A “Lost” Screwtape Letter You Should Read

A few weeks ago I stumbled upon a “Lost Letter to Wormwood” written by Kevin DeYoung over at the Gospel Coalition’s website. Many years ago C.S. Lewis wrote The Screwtape Letters, a fictional correspondence between a head-demon and an under-demon full of wisdom on how to entice and enslave despicable humans.

DeYoung has taken the original format and wrote a “lost letter” which speaks to all of us, but specifically teenagers and younger adults (I’m talking 14-24 here).

If you are a teenager, if you’re a college student, if you’re a parent of either, read this (I’d even suggest having your son/daughter read it and then talk about it together…just do it over a meal out. I’ve found that most anyone is bribe-able with good food). If you’re connected to someone in this age range, in any way, read this. DeYoung is incredibly insightful and creative.

I commend the whole letter (part one & two), but I’ll give some highlights.

“Your teenage subject has all the usual paradoxes of American youth we like to see down here: rebellious, yet disinterested; slothful, yet impetuous; disrespectful to parents, yet an irresponsible drain on their resources; tolerant of religions he knows nothing about, yet fiercely intolerant of the one he knows best.”

“If he tries church for a few weeks, make sure it is a pointless endeavor. Do not forget our little rhyme: ‘If to church one must go, lead him to an empty show. And when all we can do is meddle, makes sure on one church he does not settle.’”

“Speaking of sleep, do whatever you can do to keep your subject out late on Saturday evenings? Drink, girls, football, video games, paper—it doesn’t matter. Just keep him up. You know perfectly well how our Father Below insists on busyness at all costs and how terribly he depends on sleep deprivation for his work. It’s a well known fact among the higher ranks of devildom, that silly humans suspect our interference in the big things–death, accidents, spinning heads, and the like. They never expect that our work consists mainly in distraction.”

“Heaven is at stake, my infernal child. Spirituality is one thing. God talk is generally harmless. Student “fellowships” as they call them are tolerable for a season. But for hell’s sake, Wormwood, church is absolutely out of the question.”

“The Three S’s of youth misery: Keep them separate. Keep them selfish. Keep them searching. Allow me to expound.”

“Keep them selfish. It’s really quite simple. All of our human subjects are selfish, but the young especially. It’s hardly their fault. They have no spouse or children to think of, only themselves. They have food handed to them on plastic platters…And yet, I must hasten to add, don’t underestimate your subject. Human youths are capable of extraordinary acts of courage and bravery and accomplishment, as the Annals of the Enemy record.”

“One more thing, students today love the idea of community. Do everything in your power to keep them loving the idea of community rather than loving their community.”

HT: Kevin DeYoung

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