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A Study Guide for CS Lewis’s Screwtape Letters With Special Emphasis on Calling and Vocation Issues for Daily Living A Lilly Grant Project Calvin College.

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Presentation on theme: "A Study Guide for CS Lewis’s Screwtape Letters With Special Emphasis on Calling and Vocation Issues for Daily Living A Lilly Grant Project Calvin College."— Presentation transcript:

1 A Study Guide for CS Lewis’s Screwtape Letters With Special Emphasis on Calling and Vocation Issues for Daily Living A Lilly Grant Project Calvin College Paulo and Adriana Ribeiro

2 "What Satan put into the heads of our remote ancestors was the idea that they could 'be like gods' - could set up on their own as if they had created themselves - be their own masters - invent some sort of happiness for themselves outside God, apart from God. And out of that hopeless attempt has come nearly all that we call human history - money, poverty, ambition, war, prostitution, classes, empires, slavery - the long terrible story of [humanity] trying to find something other than God to make [them] happy." TalentsVocation Re-Direction Temptations Service Calling Temptations A Vocation / Temptation Flow Chart Temptations

3 Outline General Introduction –The Letters –How it all begun – Lessons from Paradise (The Losing of the Original Calling / Vocation) Defining Calling / Vocation –Considerations on Calling and Vocation Letters (31) –Introduction Story –Title, Topics and Issues –Vocabulary / Key Words –Analysis Matrix –Questions for Discussions and Reflections –Resistance Strategy –Realigning Vocation Path Strategy - Blogging Your Experience –Key Scriptures to Memorize –Keep Virtues to Practice –Keep Gifts / Disciplines to Restore –Characters From The Great Divorce, The Pilgrim’s Regress, etc. Conclusions –Steps for Restoring The Vocation Path / Road Map Appendices References

4 The Letters These letters were supposedly written by an experienced devil, Screwtape, to his young nephew, Wormwood. When these letters first appeared in the Manchester Guardian during the World War II, a reader wrote as to cancel his subscription because “much of the advice given in these letters seemed to him not only erroneous but positively diabolical.” Lewis explained later only that his purpose was not to wonder about the diabolical life but to throw light from a new perspective on the life of man. The letters cover many different situations which Christians face on a daily basis. This Study Guide has the objective to encourage you to further reflect on these issues which affect your spiritual struggles and vocational plans. DRAFT

5 How it all begun – Lessons from Paradise The Losing of the Original Calling / Vocation The Steps towards the first misdirection on our vocation road map: 1.Feeling of self importance 2.Sense of insatisfaction 3.Desire for more power 4.Lusting with prohibited things 5.Falling to temptation 6.Realization the deadly consequences 7.Rejection of sole responsibility 8.Recognition of the difference between the consequences of obedience and disobedience 9.Provokes others to follow similar action of disobedience - spreads evil 10.Hides the motivation behind the actions 11.Exploits the secret motivation to gain control 12.Rouses transgression for promoting its own benefit 13.Action causes death, in other words: an act of murder is committed 14.Becomes blind to the real meaning for the action (No man / woman, perhaps, ever at first described to himself the act he was about to do as murder, adultery, perversion. When he hears it so described by other men he is sincerely shocked and surprised” ) 15.Hides from the presence of God References: Genesis, Paradise Lost, and Preface to Paradise Lost DRAFT

6 Defining Calling / Vocation Considerations on Calling and Vocation DRAFT Vocation, profession, gifts, work, trade, talent, aptitude, calling, etc.: What are their meanings? What is a talent? What am I supposed to be and do? What should I be doing as an agent of renewal? What is their significance in our choice of studies and professional life? What is the most significance factor in our calling to be salt and light? What will I be when I grow up? What and how should I live out my professional life as to be a blessing and help forwarding of God’s Kingdom? We pray daily: “Your Kingdom come, Your will be done” (Matthew 6:10). But how does this apply to my living, working, and how do I incorporate play? Before we go on let us just remind ourselves the meaning of vocation: career: profession, job, occupation, work, trade, craft, art or calling: aptitude, inclination, talent, natural ability, ability. With these definitions in mind let us work through a few examples of people in the bible who where called to serve. How did they fare under God’s guidance? In the Old Testament we see for example of Abraham, some of the artisans of the first tabernacle, Barak and Debora, Isaiah and Jeremiah. In the New Testament, we see the examples of Maria, Philip and Paul. You add more examples from the bible and of your circumstances Reference: Callings, etc.

