Screwtape Letters

Have you ever read Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis?

If Lewis were here today and wrote a second series, what do you think he would emphasize?

I’ve heard of it and been meaning to read it (my Mom read it and told me about it).

I think if he were to write another book like it today, it would focus on using alcohol and sex as ways of infiltrating and getting people to turn away from God. (That is, if he didn’t focus on those in the original…then again, it seems those things, sadly, have been and will continue to be used improperly, causing many problems.)

Catholics reading C.S. Lewis. Who said ecumenism was dead!

Lewis’ writings are truly divinely-inspired. Good for any Christian to read and digest.


Moral relativism, abortion, and decay of the family

I"m reading it right now…

Have to agree with Enoch, though.

One of the themes of Screwtape is using mild and harmless looking things to get people away from God. As Screwtape put it, bridge is better than murder for this purpose.

:smiley: Where have you been? Lewis has always been a favorite with Catholics (especially Catholic J.R.R. Tolkien, who was instrumental in Lewis’ conversion to Christianity from atheism). In Pope Benedict’s latest book “Jesus of Nazereth” and other writings, he has often quoted Lewis (his first papal encyclical – “God Is Love” – was, it seemed to me, a more in depth treatment of Lewis’ “The Four Loves”) . My bookshelf is full of Lewis’ books, and very well worn they are. :slight_smile:

To the point of the OP:

– the influences of new media (internet, video games, etc.)

– new and not-so-new but more accepted culture of death developments (euthanasia, abortion, reproductive technologies, etc.)

– Sexual issues like contraception, homosexual “marriage,” and marriage in general.

– the baneful influence of the courts, the schools, and the news/entertainment media

– lack of reverence for God and religious things.

– “Cafeteria” believism, church shopping and customized individual religion.

I just finished reading it about a week ago. It took me several years to get into the mindset to read it, though. As Lewis said, writing it was extremely taxing on him, getting into the demonic mindset and all. It was his goal to keep the letters (and book) short so as not to be overly burdensome on the reader.

I think he was fairly dead-on in his assessment. Although, I do have to agree with the pp’s. I think Screwtape would go farther into the world of sexual immorality and praise their tools of contraception, abortion, etc.

He’d probably even make Wormwood’s subject’s mother come down with a serious illness and help get the subject to use euthenasia on his mother.

It’s possible to look at all the worldly evils and temptations as avenues for Screwtape’s malevolence in a sequel, but really, none of them are particularly new, none of them are considered ambiguously moral or in ‘grey areas’ by established Christian denominations, and none of them jive with Screwtape’s established MO of using the little things to bring someone down.

I actually think a sequel would do much better by focusing more on the pitfalls some of the most religious people trip happily into: scrupulosity, isolation of the self or the ‘elect’, self-righteousness, willful ignorance, meanspiritedness, spiritual sloth.

Mere wantonness is an easy target. Screwtape’s got better aim than that – suggesting that he’d have to try for the broad side of a barn when he could be shooting the heads off pigeons is just insulting to the character.

I think it is perhaps the most important book of the 20th century. Perhaps. I have thought perhaps the best line in the entire book is from page 1:*He doesn’t think of doctrines as primarily “true” of “false”, but as “academic” or “practical”, “outworn” or “contemporary”, “conventional” or “ruthless”. Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church. *This is why today’s version of the book would refer to the new jargon, like “tolerance” and “offensive” and “phobic”. Invariably in discussions with opponents of Christianity, I come across this kind of language that addresses everything except for “is it true/false?”

Screwtape would also be big on utilizing all the new forms of media transmission.

Here is The Screwtape Letters online by the way. :slight_smile:

The Screwtape Letters is a favorite of mine for a number of reasons, not the least of which is its readability. I used it as the basis for a study series last year and the people who attended were unanimous in their praise of the book.

The book’s greatest strength is its emphasis on Satan’s use of the ordinary things in life – those that we don’t even think about – to drive wedges between us and God. One of my favorite quotes from the book is:

One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempers uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans. All your patient sees is the half-finished, sham Gothic erection on the new building estate. When he goes inside, he sees the local grocer with rather an oily expression on his face bustling up to offer him one shiny little book containing a liturgy which neither of them understands, and one shabby little book containing corrupt texts of a number of religious lyrics, mostly bad, and in very small print. When he gets to his pew and looks round him he sees jut that selection of his neighbours whom he has hitherto avoided. You want to lean pretty heavily on those neighbours. Make his mind flit to and fron between an expression like “the body of Dhrist” and the actual faces in the next pew

Provided that any of those neighbours sing out of tune, or have boots that squeak, or double chins, or odd clothes, the patient will quite easily believe that their religion must therefore be somehow ridiculous.

I’ve had more than one person say to me something like,“that really makes me think. The devil sure has worked on me.”

Anyway, to those of you who haven’t read the book, it is well worth your while.

That book helped me on my way back to the Faith, cant recomend it enough.

Used to have the audio tape version, narrated by Monty Python John Cleese–now when I re-read it, it’s Cleese’s voice there.

Peter Kreeft HAS written a sort-of sequel, The Snakebite Letters, from a Catholic (natch) perspective–highly recomend that one as well–believe its Ignatius Press

And don’t we see Satan’s minions working like that is todays world?

The book scared the **** out of me, the realism was overwhelming and the situations, some of which I can relate to, forced me out of my “comfort zone” and made me take a long hard look at myself.

Like others have said,I believe a sequel would be based on politics, Church scandal and extreme political correctness, all through the lens of the media.

Word of caution though, this book can mess with your head in a very psychologically stressful way.

Randy Alcorn has written his own version of a sequel to this book:

And, apparently a sequel to his own sequel:

While Alcorn is no CS Lews, at least his novels give us a contemporary insight into how The Screwtape Letters might look in today’s world.

No clue on your 2nd question. I have read it, and resort to it from time to time to reread sections. Especially his addendum “Screwtape Holds a Banquet.” Best disquisition on education I’ve ever read is contained over a few pages in that section.

I think that’s “Screwtape Proposes a Toast”.


Joss Ackland also did a dramatized reading of SCREWTAPE, but Cleese’s voice is unforgettable. The one advatage that Ackland’s version has is that it includes all the letters, while Cleese’s reading leaves out 2-3.

For a second rendition of SCREWTAPE, I think Lewis might spent a good deal of time investigating the current world of Anglicanism. Might be a longer book.


I read that book my first year here, and I absolutely loved it. What he wrote in there is so true in today’s society.

I really liked the Screwtape letters by C.S Lewis. I read the book and is even better as a C.D. book as I was able to close my eyes and could imagine the disputes and truiumps in the book.

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