of such wisdom as it was penned to young Tempter Wormwood by his worldly-wise old devil of an uncle, Screwtape. The annotations include literary, theological and biographical information to enhance Lewis' core themes and demystify complex ideas.… (mehr)
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A bit slow, but it is British, soooo ...
I LOVE the terrifying toast at the end. This book was written more than 50 years ago, not is really accurate to today's social and political landscape. ( )
  SAKeeper | Feb 23, 2021 |
This is a great book. The original material while written in the 1940's is perfectly relevant today. It is very much a work of apologia, meaning that it is very concerned with indoctrinating the reader into Christianity. That said it is humorous and thought provoking and not really pushy but clearly focused on the ideas of good and evil and the role that God plays in defining those concepts. The annotations are very nice, they are mainly about explaining language no longer in common usage or referring the reader to other materials. Sometimes this is simply a reference to another work that C. S. Lewis is referencing, sometimes this is to another place in the body of writing Lewis himself did that covers the same topic in more depth.

I'm an agnostic myself and this book is one of the best read s for someone who wants a primer to Christian thinking. The ideas here are not aggressive, there is abundant wit and humor and the content while clear in it's theology is geared toward addressing questions rather than forcing answers on the reader. It is thought provoking and show s a clearly defined worldview and a way of arguing that shows the thought put into the topic by Lewis. ( )
  064 | Dec 25, 2020 |

Well, it's not for everyone, but considering that this was meant for uptight Christian prigs from 50 years ago, it's pretty good and timeless.

Enter Satan, AKA Screwtape, and listen to him extolling or deriding his demon nephew on the virtues of corrupting his human charge.

It's okay! Some of it is really funny and some of it just feels dated. But we need to put this kind of thing in its proper time and audience. The points are still valid but the people they're about are all dead. :) ... well, maybe not all, and there's always people more concerned about appearing Christian versus being Christian and most people are remarkably demonstrative about never actually having a real thought in their head, but isn't that the same everywhere? :)

So. It was okay as a satire. Probably much more scathing to the whole world way back when. :)

Big bad Satan giving brotherly advice. LoL.

( )
  bradleyhorner | Jun 1, 2020 |
The main complaint reviewers seem to make about The Screwtape Letters is that the book doesn't make a compelling enough case for Christianity. That's a pretty funny thing to expect from a series of letters written by a demon who works for the devil. How terrible of an employee would you have to be to convince your nephew that your whole life's work has been based around fighting a guy who has the right idea? Whatever.

If you're not reading Screwtape from that perspective, it's an incredibly good read. C.S. Lewis never comes off as lofty or preachy, which seems the be the hardest thing for Christian writers to avoid. And in just about every letter, there's one particular situation, moment, line, or even one word that gives the reader an opportunity for self-reflection.

It really doesn't have to be a 'God' thing or a religious thing; it certainly wasn't for me. Take my favorite Screwtape quote as an example: "Believe this, not because it's true, but for some other reason. That's the game." As hilariously simple as the idea looks, that was a eureka moment for me. That really is the game! How often do you hear people in positions of power or people on TV or annoying friends or just about anybody use that simple idea to manipulate people? As someone who considers himself a pretty good liar, I'd been using that strategy for years and never realized it. And again, that's just one independent chapter.

If you're looking to have a religious epiphany, read something else. There's great stuff here, all of it useful, none of it life-changing, which is fine by me. Regardless of Lewis' intent (and I really don't think he intended it to be more than what's already apparent), Screwtape's insight into how to corrupt humanity is an easy way to take a quick glance at yourself, feel slimy for a minute, resolve to change a few things, and go on with your day.

Don't forget though, it's not YOUR day. You don't possess time. Good call again, Screwtape. ( )
  bgramman | May 9, 2020 |
Probably 2.5 stars, more accurately.

This is a tough book for me to review, but also kind of fun, because as a distinctly nonreligious person I disagree with a lot of its core values and messages, but as a psychology major and lover of satire and language I found both the unique voice and some of the 'truths' about humanity interesting and well-stated.

Screwtape's voice is fantastic, honestly (and I listened to the audiobook so that was an extra layer of great performance), and the dripping, over-the-top cynicism and mockery in such a refined tone was something I'd never encountered before in reading. The framing device, of letters to his demonic nephew offering advice on how best to (subtly!) corrupt a human, often using their own flaws and blindnesses, is also clever and it doesn't drag on longer than it needs to. There were a few passages I liked, but one of my favorites (very relevant to current events) was the bit about people being able to get away with all kinds of cruel, vicious, and horrifying beliefs and behaviors simply by passing them off as humor, therefore making those who recoil from or reject the 'joke' the ones at fault for not having 'senses of humor'. The sooner everyone hears and understands truths like that, the better!

On the other hand, despite the book coming from a satirical narrator opposed by his very nature to Christianity, it's pretty easy to see how and where Lewis is ultimately writing from a distinctly conservative Christian viewpoint. There's uncomfortable sexism sprinkled throughout (think that thing about Susan at the end of Chronicles of Narnia, but worse), and the added epilogue piece, 'Screwtape Proposes a Toast,' reminded me faintly of every 'lazy entitled millennials who are told they're special will doom society' and 'letting people think that we're all equal/deserve equal opportunities will actually destroy democratic government, prevent the emergence of any 'great' men, and turn your country into a communist slave state' article and screed I've ever seen or heard. I'd have to do some more reading/research before I could really ascertain exactly how much of this Lewis genuinely encouraged and how much were 'Screwtape's' views/layers of satire, but it was pretty ugly to listen to and my least favorite part of the book.

Final takeaway--if, like me, you enjoy thought-provoking theology with some actual real world/psychological applications, read it for that, while (if you're nonreligious or liberal-leaning) engaging critically with the stuff you don't agree with. It's also probably a good book for Christians to read, and a religious person might find it more enlightening than me. ( )
  booksong | Mar 18, 2020 |
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Nothing is as helpful to a young man's career as the doting advice of an experienced elder. This is a compendium of such wisdom as it was penned to young Tempter Wormwood by his worldly-wise old devil of an uncle, Screwtape. The annotations include literary, theological and biographical information to enhance Lewis' core themes and demystify complex ideas.

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