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The Screwtape Letters

By C. S. Lewis

“When He talks of their losing their selves, He means only abandoning the clamour of self-will; once they have done that, He really gives them back all their personality, and boasts (I am afraid, sincerely) that when they are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever.”

– Screwtape, The Screwtape Letters

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Book Summary

Genre:

Satire, Fantasy Fiction, Epistolary Novel

Themes:

Temptation, Sin, Hell, Influence, Faith in God, Victory of sin and death, Eternal battle between good and evil

Ages:

13 years + (for mature readers with adult guideance and support to understand the novel)

Storyline:

The Screwtape Letters is a challenging and thought-provoking story that portrays the feebleness of the human condition from the vantage point of letters between senior devil Screwtape and his junior devil, Wormwood, who are trying to win souls for hell.

The story begins with Wormwood’s patient (human) becoming a Christian. At first, Wormwood and the patient’s worldly friends easily sway his faith, and he remains a lukewarm Christian.

However, when the patient experiences a reawakening of his faith and becomes more committed to it than ever, Wormwood and Screwtape must up their game. But the Enemy of Screwtape and Wormwood will not let go of those who are His, and through trials and suffering, prepares the patient’s soul to be ready for Heaven.

This powerful story explores the sinful condition of the human heart, our propensity toward sin, and the resulting tragedy of eternal death in hell.

Content Warning:

Preface from C. S. Lewis;

“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight. The sort of script which is used in this book can be very easily obtained by anyone who has once learned the knack; but disposed or excitable people who might make a bad use of it shall not learn it from me.

Readers are advised to remember that the devil is a liar. Not everything that Screwtape says should be assumed to be true even from his own angle. I have made no attempt to identify any of the human beings mentioned in the letters; but I think it very unlikely that the portraits, say, of Fr. Spike or the patient’s mother, are wholly just. There is wishful thinking in Hell as well as on Earth.

In conclusion, I ought to add that no effort has been made to clear up the chronology of the letters. Number XVII appears to have been composed before rationing became serious; but in general the diabolical method of dating seems to bear no relation to terrestrial time and I have not attempted to reproduce it. The history of the European War, except in so far as it happens now and then to impinge upon the spiritual condition of one human being, was obviously of no interest to Screwtape.”

Discussions between devils about all kinds of sin, including moral/ethical dilemmas, and sexual sin.

I recommend this book for mature teens who have safe adults to discuss this content with.

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