11 Quotes From The Screwtape Letters That Make it So Worth Reading
Start writing a post

11 Quotes From The Screwtape Letters That Make it So Worth Reading

This book is highly acclaimed for a reason.

11 Quotes From The Screwtape Letters That Make it So Worth Reading
The Catholic Catalogue

I happened upon C.S. Lewis's "The Screwtape Letters" last week. I expected to find insight, something vaguely interesting to read, and the ability to check it off my reading list. And while I did find insight and I am able to truthfully say I've read the book, I also found The Screwtape Letters to be extremely profound - there are phrases and statements that struck a chord so strongly with me, I couldn't comprehend how Lewis could have known to write about them. This book is a masterpiece, and there is a reason why it's so highly recommended.

For those who are not familiar, the Screwtape letters are a collection of letters supposedly written by a devil, or a tempter, named Screwtape. He is writing to his young nephew Wormtail, who is just learning the ways of tempting and leading people, or 'patients', away from God, or as Screwtape and his fellow devils call him, the Enemy. The result is a fascinating examination of the flaws of man. I recommend this book for all, spiritual or not- even though it is a bit more heavy material, the messages that are conveyed really make you re-examine all of your own interactions. I have compiled a few of the phrases that struck me to the core most deeply, simply because I think everyone should have to read these at least once:

1. "Teach them to estimate the value of each prayer by their success in producing the desired feeling; and never let them suspect how much success or failure of that kind depends on whether they are well or ill, fresh or tired, at the moment" (21).

It is far too easy to fall into the habit of letting your current mood dictate your perception of your spiritual well-being, where in reality emotions do not dictate it whatsoever.

2. "There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human's mind against the Enemy. He wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them" (28).

This was one that really made me stop and think, because I like to focus on the future and try to plan my time. I think it is important to make sure that doesn't morph into a lack of action in the present, by worrying about the possibilities of what could happen.

3. "If you can once get him to the point of thinking that 'religion is all very well up to a point,' you can feel quite happy about his soul. A moderated religion is as good for us as no religion at all- and more amusing" (43).

Again, this statement made me stop cold, because I have heard people feel this way so many times, and even myself have fallen into thinking this way. It is so easy to simply have a separate box for religion that is opened up maybe once a week, and forget about it the rest of the time, where in reality that is simply not a relationship.

4."The more often he feels without acting, the less he will be able ever to act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel" (61).

This was a big wake-up call for me. I know often I feel bad for somebody, or about a situation, but then I don't really do anything about it, and after a while, I am somewhat numbed to the person or the situation- and that is scary.

5."It is far better to make them live in the Future...it is unknown to them, so that making them think about it we make them think of unrealities... it is the most completely temporal part of time- for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays" (68).

I just loved the description of the Past and Present. Also, it pointed out how we need to be careful not to overly focus on the future, as often we have no idea what it holds.

6. "You must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption 'My time is my own'. Let him have the feeling that he starts each day as the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours...The man neither make, nor retain, one moment of time; it all comes to him by pure gift; he might as well regard the sun and moon as his chattels" (96).

I am totally guilty of this. If I planned to spend an evening relaxing at home, and somebody decides to come over, I feel robbed. But really, why do we feel this way? It really is all a gift, that we should be grateful for every day.

7. "For the presence of the Enemy, otherwise experienced by men in prayer and sacrament, we substitute a merely probable, remote, shadowy, and uncouth figure, one who spoke a strange language and died a long time ago. Such an object cannot in fact be worshipped" (107).

I found this extremely interesting. This is a fascinating way to describe Jesus, because it sounds so completely disconnected from today's society, and yet alarmingly it is probably the view held by many.

8. "The thing to do is to get a man at first to value social justice as a thing which the Enemy demands, and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce social justice. For the Enemy will not be used as a convenience" (108-109).

With a large interest in social justice, this stood out to me. I think it is important to retain balance.

9. "We have trained them to think of the future as a promised land which favoured heroes attain- not as something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is" (119).

Currently being in transition years of my life, the future is a big question mark, and so this idea of the future interested me. Every new day is part of the future, instead of a land of success that you reach once you graduate or get married, and I think that is important when thinking about how we live each day.

10. "Let him say that he feels hatred not on his own behalf but on that of the women and children and that a Christian is told to forgive his own, not other people's enemies. In other words let him consider himself sufficiently identified with the women and children to feel hatred on their behalf, but not sufficiently identified to regard their enemies as his own and therefore proper objects of forgiveness" (136).

Hatred can be easy to excuse sometimes because of a horrible incident or the people that were injured because of it. But hatred only leads to more hatred- love is always the trump card in the equation.

11. "A chastity or honesty or mercy which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky" (137-138).

This is the last statement, and I think it fits that spot, because it was one of the phrases that caused me to stop and think the most. It has become so common to value helping others- until it could have a potential backlash to ourselves. But then are we any different from Pilate? It's an interesting question to ponder.

This book made me re-examine ideas and aspects of life that I had previously taken for granted. If you are looking for something to fill some of those extra summer hours, reading "The Screwtape Letters" is a good way to do it!

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Student Life

Top 10 Reasons My School Rocks!

Why I Chose a Small School Over a Big University.

man in black long sleeve shirt and black pants walking on white concrete pathway

I was asked so many times why I wanted to go to a small school when a big university is so much better. Don't get me wrong, I'm sure a big university is great but I absolutely love going to a small school. I know that I miss out on big sporting events and having people actually know where it is. I can't even count how many times I've been asked where it is and I know they won't know so I just say "somewhere in the middle of Wisconsin." But, I get to know most people at my school and I know my professors very well. Not to mention, being able to walk to the other side of campus in 5 minutes at a casual walking pace. I am so happy I made the decision to go to school where I did. I love my school and these are just a few reasons why.

Keep Reading...Show less
Lots of people sat on the cinema wearing 3D glasses

Ever wonder what your friend meant when they started babbling about you taking their stapler? Or how whenever you ask your friend for a favor they respond with "As You Wish?" Are you looking for new and creative ways to insult your friends?

Well, look no further. Here is a list of 70 of the most quotable movies of all time. Here you will find answers to your questions along with a multitude of other things such as; new insults for your friends, interesting characters, fantastic story lines, and of course quotes to log into your mind for future use.

Keep Reading...Show less
New Year Resolutions

It's 2024! You drank champagne, you wore funny glasses, and you watched the ball drop as you sang the night away with your best friends and family. What comes next you may ask? Sadly you will have to return to the real world full of work and school and paying bills. "Ah! But I have my New Year's Resolutions!"- you may say. But most of them are 100% complete cliches that you won't hold on to. Here is a list of those things you hear all around the world.

Keep Reading...Show less

The Ultimate Birthday: Unveiling the Perfect Day to Celebrate!

Let's be real, the day your birthday falls on could really make or break it.

​different color birthday candles on a cake
Blacksburg Children's Museum

You heard it here first: birthdays in college are some of the best days of your four years. For one day annually, you get to forget about your identity as a stressed, broke, and overworked student, and take the time to celebrate. You can throw your responsibilities for a day, use your one skip in that class you hate, receive kind cards and gifts from loved ones and just enjoy yourself.

Keep Reading...Show less

Unleash Inspiration: 15 Relatable Disney Lyrics!

Leave it to Disney to write lyrics that kids of all ages can relate to.

The 15 most inspiring Disney songs

Disney songs are some of the most relatable and inspiring songs not only because of the lovable characters who sing them, but also because of their well-written song lyrics. While some lyrics make more sense with knowledge of the movie's story line that they were written for, other Disney lyrics are very relatable and inspiring for any listener.

Keep Reading...Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments