Caroline Dotson

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Caroline Dotson

Caroline Dotson: 'Screwtape Letters' a philosophical view of Satan


Caroline Dotson

Caroline Dotson's columns appear Wednesdays in the Craig Daily Press and Saturdays in the Saturday Morning Press.

"The Screwtape Letters" is a classic C.S. Lewis book based on the philosophy of Christianity. Lewis is best known for his "Chronicles of Narnia" series.

Screwtape, a senior demon, is writing letters to his nephew, Wormwood, concerning an ordinary man they refer to as the Patient. Wormwood is trying everything in his evil power to push the Patient away from God, the Enemy.

Screwtape is giving Wormwood advice concerning the best areas of distraction, including all aspects of faith, morals and pride for his nephew to use against the Patient.

Screwtape wants to see Wormwood confuse the Patient rather than tempt him.

The setting is World War II, and Screwtape suggests using fear as a tactic to try to sway the Patient toward their Father Below. Wormwood is unsuccessful in his attempt.

The Patient dies during combat, still believing in God. At death, the Patient realizes that there were angels and demons in the spiritual world, fighting for his soul.

My favorite line from the book is at the end, when Wormwood has lost the Patient to death and he needs reassurance of Screwtape's love:

"Love you? Why, yes. As dainty a morsel as ever I grew fat on."

It just sounds so evil and satisfying, as if Screwtape is going to devour his nephew, for failing the mission.

Lewis wrote this story in 1942, dedicating it to his friend, J.R.R. Tolkien.

The book is a compilation of 31 letters containing literature different from today's typical writing. I often struggle with the classics because of the outdated writing. I read much of the book with a dictionary and read past some of the words I didn't 100 percent understand.

The book takes on a philosophical view of Satan that is not often considered.

I have read "The Demon: A Memoir" by Tosca Lee, which shares a similar viewpoint. The two books are from the demon's standpoint and show how Satan's workers hate the human race.

"The Screwtape Letters" remind me of aspects often overlooked in my own Christian walk. Satan has been able to trip me up on my motives, and I'd better understand the effect fear can have on faith.

"The Screwtape Letters" is one of C.S. Lewis' best-selling books but the one book he found to be the least fun to write.

The book has been referenced in songs, movies and even at the pulpit. It has become a theatrical play and has been recently purchased, in hopes, to become a box-office-hit at the movie theater.

Caroline Dotson, of Downtown Books, writes book reviews for Craig Daily Press. She can be reached at


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