Sunday, March 21, 2010

Thoughts on Screwtape

CS Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters has always been one of my favorites due to its aggressive reveal of the intense and intricate spiritual warfare we experience hourly but are often ignorant of. A book written so many years ago remains one of the most practical tools for identifying current tactics of the Devil, aka “the father below", while also rejoicing in the infallible dominance of Our God above. Not even a Demon, such as Screwtape can deny God’s “disgusting” ability to lavish love, patience and power on those He created. The Screwtape Letters unwraps the tangled mess our mind, body and spirit can be lost in without even realizing it.

The very tactics of Evil in this world are so, well, natural to the human experience that they are rarely sniffed at. How we pray, what we study, whether we go to church or not, whether we love or pity, or look down on others, whether we study science or philosophy or teacups for that matter can all be manipulated against our the safety of our very souls. Now whether one believes that a saint can be brought down by such tactics having already been saved is a separate matter. I’m not entirely sure I believe God ever really loses his grasp on his Beloved such as Screwtape describes- however I can clearly imagine a Demon’s life-long occupation as to continually distract and harm us on our path, perhaps desperately thinking they can really win in the end.

Setting aside then the philosophical debate on whether a saved soul can lose it’s salvation, the story itself is important to remind us that, particularly in the Western Hemisphere, Satan no longer needs frantic physical attacks, ghoulish visitations, or clear witchcraft to disable our effectiveness as Christians, (let alone to keep non-believers at bay). It takes very little to block from our eyes the opening to great darkness into our lives. It is the whitewashing of evil in the world that keeps us tied down. We can barely recognize its power in our lives let alone that it is there at all.

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