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Questions about The Screwtape Letters

Comprising most of Lewis' writings.

Postby Peepiceek » 10 Jan 2008, 22:06

Yes, please. I don't mean to exclude anyone and Paul might not get around to it for a while. Also if Lewis meant for a word a vastly different meaning than is found in a dictionary or one that may be well down the list of definitions I would like to know.
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Letters 17-18

Postby Peepiceek » 14 Jan 2008, 21:52

Here Lewis defines gluttony as a preoccupation with food as a source of domestic querulousness.

What is the difference between unchastity and intemperence? My dictionary suggests that chastity only refers to sexual relations.

Screwtape mentions the notorious lustfulness of soldiers and sailors. Is this to contradict that excessive exercise can mitigate gluttony because soldiers and sailors get plenty of exercise?

What games is Screwtape talking about?

Letter 18

Screwtape says that sexual temptation is cosiderable tedium to devils. This suggests that they have no personal interest or experience with it. This suggests spirits don't have or need sex as a means of reproduction. Which leads me to the extrapolation: Screwtape can't really be Wormwoods uncle. In letter 19 we learn he can't really be affectionate either but we learn what he means by it in Letter 31.

Does unmitigated monogamy refer to Christ's extended definition of adultery in Matthew Ch. 5? My dictionary again differs, adding the qualifiers "willfull and malicious" which I'm sure many people would not require to label an act adultery. There is no such thing as innocent and accidental adultery. As Christ defined you don't have to do anything to comit adultery.

Panacea--

Lewis is saying God's real motive for inventing sex is to force people to cooperate for the continuation of the species and to make families where they will experience all manner of real pains and pleasures. Correct?

Is Lewis advocating arranged mairrage? Or marrying somebody you may not even like for sake of mairrage itself so long as it's somebody compatible?

What did St.Paul have to say on the subject?
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Letter 19

Postby Peepiceek » 23 Jan 2008, 04:24

This letter shows a real flaw in Screwtapes logic in not understand Love to the point of denying it exists. It's ironic that the devils strive so hard to figure out what God is really 'up to' when the truth was the first hypothesis they discarded and the entire search is based on the assumption that the truth is a lie. (I hope that makes sense.)
The 'heresy' Screwtape refers to is from Letter 14 correct?

I didn't know that moot was also a verb.

"A certain episode about a cross" Does this refer to the cross? or that Lucifer would cross God and fall.

Disinterested Love-- I am struggling with this concept (anybody feel free to jump in and help me) I think it means to love someone or something without recieving any benefit in return. I don't think that is possible but perhaps it means that the benefit you recieve is not the motivation. For example I love my baby daughter. It brings great joy to my heart to look at her smiling face. That is a benefit. No? It means to love someone but not need them. What if one becomes disabled and now his wife becomes his primary caregiver. Now that he needs her, is it no longer possible to love her disinterestedly?

"Members of His faction have frequently admitted that if ever we came to understand what He means by Love, the war would be over and we should reenter Heaven." --This is great news that even from the depths of Hell even the devils themselves could still be saved. So it seems a natural extension that their human victims would share the same possibility of final redemption. If you can just grasp this one simple concept, you've got a chance no matter what you've done.

overweening asceticism--

Isn't Love both irresistable and intrinsically meritorious? Is this an example of Screwtape not understanding Love?

"It is simply an occasion which we and the Enemy are both trying to exploit. " This is an example of Screwtape's tragically erroneous belief that God and the devils are equal and opposite antagonists. God's intention for Love had nothing to do with them as evidenced by the fact that it will still exist long after they all are gone.
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Letter 20

Postby Peepiceek » 23 Jan 2008, 04:42

I have read the first paragraph of this letter many many times and still can't quite nail down what exactly God did to forcibly end Wormwood's attacks on the patients chastity. I've ruled out smiting the patient with E.D. (or V.D. for that matter) because that would take away his free will to sin by unchastity. He must have by what ever means taken direct action against Wormword. Perhaps He used the asphyxiating cloud(letter 13). Or just lain the divine smackdown on poor Wormwood. Sent a couple of Angels down to beat the [snot] out of him tie him up in a sack and throw him into the Thames. (Why didn't He just do that from the beginning?)

Today it is a common belief that chastity is unhealthy.

What is the devils' problem with beards? Elimination of beards would mank men look like boys too?
"and there is more in that than you might suppose" Such as??

What's with the circumflex in the word 'role'? It isn't in the copy you gave me but in my Harper Collins copy. Maybe it's a typo.

Amenable--
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Postby galion » 23 Jan 2008, 15:55

What's with the circumflex in the word 'role'? It isn't in the copy you gave me but in my Harper Collins copy. Maybe it's a typo.


Actually it's a French word, borrowed by English, and if you want to be pedantic, you keep the circumflex.
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Re: Letter 20

Postby Karen » 23 Jan 2008, 16:40

Peepiceek wrote:I didn't know that moot was also a verb.


Yes, but it's not usually used that way nowadays.

"A certain episode about a cross" Does this refer to the cross?


Yes. "the Enemy freely confessed that he foresaw" is an allusion to Acts:

2:22-23 You that are Israelites, listen to what I have to say: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with deeds of power, wonders, and signs that God did through him among you, as you yourselves know— this man, handed over to you according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of those outside the law.

