Episode 134: The Screwtape Letters

Glenn and Heather discuss with Tom, Randy, and Andrea C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters through a Mormon lens.

Episode 134

95 comments on “Episode 134: The Screwtape Letters”

  1. Richard of Norway Reply

    Speaking of “demon folklore” I was attacked by 3 demons who were trying to take over my body on my 18th birthday. It was horribly freaky. Of course, I was stoned out of my mind. But it was very real to me and I’ve retold the story many times, including on my mission, as proof that the Plan of Salvation as taught by the church is for REALZ!

    • Glenn Reply

      Were they hitchhiking on the side of the road, look like native Americans, have white beards, blue eyes, and tell you to get your year supply in order? Because if so, you may have misinterpreted the experience (on account of being stoned).

      • Richard of Norway Reply

        Nice. You made me blast-laugh (Marry Poppins’ Uncle Bert)! They were shadowy figures. It was dark, at night, in the mountains outside Santa Fe, with a bunch of friends. Everybody was giving me various illegal substances for my b-day and I think the combination of all kinds of stuff (LSD, marijuana, alcohol, etc, etc) were the contributing factors to get me going. But I was off by myself, looking up at the stars, and all of a sudden a shadowy figure came out of the sky, lunged at me, groping, trying to enter my body. It was freaky as all heck! Then it split into two and then three shadowy beings, all groping, clawing, trying to get in me or grab ahold of my heart or soul. Pretty trippy. And it freaked me out! I started screaming, yelling, crying. All my friends ran up to me and tried to calm me down. I was inconsolable for a good while until my stoner friend (like a guru figure) advised me to start singing Love & Rockets “It’s all in my mind” song. That was great advice! And eventually, after a couple verses, the beings were gone and I calmed down. My friend drove me home and on the way I puked all over his car seat. He was pretty pissed and none of that crowd (aside from Stoner Guru) spoke to me again for a few days. They thought I was making it up to get attention. I took that as a slap in the face and a pretty major insult. But the experience stuck with me and convinced me there was something to the LDS world view my parents had taught me as a child. At least, for a while I was convinced. ūüėČ

  2. Elder Vader Reply

    A few comments –

    * The whole incentive plan for devils to successfully tempt people down to hell totally reminded me of the missionary program. If you are one of the devils minions and you are assigned to tempt a soul down to hell, and you don’t do it, you will suffer the torment that soul WOULD have suffered for, had he been thrust down to hell. Just like if you’re on your mission you will be held accountable for the people who WOULD have joined the church. Like the atonement counts for everyone but missionaries.

    * There was some conversation about what motivates Satan. That was interesting stuff. The forces of Satan had always been framed to me as the souls too lazy to get an actual physical body, so when a bishop is discouraged about the lack of motivation within his own ward, he can take comfort that Satan has even less motivated troops on his side.

    • Anonymous Reply

      I’ve always wondered why, if Satan REALLY wanted to thwart the plan of salvation, didn’t he just stand by idly for eternity and say, “No thanks, I’m not going to do my part and tempt Adam and Eve.” If he had let them live in the Garden for eternity without tasting the fruit, plan is thwarted! Right? Is he just that stupid that he played into Gods hand?

        • Anonymous Reply

          But how could that be when Satan was not only there for the war in heaven, but was basically a leader in it?

          • Steve

            Oh, you want consistency, do you? There will be many willing to preach to you the consistencies of men, mingled with scripture.

          • Randy

            Lol. Nice one Steve. Since we talked about anti-intellectualism so much I thought I’d propose my theory that the Hebrew creation myth that Mormonism borrowed was the first written account I know of of anti-intellectualism in religion. In the garden, the serpent was the only one speaking truthfully and making any sense. He seemed interested in Adam and Eve obtaining knowledge on their own. And what did he get for his trouble? Cursed a sore cursing. That’s what God thinks about humans who try to gain knowledge from any source but him.

          • Anonymous

            Yeah, but even you said yourself that he was lying to try to get power for himself. So I doubt his intentions were “pure.” (You know, arguing about Orcs and all.)

          • Randy

            I was talking only about the original Hebrew myth, not the Mormon twist on it. But yah, orks…

  3. Megan Reply

    Couple of notes on Lewis:

    C.S. Lewis did possibly mention mormons in a back-handed kind of way when he disdainfully describes the parents of Eustace Scrubb (the at-the-time loathsome character in Voyage of the Dawn Treader as the sort of people who are tee-totallers and wear special underwear. Of course he also says they’re vegetarian so he could just mean faddish type people, but I know reading the book as a kid it sure stuck out to me!

    Lewis was hard-drinking and a pipe-smoker his entire life. He also enjoyed telling dirty jokes and stories (many of them anglo-saxon). According to one of his biographers he had sado-sexual tendencies (and it seems to be well supported by his letters to a friend) although he did not act on those desires from what we can tell. Further more, he was involved, for decades, with a much older woman, the mother of a fellow-soldier in WWI, whom he never married but whom he lived with and supported starting when he was a student at Oxford right through until her death. While there is no direct evidence that this relationship was sexual it is bizarre to imagine that, certainly in the first years, it was anything else, and certainly there is indirect supportive evidence that this was the case. Lewis was an atheist at the time the relationship began and there was nothing in his belief system to make an unmarried sexual relationship taboo.

    I’m not trying to throw muck on Lewis btw, I’m just trying to get perspective on the man who is, unfairly, claimed as a Mormon saint. He was complex, brilliant, sincere in his beliefs (both as an atheist and as a believer) and in many, many ways entirely out of sync with Mormonism. When he did convert to Christianity it was to an entirely orthodox Church of England variety, with all of the doctrine and practice that entails (this was a great disappointment to his close friend J.R.R. Tolkien who was a significant force in Lewis’s conversion first to deism and then to Christianity. Tolkien was a devout Catholic and seemed to hope that Lewis would join him).

    On the anti-intellectual stuff – Lewis was, from the time he was a young man, an avid debater. He loved it, and he had a reputation for being a real bully in a debate. He really knew his logical constructs and fallacies, but he also really knew the value of strong (if unsupported) rhetoric. When he was converted he was convinced that his conversion was valid because it was a logical conversion. If you read his apologetics it’s all attempts to logically prove Chrisitanity, and, quite frankly, it’s mostly bunk – it’s appealing to the converted and based on lots of circular reasoning and a lot of flashy rhetoric. Later in life he faced a fellow-Christian in a debate and she pretty much deconstructed a lot of his logical supports for his belief; he had to face the fact that actually his was an emotional conversion and not a logical one at all. (his conversion, appropriate for an Oxford lit-don, was based on his emotional response to story and how the Christ story reflected his enjoyment of other resurrection myths). As he went along in his faith he become more and more entrenched in faith-over-all thinking and thus rejected all sorts of very reasonable, intellectual, scientific points – evolution prime among them – because they didn’t jive with his faith. It’s a bit sad actually, and I wonder if he didn’t ever see his own hypocrisy as an academic and a logician?

