What Screwtape Taught Me About Demons

Two of my drafts and my old copy of The Screwtape Letters

My Dear Readers,
I have been told by some of you, that if I should endeavor to better understand how ‘demons’ cause strife to mankind, I should read The Screwtape letters. Penned by C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters is a collection of letters from an elder demon, Screwtape, to his nephew, Wormwood, instructing Wormwood on how to ‘ensnare’ humans. I am specially glad to report that I have read the collection over the previous week. I have found it particularly insightful into how a demon might think.

The first new perspective this book gave me was how demons might tempt humans. According to this book, demons don’t often place irresistible choices before you as often as they try to keep God’s will out of your mind. This is because they know the human body is inherently evil and resisting the body’s urges without God is unfeasible. Furthermore, demons try to keep God out because they understand that they can’t win grand logical debates against God. Therefore, rather than convincing you the choice is logically sound, they try to arouse your feelings and try to make you feel the sinful choice is more rewarding. An example of this would be a dilemma where you’re agitated at someone. You know yelling won’t logically help the situation, but you feel yelling will help covey your point and they deserve it.

In one letter, Screwtape describes the befuddling of the mind as a potent approach for deceiving humans. Sometimes demons run into a predicament where God is trying to speak to you, but they know they can’t battle God with logic. Hence, they try to befuddle you by focusing your attention on any sort of distraction possible. Should you be in a room with another man who has a squeaky boot, the boot will become insatiably irritating. While you are trying to pray or seek God, you will constantly be bombarded with distracting thoughts, like how you might have left the front door unlocked, or need to check Facebook.

Another devious method Screwtape describes, is to confuse a human’s sense of reality. Your reality is defined by what you believe actually exists, is permanent, and is not an illusion. Nothing helps demons more than convincing you to take a brisk walk outside to clear your thoughts of the unseen (God) and get a dose of, “Real life”, the visible world around you. This walk in the physical world leads many to think of the ordinary, and how there’s no need to deliberate about religion when you’re fine where you are in your ordinary life. As Screwtape puts it, “Humans find it all but impossible to believe in the unfamiliar while the familiar is before their eyes.”

In conclusion, I observed The Screwtape Letters to be quite fascinating and enjoyed C.S. Lewis’s style of writing. I was intrigued by the concept of demons trying harder to keep God out of your head than they endeavor to directly tempt you. I also related to the book when it explained how distractions tend to rise up, just as you are trying to concentrate. After reading the chapter about confusing the sense of reality, I noticed how many times I have personally had that experience but couldn’t put my finger on it. I have only discussed a few of the topics and concepts covered in this book. If you enjoyed what I wrote, I would suggest reading The Screwtape Letters for yourself.

Your appreciative writer,
Holt

  • I intentionally tried to write this article in the same writing style as the book. It’s a a bit difficult to understand, but It was a fun voice to write in.
    What do you think?

    • carterfsmith

      I was going to say your writing style feels similar to Lewis’. That’s a knack that most cannot get. Perhaps you could try that method on future book reviews? If you are interested, my youngest has a ton of Lewis’ works. I don’t think he would mind loaning them to you (they are in storage).

      • Thanks for the suggestion,
        I’ll try using a writing style similar to Lewis’s for some review, but make it more easily readable.

      • Thanks for offering to loan me some of Lewis’s works, but I believe my parents have most of C.S. Lewis’s books since Lewis is one of their favorite authors.
        Thanks for reading!