Washington National Cathedral Presents
Devils Among Us: A Conversation with C. S. Lewis’s ‘Screwtape’
The Sunday Forum: Critical Issues in the Light of Faith
The Very Dean Samuel T. Lloyd III, host
Cathedral Dean Samuel T. Lloyd III and actor Max McLean
(The Screwtape Letters, The Listener’s Bible, The Gospel of Mark) explore the work of C. S. Lewis.
MAX McLEAN (Screwtape)
KAREN ELEANOR WIGHT (Toadpipe)
C.S. LEWIS (Author; 1898–1963)
Cathedral Dean Samuel T. Lloyd III and actor Max McLean (The Screwtape Letters, The Listener’s Bible, The Gospel of Mark) explore the work of C. S. Lewis.
When McLean was converted to Christianity in his early twenties, the first two Christian books he read were by C. S. Lewis. Of Surprised by Joy, McLean recalls, “I must admit I didn’t understand a word of it.” Conversely, McLean comments of the other book, The Screwtape Letters, “From the very first letter I said, ‘Oh, I know this person. I know him.’”
The Screwtape Letters is the imagined correspondence between a senior tempter, Screwtape, and his nephew Wormwood. Screwtape guides Wormwood’s efforts to lure “the patient,” a young Christian convert, away from “the enemy” (God). The senior tempter does not care about humans’ major preoccupations such as wars and their own deaths, but instead with that which does not feel evil to the patient: a failure to set aside the time to pray, a minor aversion to worshiping alongside the neighborhood grocer. Wormwood should play on the convert’s petty resentments, feelings of superiority, and intellectual laziness.
Why does Lewis use such peculiar literary devices to reveal the Christian journey to a deeper faith? Lewis “loved Christian theology, and he loved telling stories,” McLean says. “And he was very particularly interested in the devil. … He might beg to differ, but you don’t write books like Screwtape Letters if you’re not interested in that side of the Christian worldview.” McLean cites 2 Corinthians 2:11 as underpinning Lewis’s interest in exploring evil in his writings: “And we do this so that we may not be outwitted by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his designs.”
About Max McLean
Max McLean is president and artistic director of Fellowship for the Performing Arts, narrator of “The Listener’s Bible, “Classics of the Christian Faith” and the daily radio program “Listen to the Bible,” which airs on more than 700 radio affiliates worldwide. McLean is best known for his theatrical presentations of C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters, Mark’s Gospel, and the book of Genesis. More information is at www.ScrewtapeOnStage.com.
Screwtape Letters on stage
His Abysmal Sublimity proposes a toast
Lewis’s “Screwtape Proposes a Toast,”
McLean, starring in The Screwtape Letters at the Lansburgh Theater in Washington, opened the evening with a performance of Lewis’s “Screwtape Proposes a Toast,” and was then interviewed by Trinity Forum President Cherie Harder and the other participants. We are pleased to make available to you an MP3 recording of the evening. You can download it here (29 MB, 1:04). We are sure you will enjoy it as much as we did.
Link: Free for You!
For many Christians, John’s Gospel is the most precious book in the Bible. Its beautiful language and penetrating descriptions of Jesus have the capacity to bring us closer to God than any book ever written. Max McLean’s own testimony is this: “The event that brought me over the line to fully accept the reality of Jesus came when I read all of John’s Gospel in one sitting. I thought Jesus was going to come right out of the pages of the Bible and take me with him. When I got to the cross I was in tears. I saw the sacrificial love and I responded to Jesus, immediately.”