Understanding The Screwtape Letters

A comprehensive analysis of The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis.
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  • Lectures 68
  • Length 8 hours
  • Skill Level All Levels
  • Languages English
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About This Course

Published 4/2013 English

Course Description

The Screwtape Letters is one of C.S. Lewis’s most popular works. In this course, Lewis scholar Dr. Arthur Hippler analyzes each letter written by Screwtape, a senior devil, to Wormwood, a junior devil and Screwtape’s apprentice. In more than four hours of high quality video lectures and companion text, Dr. Hippler helps you understand Lewis's insight into the the diabolical world of the spirits of darkness. This course also provides a unique perspective which will help you understand yourself and the weaknesses of human nature. 

What are the requirements?

  • High School Freshman Reading Level
  • Access to The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis

What am I going to get from this course?

  • To expand the student's knowledge of The Screwtape Letters
  • Give a starting point for students to come to their own conclusions about the text
  • Help students to analyze other works in the future

What is the target audience?

  • Secondary and College Undergrads
  • C.S. Lewis Enthusiasts
  • Book Clubs
  • Christian Studies
  • Theologians

What you get with this course?

Not for you? No problem.
30 day money back guarantee.

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Lifetime access.

Learn on the go.
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Get rewarded.
Certificate of completion.

Curriculum

Section 1: Preface: Introduction and C.S. Lewis Biography
Article
This lecture provides an introduction to this companion to The Screwtape Letters.
03:30

This lecture provides a brief biography of the author of The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis.


Important dates and events from the life of C.S. Lewis

1898 Born in Belfast, Northern Ireland. Baptized in the Church of Ireland. (Anglican communion)

1908 Lewis's mother dies of abdominal cancer.

1913 Lewis abandons the Anglican faith of his childhood, and soon after becomes an atheist.

1916 Lewis begins his college studies at University College, Oxford

1925 Lewis accepts a Fellowship in English Literature from Magdalen College, Oxford. He teaches there until 1954, when he accepted the Chair of Medieval and Renaissance Literature at Magdalene College, Cambridge.

1927 Lewis befriends J. R. R. Tolkien, who is a Professor of Anglo-Saxon Literature at Merton College, Oxford. 

1931 After two years of being a “theist,” Lewis “reconverts” to the Church of England.

1940 Lewis publishes his first apologetic work, The Problem of Pain.

1941 Lewis publishes The Screwtape Letters. He also gives the talks on BBC radio that will later be collected as Mere Christianity.

1950 The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, the first of the “Chronicles of Narnia” is published.

1957 Lewis marries Joy Davidman Gresham. Shortly before this, Joy was diagnosed with terminal bone cancer. The cancer goes into remission, but then returns. Joy dies in 1960.

1963 Lewis dies of kidney failure on Nov. 22 (the same day that John F. Kennedy is assassinated). 

3 questions
Quiz is based on the C.S. Lewis Biography lecture.

Article
This lecture provides a preface to this companion to The Screwtape Letters.
07:46
This video lecture provides a preface to this companion to The Screwtape Letters.
3 questions
Quiz based on the Preface text and the Preface video lecture.

Section 2: Letter 1: Diabolic Subtlety
Article

Main Points in Letter One

  • The devils’ terms: Patient, The Enemy, Our Father Below, Lowerarchy
  • Subtlety of the devil – he doesn’t have to offer something explicitly wicked
  • Keeping the patient immersed in sense experience
  • Emotional side of atheism
09:40

Main Points in Letter One

  • The devils’ terms: Patient, The Enemy, Our Father Below, Lowerarchy
  • Subtlety of the devil – he doesn’t have to offer something explicitly wicked
  • Keeping the patient immersed in sense experience
  • Emotional side of atheism
3 questions

Quiz based on the Letter One text and the Letter One video lecture.

