Quotes from the Screwtape letters

The Screwtape Letters

There are some great quotes in the Screwtape letters.   I posted a few on Wednesday, but I wanted to share one more.

The Screwtape letters are a series of letters written by a senior demon to a junior demon penned by Lewis and released in 1941.  The senior demon is mentoring his young apprentice in the finer points of directing men to hell (and away from the “Light”).  We see the subtlety of demonic thinking in his book, but we also see that Lewis was very aware of where certain thinking would end up going.

For instance, on the topic of whether man should know about the existence of demons, Screwtape notes:

Our policy for the moment, is to conceal ourselves.  Of course this has not always been so.  We are really faced with a cruel dilemma.  When the humans disbelieve in our existence we lose all the pleasing results of direct terrorism and we make no magicians. On the other hand, when they believe in us, we cannot make them materialists and skeptics.  At least, not yet.  I have great hopes that we shall learn in due time how to emotionalize and mythologize their science to such an extent that what is, in effect, a belief in us (though not under that name) will creep in while the human mind remains closed to belief in the Enemy. …If once we can produce our perfect work – the Materialist Magician, the man, not using, but veritably worshipping, what he vaguely calls ‘Forces’ while denying the existence of ‘spirits’ – then the end of the war will be in sight. (p31)

Can you say “new atheism”?  The modern atheist is a materialist magician who worships the force of “evolutionary progress” but yet denies spirits, and thus fits Screwtape’s description.  They take the bait offered to them by the spirits they don’t believe exist, and then proceed to flee into hell. By taking this stance they make themselves (needlessly) the enemy of Screwtape’s Enemy, and therefore a friend of demons.

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