Friday, August 21, 2015

The Screwtape Letters

I finally finished reading The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis! After many years of wanting to read it, and many years of it collecting dust on my nightstand, and eventually realizing I would be more likely to finish it via audiobook, I checked it out of our fantastic Multnomah County Library. Just a few days listening to it on my phone was all I needed to feel a huge weight lifted off my shoulders! I wrote my favorite parts below. For those of you who don't know the plot of the book, it is about a demon writing letters to his nephew about how to best tempt his patient (human) and ultimately their desire to lead him to hell. Such a great book.


"Before I knew where I was I saw my twenty years' work beginning to totter. If I had lost my head and begun to attempt a defense by argument I should have been undone. But I was not such a fool. I struck instantly at the part of the man which I had best under my control and suggested that it was just about time he had some lunch." (Letter 1)

"Let him think how much he dislikes it. Let him assume that she knows how annoying it is and does it to annoy--if you know your job he will not notice the immense probability of the assumption. And, of course, never let him suspect that he has tones and looks which similarly annoy her. As he cannot see or hear himself, this is easily managed." (Letter 3)

"My dear Wormwood, you mentioned casually in your last letter that the patient has continued to attend one church, and one only, since he was converted, and that he is not wholly pleased with it. ... Do you realize that unless it is due to indifference it is a very bad thing? Surely you know that if a man can't be cured of churchgoing, the next best thing is to send him all over the neighborhood looking for the church that 'suits' him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches. ... Being a unity of place and not of likings, [the church] brings people of different classes and psychology together in the kind of unity that [God] desires. ... The search for a 'suitable' church makes the man a critic, where [God] wants him to be a pupil." (Letter 16)

"Members of His faction have frequently admitted that if ever we came to understand what [God] means by love, the war would be over and we should re-enter Heaven. And there lies the great task. We know that He cannot really love: nobody can: it doesn't make sense. If we could only find out what He is really up to! Hypothesis after hypothesis has been tried, and still we can't find out. Yet we must never lose hope; more and more complicated theories, fuller and fuller collections of data, richer rewards for researchers who make progress, more and more terrible punishments for those who fail--all this, pursued and accelerated to the very end of time, cannot, surely, fail to succeed." (Letter 19)

"Superstitions, if not recognized as such, can be awakened. The point is to keep him feeling that he has something, other than God and courage [God] supplies, to fall back on, so that what was intended to be a total commitment to duty becomes honeycombed all through with little unconscious reservations." (Letter 29)

"The paradoxical thing is that moderate fatigue is a better soil for peevishness than absolute exhaustion. This depends partly on physical causes, but partly on something else. It is not fatigue simply as such that produces the anger, but unexpected demands on a man already tired. Whatever men expect they soon come to think they have a right to: the sense of disappointment can, with very little skill on our part, be turned into a sense of injury." (Letter 30)