The Screwtape Letters – #1
And so it begins, but notice that it’s not at the beginning. Screwtape is responding to a letter that Wormwood wrote – but we don’t get to read. In fact – we never get to read what Wormwood writes – much as we never really get to “hear” what Satan “says” to us.
We are going to jump right in – so pay close attention to the characters!
My dear Wormwood,
I note what you say about guiding your patient’s reading and taking care that he sees a good deal of his materialist friend. But are you not being a trifle naïve? It sounds as if you supposed that argument was the way to keep him out of the Enemy’s clutches.
Don’t waste time trying to make him think that materialism is true! Make him think it is strong, or stark, or courageous—that it is the philosophy of the future. That’s the sort of thing he cares about.
1.1) What is the relationship between Screwtape and Wormwood?
1.2) Why does Screwtape call the man “the patient”?
The trouble about argument is that it moves the whole struggle on to the Enemy’s own ground.
By the very act of arguing, you awake the patient’s reason; and once it is awake, who can foresee the result?
Your business is to fix his attention on the stream. Teach him to call it ‘real life’ and don’t let him ask what he means by ‘real’.
1.3) Who is “The Enemy” and who is “Our Father Below”?
1.4) What does Screwtape mean by “real life”?
1.5) Even as he tells Wormwood to keep the patient focused on “real life” – he is worried that “argument” – thinking & reasoning – will move the struggle to The Enemy’s ground. By the very act of arguing, you awake the patient’s reason; Why would Screwtape be worried about this?
Remember, he is not, like you, a pure spirit. Never having been a human (Oh that abominable advantage of the Enemy’s!) you don’t realise how enslaved they are to the pressure of the ordinary. I once had a patient, a sound atheist,
He knew he’d had a narrow escape and in later years was fond of talking about ‘that inarticulate sense for actuality which is our ultimate safeguard against the aberrations of mere logic’. He is now safe in Our Father’s house.
1.6) There is a statement that Screwtape makes which is very telling – it gives an insight into something he is worried about:
Remember, he is not, like you, a pure spirit. Never having been a human (Oh that abominable advantage of the Enemy’s!)
What is he talking about and why is this an advantage for God?
You begin to see the point?
Above all, do not attempt to use science (I mean, the real sciences) as a defence against Christianity. They will positively encourage him to think about realities he can’t touch and see.
Do remember you are there to fuddle him. From the way some of you young fiends talk, anyone would suppose it was our job to teach!
Your affectionate uncle
1.7) Having already considered “reasoning” in 1.5, notice the statement Above all, do not attempt to use science (I mean, the real sciences) as a defence against Christianity. This sounds so backwards from what many people believe to be the case. How is it that science – which is so often used to try to disprove that God even exists – can be something that these devils are so afraid of?