Screwtape Letters is a masterpiece of religious satire written by C.S. Lewis. Although you may know him for his Chronicles of Narnia series, C.S. Lewis was a wonderfully versatile writer, and Screwtape Letters is just one of the proofs that he truly is a jack of all trades.
This novel changed many lives with its comic appearance and deeply meaningful undertone. In this article, I will give you 14 Screwtape Letters quotes to help you overcome any situation.
However, I first have to provide a bit of context. The Screwtape Letters is a Christian satirical novel in the form of a series of letters from a senior demon Screwtape to his nephew, working as a Junior Tempter. Nephew Wormwood seeks his uncle’s help to secure the damnation of a man known as the Patient.
Although at moments hysterical, Screwtape’s letters give readers an insight into the writer’s theological and ethical worldview. That’s why I chose 14 Screwtape Letters quotes that can help you through any difficulty.
Important Screwtape Letters Quotes
#1. “There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human’s mind against the Enemy [God]. He wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.”
#2. “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 and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”
#3. “Prosperity knits a man to the world. He feels that he is finding his place in it, while really it is finding its place in him.”
#4. “When He [God] talks of their losing their selves, He means only abandoning the clamor of self-will; once they have done that, He really gives them back all their personality, and boasts (I am afraid, sincerely) that when they are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever.”
#5. “The man who truly and disinterestedly enjoys any one thing in the world, for its own sake, and without caring two-pence what other people say about it, is by that very fact forewarned against some of our subtlest modes of attack.”
#6. “Courage is not simply one of the virtues, but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means, at the point of highest reality. A chastity or honesty or mercy which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions. Pilate was merciful till it became risky.”
#7. “Whatever men expect, they soon come to think they have a right to; the sense of disappointment can, with very little skill on our part, be turned into a sense of injury.”
#8. “The humans live in time but our Enemy [God] destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity. Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom and actuality are offered to them.”
#9. “You must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption ‘My time is my own’. Let him have the feeling that he starts each day as the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours. Let him feel as a grievous tax that portion of this property which he has to make over to him employers, and as a generous donation that further portion which allows to religious duties. But what he must never be permitted to doubt is that the total from which these deductions have been made was, in some mysterious sense, his own personal birthright.”
#10. “We must picture hell as a state where everyone is perpetually concerned about his own dignity and advancement, where everyone has a grievance, and where everyone lives with the deadly serious passions of envy, self-importance, and resentment.”
#11. “We have made men proud of most vices, but not of cowardice. Whenever we have almost succeeded in doing so, God permits a war or an earthquake or some other calamity, and at once courage becomes so obviously lovely and important even in human eyes that all our work is undone, and there is still at least one vice of which they feel genuine shame. The danger of inducing cowardice in our patients, therefore, is lest we produce real self-knowledge and self-loathing, with consequent repentance and humility.”
#12. “Men are not angered by mere misfortune but by misfortune conceived as injury. And the sense of injury depends on the feeling that a legitimate claim has been denied.”
#13. “It is far better to make them live in the Future. Biological necessity makes all their passions point in that direction already, so that thought about the Future inflames hope and fear. Also, it is unknown to them, so that in making them think about it we make them think of unrealities. In a word, the Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time—for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays. Hence the encouragement we have given to all those schemes of thought such as Creative Evolution, Scientific Humanism, or Communism, which fix men’s affections on the Future, on the very core of temporality. Hence nearly all vices are rooted in the future. Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead.”
#14. “Even of his sins the Enemy does not want him to think too much: once they are repented, the sooner the man turns his attention outward, the better the Enemy is pleased.”
Hopefully, these Screwtape Letters quotes will follow you through your hardships and help you prevail over them. Even if you are not a devout Christian, this book definitely has something to teach you about morality and the human experience. Therefore, if you found these quotes intriguing, consider reading the whole thing.
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