7 Letter I Title: Reason, Truth, Material Needs and Science Fundamental Principles For Seeking Direction In this letter CSL covers many subjects related to seeking direction for life. From books and friends, to intellectual attitudes; from material needs to the meaning of life and the popular understanding and use of science and knowledge, he briefly brings all these issues into light. Since the advice proceeds from a devilish perspective the approach is to put us into a state of confusion and emphasize what Lewis calls it “chronological Snobbery” (ref..). “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” I Peter 5:8-9 “Like a good chess player he (Satan) is always trying to maneuver you into a position where you can save your castle only by losing your bishop.” CSL DRAFT

8 Materialism Reasoning Philosophies Doctrines True / False Academic / Practical /Outworn Contemporary / Conventional Jargon Church Argument Stream Spirit Ordinary Atheism Actuality Unfamiliar / Ordinariness Science Economics / Sociology Real life Modern Fuddle Vocabulary Key Words Letter I DRAFT

9 Analysis Matrix – Letter I Reason, Truth, Material Needs and Science DRAFT Area of LifeDevil’s AdviceGod’s WayObservations/ References Books and Friends Relativistic, materialistic Christian Character Building Search for Wisdom Truth, honesty are needed Jas 1:6,Ro 5:3-5 Pr 4:7 Is 59:14-15, Php 4:8 Intellect Avoid argument and reasoning. Use jargon instead. Make him THINK he is strong God is the source of truth, reason and understanding. God Says BE strong, Avoid stupid arguments… Pr 4:7 Php 3:13-14, Isa 35:4 II Tim 2:23 Philosophies Doctrines Encourage several Incompatible Philosophies inside his head Doctrines? Academic or Practical Outworn or Contemporary Conventional or Ruthless Language Use Jargon (and propaganda) Materialism? The Philosophy of the Future Built on the foundation of Christ... Avoid unstable teaching True and False Use argument / reasoning Yes be yes… Use Scriptures Store treasures in heaven Eph 2:20 Eph 4:14-15 We do not use deception – the god of this age has blinded … II Co 4:2-4 Mt 5:37 Guide me in your truth - Ps 25:5, II Tim. 3:16 Mt 6:19-21 Material Needs Takes Precedence Use the pressure of the ordinary to enslave your patient. Teach him to call it “real life” Lower Priority (Material) Not of bread alone Seek first the kingdom… Real Life – Eternal Life Mt 4:4 Mt 6:33 Jn 17:3 Meaning of Life Keep pressing home on him the ordinariness of things Purpose and Meaning of Life God has an eternal plan Ps.139:16 Area of LifeDevil’s AdviceGod’s WayObs., References Books and Friends Relativistic, materialistic Christian Character Building Search for Wisdom Truth, honesty are needed Jas 1:6,Ro 5:3-5 Pr 4:7 Is 59:14-15, Php 4:8 Intellect Avoid argument and reasoning. Use jargon instead. Make him think it strong, or stark, or courageous God is the source of truth, reason and understanding. God Says BE strong, Avoid stupid arguments… Pr 4:7 Php 3:13-14, Isa 35:4 II Tim 2:23 Philosophies Doctrines Encourage several Incompatible Philosophies inside his head Doctrines? Academic or Practical Outworn or Contemporary Conventional or Ruthless Language Use Jargon (and propaganda) Materialism? The Philosophy of the Future Built on the foundation of Christ... Avoid unstable teaching True and False Use argument / reasoning Yes be yes… Use Scriptures Store treasures in heaven Eph 2:20 Eph 4:14-15 We do not use deception – the god of this age has blinded … II Co 4:2-4 Mt 5:37 Guide me in your truth - Ps 25:5, II Tim. 3:16 Mt 6:19-21

