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As One Devil to Another: A Fiendish Correspondence in the Tradition of C. S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters Paperback – April 1, 2012
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Most who come to As One Devil to Another, Richard Platt's homage to The Screwtape Letters, will already be devotees of C. S. Lewis. They will not be disappointed.... ventriloquism on behalf of devilry is not easy, as is clear from attempts by others. ... It is impressive, therefore, that Platt has been able to maintain a high standard over 31 letters, the same number as in the original.... it forces us to ask those questions which, as individuals, we need always to ask... - A. T. Reyes, Groton School, Massachusetts, and Wolfson College, Oxford The Journal of Inklings Studies
Working within the tradition that the master perfected, Richard Platt brings a signature all his own to the genre of diabolical correspondence: social satire and psychological incisiveness that are timely, timeless, and telling.- James Como, Founding Member of the New York C. S. Lewis Society and author of Why I Believe in Narnia: 33 Reviews & Essays on the Life Work of C. S. Lewis.
A witty and amusing insight into the wiles of fallen angels. Most enjoyable.- Dr. Michael Ward, Chaplain at St. Peter's College, Oxford and author of The Narnia Code
Armed with thorough knowledge of Lewis' work and a deft, creative touch, Richard Platt uses keenly edged satire to slice through the sham in our human failings and posturing, and the form those take in modern culture. In the winsome tradition of The Screwtape Letters, this immensely entertaining and deeply instructive book uses irony to cast a positive vision of the truth about human destiny and potential, and the vast, unfailing love of God for His children. -Dr. Wayne Martindale, author of Beyond the Shadowlands; coeditor of The Quotable Lewis and The Soul of C. S. Lewis
Richard Platt, writes with the same elegance, felicity and sarcastic wit that Lewis did seventy years ago. In addition, Platt reveals a theological sagacity and psychological acumen that almost matches Lewis' own. - Will Vaus
You’ll have a hell of a time ... C. S. Lewis Scholar Walter Hooper compares Platt’s work to Lewis’s Screwtape Letters and the association is well deserved ... delicious use of the English language. Highly recommended - The Library Journal, Starred Review
My Dear Uncle Slashreap,
You ask my reactions to the letters published by one Richard Platt entitled As One Devil to Another. . . a meretricious work of imagination after the fashion of the same detestable Lewis whose witty barbs at our expense we had thought finally to be rid of. What makes it dangerously insidious is that unfortunately all of it is true. Rest assured, however, that we have done our work too well to have it undone by this resurrected Lewis. We have little to fear from the exposure of your letters and can look forward with relish to the day when we partake of this author—as our Platt du Jour!
Your loving nephew,
[With thanks to Dr. Sanford Lakoff, Emeritus Professor of Political Science, University of California, San Diego for discovering this communication.] (Scardagger )
About the Author
Richard Platt was a finalist for a 2012 San Diego Foundation Creative Catalyst Fellowship for his one-man show, Ripples From Walden Pond: An Evening With Henry David Thoreau. He is currently at work on a stage version of As One Devil to Another, as well as a multi-volume work, The Forest of Nede, also inspired by the works of C. S. Lewis. He has been a contributor to the London literary print quarterly Slightly Foxed since 2007.
Walter Hooper is the world's leading authority on the life and works of C. S. Lewis and the editor of The Collected Letters of C. S. Lewis.
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
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I haven't read C.S. Lewis' Screwtape Letters, so this review is on this book alone. This book was so weird and different from any other book I have ever read, which alone is not a bad thing. As I read it, I took notes and hoped to come across interesting ideas, while watching carefully to make sure the teachings in this book were Biblical. This book only partially fulfilled my quest for interesting ideas but dangerously failed biblical accuracy because it teaches outright lies in the most subtle ways. This fictional tale strayed from biblical ideas in so many ways as to dangerously imply false ideas about the character of God. I encourage any readers to be very careful when reading this book and carefully use a LOT of discernment.
The perspective of this book is so odd and weird and I did not enjoy reading a book from the first person view of a demon. It felt blasphemous. Because the demon is the main character "good guy" and God is the "bad guy" and everything is written from the demon's perspective, the entire book is backwards: Good is bad and bad is good. This can become confusing and I even think the author confused himself in some areas, forgetting who was good and bad. In this book, God is evil (highly dangerous to ever encourage such thinking) and called "The Adversary". The problem with this demon-first-person style is that this book can easily do more damage to the character of God than any good. I would never ever ever recommend this book to a new or even teenage Christian. It could end up warping a Christian's view to think less of God or question God's goodness.
