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Resisting the Prowling Lion – Day 8

Resisting the Prowling Lion – 40 Days with Screwtape

Day 8 – Thursday after 1st Sunday of Lent

To Read:

From The Screwtape Letters:

Screwtape, a senior demon, is offering advice to Wormwood his nephew, an apprentice demon.  The language he uses is ‘upside down’ referring to God as ‘the Enemy’ and the devil as ‘Our Father Below’.


I must warn you not to hope too much from a war.   Of course a war is entertaining.   The immediate fear and suffering of the humans is a legitimate and pleasing refreshment for our myriads of toiling workers.  But what permanent good does it do us unless we make use of it for bringing souls to Our Father Below?   When I see the temporal suffering of humans who finally escape us, I feel as if I had been allowed to taste the first course of a rich banquet and then denied the rest.  It is worse than not to have tasted it at all.   The Enemy, true to His barbarous methods of warfare, allows us to see the short misery of His favourites only to tantalise and torment us – to mock the incessant hunger which, during this present phase of the great conflict, His blockade is admittedly imposing.  

Let us therefore think rather how to use, than how to enjoy, this European war.   For it has certain tendencies inherent in it which are, in themselves, by no means in our favour.   We may hope for a good deal of cruelty and unchastity.   But, if we are not careful, we shall see thousands turning in this tribulation to the Enemy, while tens of thousands who do not go so far as that will nevertheless have their attention diverted from themselves to values and causes which they believe to be higher than the self.

Your affectionate uncle


To Reflect:

Anyone who has watched the opening sequence of the most recent film version of ‘The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe’  will see how much of C.S. Lewis’ life and thought was shaped by the World War which surrounded his times.  Seeing German bombers over London during the Blitz explains perfectly why the Pevensie children have to go and live with ‘Uncle’ Digory in the countryside and why, following Plato’s thought of the difference between reality and appearance, the conflict in Narnia through the wardrobe mirrors the one in Europe – or is it the other way around……?

Certainly for both Lewis and Screwtape the ‘real’ battle they are concerned with is the one we do not see and so their views on the ‘usefulness’ of the physical war in front of them will always differ widely.

But whether we are talking of ‘real’ spiritual warfare or ‘temporal’ (i.e. not lasting) physical warfare the old soldier’s quote remains true, ‘War is hell’!

William Tecumseh Sherman who advocated ‘Total War’ during the American Civil War, was the first to state it;

I’ve been where you are now and I know just how you feel.  It’s entirely natural that there should beat in the breast of every one of you a hope and desire that someday you can use the skill you have acquired here (at Michigan Military Academy).  Suppress it!  You don’t know the horrible aspects of war.  I’ve been through two wars and I know.  I’ve seen cities and homes in ashes.  I’ve seen thousands of men lying on the ground, their dead faces looking up at the skies. I tell you, war is Hell!

Nothing good, in God’s eternal plan, comes from war.  However it is during war that I think we are most aware of our frailty, our failings and our capacity for cruelty.  And when we are aware of how senseless we can become there is yet hope for us to turn to the Prince of Peace.  It should be the prayer of every religious person to seek an end to war wherever it occurs.  For how can we not weep when we turn on our sisters and brothers with gunfire instead of perceiving our common humanity?  This is not an easy road to follow – Robert Runcie, when he was Archbishop of Canterbury (and himself a holder of the Military Cross) was not the most popular person in the United Kingdom when he faced down Mrs. Thatcher over the commemoration of the Argentine dead at the end of The Falklands Conflict.

It is in the prosecution of war that Screwtape and his minions have their best opportunities to twist, corrupt and turn people from the light.  For reasons such as this, wherever there is war in the world, we should always be praying for and caring for both sides of the conflict.  And if the war zone is far away, as it so often is in today’s world, our care should be to pray for those often too young men and women who find themselves with weapons in their hand.  Asking that what guides them would be righteousness before anger and what they aim for is peace above victory…

To Do:

Sadly, wherever in the world you are reading this reflection, you will probably have a Regiment, Ship or Squadron of your nation’s Armed Forces near to you.

Whether you are a pacifist, a Just War theorist, or completely support military intervention ensure that you bring those who try to serve those who serve with weapons in their hands into the circle of your prayer.

Find out the name of at least one Padré or Chaplain in your Armed Forces (ideally one whose home base is close to you), pray for them and, if you feel able to, let them know of your prayer for them and those for whom they have a care.

A Psalm To Ponder:


Refrain:        Redeem your enemies, O God, those who misuse your power.

                  Transform us all by your presence, a power made holy by love.

A small people, in a small land,

surrounded by tribes that were hostile, 

threatened by empires expanding,

cried out to their God to protect them.

Their enemies made their alliances, 

whispering, conspiring, plotting together.

They schemed against those whom God cherished, 

they seized on the pastures of God.     Refrain:

Who are your enemies now, O God?

A people apathetic who do not care, 

those who sit at ease while millions slave, 

those who eat their fill while children starve.

And those who wage war in the name of their God, 

and those who supply them with weapons; 

those who poison the rivers and seas, 

and those who spread lies through our minds.      Refrain:

Destroy them, O God, who poison the land, 

let their remains become dung for the earth.

Make them like chaff before the wind, 

as insubstantial as thistledown.

May they cower backwards in fear, 

flattened by the fury of your wind, 

shrivelled by the heat of your fire, 

the flame that sets hillside ablaze.

Let them be disgraced and dismayed for ever, 

and those who collude – like ourselves.

Wild-eyed, bewildered, let us tremble, 

in a moment of dread and truth.     Refrain:

Yes, we yearn for the omnipotent king, 

the ruler who gives life to the people, 

who leads out his armies to lay waste and destroy.

Such a king was an ikon of God, 

but the King on a Cross shows the power that is humbling, 

an awesome love that endures through the pain, 

that takes our rage and our venom to  heart, 

all of us guilty together.      Refrain:

May we turn from our hatreds and face you, 

burned clean by the eye of your love, 

that you may forgive our destruction and greed, 

and our naming of strangers as enemies.

In your Spirit let us care for the earth, 

in compassion one for another.

Let us welcome the strangers and share what we have, 

enjoying the wealth of justice and friendship.      Refrain:

O God, ease our paranoia from our hearts, grown cold in this time of fear.  Remind us of the truth that even those who terrify us – eyes harsh and vengeful – are created and loved by you.  Show us how to be reconciled and so to live in peace.  AMEN.

(Jim Cotter) 



Please Note:  These reflections are also published on my blog: suffolkvicarhomes.com on Twitter as @SuffolkVicar, and on my public Facebook page Rev Andrew Dotchin

If you would like them as a daily email please send a request to vicar@felixparish.com


Quotes from The Screwtape Letters are copyright © 1942 C.S. Lewis Pte

Prayers from Psalms for a Pilgrim People are copyright © 1989, 1991, 1993 Jim Cotter

Scripture quotations are copyright © New Revised Standard Version Bible: Anglicized Edition, copyright 1989, 1995, Division of Christian Education of the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

These Reflections,  ‘Resisting the Prowling Lion’ are copyright © Andrew Dotchin 2023

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