I spent a lot of time this summer listening and re-listening to C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters on audiobook. The premise is this: Screwtape, an elder demon in the bureaucracy of hell, advises Wormwood, a younger tempter assigned to a human (“the patient”) . It’s the sort of book in which you find yourself wiping away tears of laughter and, in the next moment, cringing at the cutting accuracy with which Lewis has identified the darkest parts of your own soul.
”Remember, always, that the Enemy [God] really likes the little vermin, and sets an absurd value on the distinctness of every one of them. When He talks of their losing their selves, He only means abandoning the clamour of self-will; once they have done that, He really gives them back all their personality, and boasts (I am afraid, sincerely) that when they are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever. Hence, while He is delighted to see them sacrificing even their innocent wills to His, He hates to see them drifting away from their own nature for any other reason. ”