Examples of unbiblical dangerous teachings on God: Page 31, "The Adversary (God in this book) uses stealth. Despite His claptrap about honesty and fairness, He is very unscrupulous. He breaks His own rules whenever it suits Him." Woah! The Bible never claims God is "fair". "Fair" is a human concept. Just the fact that Israel and the Jews were God's people in the OT, while nearly all Gentile nations demonstrates that God is not a god of "fairness". And that is okay. Because God is not only a god of Love but of Justice. And if we start from the perspective that no human deserves anything good, then "fairness" is irrelevant. All humans have sinned and failed to worship God as He is worthy to be worshipped. We don't deserve heaven, but hell. So if God has mercy on some and not all, no wrong has been committed. The other part of this I don't like is the idea that "a demon thinks God is dishonest, unscrupulous, breaks His own rules". The Bible demonstrates that demons know who God and Jesus Christ are and know the TRUTH of who they are. Demons rebel but they are not unaware that God is good. They are not tricked. They fully know God is all powerful, all good, all honest, etc. Demons know that Jesus doesn't "play tricks" and they know that Jesus is honest. But the author, Platt, can start to make a Christian question or doubt their own God because they are reading the demon's lies about God. Sometimes Platt has the demons telling how God is good (which to them is bad) but later, the demons tell that God is bad. Did Platt forget which perspective he wanted to use or confuse himself or is this a subtle trick that most readers will not notice?
Platt subtlely plants seeds in readers. The idea of this book is this: "If the demons are against it, we Christians should be for it." So on page 19, Platt describes a scene where the demons are applauding their efforts to get all the most edifying literature and authors' works out of human hands and have intentionally pushed these writings into obscurity. So who's writings would you expect these demons tirelessly working to hide? The Bible must be on the list, right? Nope. Then at least Martin Luther, John Calvin, St. Augustine, Charles Spurgeon, Jonathan Edwards or even Jacob Arminian or John Wesley? Nope. These most famous authors don't make Platt's list of "most edifying writings." Instead, he lists two writings: "The story of Beowulf" and "the story of Sir Gawain and the Green Knight". Huh? Why? Beowulf is an epic poem about a PAGAN man named Beowulf, who travels great distances to prove his strength at impossible odds against supernatural demons and beasts. Sir Gawain is a romantic powem in King Arthur's day that is steeped in Celtic, Germanic, and other folklore and cultural traditions. How are fictional works more worthy than highly edifying Christian works?
Next Platt lists 8 authors by last name only. The implication is that these authors were so famous that we should recognize them by last name only. Platt works the story up to make the reader automatically assume that these authors are so worthy of our recognition and attention that demons will work tirelessly to hide them from us Christians. Who are the 8? Platt lists them "Johnson (which Johnson out of a dozen could this be?), Cowper, Spenser, Traherne, Cowley, Bunyan, Chesterton, and Williams (how many Williams' do you know?). How many names did you recognize? For me 2: John Bunyan (a worthy mention) and G.K. Chesterton (a Catholic that many non-Catholics read). Who are the other 6? And why are these guys more worthy to be listed than Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Wesley (who people actually do know by last name only) who dedicated their lives to bringing others to Christ? Per wikipedia, Thomas Traherne was a post-Reformation Catholic priest and mystic who wrote little about sin and is accused of bordering upon pantheism (or perhaps panentheism). Why should the demons hide his writings and why should Platt promote them? Edmund Spencer, Abraham Crowley, and Cowper were all English poets. Wow. I think these guys were already so obscure and unknown that the demons wouldn't have to even work to hide their works. They are already unknown to the greater Christian world, unless you specialize in poetry. I see the mention of these names and works only as a promotion of Platt's favorite writings and as having little or nothing to do with Christianity.
Other areas of disagreement:
Pg 33 "Each human is to be utterly, appallingly unique, and yet gloriously united to the Adversary" (Universalism?)
Pg 33 Teaches that "The Adversary had to submit to death by torture" "to redeem a fallen world and snatch it back from the claws to His Infernal Majesty" (God never lost the world to Satan. God was always in control. God never had to come up with a plan B. Plan A included the fall and Christ's redeeming a people for God. God did not HAVE to come up with a Plan B and die in order to "pay Satan off to let humans go", as this sentence may imply. God designed the whole redemption story from start to end before the creation of the world.)
Pg 37 Main character demon warns student demon not to touch C.S. Lewis books or "they will sear your flesh beyond recognition". (Platt is teaching a sort of superstition here. That "Christian books have power to burn/sear demons?" This is not true at all. Besides, as of recently, C.S. Lewis, who was heavily into the occult and mythologies, has come to be regarded by some as "a false Christian" after deeper analysis of Lewis' writings. It was demonstrated that Lewis' writings portray "Jesus" (Aslan the lion) leading Satanic pagan gods in drunken orgistic rituals and these pagan characters are considered "good characters" in Lewis' Narnia books. Example: The famous Satan god Pan (the goat man with an erection) is the good guy Mr. Tummnus. And the Greek dying-and-resurrecting pagan god Dionysus (a false Christ)(called Bacchus in Rome) the man-womanish male god of wine along with his wild female followers the maenads and the drunken fat man Silenus riding his donkey (mocking Christ) are all portrayed by their exact pagan names as "good guys" that Aslan lead through the forest in a wild pagan ritualistic party. Wiki or google this for more info, if you like. Wiki itself says "Silenus is a character, along with Bacchus, in the C.S. Lewis fantasy novel Prince Caspian, the second book (or fourth, depending on the order they are arranged) in The Chronicles of Narnia series." and I've checked my library Narnia books and found all this to be true. Lewis unashamedly made pagan gods that mock Jesus Christ to be "good guys" in his book.