Section 3: Letter Two: The Patient Converts
Article

Main Points in Letter Two

  • Lack of disappointment at the patient's conversion
  • Spiritual side of faith versus visible side of Church
  • God loves man, and hence wants free lovers and servant “sons”
  • Devils hate human beings – one cannot stress this enough!
10:04

Main Points in Letter Two

  • Lack of disappointment at the patient's conversion
  • Spiritual side of faith versus visible side of Church
  • God loves man, and hence wants free lovers and servant “sons”
  • Devils hate human beings – one cannot stress this enough!
3 questions
Quiz based on the Letter Two text and the Letter Two video lecture.

Section 4: Letter Three: Life with Mother
Article

Main Points Letter Three

  • Young man lives with his mother
  • Charity, love of neighbor begins at home. If he is not charitable to his own mother, his ability to love neighbor in God is gravely undermined
  • Praying in ways that emphasize people’s bad traits, instead of allowing genuine sympathy
  • Self-deception about one’s own vices.
07:07

Main Points Letter Three

  • Young man lives with his mother
  • Charity, love of neighbor begins at home. If he is not charitable to his own mother, his ability to love neighbor in God is gravely undermined
  • Praying in ways that emphasize people’s bad traits, instead of allowing genuine sympathy
  • Self-deception about one’s own vices.
3 questions
Quiz based on the Letter Three text and the Letter Three video lecture.

Section 5: Letter Four: Sabotaging Prayer
Article

Main Points in Letter Four

  • Ultimate goal of devils is to keep the patient from praying altogether
  • If patient continues to pray, have him  pray to a God of his own making
  • Make patient belief success in prayer is depth of feeling
  • Parroted prayers aren’t bad – the Bible gives us prayers!
08:59

Main Points in Letter Four

  • Ultimate goal of devils is to keep the patient from praying altogether
  • If patient continues to pray, have him  pray to a God of his own making
  • Make patient belief success in prayer is depth of feeling
  • Parroted prayers aren’t bad – the Bible gives us prayers!
3 questions
Quiz based on the Letter Four text and the Letter Four video lecture.

Section 6: Letter Five: Life during Wartime
Article

Main Points in Letter Five

  • Screwtape Letters was written during WWII. Many of Lewis’s works have this background.
  • Why Screwtape isn’t enthusiastic about the war
  • Misconception about devils – they are not “monsters” looking to eat people
  • Love of the world over God
07:33

Main Points in Letter Five

  • Screwtape Letters was written during WWII. Many of Lewis’s works have this background.
  • Why Screwtape isn’t enthusiastic about the war
  • Misconception about devils – they are not “monsters” looking to eat people
  • Love of the world over God
3 questions
Quiz based on the Letter Five text and the Letter Five video lecture.

Section 7: Letter Six: Telescopic Benevolence
Article

Main Points in Letter Six

  • Thy will be done – resignation to God’s will in time of trouble
  • Law of Self-Consciousness
  • You cannot get rid of the patient’s benevolence, but you can make it worthless
  • Malice towards distant people is ineffective, but malice towards neighbors is effective
09:37

Main Points in Letter Six

  • Thy will be done – resignation to God’s will in time of trouble
  • Law of Self-Consciousness
  • You cannot get rid of the patient’s benevolence, but you can make it worthless
  • Malice towards distant people is ineffective, but malice towards neighbors is effective
3 questions
Quiz based on the Letter Six text and the Letter Six video lecture.

Section 8: Letter Seven: Pacifism or Patriotism?
Article

Main Points in Letter Seven

  • Whether devils should make themselves known
  • Materialist Magician
  • Divisions within Christianity- not just denominational differences, but divisions within the denominations themselves
  • The pattern for corrupting the patient through extreme pacifism or extreme patriotism
09:16

Main Points in Letter Seven

  • Whether devils should make themselves known
  • Materialist Magician
  • Divisions within Christianity- not just denominational differences, but divisions within the denominations themselves
  • The pattern for corrupting the patient through extreme pacifism or extreme patriotism
3 questions
Quiz based on the Letter Seven text and the Letter Seven video lecture.

