Tag Archives: The Screwtape Letters

Review: Dominion

Angels.  Both the good guys and the bad guys. The Father is gone and apparently no one knows where. Which is strange because where could God go? To another universe? Is he hiding? It’s obvious in this TV show God has left mankind to it’s fate and the angels are fighting over it. Michael and Gabriel are on opposite sides. And both are very hedonistic. They actually can kill and not in the name of God’s justice, but in their own.

Sadly, this show, with its stilted acting, horrible plot holes and diminished and limited view of dystopia is what passes for fantasy on TV today.

When there is talk about the secularization of today’s society, this show can be pointed to in understanding just how non-religious, non-faith based our civilization is. It’s hard to fathom a world such as this TV show, Dominion. There is little in the scripting for us to understand how this dismal, corrupt and venal society came to be.

Every Lent I read the Screwtape Letters. Every year I am amazed at the audacity of the devil, because, after all, the devil is a fallen angel. One who wanted to be equal to God. One who was not content to sit in the glory of God. One who would be pleased to have company in his darkness.

I loved It’s a Wonderful Life. Clarence really wants to do is bring George to the bright and light side and then go himself to heaven. Clarence may be a bit bumbling, but he has it right. Other, more recent movies out of Hollywood that show an angel as wanting to be human, to live with humans, to leave heaven are absurd. Why would this temporary and not even idyllic world be a better place than heaven?

Angel of God, my guardian dear, to whom’s God’s love commits me here. Ever this day be at my side, to light and guard, to rule and guide.

A child’s prayer. To understand that even with all of God’s grace, we still needed someone to devote themselves to us, to be there for us, on our shoulder. It is ludicrous to think of angels as being jealous of us, wanting to harm us, ready to destroy God’s work.

a basic dilemma

Conflict between good and evil is a basic dilemma. Most of us would say we’d go with the good. But evil can look so good and easy. I’ve always thought that the easy is what makes it bad, that we must struggle for the real good. In most conflicts, and in most books, it always seems that good and evil are equal. That there is a possibility that evil could win.

This week’s gospel, The Temptation of Jesus, was all about that basic dilemma, between God and the devil. And the devil treats God as an equal. But God is not fooled.  For me, The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis,  come to mind.  I read C.S. Lewis on a regular basis, not every Lent but many of them, since I was in high school. It is a very short read, can be disconcerting and challenging and should be better known. The letters are about the faith side of evil.  Written during what Lewis calls The Second German War, the book was published in installments in The Guardian and received a ‘like it’ or hate it’ sort of reception. Through the letters, the book takes on the idea that good and evil are equal. In a forward to the paperback edition, written by Lewis, he said the most common question is “Do you believe in the Devil?” And he answers, ‘Now, if by “the Devil” you mean a power opposite to God and, like God, self-existent from all eternity, the answer is certainly No.” He says he believes in devils, like he believes in angels. These are angels who have become depraved, enemies of God, fallen angels.

In the letters, Screwtape is a supervising demon counseling his nephew, Wormwood, a junior tempter, who is on Earth. He asks, in his first letter,  “But are you not being a trifle naïf?” Screwtape is anything but and, throughout the book, his letters deal with helping Wormwood tempt his patient toward Our Father Below. For Screwtape, the Enemy is God, and definitely much less a supreme being. But for us, reading the book, we know that these devils, definitely with a small ‘d’, have chosen to follow one who is not the opposite of God, but one created by God, who is less than God.