10 Characters From The Great Divorce, The Pilgrim’s Regress, etc. Further Reading / References An interview with an apostate cleric "My dear boy, I'm delighted to see you," it was saying to the Spirit, who was naked and almost blindingly white. "I was talking to your poor father the other day and wondering where you were." "You didn't bring him?" said the other. "Well, no. He lives a long way from the bus, and, to be quite frank, he's been getting a little eccentric lately. A little difficult. Losing his grip. He never was prepared to make any great efforts, you know. If you remember, he used to go to sleep when you and I got talking seriously! Ah, Dick, I shall never forget some of our talks. I expect you've changed your views a bit since then. You became rather narrow- minded towards the end of your life: but no doubt you've broadened out again." "How do you mean?" "Well, it's obvious by now, isn't it, that you weren't quite right. Why, my dear boy, you were coming to believe in a literal Heaven and Hell!" "But wasn't I right?" DRAFT

11 Questions for Discussion 1 - How enslaved are we to chronological snobbery? 2 – How can we use reasoning to grow spiritually? 3 – How enslaved are we to the pressures of the ordinary? 4 – How can argument and reason bring us close to God? (Gods ways are not our ways, but should we use our God given intellect?) 5 – Is science (real science) a help or a threat to our understanding of God? 6 – How do these issues affect my perspective on my spiritual life and personal vocation plans and goals? 7 – How do these issues affect my DAILY walk with God? For Further Reading and Reflection How does this chapter shows a light on how I relate to God and see my vocation? Reading: The Weight of Glory.. DRAFT

12 Resistance Strategy Realigning Vocation Path Strategy Blogging Your Experience Resistance Strategy __________________________ 1_________________ 2_________________ 3_________________ 4_________________ Realigning Vocation Path Strategy __________________________ 1_________________ 2_________________ 3_________________ 4_________________ DRAFT

13

14 Letter XXX Title: Fear, Fatigue, Emotions, and “Reality” Dealing With Normal Life Pressures In this letter the consequences of fatigue, emotions and evil are explored. It also talks about the best diabolical result of “attacks on patience, chastity, and fortitude (the fun is to make the man yield just when (had he but known it) relief was almost in sight.” Finally Lewis tries us to come to grip with some definitions of reality. ”Your patient, properly handled, will have no difficulty in regarding his emotion at the sight of human entrails as a revelation of Reality and his emotion at the sight of happy children or fair weather as mere sentiment”. “Be self-controlled and alert. Your enemy the devil prowls around like a roaring lion looking for someone to devour. Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” I Peter 5:8-9 “Like a good chess player he (Satan) is always trying to maneuver you into a position where you can save your castle only by losing your bishop.” CSL

15 Vocabulary Key Words Letter I

16 Analysis Matrix – Letter XXX Fear, Fatigue, Emotions, and “Reality” Area of LifeDevil’s AdviceGod’s WayReferences JusticePurely realistic, and concerned only with results Bring us back food, or be food yourself Take in account opportunities and intentions Questions Self KnowledgeDistort virtues Inflate abilities Avoid duties Know our own limitations: Fear … “but has done everything his duties demanded” Ps 103: 14 for he knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust. Emotions Fatigue Provoke a burst of ill temper Excessive cigarette smoking Forgetting prayers Moderate fatigue is a better soil for peevishness than absolute exhaustion It is not fatigue simply as such that produces anger, but unexpected demands on a man already tired Provoke anger, malice and impatience Feed him with false hopes Let his inner resolution be not to bear whatever comes to him, but bear it for a reasonable period Attacks on patience, chastity, and fortitude: the fun is to make the man yield just when (had be but known it) relief was just in sight Attack emotions Peace that surpasses all understanding Gentleness, and quiet of mind, and even something like vision. God give us true hope Endure and Persevere Be a servant Hope of eternal life, despising the world Stand firm till the end God will not tempt you beyond endurance Ph. 4:7 “And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.” 1 Timothy 6:11 “ flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness” “No temptation is beyond what you can bear 1 Corinthians 10: 13” Heb. 3:6 “ hold fast the confidence and the rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end.”

