I'm partial to Jack. He's the man. And one of my very favorite authors. I've read several of his books several times. KB and Feeche were quoting The Screwtape Letters last week and I realized it's been years since I've read it and it seemed like a great idea.
Lewis uses a series of letters between Screwtape, a tried and true higher devil to advise Wormwood, an underling, on the best ways to secure the soul of "The Patient." The writing is full of wit and humor with a healthy dose of "real life" theology thrown in. Lewis takes on a lot on in the slim little volume: religion, education, the media, the secular and the post modern. All done with brilliance and biting wit. Love that.
One of my favorite discussions in the book is about what is "real." As a long time homeschooler I have oft been the recipient of this discussion, having been accused of keeping my children from the "real world" (by implication insinuating that educating at home via private tutoring, a time honored method of the wealthy btw, is "fake.").
"The general rule which we have now pretty well established among them is that in all experiences which can make them happier or better only the physical facts are "real" while the spiritual elements are "subjective"; in all experiences which can discourage or corrupt them the spiritual elements are the main reality and to ignore them is to be an escapist. Thus in birth the blood and pain are "real", the rejoicing a mere subjective point of view; in death, the terror and ugliness reveal what death "really means"....(Lewis goes on and gives several other examples)...The creatures are always accusing one another of wanting "to eat the cake and have it'' but thanks to our labours they are more often in the predicament of paying for the cake and not eating it. Your patient, properly handled, will have no difficulty in regarding his emotion at the sight of human entrails as a revelation of Reality and his emotion at the sight of happy children or fair weather as mere sentiment."
If you are someone seeking to understand the spiritual, this is a great book to start with. If you are a Christian that is discouraged, or in the midst of a trial, this book will give you fresh perspective.If you are just looking for a great read, this book will not disappoint. If you like biting satire, Lewis, post war England, apologetics or brilliant writing, you'll love this book. It's required reading 'round here.