Friday, April 30, 2010

The Screwtape Letters

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I'm willing to wager that a great number, if not the majority of you have read this work by C.S. Lewis. I have heard a great deal about it over the years and it's been frequently quoted and referenced in different church-related groups I've been in. So when I got an invitation to a discussion of the book, I thought it would be good time for me to finally read it.

Bottom line: I didn't finish the book. I returned it to the library weeks ago. Of course, I know plenty of people who loved it and I'm glad. It was obviously well-written and you'd be hard-pressed to find anyone who doesn't think C.S. is a good writer. I stopped reading it because it wasn't affecting me the way I think he intended.

For those of you who don't know the book, Screwtape is a demon writing letters of advice to his nephew, Wormwood. Each chapter is one letter and while Screwtape refers to Wormwood's replies, we never read a letter from Wormwood, or at least I never did. The whole world is backwards where good is evil and evil is good and "the Enemy" is God. He advises his nephew about his "Patient", the human he is responsible for tempting toward evil.

It's interesting to read Lewis's ideas of how demons are working in our lives and recognize the same situations he is suggesting are ones we find ourselves in, such as selflishly praying more for ourselves when we think we are praying for another. He points out a lot of these situations where the Patient will think he is doing good, but he's really not. It's very thought-provoking.

The problem is, I spent so much time seeing myself in the Patient and how I do things I think are good and faithful, I began second-guessing everything, down to the thoughts I had while reading the book. I began to think, maybe even the book was a backwards way to get me to think I was developing spiritually when I really wasn't.

I don't doubt that it was a good read for many, it just wasn't working for me. It just didn't bring the results I had hoped it would.

1 comment:

  1. That's pretty interesting. I read it when I was in high school, and I don't remember too much now. I wonder how it would read 10 years later, when I have a few more clues and can catch the subtleties better. You aren't the first to put it down, though. I've spoken with people who had a similar experience.

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