    Oh – and on the misogyny? Yah, pretty much. Lewis lived in an almost entirely male world for most of his life. His mother died when he was very young and his father never remarried (he had only a brother too). He went to an all-boys school, had only one close male friend, was shipped off to a (male) tutor for preparation for the Oxford exams (and that tutor had a VERY unequal relationship with his wife and demonstrated a fair amount of disdain towards her which Lewis picked up on), joined the army and then immediately after went to Oxford which was, at that point, still divided by gender so all of his peers were male. Even his relationship with Mrs Moore was not really a normal one – she was far older than he, the relationship was, by necessity kept secret, and his life with her was totally removed from his ‘real’ life as he only went there on the weekends. Mrs Moore, who was by no means an intellectual, was pretty much his only experience with women so a lot of his female characters and discussion of women seems to be based on her and on his literary reading which is why those characters are so disproportionate and unrealistic – archetypes rather than real people.

    Honestly? I think a lot of his Christian writing (including Narnia) is shoddy work, quickly written and depending on bombast and emotional appeal (and some well-learned literary tricks) rather than real thought and effort. An interesting counter is reading A Grief Observed which was written after his wife’s death and published (originally) anonymously. It points out how disingenuous he was in a lot of his other writing.

    Sorry – bit of a Lewis scholar so it’s hard not to pitch in with some background stuff.

    • Glenn Reply

      Megan — you are AWESOME! No apologies necessary. What do you think of The Four Loves? That was one I read years ago and found it quite helpful at the time. I haven’t looked at it again for fear that my increased scrutiny would trash it ūüôā Did you find it as full of bombast and banal as the rest?

      • Megan Reply

        Awww. Coming from you, I take that as genuine praise!

        I enjoyed The Four Loves when I first read it, and I think it’s one of his best Christian works, partly because it is not apologetics but an exegesis on human love as seen through the Christian paradigm and with a literary context. It uses his real expertise as a literary critic and an expert on language. It’s far more tightly written than his other stuff and I think reads as though he took a great deal more care and time. The intro proves that actually; he admits that he had a rough-and-ready book planned out where he was going to do a black-and-white contrast between gift-love and need-love (as he puts it) but found that the issue was far more complex than that.

        That said, he still falls into one of his worst vices – the use of easy, and often terribly-oversimplified (or even out-right misused), examples. He makes presumptions about human experience – that it is the same as his, or that he understands through imagination what an un-known experience is like – and those presumptions are often badly off reality. They jar me every time. Also, in spite of the fact that it was published after his late life marriage, he still gets women quite wrong. He never seems to have lost the archetype approach to women – and he set his own wife aside as being ‘different’ somehow, greater or better or higher, than all other women. I think part of the difficulty is that he was deeply enthralled by myths and heroic tales his entire life, and there are no real women in those stories (not in the originals) (oooh, that was a nicely controversial statement – one of my colleagues just got a chill down his back and he doesn’t know why!) (okay, there are very few real women or very few examples of bits of real women). I think Eros was the section that he struggled most with. As I recall, the bit I enjoyed most was talking about friendships; Lewis had a number of very close, life-long friends. He seems to think that only men can enjoy this sort of relationship, but hey, I can ignore that for the real meat that’s there.

        TL:DR – good, if uneven book, with much of interest in it, and much that could be debated. I have to admit that when I went back for a re-read a few years ago I simply didn’t finish it…

        • Anonymous Reply

          Re: “TL:DR” – ha! Clever. Maybe “TL:DR” statements should become required etiquette of online communication.

        • Glenn Reply

          Great review Megan. I seem to recall that it also seemed heavily biased towards Agape, the charitable God Love, as the ultimate love that you want to have, and was very critical of Storge, the affection that comes forced upon you just by association like in family relationships — and it seemed strange to me at the time. But your explanation of his weakness of extrapolating his own limited experience onto all of humanity makes that a little more clear. Add to that his Christian faith-bias and you understand the emphasis on an Agape that is the end-all, be-all of a nearly unattainable love in this earthly realm — which frustrated me a bit at that time as well. Why put out an ideal that can never be attained? But anyway — thanks for the review. Nice side discussion to Screwtape. I like it ūüôā

    • Anonymous Reply

      Wow. I’m absolutely fascinated. I gotta pick up this book you mention. Have you read “Til We Have Faces”?

      • Megan Reply

        I haven’t – I’ve meant to, but I left off my Lewis studies before I got there (it wasn’t part of the research I was doing). I’ll have to pick it up and see what I think. When I was a teenager the one that made the biggest impression on me was The Great Divorce. Going back for a re-read was a terrible disappointment as it is honestly littered with all those Lewisian caricatures – the dominating woman, the feeble man and so on. I think the thing that drew me when I was younger was the single image – that all the horror and despair and unhappiness of hell or purgatory (which was described as a vast chasm when the narrator came up through it to the brink of heaven) is a tiny, infinitesimal crack in paradise. The phrase was something like, all the sadness in hell would be consumed in an instant by the happiness in the mind of a sparrow (terrible paraphrase; going off memory here).

        As someone who had never had a spiritual witness from God (and thus believed deeply and thoroughly in my own terribly sinful state and, natch, my inevitable relegation to outer darkness) this was enormously comforting for some reason!

        • Anonymous Reply

          It was the only thing that gave me any comfort during my “dark night of the soul.” Mostly because it fed into my “you are the problem, Heather, it’s all your fault, you’re just not good enough” mentality at the time. I’ve long since evolved out of that frame of mind. But for some reason, the moral of that book still sticks with me and still rings true.

  4. Anonymous Reply

    Why r Mormons hijacking cs lewis. Growing up as a jw this was all we were allowed to read. Three sons of adam and three daughters of eve. Don’t take all this to kolob

  5. Tim Reply

    I think if you read “The Abolition of Man” you can put Lewis’ comments about intellectualism in a deeper context.

      • Hermes Reply

        Lewis finds moral relativism uncompelling (or rather impossible), arguing for the reality of Platonic forms of things like justice, beauty, etc.  In terms of abstract logic, this appears plausible.  In concrete situations, it has clear limitations.  (If there is any Platonic form of justice out there, it is rather vague: somehow, it ends up meaning that a crime that gets you fined or tut-tutted at in North America gets you caned in Singapore.  Americans believing in the Platonic form will argue that it is more merciful than Singaporans think; Singaporans with similar belief will say that the standard is sterner than Americans think.)  The most interesting part of the book, from my perspective, is the end, where Lewis gathers ethical injunctions shared a variety of cultures (ancient and modern): he refers to this group as the Tao.  There is definitely validity to the idea that humans as a species are programmed to value certain things a certain way, and recognizing common denominators across cultures is a first step toward approaching that idea more closely.  I am looking for a lot of interesting work to be published in the not so distant future tackling this idea (the unity apparent in human culture and/or human nature) from a biological/anthropological perspective. 

