Catholic Online Interviews Fr Dwight Longenecker on His Lenten Book: The Gargoyle Code
I had the privilege of interviewing one of the great writers and converts of our age, Fr. Dwight Longenecker
Following C.S.Lewis' idea of letters from a senior demon to his trainee, Fr. Longenecker has added a few twists. The Gargoyle Code is updated and written for Catholics. With one letter for every day in Lent from Shrove Tuesday to Easter Monday, this is a must read for the Lenten season. As a Deacon of the Church, I highly recommend it to our global readership.
GREENVILLE,SC (Catholic Online) - I had the privilege of interviewing one of the great writers and converts of our age, Fr. Dwight Longenecker, concerning a great Lenten Treasure. Fr Dwight Longenecker's book, Gargoyle Code is already becoming a classic read for Lent.
Following C.S.Lewis' idea of letters from a senior demon to his trainee, Fr. Longenecker has added a few twists. The Gargoyle Code is updated and written for Catholics. With one letter for every day in Lent from Shrove Tuesday to Easter Monday, this is a must read for the Lenten season. As a Deacon of the Church, I highly recommend it to our global readership. I caught up with Fr. Longenecker for an author interview:
CO: Fr Longenecker, what prompted you to write The Gargoyle Code?
FDL: I have always been a fan of C.S.Lewis, and a few years ago during Lent I tried writing a few Screwtape-type letters for my blog. They were popular, so that summer I sat down to write a few more. I then had the idea that the book would be a good read during Lent, so structured the letters to make it a Lent book.
CO: Who is the book written for?
FDL: I wrote the book with a large Catholic audience in mind. The junior tempter, named Dogwart, is in charge of a college aged, lukewarm Catholic, while Slubgrip--the writer of the letters--has to look after an older, traditionalist Catholic. So the book should appeal to young and old, and to every type and condition of Catholic.
CO: What was difficult about writing The Gargoyle Code?
FDL: C.S.Lewis complained that writing Screwtape Letters got him a bit down. He had to continually look at the world back to front in order to get into the skin of the demons. It didn't have that effect on me. Once my imagination got going the process was creative and fun. However, there were some moments when my own conscience was poked by the process. That's really the point of the whole book--to help us examine our consciences and probe areas that we thought were okay, or areas of our life that we never knew existed.
CO: Could you be more specific?
FDL: Sure. One of the areas that religious people need to check out is self righteousness. We like to assume that the way we "do religion" is the right way and everyone else is wrong. Many Catholics get stuck on this one big time. The mistake the infallibility of the church with their own understanding of Catholicism. In The Gargoyle Code the demons try to get the religious people to stay stuck in their prejudices, set ways and legalism. The book makes an attempt to challenge both sides of the Catholic culture--traditionalist and 'modern'.
CO: So you've managed to offend everyone have you?
FDL: (Laughs) I guess so! I've always liked that little saying, "Christianity is not doing its job if it is not subversive." I like the Jesus who turns over the tables in the temple.
CO: Why should a Catholic read The Gargoyle Code for Lent?
FDL: St Benedict said every monk should read a good book during Lent, and it is a long standing Catholic tradition to read a "Lent Book". However, many Catholics have never heard of such a tradition, and wouldn't know where to start. I've tried to write a book that is popular, entertaining and yet still a great challenge during the time of Lent-- a time when we go deeper into our faith and try to learn more about the difficult path of repentance and following Christ. The Gargoyle Code just helps to put some sugar on the pill and make that process enjoyable.
CO: What do you say to those who blame you for stealing C.S.Lewis' idea?
FDL: I think it was T.S.Eliot who said something like, "A bad poet borrows. A good poet steals." In other words, every writer is influenced by someone greater than himself. What I've done is take Lewis' idea and expand on it, update it and apply it to a different audience. Writers of all sorts do this all the time. Consider Shakespeare's plays. He took story ideas from many different sources and made them his own. Unfortunately, I'm not in the same league as Lewis or Shakespeare, but leap frogging from an author you admire to do your own work has a good precedent.
CO: What are you attempting to accomplish with The Gargoyle Code?
