Screwtape in 2024

by Nicole Austin
“There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors.” – Preface, The Screwtape Letters, C. S. Lewis

I first read C.S. Lewis’s The Screwtape Letters during the summer before my senior year in college, about six months before God finally captured my heart and forever altered the trajectory of my soul. I was interning at Simon & Schuster, and the publisher had recently reissued a set of C. S. Lewis’ classic books of apologetics in paperback form. At my office, there was a free shelf with extra copies of books that anyone could take, and I found myself in possession of an entire set of Lewis’ works, which I took home to my East Village sublet and began to devour.

The Screwtape Letters was unlike any book I’d ever read, a collection of fictional letters between two devils named Screwtape and Wormwood. In these letters, Screwtape, the older and more experienced devil, explains to his nephew Wormwood the best ways to lead a human astray, to cause them to ignore, minimize, or misunderstand God, and to seek their own pleasure and power apart from him. It was fascinating, brilliant… and painfully familiar.

I am excited to revisit this book more than twenty years later with other Cornerstone men and women. Considering that the book felt remarkably contemporary to me in 1998, despite having been written in 1941, I am intrigued to see how it reads in 2024. I can only imagine the ways in which we will be able to see new applications and techniques that have cropped up in the ensuing years. What would Screwtape have had to say to Wormwood about the Internet or cell phones? About social media and texting? He could have written an entire letter about Instagram influencers alone. In what ways does our current political climate show the fingerprints of demonic persuasion? What new tactics would Screwtape suggest to keep us divided and distracted?

If you find any of these questions intriguing, I hope you will join us to discuss The Screwtape Letters on Sunday, March 3rd. Registration is now open!
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