The Screwtape Letters

Syllabus

  1. Introduction
  2. Study Guide
  3. Review Questions
  4. Satan
  5. Difficult Writing
  6. The Catechism
  7. The Penalty
  8. Spiritual Director
  9. Tactics
  10.  The Devil
  11.  Dear Mama
  12. Real World
  13. Too Busy
  14. Same Old Story

Homework Questions:

  1. Was Lewis accurate to suppose it easier to write a book approximating the devilish than one approximating the divine? Explain your answer. How can literature, of any sort, portray good without appearing contrived or pretentious? Do you know any authors who seem to succeed in portraying good characters? Lewis thought George MacDonald did this as well as anyone. If you can think of an author whose good characters seem believable, what qualities in the good characters make them successful?
  2. Why does Lewis‘s Screwtape – with all of his nefarious advice – appeal to readers so successfully? Does Lewis, through Screwtape, hold up – the mirror of scorn and pity so that we see ourselves with clarity we‘ve not seen in ourselves before? Or, does Lewis through Screwtape defuse the time bombs within by allowing us laughter at our own expense? Perhaps the real question should be, – Are The Screwtape Letters tragic or comedic? Why?
  3. Is Lewis right to suggest that fiction and the use of the imagination works best to describe the twists and turns of the spiritual life? Why, or why not? Why do you think that Lewis used letters as the literary form for this book? What is it he can say rhetorically through the letter-form that he could not say through an essay, novel, or poem? Why do you think this?
  4. What do you think are the chief characteristics of Hell and why do you think this is so? From what do you draw these impressions on what do you base your assessment: Scripture? Church History? Literature such as Dante‘s Divine Comedy or Milton‘s Paradise Lost? Conversations? Fire and Brimstone Preachers? Hearsay? Etc.
  5. Of the Characteristics Lewis attributes to Hell – a prison for the incorrigible, an asylum for the deniers of Reality, a tourniquet on evil, the best God can give to those who will have Him on no other terms, etc. – which one makes the most sense and why?
  6. Can the Doctrine of Hell ever be reconciled to the Doctrine of the Love of God? What probable ways could you imagine this might be possible?

 

 
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