Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Screwtape Letters #bookreview

The Book

The Screwtape Letters
C.S. Lewis

As is my tradition, I try to read a C.S. Lewis Signature Classic every year. This year, the lot fell on The Screwtape Letters.

The Review

The Screwtape Letters serves as a window to the correspondence between a young devil and his affectionate uncle named Screwtape. Being a novice tempter, he seeks advice to properly ruin his assigned human being. Screwtape offers his advice in letter form. You only read what Screwtape has written throughout the entire book.

This is another example of Lewis' masterful work. This is still my least favorite of his works due to the limitations of the format. Although, it can be argued that the format he chose was apropos to the subject matter. It would have been far more difficult to get all the content into a traditional prose-style work of fiction.

Note that since this is a collection of letters, the chapters are really small. This makes it a great on-the-go read when you are not sure if you have 30 minutes or just 5 to get a chapter in.

Content wise, Screwtape generally advises to use current culture as a means to distract the human through life. It does not matter which side of any issue the mortal takes, so long as he confuses it for Christianity. Extremism, whether it be extreme pacifism or extreme warmongering, is really the goal.

Below are a few of my favorite bits of Screwtape's awful advice:

  • It is funny how mortals always picture us putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out. (p 16)
  • The safest road to hell is the gradual one--the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts. (p 61)
  • The characteristic of Pains and Pleasures is that they are unmistakably real, and therefore, as far as they go, give the man who feels them a touchstone of reality. (p 64)
  • Parochial organization should always be attacked, because, being a unity of place and not of likings, it brings people of different classes and psychology together in a kind of unity that the Enemy desires. (p 81)
  • The earliest converts were converted by a single historical fact (the Resurrection) and a single theological doctrine (the Redemption) operating on a sense of sin they already had... The 'Gospels' come later and they were written not to make Christians but to edify Christians already made. (p 126)
  • [Substitute] negative unselfishness for the Enemy's positive Charity. You can, from the outset, teach a man to surrender benefits not that others may be happy in having them but that he may be unselfish in foregoing them. (p 141)
  • Since we cannot deceive the whole human race all the time, it is important thus to cut every generation off from all the others; for where learning makes a free commerce between the ages there is always the danger that the characteristic errors of one may be corrected by the characteristic truths of another. (p 151)

The Conclusion

The Enemy is very tricky. As mentioned in the book, they have no resources of their own and must pervert God's goodness. This book helps the reader to think sinisterly and really consider their own struggles in light of the cosmic battles being fought around them.

I recommend this book heartily to anyone willing to give it a read. It is actually a very easy book to pick up and complete.
Christopher M. Jimenez. Powered by Blogger.

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