"We want cattle who can finally become food," says the demon, "He wants servants who can finally become sons."
I originally posted this on my other blog, Notes in the Key of Life, on January 29, 2004.
I read "The Screwtape Letters" yesterday, and was once again struck by the wit and wisdom of C. S. Lewis.
Yes, I read the entire book...it's actually a pretty slim volume...and no, I had never read it before. I was home sick from work, fighting this bronchial/sinus/icky thing that has been making me feel rotten for the past few days. And there was nothing to read. So I breached the haven of my daughter's bedroom and found the book, which had been one of her Christmas presents. (She had read a library copy before and loved it.)
In case you're unfamiliar with it, the book is in the form of letters from a mentor demon (Screwtape) to a less experienced one (Wormwood.) Screwtape gives Wormwood advice on how to handle his "patient," the human to whom he has been assigned. His advice on methods to use to keep this man away from "the Enemy"...which is how he refers to God...is not only entertaining in a macabre sort of way, but convicting, as we see how often we as Christians cooperate with the real enemy's agenda.
A couple of things really stood out for me. One is how frustrated and bewildered the demons are by God's love for humans. "He actually likes the little vermin," Screwtape writes disgustedly at one point. That sentiment was repeated often.
Screwtape also talks about the fact that God wants to people the universe with little replicas of Himself...yet in making them more like Him, he also gives them back their own distinctness, making them more themselves than they ever were. "We want cattle who can finally become food," says the demon, "He wants servants who can finally become sons."
Another was (and this is a spoiler if you haven't read it) Screwtape's reaction to the patient's death. While furious that Wormwood has allowed a soul to slip through his clutches, he resignedly describes what the human must have been experiencing when his soul left his body. Screwtape is appalled that this "creature of slime" is now able to stand up and converse with spirit beings whose light the demons are unable to bear.
He also observes that, when meeting these spirit beings, the human instantly feels recognition...not asking "Who are you?" but saying, "So it was you..."
Wonderful book, with a lot of food for thought. Some people criticize Lewis' theology, but when I read one of his books, I'm usually inspired anew by the wonder of being a child of God...and that moves me to love Him more. And that's a good thing.
Participating today in Semicolon's Saturday Review of Books: