The Screwtape Letters
Publication Date: 2015-04-21
The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis is a classic masterpiece of religious satire that entertains readers with its sly and ironic portrayal of human life and foibles from the vantage point of Screwtape, a highly placed assistant to "Our Father Below." At once wildly comic, deadly serious, and strikingly original, C.S. Lewis's The Screwtape Letters is the most engaging account of temptation—and triumph over it—ever written.
Clive Staples Lewis (1898-1963) was one of the intellectual giants of the twentieth century and arguably one of the most influential writers of his day. He was a Fellow and Tutor in English Literature at Oxford University until 1954, when he was unanimously elected to the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Cambridge University, a position he held until his retirement. He wrote more than thirty books, allowing him to reach a vast audience, and his works continue to attract thousands of new readers every year. His most distinguished and popular accomplishments include Out of the Silent Planet, The Great Divorce, The Screwtape Letters, and the universally acknowledged classics The Chronicles of Narnia. To date, the Narnia books have sold over 100 million copies and have been transformed into three major motion pictures.
The first time I read this book, as a student in high school, it blew me away. Certain passages have continued to stick with me all this time just for that first reading. For example, I learned that one should pray for physical needs for ones relatives and not only pray for their spiritual needs. Otherwise, our prayer time just turns into us dwelling on a person's faults! Yikes! (O Lord, please help my brother not to be so snobby...etc)
The second time I read this book, four years later, I had to put it down. For some reason, being put "inside the head" of a demon really creeped me out and put me in the wrong frame of mind. I still liked the theological content, but not the format. Maybe I would like it again next time, but I probably won't try again, as there's a lot of other books I would rather read.
A book offering a notable insight into morality and temptation! The Screwtape Letters really makes one think about both the world outside and the battle within, and I think every Catholic should read it at least once in one's life if at all possible!
Screwtape Letters remains one of my favorite books. With each rereading, I find new reasons to appreciate it.
The premise of the book is that a senior devil/tempter, Screwtape, is writing to his nephew, Wormwood, about Wormwood's "patient." Everything is backwards - what's good to Screwtape is NOT good to us. When he refers to Our Father Down Below, he's talking about Satan, and the Enemy is God. This alone is enough to delight me as a reader.
But wait, there's more!
The Screwtape Letters struck me, the first time through, as though it was one of the best examinations of conscience I have yet found (admittedly, I hadn't looked very hard). It made me consider sin in a whole new way. It made me think about angels and demons - especially demons - as workers with a stake, and as forces that I can beat, but not alone. It made me see the need for God in my life ever more, ever more.
The second time through, I was reading more carefully. Since I had listened to the audio version the first time, different things leapt out at me when I went back through it with the paper copy. I was again struck by the fact that this was, in effect, a description of ME, and it was a starting place for an examination of conscience.
This remains a book that inspires an examination of conscience in me. It's also a good reminder that there are forces of evil working against us all.the.time.
I love having a book that makes me think differently about the world around me. This book has the advantage of also inspiring a number of other works, and I am a sucker for reading source material. Besides that, C.S. Lewis is just fabulous. Need I say more?
Be sure to make time to read this book. It's relatively short, available even at my small town library, and the audio version is quite stunning.