The Abridged Screwtape, part 1

Thursday, October 1st, 2015 at 8:03 am

Foreword from the editors

In the short years since its publication, Screwtape’s correspondence with his nephew has become something of a classic. Part training manual, part cautionary tale, it regularly tops the novice demon’s recommended reading list.

Unfortunately, with the human population growth explosion being such as it is, young demons are being pressed into service earlier and earlier with less and less opportunity to read even such short works as this. A great need exists for concise training materials that can be quickly read by novice demons overtaxed by the strain of managing multiple patients.

To this end, we, the editors, have put together this all new abridge collection of Screwtape. We hope it serves Our Father Below well.

Letter 1: Avoid reasoning and science

“The trouble about argument is that it moves the whole struggle onto the Enemy’s own ground. He can argue too; whereas in really practical propoganda of the kind I am suggesting He has been shown for centuries to be greatly the inferior of Our Father Below.”

“…the best of all is to let him read no science but to give him a grand general idea that he knows it all and that everything he happens to have picked up in casual talk and reading is ‘the results of modern investigation.'”

Letter 2: Keep him disillusioned with the church

“All you then have to do is to keep out of his mind the question ‘If I, being what I am, can consider that I am in some sense a Christian, why should the different vices of those people in the next pew prove that their religion is mere hypocrisy and convention?”

Letter 3: Promote little annoyances and disharmonies within the home

“Let him assume that she knows how annoying it is and does it to annoy – if you know your job he will not notice the immense improbability of the assumption. And, of course, never let him suspect that he has tones and looks which similarly annoy her.”

Letter 4: Keep him from praying

“Whenever they are attending to the Enemy Himself we are defeated, but there are ways of preventing them from doing so. The simplest is to turn their gaze away from Him towards themselves.

Letter 5: Do not rejoice overmuch in times of war, for the Enemy uses war to his own purpose

“Consider too what undesirable deaths occur in wartime. Men are killed in places where they knew they might be killed and to which they go, if they are at all of the Enemy’s party, prepared.”

Letter 6: Teach him to be anxious and to focus on his feelings

“[The Enemy] wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.”

Letter 7: Encourage extremes or keep people complacent, depending on the age

“All extremes except extreme devotion to the Enemy are to be encouraged. Not always, of course, but at this period. Some ages our lukewarm and complacent, and then it is our business to soothe them yet faster asleep. Other ages, of which the present is one, are unbalanced and prone to faction, and it is our business to inflame them.”

I’ve been reading (and haven’t yet finished) C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters with the Reading to Know Classics bookclub. Thanks Barbara for choosing this month’s read. Follow the links to find out what other readers are saying about the Letters.

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Reader Comments (3):

  1. Barbara H. says:

    I love your introduction! You’ve done well at picking out the highlights of each chapter. I came across a few I don’t remember – that’s one of the things I love about reading a book at the same time with others.

  2. What Barbara said. I love your introduction and overview.

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