Screwtape Letter #22 – Discussion Guide


This entry is part 47 of 65 in the series Screwtape Letters

Letter #22

Things must not be going so well for little Wormwood.

Maybe they were a little rough for Screwtape too?


My dear Wormwood,

So! Your man is in love—… You may be interested to learn that the little misunderstanding with the Secret Police which you tried to raise about some unguarded expressions in one of my letters has been tidied over. … 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.

22.1) So Wormwood tried to get his “affectionate Uncle Screwtape” in trouble.

Contrast this scenario with our relationship with Jesus in terms of

(a) The chances that taking Jesus’ advice would even lead to the need to call the “Secret Police”

 

 

 

 

Are there even 'secret police'
Would there be anything to report to God?

(b) When we do something to Jesus – His reaction to us as compared to Screwtape’s reaction to what Wormwood did.

 

 

Would Jesus correct us and still want us?
Would Jesus forgive us?
No matter what, if we ask, Jesus will always ______

I have looked up this girl’s dossier and am horrified at what I find. … The sort of creature who’d find ME funny! … Why doesn’t the Enemy blast her for it, if He’s so moonstruck by virginity—instead of looking on there, grinning?

22.2) Seeing – but not seeing?

How is it possible to see so clearly what’s going on – and not see it at all?

looks as if she’d faint at the sight of blood and then dies with a smile

The sort of creature who’d find ME funny!

Maybe if Screwtape could actually / thoughtfully answer his own question at the end of this paragraph he would get at least a clue as to what’s going on. But, he can’t – or won’t.

What are some possible reasons why not?

 

 

 

 

A simple starting point - Love

He’s a hedonist at heart. All those fasts and vigils and stakes and crosses are only a façade. … We fight under cruel disadvantages. Nothing is naturally on our side. (Not that that excuses you. I’ll settle with you presently. You have always hated me and been insolent when you dared.

22.3) Screwtape seems to be feeling a little self pity. Still seeing – but not seeing.

First, Screwtape says that God doesn’t understand – Ugh! I don’t think He has the least inkling of that high and austere mystery to which we rise in the Miserific Vision.

And then he goes on to say – Everything has to be twisted before it’s any use to us. We fight under cruel disadvantages. Nothing is naturally on our side.

Following on with the previous question – is there something preventing Screwtape (and us) from seeing the problem here? Given the second statement, should one maybe reconsider which side they’re on when everything is “naturally” against them?

 

 

 

 

Think again about what the devil actually 'creates'

Then, of course, he gets to know this woman’s family and whole circle. Could you not see that the very house she lives in is one that he ought never to have entered? The whole place reeks of that deadly odour. … It bears a sickening resemblance to the description one human writer made of Heaven: ‘the regions where there is only life and therefore all that is not music is silence’.

Music and silence—how I detest them both! … The melodies and silences of Heaven will be shouted down in the end. But I admit we are not yet loud enough, or anything like it. Research is in progress.

22.4) The more Screwtape sees – the less he sees.

Given the responses to questions 2 & 3, talk about how this “Noise” can make those things harder to overcome.

Along with that, consider that once it is overcome, what is the “impenetrable mystery” and how can it help to defend against being tricked by Satan again?

 

 

 

 

See the letter to the Church in Laodicea, especially the 2nd half

Meanwhile you, disgusting little—

[Here the MS breaks off and is resumed in a different hand.]

In the heat of composition I find that I have inadvertently allowed myself to assume the form of a large centipede. I am accordingly dictating the rest to my secretary. … In my present form I feel even more anxious to see you, to unite you to myself in an indissoluble embrace,

(Signed) TOADPIPE

For his Abysmal Sublimity Under Secretary Screwtape, TE, BS, etc

22.5) Uh Oh!

What just happened here?

What does it have to do with us? Can this happen to you or I?

 

 

 

 

Hint:

“Pshaw” is a reference to George Bernard Shaw – specifically to his ideas about a “life force” – obviously not God. This is why Screwtape looks at him as having grasped “the truth”.

Is Screwtape correct about this - and what are the consequences?

Vocabulary:

He’s a hedonist at heart. All those fasts and vigils and stakes and crosses are only a façade.

Hedonist– a person whose life is devoted to the pursuit of pleasure and self-gratification. 
 

Ugh! I don’t think He has the least inkling of that high and austere mystery to which we rise in the Miserific Vision.

Austere – solemn; serious. 
 
Miserific Vision – is a reference to to an earlier book by C. S. Lewis – Perelandra, which is the second book in the Space Trilogy. In Later editions, Perelandra was renamed to Voyage to Venus. The excerpt below explains the meaning.
 
 “As there is one Face above all worlds which merely to see is irrevocable joy, so at the bottom of all worlds that face is waiting whose sight alone is the misery from which none who beholds it can recover. And though there seemed to be, and indeed were, a thousand roads by which a man could walk through the world, there was not a single one which did not lead sooner or later either to the Beatific or the Miserific Vision.” 
 

Music and silence—how I detest them both! How thankful we should be that ever since Our Father entered Hell—though longer ago than humans, reckoning in light years, could express—no square inch of infernal space and no moment of infernal time has been surrendered to either of those abominable forces, but all has been occupied by Noise—Noise, the grand dynamism, the audible expression of all that is exultant, ruthless, and virile—Noise which alone defends us from silly qualms, despairing scruples and impossible desires.

Dynamisn – great energy, force, or power. 
 

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