Thursday, May 19, 2005

Lord Foulgrin’s Letters by Randy Alcorn

It is either an endearing quality or a slight irritant, but up ‘till today I’m not sure which. Randy Alcorn likes to piggy back some of his books onto other great writing in the Christian World. My favorite book of the 90’s was his Edge of Eternity. It was an allegory of the Pilgrim’s Progress type. Sure it was better than Pilgrim’s Progress, but it was still obviously built on that idea.

It is one thing to out write John Bunyan; quite another to go after C.S. Lewis. But Lord Foulgrin’s letters and the sequel, The Ishbane Conspiracy, are too similar not to notice The Screwtape Letters comparison.

Alcorn takes a different approach, but it is still about letters written by the a high ranking demon, Foulgrin, to his protégé’ as Foulgrin attempts to train and guide his disciple, Squaltaint. The letters fall between chapters where the human characters are living their lives unaware of the devilry taking place in another realm.

An interesting aspect of Foulgrin and Ishbane is that some of the characters are young people. Alcorn proves capable of using that voice in a way that sounds authentic. It became a transitional book for my then 14-year-old son to start enjoying adult Christian materials.

Lord Foulgrin’s Letters are very funny one minute, and very serious the next. One failing of the book is that it is full of inside politics with references to people and groups that many readers wouldn’t get. However, those who listen to Christian radio or who are active in parachurch activities will enjoy these elements.

Like screwtape, the goal is to show the reader how demons deceive both the saved and unsaved. Like Peretti’s early novels, we also get a glimpse at just how close the spirit world interacts with us. As C.S. Lewis is reported to have said: The two biggest mistakes Christians make are giving the Devil too much credit, and not given him credit enough.

If you haven’t tried Randy Alcorn yet, Lord Foulgrin’s Letters is a fine place to start.

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