Screwtape begins this fifth letter by admonishing Wormwood for sending him an almost incoherent letter, “delirious with joy.” The source of Wormwood’s joy, “the anguish and bewilderment of a human soul,” referring of course to Wormwood’s patient. However, in Wormwood’s last letter he mentioned being excited by the “new war” in Europe (World War II).

Screwtape spends some time explaining that war is entertaining for himself and every other demon, but that war should not be enjoyed so much as used. “If we are not careful,” he writes, “we shall see thousands turning in this tribulation to the enemy.” War breeds suffering, which can turn some to their “father,” but more often than not the pain, physical and mental, causes the afflicted to turn to a higher power. Also, it would be much better (from their point of view) for the people in the war to die in a nursing home where everyone lies to them: every indulgence is granted because of their illness, rather than them dieing in a bloody conflict, where they can apply for salvation and be granted it. He closes with the suggestion that should the patient become involved, at a point in a conflict his senses will be muddled, and Wormwood can take advantage of his weakness.

Letter #4 | Letter #6

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