This podcast covers the essay “Screwtape Proposes a Toast” which is found as an appendix to the current edition of “The Screwtape Letters”. It is a thought-provoking essay, written some 18 years after The Screwtape Letters were composed, and I felt that it deserved its own podcast. Screwtape is a senior devil in Hell, and this essay is his speech delivered at a dinner in honor of the recent graduates of Hell’s Tempter College. Since the speaker is a devil, we must remember that what is back to us is white to him, and what is bad is good.
In Jack’s vision of Hell, the devils can feed upon the outraged personalities of the souls that are sent there. Screwtape’s theme is that modern society is now turning out souls that are, for the most part, failed humans. They are hardly fit to be dammed to Hell. While this may be disappointing to the devils from a gastronomical view, overall it is a good thing for Hell, and Screwtape goes on to explain why it is good and how this feat was accomplished.
This essay is really an attack on modern education and mass culture. It is a companion piece to “The Abolition of Man”, and “That Hideous Strength”, both written by Lewis.
This is the first of 3 podcasts about TheAbolition of Man by C. S. Lewis. Although it’s more than 60 years old, this book is surprisingly relevant to some of the major problems we see in our culture today. It tells us why we see so many people in all walks of life who seem to lack a sense of right and wrong, that is, they lack a “moral compass”. Lewis points out that this began when we abandoned the classic concept of an external, universal moral code and incorporated relativistic assumptions in our educational practices. Jack maintains that this produces “men without chests”, people who have a head (the ability to reason) and a belly (the ability to feel), but nothing that connects them (the chest). They have no way of determining when to act contrary to their feelings.
This is one of the shortest and most philosophical of Jack’s books. It won’t read quickly like a novel but is well worth putting in the time to consider what he says.
Today’s book is The World’s Last Night and Other Essays.It is a collection of seven essays from later in C S Lewis’ life, after he was 50 years of age. They were written during a of some significant changes in his life. For one thing, he switched universities, going from Oxford to Cambridge. For another, Lewis met and married his wife, Joy Davidman Gresham. (You might remember this story from the excellent move Shadowlands).These essays give us a good picture of Jack’s thoughts and beliefs at this time and provide us with some good material for our own reflection and learning.
We cover three of the essays in this podcast and leave the rest for your reading pleasure.
The first piece we cover is entitled “The Efficacy of Prayer” and reviews what it means to ask “Does prayer work”.
The second essay in the podcast is “Screwtape Proposes a Toast” and is a biting commentary on the modern educational system and its unfortunate results in society. It is presented as a speech a senior devil in Hell gives to graduates of Hell’s Tempters College and is well worth reading.
The final selection is “The World’s Last Night” and it addresses the idea of the Second Return of Christ, the sudden end of the world when God steps onto the stage. It is considered one of Jack’s best essays and needs careful reading and refelction.