Wednesday, February 9, 2011

The Screwtape Letters - How a Senior Devil Instructs a Junior Devil in the Art of Temptation.The Screwtape Letters - How a Senior Devil Instructs a Junior Devil in the Art of Temptation. by C.S. Lewis

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I've been meaning to read this book for quite awhile- a more perfect time in my life could not have come before however, and I'm glad that I am reading this now, at this time in my life.

Way before Screwtape Letters I completed reading The Chronicles of Narnia, my first introduction to C.S. Lewis. I praised those books because they offered a rare lesson in Christianity. Lessons of Christ and His teachings at a slant, at an angle that isn't often taught; and I found it refreshing.

The same can be said for The Screwtape Letters.

At the end of each letter I wrote at the beginning the basics of what Screwtape counseled and sought to help promote. All of the seven sins are present but virtues too- virtues twisted and bent till they're unrecognizable.

One of the clearest ones I recognized was complacency, and I see it all around myself and in my friends. A longing to be better, an urge to be worse.

Few of my favorite underlined parts:

"A Being which can still love is not yet a Devil."

"All mortals turn into the thing they're pretending to be."

"That kind of humor.... is a thousand miles from joy; it deadens, instead of sharpening; the intellect; and it excites no affection between those who practice it."

"I now see that I spent my life in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked."

"When He talks of them losing their selves, He means only abandoning their clamour of self-will; once they have done that, He really gives them back their personality, and boast (I'm afraid sincerely) that when they are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever."

"The more often he feels without acting, the less he will be able ever to act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel."

"The Enemy wants him, in the end, to be so free from any bias in his own favour that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbor's talents."

"He has created, and always gives back to them with His right hand what He has taken from his left."

"For the present is the point at which time touches eternity.... Hence nearly all vices are rooted in the future. Gratitude looks to the Past and love to the Present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead."

"He has balanced the love of change in them by a love of permanence. He has contrived to gratify both tastes together in the very world He has made, by that union of change and permanence, which we call rhythm."

"He {Man} [In reference to the World] feels like he is finding is place in it, while really it is finding its place in him."

The last two letters alone are worth the read. Screwtape talks about the Blitz and England at the dawn of WWII and it's an awakening moment for the reader. Screwtape talks about the balance between keeping the human out of a religious stupor but not enough danger and sin to wake them out of it. The best way to the human would be through fear- that the world in his disillusioned state is how the world really is. Intellectual attack doesn't work you can always try attacking the emotions. "It turns on making him feel, when he first sees human remains plastered on a wall, that this is "what the world really is like" & that all religion has been a fantasy. You will notice how we have gotten them completely fogged on the word 'real'.... Thus in birth the blood & pain are 'real', the terror and ugliness reveal what death 'really means.' The hatefulness of a hated person is 'real'-- in hatred you see men as they are, you are disillusioned; but the loveliness of a loved person is merely a subjective haze concealing a 'real' core of sexual appetite or economic association."

In contrast, letter 31 is a breath of fresh air.

The man being tempted is brought to a moment of true awakening & to use the term, enlightenment.

So does the reader, hopefully....

Here's hoping.

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