      • Tim Reply

        ¬†By “deeper” I mean that you will understand who he is referring to when he gets after intellectualism and why.¬† He was an Oxford professor for goodness sake.¬† He was by all definitions an intellectual.

        • Randy Reply

          Credentials don’t mean squat. ¬†It’s how you conduct yourself. ¬†There is a Yale professor of psychology that is convinced alien abductions are real based on his interview with many abduction “victims.” ¬†Is he an intellectual? ¬†By credentials yes. ¬†But in light of his behavior he is a crank and defends himself against real intellectuals with poor critical thinking.

          Lewis is a Christian above all else.  To believe that Jesus is a supernatural figure that salvation comes through exclusively handicaps his thinking with an a priori bias that forces him to make willful suspensions of logic and reason and basic good, quality critical thinking the same way I suspend my disbelief while watching Lord of the Rings.  His attack of historians and denigration of their work in using rules of evidence to uncover some form of the historical Jesus betrays his blatant blind spot and bias to a conclusion based on anything other than intellectual integrity.

    • Randy Reply

      Deeper context? As in a better appreciation of the depth of the steaming pile of…

      ūüôā

  6. Macha Reply

    I used to absolutely adore Lewis, but reading Mere Christianity ruined him for me. When he says men have to be the head of the household because women are naturally biased and unobjective, and the things he says about military service, really turned me off. I enjoyed The Four Loves and Beyond Personality, but really he’ll always be rather misogynist and anti-intellectual to me.

    Great show … did anybody else notice the uncensored curse word in there? ūüėÄ

    • Anonymous Reply

      Right?! Glenn’s editing surprised me. I thought for sure he would bleep that or cut it out. Also, I completely biffed the ending and everyone went back and forth about it for a few minutes before I convinced Glenn to just end it the right way. It was chuckle worthy and he was going to leave it in. But apparently he changed his mind. Though, I have to say that the little back and forth between Randy and Tom at the end was awesome.

      • Glenn Reply

        I was about to take it out when I heard John say in the back of my mind that Mormon Expression isn’t safe, so I just thought, ah shit. (Either that or I just missed it — choose your own adventure)

      • Randy Reply

        You flubbed the ending?? My book review was as smooth as the gait of a 3 legged dog w arthritis! You have to remember I’m an atheist…aaaaaaahhhh! One of the lamest lines in ME history! All I wanted to say was it was tedious prose conveying unabashed Christian propaganda w naive and sometimes outright erroneous conclusions. Instead u got “I didn’t like it ’cause I’m an atheist.” Douchebag response…

  7. Anonymous Reply

    I would love a podcast on LDS demonology. The greater Christian world has a very well developed tradition of demonology, while us Mormon’s just get Stan.

    I read the Screwtape letters because it was mentioned in conference. It was a fascinating read as a missionary. But what I couldn’t figure out is why Church leaders are so in love with it.

    But it has been endorsed by the Church in 2006:

    http://lds.org/new-era/2006/01/books-worth-a-look?lang=eng&query=screwtape

  8. Mike Michaels Reply

    I think the panel missed an opportunity to make an important point in the podcast: Why do GA’s quote CS Lewis in their talks? They do so to make Mormonism appear to have something in common with traditional Christianity.

    CS Lewis enjoys broad popularity in intellectual Christian circles. He’s their literary claim to fame much like the LDS Church has the Osmonds, Steve Young, and Jimmer in other areas. Quoting Lewis is evidence the GA’s are pandering to that announcement in General Conference that non-Mormons are also attending. If the GA’s didn’t throw the non-Mormons in the crowd a bone it is likely that they (the non-Mormons) wouldn’t have much of a clue what they were talking about.

    Mormonism has a very unique and specific vocabulary as does traditional Christianity. Quoting Lewis is a means of bridging that gap in vocabulary and attempting to establish credibility on the other side of the bridge. Unfortunately only a few Apostles are well-read enough and cognizant of their need to establish credibility – the rest of the GA’s remain in their own little Mormon world in their talks.

    • Megan Reply

      Very true! Also, Lewis comes with the cachet of being an Oxford don, which lends his apologetics that so-elusive bit of intellectual authority. Actually, most of his colleagues were embarrassed by his popularity as an apologist and were less than impressed with his work. Tolkien hated pretty much every popular book Lewis wrote! (of course, Tolkien had exacting and very specific standards, and was sensitive about Lewis’s choice of religious sect)

    • Glenn Reply

      Great comment Mike. I think you are on to something there, but I actually think it’s the other way around. I don’t think the GAs are using a non-Mormon Oxford-educated scholar to pander to other non-mormons (throw the bone, so to speak). I don’t think GAs consider non-Mormon audiences much at all in their conference talks. Instead, I think they are using Lewis to pander to their own — to us — to justify and validate our own beliefs and say “hey, look, if a smart secular guy like C.S. Lewis can get this close to “The Truth” without having the benefit of the gift of the Holy Ghost, imagine how much closer all the rest of you can get!”

      But I am 100% on board with you in your “bridging the gap” hypothesis.

      • shenpa warrior Reply

        I’d agree that validating our own beliefs could be a result or a function of quoting Lewis, but I doubt any GA would be intentional of that. I think more likely it would be something that I hear often in Mormonism, that of the idea that truth can come from anywhere, and “Hey look! C.S. is full of Truth – here’s an example” and it stands out more because he’s an outsider. It’s a little sexier in a speech to quote a “gospel truth” by a non-mormon I think.

    • Anonymous Reply

      Interesting. This never occurred to me. I’ve always just assumed they quote it because they agree with it and like it. But maybe you’re right. Maybe it’s a calculated attempt to link to mainstream Christianity.

      • Holleehawk Reply

        I haven’t seen it. It looks really good and got 8.9 stars which is almost unheard of. Can’t wait to see it.

    • Andrea Reply

      Oh, how I love “Reaper”! I was so disappointed when it got cancelled. The other show with a depiction of angels/demons that I find interesting is “Supernatural”. A character once referred to angels as “dicks with wings.”

    • Andrea Reply

      Oh, how I love “Reaper”! I was so disappointed when it got cancelled. The other show with a depiction of angels/demons that I find interesting is “Supernatural”. A character once referred to angels as “dicks with wings.”

  9. Wes Cauthers Reply

    At one point in the podcast, it was mentioned that “actions count” according to Lewis’s understanding of Christianity and I agree. Good works are an evidence of true faith. However, this is not to be confused with the Mormon idea found in the 3rd AOF that we are saved by obedience to laws and ordinances. Lewis very much understood the importance of grace and that it is what makes the Christian gospel unlike anything else.

