#ProwlingLion · Bible Study · Church of England · Felixstowe · Growing in God · Lent · poem · Prayer · Screwtape

Resisting the Prowling Lion – Day 22

Resisting the Prowling Lion – 40 Days with Screwtape

Day 22 – Saturday after 3rd 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’.


To anticipate the Enemy’s strategy, we must consider His aims.   The Enemy wants to bring the man to a state of mind in which he could design the best cathedral in the world, and know it to be the best, and rejoice in the fact, without being any more (or less) or otherwise glad at having done it than he would be if it had been done by another.   The Enemy wants him, in the end, to be so free from any bias in his own favour that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbour’s talents – or in a sunrise, an elephant, or a waterfall.  He wants each man, in the long run, to be able to recognise all creatures (even himself) as glorious and excellent things.   He wants to kill their animal self-love as soon as possible; but it is His long-term policy, I fear, to restore to them a new kind of self-love – a charity and gratitude for all selves, including their own; when they have really learned to love their neighbours as themselves, they will be allowed to love themselves as their neighbours.   For we must never forget what is the most repellent and inexplicable trait in our Enemy; He really loves the hairless bipeds He has created and always gives back to them with His right hand what He has taken away with His left.

Your affectionate uncle


To Reflect:

Here we see why Screwtape has a problem with humble Christians.  The humble person will rejoice in beauty wherever they may find it. Screwtape would rather we were guided by Elizabeth Barrett-Browning’s frustrated response to Gerard Manley Hopkins’ nature ode ‘God’s Grandeur’ 

Earth’s crammed with heaven,

And every common bush afire with God;

But only he who sees, takes off his shoes,

The rest sit round it and pluck blackberries,

And daub their natural faces unaware.


Screwtape wants everyone to spend time plucking blackberries instead of seeing the heaven crammed earth and learn to end each endeavour, whether it be a work of our own hands or those of another, with the words ‘Praise Him’.

Both Hopkins and Barrett-Browning, in different ways protesting about the mire of the Industrial Revolution, call us to learn again to wonder and see how everything around us is made by each one around us for everyone around us.  There is no hierarchy in the gifts and grace of God.  The church needs to learn again and again the lesson Paul hoped that the Corinthian Church had learnt at the very beginning:

…for as long as there is jealousy and quarrelling among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving according to human inclinations? For when one says, ‘I belong to Paul’, and another, ‘I belong to Apollos’, are you not merely human?

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you came to believe, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth.  So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. The one who plants and the one who waters have a common purpose, and each will receive wages according to the labour of each. For we are God’s servants, working together; you are God’s field, God’s building. 1 Corinthians 3.3-9

When we give in to the ‘animal self-love’ that Screwtape desires we prove ourselves to be merely human instead of children of the living God.

I find all too easily in myself the desire for achievement and success and so have to work hard to stand aside and allow other people to shine.  

I have to refuse to give space to envy and jealousy over the work of others. 

I need to learn to run from an egotistical pride and boasting in the service which I offer.    

When all is said and done, it is to be said and done in the Name of The Lord Jesus Christ and not in the name of Andrew Dotchin!

There is a Zulu proverb common amongst the people of Southern Africa which has come to express the reason why we must stifle ‘animal self-love’ and instead recognise ‘all creatures as glorious and excellent things’

Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu

A person, becomes a person because of other people.

Commonly condensed into the single word Ubuntu this proverb has helped African people understand that they are foolish to set themselves apart from each other in different camps and tribes – a lesson many nations, not just those of  Africa, have yet to learn.   Or as Screwtape would say, ‘when they have really learned to love their neighbours as themselves, they will be allowed to love themselves as their neighbours’.  

When we separate ourselves from each other and the world around us it is impossible to see the grandeur of God we will remain blind to the gifts God is pouring out upon us – trapped in a downward spiral of animal self-love……

To Do:

Read ‘God’s Grandeur’ and ‘Pied Beauty’ (The texts are at the foot of this reflection) by Gerard Manly Hopkins 

– preferably out of doors….. 

A Psalm To Ponder:


Refrain:        Marvellous and vigorous, splendidly unfolding, 

the wonders of creation we contemplate with awe.

Praise be to the Creator: fresh energy divine, 

with passion and with tenderness, brings beauty to new birth.

Light from the dawn of the cosmos, 

reaching out over billions of years; 

the sun so familiar and steady, 

spun off from that ancient fireball: 

the primal explosion murmurs, 

we hear the hiss of the aeons, 

whispering insistent relic 

of the original moment of time.

