04 May 2012

C.S. Lewis and Screwtape

Another good quote from Lewis*
Hang around long enough and you'll quickly learn that I won't go long periods of time without reading Lewis. His letters have been a great way to be in a state of perpetual immersion; I read a bit here and there, and I'm never really out to finish the three volume set, but only enjoy.

Lately, I've been reading The Screwtape Letters. It's my second time through, and I've surprised myself at how much of the book I've remembered. However, the more I think about why I remember so much, the more I realize it's because the book is so probing and accurate. It's a work every Christian has to read, and every non-Christian needs to try. Satirical, witty, and convicting, Lewis has me laughing one minute, and praying the next.

The book takes the form of a senior demon, Screwtape, writing letters to his "nephew" Wormwood. Each letter contains advice on how to tempt Wormwood's patient away from the Enemy, that is, God.

Three things have encouraged me this time through the book, the first being the reminder that the version of marriage Hollywood has been tricked into is a scam. Screwtape is explaining that the human vermin believe marrying with any other motive besides being in love is "low and cynical." He goes on:

"Yes, they think that. They regard the intention of loyalty to a partnership for mutual help, for the preservation of chastity, and for the transmission of life, as something lower than a storm of emotion. (Don't neglect to make your man think the marriage-service very offensive.)"

The phenomenon is that God intended marriage-service - from the husband first - to preclude, or prompt feelings of love; the storm of emotion should come, but it wasn't meant to be a prerequisite.

The second bit of encouragement comes with Lewis's discussion on time. Satan and his minions would have our minds fixed on the past and the future, with a bent toward regret and fear - or even hope, if that hope can be centered around flowery visions of progress instead of the Enemy, as Screwtape puts it. But God would have us experience the Present, where his grace and mercy are flowing now, and fix our minds on meeting him in eternity. "For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity."

The last concept I've been chewing on has to do with "raw material." Screwtape writes early in the book, "The attitude which you want to guard against is that in which temporal affairs are treated primarily as material for obedience." This is the attempt of Screwtape, "...to make the World an end and faith a means." What a challenge. Can I see my disobedient children, the attitudes of my students, and my ever-failing attempts at marriage-service as opportunities to obey?

May grace abound.
*Picture credit: tween2worlds, via LIFE


Judy said...

I love the Screwtape Letters. I believe it shows that just as God is so real, so is Satan and we must always be on guard against his clever ways. Doing good and praying always for guidance in this sometimes crazy world :)

Rachel Schieffelbein said...

I read this in high school and loved it. I agree that it can be enjoyed as both a christian and a non-christian. Lewis is just such an amazing writer. He can really make you look at things in a whole new way.

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