Section 9: Letter Eight: The Law of Undulation, Part I
Article

Main Points in Letter Eight

  • The Law of Undulation
  • How humans are amphibians, half spirit and half animal
  • How God uses peaks and troughs
  • God cannot “ravish” he can only woo
  • Lack of spiritual consolation
08:22

Main Points in Letter Eight

  • The Law of Undulation
  • How humans are amphibians, half spirit and half animal
  • How God uses peaks and troughs
  • God cannot “ravish” he can only woo
  • Lack of spiritual consolation
3 questions
Quiz based on the Letter Eight text and the Letter Eight video lecture.

Section 10: Letter Nine: The Law of Undulation, Part II
Article

Main Points in Letter Nine

  • How devils uses peaks and troughs
  • Definition of pleasure
  • The best time for devils to use sensual temptation
  • Problems when the patient suspects the Law of Undulation
  • How devils want us to believe the trough is permanent
11:32

Main Points in Letter Nine

  • How devils uses peaks and troughs
  • Definition of pleasure
  • The best time for devils to use sensual temptation
  • Problems when the patient suspects the Law of Undulation
  • How devils want us to believe the trough is permanent
3 questions
Quiz based on the Letter Nine text and the Letter Nine video lecture.

Section 11: Letter Ten: Bad Company
Article

Main Points in Letter Ten

  • “Worldly Friends”- smart, rich, superficially intellectual, vaguely pacifist from snobbery.
  • Christianity against “materialism” is not enough.
  • Strategies for worldly friends
  • Worldly vanities, choice of friends, value of time
08:13

Main Points in Letter Ten

  • “Worldly Friends”- smart, rich, superficially intellectual, vaguely pacifist from snobbery.
  • Christianity against “materialism” is not enough.
  • Strategies for worldly friends
  • Worldly vanities, choice of friends, value of time
3 questions
Quiz based on the Letter Ten text and the Letter Ten video lecture.

Section 12: Letter Eleven: Uses of Laughter
Article

Main Points in Letter Eleven

  • Not all laughter is spiritually corrosive
  • Four causes of laughter: Joy, Fun, the Joke Proper, and Flippancy
  • Why devils hate music
  • Obscene humor, although this is sometimes not useful
  • More reliable forms of humor
09:32

Main Points in Letter Eleven

  • Not all laughter is spiritually corrosive
  • Four causes of laughter: Joy, Fun, the Joke Proper, and Flippancy
  • Why devils hate music
  • Obscene humor, although this is sometimes not useful
  • More reliable forms of humor
3 questions
Quiz based on the Letter Eleven text and the Letter Eleven video lecture.

Section 13: Letter Twelve: The Gradual Way
Article

Main Points in Letter Twelve

  • The devil’s trying to keep the patient in the dark about his real state
  • The state of “half conscious guilt”
  • Distractions of idleness not pleasure
  • Small sins over spectacular wickedness
  • Importance of self-knowledge “The safest road to hell is the gradual one.”
08:56

Main Points in Letter Twelve

  • The devil’s trying to keep the patient in the dark about his real state
  • The state of “half conscious guilt”
  • Distractions of idleness not pleasure
  • Small sins over spectacular wickedness
  • Importance of self-knowledge “The safest road to hell is the gradual one.”
3 questions
Quiz based on the Letter Twelve text and the Letter Twelve video lecture.

Section 14: Letter Thirteen: Reconversion
Article

Main Points in Letter Thirteen

  • Screwtape’s reaction to the patient’s reconversion
  • God’s work to help the patient using an “asphyxiating cloud”
  • The patient’s walk to the old mill for tea
  • Pleasure and pain as genuine touchstones to reality
  • Letting piety remain in his feelings and imagination
08:03

Main Points in Letter Thirteen

  • Screwtape’s reaction to the patient’s reconversion
  • God’s work to help the patient using an “asphyxiating cloud”
  • The patient’s walk to the old mill for tea
  • Pleasure and pain as genuine touchstones to reality
  • Letting piety remain in his feelings and imagination
3 questions
Quiz based on the Letter Thirteen text and the Letter Thirteen video lecture.

