Sunday, January 2, 2011

My dear Wormwood...

If you haven't ever read The Screwtape Letters then consider this an invitation to do so. It's one of the most incredible and life-changing books that I've ever had the lovely opportunity to read. For those of you who aren't familiar with the story, let me explain: the entire book is written in letters from one devil (Screwtape) to his nephew (Wormwood) who is a brand new devil. Each and every letter is filled with loads of advice on how Wormwood should properly tempt his patient away from the Enemy. I love this book for more reasons than can be properly calculated with current mathematical processes. In my humble opinion, C.S. Lewis was something far greater than a genius and I swear he wrote this particular book just for me, even though we've never met in real life (I have quite the vivid imagination though). I recently decided to reread it, mostly because I have a tendency to reread familiar books when I feel like my world is most especially out of control. These quotes are some of my particular favorites:

"Of course, in the precise moment of terror, bereavement, or physical pain, you may catch your man when his reason is temporarily suspended. But even then, if he applies to Enemy headquarters, I have found that the post is nearly always defended." pg. 24

"Now is may surprise you to learn that in His efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, He relies on the troughs even more than the peaks; some of His special favourites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else. The reason is this. To us a human is primarily food; our aim is the absorption of its will into ours, the increase of our own area of selfhood at its expense. But the obedience which the Enemy demands of men is quite a different thing...He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself-creatures whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because He has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His." pg. 38

"He leaves the creature to stand up on its own legs-to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish. It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that it is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be. Hence the prayers offered in the state of dryness are those which please Him best. We can drag our patients along by continual temptation, because we design them only for the table, and then more their will is interfered with the better. He cannot 'tempt' to virtue as we do to vice. He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will, to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles." pg. 40

"Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys." pg. 40

"He really loves the hairless bipeds He has created and always gives back to them with His right hand what He has taken away with His left." pg. 72

That's not even close to all of them, but I'm pretty sure that it would take me all night to type them out. I'm not even going to try lying to you, this might be one of my all time favorite books (as if you couldn't tell by all the gushing that I've already done) and I wasn't kidding when I said that I swear C.S. Lewis wrote this book with me in mind. I don't know if I've ever understood myself as well as I have when reading this book. Promise me you'll read it if you haven't already?


Amy said...

Such a fabulous book! I listened to it too, and the reader was incredible. Love it.

e said...

that is an amazing book. I read once that it was the most difficult book for C.S. Lewis to write because he hated taking the viewpoint of the devil.

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