Friday, September 5, 2008


Justin Taylor has found that John Cleese's reading of The Screwtape Letters, once available on cassette, but not yet on CD, can be downloaded from for $10.49. That is a bargain - Cleese is the perfect reader for Screwtape's letters to his nephew, Junior Tempter Wormwood.

In the very first letter, Screwtape advises that Wormwood should emphasize jargon, not logic, as he attempts to prevent the conversion of his "patient" to Christianity:
...Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church. Don't waste time trying to make him think that materialism is true! Make him think it is strong, or stark, or courageous - that it is the philosophy of the future. That's the sort of thing he cares about.

The trouble about argument is that it moves the whole struggle onto the Enemy's own ground. He can argue too; whereas in really practical propaganda of the kind I am suggesting He has been shown for centuries to be greatly the inferior of Our Father Below. By the very act of arguing, you awake the patient's reason; and once it is awake, who can foresee the result? Even if a particular train of thought can be twisted so as to end in our favour, you will find that you have been strengthening in your patient the fatal habit of attending to universal issues and withdrawing his attention from the stream of immediate sense experiences. Your business is to fix his attention on the stream. Teach him to call it "real life" and don't let him ask what he means by "real".
If you've never read it, then listen to it in this great recording or read The Screwtape Lettersthe old fashioned way for about the same cost.

Between Two Worlds: John Cleese Reading Screwtape Letters

1 comment:

  1. I have those cassette tapes somewhere. Cleese's reading really makes the text come alive.


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