I will be taking a few weeks to summarize thoughts on the Screwtape Letters as my reading group and I discuss the book. With that in mind…..
I should like to have begun this blog with a full summation of letters 1 – 10 but didn’t get an opportunity to write / sum up as I normally would so below are brief thoughts from week one as we are now headed into week two.
- It would appear Screwtape calls his nephew more to diverting the attention of his human than changing the mind of his human. Should Wormwood’s human begin to argue or ponder on a point for to long it could lose Wormwood the soul but if he just forgets about it due to something like a bout of hunger, he’s likely to move forward with no further thought neither side wins but neither side loses either. The human is left in a place of complacency.
- The human is lost to the enemy but Wood is told not to fret, this is a temporary flirtation that is easily changed. Screwtape wants Wormwood to get his human to focus on specific Christians rather than the faith as a whole. Something we all easily fall prey to. We can without thought turn who Christ is into a person rather than allowing Christ to help us see as person as he does. That sense of I’m better than _________ rather than I’m no better than____________. We all struggle with different things and can therefore really not count ourselves better than another. The enemy can easily make our perspective our worst enemy. It can cause us to close off relationships, turn people away because we fell superior to them when it’s simply a matter of our perception being dramatically skewed by past opinion, past behavior, the past as a whole. Many people change inside but our thoughts won’t allow us to see that.
- Screwtape encourages Wormwood to “egg the mother and son on to believe annoyances are deliberate”. Screwtape also encourages Wormwood to draw to mind the better, older brother in the prodigal son story. The perfect child, always there, never doing wrong, that’s the child to love while this “other child” deserves no love because they had and lost deliberately” so they ought no be around.
- Screwtape helps Wormwood understand the difference in ignoring a thought and receiving a thought. We oftentimes think the devil puts evil thoughts into our minds and he may but it would appear Screwtape believes it more important to keep thought out of our minds rather than replacing thoughts in our mind. Screwtape also encourages Wormwood to confuse thought. Rather than actually thinking about God while praying to God we think of ourselves. Think about your time of prayer and how much of it focuses on God and how much focuses on what you want to be able to do or overcome. Brief example: “God, thank you for your strength” God, thank you that I am strong” – Are they the same prayer with the same focus? I would say they are not.
- Christianity calls us to reason and rationality while the enemy calls us to worry about that which is not but may be. As war is used as an example, the patient, as he is called begins to worry about all the what ifs, no rationality just a mind running in circles contemplating that which is not and may very well never be so decisions are based on the current mindset.
- Screwtape is teaching wormwood to allow the patient to focus not on sin but the object of the sin. For example, lust is a sin so to keep us from focusing on the sin itself we focus on the man or woman we are lusting after rather than the act of lust itself. Charity, kindness, benevolence are all great things but rather than allowing the patient to focus on the act of kindness thoughts are turned to how wonderful the person offering the charity or kindness is rather than focusing on the actual kindness and who it’s being done for.
- Screwtape helps Wormwood understand the patient not believing in anything, God or the Devil, is actually beneficial. Great atrocities have been incited by those who don’t believe in God or the Devil. Evil is more successful when atrocities are not committed in it’s name but in the name of the greater good as understood by those committing those things others would see as nefarious.