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So, what are you reading, Colleen Murphy Duggan?


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Elizabeth Scalia - published on 04/01/17

The writer makes the acquaintance of a demon and learns she is not "a special sinning snowflake," after all.

Aleteia loves books but recognizes that a world busy with social media doesn’t afford many prompts to that old conversation-starter, “Read any good books lately?” So, we’re asking it in this space. Today, frequent Aleteia contributor Colleen Murphy Duggan — who should be finishing her upcoming book — admits that she’s been playing Lenten hooky from her writing duties thanks to an ever-tempting literary demon, who is probably hoping she will miss her deadline! 

“Although I’ve attempted to read C.S. Lewis’s spiritual classic The Screwtape Letters at least a half dozen times,” says Duggan, “I’ve never managed to finish the old school, second hand library copy I picked up almost 20 years ago. So when my Well Read Mom book club announced it as March’s pick, I knew Lent was the time to get her done.”

For the unintiated, The Screwtape Letters is Lewis’ Christian apologetics masterpiece and an entertaining, instructive read that goes down easy but nevertheless packs a punch. The epistolary novel contains a series of satirical letters written by a demon named Screwtape to his nephew, Wormwood. Uncle Screwtape means to advise his nephew on helping a human (called “the Patient”) damn himself to Hell.

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“I love the unique way Lewis conveys the ease and uncomplicated nature of the devil’s trickery. For instance, Screwtape brags about how easily he once coaxed one of his Patients right out of his deep thoughts about life and into the street so he could find something to satisfy his growling stomach. As Saint Paul says, the spirit is willing but the flesh is weak and Screwtape capitalizes on our fragile corporal natures. And we let him!”

Duggan is enjoying Lewis’ “lighthearted, humorous look at the Devil’s silly antics. I have a tendency to take myself too seriously. My well-developed pride is often so appalled at my sinfulness, I can spend days, weeks, months, and years shocked at my own behavior. But this book reminds me I’m not a special sinning snowflake.

“Everyone sins and usually very easily and without an excessive amount of temptation. Satan isn’t that creative, he’s just willing to prey upon my weak human nature. I don’t have to indulge the temptations or pay him too much mind or allow him to further distract me from God by beating myself up.”

Duggan says Uncle Screwtape’s instructions to his nephew have been great Lenten reading. “When I’m driving my small herd of children here, there, and yonder, I pop on this dramatic audio version of The Letters,

The narrator’s voice is so smooth, delightful and wicked, I find myself laughing out loud.”

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