    Here is an excerpt from one of my favorite authors recounting an incident that happened at a conference Lewis attended:

    “During a British conference on comparative religions, experts from around the world were discussing whether any one belief was unique to the Christian faith. They began eliminating possibilities. Incarnation? Other religions had different versions of gods appearing in humannform. Resurrection? Again, other religions had accounts of return from death. Thendebate went on for some time until C. S. Lewis wandered into the room. “What’s thenrumpus about?” he asked, and heard in reply that his colleagues were discussing Christianity’s unique contribution among the world’s religions. In his forthright manner, Lewis responded, ‘Oh, that’s easy. It’s grace.”‘ From What’s So Amazing About Grace? by Philip Yancey p. 45

    • Randy Reply

      You’re right and that’s why I threw in there that I think Mormons get a little carried away with works. But I can hear my inner former TBM yelling at me that “we believe in grace! After all we can do!” Overall, I think Mormons believe in grace but the after all we can do is really problematic because define “after all we can do.” I always felt as a believer that no matter how much I did, I could always have done more and it was not a healthy mentality. Ultimately, I think although Lewis felt that works matter, he would find Mormons way too task and checklist oriented in their behavior.

      • Wes Cauthers Reply

        Yeah, the “after all we can do” part pretty much nullifies the entire meaning of grace which is unmerited favor. As you said, no one can ever be sure if they’ve done enough which creates a huge amount of pressure and guilt. On the other end of the spectrum are those who think they’re doing plenty and become obnoxiously prideful as a result. Either way, both scenarios are the opposite of good news (the word gospel means good news).

    • Glenn Reply

      Very very fishy anecdote. ¬†I’m not going to take the time to research this, but I doubt very seriously that “grace” is really a unique contribution of Christianity — you can find it in other faith traditions if you want to, I am sure. ¬†But the narrative fits the three-pattern well, doesn’t it? And C.S. Lewis plays the role of Pseudo Authority brilliantly with his punchline-esque “silence the crowd” no-one-is-allowed-to-question his last word that ends the anecdote with a hammer and leaves the easily impressionable nodding up and down in blissful affirmation. ¬†Sorry Wes. ¬†The skeptic in me is on fire tonight!

      • Wes Cauthers Reply

        You’re certainly free to doubt whatever you like, Glenn.¬† However, I see no reason to believe that¬†Lewis would make something like this up, nor do I think that Yancey would fabricate the¬†story.¬†¬†While my knowledge¬†on this¬†subject¬†is¬†definitely not exhaustive, I have studied a good bit on different religions and I have yet to see anything resembling the Christian idea of grace.¬† If you’re so convinced¬†it is not unique to Christianity, you¬†shouldn’t have¬†any trouble finding evidence to support that idea.¬† Until I see something credible¬†indicating otherwise, this¬†“very very fishy anecdote” coming¬†from sources I trust is more¬†reliable to me¬†than¬†your fiery skepticism.¬† But hey, there’s nothing wrong with healthy skepticism.¬† In fact, I wholeheartedly share in that with you.¬† Mine just happens to be directed¬†towards you in this instance.¬† ūüôā

        • Glenn Reply

          OK Wes, fine. ¬†Let me put your skeptical mind to rest. ¬†The Buddhist traditional belief of Boddhisatva is imbued with the idea of grace — where a Boddhisatva mercifully and compassionately works to save mankind from sin. ¬†Steely Dan even wrote a song about them. ¬†Here is a cut and paste from wikipedia:

          KŠĻ£itigarbha¬†is another popular bodhisattva in Japan and China. He is known for aiding those who are lost. His greatest compassionate vow is:If I do not go to the hell to help the suffering beings there, who else will go? … if the hells are not empty I will not become a Buddha. Only when all living beings have been saved, will I attain Bodhi.So C.S. Lewis declaring that grace is unique to Christianity in this neatly packaged anecdote, while it might make for a nifty little story, isn’t all that accurate — is it? ¬†It certainly isn’t beyond the realm of questioning — even if the narrative itself structures it that way.

          • Wes Cauthers

            Love me some Steely Dan!  I saw them live last year and it was awesome.  Definitely one of my all time favorites.  Fagen and Becker rock.

            The Boddhisatva idea of grace you mentioned is actually quite similar to the Mormon idea of grace.¬† It is an “aiding” and “helping” of those who are lost.¬† The Christian idea of grace is actually quite different because it goes far beyond that which is what I believe¬†Lewis was referring to.¬†

            Dr. Tim Keller, who Newsweek¬†magazine called a “C.S. Lewis for the¬†twenty-first Century,” said the following about this subject¬†in a recent article from Christianity Today:

            “This is one of the reasons why we have a religion that is absolutely, utterly different than any other religion,” said Keller. “Every other religion is like building a bridge.”

            In every other religion, adherents are continuously trying to build a bridge to reach the other side, whether that be enlightenment or salvation, but they never really feel they are there. But in Christianity, there is no process; salvation happens immediately when you believe.

            To make this point clearer, Keller said those who say they are ‚Äútrying to be‚ÄĚ Christian have no idea what Christianity is about. What makes someone a Christian is a change in status and not a process of good works, he stressed.”

            http://www.christiantoday.com/article/tim.keller.were.saved.by.grace.not.by.works/27826.htm

            Does this understanding of grace help you see where Lewis was coming from?

          • Hermes

            Wes’ discussion of salvation here sounds a lot like Suzuki on satori (enlightenment) to me.¬† The more I live and noodle around, the more it seems to me that the outward signs a religion uses (prayers, sacraments, scripture, systematic theology, etc.) are really arbitrary.¬† As the Dalai Lama has it, we all scale the same mountain, but there are many roads (or many different signs scattered at various places along the same road, if you want to mix metaphors).

          • Glenn

            I saw Steely Dan a few years ago when they toured with Michael McDonald.  That was great seeing them together.

            What I am seeing here with the Grace thing, Wes, is the insider-outsider conflict of “who is going to define our group?”¬† The insider Christians say “we are x,y,z and Grace makes us unique and special.”¬†¬† An outsider comparative religionist (I may have just pulled a Rich “biaism” here) would say “your grace is similar to their grace, and their grace, and you really aren’t as different as you think” and the ping-pong ball just goes back and forth.¬† In this game, C.S. Lewis is just a big fancy paddle that gives your ball a little extra back-spin.

            If I were more diligent, maybe I could go find another example of a non-bridge-building immediate-salvation-granting non-christian example — but from my POV, it’s just ping pong.

          • Wes Cauthers

            That’s a great tour combo.¬† McDonald is also awesome.

