I was going to just add this in with my Stack of Books reviews, but as it turned out, I had some things to say, and I supposed it would be appropriate to then give this a post all its own.
To begin with, a Story with Some Background:
I listened to the audio book version of The Screwtape Letters, which is the first audio book I’ve had anything to do with for a long time, since I’ve always been skeptical about them. Reading a story, and listening to someone else read it to you, are two completely different animals, at least in my mind, and I’ve had trouble with audio books in the past. So, when the audio book craze came into being, I shrugged, same as I did when ebooks became so very popular, and said they just weren’t for me.
But then my brother got in to listening to audio books, and he kept telling me about how this narrator was really good or how that story was awesome, so I became more willing to try it. But I still didn’t want to jump in and buy one, not knowing how well I was going to like it. Then I discovered this app thing for these devices they call smartphones, which lets you borrow digital audio books from the library, and having just over the last several months come into possession of one of these devices, I now have access to this tool.
I thought this was a good compromise, a way to test the waters.
I’ve been wanting to read The Screwtape Letters for a while, and my brother said that Joss Ackland does an amazing narration. So thus I began my foray into audio books. And he was right. Not only did Ackland do an incredible job with Screwtape, the story itself is both interesting and creepy. How often do we get stories from the enemy’s point of view? It holds a great deal of insight on the spiritual warfare that rages on in our world, and how we can be deceived and led astray by things that don’t initially seem wrong or inattentive. Screwtape insists to his nephew (both demons, or ‘tempters’) that he should keep his ‘patient’ as ignorant as possible about what is really going on. The more he is aware of the struggle for his soul, the harder it is for the tempter to persuade him into hell. Ignorance is principal to the effort of claiming and devouring a soul.
I found myself summarily convicted and encouraged, because the more aware we are of the wiles of the enemy, the less likely we are to fall for his deceptions. The part about prayer in particular struck home, as I’ve always struggled with it. If I talked to people in the same manner I talk to God, they would think I’m an airhead with ADD. I need to keep myself centered and focused, reminding myself always of just who it is I’m talking to.
Also, that last portion when Screwtape is addressing the graduate tempters and talking about democracy, I thought was an accurate and perfectly disconcerting picture of our country today. The target was largely the ‘English district’, with whom he was most familiar, but it is remarkably applicable to America as well. Our thoughts and motives as a nation are wholly susceptible to skewed morals and a herd mentality that’s swiftly demanding that we stray from what is right in order to accommodate everyone and everything into a false state of hakuna matata. This is something we as Christians and the Church of Christ need to be more acutely aware of and fight against, but also being careful that we remember it’s not against people, against flesh and blood, with whom we are contending, but the principalities, powers, and rulers of darkness of this present age.
Lewis confessed that The Screwtape Letters was a hard thing to write, but I can only thank him for his efforts, not only to scorn the enemy, but to make us more aware of his methods, that we might better recognize the threats, avoid them, and warn our brothers and sisters against them.
I highly recommend this book, in whatever format you can get your hands on.