Books for this season. Screwtape letters – C.S. Lewis

As I have said before the current requirement for social distancing presents many challenges but also many opportunities. We need to embrace the opportunities as well as overcome the challenges.

For me this includes spending more time reading, it may mean that for you. I have been asked already for recommended books. I am currently rereading an old classic, Screwtape letters written by CS Lewis during the second world war, over 70 years ago. It is a series of letters from a senior devil to his nephew on how to tempt humans. It is an easy read but also profound and still very relevant. Certainly, one of the books I would commend to you at this time.

One of the letters deals with how to cause problems for a young Christian living with his mother. It could equally apply to any close relationship and speaks into situations when we may be sending more time with the same people than is usually the case.

The demon is encouraged to build up a habit of mutual annoyance, daily pinpricks that harm the relationship. This is to be achieved by –

  1. Keeping his mind on the inner life.

Keep his mind off the most elementary duties by directing him to the most advanced and spiritual ones….

You must bring him to a condition in which he can practise self-examination for an hour without discovering any of those facts about himself which are perfectly clear to anyone who has ever lived in the same house with him or worked in the same office.

  1. It is impossible to stop him praying for his mother, but we have ways of rendering his prayers innocuous.

Focus the prayers on the state of her soul, not her rheumatism. This means he is thinking of her sins and, in time, begins to pray for an imaginary person far removed from the real person.

I have had patients of my own so well in hand that they could be turned at a moment’s notice from impassioned prayer for a wife’s or son’s ‘soul’ to beating or insulting the real wife or son without a qualm.

  1. When people have lived together for a while there are things about each other that irritate.

Work on them! Remind him of how he dislikes the way his mother raises her eyebrow. Make him think she knows this and does it on purpose to annoy him. Never let him suspect the same is going on the other way around and how absurd that his mother could know it irritates him.

  1. Recognise hatred is expressed by saying things that if the words were written on paper appear harmless but are said in such a voice and at such a moment, that they are not far short of a blow in the face.

Each must demand that what they say is taken at face value whilst judging the other with the most over-sensitive interpretation. From every quarrel they can both go away convinced that they are quite innocent.

There is much more like this, practical, down to earth, witty and very relevant. 31 easy to read short chapter mean this can last you a month.

Paperback it costs £7.37 on Amazon

Kindle is only £2.29

I will publish other suggestions over the next few days.


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