17 Analysis Matrix – Letter XXX Fear, Fatigue, Emotions, and “Reality” Area of LifeDevil’s AdviceGod’s WayReferences RealityHuman remains plastered on a wall: “what the world is really like’ and that all religion has been a fantasy Get them fogged about the meaning of the word “real.” Confusion between the bare physical facts, separated from the other elements in the experience they actually had. All experiences which can make them happier or better only the physical facts are "Real" while the spiritual elements are "subjective"; in all experiences which can discourage or corrupt them the spiritual elements are the main reality” Happiness = Real Experience Spiritual = Subjective Experience Birth: Blood and Pain = Real Experience Rejoicing = Subjective Experience Hatred: Hated Person = Real Thing Love: Loved Person = Subjective (concealing sexual appetite or economic association) Happy children, fair weather= mere sentiment Human entrails= a revelation of reality Feelings under control of faith This life is just a preface Creation is groaning for redemption Spiritual warfare: and our physical world is just the outward appearance of eternal realities Happy is subject to peace that surpasses all understanding Hebrews 11(by faith) Psalm 136: 1 O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures for ever. 2 O give thanks to the God of gods, for his steadfast love endures for ever. 3 O give thanks to the Lord of lords, for his steadfast love endures for ever; 4 to him who alone does great wonders, for his steadfast love endures forever.

18 Questions for Discussion 1. Are emotions / feelings unholy expressions? 2.Why should we not live by emotions? 3.How can we control and use our emotions to the glory of God? 4.How can we resist the devil to use our emotions to distract us from doing God’s will 5.How can fatigue influence or reactions to varied situations? 6.What should be our best training to prepare ourselves to similar situations? 7.In what sense can recognition of ones limitations help us in our spiritual warfare? 8.What is ironic about Wormwood’s desire to excuse himself about the “opportunities and intentions to be taken into account”? 9.What is the Biblical idea of justice? 10.Why is moderate fatigue a better soil for peevishness than absolute exhaustion? 11.What is the problem with “exaggerating weariness”, and the reminder that it will soon be over? Have you ever been caught in such a circumstance? 12.What in CS Lewis is the difference between a tired woman/ man? Can this knowledge be of any help for us in trying to be faithful in our trials? 13.Is the “general rule” for emotional experiences being “real” or not according to CSL applicable to our day and age? What should then, be the correct way of dealing with our emotional experiences? 14.How does CS Lewis elaborate on the subjective and realistic ideas of physical and spiritual facts? For Further Reading and Reflection

19 Characters From The Great Divorce, The Pilgrim’s Regress, etc. Further Reading / References

20 Resistance Strategy Realigning Vocation Path Strategy Blogging Your Experience Resistance Strategy __________________________ 1_________________ 2_________________ 3_________________ 4_________________ Realigning Vocation Path Strategy __________________________ 1_________________ 2_________________ 3_________________ 4_________________ DRAFT

21 Steps for Restoring The Vocation Path / Road Map -Total honesty with regard to the challenges and temptations which we face at Calvin and in the real world. -Total transparency in our dealings, business and relationship -Total acceptance of our limitations, etc. -Total surrender to the Lord now (it will happen sooner or later - hopefully in faith) -Total commitment and involvement with the tasks at hand Only then, we will be able to maintain the focus on the Christian calling and vocation road map, and facilitate corrections on the journey when we are distracted on the way. DRAFT

22 Appendices References Screwtape The Great Divorce Callings Scripture (NIV) Letters to Malcolm Mere Christianity The Pilgrim’s Regress DRAFT


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