            I get that you think it’s just insider-outsider¬†ping pong, but there really is a substantive difference between the¬†Mormon, Buddhist, etc. versions¬†of¬†“grace” (which really is¬†not an accurate term to describe what is taught and believed since effort is required prior to salvation) and what Keller described above.¬† Grace is either a truly¬†free gift that is completely unmerited or it’s not.¬† This understanding is not something any group made up just to be different.¬† It is thoroughly Biblical.¬† I’ll refrain from providing references since I have already done that on other threads but I think this distinction is very important and really matters.

          • Anonymous

            I’m not entirely sure the Christian version of grace is unique as I am not terribly informed on all world religions.¬† So perhaps it shows up in some eastern philosophy of which I’m unaware.¬† However, I have to agree with Wes on this one.¬† There is a distinct difference between the Christian version of grace and the Mormon version of grace.¬† The evangelicals I listen to on the radio beat this issue to death almost every day.¬† I don’t think it’s a matter of creating in groups and out groups.¬† I think it’s more akin to the distinct differences in the Christian version of the Godhead and the Mormon version of the Godhead.¬† Trinity vs. 3 separate beings.¬† That’s a distinct difference.¬† Grace is an issue of this sort as well.¬† The Christian version of grace is that it’s a free gift and nothing you do earns it.¬† The Mormon version of grace is that it makes up the difference between what your actions are and what they should be to get into heaven.¬† One is merit based and the other isn’t.

            Though, I tend to agree with Glenn about the convenience of a story to make Lewis look spiffy.¬† That part I could see being “folklore.”

          • Wes Cauthers

            Thanks, Heather.¬† I think I¬†tend to beat this issue to death as well,¬†but¬†in my case it’s because the distinction has had a¬†positive impact on me personally and I also think it is one of the most damaging aspects of Mormonism.¬† Growing up¬†LDS¬†was a pretty unpleasant experience for me with all the¬†negative, unhealthy¬†aspects¬†that come with¬†“after all we can do” and¬†my life has been significantly changed for the better since coming to know the good news of¬†grace that is not merit based.¬† I think¬†the distinction ultimately boils down to the¬†motivation (gratitude & awe vs. obligation, pressure,¬†& guilt)¬†for why people do what they do and I¬†now experience a¬†genuine¬†freedom that I never knew in Mormonism.

          • Glenn

            I 100% agree on the grace vs. works divergence in LDS and Christian belief. I would be curious to see more the evolution of the LDS notion of grace/works form the early days of J.S. up to today with the heavy emphasis on obedience. ¬†Maybe I’ve been listening to Rock Waterman too much, but I get the sense that Joseph wasn’t quite as strict about the works thing as we have become today — although I don’t know how true that is, since the “after all we can do” scripture comes right out of the BoM. ¬†But it is interesting to compare Church of Christ to LDS, both tracing a common origin to Joseph Smith, but having such a different take on the issue of grace today (I think — I’m no expert here).

          • Wes Cauthers

            Not only does¬†the “after all we can do”¬†verse come from the BOM, but the 3rd AOF (composed by JS in 1842) makes it¬†explicitly clear that obedience to laws and ordinances are¬†required for salvation.¬† It¬†seems
            evident to me that this idea is nothing new to Mormonism.

          • Glenn

            Sure. ¬†But even the NT says “If ye love me, keep my commandments.” ¬†J.S. didn’t invent it.

          • Wes Cauthers

            Yes, but that is very different from what is said in the 3rd AOF and 2 Nephi 25:23.  Furthermore, other parts of the NT make it explicitly clear that salvation is not merit based.  There are several examples of this, but my favorite is Ephesians 2: 8-9: 

            For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith‚ÄĒand this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God‚ÄĒnot by works, so that no one can boast.

      • Anonymous Reply

        Glenn, are three things that happen in a row (or are said in a row) ever just three things in a row?¬† Or is a cigar always a penis?¬† I’m asking this in a cheeky way, but it’s a serious question.¬† What are the guidelines that constitute whether something is or is not a three pattern?

      • Anonymous Reply

        Glenn, are three things that happen in a row (or are said in a row) ever just three things in a row?¬† Or is a cigar always a penis?¬† I’m asking this in a cheeky way, but it’s a serious question.¬† What are the guidelines that constitute whether something is or is not a three pattern?

        • Glenn Reply

          You’re right, Heather — threes can often be just threes. ¬†Three birds flying next to each other in the sky, a person coughing three times in a row, the telephone ringing three times before we pick it up — random stuff like that, of course. ¬†But when you step back and see the three-pattern as a part of 1) a narrative structure that is 2) pointing towards a belief-validating function with 3) a famous authority figure who ends the discussion and validates that belief before any rebuttal can be made, as it is in this case, it raises my radar and says “fingerprints of human construction” to me. ¬†It doesn’t mean that the event never happened at all. ¬†It just makes me think that it has been crafted in a way to prove the point, and told and retold so many times that it probably takes a life unto itself to the point where it is treated as some kind of untouchable authority itself — it’s just an anecdote — a story that maybe matches what really happened i some areas but not others and has been rendered a fiction through the process of creation and narrativization.

          And look — I just did my own three pattern there — why? ¬†Are there really only three criteria to answer your question, or is that just the easiest way to think of it? ¬† Have I just been conditioned to think and construct things in threes because that’s how they seem to fit best? ¬†(we sure see it in general conference all the time). ¬†Are there really only three states of matter in the universe (gas, liquid, solid) or is that just our human limitation in trying to classify things? (and maybe that has changed since it was first proposed). ¬†Are there really only three sizes of shirts S, M, L and variations on those three main sizes, XL, XS ¬†Anyway…There is a great documentary on the Life of Mark Twain on streaming netflix — the Ken Burns PBS Home Video edition — I highly recommend it. ¬†There is a part where he talks about his experience as a riverboat captain and how he learned to read the river, the way the currents swirled, every ripple of the water and what it meant was lying underneath it — and how he learned to read the river from the patterns of the water — but it took a lot of time and study before it became natural to him and then he couldn’t help seeing it everywhere he went. ¬†That’s sort of what this feels like to me, if that makes any sense.

          If you really want to read more about three-patterns, read this:

          http://www.threes.com/index.php?option=com_content&task=view&id=15&Itemid=2

          • Anonymous

            Interesting.¬† I’ve also noticed 3 patterns all around, especially in my own speech, ever since the first time I heard you talk about them on a podcast.¬† I avoid using them as much as possible now.¬† haha.¬†

            Also, I’ve that documentary on Mark Twain.¬† Mostly because I love anything by Ken Burns. But also because Mark Twain was a very interesting person with a tragic and interesting life.

  10. Anonymous Reply

    I appreciate the perspective the book presents. Often temptation can be neutralized by a knowledge of the mechanics behind it. It seemed to me an excellent way to better step outside of myself for a moment and see how I operate. I suspect the whole satan premise is a handy metaphor… nothing more. For me, the big takeaway idea was that I don’t have to do anything bad, just waste my time on pointless things, and that in itself is preventing me from doing worthwhile things with my time. Taken in that perspective, video games, television, (facebook?) etc. may be the most destructive tools to the progress of civilization. Or not.

