Daily Archives: May 19, 2024

by C.S. Lewis

 

Wikipedia describes British intellectual Lewis as a “Christian apologist.” Really? Maybe I’m misinterpreting the term, but it doesn’t seem to me that Lewis’s writings do much “apologizing” for Christianity.

But I digress. In The Screwtape Letters, Lewis plays devil’s advocate — literally — through “Screwtape,” a high-ranking demon and advisor to his nephew “Wormwood,” a novice demon attempting to corrupt a young Englishman. In a series of letters to the nephew, Screwtape details the tricks of their trade: how to plant ungodly thoughts in an individual’s head, and then how to encourage those thoughts to flourish.

This is accomplished chiefly by appealing to the Englishman’s vanities, fears, etc., and then finding ways to justify his delusions. The great Enemy to Screwtape (and Wormwood) is, of course, Christianity.

Lewis said that he found the writing of Screwtape Letters to be “easy,” but also unpleasant. It’s not hard to see why. Like a film actor who enjoys playing villains on screen, it was probably fun to play-act Satan’s assistant. And yet, there are so many depressing aspects to human nature — so many pitfalls to being a good person — that you might not want to dwell in that role for very long.

 

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