C.S. Lewis writes the ultimate Christian primer -- telling his readers how best to be faithful Christians by showing us how we should NOT behave! Screwtape, a high level denomic bureaucrat, is advising his neophyte demon nephew Wormwood on how to win over to "Our Father Below" his "patient," a new Christian who must be wooed away from "the Enemy," who is, of course, God. What makes this book so profound is that the temptations Screwtape suggests to Wormwood are not just the obvious ones, but the subtle ones that get to us everyday, sometimes under the guise of "doing good." How many of us, for example, have gotten into arguments with a loved one over who was being more unselfish -- "I don't want pepperoni on the pizza, but go ahead, have pepperoni, I don't mind." "No, I insist. No pepperoni, even though I love it so much, because I know you hate it." "No, please, have the pepperoni, darn it!" And so the resentment builds. It is this sort of sin and temptation that Screwtape urges Wormwood to play upon his hapless "patient."
But Screwtape knows his "enemy" and he knows his limits. My favorite line, and one well worth hanging on to for all of us who feel we have lost hope: "Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy's will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys" (p. 40). And never forget. The demons never deny the existence of either Father or Son.