Facing Demons

I'm rereading "The Screwtape Letters" by C.S. Lewis. Since my first reading was half a lifetime ago, I marvel afresh at Lewis' insight into the condition of people and how easily they are swayed away from God one way or the other. For the uninitiated, "The Screwtape Letters" is a series of letters supposedly written from a senior demon to a "rookie" demon, instructing him how to win his assigned human being to the "dark side," kind of the opposite of a guardian angel.

One topic that rang true for me was this example: "The more claims on life, therefore, that your patient can be induced to make, the more he will feel injured and, as a result, ill-tempered." I see people like this all the time. The more "rights" they believe they have, the more disgusted they are with life, because they never get what they "deserve."

Lewis goes on to elaborate how we think we own our time, and therefore get irritated or upset because someone has interrupted "my" time or caused a delay in "my" schedule. Even the demons in Lewis' allegory understand that it's all God's, "on the pedantic, legalistic ground that He made it."

It really makes me think. As backwards as it sounds, the people who claim to have or control the most are the most miserable, because someone is sure to infringe on their claims. On the other hand, those who hold their possessions, talents, and time loosely, as a manager instead of an owner, are less inclined to make a big deal out of an unexpected loss.

It's also interesting how the struggles people face in weighing the voices of God and themselves and the surrounding culture are timeless. Lewis' work rings true, more than 50 years after it was written.


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