I should start by saying: I’m an atheist. I don’t follow any religion now and never have, but I won’t say that I never will. I try to be open-minded about such things, learning and thinking about other beliefs.
And that’s why I read The Screwtape Letters. Religion should be irrelevant to your decision to read it – it’s a really good book that will make you think no matter what.
I will add, though, that Chronicles of Narnia this is not. I knew The Screwtape Letters would be more obviously Christian (as a little kid I was completely oblivious to the religious allegory in Narnia) but I wasn’t prepared for how dark it was.
This is not an easy book to read. It’s… violent isn’t quite the word I’m looking for. Let me think. Vicious. Screwtape was vicious in his treatment of humankind, “the Enemy” (God), and his nephew (who can’t seem to do anything right). What he said in his letters made me think very hard about the advantages and disadvantages of war, pride, love, and more.
Sometimes I didn’t agree with what Screwtape / Lewis thought. Consider the following quote from letter XVIII:
We have [persuaded] the humans that a curious, and usually short-lived, experience which they call “being in love” is the only respectable ground for marriage; that marriage can, and ought to, render this excitement permanent; and that a marriage which does not do so is no longer binding.
Even if both people in a couple loathe each other, they should stay married? I just can’t wrap my mind around this. I don’t think people should divorce left and right for trivial reasons but if a couple is fighting, I’m not sure what is achieved by keeping them together. I googled Lewis’ thoughts on marriage just now to clarify what he wrote and evidently in Mere Christianity he said it would be better for the children. To a point, I suppose. I mean, it would be upsetting if my parents suddenly decided to split up but I can’t say I’d rather have them together if it meant I had to see them fighting.
Even so, I think reading The Screwtape Letters was beneficial. I didn’t always agree with C.S. Lewis but considering what he thought made me figure out more about what I thought, and that’s always a good thing.
As I wrote above, religion shouldn’t affect your view of this book. It’s brilliant no matter what and all the more fascinating because C.S. Lewis didn’t tell us, flat-out and dryly, what he believed. Instead he subverted it by having Screwtape write what demons believe, which is of course just the opposite of what we should think.
The Screwtape Letters is devilishly good and after you’ve finished groaning at my stupid joke there, I suggest you go read that book.