Section 15: Letter Fourteen: Its Hard to be Humble
Article

Main Points in Letter Fourteen

  • Humility is one of the fruits of the patient’s “reconversion.”
  • Screwtape wants to destroy humility
  • Pride is not talked about in the sense of being proud of country or family
  • Tempting of vainglory or false modesty
  • How man “stands beside himself”
08:32

Main Points in Letter Fourteen

  • Humility is one of the fruits of the patient’s “reconversion.”
  • Screwtape wants to destroy humility
  • Pride is not talked about in the sense of being proud of country or family
  • Tempting of vainglory or false modesty
  • How man “stands beside himself”
3 questions
Quiz based upon the Letter Fourteen text and the Letter Fourteen video lecture.

Section 16: Letter Fifteen: Past, Present, Future
Article

Main Points in Letter Fifteen

  • World War II is a great historical event, but from a spiritual point of view it is not “The War.”
  • We are in time, not outside of it
  • Why devils want the patient to focus on the future
  • Living for the present or for the moment is helpful if it excludes eternity
  • The “Philological Arm” and its duties
09:02

Main Points in Letter Fifteen

  • World War II is a great historical event, but from a spiritual point of view it is not “The War.”
  • We are in time, not outside of it
  • Why devils want the patient to focus on the future
  • Living for the present or for the moment is helpful if it excludes eternity
  • The “Philological Arm” and its duties
3 questions
Quiz based upon the Letter Fifteen text and the Letter Fifteen video lecture.

Section 17: Letter Sixteen: Support your Local Parish
Article

Main Points in Letter Sixteen

  • Parochial versus Congregational principle
  • Divisions within the church itself
  • How people will travel from church to church to find a “good fit.”
  • Different styles of preaching: The Vicar and Father Spike
  • “High Church” and “Low Church”
10:01

Main Points in Letter Sixteen

  • Parochial versus Congregational principle
  • Divisions within the church itself
  • How people will travel from church to church to find a “good fit.”
  • Different styles of preaching: The Vicar and Father Spike
  • “High Church” and “Low Church”
3 questions
Quiz based on the Letter Sixteen text and the Letter Sixteen video lecture.

Section 18: Letter Seventeen: Gluttony
Article

Main Points in Letter Seventeen

  • How society lacks a language for moral vice
  • The seven capital sins
  • The different forms of gluttony
  • How gluttony can lead to other problems with controlling natural desires
08:15

Main Points in Letter Seventeen

  • How society lacks a language for moral vice
  • The seven capital sins
  • The different forms of gluttony
  • How gluttony can lead to other problems with controlling natural desires
3 questions
Quiz based upon the Letter Seventeen text and the Letter Seventeen video lecture.

Section 19: Letter Eighteen: Love Stinks, Part I
Article

Main Points in Letter Eighteen

  • The Philosophy of Hell and its basis on the rejection of the common good
  • Love is based on the common good
  • For devils, all “love” is predatory, a stronger self preying on the weaker self.
  • The devils’ approach to making the patient feel a certain way about love
  • The limitation of feelings
08:23

Main Points in Letter Eighteen

  • The Philosophy of Hell and its basis on the rejection of the common good
  • Love is based on the common good
  • For devils, all “love” is predatory, a stronger self preying on the weaker self.
  • The devils’ approach to making the patient feel a certain way about love
  • The limitation of feelings
3 questions
Quiz based upon the Letter Eighteen text and the Letter Eighteen video lecture.

Section 20: Letter Nineteen: Love Stinks, Part II
Article

Main Points in Letter Nineteen

  • The devils’ understanding of love
  • Dialogue between God and Satan
  • Reason for the fall of Satan
  • How love can be good or bad for devils
  • The devils want the patient to find a woman who would make following the Christian life intensely difficult
09:18

Main Points in Letter Nineteen

  • The devils’ understanding of love
  • Dialogue between God and Satan
  • Reason for the fall of Satan
  • How love can be good or bad for devils
  • The devils want the patient to find a woman who would make following the Christian life intensely difficult
3 questions
Quiz based on the Letter Nineteen text and the Letter Nineteen video lecture.

