Screwtape Letter #13 – Discussion Guide

Letter #13

The previous letter asks if things can go too well.

We’re about to find out.



My dear Wormwood,

It seems to me that you take a great many pages to tell a very simple story. The long and the short of it is that you have let the man slip through your fingers. … It amounts to a second conversion—and probably on a deeper level than the first.

As you ought to have known, … Some humans are permanently surrounded by it and therefore inaccessible to us.

13.1) Letter # 12 starts off with “Obviously you are making excellent progress. My only fear is lest in attempting to hurry the patient you awaken him to a sense of his real position.”

It seems that something has happened. Talk about how Wormwood “messed up”. What was God’s involvement in this? What are some of the differences between the way God reacts when we do something wrong versus the way Screwtape is reacting to Wormwood’s mistake?





Compare to Nathan rebuking David
What does this teach us about God's relationship with us

And now for your blunders. …. Were you so ignorant as not to see the danger of this? … Didn’t you foresee … Now, all that is undone.

13.2) After letting Wormwood know that he (Wormwood) made a huge mistake, Screwtape gets down to specifics.

What mistake did Wormwood make? Think about the line from Letter #11, where Screwtape says “I divide the causes of human laughter into Joy, Fun, the Joke Proper, and Flippancy.”





If we look at the difference between joy and pleasure ...
If we do NOT look at the difference between joy and pleasure ...

Of course I know that the Enemy also wants to detach men from themselves, but in a different way. … I have known a human defended from strong temptations to social ambition by a still stronger taste for tripe and onions.

13.3) We see more of the differences between God’s view of us and Satan’s view.

A homonym is a word which is the same as another in sound and spelling but with a different meaning. God and Satan both want to “detach men from themselves, but in a different way”. Talk about this – for instance in what ways, why they have a different view of us, and what is the end result?





Consider God's promise to Jeremiah about his future

It remains to consider how we can retrieve this disaster. … 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,

Your affectionate uncle


13.4) Now that Screwtape has plainly laid the blame on Wormwood, it’s time to move forward.

What is Screwtape suggesting? Do you think it might work? Why or why not?





Consider 'darkness' versus 'light'
Will it work>


Let him, if he has any bent that way, write a book about it; that is often an excellent way of sterilising the seeds which the Enemy plants in a human soul..

Sterilising – Informal. to isolate or completely protect from unwanted, unauthorized, or unwholesome activities, attitudes, influences, etc.

In this case – killing whatever type of thought (seed) was planted by God.

Series Navigation<< Screwtape Letter #13 – QuestionsScrewtape Letter #14 – Questions >>

References   [ + ]

1. From Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary. 2003 (C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen, T. C. Butler & B. Latta, Ed.). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.

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