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Friday, October 2, 2009

Review of the audio drama: The Screwtape Letters

Fascinating listening, the audio drama, The Screwtape Letters, gives an amazing and insightful voice to those nagging thoughts and destructive emotions that plague all of us. Particularly appropriate as a radio-type drama, The Screwtape Letters was written by C.S. Lewis in England at the beginning of World War II. And, the measure of good literature, as editor David Brawn said, is that “it works as well today as it did 50-60 years ago.” Fortunately for all of us, The Screwtape Letters is enjoying a resurgence in popularity.

This Tyndale House/Focus on Family production is excellent: the actors portraying the various characters are wonderfully appropriate and dynamic; the music and sound effects fresh and skillful. Andy Serkis as Screwtape is the epitome of malevolence and seduction, and Bertie Carvel as Wormwood brings slimy and whiny to new heights. I enjoyed every moment of it – including the DVD commentaries.

C.S. Lewis’ teaching itself is compelling storytelling and reinforces the Apostle Paul in 2 Corinthians 10:5 (NASB): “We are destroying speculations and every lofty thing raised up against the knowledge of God, and we are taking every thought captive to the obedience of Christ,” and in Ephesians 6:12 (KJV) “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.”

To be taught from the opposite viewpoint, challenged my thinking and exposed the enemy more clearly. I felt surprised, again, to discover how subtly the enemy works in our thought lives – in situations both mundane and dramatic – and that is where the believer’s battle is truly fought. I feel like I'm fighting trench warfare in my own life, and night-time is the worst for those demonic thoughts. Thank God, I'm learning to recognize them more quickly, and fight them with the word of God.

It was a brave thing that C.S. Lewis did, giving voice to those principalities and rulers of darkness. According to the notes provided in the production, he had to put himself in a dark place mentally to write The Screwtape Letters, which was perhaps inspired by a Danish book, Letters from Hell. In doing so, C.S. Lewis has helped so many to learn to distinguish those wicked voices from the voice the Good Shepherd.

I highly recommend this radio drama, especially in this era of MP3 player and iPod listeners. I hope that many listeners – young and old – will be blessed and will grow in their understanding as a result. And, the production is entertaining enough to listen to again and again.

Produced in partnership between Tyndale House and Focus on the Family, The Screwtape Letters audio drama will be available for purchase beginning on October 15 - just in time to understand what Halloween is truly about.