I’ve been amazed at the wisdom of C.S. Lewis ever since I read The Chronicles of Narnia series in sixth grade. So after hearing many good things about The Screwtape Letters, I finally got around to reading it. You’ve probably heard about it, and if you haven’t, you can Google it, so I’m not going to summarize the narrative here. Seven main impressions/takeaways:
- No matter what is going on in the world or in an individual’s life, human nature is always, always, always the same.
- The pride of the devil knows no bounds.
- The devil is not a little red guy with a pitchfork you can laugh at, nor does he look (or sound) like HIM from The Powerpuff Girls. (But the devil likes it a lot when we think of him that way, because then we convince ourselves that he is too silly to be threatening.)
- While I was reading, I was reminded of Chapter 5 of Peter Kreeft’s How To Win the Culture War (highly recommended, two thumbs up, five out of five platinum stars), which is written from the point of view of Satan as he unveils his master plan to prevail over the human race in the current millennium. I suppose Kreeft must have purposely written in the same style as Lewis (to great effect).
- The course of human life has natural lows and highs, and the devil will exploit the lows to the greatest extent possible. I would say that when you are in a low period, the greatest thing you can remember is that it is a natural low, and you will get through it. No need to make it worse than it is and no need to sink into despair.
- Some of the letters need to be read twice. They are short, but there is a lot to be gained from each, and it cannot all be absorbed in a single reading.
- I learned the meaning of the word anodyne (adj. not likely to provoke dissent or offense; inoffensive, often deliberately so; n. a painkilling drug or medicine) and will find some way to work it into everyday conversation.
In short: Read this book.