The Screwtape Letters was written as a series of letters from Screwtape (an experienced demon) to Wormwood (a junior demon) providing advice drawing Wormwood’s patient (The Patient) into eternal damnation. Written by C. S. Lewis in 1942 during the height of WWII as a satirical novel detailing the battle over the soul of The Patient in the eternal battle between The Enemy (God) and Our Father Below (the Devil).
The book was written from the point of view of the forces of Hell which is a unique turn of the screw. Each letter provides advice from Screwtape to Wormwood on tatics to lead The Patient to Hell after death by undermining the faith of The Patient.
I won’t devulge the details of the book but I have to bring up a couple of interesting concepts that especially impressed me:
- The forces of hell hope people live many years. That gives them more time to corrupt their victims. Also, as people grow older they are become less idealistic. I’ve considered this idea the past several days and find it true in my own life. I came of age in the 60s and was very idealistic. I thought we were going to change the World for the better. Now that I am in my 60s I consider what has transpired and realize we pretty much stumbled through life just like all the generations that came before us. In that vein I have to nominate “The Pretender” by Jackson Browne as the theme song for our generation (“He started out so young and strong only to surrender”).
- God created in man an unique two fold creature whose body is bound by time but whose soul is eternal. As a result we humans consider time very precious and consider any intrusion on “my time” such as work, an unexpected visitor, etc. as stealing our time. In the grand scheme of the Cosmos “my time” is but a puff of smoke in the wind.
In summary, its a short, well-written (around 120 pages) novel with a moral in every letter. 4 stars out of 5.