Thursday, May 23, 2013

Review: Magnificent Malevolence

My son is a huge fan of C. S. Lewis, and of Screwtape Letters.  So when I heard about Magnificent Malevolence, by Derek Wilson, of course we had to review it.

I'll admit up front that I haven't finished the book... I'm about 90% of the way through it.  Connor stole it from me and read it straight through.  I had a hard time getting it back.  (A nice problem to have, I'd say!)

From the publisher:
C. S. Lewis, who introduced Screwtape, a senior devil, to the world in 1942, knew that evil is powerful and personal. He understood that its main thrust was against God and the people of God.
There can be no doubt that Lewis would agree that Screwtape and his diabolical colleagues have not ceased their operations in the last seventy years. As the human decades have passed, the same war has been fought, with new weapons and different battle tactics.

How fortunate, then, that the following account, rescued from the archives of the Low Command’s Ministry of Misinformation, has fallen into our hands. This remarkable manuscript outlines the career of the prominent devil, Crumblewit SOD (Order of the Sons of Darkness, 1st Class). It was in a much mutilated state and has only, with difficulty, been cut and pasted together to make a reasonably coherent narrative of the activities of a post-Screwtape generation of devils. It is not, of course, "true" in the sense of being an objective appraisal of the struggles between good and evil which dominated human affairs in the period from 1950 to 2000. The account is distorted by Crumblewit’s truly diabolical conceit and also his ability for self-delusion. However, it does shed fresh light on the ups and down experienced by the church throughout this period.

Crumblewit's energies were entirely deployed in the religious arena. He was employed exclusively in undermining the attempts of Christians to bring to bear upon world events the prerogatives of love, peace, and justice and to carry out the mission entrusted to them by Jesus . . .
Our take:  We both enjoyed this book. It isn't written in the same style as Screwtape Letters, as this is more like a diary by Crumblewit, so the flavor is a bit different.  Plus, this follows Crumblewit over his entire career, so he is working with a variety of people.

Connor's opinion was that this was a good story, and it did make him think a bit, but he didn't feel like he came away from it with any new insights into how he ought to behave, or how he ought to live differently.

For me, having lived through over half of the time period covered in Crumblewit's tenure, I guess I found more that spoke to me.  Reminders about some of the sweeping changes I have witnessed in my lifetime, and a glimpse of the evil -- and the good -- in some of the newer technologies, for instance.

It makes me think a bit more about being sure that my internet-dependent world does need to stay focused on the positive side.  It has driven me to be very intentional about praying for Facebook friends.  To post about my faith.  To shut the computer and spend time with my family...

Disclaimer:  I received this book through Kregel Blog Tours.  No other compensation was received.  All opinions expressed in this review are my own.   

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