Wednesday, February 17, 2010

First and Finally The Raison d'etre of Washington, DC

Whew! At long last - the final post on Washington, D.C.
This whole thing started when I stumbled across an online advertisement for C.S. Lewis'
The Screwtape Letters put on by FPA
aka Fellowship of the Performing Arts starring Max McLean.
The closest live theatre show was in Washington DC and its year long run happened to be finishing right around my birthday. Too easy. Barry and I were going to hop in a car and drive into the sunset for this date night (or two or three).
The kids got wind of it and faster than you can say, "you like Lewis too?" we were scheming ways to get down there all together. Hence, my grandiose birthday celebration.
Low-key intention and budget blown to smithereens in one fell swoop.
I am eternally grateful for this 'forger of family ties' type of experience.
... and Barry?
You're the best.
Focus on the Family Radio Theatre, which received a Peabody Award and multiple Audie awards for excellence in broadcasting and production, was granted the rights to dramatize "The Screwtape Letters" as a feature length audio drama. Production began in 2008 and a fall 2009 release was announced. Andy Serkis, known for playing Gollum in The Lord of the Rings film trilogy, provided the voice for Screwtape.

The Plot Overview (as found on Wikipedia)
The Screwtape Letters comprises thirty-one letters written by a senior demon named Screwtape to his nephew, a young demon named Wormwood. Screwtape's letters contain advice for how to turn Wormwood's "Patient", an ordinary man living in war-time England, toward "Our Father Below" (Devil / Satan) and away from "the Enemy" (God).

After the first letter, the Patient converts to Christianity, and Wormwood is given a severe rebuking and threatened with the "usual penalties" at the House of Correction for Incompetent Tempters. A striking contrast is formed between Wormwood and Screwtape during the rest of the book. Wormwood is depicted through Screwtape's letters as much closer to what conventional wisdom has said about demons, i.e., wanting to tempt his patient into extravagantly wicked and deplorable sins and constantly writing about the war that is going on for the latter half of the book. Screwtape, on the other hand, is not interested in getting the patient to commit anything spectacularly evil, saying that "the safest path to hell is the gradual one." He sees a demon's primary goal to befuddle and confuse, rather than tempt.

Lewis's use of this "correspondence" is both varied and hard-hitting. With his own views on theology, Lewis covers areas as diverse as sex, love, pride, gluttony, and war. Lewis, an Oxford scholar himself, suggests in his work that even intellectuals are not impervious to the influence of such demons, especially in regards to being led towards placated acceptance of the "Historical Point of View."

In the last letter, it emerges that the Patient has been killed during an air raid (World War II having broken out between the fourth and fifth letters), and has gone to Heaven. Wormwood is punished for letting a soul 'slip through his fingers' by being handed over to the fate that would have awaited his patient had he been successful: the consumption of his spiritual essence by the other demons. Screwtape responds to his nephew's desperate final letter by assuring him that he may expect just as much assistance from his "increasingly and ravenously affectionate" uncle as Screwtape would expect from Wormwood were their situations reversed, paralleling a situation where Wormwood himself turned his uncle over to Satan for making a religiously positive remark that would offend him.

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