Discussion questions, Screwtape Letters 19-21

For discussion on Wednesday, November 27, 2019

Letter 19–God’s Love–Impossible
1) Why is Wormwood not to show Screwtape’s letters to anyone?
2) Screwtape ended his last letter with a promise of “more of this in my next.” But he did not begin this letter with “more” about “being in love” and marriage. What sidetracked him?
3) From Screwtape’s perspective, what did he say about God that he now thinks may be heresy? How does he try to mitigate that heresy?
4) How does Screwtape explain the rupture between God and Lucifer? How does that compare with the Biblical account in Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28?
5) Wormwood complained that Screwtape was not clear about whether being in love was “a desirable state for a human.” How did Screwtape answer that complaint?
6) How is Wormwood’s approach to the patient differ depending on whether he is “an arrogant man” or “an emotional, gullible man”?
7) How could Wormwood make the patient’s Christian life “intensely difficult to him”?

Letter 20–A Desirable Marriage & Two Imaginary Women
1) What caused Screwtape’s “great displeasure”? What was Wormwood’s mistake?
2) If Wormwood can’t make the patient “unchaste,” what is his next best alternative?
3) What is “something which does not exist”? What role has it overemphasized?
4) What two types of imaginary women haunt men? Which type might be amenable to marriage? What is the “real use” of the other type?
5) What is “the female’s chronic horror”?
6) Screwtape claimed that the Jazz age produced a male desire for what physical type of woman?
7) In letter 18, Screwtape mentioned “poets and novelists” as possible advocates for Hell’s purposes. What groups are useful for cultivating the misdirection in sexual taste?

Letter 21–Ownership Claims
1) What does Screwtape mean by “peevishness”? Why is an attack on it more effective when also tempting sexual desire?
2) What assumption must Wormwood “zealously guard” in the patient’s mind?
3) Beyond mere misfortune, what really makes a person angry?
4) A general sense of ownership likely results in resistance to what virtue? What do humans mistakenly think they own?
5) What two methods of promoting the ownership mindset does Screwtape reveal?
6) What is Screwtape’s humor regarding the word “mine”?

236 thoughts on “Discussion questions, Screwtape Letters 19-21

  1. You wanted to see me, Sir?
    I was two steps into his office, my suit jacket sliding down my arms as I walked to my location between the chairs in front of his desk.
    “Something has come to my attention that might be interesting.”
    It wasn’t normal for him to blurt out what was on his mind when I was summoned to his office. We had established something of a protocol of how this was to work.
    It was akin to a tribal ritual of exchanging pleasant conversation prior to entering into serious exchange, a ritual intended to maintain civility and peace and calm prior to any interaction.
    I had thought ours was the same, though it had never been expressed or defined. I undressed and he sat back in his chair to enjoy it prior to entering into any business.

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