The beginning was all flame, 

and the flame was unfurled into time; 

all that has come into being 

began at the heart of the flame.

Slowly the fire cooled, 

the storm of particles ceased, 

combed into structures of matter, 

clouds and clusters of galaxies.

The cosmic dust was scattered 

– a heart bursting  into stars: 

truly strange is our ancestor 

– we ride on it pulsing still.     Refrain:

Alone we seem in the darkness, 

puppets of impersonal forces, 

at best a mere flicker of light, 

extinguished against the night sky.

But look at the world of the atom, 

a minute yet infinite space, 

where the unpredictable happens, 

place of the improbably new.

Innumerable fragments that scattered 

our consciousness begins to make whole, 

mysteriously linked to our minds, 

synapses by the billion in our brains.

Sounds stir through our bodies, 

themselves fashioned by the stars, 

bound up with the smallest particles,

Each of us seems like a universe.

Do we see deep in your mind, 

more incredible still, our Creator?

To and fro have you ceaselessly woven 

this web of matter and energy.     Refrain:

We stand on a cliff top and watch, 

gazing out over infinite seas, 

whence our ancestors lately emerged, 

obeying the call to a more complex life.

And still in the teeming oceans 

swim the marvellous creatures, 

the vital plankton sustaining them, 

on which we also depend.

There go the whales and the dolphins, 

even, it is rumoured, Leviathan, 

that great monster of the deep, 

the delight and sport of our God.

The heat of the sun draws the moisture 

up from the seas to the turbulent skies, 

where the winds blow the rain-bearing clouds 

to fall on the mountains and valleys.

Thence spring the rivers and streams, 

watering the brown of the earth into green, 

quenching the thirst of the animals, 

bearing the people in trade and play.     Refrain:

The eyes of the satellite roam, 

the soaring balloons hover, 

the gliders smoothly range, 

they see the mosaics of the earth.

There in the tangle of rain forests 

is the clicking of insects, the slither of snakes, 

the screech of parrots, the blanket of rain, 

and numberless species yet to be named.

There jostle the shining mountains, 

lands of the long white clouds, 

eagles soaring to their eyries, 

snow leopards ruling the heights.

There ripple the sands of the desert, 

where the barren flowers at the touch of rain, 

where the ferrec fox watches and listens, 

through the deep silence that falls with night.

The lions of the savannahs roar, 

the cedars of Lebanon spread their branches, 

the cattle graze in the pastures, 

the cats curl up in the sun.     Refrain:

We harvest the goodness of earth, 

we reap the wheat and the maize, 

we pluck the grapes from the vine, 

the olives from the gnarled branches.

You give us an abundance to share, 

the loaves of life for the table, 

wine to gladden our hearts, 

oil to lighten our skin.

Yet the sun can scorch the corn, 

the lava snap the trees, 

the hurricane flatten the houses, 

the tidal waves and river floods drown.

The meteors hurtle through space, 

the stars explode and vanish, 

the violence our hearts abhor, 

yet playing its vital part.

We may believe your Spirit created 

and renews the face of the earth:

the destruction tempers our praise, 

darkened by pain and perplexity.     Refrain:

Creator God, we celebrate a new unfolding of the universe this day, in us and in everything around us.  We listen to the silence and we hear the rustling of our breath, the hum of engines, the cries of birds…. We question and we adore….we wonder…we trust…. AMEN.     (Jim Cotter)

God’s Grandeur by Gerard Manly Hopkins

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.

    It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;

    It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil

Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?

Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;

    And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;

    And wears man’s smudge and shares man’s smell: the soil

Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.

And for all this, nature is never spent;

    There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;

And though the last lights off the black West went

    Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward, springs —

Because the Holy Ghost over the bent

    World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Pied Beauty by Gerard Manly Hopkins

Glory be to God for dappled things – 

   For skies of couple-colour as a brinded cow; 

      For rose-moles all in stipple upon trout that swim; 

Fresh-firecoal chestnut-falls; finches’ wings; 

   Landscape plotted and pieced – fold, fallow, and plough; 

      And áll trádes, their gear and tackle and trim. 

All things counter, original, spare, strange; 

   Whatever is fickle, freckled (who knows how?) 

      With swift, slow; sweet, sour; adazzle, dim; 

He fathers-forth whose beauty is past change: 

                                Praise him.

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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