Preface: One of my Summer Reads is The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis. It's, essentially, a set of letters written by a 'senior demon' to his nephew (a "novice demon"), providing him with guidance and direction in how to most efficiently and effectively "secure the damnation" of an ordinary, stupid human (much like ourselves). According to the book reviewers, reading this book will compel the Believer (and the "half-convinced") to "come to terms with their own philosophical presuppositions" (LA Times).
So, this is the first installment of our Book Study 'group'. Please read my thoughts below, and then share your thoughts and insights with all of us by adding a "Comment". I can't wait to hear what you think!
First of all, my initial thought, here at the very beginning of the book, is how relevant it is today - even though it was written in 1942. The state of the 'modern man' in 1942 is the same state as now - materialistic, distracted, and gullible to the callings of the current pop culture. Reference is made in Letter 1 to we humans' "philosophy of the future" and our seeking to be "strong" and "courageous" (sounds alot likebeing "fierce" or whatever the 'pop culture word of the week' is). I am reminded of the scripture that there is "nothing new under the sun", (see below) and surely no one knows that better than God - and the devil. I thought it was interesting, at the end of the letter, when Screwtape reminds his Understudy that they (demons) are not interested in TEACHING humans anything, only in 'fuddling' us.
Ecclesiastes 1:9 New International Version (NIV)9 What has been will be again, what has been done will be done again;
there is nothing new under the sun.
My first thought as I read Screwtape's second letter is how much there is to digest in these writings. The depth of this work is mind-blowing! I could never address everything of importance and insight in these letters, which is why I am counting on you to jump in with your own thoughts and reflections as you read. Secondly, I think it's interesting that Screwtape always refers to the human as the "patient"...... what do you think that suggests? (I gotta think on that).
Anyway, so this letter seems to be focused on 'churching' (not "The Church", aka the Body of Christ, which even the demons recognize as a legitimate threat to their work) - as in associating with a church congregation and attending church services. On the surface, the message of Letter 2 is about the hypocrisy, disillusionment, and disappointment we can experience in our church-going. Clearly, important information, as we know we follow our God, not a church. Yet, as I re-read Letter 2 (I'm finding I have to read each Letter 2 or 3 times, or more, to really 'get' everything), I think there's something else here:
Intellect and Free Will.
God gave us the intellectual ability to think, ponder, and even question. He gave us a beautiful mind and He expects us to use it. And with a 'free mind' comes 'free will' --- the capability to decide, after thinking and pondering and questioning our brains out as much as we want to, whether or not we are going to do something. In this case, we have free will in making our own decision whether or not to accept God as the Creator of the universe and Jesus as God's Son. Certainly, there is an emotional component to being a Christ Follower, but when we latch on to The Word intellectually, we are a force for the demons to reckon with - Screwtape acknowledges this in Letter 2. Emotions come and go, and can make us quite vulnerable to temptation and to mentally and spiritually "flit(ting) to and fro" (the preferred state for us by our Enemy). Emotions are not who we are -- our mind is.
Speaking of our mind -- Don't you wish you could remember scripture as well as you can remember that wrong somebody did to you 25 years ago?
Well, that's my take on Letters 1 and 2. Please feel free to jump in here --- you can even disagree with me. I don't "mind" (s0rry).
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