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Questions about The Screwtape Letters

Comprising most of Lewis' writings.

Questions about The Screwtape Letters

Postby Paul F. Ford » 22 Jul 2007, 02:26

Between 1981 and 1987 I did my research for my dissertation, "C. S. Lewis: Ecumenical Spiritual Director: A Study of His Experience and Theology of Prayer and Discernment in the Process of Becoming a Self," Fuller Theological Seminary (Pasadena, California), 1987, Ph.D. in theology.

I collected binders full of notes, particularly on The Screwtape Letters.

Now I get a chance to prepare to publish an annotated version of The Screwtape Letters.

I wonder if some of you in the Into the Wardrobe Forum would care to share your questions about the meaning of individual letters and/or passages in individual letters, as well as questions about themes the letters address. Has there been a discussion of The Screwtape Letters in the past?

Forgive me in advance if this is an improper question. I am not asking to 'use' the forum but to be informed by SL questions and concerns from Forum members.

Gratefully,
Paul
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Hi Paul! (waves)

Postby LynnMagdalenCollege » 26 Jul 2007, 04:44

Hey my friend - what is your time frame? I'm off to Mythcon shortly but when I come back I'd like to re-read SL and see if I've got questions/cts for you.

blessings,
-- Lynn --
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Re: Hi Paul! (waves)

Postby Paul F. Ford » 26 Jul 2007, 22:44

LynnMagdalenCollege wrote:What is your time frame?


Lynn,

I have up to ten months but I want to immerse myself now before school starts. I would really love to have your help.

Gratefully,
Paul
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Postby carol » 27 Jul 2007, 05:01

Paul, does this publication have any link-up with the proposed film of Screwtape?
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Postby Paul F. Ford » 29 Jul 2007, 23:37

carol wrote:Paul, does this publication have any link-up with the proposed film of Screwtape?

Not that I am aware of. It's just been something I have long been interested in completing and now I have an interested publisher.

One of the things I uncovered years ago when I read the Lewis files in the Macmillan Company papers (housed in the New York Public Library) was that the novelist Christopher Morley has written a screenplay of SL for RKO Pictures in the late 1940's.

The New York Public Library owns the manuscript of SL.
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Letter 15 The Present Moment

Postby friendofaslan » 04 Aug 2007, 23:54

Dr. Ford,

I LOVE Screwtape Letters. For me, it is one of Lewis' most applicable books and has never lost its relevancy. I appreciate your opening the door for questions.
In Letter 15, Screwtape says, "Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them."


I understand Lewis is encouraging us to live in the "now," but do not fully understand this quote as far as how God views "reality."

Any comments?
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Re: Questions about The Screwtape Letters

Postby Tuke » 30 Aug 2007, 14:41

Paul F. Ford wrote:....
Now I get a chance to prepare to publish an annotated version of The Screwtape Letters.

I wonder if some of you in the Into the Wardrobe Forum would care to share your questions about the meaning of individual letters and/or passages in individual letters, as well as questions about themes the letters address.
Gratefully,
Paul
Yeah, Paul, what's up with the word goddam toward the end of Screwtape Proposes A Toast? Is that how Brits write the Lord's name in vain or is it something less than G.. D...?
(Note: some editions have been bowdlerized)
"The 'great golden chain of Concord' has united the whole of Edmund Spenser's world.... Nothing is repressed; nothing is insubordinate. To read him is to grow in mental health." The Allegory Of Love (Faerie Queene)

2 Corinthians IV.17 The Weight of Glory
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Postby friendofaslan » 31 Aug 2007, 00:26

Okay, you forced me to scan the Toast again because I didn't recall reading that word. Yep, it's there on page 163 where Screwtape is discussing how a human can think he is as good as the next person and "resents every kind of superiority in others; denigrates it; wishes it annihilation." Then, Screwtape shifts to how this person might view life:

Here's the fellow who says he doesn't like hot dogs--thinks he's too good for them, no doubt. Here's a man who hasn't turned on the jukebox--he's one of those goddam highbrows and is doing it to show off. If they were honest-to-God all-right Joes they'd be like me. They've no business to be different. It's undemocratic.


The person here supposedly hates, detests, wants to tear down anyone he thinks is trying to act "superior" to him. So, the word would fit the situation. But, is this simply a common British strong word for emphasis or is it a taking the Lord's name in vain (as it sounds to us in America). Is this Lewis' own despising of elitism coming through? Thanks for pointing this out.
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Postby Tuke » 31 Aug 2007, 16:28

friendofaslan wrote:....
But, is this simply a common British strong word for emphasis or is it a taking the Lord's name in vain (as it sounds to us in America). Is this Lewis' own despising of elitism coming through? Thanks for pointing this out.
Now that you mention it, the Brits do have some strong language. There are many expressions in Middle English and Shakespeare which are borderline blasphemies such as 'Zounds, an abbreviation for God's wounds.
"The 'great golden chain of Concord' has united the whole of Edmund Spenser's world.... Nothing is repressed; nothing is insubordinate. To read him is to grow in mental health." The Allegory Of Love (Faerie Queene)

2 Corinthians IV.17 The Weight of Glory
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Postby rusmeister » 07 Sep 2007, 03:57

Paul F. Ford wrote:the novelist Christopher Morley has written a screenplay of SL for RKO Pictures in the late 1940's.

If you were one of my ESL students... :tsk:
:tongue:
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Re: Letter 15 The Present Moment

Postby rusmeister » 07 Sep 2007, 04:01

friendofaslan wrote:Dr. Ford,

I LOVE Screwtape Letters. For me, it is one of Lewis' most applicable books and has never lost its relevancy. I appreciate your opening the door for questions.
In Letter 15, Screwtape says, "Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered them."


I understand Lewis is encouraging us to live in the "now," but do not fully understand this quote as far as how God views "reality."

Any comments?


A short and (probably oversimplified) response would be that God, being completely outside of Time, like the author is outside of his book, can be 'present' at all times. For Him, every moment in all past, present and future is 'now'. Lewis makes the comment somewhere of God having all eternity to listen to the prayers of a pilot whose plane is going down in flames.

Does that help at all?
"Eh? Two views? There are a dozen views about everything until you know the answer. Then there's never more than one."
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Postby friendofaslan » 07 Sep 2007, 12:51

Yes! Thanks. This perspective sheds a whole new light on the quote. :smile:
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Postby Paul F. Ford » 07 Sep 2007, 13:46

rusmeister wrote:
Paul F. Ford wrote:the novelist Christopher Morley has written a screenplay of SL for RKO Pictures in the late 1940's.

If you were one of my ESL students... :tsk:
:tongue:

oops!
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Letter 26 -- hunted expressions?

Postby Michael Gaul » 10 Sep 2007, 00:02

Would your binders happen to contain anything to indicate the source of the "sensible human" in Letter 26 who said, "She's the sort of woman who lives for others -- you can always tell the others by their hunted expression."

Our church is having a study on the Screwtape Letters, for which I have been putting together "supplemental notes", which includes trying to track down such references as might be cryptic or unfamiliar; Sven and other members of the group have helped me with many of thiese, but of this last one, nothing definite has come to light. It is hard to accept that in just this one place it is himself he is quoting...
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Postby CKinna » 23 Nov 2007, 22:01

Sounds great! Our group - The CS Lewis Society of Frederick (MD) - is currently half way through discussing Screwtape. If anything comes up and if I remember I will post our questions.


http://www.frederickcslewissociety.org/
What does not satisfy when we find it, was not the thing we were desiring. - Brother Jack
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