The Myth of “My Control”

I recently finished reading C. S. Lewis’ brilliant piece “The Screwtape Letters.” If you haven’t read the book – you should. Lewis takes on the personification of an older, more seasoned, demon named “Uncle Screwtape” who writes a series of insightful letters to his incompetent nephew “Wormwood” on the best practices of temptation and the goals not only of demons but Satan himself. If you want practical insight into Satan’s work against God’s grace in the human experience – you need to read this book.

In the book Uncle Screwtape writes this to his nephew as he tries to destroy a human life. “The sense of ownership in general is always to be encouraged. The humans are always putting up claims to ownership which sound equally funny in Heaven and in Hell, and we must keep them doing so . . . We produce this sense of ownership not only by pride but by confusion. We teach them not to notice the different sense of the possessive pronoun – the finely graded differences that run from ‘my boots’ through ‘my dog,’ ‘my servant,’ ‘my wife,’ ‘my father,’ ‘my master,’ and ‘my country,’ to ‘my God.’ They can be taught to reduce all these senses to that of ‘my boots,’ the ‘my’ of ownership. Even in the nursery a child can be taught to mean by ‘my Teddy bear,’ not the . . . recipient of my affection (for that is what the Enemy [God] will teach them to mean if we are not careful), but ‘the bear I can pull to pieces if I like,’ And at the other end of the scale, we have taught men to say ‘my God’ in a sense not really very different from ‘my boots,’ meaning ‘the god on whom I have a claim for my distinguished services and who I exploit . . . the God I have done a corner in.’ And all the time the joke is that the word ‘mine’ in its fully possessive sense cannot be uttered by a human being about anything. In the long run either Our Father [Satan] or the Enemy [God] will say ‘mine’ of each thing that exists, and specially of each man. They will find out in the end, never fear, to whom their time, their souls, and their bodies really belong – certainly not to them whatever happens.” 

About Andy Lewis

Andy is an author, pastor, and musician who lives in Santa Cruz California. Currently he serves as lead pastor at Faith Community Church in Santa Cruz
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