Last night my brother Matt and I saw The Screwtape Letters the play. This theatrical rendition of C.S. Lewis' book captures something that nothing written and just read could ever quite deliver. It was probably the communal element of being in the actual presence of the (two) actors, with all of my senses at work, that brought to new life Lewis' relevant truths with a few cultural updates.

In one word this play was convicting. I was convicted reading Max McLean's interview with World Magazine before I bought tickets. [For whatever reason the above link isn't working. Google "Screwtape World Magazine" to read the whole interview.] I was even more convicted actually watching Him act out his desire to create culture. And I was most convicted by the content of the play, particularly my own issues of pride that suddenly shone bright as noon last night.

Screwtape was one of the most creative displays of Christian worship evangelism I have ever taken in. Yes, God can be and is worshiped in secular theater. In fact, where is there a greater need for the light of Christ to shine than in this dark, public arena? (Wait! If your answer is the church, don't answer.) Screwtape was so good, so creative, that even the most anti-spiritual, secularist media were impressed. The Washington Post said that "audience members interested in spiritual reflection will certainly find food for thought—and mortification—in this dramatization. But the fiendish reality the production conjures is colorful enough to appeal to theatergoers of any, or no, religious persuasion." And I would take it one step further and say that the power of the Holy Spirit is present in this production to convict hearts hardened by both religiosity and anti-religious sentiments, including mine.

Go see this play if you can. It will be in Chicago until Jan. 4, and I'm sure it will be around elsewhere after that. I leave you with two quotes.

1. Max McLean in an interview with World Magazine:

There's a message in theater today: "There is no God, get over it." The worldview in secular theater is pretty dark. We do need people to produce [good] plays, to put the money behind it, to write those plays, to direct those plays because that's when the culture making happens. I would like to see more people thinking about "How do I create culture?"

2. C.S. Lewis in Screwtape's second letter to his nephew Wormword, his apprentice demon tempter:

My dear Wormwood, I note with grave displeasure that your patient has become a Christian...There is no need to despair; hundreds of these adult converts have been reclaimed after a brief sojourn in the Enemy's camp and are now with us...One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans. All your patient sees is the half-finished, sham Gothic erection on the new building estate...When he gets to his pew and looks round him he sees just that selection of his neighbours whom he has hitherto avoided. You want to lean pretty heavily on those neighbours...Provided that any of those neighbours sing out of tune, or have boots that squeak, or double chins, or odd clothes, the patient will quite easily believe that their religion must therfore be somehow ridiculous. At his present stage, you see, he has an idea of 'Christians' in his mind which he supposes to be spiritual but which, in fact, is largely pictorial.

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