Engaging Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

The threads woven through all our readings have been the strands of our human condition viewed through the lens of mythology, of psychology, of prayer, of ritual, and now the lens of satire. Each lens sheds light on a different angle of the elephant, inviting us to experience the “awe at our own ignorance and our inability to ever get things right”  (Sara Regina Ryan).  Once that elephant is adequately realized, our human adventure begins!

“I had to accept that what I had previously called my soul was not at all my soul, but a dead system. Hence I had to speak to my soul as to something far off and unknown, which did not exist through me, but through whom I existed.”

C.G. Jung

Each author in the Mystic Heart Series has provided a scaffolding for discerning the conscious from the unconscious, shadow from light, human from God, world from God, world from human, adaptation (ambitious) demands from spiritual demands, ego from Self, persona from Self or Soul, the archetypal from temporal.  Each emphasizes the gift of awakening to our human condition, to Love, to interior freedom. 

“In the gap between intention and outcome lies ubiquitous interruptions” (James Hollis).  Coming to consciousness – awakening to our human condition, our human potential, our human nature – involves preparing to meet those interruptions with prepared intention, attention, and resolve built through experience in contemplative/reflective space and dialogue with the external.   The aim is to move forward into wholeness (not goodness), awaken to our potential and realize interior freedom.  Along the way we come to know what lurks in the shadows of our conscious experience and bring those shadows toward the light, toward the Soul’s Will. 

In the Preface of his 2nd Edition of the Screwtape Letters, it reads 

Readers are advised to remember that the devil is a liar. Not everything that Screwtape says should be assumed to be true even from his own angle.

There is wishful thinking In Hell as well as on earth.

Some have paid me an undeserved compliment by supposing that my letters were the ripe fruit of many years study of moral and ascetic theology.  They forget that there is an equally reliable though less creditable way of learning how temptation works.  My heart, I need no others, showed me the wickedness of the ungodly.

C.S. Lewis

As you read the Screwtape Letters consider preparing yourself to meet those wicked interruptions through contemplative active writing and write your own letter to Wormwood, in the voice of Screwtape, that reflects subtle experiences you have had of slowly falling into the gap between intention and outcome, away from the Presence, following Slubgob,  Glubose, Slumtripet or Wormwood himself…or relying on your “will” alone or your sense of “will” that lies in the concentric circle of fantasy that Screwtape describes in Letter 6.   For most, daily happenings can provide plenty of material!  In your letter you may show how you befuddled the aim of Screwtape or how Screwtape continues to befuddle you, at least once or possibly many times through the troughs and peaks of life.  The points in your letter may overlap with those in the book or not. As you read and/or write, capture a phrase (personal or extracted from the book) and write it on a piece of paper to reflect on.  Use color and shape to express what is moving within you as you are reading/writing.

Author: Kairos Spiritual Direction and Life Coaching

Rachel Magnell, Ph.D. is studied in Counseling Psychology, Neuroscience, Jungian Depth Psychology, Hypnosis, Yoga Philosophy and Meditation.

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