Fr. Longenecker Encourages Spending Lent with…the Devil?

Fr. Dwight Longenecker

Fr. Dwight Longenecker

Yes, it’s true. A well-known, highly published, and hugely popular Catholic priest is encouraging all of us to spend Lent with the devil. And I can tell you, having had a taste of the journey, that it’s one that will be well-worth the effort.

Fr. Dwight Longenecker, whose wisdom graces these webpages at Integrated Catholic Life, has released a new book that is designed to take you on a journey through Lent with none other than the devil himself.

Slubgrip Instructs: Fifty Days with the Devil, while a sequel to Longenecker’s Gargoyle Code, stands alone and does the “make you think twice about everything in your life” job quite nicely.

It’s a fast read if you sit down to read it, but I would encourage you to take your copy (because, I assure you, you need one!) and savor it. Consider what’s written and how popular culture is truly impacting you. It’s not an easy truth to face.

I had a chance to ask Fr. Longenecker a few questions about the book.

You obviously love Screwtape Letters as much as anyone I know, because Slubgrip is your second book in this vein. How did you discover Screwtape? What about it captured your imagination and inspired you?

I first came across Screwtape Letters when I was an undergraduate in college. I was on a C.S.Lewis discovery binge and it soon became one of my favorite books. What I really enjoyed about Screwtape and all of Lewis’ writings is that he was able to communicate theological truths clearly and simply. Also, he was not ashamed of entertaining his audience. He was looked down on for this by his academic friends, but he knew that to preach the gospel effectively we have to connect with the audience effectively.

What was the impetus for writing Slubgrip? Why did you decide to focus on it for Lent?

Lent is the time that we set aside to battle the devil so it seemed a good idea to combine the diabolical plotting and scheming with Lent. Also, I think many people would like to read a book for Lent but are scared off the books that are too theological or “churchy.” They find them boring or daunting. I wanted a Lent resource to be out there that was accessible and a page turner. That’s why there is a plotline running through both Gargoyle Code and Slubgrip Instructs.

Tell us a bit about Slubgrip and why it will help us on our Lenten journey.

Slubgrip Instructs is actually quite a serious book. The demon Slubgrip is teaching Popular Culture 101 in a university in hell. Through this device I am able to analyze popular culture—everything from movies and sports to arts and education to see how secularism and relativism are undermining the Catholic faith. Many of the topics are substantial in their philosophical and theological implications but Slubgrip and his chums manage to draw us in and keep us interested.

Tell us about Gargoyle Code, if you would, and how it’s different and a good companion for Slubgrip.

In Gargoyle Code, we meet the demon Slubgrip and his student Dogwart. Both tempters have human “patients”—one a conservative older Catholic, the other a young, lazy Catholic. In Gargoyle Code we see how both men grow in their faith while Slubgrip and his cohorts are frustrated in their attempts. In Slubgrip Instructs the story continues and we spend more time in hell, and maybe that’s why Slubgrip is the darker of the two books.

Anything you’d like to add about this new book?

One of the challenges in writing the book was to balance the philosophical and theological content with points of interest and entertainment. To do this I devoted the Saturday and Sunday readings to “guest lecturers.” These are a wild array of zany demonic characters who lecture on lust, greed, finance, church, sexuality, and false religions. They were fun to think up and write and I think they add some interest and relief from the daily lectures and plottings of Slubgrip.
I would also add that I had young people in mind as my audience. Many young Catholics of college age question their faith and are being taught the very things Slubgrip is teaching his students to promote. Hopefully Slubgrip Instructs will find its way into the hands of a good number of college students and it will help them think through their faith and the intellectual challenges in an entertaining way.

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