Screwtape Letters Part 3: Repost

UPDATE: This is a repost (with certain edits/improvements) of my most popular blog series in honor of the 50th anniversary of C.S. Lewis’ death.

Click here to get your copy of the 50th anniversary annotated edition.

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screwtape-logo.0Chapter 3

Screwtape offers his nephew some thoughts that will probably draw the “nod of recognition” from most readers. While he chooses the scenario of a mother-son relationship, I think Lewis would have done better to portray a husband-wife relationship as the context of this chapter. However, this is not to say Screwtape’s advice is not applicable to parent-child relationships, too. See if you can relate to the following selection:

“When two humans have lived together for many years it usually happens that each has tones of voice and expressions of face which are almost unendurably irritating to the other. Work on that. Bring fully into the consciousness of your patient that particular lift of his mother’s eyebrows which he learned to dislike in the nursery, and let him think how much he dislikes it. Let him assume that she knows how annoying it is and does it to annoy – if you know your job he will not notice the immense improbability of the assumption. And, of course, never let him suspect that he has tones and looks which similarly annoy her. As he cannot see or hear himself, this is easily managed.”

I believe that everybody has tones or looks or reactions that may annoy others, particularly those with whom they live. However, Christian charity demands that those who are annoyed make an effort to disregard the offending characteristics, assuming they are not sinful. Charity also demands that the offender not be intentionally annoying to those with whom they live. See, among other verses, Romans 12:18 and Philippians 2:2-3.Additionally, my experience is that it is easier to see sins in others than it is to see the same sins in my own life. Jesus addressed this issue in Matthew 7:3-5.The Christian must be careful not to allow “Wormwood & Co.” to have influence in these areas.

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