Someday I’m going to make up a list or writers who were my spiritual guides and mentors, and like a lot of Christians I’d put C.S. Lewis at the top of my list. I read the Narnia books as a child and got into his spiritual/devotional nonfiction as a teenager. Mere Christianity was an important book for me (even though now I think many of its attempts at logic are badly oversimplified) because it attempted to lay out a rational basis for the Christian faith, and at the time in my life when I read it (about 16) that was something I badly needed.
Screwtape, however, is probably the single book that most influenced my vision of how to live as a Christian. In fact, it’s only rereading now at midlife that I realize how many of my views on the life of faith were originally inspired by the wily senior devil’s letters to a junior tempter on how to mislead a human soul. Screwtape’s insights on prayer, humility, and what to do with times of spiritual dryness — all suitably reversed, of course, since his goal is damnation rather than salvation — molded my views of what it meant to be a Christian. Over the years, there are things I’ve come to disagree with Lewis about, but I still think a young Christian could do a lot worse than use Screwtape as a primer for Christian living.
The only Screwtape experience I’ve missed that I still really want to have is to get the audiobook and hear John Cleese read it. Because that? Would bring the awesome.