The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

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OK, let me say that this was entertaining, and I never found it dull. If you’re looking for something engaging and mildly intellectual, this might be a good pick for you. Now be forewarned that I am an atheist (or at the very least, I really don’t like organized religion) and that assuredly biases my view on the book. Just as I’m sure a Christian reading it would be biased. I honestly don’t know how you couldn’t be biased when reading something like this, but anyways…

C.S. Lewis writes as Screwtape, an accomplished demon / devil who writes advice-filled letters to his nephew Wormwood, a new “tempter” who is try to damn a young man.

If you’re a Christian or even just mildly religious, you might feel that this is an eye-opening account of how evil really works and how much you have to be alert for all the ways in which you might be tempted. Which I’m sure is EXACTLY what C.S. Lewis wants you to feel. For me, it’s him (Lewis) blaming every little thing that men think, say, or do on temptation from demons. Have you ever seen the movie The Waterboy? You know his mama that says that everything is “the devil”? That’s pretty much C.S. Lewis here.

He implies that well-educated skeptics are on their way to Hell. He implies aethists are on their way to hell. He implies that the devil is what makes men want to work for things like social justice. He implies that trying to be unselfish is the devil’s work. He implies that it’s the devil’s fault that women are less likely to marry and have children. Seriously, if there’s something a human does, the devil is probably to blame. He removes all human accountability for their actions, and lays all the blame on the devil’s work- therefore trying to make you really paranoid that every little want, desire, or thought you have MIGHT be the devil at work and you should take caution.

Also, it’s interesting that in Lewis’s Hell, demons actually have records offices, demons-in-training, and intelligence-gathering offices. It was fun to picture Hell as an office-type setting. That might be the one thing that he got right.

3 stars

~Sarah

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2 comments

  1. It’s been awhile since I read The Screwtape Letters (and obviously nearly a year since you have!), but I believe Lewis was trying to say that it’s wrong to take pride in being unselfish–that when you do something good because and think what a great person you are because you did THAT is the work of the devil. He wasn’t implying that being unselfish is wrong, only that it’s possible to take unselfish actions for the wrong reasons. (Of course, donating to charity, for example, because you want to feel good about yourself is probably more helpful to society than not donating at all.)

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    1. Hi Briana,

      It kind of reminded me of that Friends episode, in which Joey says that there’s no such thing as an unselfish good deed. Anytime to do something nice or charitable like, part of us feels good about ourselves for doing it. So Lewis seemed like he was saying we’re damned either way – if we’re selfish cause that’s wrong, or if we’re unselfish and feel good about ourselves for that, it’s wrong. Of course I could be completely wrong of course, those were just my impressions when reading it and like you said, it’s been awhile, lol.

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