Let me skip toward the end:
Pg 153 Platt writes "The Adversary (God) says He offers us all: Himself and life everlasting" Then Platt has the demons berate God for claiming to be good but actually being evil and dangling love before them but then not giving it to them and lastly, that God "promulgated the absurd notion that [salvation] is quite simple [but that] it is [actually] utterly beyond our understanding, this is an obvious lie. We are not stupid." (Look how ugly this makes God look. First, God does not offer Himself to demons. There is NO redemption for demons. Second, God does not say that salvation is simple. "Simple" is an easily misunderstood word. As you can see from listening to or reading Michael Horton or John MacArthur's Gospel According to Jesus, the way to salvation what many would call "hard" or "impossible" because we must die to ourselves and love God. Who loves God? No one! None seeks after the Lord. (Rom 3) When the apostles asked "Who then can be saved?" Jesus said "For man that is impossible but with God all things are possible!" (Mt 19:26, Mk 10:27, Lk 18:27). This means that man cannot save himself. Only God can save man - completely, from start to end. Even our faith and repentance are gifts from God per the Bible.)
One of the biggest problems with Platt's writings is that he has the demons question and challenge the goodness of God in humanistic terms: on the basis of fairness and love. Humans cannot help but relate with the demons' views and doubt or question God in the same way the demons do. In essence, this book throws demons and humans in the same boat. They are unloved by God and feel unloved and unfairly treated and God lies to both demons and humans claiming it is easy to be saved, when it is impossible to be saved. It makes readers feel like God is just playing a big nasty tricky game on us all and we are just pawns in His unloving game. The questions the demons ask are sometimes valid questions, but more often than not, they are loaded questions that already make false assumptions and imply false ideas about God's character. I would guess that 75%-90% or more Christians will be mislead and not catch this. I highly recommend against this book, unless you really really know what your stuff. I encourage all Christians to learn the answers to REAL unbiased questions about Christianity and God. But this book is loaded with biased tricky questions that will make many doubt or question God just because of the underlying implied assumptions built into the questions.
The Screwtape Letters takes place in England during the 1940s. This book, on the other hand, takes place during modern times and follows a chain of letters mostly from Slashreap to Scardagger, the former being the brother of Screwtape and the latter being the cousin of Wormwood from the original story.
Some time has passed since the 1940s, and Slashreap's assessment of humanity's foibles and our modern era serve as the greatest value of the book to modern readers. However, as Lewis said in his preface to the original and Platt echoes in his own, "Readers are advised to remember that the devil is a liar. Not everything that Screwtape says should be assumed to be true even from his own angle... There is wishful thinking in Hell as well as on earth."
That is a warning to anyone reading this book because the nature of the letters requires the reader to think about what he is reading and do a kind of inversion in his mind to arrive at the positive truth that Platt hopes to communicate. If you've read Lewis, you should know that he wasn't exactly biblical in everything he affirmed. Indeed, the whole premise of Hell and punishment in these two books affirms the silly notion that Satan and his followers rule Hell and that the end result of humans who go there is annihilation. Again, it is the assessment of human nature and culture that is the most benefit to the read and everything should be weighed by Scripture.
A few of the more prominent problem areas include:
- Salvation is available for fallen angels: "He [God] even has put about the ridiculous fiction that He willingly died for us as well, and would welcome us through the gates of Heaven if only we would choose to lay down our arms and return"
- There is a bit of a moral quagmire due to one character choosing not to seek treatment for cancer. Slashreap finds this a bad thing, so we are to assume it is a good thing. Yet whatever positive spin we could give a decision like that, the book was a little remiss, saying, "There will be no long years of dependency, no nursing home, no operating theatre, no recovery time..."
- Human salvation is decidedly man-centric, focusing on us and our ability to choose to love God. This isn't far from where Lewis himself was, but then again, it isn't far from where Pelagius was either.
- There is a conversion in the book brought about by the ghostly appearance of a Christian who had died. This alone is problematic. But the worse part is that the conversion is limited to the person having now developed a "transformation of faith." In no place is Christ mentioned as the basis of the character's salvation.
Overall though, I can't help but say this book was a pleasure to read. It bears Lewis' imprint, but only as a copy. The true masterpiece is, and likely will remain, the original work, The Screwtape Letters.
I received a copy of this book from the publisher in exchange for my opinion as expressed in this review.
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