Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Book Review: The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

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BOOK review
Started on: 11 January 2018
Finished on: 22 January 2018

Title : The Screwtape Letters
Author : C.S. Lewis
Publisher : HarperCollins
Pages :  224 pages / 228 pages (e-book)
Year of Publication : 2017
Price : Rp 210,000 (https://www.periplus.com/)

Rating: 4/5

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"Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts,..."
In this book, the author stumbled upon a bunch of letters written by Screwtape, a devil whose words should not be taken as the truth. In these letters, Screwtape writes to his nephew, Wormwood, who's a novice tempter in charge of a British man referred to as the Patient. His letters are filled with advice on how to best tempt the Patient into sin—and eventually into Hell. However, Wormwood seems to be doing really badly in his efforts to tempt the Patient. And through Screwtape's letters, we will get to see the human world from the perspective of the devil's eyes.

"It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds: in reality our best work is done by keeping things out."
image source: here. edited by me.
I first heard about this book a long time ago and has been curious about it ever since. I got this book from Book Depository along with other C.S. Lewis' books because they were on sale. At first, I thought this was a non-fiction book 😂—my bad, because I didn't read the summary on the back cover. So when I started reading and discovered the premise of the book, I was instantly mind-blown. It's a brilliant idea to tell a story written in letter forms from the perspective of Screwtape, a devil/experienced tempter—which causes him to call God 'The Enemy' and refers to the devil as 'Our Father Below'. Screwtape writes his letter to his nephew, Wormwood, who's a novice tempter who struggles in tempting his 'Patient' into sin. The story is a bit difficult for me to comprehend at first because everything seems to be in reverse than what I'm used to (calling God the enemy and stuff like that); so it took me a while to process some things. And another thing that's made it difficult for me to read this book is because there are a lot of vocabularies that are unfamiliar to me 😥😥. Despite all the difficulty, I still find this book very fascinating to read 😆.
"All extremes, except extreme devotion to the Enemy, are to be encouraged."
The main storyline in this book is mostly about how Wormwood struggled to tempt his Patient into sin, which causes Screwtape to be frustrated with the progress. But the most interesting part in this book for me is seeing the devil's perspective of human kind. I know this is fictional but I found some topics that are very relatable to our world these days. I'll share some of my favorite ones that serves as a reminder for me as well:
"It remains to consider how we can retrieve this disaster. The great thing is to prevent his doing anything. As long as he does not convert it into action, it does not matter how much he thinks about his new repentance."
⭐ The first one is when the Patient renewed his faith in God (called the Enemy in this book). Screwtape emphasized that Worwood should prevent the Patient to put his faith into action. I recently was reminded that most of the time we tend to delay doing things that we can be doing right now. Many times I resolved to do something to boost my spirituality, but I like to procrastinate and reasoned that I will do it the next day. Sadly, that day usually never comes.
"Your patient has become humble; have you drawn his attention to the fact? All virtues are less formidable to us once the man is aware that he has them, but this is specially true of humility. Catch him at the moment when he is really poor in spirit and smuggle into his mind the gratifying reflection, 'By jove! I'm being humble', and almost immediately pride—pride at his own humility—will appear. If he awakes to the danger and tries to smother this new form of pride, make him proud of his attempt—and so on, through as many stages as you please."
"You must therefore conceal from the patient the true end of Humility. Let him think of it not as self-forgetfulness but as a certain kind of opinion (namely, a low opinion) of his own talents and character. Fix in his mind the idea that humility consists in trying to believe those talents to be less valuable than he believes them to be. By this method thousands of humans have been brought to think that humility means pretty women trying to believe they are ugly and clever men trying to believe they are fools."
⭐ The quote above really hit me hard when I read it 😂😂. I think humility is something a lot of people struggled with, because I believe pride is part of our human nature. I read these passages over and over because I want to really understand and let it sink in. The idea of being proud of our humility itself shows that we are still prideful. 👏🏻👏🏻 The second quote shows how most of us have gotten the wrong idea about humility. It's not about low opinion of self, but more about self-forgetfulness.
"Since the Enemy's servants have been preaching about 'the World' as one of the great standard temptations for two thousand years, this might seem difficult to do. But fortunately they have said very little about it for the last few decades. In modern Christian writings, though I see much (indeed more than I like) about Mammon, I see few of the old warnings about Worldly Vanities, the Choice of Friends, and the Value of Time."
⭐ Here's the last one that I will share in this review so I won't spoil too much for those who haven't read this yet. Sometimes several temptations are preached to us more than others; just like what the quote state above. That might make us unaware of all the other things that might tempt us. This part made me aware that the devil is always on the lookout for things that can make us fall.


"Our cause is never more in danger, than when a human, no longer desiring, but intending, to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys."
I am so amazed at just how much I could learn and get from these letters from the devil 😂. By reading Screwtape's ways of tempting humans, I figured out ways to slip away from those temptations if I could. Another amazing thing is, these days when I have a bad thought/intention in my mind, I always think 'This is the devil working trying to tempt me; I should not give in' 😂😂😂. That trick works wonderfully for me; I guess it's because Screwtape's character kind of personify the devil in my everyday life. I usually never really think that much about how the devil thinks and works. Reading this book makes me so much more aware of it, thus I'm prepared with a counter-attack to prevent it (most of the time).

Lastly, I also love how Screwtape sometimes acknowledge the good things about God. Even though he doesn't say it outright as a good thing, Screwtape did a comparison between the devil and God—which obviously showed who's the 'better one' and who wants the best for us human kinds. In the end, I am touched and blessed by this book in numerous ways. And since this is my first time reading a book C.S. Lewis, I'm looking forward to reading more of his works!
"We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons. We want to suck in, He wants to give out. We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over. Our war aim is a world in which Our Father Below has drawn all other beings into himself; the Enemy wants a world full of beings united to Him but still distinct." 
"He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there, He is pleased even with their stumbles."
by.stefaniesugia♥ .

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