FDL: My blog is called Standing on My Head. This references a quote by G.K.Chesterton that the world is sometimes seen more accurately when you are standing on your head. The gospel is forever radical. It turns our world upside down, and yet so often we use our religion to affirm our conventional lives and shore up our worldly point of view. The gospel does exactly the opposite. It stands everything upside down. By getting into the skin of the tempters I am trying to get my readers to see themselves and their world from a new perspective.
This is the task of all good literature--whether it is poetry or novels or articles or screenplays. Good writing should help us to look at the world aslant--to see things we've never seen before--to have one of those 'aha!' moments of enlightenment. So The Gargoyle Code is about more than inspiration during Lent or examining our consciences. It is also about breaking the mould and seeing everything in a new way.
CO: The Gargoyle Code is billed as 'hilarious'. What do you think is the role of humor in religion?
FDL: That's a good question. It's really the same thing that I've just been explaining. Humor also helps us see things in a fresh way. I once did a course on the structure and theory behind jokes. Comedians know that surprise is one of the key elements of humor. A good comedy writer has a gift for seeing the world in a fresh and funny way. He sees connections nobody else sees. When that connection is made a joke is sparked. We like the juxtaposition of unlike things. Seeing the world upside down is a funny business, but the point of the joke is serious. The humor is also an attempt to jar our prejudices and shake us up in order to view everything in a new way and glimpse a reality we have never seen before.
CO: What are your favorite funny parts of The Gargoyle Code?
FDL: Am I allowed to laugh at my own jokes? I like the running joke about the demons being punished by being "invited for dinner" Which means they are going to be served up as the first course rather than eating they will be eaten. "Going to the banqueting hall below" therefore has a gruesomely ominous meaning...
CO: Where can we get a copy of The Gargoyle Code?
FDL: Best to buy them through my website: They were available through Amazon and the main bookstores, but that distribution channel has been discontinued, and they are only available now direct from my web page.
CO: Are you working on any other writing projects?
FDL: The new edition of my book Adventures in Orthodoxy is published this Fall with a new cover and a new title: The Quest for the Creed. I've just finished the sequel to The Quest for the Creed. It's called The Romance of Religion, and this summer I hope to get time to finish the sequel to The Gargoyle Code called Slubgrip Instructs.
CO: What's that about?
FDL: Slubgrip the demon has been condemned to teaching Pop Culture 101 to the the freshman worms at Bowelbages University in the seventh circle of hell.
CO: That sounds like devilishly good fun. When does that come out?
FDL: It should be out for Lent next year.
CO: How do you manage to produce so much writing in addition to being a parish priest, a husband father, blogger and speaker?
FDL: Quantity not Quality I'm afraid...
CO: Thanks for talking with Catholic Online Fr Longenecker
FDL: My pleasure!
Fr Dwight Longenecker is parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Greenville, South Carolina. He is a prolific author, blogger and sought after speaker. Visit his website and blog at dwightlongenecker.com
Copywriter 2015 - Distributed by THE NEWS CONSORTIUM
Pope Francis Prayer Intentions for March 2015
Universal: Scientists: That those involved in scientific research may serve the well-being of the whole human person.
Evangelization: Contribution of women: That the unique contribution of women to the life of the Church may be recognized always.
Rate This Article
Leave a Comment
More Lent / Easter News
- 3 goals of Lent: Change, conversion and new beginning
- What it Means to be a Child of God: Lenten Reflection on Human Suffering
- 2nd Sorrowful Mystery: The Scourging at the Pillar
- 1st Sorrowful Mystery: The Agony in the Garden
- The Lenten Invitation: Making Choices and Changing Ourselves
- Great tips for fasting during Lent from Dr. Denton
- The one surprising secret few people know about Lent!
- Ash Wednesday Homily of Pope Francis
- Ash Wednesday has arrived in the Philippines, Lent has begun!
- Fr. Paul Schenck: Finding Living Faith on Catechetical Sunday
- The Movie Yellow: Incest as 'Normal' and Cassavates's Slides Into the World of Woes
- The Chicago School Teachers Strike Reveals the Need For School Choice
- The Sexual Barbarians and the Dissolution of Culture
- The Happy Priest Challenges Us to Ask: Who is Jesus to Me?
- Michael Coren on Canadian Public Schools: Teachers, leave those kids alone
- We Cannot Ignore Our Consciences: Cardinal Dolan On Religious Liberty
- In the Face of Danger, Successor of Peter Travels to Lebanon as a Messenger of Peace
- Reflections on the Dignity and Vocation of Women: Who or What?
