Tuesday, July 25, 2006

The Screwtape Letters

by C.S. Lewis (read July 2006)
After reading Cassie's wonderful review of The Screwtape Letters, I was encouraged to reread this classic. Glad I did, although I realized that I am more in the devil's clutches now than when I first read it as a 20-something year old. My desire for comfort above anything else is just what my little 'Wormwood' would be most pleased with, as in this quote: "No sort of action plases Hell so much as the easy road, the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings."

The Screwtape Letters are a series of letters written by Screwtape to his young, tempter-apprentice nephew concerning the tactics of securing a human soul for the Lord of Darkness. One tactic was to change a word such as charity for unselfishess. The subtle difference in the meanings of words can make a sizeable impact. In the case of unselfishness, the human focuses on his own acts and he takes pride in those things he does for other, keeping a running score of just how good he really is. The idea of charity is that the human focuses on the needs of others and that he is an instrument only in the work of God. There were several other examples given, watch for them as you read.

I always did a double take whenever Screwtape referred to the Enemy, who refers to God. Not a word typically used to describe Him. One favorite quote includes such a reference: "To us a human is primarily food; our aim is the absorption of its will into ours, the increase of our own area of selfhood at its expense. But the obedience, which the Enemy demands of men is quite a different thing. One must face the fact that all the talk about His love for men, and His service being perfect freedom, is not (as one would gladly believe) mere porpagada, but an appalling truth. He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself--creatures whose life, on its minature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because He has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His. We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons. We want to suck in, He wants to give out. We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over. Our war aim is a world in which Our Father Below has drawn all other beings into himself; the Enemy wants a world full of beings united to Him but still distinct."

I liked this statement given in the preface.. The great secret is that one gives oneself up, the thing devils will never do. "There are only two kinds of people in the end," says Lewis, "those who say to God, 'Thy will be done,' and those to whom God says, in the end, 'Thy will be done.' "

A short, enlightning, and enjoyable read. I rate it 5 out of 5.


Alyson said...

Great quotes! I'm glad I've decided to read this book as well. I'll try to pick a couple different quotes when I write my review.

Booklogged said...

There are many great quotes. You might keep track of all the little devil names that C.S. Lewis uses--I think those are quite interesting. You'll like this book.

Anonymous said...

I loved this book. I read it when I was 18. I would like to read it again. That is a great quote.

Cassie said...

I was the same with the word "The Enemy" I had to keep thinking to myself okay he is talking about God here.

Suzan Abrams, email: said...

Dear Booklogged.
An intelligent and thought-provoking review. You write so well. Your words prompted me to recall a Biblical verse that went like this: "I myself will open the doors of heaven and pour out in abundance all kinds of good things for you." Can't remember the reference.
But it led me to think that perhaps each of us are granted our degree of comfort. Then comfort too, becomes a gift.

Booklogged said...

Cyndi, it is definitely worth a reread.
Cassie, it's always nice to know I'm not alone.
Susan, that's quite a compliment coming from such a gifted writer as you are. Thank-you.

Bookfool said...

I love, love, love this book! You've made me want to take it off the good shelves and give it a reread!