Peepiceek wrote:I have read the first paragraph of this letter many many times and still can't quite nail down what exactly God did to forcibly end Wormwood's attacks on the patients chastity.


Perhaps it's meant to suggest that God has given the patient the grace to resist Wormwood (see James 4:7).

What is the devils' problem with beards? Elimination of beards would mank men look like boys too? "and there is more in that than you might suppose" Such as??


It was the fashion of the day, in contrast to the Victorians, for men to be clean-shaven. Lewis seems to feel that beards (as you say) made men look more masculine, and that by eliminating that fashion men had become less "manly", or something along those lines. This seems to me a piece of misplaced nostalgia more than anything else.
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Postby repectabiggle » 23 Jan 2008, 17:26

I wouldn't have said it was nostalgia, exactly. Lewis was objecting to the way some women (and some men, too, no doubt) were trying to take away one of the distinct features of mature masculinity. It probably looks odd or silly from our end, but if we were in Lewis's day, we might have felt a bit more sympathetic to the position. Maybe, anyway.
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Postby Karen » 23 Jan 2008, 18:25

repectabiggle wrote:I wouldn't have said it was nostalgia, exactly. Lewis was objecting to the way some women (and some men, too, no doubt) were trying to take away one of the distinct features of mature masculinity. It probably looks odd or silly from our end, but if we were in Lewis's day, we might have felt a bit more sympathetic to the position. Maybe, anyway.


I said 'nostalgia' because by the time Lewis was writing Screwtape (1941), the fashion for beards was long over (pre-WWI, in fact). But I agree with you about the point he was trying to get across.
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Re: Letter 20

Postby Tuke » 23 Jan 2008, 18:34

Karen wrote:.... Lewis seems to feel that beards (as you say) made men look more masculine, and that by eliminating that fashion men had become less "manly", or something along those lines. This seems to me a piece of misplaced nostalgia more than anything else.
I have a grizzled beard without mustache and am a man with chest.
Last edited by Tuke on 15 Oct 2008, 22:11, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby repectabiggle » 23 Jan 2008, 18:37

I said 'nostalgia' because by the time Lewis was writing Screwtape (1941), the fashion for beards was long over (pre-WWI, in fact).


Ah, I understand. :)
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Postby archenland_knight » 15 Oct 2008, 17:07

Peepicheek wrote:What is the devils' problem with beards? Elimination of beards would mank men look like boys too?
"and there is more in that than you might suppose" Such as??


I have been meaning to respond for some time. This quote came from one of the letters that was almost prophetic in how it predicted what is going on in modern times. Women are being shown standards of "beauty" in the media, on fashion runways and in Hollywood movies, that are not only unhealty and unrealistic, but just downright unattractive.

But we neglect what has happened to the portrayal of a "proper male" as well. The beard is distincly masculine. In some cultures, a man without a beard is just assumed to have something wrong with him, to be not quite right.

Because the beard is distinctly masculine, it would only be natural for the beard to be attractive to females. However, our culture has reversed that, and females have been taught to be attracted to a LACK of physical masuliniity (namely, the lack of a beard).

This, I believe Lewis was thinking, can be easily maneuvered into a distaste for other masuline traits, both physical and emotional, and soon into a distaste for masculinity as a whole.

And, to some extent, I agree. Though, I think, we have gone without beards so long in our culture that they are no longer synonomous with "masculinity". But satan continues to work to make other aspects of masculinity distasetful to women. And vice versa.

For instance, satan, working through Hollywood, would very much like to convince us guys that big hips are unattractive. Fortunately for us, the code in the male brain that says :

Code: Select all
IF hip_size > waist_size
THEN
   attractiveness_factor := attracitveness_factor + ((hip_size / waist_size) * 100);
ELSE
   call ignore_hips;
END IF:


Is in a section of code that is very difficult to access. So, it will be sometime before Hollywood convince most men (and they'll never convice me) that big hips are unattractive.
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Postby Karen » 15 Oct 2008, 18:01

These fashions always go in cycles. Think of the plethora of Victorian facial hair, which went down to Edwardian muttonchops, and then the mostly cleanshaven look of the 1920s - 1950s. Beards were very much in style for young men in the 60's and 70's, and goatees and their variations are still found on a lot of men today. Full beards will undoubtedly come back in at some point.
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Postby archenland_knight » 15 Oct 2008, 20:06

Karen wrote:Full beards will undoubtedly come back in at some point.


:idea: And then ... I can finally be "cool" ... right?
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Postby Karen » 15 Oct 2008, 21:30

That depends on how the rest of you looks. :wink:
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Postby rusmeister » 16 Oct 2008, 04:54

I think AK mostly hit it on beards. I would add that, as a distinctly masculine feature, getting people to see it as a "fashion" rather than a natural growth (after all, the unnatural act is shaving) is just chipping away at the differences between men and women, working on the development of a society that no longer sees any difference at all. "Vive la difference" becomes "sexism".

Also of note, in Orthodox culture the clergy pretty much always wears beards - I think you will only find beardless priests in America, and it's a result of not having an Orthodox heritage (Orthodoxy in the US is quite young, hardly 200 years old and has really seen growth only in the last few decades). In a hundred years or so, likely the beard will make a full clerical comeback in America as well, as that heritage develops.

Anything that establishes that we are different is good to me. :smile:
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