Studying “The Screwtape Letters” with My Husband

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The Screwtape LettersWho did not grow up reading the likes of The Chronicles of Narnia by C.S. Lewis? And who in Christendom has not been exposed to what is probably Lewis’s most famous book outside of Narnia, The Screwtape Letters? As of a 2011 article from The New York Times, the book was selling 150,000 copies a year regularly. The article quotes Michael Maudlin, an executive director at HarperOne, as saying, “I would say in the last 10 years, C. S. Lewis has sold more books than any other 10-year span since he started publishing. . . . He’s not only not declining, he is in his sweet spot.” So it was only natural that when I discovered that my husband had never read this Christian classic, having grown up in the middle of war-torn El Salvador and not exposed to Christian literature until coming to the U.S. and attending Bible school, it seemed like a perfect idea for us to read the book together.

For those not versed in The Screwtape Letters, let me give you a brief synopsis. The book consists of 31 letters written by the senior demon Screwtape to his nephew and junior demon Wormwood about first how to keep his “Patient” from finding God and then, once the man has become a Christian, from being an effective Christian. Each chapter addresses a particular sin that we as humans face, but from the twisted viewpoint of God as “the Enemy.” It really serves to challenge people in their moral lives. Even those who do not subscribe to the Christian faith can appreciate this book. They will find the interesting angle of the demons’ letters to be creative. But readers also will be able to see themselves in the letters and find useful moral lessons from the book.

For the month of January, my husband and I listened to a chapter each night and discussed the lessons found in The Screwtape Letters. I first read this book at the age of 12, when I found the book and its lessons to be too deep for me, but since then I have read the book several times, including in a college literature class. But none were as meaningful to me as reading the book with Jose. We found lessons for our own personal lives and also for teaching the children and youth in our church.

The audiobook is narrated by Ralph Cosham, and I found his performance to be highly effective as the evil Screwtape. Jose, not being a native speaker of the English language, had some difficulties in following the book, but I think some of that was because he is not used to listening to books, where he can’t take as much time to ponder the content. The British accent might have also given Jose trouble. But overall, I think he appreciated the audio narration of the book. We just had to take breaks to discuss the content.

This chance to read The Screwtape Letters with my husband was a special opportunity to study this great Christian classic. I found new lessons about human nature. (One valuable lesson was that most of the time when we blame the devil for putting bad ideas into our heads, the ideas really come from our own heads, and the devil’s role is to keep the good ideas out.) I recommend this book especially to all Christians, but also to those of other or no faiths to get lessons on getting along with others and live moral lives.

Reference:
Oppenheimer, M. (2011, March 4). C .S. Lewis’s legacy lives on, and not just through the wardrobe. The New York Times. Received from https://mobile.nytimes.com/2011/03/05/us/05beliefs.html?_r=0&referer=http://jimdaly.focusonthefamily.com/three-things-might-not-know-c-s-lewis-screwtape-letters/

To purchase this book for yourself, click here on Amazon.

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