The Snakebite Letters | Peter Kreeft

I’ve read C. S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters many times, and often wondered why someone didn’t pick up that genre of writing and run with it. Last week while browsing the shelves at Crux Bookstore, I found this little gem from Kreeft: a philosopher I’ve listened to often. Since Kreeft is a C. S. Lewis admirer and biographer with a wicked sense of humor, it seemed like the perfect fit.

If you’ve read Screwtape, you’ll know what to expect: letters from a senior to a junior devil with advice on how best to tempt his assigned human. Kreeft uses this narrative to explore topics like Catholic School, theology, liturgy, and sex. There are a number of brilliant insights here. For example, the connection between Molech and abortion is startling but, in hindsight, obvious. The connection he made between the pleasure a human feels during sex and the corresponding pain a devil feels was also incisive.

The wit did begin to wear on me after a while, though. The repetitious nature of taking something we would assume is good (such as: church attendance, Christian education, etc.) and showing how it can be twisted toward evil became a bit wearisome. I suppose you can blame Snakebite himself for that: hell is essentially boredom.

The other thing that frustrated me was the lack of character development in the person’s life. In Screwtape, Wormwood’s human went through a number of stages in his Christian growth. Kreeft only seemed interested in his polemic towards sex and Christian education.

That said, if you enjoyed Screwtape, read Snakebite. There are a number of terse lines that will make you cringe when you recognize those tendencies creeping into your own life!

This book shines a spotlight on the Devil’s chief maxim: dim the lights.

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