    • Randy Reply

      Do you really think Satan is a metaphor to CS Lewis and nothing more? The book expends no effort on disguising its message that Jesus is the true way to heaven. It seems a bit of a stretch to think Satan is merely a metaphor to the author in light of that.

      Now you can choose to use the book in that fashion and that’s fine. However, to me, for every thing Lewis gave good insight into as far as the human condition, he had a false, masogynistic, naive, or propagandized message to match it.

  11. Adamtaylor Reply

    It was interesting that you talked about a lot of mormons believing in the reality of demons and being afraid of them. My wife is has a bad fear of ghosts. Any time something in the house has been moved and she doesn’t know how and when it was moved, she gets scared.

    And one time I played Led Zeppelin backwards for my mom. You know how it says all that stuff about satan and the little tool shed. It scared the bejeezus out of here! She said to never play that ever again.

    Satanic stuff still scares me. I watched that movie Drag Me to Hell. It gave me a pretty bad feeling for couple of days. The whole concept of evil ghosts wanting to take you to Hell for eternity is just plain disturbing.

  12. Hermes Reply

    I do not think we are as morally independent as some of the panelists seemed (momentarily) to assume.¬† Just because we aren’t under the thumb of imaginary beings (divinity, demons) does not mean that we are free to think and act without arbitrary restrictions: the real boundaries are not spiritual but physical, on my latest reading of the evidence.¬† We are trapped in biology, which makes each one of us much freer than religion does without emancipating us entirely.¬† Mormons unplugged from the mother ship are still in a kind of straitjacket; it just isn’t as tight as the one we used to wear.

    I liked Randy’s neat demonstration that God and the devil are basically the same thing (non-falsifiable Santa Claus whose existence is proved by gifts or the lack thereof).

    For what it is worth, I really like the Screwtape Letters, even though I am not really a theist (and don’t believe in devils as real beings, any more than I believe in wizards, orcs, etc.).¬†

    • Glenn Reply

      What would you rate it, Hermes? ¬†Cuz I think it needs a little more on the love-side after Tom trashed it with his review. ¬†Changing it to a two after hearing what everyone else said? ¬†Come on Brother Perry! ¬†ūüôā

    • Randy Reply

      Opening up the free will vs determinism controversy? I agree w what I think you are saying that dualist free will is a myth. I consider myself a compatibilist of the Dennett and Flanagan school of thought. But that’s a whole ‘nother podcast.

      • Hermes Reply

        Agreed on all points.¬† The pessimist (realist?) in me just has to point out that the “freedom” we feel when stepping outside the confines of (crazy) dogma to encounter reality is less absolute than our euphoria tends to make it appear (at least momentarily or rhetorically).

  13. mormon inthecloset Reply

    I am going to start using Screwtape Letters as my next analogy for the Book Of Mormon. Screwtape, like the BoM, is a somewhat interesting read, with an interesting take on life, which can inform me on a how to live a better life but….

    Is ultimately a total work of fiction.

    • Fred W. Anson Reply

      It puzzles me why the LdS Church doesn’t just take the same stance on The Book of Mormon that the Community of Christ/RLDS has done:¬†

      “With other Christians, we affirm the Bible as the foundational scripture for the church. In addition, the Community of Christ uses the Book of Mormon and the Doctrine and Covenants as scripture. We do not use these sacred writings to replace the witness of the Bible or improve upon it, but because they confirm its message that Jesus Christ is the Living Word of God (Preface of the Book of Mormon; Doctrine and Covenants 76: 3g). We have heard Christ speak in all three books of scripture, and bear witness that he is ‚Äúalive forever and ever‚ÄĚ (Revelation 1:18).”
      http://www.cofchrist.org/ourfaith/scripture.asp

      And I’ve always thought that Shawn McCraney’s “Born Again Mormon” stance was an even more reasonable compromise:¬†

      The Book of MormonBorn-Again Mormons recognize the Book of Mormon as a piece of 19th century literary fiction aimed at teaching Jesus Christ. We reject the story of its origins.http://www.bornagainmormon.com/about-faith.htm

      I think that either stance would be a positive step forward for the LdS Church as well as quell some of the criticism in this regard.  

  14. guest Reply

    One of the best discussions of science vs pseudoscience from a Mormon perspective would probably be Nibley’s “The Day of the Amateur.”¬† It’s available online.

    • Fred W. Anson Reply

      ¬†Where can we find the Nibley article on psuedoscholarship entitled, “The Day of the LdS Apologist”? ¬†He would merely need to point to his own body of work as Exhibit A.¬†

        • Fred W. Anson Reply

          ūüėČ ¬†

          Well Randy, others have said it better than I ever could. This quote is my favorite since it reduces Nibley’s scholastic methodology to just a few, well chosen words:

          “This kind of method seems to work from the conclusions to the evidence–instead of the other way around. And too often it necessitates giving the sources an interpretation for which little support can be found elsewhere.”
          (Kent P. Jackson, foreword to “The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley: Old Testament and Related Studies Deseret Book”, 1986)

          But there are more:

          “The number of parallels that Nibley has been able to uncover from amazingly disparate and arcane sources is truly staggering. Unfortunately, there seems to be a neglect of any methodological reflection or articulation in this endeavor”
          (Douglas F. Salmon, “Parallelomania and the Study of Latter-day Saint Scripture: Confirmation, Coincidence, or the Collective Unconscious?”, Dialogue: A Journal of Mormon Thought, Volume 33, Number 2, Summer 2000, pg. 129
          http://content.lib.utah.edu/cdm4/document.php?CISOROOT=%2Fdialogue&CISOPTR=11018&REC=3&CISOBOX=names)

          “…Nibley often uses his secondary sources the same way he uses his primary sources–taking phrases out of context to establish points with which those whom he quotes would likely not agree. I asked myself frequently what some authors would think if they knew that someone were using their words the way Nibley does…”
          (Kent P. Jackson, foreword to “The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley: Old Testament and Related Studies Deseret Book”, 1986)

          “As a former BYU history professor observered in 1984, ‘[Nibley] has been a security blanket for Latter-day Saints to whom dissonance is intolerable….His contribution to dissonance management is not so much what he has written, but that he has written. After knowing Hugh Nibley for forty years, I am of the opinion that he has been playing games with his readers all along….Relatively few Latter-day Saints read the Nibley books that they give one another, or the copiously annotated articles that he has contributed to church publications. It is enough for most of us that they are there.'”
          (Bergera and Priddis, “BYU:A House of Faith”, p.362)

          And, just for measure, here’s that first quote again in it’s fuller context:

          “If we define an artificial collection like this–which spans hundreds of years, thousands of miles, and widely diverse societies and religions–as all being the same (they were “all teaching very much the same thing,”), we can bring forth proof that “the ancients” believed anything we want them to believe.

