I have been honored that Carrie has asked me to choose a book for her Reading to Know Classics Book Club for the past few years. Normally I choose a book I know, love, have reread multiple times, and am eager to share with others.
This year, however, I chose a book I have never read before: The Screwtape Letters by C. S. Lewis. It is a series of letters that a senior demon writes to a junior demon-in-training in how to win a man to their side. I enjoy reading Lewis, but I have avoided this book. Years ago when I first became a Christian, there was an emphasis on spiritual warfare that was honestly a little wonky in places. I read some of that kind of thing at the time, but later on avoided it except for when I would come across it in my Bible reading or hear it preached in church. I was always a little afraid of the devil. I knew he was greater and stronger than I was. I also knew that Jesus in me was greater than him, but I’d still rather keep my distance. I had this subconscious naive notion that if I left the devil alone, I wouldn’t attract his attention and he wouldn’t bother me as much. Some friends and I discussed once that our flesh gave us so much trouble that the devil didn’t really have to do too much with us. Both are mistaken and unbiblical views. On the opposite extreme, I have also known people who give the devil too much credit and see him behind every problem or issue. It’s good to be balanced and Biblically-based in this area.
After reading some other Lewis books last year, I looked up some excerpts from this book online and felt that it was finally time to read it. The verse that keeps coming to mind is II Corinthians 2:11: “Lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices.” It doesn’t pay to be ignorant of his ways. From what I have seen so far, Lewis handles this whole topic with irony and humor in some places but with convicting accuracy. I am looking forward to finally delving into this one because it is a classic I have neglected, because it is Lewis, and because I think it will be spiritually helpful.
Part of the enjoyment of a reading club, online or in person, is discussing the book with others who are also reading it. Carrie has a post here where you can let her know if you’ll be joining in, and at the end of the month she’ll have another post where we can share our thoughts or the links to our blog posts about the book. I think it is highly likely your library will have a copy, or you can find it in almost any form online (paperback, e-book, audiobook). Project Gutenberg Canada has a free online version here. I happened upon a good sale on the annotated e-book version last year – I’ll have to see if the extra notes are helpful or distracting. Whatever way you’d most enjoy reading it, I hope you’ll join us!