Screwtape Proposes a Toast, Discussion Questions Part II

This is a follow up to the discussion questions that I posted under Screwtape Proposes a Toast, Discussion Questions, Part I

As I explained when I posted the first part of these questions, this past winter I taught a class at my church on some of the writings of C.S. Lewis. Towards the end of the quarter, the class and I read through several short works by Lewis and discussed the content of each of the works in light of contemporary America. The short works were “Screwtape Proposes a Toast,” “Meditation in a Toolshed,” “Bulverism” and “Man or Rabbit.” The classes were each one hour long and mainly focused on the questions or concerns that arose from the materials. 

I am posting hereunder my discussion questions prepared for the class for Lewis’ “Screwtape Proposes a Toast”, Part II. Some of the questions overlap with Part I because I used them as a way to ease the class back into where we were in the discussion when we left off. I am purposely not posting my answers to the questions asked in the discussion questions. I want each person to work out their own answers in light of Scripture and what they may otherwise know of Lewis’ work. I would be happy to answer individual questions as they arise.

I pray that the questions may be used to deepen your understanding of the interaction between our 21st Century world and the Bible.


Screwtape Proposes a Toast – Part II

“Envy is a symptom of lack of appreciation of our own uniqueness and self worth. Each of us has something to give that no one else has.” ~ Frank Tyger

“Socialism is a philosophy of failure, the creed of ignorance, and the gospel of envy, its inherent virtue is the equal sharing of misery.” ~ Winston Churchill

“Democ'acy gives every man a right to be his own oppressor.” ~ James Russell Lowell

“There is never a democracy that did not commit suicide.” ~ John Adams

1.    Are people losing their individuality? Are they following the great sinners who remain? Can you think of an example of this in real life? What comes to mind when Screwtape reports, “Every dictator or even demagogue — almost every film star or [rock star] — can now draw tens of thousands of the human sheep with him”?

2.   What does Screwtape have to say about Christian Socialism? How did it impact the plans of Satan? Do we need this today? What were the two attacks the lowerarchy made on Christian Socialism?

3.    What does Screwtape mean when he says that there was a deep hatred of personal freedom? Again, do we see this today?

4.    How has the lowerarchy perverted the meaning of Democracy? What’s wrong with saying, “I’m as good as you”? Aren’t all men created equal”? How does Screwtape change this phrase? Is the change significant? How does this help hell?

5.    What type of people does Screwtape claim would say “I’m just as good as you”? Is he correct? Do people begin to hate those who are superior to them in some way? Does that become a hatred of any difference? Is the claim to equality implied in democracy used by some people merely to cover their envy of others?

6.    What is the problem with this understanding of democracy that Lewis is trying to point out? Does it drag everyone down to the same level? Do those who would get ahead abhor doing so because they may appear undemocratic? Is there other words we use to describe this?

7.    Do some people revolt against this “everyone needs to be alike” attitude by becoming the things that they hate? How does that serve the cause of hell?

8.    What does Screwtape mean by the following, and is he correct?
“What I want to fix your attention on is the vast, overall movement towards the discrediting, and finally the elimination, of every kind of human excellence – moral, cultural, social, or intellectual. And is it not pretty to notice how “democracy” (in the incantatory sense) is now doing for us the work that was once done by the most ancient Dictatorships, and by the same methods?”

9. Screwtape then comments on how education can be used to stifle differences. He notes:
“The basic principle of the new education is to be that dunces and idlers must not be made to feel inferior to intelligent and industrious pupils. That would be “undemocratic.” These differences between pupils – for they are obviously and nakedly individual differences – must be disguised.” 
What does he mean by that? Is that happening in education today? Is it happening in other areas of life? Are Christians falling prey to this?

10. Screwtape goes on to discuss how education can be used “to spread imperturbable conceit and incurable ignorance among men.” How?

11. Does Screwtape think that Democracy, properly understood as a political system that allows a voice of the people through the vote, is something that favors hell in and of itself? In other words, are we, as Christians, wrong to support Democracy? Why or why not?

12. Discuss what Screwtape means when he says that 
“I’m as good as you” has a far deeper value than the destruction of democratic states; that it leads to “a state of mind which, necessarily excluding humility, charity, contentment, and all the pleasures of gratitude or admiration, turns a human being away from almost every road which might finally lead him to Heaven.”

13. Screwtape closes out with a chilling phrase set forth below. What is he talking about? Is this something that we, as Christians, need to be concerned about? 
“All said and done, my friends, it will be an ill day for us if what most humans mean by “Religion” ever vanishes from the Earth. It can still send us the truly delicious sins. Nowhere do we tempt so successfully as on the very steps of the altar.”


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