The Lost Screwtape Letters: Act Holier Than Thou

Published 4:16 pm Monday, February 12, 2018

This is the last of a series based on C.S. Lewis’ book “The Screwtape Letters.”

In the book, uncle screwtape, a higher demon, is guiding his nephew, a lesser demon named wormwood (note: I don’t capitalize satan or his minions because they don’t deserve it). I hope you are getting used to reading advice from the side of evil (sort of). screwtape’s guidance for wormwood is guidance we should avoid.

“Dear wormwood,

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You have failed at every turn. You failed at getting him to stop caring about others. He is getting better and better at forgiving, and he seems unconcerned any longer about his needs, and getting more and more stuff for himself.

I have been at such a place before, and still been able to turn all these defeats into victory.

However, it takes great skill to turn this around, and I don’t know if you are up to the task.

Read carefully, and ask if you think you need help. But I warn you, punishment will come from king satan either way.

The key, at this point, is to puff him up with pride and arrogance for all the things he is doing so well.

This may seem like an easy trick, but I warn you, the Enemy (God), despises pride and arrogance, and goes to great lengths to teach His subjects humility in the face of great victories in His name.

Even still, our weak-minded subjects have a natural bent to take credit for the things they do well in faith, and quickly forget how their faith in the enemy has opened the door for them to do all those loathsome acts.

Whisper great self-praise, self-adulation, and to continually think about me, me, me…I, I, I.

If he starts bragging about going on the mission trip, forgiving others or denying himself some bauble you are on your way to a great victory.

Next, you want to get him to start thinking he is better than others, especially those old friends who are not believers in our Enemy (God). There are few things more loathsome to the lost souls we demonize than to see a convert start bragging about how good he is.

Get him to talk about how he never would have acted this way before, but now his life is so much better than his old friend’s lives. There is a fine line here between him inviting his old friends to experience the new joys of his life, and simply drawing attention to himself.

The former is quite dangerous because we could lose another one to the Enemy (God).

The latter is a wonderfully dark show as his old friends just see someone who thinks he is now better than them.

The complete victory occurs if you can get him to actually think and talk about being better than his old friends. This takes the show to a whole new level of darkness, where you can use your subject to turn countless people against our Enemy (God).

If you can get him to start judging others for their drinking, sexual habits and any other real or perceived flaws it becomes drama of the highest kind. This is where the phrase “Holier Than Thou” comes.

Your subject will ruin all the good he has done and is doing, if he begins to think he is holier than those around him, and not just desiring to be holy as the Enemy is holy (See Matthew 5:48. This is my note, not screwtape’s. he doesn’t know scripture).

Finally, the more you can get him to talk about how holy he has become, and how unholy his old friends are, then even if you cannot turn him away from the Enemy, you will see all those around him run away from the Enemy, with no desire to change.

Our master, satan, may punish you for your failures, but if your subject moves others closer to satan, then your punishment may be lighter, or you may receive some reward.

I will certainly put in a good word on your behalf.

Your affectionate uncle screwtape.”

Do you ever think, believe, or act like you are “Holier Than Thou” around other people?

To find out more about Al Earley or read previous columns, see