Lent is a season of penitence: Giving up chocolate. Turning off the TV. Fasting from between-meal snacks, and abstaining from eating meat.
It’s also a season for personal growth: Prayer. Reading. Reflection.
So who says you can’t enjoy it, too?
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If you’re a fan of the writings of Fr. Dwight Longenecker, as I am, you’ll want to rush out before Lent starts (that’s February 10, so hurry!) and get your hands on a copy of his newest book, Slubgrip Instructs: Fifty Days with the Devil. Slubgrip Instructs is the sequel to Fr. Longenecker’s popular 2009 release The Gargoyle Code, and both are written in the genre popularized by C.S. Lewis in The Screwtape Letters. In Father Longenecker’s books, the devil–in the person of master tempter Slubgrip–pens daily advice to his young devil-trainee, Dogwart.
And I can tell you: Personal growth has never been more entertaining than in this Lenten meditation.
In a column in The Imaginative Conservative, Father Longenecker explains his purpose in writing the book:
For conservative Christians, Lent is not only the season to do good works, but it is also a holy season to engage in battle with the forces of darkness. Laughing at Lucifer in Lent is one of the ways to do so. Jeering and flouting him means that we are happy warriors. We are launching out on the spiritual battle with a spring in our step and a smile on our face.
The gospel says when we fast we should wash our face and put on a smile, and the spiritual writers speak always of keeping a “joyful Lent.” We are not going about as gloomy defeatists. As we engage in the spiritual battle during Lent we do so with the joyful knowledge that, as St. Paul writes, “we are more than conquerors.” We should therefore ride into battle with the spirit of Cyrano de Bergerac—sword in hand, a joke at the ready and a plume in our hat.
If you remember the fiendish Slubgrip from The Gargoyle Code, you may notice that he’s endured a bit of a demotion in this latest book. In a wry acknowledgement of America’s social devolution, Father Longenecker has Slubgrip now teaching Popular Culture 101 at Bowelbages University. Not unlike the lectures of faculty at some liberal universities, Slubgrip’s lectures and those of his unsavory guest lecturers manipulate and bully his students into some really bad thinking.
Reading Slubgrip Instructs, the reader laughs; but he also reflects on the truth that is exposed in this insightful Lenten meditation. It’s well worth your time.