The Screwtape Letters

So far, I’m somewhat iffy on The Screwtape Letters.  Lewis continues to put Christianity in the position of absolutely logically coherent, and claims that disbelief is based solely on emotion. That is a hard hurdle to jump if I am the audience, but he manages at points to at least be interesting.

In particular, when talking about the war effort, Lewis says the following from the perspective of a devil’s spirit attempting to lure a man away from God:

Let him begin by treating the Patriotism or the Pacifism as a part of his religion.  Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part.  Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely part of the ’cause’, in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce in favour of the British war-effort or of Pacifism.

Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing.  Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours — and the more ‘religious’ (on those terms) the more securely ours.

Certainly seems to me that is something many of the more vocally “‘religious'”* people of today could stand to hear.

Honestly though, while I respect the man’s literary prowess, I simply do not enjoy reading his work.  I used to look upon him as one of the best religious authors, but now he just strikes me as presumptuous.  I’m not sure if I’m more cynical now or if I’m reading it with a more honest eye; I would have to put the odds at 50/50.

I’ll finish the book (hopefully soon), but it is definitely taking effort at this point.  Probably not the best choice for trying to keep up my reading habits after moving back to York.

* Quoting a quoted word is weird.


  1. Aaron Anderson
    Posted January 20, 2011 at 3:42 pm | Permalink

    Good thoughts. Especially agree with your comments about vocal religious people. Planning on reading this in the future. Willbe eager to hear your final thoughts.

  2. David
    Posted January 21, 2011 at 7:06 pm | Permalink

    Just finished the main book, and should be finishing the addendum “Screwtape Proposes a Toast” tonight. Nothing really changed my original thoughts, but I was pleasantly surprised to see an interesting explanation of the combination of omniscience and free will.

    The basic gist of it is that God does not FORSEE anything (thereby removing choice from the actors), but rather he experiences time as a collapsed singular event. It’s a fairly basic explanation, and one that I’m surprised I hadn’t seen put forth before, but I find it fairly reasonable given the premises.

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