Great Summer Reads: The Screwtape Letters

Though I don’t exclusively read fiction in the summer, I always want to.

This summer’s no different, so I thought I would examine some of my favorite fiction reads and share them periodically throughout the summer.

First up: The Screwtape Letters.

Ah, here‘s an old friend. My battered old copy of Screwtape was marked and dog-eared and loved. It wasn’t mine at first, so it wasn’t \my name written in maroon marker inside the front cover. I loved it so much after reading it (via audio) the first time that I reread it within months while leading a summer study with a group of women.

I now have a less battered copy, because I lent that copy to someone (I couldn’t help it! It’s one of my favorite books…to read and to share!).

For me, this book is an examination of conscience. It’s also a good reminder that there are forces of evil working against us all.the.time.

In the summer, I love having a book that makes me think differently about the world around me. (Ignore the fact, for the moment, that this is a selling point, for me, in any book.) This book has the advantage of also inspiring a number of other works, and I am a sucker for reading source material. Besides that, C.S. Lewis is just fabulous. Need I say more?

The premise of The Screwtape Letters is that a senior devil/tempter, Screwtape, is writing to his nephew, Wormwood, about Wormwood’s “patient.” Everything is backwards – what’s good to Screwtape is NOT good to us. When he refers to Our Father Down Below, he’s talking about Satan, and the Enemy is God. This alone is enough to delight me as a reader.

The Screwtape Letters struck me, the first time through, as though it was one of the best examinations of conscience I have yet found. It made me consider sin in a whole new way. It made me think about angels and demons – especially demons – as workers with a stake, and as forces that I can beat, but not alone. It made me see the need for God in my life ever more, ever more.

Many years later, I still consider it one of the best examinations of conscience I’ve found.

The second time through, I was reading more carefully. Since I had listened to the audio version the first time, different things leapt out at me when I went back through it with the book study. I was again struck by the fact that this was, in effect, a description of ME, and it was a starting place for an examination of conscience.

Be sure to make time to read this book. It’s relatively short, available even at my small town library, and the audio version is quite stunning.

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