Reviewed by Sheryl Root
As One Devil to Another by Richard Platt
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"Reading a book like As One Devil to Another helps us step back and see things with a different lens."
debut work, As One Devil to Another, is a fitting homage to C.S. Lewis’s
classic The Screwtape Letters. As Lewis’ biographer Walter Hooper
says in the preface, the narrative voice is almost indistinguishable
from Lewis’ own.
As with Screwtape, this book is written as a series of diabolical letters from a senior devil (Slashreap) to his young protégé (Scardagger). The pupil’s first human ‘client’ is a young woman, a postgraduate in the English Department of an old and prestigious university who has aspirations of a career in academia.
Slashreap muses in an early letter that there are several ways to exploit the client’s aspirations. Do they want her to achieve the dizzying heights of success and inflate her ego? Or raise her just to the level of mediocrity where she can see those dizzying heights of success but never reach them, making her envious? Or shall they “dash all of her hopes, and guide her to the endless drudgery of teaching grammar school English, slowly grinding her into a dust of disappointment and resentment, blinding her to the fact that it is there, were her motivations pure, that she might actually do the most good, by inviting young minds as yet uninformed to the great feast of literature which she once enjoyed, before books became the building block of her ambition?”
As the niece of a teacher, a book lover and a writer, that last option hits home. Teachers have had such an impact in my life, and I know the wonderful world books opened up for me, but it’s so easy for something we love to turn into something we “have to do” in order to get ahead.
I believe Christ is at work in all areas of life making all things new and that themes of redemption and grace can be found in every aspect of culture. But I’ve heard it said that just as fish spend their lives swimming in water yet rarely take the time to analyze it, so we humans are so accustomed to the culture we live in that we rarely take the time to think about it. Reading a book like As One Devil to Another helps us step back and see things with a different lens. Slashreap’s correspondence will make you laugh at the same time it sneakily gets past your defenses and gives a clearer vision of the world in which we live.
One of my favorite C.S. Lewis quotes is “I believe in Christianity as I believe in the rising sun; not because I see it, but by it I can see all else.” I’ll close with a quote from As One Devil to Another that beautifully touches upon that same theme.
"Everything on the earthly side of existence is palimpsest, remembrance, whisper and echo: Music, Love, Laughter, Sex, Knowledge, Art, Revelation, Friendship, Family, Rest, Food and Drink, and Beauty and Pleasure of every kind are only facets of His brilliance. They are separated on Earth into elements the five human senses can begin to absorb, as white light is separated through a prism into a spectrum of colour that the eye can absorb … The Light of Grace which He offers them each day is not a light that they can see, but a light that they can see with.”
Sheryl Root is Partner Database Manager at OneHope, a non-profit organization whose mission is to reach every child with God’s Word. She’s also a writer and a reader of everything she can get her hands on … books, blogs, magazines. In other words, she’s both a data geek and a book nerd. She loves to be able to support Christian authors and spread the word on great books and is a member of American Christian Fiction Writers, a wonderful community of published and yet to be published writers. You can follow her on Twitter at @Sheryl_Root.