Teaching to Learn and Learning to Teach


Screwtape Letters

Hey Y’all!

Happy Monday! We are welcoming a new batch of students to the college today and preparing for The Truth and Life Conference! Woot Woot!!!! I must admit that I’m not a big fan of  all the administration of these events: phone calls, room requests, housing issues, but I still like new and returning students and, well, Truth and Life is a personal fave.

Here’s a little something from reflecting on my weekend:

If you’ve never read The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis, you should. There is something about well-written fiction that clearly illustrates truth bringing it to life in a way that a treatise cannot. Temptation and human nature is clearly revealed in this series of letters between a demon, Screwtape, and his understudy, Wormwood. I think there is something especially thought-provoking about displaying these truths from the view of the demons rather than from man’s view or God’s perspective.

I read the book years ago, but today I got to see Screwtape Letters performed as a one-man two-man play (one part had no lines :) ). The play was done exceptionally well, in a well-known liberal theater, by a believer, to God’s glory.  At the end of the play, the main character who played the role of the demon tutor, waited for the applause to die. He didn’t want the audience to leave the theater without knowing that he wasn’t actually Screwtape. He wanted everyone to know that he was actually a double agent working for The Enemy, which is how God is referenced by the demon in the play. He invited those who wanted to to stick around for about ten minutes after the play for a little Q & A. I think some of my favorite questions were regarding his favorite letter, how he started doing this, and how he became a believer. I thought it was interesting that the same things that had impacted me as a young twenty-something when I first read it, had also impacted him at a similar age. These concepts included the gradual nature of the path to hell and how temptation isn’t just what pops into our head but also being distracted from thinking on what is right.

He started off the Q&A by telling the audience the answer to the question he knew they would ask, “How long did it take you to memorize?” It took him four months. The play was around 90 minutes with only him speaking and no intermission. That’s a lot to memorize! I don’t know how long the script for the play is, but the book is over 70,000 words. No book in the New Testament is that long. In fact, all of the New Testament I believe is around 140,000 words, so just about twice the size of The Screwtape Letters. This performance, quizzing a friend who in preparation for a giant doctoral exam on the Scriptures has learned what is in each chapter of the Bible, hearing John MacArthur tonight talk about how his goal and joy was to study and preach through the entire New Testament (which he has just about completed) because he wants to know it, and reading a book recently on How To Listen to a Sermon have made me desire to be more purposeful in putting to memory large portions of Scripture.

I’ve had the desire before and it hasn’t come to fruition. I’ve memorized chapters, maybe even two or three, but never achieved my goal. The first book I tried to memorize was Romans. I didn’t quite make it through chapter 3. I hope I’ve set a more achievable goal this time around. Maybe I will work my way up to Romans. My goal is to memorize each week the passage that the pastor of my church spoke on on Sunday. So, last week I memorized Luke 10:38-42. This week I will be memorizing Luke 11:1-4. I figure if he can study all week to preach on it, I can work the next week to commit those verses to memory. Plus, I think it will help to be a doer of the Word and not just a hearer. I don’t want to sit in church and give intellectual ascent and then  forget what I have heard and how it should affect my life. One week down, around 50 more to go.

Somehow my post about the play became about memorizing Scripture, but it is one of many things that has brought this to my mind of late.

P.S. If the show comes to your area, go see it!

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