          This kind of method seems to work from the conclusions to the evidence–instead of the other way around. And too often it necessitates giving the sources an interpretation for which little support can be found elsewhere.”
          (Kent P. Jackson, foreword to “The Collected Works of Hugh Nibley: Old Testament and Related Studies Deseret Book”, 1986)

  15. Fred W. Anson Reply

    To me, this episode is a case study in support of my suggestion that occasionally some non-Mormon, never-Mormon, Christian voices might add value to the Mormon Expression proceedings. 

    Specifically, some statements were made (with authoritative sounding tones and words) regarding Biblical Theology, as well as Evangelical culture, and beliefs that were more caricature rather fact. 

    Wes has already addressed the mis-statements that were made in regards to the Evangelical view of works in this forum so I will skip it other than to say that I would have preferred to have that discussion be integrated into the podcast rather than tucked away or slowly heading toward “the memory hole” on the discussion board.¬†

    Another caricature was the Evangelical view of science and scientific evidence.  

    I can’t speak for ALL Evangelicals but the consensus in the the Evangelical¬†circles¬†that I frequent the issue isn’t a rejection of the evidence as much as the interpretation of that evidence. Evangelicals (generally) recognize this tension and feel that it should give us a legitimate seat at the table rather than out in the waiting room. I think that Thomas Jay Oord’s watershed article “An Evangelical View of Science” expressed this stance better than I can: http://biologos.org/blog/an-evangelical-view-of-science/ or http://thomasjayoord.com/index.php/blog/archives/an_evangelical_view_of_science/ )

    And to illustrate how nuanced this issue is within Evangelicalism please consider Vineyard Pastor Ken Wilson’s thoughts on said tension and desire to be more a part of the discussion:¬†

    “I‚Äôm a C. S. Lewis Christian. I have no problem with the Creator working through evolutionary process.

    The evangelical posture toward modern science has missional consequences. We have inherited a defensive posture toward science that serves as a roadblock to faith for many people. The question is: what are we going to do about it?”¬†

    So, sorry, the issue isn’t nearly as bifurcated, simplistic, or monotheitic as presented in the podcast. ¬†

    Finally (and bear in mind I’m only 2/3’s through the podcast so I may be back) the Evangelical view of the Devil, hell, Demonology wasn’t entirely accurate either. ¬†I say this because it seemed to me like it was assumed that C.S. Lewis was accurately and precisely articulating widely held Christian beliefs when, in fact, he wasn’t even fully aligned with the prevailing Anglican doctrine of his day or today.

    For example, no where in the Bible is there a mention of demons eating souls. Rather, Lewis was borrowing from¬†folklore, or other extra-Biblical sources. In addition, there are several theories but no consensus in Biblical Theology regarding the origin of demons since the Bible isn’t explicit – or even positively implicit – on the matter. (see http://www.newhopefwb.com/angels10.html ; http://www.theology.edu/theology/angel.htm ) ¬†So to state empathetically that Christians believe this or that in regard to these non-essential doctrines is in error (for a good outline of what comprises essential Christian Doctrine I recommend Matt Slick’s excellent article, “Essential Doctrines of Christianity”; http://carm.org/essential-doctrines-of-christianity ) ¬†

    In the end Lewis was writing a work of fiction and as such, he often took artisitic liberties and expressed personal beliefs or speculative ideas in the interest of writing an engaging book. 

    Apparently it worked Рhere we are 69-years still talking Рeven doing podcasts Рabout it. 

    Candidly, and in general, I find that both Mormons and atheist/agnostic ExMormons are woefully ignorant of Evangelical doctrine and culture. I’ve also noticed that they tend to be blind to this ignorance preferring to speak and act like they’re offering expert opinion. ¬†I think that this is due to the dogmatic indoctrination that Mormons receive in regard to the “inferior” non-Mormon, ¬†non-“restored” faith that those “blind”, “unenlightened”, and “stupid” Christians practice. ¬†After all when one has¬†received¬†a “College Education” thanks to revelation relative to the “Primary School Education” that they’re received via their silly little mistranslated book. . .¬†

    Like it or not I think that some of that condescending attitude “sticks” after Mormons leave the LdS Church. ¬†¬†

    So in closing, may I respectfully request that the next time a Christian work or Christian Theology is going to be discussed that you include at least one Biblical Christian on the panel? ¬†We can actually speak for ourselves – and some of us (but not ALL of us) aren’t (as John Larsen over generalizd in one podcast) “a bunch of whacked out weirdos”.¬†
    (believe it or not) 

    • Hermes Reply

      In defense of the podcast, I think it only fair to point out that religious doctrines on things like hell, the devil, and whatnot, are inherently irrational and idiosyncratic (everyone has his own version of the imaginary world we all inhabit).  John (Larsen) sees this and pokes fun at people (mostly Mormons) who take their imaginary world very seriously.  Glenn is your man, standing up for the unspeakable mystery behind all of the silly caricatures of it that we humans create.  Of course there are rational Christians (just like there are rational Mormons, Buddhists, Hindus, Muslims, etc.); but there is nothing inherently rational in Christianity (or Mormonism, or Buddhism, or Hinduism, or Islam, or any system of thought whatsoever: reason belongs to individuals, not to any group, and certainly not to any ideology). 

      • Fred W. Anson Reply

        Point taken.  

        However, I would point out that C.S. was a mainstream Christian and¬†some of the 8 Rules of Interpretation are:1) Rule of Definition.Define the term or words being considered and then adhere to the defined meanings.2) Rule of Usage.Don’t add meaning to established words and terms. What was the common usage in the cultural and time period when the passage was written?3) Rule of Context.Avoid using words out of context. Context must define terms and how words are used.And as an Evangelical Christian I heard all three rules being violated when it came to the book, our beliefs, and our culture.¬†Had an Evangelical been on the panel they would have the opportunity of saying, “Well . . . that’s not exactly right!”¬†So, I don’t see this as much as an issue of reason v. irrationality as much as an issue of accurate representation.¬†And, I can’t reference the exact podcast but John’s tone and comment made it clear that he has a very low view of Evangelical Christians. ¬†And has been made quite clear in several such comments over several podcasts now. ¬†OK, Deists of any ilk are second class citizens here on ME (as well as other Ex and PostMormon boards, this is actually nothing new) message received loud and clear!¬†Never-the-less, in John’s defense, I will readily admit that there are indeed “whacked out weirdos” in our midst, just like there are in Mormonism, Atheism, PostMormonism and every other “ism” under the sun.¬†This seems to be a universal “people problem” not an issue of group¬†identity.¬†

    • Randy Reply

      First of all, I don’t think the podcast portrayed the notion that CS Lewis represented conventional Christian theology (I mean, really, there are almost as many interpretations of what “true Christianity” is as there are Christians anyway). ¬†We even talked about how inconsistent it is with an eternal hell to have souls consumed and even made jokes about an eternity in the colon. ¬†So if we portrayed that Lewis gave a definitive Christian portrayal of hell and demons, it wasn’t intended that way.

