Saturday, February 25, 2012

The tapeworm emails and the Gloria Airmails

The Flip Side of Temptation

By Mary McReynolds

A Book Review By Linda Goodman 

            This book, modeled on C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, is actually two books in one volume that chronicles contrasting strategies to win the soul of a teenage girl during the last days on earth as we know it. On the one side, devils (tempters) viciously steer the girl in every wrong direction possible, and on the other side, angels (guardians) gently guide her to the source of knowledge necessary for her to make choices that are in her best interests. The battle is a frantic one, as time is rapidly “running out.”

            Tapeworm (Auntie T) supervises Wartmonger, the tempter’s apprentice assigned to bring about the girl’s damnation.  Tapeworm embodies every nightmare boss you have ever had.  She is moody, unreasonable, self-centered, vicious, uncaring, and conniving.  She is the kind of being who would send her own mother, if she had one, to hell.

            Tapeworm also hates texting and insists upon communicating solely through email, which can supply more detailed information.  She is, however, very familiar with the acronyms that text messengers use, and she liberally sprinkles them throughout the emails that comprise this book. As one who is not fluent in such acronyms, I was grateful for the glossary at the end of the tapeworm emails.

            Tapeworm is a one-dimensional character with no redeeming qualities, as one would expect a hell dweller to be. 115 pages of her venom were too much for me. Indeed, Lewis himself said that writing The Screwtape Letters almost smothered him before he was done.

            The volume is redeemed, however, by The Gloria Airmails, written by Gloria in Excelsis (Glo), who mentors Ariel, a recent appointee to the Academy of Guardian Legionnaires, in her mission to keep the young girl safe from the tempters so that she can hear and hopefully respond to the gospel. “You are NOT to teach her. Only humans are allowed to do that,” Glo warns.

            Glo does not seem to be as harried as Tapeworm.  She takes her time and writes like a grown-up, her airmails filled with the peace that comes from trusting that all will go according to God’s plan.

            I quite enjoyed the differing viewpoints of the two warring factions on scripture. For instance, Tapeworm’s story of the Nephilim, mentioned in Genesis 6, was quite different from Glo’s version. Their versions of Jesus expelling demons from two men into a herd of pigs (Matthew 8: 28-32) also presented a study in contrasts.

            McReynolds, a writer who displays both talent and imagination, proves to be equally adept at portraying both darkness and light. Her use of metaphor and simile (i.e. “body, soul, and spirit…like a human mood ring”) is entertaining and intriguing.

            This book is a worthy successor to The Screwtape Letters.  I particularly recommend it to teens, who seem to exhale acronyms these days, but adults will enjoy it as well.

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