Section 21: Letter Twenty: Misdirecting the Sexes
Article

Main Points in Letter Twenty

  • Attacks on chastity don’t last forever
  • Misdirection of sexual taste, popular artists, dressmakers, actresses and advertisers
  • What makes a bad marriage
  • The two imaginary women that haunt every man— the terrestrial Venus and the infernal Venus
  • How a bad marriage can help the devils in their work
07:22

Main Points in Letter Twenty

  • Attacks on chastity don’t last forever
  • Misdirection of sexual taste, popular artists, dressmakers, actresses and advertisers
  • What makes a bad marriage
  • The two imaginary women that haunt every man— the terrestrial Venus and the infernal Venus
  • How a bad marriage can help the devils in their work
3 questions
Quiz based on the Letter Twenty text and the Letter Twenty video lecture.

Section 22: Letter Twenty-One: Ownership of Time
Article

Main Points in Letter Twenty-One

  • The devils’ multiple war fronts
  • Irritability will arise from a sense of injustice
  • “Darkening of the intellect”
  • We owe our obedience to God every moment of the day
  • Confusion about what we own in terms of time
06:17

Main Points in Letter Twenty-One

  • The devils’ multiple war fronts
  • Irritability will arise from a sense of injustice
  • “Darkening of the intellect”
  • We owe our obedience to God every moment of the day
  • Confusion about what we own in terms of time
3 questions
Quiz based on the Letter Twenty-One text and the Letter Twenty-One video lecture.

Section 23: Letter Twenty-Two: The Supreme Hedonist
Article

Main Points in Letter Twenty-Two

  • Why Screwtape is disgusted by the patient’s new love interest and her family
  • God as a hedonist
  • Pleasure is spoken of critically in the Bible
  • Pleasures are not bad in themselves
  • Christians are encouraged to delight in the Lord and Godly things.
  • Screwtape’s transformation
07:13

Main Points in Letter Twenty-Two

  • Why Screwtape is disgusted by the patient’s new love interest and her family
  • God as a hedonist
  • Pleasure is spoken of critically in the Bible
  • Pleasures are not bad in themselves
  • Christians are encouraged to delight in the Lord and Godly things.
  • Screwtape’s transformation
3 questions
Quiz based on the Letter Twenty-Two text and the Letter Twenty-Two video lecture.

Section 24: Letter Twenty-Three: In Search of the Historical Jesus
Article

Main Points in Letter Twenty-Three

  • Historical Jesus is the creation of the interpreter
  • Distortion of Bible documents to support one’s own ideas
  • Making Jesus into the vehicle of a new theory and emphasizing his teaching versus his sacrifice
  • Moral Law as something that we need to be reminded of
  • Christianity in politics
09:22

Main Points in Letter Twenty-Three

  • Historical Jesus is the creation of the interpreter
  • Distortion of Bible documents to support one’s own ideas
  • Making Jesus into the vehicle of a new theory and emphasizing his teaching versus his sacrifice
  • Moral Law as something that we need to be reminded of
  • Christianity in politics
3 questions
Quiz based on the Letter Twenty-Three text and the Letter Twenty-Three video lecture.

Section 25: Letter Twenty-Four: A Better Set of Friends

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Instructor Biography

Dr. Arthur Hippler, Doctorate in Philosophy, C.S. Lewis Scholar

Dr. Arthur Hippler is chairman of the Religion Department and teaches religion for Providence eLearning. Since 2001, he has been Visiting Professor with the Institute for Pastoral Theology of Ave Maria University. Before coming to Providence eLearning, he served the Catholic Diocese of La Crosse (Wisconsin), teaching moral theology and social ethics in the diocesan programs for lay formation and continuing education for teachers. He is the author of Citizens of the Heavenly City: A Catechism of Catholic Social Teaching, published by Borromeo Books. He received his bachelor's in Liberal Arts from Thomas Aquinas College in California, and his doctorate in Philosophy from Boston College.

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