More Easter / Lent
'So it is written that the Christ would suffer and on the third day rise from the dead' - Luke 24:46
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption. continue reading
Palm Sunday, the Sunday before Easter, commemorates Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem, an event mentioned in all four canonical Gospels. (Mark 11:1.11, Matthew 21:1.11, Luke 19:28.44, and John 12:12.19) ... continue reading
On Palm Sunday, we celebrate the first joy of the season, as we celebrate Our Lord's triumphant entrance into Jerusalem where he was welcomed by crowds worshiping him and laying down palm leaves before him. It also marks the beginning of Holy Week... continue reading
HOLY THURSDAY is the most complex and profound of all religious observances. It celebrates his last supper with the disciples, a celebration of Passover ... continue reading
On Good Friday, each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption. In the solemn ceremonies of Holy Week we unite ourselves to our Savior, and we contemplate our own death to sin in the Death of our Lord ... continue reading
Easter is the principal feast of the ecclesiastical year. Leo I (Sermo xlvii in Exodum) calls it the greatest feast (festum festorum), and says that Christmas is celebrated only in preparation for Easter. It is the centre of the greater part of the ecclesiastical year ... continue reading
For most people the easiest practice to consistently fulfill will be the traditional one, to abstain from meat on all Fridays of the year. During Lent abstinence from meat on Fridays is obligatory in the United States as elsewhere. Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed (Lk. 5:35). continue reading
Everything answered from when does lent end, ashes, giving something up, stations of the cross and blessed palms. The key to understanding the meaning of Lent is simple: Baptism... continue reading
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion. First Station: Jesus is condemned to death... pray the stations now
What did you give up for Lent?
From the humorous to the bizarre, people have had interesting Lenten experiences. Tell us about what you are going to give up for this Lenten Year.
What others gave up »
Michael Terheyden - Catholic Online, 3/2/2015
God will wipe away every tear, and there will be no more suffering and death (Rev 21:4). KNOXVILLE, TN (Catholic Online) - Why do we suffer? On the first page of his Apostolic Letter, On the ...Continue Reading
Alex Basile - Catholic Online, 3/2/2015
How do you find meaning in Lent? Each year this holy season falls more and more into the realm of the usual routine and less about discovering Christ. See how author Alex Basile explains how to make ...Continue Reading
Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 2/26/2015
"But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed." Isaiah 53:5 WASHINGTON, D.C. ...Continue Reading
Jennifer Hartline - Catholic Online, 2/21/2015
"Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done." An angel from heaven appeared to him and strengthened him. And being in anguish, he prayed more earnestly, and ...Continue Reading
On Good Friday, the entire Church fixes her gaze on the Cross at Calvary. Each member of the Church tries to understand at what cost Christ has won our redemption.
In the symbol of the Cross we can see the magnitude of the human tragedy, the ravages of original sin, and the infinite love of God. Learn More
Ash Wednesday marks the beginning of the Season of Lent. It is a season of penance, reflection, and fasting which prepares us for Christ's Resurrection on Easter Sunday, through which we attain redemption.
The ashes are made from the blessed palms used in the Palm Sunday celebration of the previous year. The ashes are christened with Holy Water and are scented by exposure to incense. Learn More
Stations of the Cross refers to the depiction of the final hours (or Passion) of Jesus, and the devotion commemorating the Passion.
ACT OF CONTRITION. O my God, my Redeemer, behold me here at Thy feet. From the bottom of my heart... Pray the Stations
'Christ Himself said that His disciples would fast once He had departed' Lk. 5:35
Abstinence. The law of abstinence requires a Catholic 14 years of age until death to abstain from eating meat on Fridays in honor of the Passion of Jesus on Good Friday. Salt and freshwater species of fish, amphibians, reptiles and shellfish are permitted.
Fasting. The law of fasting requires a Catholic from the 18th Birthday (Canon 97) to the 59th Birthday (i.e. the beginning of the 60th year, a year which will be completed on the 60th birthday) to reduce the amount of food eaten from normal. The Church defines this as one meal a day, and two smaller meals which if added together would not exceed the main meal.
Learn More »