Timothy Rice

⭐The Screwtape Letters

Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one--the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.

Rating: 5/5 – Timeless insights into the human condition
Read if you like: Christian philosophy

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I don’t know why it took me so long to read this book. I’ve been a fan of Lewis’s ever since I first read The Chronicles of Narnia almost 25 years ago, and Mere Christianity remains my all-time favorite non-fiction book. His ability to distill a complex idea into an elegant literary thrust is equalled only by Richard Feynman. Screwtape is no exception.

I could probably write a short essay on each of the 31 letters in Screwtape. The book contains far too much wisdom to process in a single reading, so I’m choosing to focus on a single point that particularly stood out to me. Similar to How to Win Friends and Influence People, I plan to re-read this book often.

At the beginning of the book, in the second letter, the demon Screwtape lectures his nephew about taking advantage of the “certain disapointment” that awaits his patient The individual the demon has been tasked with tempting. after the wonderous newness of his conversion to Christianity has faded. Lewis (through Screwtape) adroitly points out that this theme echos through every aspect of our lives, from studying the classics to marriage, marking “the transition from dreaming aspiration to laborious doing”.

As someone who probably has at least a minor ADHD affliction, this has been a struggle of mine for as long as I can remember. I’m really, really good at finding new interests and really, really bad at cultivating them for longer than a few months. Unfinished projects and forgotten passions trail me like the tail of a comet.

One of my personal goals for the remainder of the year is to actually get some ideas finished. I am resolving to add no new items to my to-do list until I cross a substantial portion of the existing items off. It’s time to embrace the quieter satisfaction that waits at the end of every “laborious doing”.