Easter

with my sincere apologies to C.S. Lewis and those who have loved his work

My dear Wormwood,

I have received your letter and noted with grave displeasure the apparent fear with which you hold the approaching season. While it is true that this time of year marks one of the great feast days of celebration for The Enemy’s followers, there is no need for this sort of abject panic which pours in sodden streams off your written pages. We have survived this terrible spectacle for centuries past and will continue to do so if we but proceed with a few simple cautions.

I was heartened by your report that your patient has begun to attend a “fundamentalist” church. Our Father Below has often found these groups to be a source of both great amusement and usefulness, especially in the way that they never cease to give him credit for trials and hardships that are of their own making. You are fortunate to have been given such easy patients for we have been issued detailed instructions for their care such that even you should find it impossible to fail.

It is imperative that you keep ever in your mind that our chief aim during these terrible days must not be to challenge but rather to subvert. We are only too happy to let these poor fools sing their insipid songs and have their tedious sermons so long as they are more consumed with being heard by others than listening to the lies of the Enemy themselves. Make them ever bearers of His Book but never true believers in it and we shall make quick work of them.

The more practical end of this grand design is simply to use the natural pride of place and station to take the eyes of these “fundamentalists” off The Enemy and his treachery and put their gaze instead on themselves and the faults of those around them. For in this season, many who would never think to enter a church will inexplicably and without warning dig their best clothes out of mothballs, round up their screaming children, and head for whatever territory of the Enemy happens to be most conveniently located near them. This is a prime opportunity for a diversion of all those regular members who will feel disdain for these interlopers as only being present merely because of the day and not (as they suppose the higher calling to be) out of perpetual duty. Do all you can to reinforce this feeling of pride in your patient by bringing his focus on their strange appearance, their fumbling with the hymnal, and their ignorance of when to sit and stand.

For the pièce de résistance, turn the mind of your patient to thoughts of how that “evangelizing” these seldom seen newcomers should be the focus of this day and of this season. Divert his thoughts from the remembrance of his own dalliance with The Enemy and the lies of what the greater significance of this day may be and turn his focus outward upon those “poor lost souls” for whom he can feel pity, or disgust, or annoyance or anything save kinship and brotherhood. For in no case may he be allowed to remember that both he and these strangers are alike formed of dust and that the Enemy has maliciously designed his plan to encompass both the pious and the poor in spirit. For if your patient can be convinced that his duty lies not in loving the Enemy but rather in the prideful pity of those around him, you may rest assured that all the songs and sermons in Christendom will have no more effect on him than if he were already safely with Our Father Below.

Your affectionate uncle,
SCREWTAPE

40 thoughts on “Easter”

    1. I think a series would take it from being an homage to the genius of Lewis to being something more akin to intellectual thievery. :)

    1. I re-read it nearly every year. My copy has notes written all over it. It’s one of my favorite books ever – so insightful yet humorous, interesting and challenging both.

  1. Well done Screwtape.
    I said it the other day, your devilish philosophy and terminology are nearly completely interchangeable with the IFB. I suspect that Your Boss has been very influential in designing the IFB movement and recruiting candidates for filling many of the pulpits and leadership positions. :twisted:

  2. Well-written. I admit until I came to the “Fundamentalist” bit I was wondering why you were apologizing to Lewis fans and thinking, “It’s been a long time since I read ‘Screwtape Letters’ if I don’t remember reading this part.” Bravo, sir, bravo.

  3. I’ve got to get back to the Screwtape Letters! right now I have an audio adaption of it with Andy Serkis as Screwtape and it is gorgeous!!

  4. WAH! Very nicely done — I think you captured Screwtape’s (or would that be Lewis’s) voice and tone . . . and beliefs! . . . wonderfully.

    I think Lewis would be proud.

  5. All kinds of richness in this Darrell! I love it.

    I especially was reminded of my need to love others not judge with your narrator’s advice to get the subject to “turn his focus outward upon those ‘poor lost souls’ for whom he can feel pity, or disgust, or annoyance or anything save kinship and brotherhood.”

  6. I’ve never read the Screwtape Letters. I never had a clear idea of what the book was about. Looks like I’ll be reading this in the very near future.

  7. “turn his focus outward upon those ‘poor lost souls’ for whom he can feel pity, or disgust, or annoyance or anything save kinship and brotherhood.”

    Great line in a great piece. You captured Lewis’ spirit well, so Bravo! And this really is the devilish viewpoint, isn’t it? Evil wins if we, being what we are, can nevertheless hold what other people are against them, and be turned from seeing humanity’s redemption as a broad, sweeping work of God in our world that does connect us to Christ and each other as kin.

  8. Delightful. The post DID (as Gary in FL says) “capture Lewis’s spirit well”. I’m not sure whether you should be pleased or disturbed by this.

      1. I think the potential disturbance was less that you emulated Lewis and more how well you got into Screwtape’s head.

        This fits right in with the ‘let him feel like he’s doing right while he’s really doing wrong’ feel of the original.

      2. Actually, just an allusion to Lewis’s own mixed feelings about how well he himself wrote from Screwtape’s perspective. He found it a little discomforting to crawl inside the devil’s head and write from that backwards perspective.

        So, no, I _don’t_ actually think it’s that disturbing. More of an inside joke suited to the English teacher that I am. :P

        1. Yes, I do recall Lewis expressing his displeasure at this type of writing.

          I suppose I spent so much time inside the heads of unsavory characters that writing from a demon’s viewpoint seems positively normal.

  9. “…so long as they are more consumed with being heard by others than listening to the lies of the Enemy themselves.”

    GREAT POINT!

  10. I also recommend “The Great Divorce” for insight about how people can deceive themselves and by selfishness and pride cut themselves off from God Himself.

  11. Lewis is one of the favorite targets of the Fundy Doctrine Police, not least because he smoked, one of his best friends (Tolkein) was a Catholic, and he liked to partake of the accasional beer or three (though the is no evidence that he ever got drunk)

    1. My parents warned me against him in college when they saw me reading his books, and last year, after I’d posted a couple Lewis quotes on FB, a fundy friend PMed with a warning and a link to an internet page that claims Lewis wasn’t a Christian. :roll:

      1. BJU teaches that Lewis wasn’t a Christian. I can’t bring him up to my BJU-sibling at all without getting the accompanying lecture.

  12. Darrell, Having never met Mr.Lewis, I don’t pretend to know what he would say to this, but I think you did a good job getting the spirit of Screwtape into the letter. I feel you honored Lewis, and would hope he would think so, also.

    I believe that I’ll go back and re-read Screwtape’s letters to young Wormwood. Thanks.

    1. You know, that’s a really good point. Jesus may well have been setting an example that we should reach out to those we might consider “lesser”, but let us never forget that we are the ones in that position–we are the ones who should justly receive “the due reward of our deeds”, and yet Christ, who “hath done nothing amiss”, suffered instead and, in his torment, reached out to me. Me! I can never be reminded of this too much.

  13. Apologies are unnecessary. That was as well executed as the original.

    The Screwtape Letters has always been one of my favorite books, since I read it for the first time. It fulfills both of my requirements for good entertainment: it makes me laugh, but it also makes me think.

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