      Second, I usually try to qualify my portrayals of Evangelicals hostile to evolution as “fundamentalist Evangelical Christians.” ¬†If I was lazy in the podcast and failed to add the all important “fundamentalist” tag, I apologize. ¬†But I get this a lot from the more sophisticated believers that atheists are not fair in remembering them in their criticisms of Christianity/belief. ¬†Well, a recent poll of religious people in America showed that Evangelicals (76% reject evolution) were only better than Mormons (78% reject evolution) and Jehovah’s Witnesses (92% reject evolution). ¬†http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Level_of_support_for_evolution¬† So I ask you the question, are Evangelicals like you that support evolution really a fair and accurate representation of reality? ¬†Even in the article you linked, the author said that one problem is people like him may receive backlash from mainstream Evangelicals. ¬†I personally know an Evangelical scientific journalist that has been published in every major scientific journal including Nature magazine. ¬†He is unbelievably scientifically literate and even though I don’t agree with his conclusions about Christ, I can’t deny the guy knows more about science than I do. ¬†He also is not silent about his desire to try and bridge the gap of Christianity and science so he speaks out in his congregation. ¬†He has been kicked out of one congregation and, from what I’ve heard, is on thin ice in the one he’s in now. ¬†It’s only a single anecdote but my suspicion is it represents what would be typical of most evangelical congregations (again, only speculation but supported by the Pew study).

      Lastly, Evangelicals want a seat at the table of science? ¬†Well, I’m sorry, if you want into the game you have to play by the rules. ¬†The rules of the scientific method are make your conclusions based on the evidence. ¬†Follow the evidence wherever it leads. ¬†Christians already have their conclusion and want to go forward cherry picking the evidence they think supports their a priori conclusion and ignore the rest. ¬†That’s like me wanting to play basketball but not wanting to be constrained by the dribbling rules and would love to be able to take four steps instead of two. ¬†The best a group of people that already have concluded something and want support of evidence is the wonderful world of apologetics. ¬†In that game, the rules are a little more lax and conducive to Evangelical “evidence.”

      However, there is one thing I would wholeheartedly agree with you on and that is including you as a panelist any time conventional Christianity is the topic.  That way you could dispel the ignorance we ex-Mo atheists always exhibit in regards to Christian doctrine and culture.  Maybe, just maybe, some of us think for ourselves, read a lot of literature on the subject and come to the shocking conclusion Christianity is just as man made as any other faith tradition.  Snarkiness aside, I think it would make for an interesting conversation.

      • Glenn Reply

        Fred, as always you make excellent points. ¬†What I was going for with this podcast for Mormon Expression was “how would a group of Mormons interpret the Screwtape Letters and how does Screwtape help us (Mormons) ¬†better view and understand our own culture of demonology” — that’s sort of what I was going for, and it’s sort of what we got. ¬†But I know my mom for one, who listens to many of these podcasts and who is a big C.S. Lewis fan (she took a class at ASU may years ago) absolutely hated this podcast and called us all ignorant kids because we didn’t shine a favorable light on C.S. Lewis the way she would have liked. ¬†I get that. ¬†There are all kinds of different approaches we could have taken but didn’t. ¬†I think your suggestion to have non-mormon and christian perspectives is a good one. ¬†It just wasn’t what I had in mind when I thought about putting together a panel discussion on Screwtape. ¬†But we are by no means the end-all and be-all of the discussion on C.S. Lewis or Screwtape and I doubt that any discussion is going down any memory hole anytime soon, especially with the discussion continuing here and people like Wes and yourself making excellent contributions. ¬† So thanks for the feedback. ¬†Good stuff.

        • Fred W. Anson Reply

          Thank you for your gracious responses Randy and Glenn Рexcellent points one and all. 

          I feel like my concerns were heard and I’m content with that.¬†

          Never-the-less Randy, it appears that I put you on the defensive with my approach and for that I’m sorry. I apologize.¬†

          However, I’m still going to respectfully disagree with you (at least to some degree) on this assessment:

          The rules of the scientific method are make your conclusions based on the evidence.  Follow the evidence wherever it leads.  Christians already have their conclusion and want to go forward cherry picking the evidence they think supports their a priori conclusion and ignore the rest.

          First, I’m not going to deny that this does happen. And many Evangelicals, like myself, aren’t shy in challenging this type of irrational¬†hypocrisy within our ranks. It makes us very “popular” (please note tongue in cheek) but, my stance is that ¬†I would be a bigger hypocrites if I criticized LdS Apologists for doing this (as I did Nibley elsewhere on this site) and then allowed it in our ranks.¬†

          Second, I’m going to remind you that Christianity isn’t¬†homogeneous and there are as many exceptions to an rule as there are rules.¬†¬†(the old cliche’ about herding cats is aptly applicable to Evangelical Christians)

          Third, I would remind you that Evangelical¬†Christianity isn’t “top down” and prone to excommunicate loyal opposition within our ranks (actually a church split is more likely).¬†

          I say this because, frankly, it rankles me when Atheist¬†Ex-Mormons¬†make¬†broad-brush¬†over generalizations about Evangelicals. Frankly, I suspect that what’s really happening there is that they’re psychologically projecting their Mormon Church experience onto Evangelicalism. Perhaps I’m wrong – and I hope that I am.¬†

          Besides EVERYONE knows that when you overgeneralize you’re ALWAYS wrong!¬†ūüėČ

  16. Anonymous Reply

    The point about Mormons’ belief/paranoia/fascination with the devil as a real and present force = totally true. ¬†I think this is really rooted in the First Vision story. ¬†I grew up watching this Living Scriptures depiction of it. ¬†Check out that bunny rabbit running away at 1:40. ¬†Holy shit. ¬†Really stuck with me. ¬†Whenever I think of a demonic encounter, I think of bunnies running away. ¬† ¬†http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-0-AuM-Fy4E

    I think this plays on LDS views on terrorism too.  That maleficent, unseen-but-real force hiding in the shadows.  Could strike at any second!  AHHHH!!!

  17. Swearing Elder Reply

    This episode totally restored my testimony of the Devil.

    Like one of the panelists, I’ve had someone bear their testimony to me of Satan. I totally felt the Spirit‚ĄĘ.¬†

  18. Arkad Reply

    While it it true that C.S. Lewis didn’t explicitly mention LDS in his books, the character, Eustace, was to me his opinion of LDS culture (and prohibiting alcohol, smoking etc).

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