I am working my way through C.S. Lewis’ great bookThe Screwtape Letters. This book consists of a series of letters from Screwtape, a demon expert on tempting humans, giving advice to his nephew, Wormwood, about how to become a more effective tempter to his human “patient.”

I find this a very original work. By its seemingly backwards position on things, readers are forced to see things from a different perspective than normally assumed when discussing spiritual matters. For example, when Screwtape speaks of “The Enemy,” he is referring to God, not the Devil (whom is commonly referred to as “The Enemy,” but in this called by Screwtape “Our Father”). This different perspective seems to promote more awareness of our quirks and flaws as humans…it forces us to take a step back and look at ourselves through another’s eyes. Not only does this give us a new perspective on our weaknesses, strengths, and relationship to God, it allows us to judge ourselves, more especially because we see our race talked about in third person. This is a highly effective way of promoting reader awareness, and for my part, I am immensely enjoying this read!

It is often very convicting…

Here is an excerpt from Letter 7:

“My dear Wormwood,

I wonder you should ask me whether it is essential to keep the patient in ignorance of your own existence. That question, at least for the present phase of the struggle, has been answered for us by the High Command. Our policy, for the moment, is to conceal ourselves. Of course this has not always been so. We are really faced with a cruel dilemma. When the humans disbelieve in our existence we lose all the pleasing results of direct terrorism and we make no magicians. On the other hand, when they believe in us, we cannot make them materialists and sceptics. At least, not yet, I have great hopes that we shall learn in due time how to emotionalise and mythologise their science to such an extent that what is, in effect, a belief in us (though not under that name) will creep in while the human mind remains closed to belief in the Enemy. The ‘Life Force’, the worship of sex, and some aspects of Psychoanalysis, may here prove useful. If once we can produce our perfect work -the Materialist Magician, the man, not using, but veritably worshipping, what he vaguely calls ‘Forces’ while denying the existence of ‘spirits’ -then the end of the war will be in sight. But in the meantime we must obey our orders. I do not think you will have much difficulty in keeping the patient in the dark. The fact that ‘devils’ are predominantly comic figures in the modern imagination will help you. If any faint suspicion of your existence begins to arise in his mind, suggest to him a picture of something in red tights, and persuade him that since he cannot believe in that (it is an old textbook method of confusing them) he therefore cannot believe in you.”

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