Wednesday, December 21, 2016

The Screwtape Letters

Image result for the screwtape lettersWoahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh.

This book was eximious!

I just finished C.S. Lewis' Space Trilogy, and to be honest, I was getting a little sick of his writing and just wanting to plow through that section on my reading list and just move on to something else I actually wanted to read.  You may have noticed it took me ages to read The Chronicles of Narnia and the Space Trilogy, and now you know why.

It's not that I necessarily hated them, I just didn't care that much about them and subsequently spent as little time as possible reading them.  Which caused me to forget what I had read earlier.  Which made me confused.  And made me not want to read.

But this.  This book is exceptional in pretty much every sense of the word.  In some ways, I feel that Lewis can come off as a bit too preachy in his books, and yes, he is kind of preachy in this book, but it's in a unique and unpretentious style.

Ah, but wait, first I must summarize!!

This book is like nothing I have ever read before.  It is told from the extremely unique perspective of a demon sending letters to a fellow demon with tips on how to corrupt the demon's charge in order to succeed in bringing him to Hell at the end of his life.
Man in Blue Shirt Reading Book
The main reasons I love the book are because:

  1. It isn't too preachy
  2. It is insightful
  3. It is written in a fantastic style
  4. It is inspiring
  5. It is a quick read

So the reason this book is not as pretentious as I feel some of Lewis' work can be is because Lewis knows just as well as anybody (and maybe better than other people) that he is susceptible to the same kind of temptation as the demon's charge in the story.

This book is scarily insightful.  Half the things in this book I've never really articulated to myself, but somehow I've always known them.  They didn't really occur or matter to me until Lewis said them.  As I read them they struck me as completely original and yet something completely correct.

My thoughts: "Of course I knew that!...but I've never really confronted it or thought of the implications..."

This book many things!  It tackles human weakness, the problem of suffering, intellectual study, and the list goes on and on.

One of my favorite tidbits from this book which I've never even heard mentioned before is in Chapter 29.  I was honestly shocked when I read this.  With all the podcasts and books I've read about the problem of evil, I've never encountered this idea before and it's honestly revolutionary.  Lewis slides it in so casually though!

"We [demons] have made men proud of most vices, but not of cowardice.  Whenever we have almost succeeded in doing so, the Enemy permits a war or an earthquake or some other calamity, and at once courage becomes so obviously lovely and important even in human eyes that all our work is undone, and there is still at least one vice of which they feel genuine shame."

Fire Fighter Wearing Black and Yellow Uniform Pointing for SomethingYikes!  Am I the only one that's never had that explained to them?  I've heard a million explanations for the problem of evil (why does God allow evil to happen if he is all powerful and all good?), and never once has someone presented it this way.

But he's so right!  Disasters and tragedies offer humans a chance to step up and be virtuous we otherwise might not have.  Wow.

I also love the ending of Screwtape Proposes a Toast, an essay by Lewis included separately in my copy of the Screwtape Letters.

"All said and done, my friends, it will be an ill day for us if what most humans mean by 'religion' ever vanishes from the Earth.  It can still send us the truly delicious sins...nowhere do we tempt so successfully as on the very steps of the altar."

This sends a strong reminder that just going to church or being upright is not enough to certainly keep you safe from the Devil.

This book also reminds people that the Devil is a real and prominent threat.  This little demon, Wormwood is his name, is constantly looking for ways to corrupt his charge.  He is always doing little things to get at him.  This is an affirmation that, as Jesus says, if you're not with him, you're against him.

Image result for antichrist painting
The New York Review of Books

In everything you do, there are two sides.  No matter what you are doing, you are choosing a side.

This book tackles not only vague instances of human nature, but also looks at contemporary events very closely, like WWII, and the French Revolution (in the afterword).  This is a really helpful concrete expression of how evil manifests itself in the world.

This book is a super quick read, another reason I love it.  It's not wordy, but it is heavy stuff.  I like that it is short so it gives the reader an opportunity to digest what they are taking in.  I think it would be great to read this book once a year or so to remind yourself of the truth of evil in the world and the need to pay attention.  The short length allows even the busiest person to reflect on it.

Woman on Rock Platform Viewing City

I could go on and on, but honestly, you might as well just pick up the book!  It's so quick and effortless to read that you can finish in a day and be super happy with what you've read, and challenged at the same time.

Have you ever read this?  You absolutely must!  Come back and tell me what you think :)


  1. I've been waiting to read this book but, alas, my dear mother said for me to wait for her... I can't wait to read it though! And your review was very well written! Thank you for posting this! :D

    1. Oh, let me know what you think of it! Thank you :D