Screwtape Letters, Part 2 FINALLY!

The Screwtape Letters, by C. S. Lewis, Part 2

Excerpts of letters from an affectionate demon uncle to his nephew Wormwood


‘No doubt he must very soon realize that his own faith is in direct opposition to the assumptions on which all the conversation of his new friends is based.  I don’t think that matters much, provided that you can persuade him to postpone any open acknowledgment of the fact… As long as the postponement lasts he will be in a false position.   He will be silent when he ought to speak and laugh when he ought to be silent.  He will assume, at first only by his manner, but presently by his words, all sorts of cynical and skeptical attitudes which are not really his.  But if you play him well, they may become his.   All mortals tend to turn into the thing they are pretending to be. 


‘Humour is for them the all-consoling and (mark this) the all-excusing, grace of life.  Hence it is an invaluable as a means of destroying shame… Cruelty is shameful – unless the cruel man can represent it as a practical joke… almost anything he wants to do can be done, not only without the disapproval but with the admiration of his fellows, if only it can get itself treated as a Joke.’



‘… Remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from the Enemy.  It does not matter how small the sins are, provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing… the safest road to Hell is the gradual one…’


‘Of course I know that the Enemy also wants to detach men from themselves, but in a different way. Remember, always, that He really likes the little vermin, and sets an absurd value on the distinctness of every one of them.  When He talks of their losing their selves, He means only abandoning the clamour of self-will; once they have done that, He really gives them back all their personality, and boasts (I am afraid, sincerely) that when they are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever. ‘


‘You must therefore conceal from the patient the true end of Humility.  Let him think of it, not as self-forgetfulness, but as a certain kind of opinion (namely, a low opinion) of his own talents and character.  His [the Enemy’s] whole effort, therefore, will be to get the man’s mind off the subject of his own value altogether.’


Even of his sins the Enemy does not want him to think too much: once they are repented, the sooner the man turns his attention outward, the better the Enemy is pleased.’


For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity… He would therefore have them continually concerned either with eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with the Present – either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from, Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.’


‘What He wants for the layman in church is an attitude which may, indeed, be critical in the sense of rejecting what is false or unhelpful, but which is wholly uncritical in the sense that it does not appraise – does not waste time in thinking about it rejects, but lays itself open in uncommenting, humble receptivity to any nourishment that is going… there is hardly any sermon, or any book, which may not be dangerous to us if it is received in this temper.’


Never let him notice the medical aspect.  Keep him wondering what pride or lack of faith has delivered him into your hands when a simple enquiry into what he has been eating or drinking for the last twenty-four hours would show him whence your ammunition comes…’


‘My good is my good, and your good is yours.  What one gains another loses.  Even an inanimate object is what it is by excluding all other objects from the space it occupies;…”To be” means “to be in competition”.  Now, the Enemy’s philosophy is nothing more nor less than one continued attempt to evade this very obvious truth.  He aims at a contradiction… The good of one self is to be the good of another.  This impossibility He calls Love…’



Meanwhile I enclose a little booklet, just issued, on the new House of Correction for Incompetent Tempters.  It is profusely illustrated, and you will not find a dull page in it.’

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