Book Review: The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

On the high recommendation of a reader, I decided to read
this book and reserved a copy at the library.  I went to pick
it up and I was surprised to see this tired old copy that was
losing pages and had deep stains in the dust jacket and
bindings.  The pages were well-used, almost *soft* to the
touch, and many pages had been dog-eared to death.  This
was a heavily used book in the library system!

The Screwtape Letters was first published in 1943.  You might know
C.S. Lewis better by his “Narnia” series beginning with The Lion, the
Witch and the Wardrobe. 
But C.S. wrote in other genres, too, and
—-hey!—big prize for the first one who can name what the C and S
stand for.

The crux of these letters—and this vehicle works just as well in this
novel as it does in a million others—the crux of the plot, is the
battle for a man’s soul.  Screwtape is an seasoned advocate of the Devil,
and he is writing to Wormwood, a young novice in the service of the
Devil, giving advice on how to pry away his “patient” from
The Enemy (God) and into the hands of Hell.

Oh, before you go—this isn’t really a heavy-handed religious tome,
and in fact, has some quite humorous passages —all in the name of
revealing some of the ridiculous actions that humans go through
in the name of virtue and Christianity.

It’s a constant battle for Screwtape and Wormwood because so many
of the premises of Christianity make sense and encourage a more
peaceful, charitable world–that Wormwood is encouraged to take
any little lapses—an argument with a spouse, or a parent–and try
to build on those negative aspects, pushing aside Christian values.

as to the spouse, “When two humans have lived together for many
years it usually happens that each has tones of voice and expressions
of face which are almost unendurably irritating to the other.  Work
on that.  
(!)

or the parent, “It is, no doubt, impossible to prevent his praying for
his mother,  . . .but make sure he is always concerned with the state
of her soul and never with her rheumatism. . . .tell me something about
the old lady’s religious position . . .”

Luckily, Screwtape points out, there is antagonism between the “high”
church and the “low” church.  He advises that Wormwood continue to
encourage this antagonism.  Without this ill feeling  “the Church of England
might have become a hotbed of charity and humility.”

You pick up this volume and see the widely spaced print, the pages
numbering only 160 and think, this will be easy-peasy.  But, not so
fast.  There is plenty to think about in between the lines and well
worth the read.

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1 Response to Book Review: The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

  1. Stefanie says:

    You know, I’ve heard this is a good book but I don’t think I ever knew what it was about! I will have to be sure to read it sometime!

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