I read the audio version of this book. It was read by Joss Ackland. I wish I had the time to read a hard copy instead of an audio copy, because it was very hard for me to follow. I kept having to rewind and re-listen.
This book is a series of letters written by a senior tempter — you know one of Satan’s angels — to a junior tempter. It is a compendium of letters illustrating how to get a new Christian convert to stray from various virtues and turn into a ho hum garden variety Christian.
For the person who is trying to better him/herself, this is a great book. For those who really don’t care about excellence, or why they are here or where they are going after they die, this may be a boring book.
In my opinion, because of the reader, the old school flowery speech, and the abstractness of this book, one must sit down and study this book, not listen to it. You must constantly remind yourself that you need to do the opposite of what Screwtape wants you to do, unless of course you want to become a bum and not really accomplish anything worthwhile in this life.
Yesterday I finished reading a similar book that seemed to be easier to understand. It is called The Brothers: A Novel (The Great and Terrible, Volume 1 — Prologue) . This novel gives a plausible history of Satan. More importantly it shows how Satan (aka Lucifer, Son of the morning, etc) can use his logic to bring someone over this his side.
In my opinion one of Satan’s best tools to cause non-peace is this: Every one wants to feel that they are doing the right thing, and that the sacrifice that they put in is respected by their peers. No one wants to be told that they are not as loved.
Does this sound too simplistic? Here are some examples. Here’s the first. Cain and Abel are supposed to sacrifice the firstlings of their sheep flock to God. Well, Cain is a farmer, and doesn’t happen to have a sheep ranch. He has to go to his brother to get a sheep to sacrifice. So he bends the rules and offers the produce from his farm. Well, God shows them that he accepts the sheep but not the produce from Cain. Cain is mad. So Satan says to Cain, “Hey you know, all you have to do is to slay your brother Abel, then those sheep will be yours and you don’t have to grovel to him to get your sacrifice.”
Another case, Joseph gets these dreams from God, showing his brother’s corn worshiping his corn. Another dream shows his brothers’ and parents’ stars worshiping his. To compound the problem his dad gives him the multi-colored coat, plus the dad loves Jospeh’s mother more; she is a lot prettier too.
The bothers don’t like this. They work hard than Joseph. Were they not born first? So they sell him as a slave.
Satan uses that to get people to do all kinds of mean things.
Well, anyway, there is a Satan. There is a God. They both inspire us to do bad or good. It is part of the plan. It gives us our free agency to choose. One of the reasons we are here on this earth is to prove ourselves by the choices we make. We cannot remember our life as spirit children of God. This is because we are here to be tested. If we grow toward the light of God and keep his commandments, then we will qualify to live with Him again.