Superheroes, Satan, and The Screwtape Letters: A Mother’s Day Reflection

I recently finished listening to the audiobook version of C.S. Lewis’s classic masterpiece, The Screwtape Letters. I’ve been re-listening to it again with my husband, and believe I could listen a hundred more times and still find myself utterly enthralled by Lewis’s cutting insights into morality, temptation, good and evil.

Though The Screwtape Letters was written decades ago, it, like any other book brimming with biblical truth, is just as relevant and applicable today as it was the day it was published. Whether you’re a new Christian, not a Christian, or you’ve been part of God’s family most of your life, Lewis provides a captivating look behind enemy lines as he uncovers the inner workings of demonic tempters bent on destroying us, one insidious ploy at a time.

This week, I’d like to share a bit of what I’m learning from this intriguing treatise, particularly what it’s taught me about being a warrior-princess in God’s army. Take a look at this excerpt from Chapter 22, in which the professorial Screwtape, writing to his less experienced nephew Wormwood, describes the Christian love interest of Wormwood’s newly converted human “patient”:


I have looked up this girl’s dossier and am horrified at what I find. Not only a Christian but such a Christian—a vile, sneaking, simpering, demure, monosyllabic, mouse-like, watery, insignificant, virginal, bread-and-butter miss. The little brute. She makes me vomit. She stinks and scalds through the very pages of the dossier. It drives me mad, the way the world has worsened. We’d have had her to the arena in the old days. That’s what her sort is made for. Not that she’d do much good there, either. A two-faced little cheat (I know the sort) who looks as if she’d faint at the sight of blood and then dies with a smile. A cheat every way. Looks as if butter wouldn’t melt in her mouth and yet has a satirical wit. The sort of creature who’d find ME funny! 


Clearly, Screwtape is not a fan of this lady, and I couldn’t help but laugh at his impassioned harangue. I chuckled, of course, because Lewis makes it so colorful and fun to read – you can almost see the smoke shooting out of the red-faced demon’s ears! But I also laughed because I know several incredible women of God whom Screwtape would certainly slander in a similar fashion. My mother, for example…

We have to remember that Screwtape is evil, through and through. All that believers revere to be sacred and true he views as rank and offensive. So when he calls this pious girl all sorts of appalling things – vile, mouse-like, insignificant, virginal… – he could be paying her no higher compliment from a Christian point of view. (We should all aspire to tick off demons in like manner, ha!) For my entire life, I have overheard – or been told personally – that my mom is wonderfully feminine and ladylike (this is one of the traits my dad admired most in her). I never once have argued with this observation. She always dresses to the nines for church. Always crosses her legs. Never swears. Never tolerates swearing. Never belches publicly (some women brag about their ability to beat boys in burping contests) or chews with her mouth open. You get the point – she’s completely “vile” to Screwtape and his ilk.


Superheroes, Satan, and The Screwtape Letters


But there’s another side to her, an unbelievably strong side, one that I imagine has taken the enemy by surprise and grinded his gears thousands of times.

There’s a tendency, I think, for non-believers to view Christians – and Christian women, in particular – as weak, one-dimensional, and humorless. A common perception is that Christian women only read the Bible, only watch Disney movies (and Beth Moore DVDs), only discuss how they can be more like Ruth and Esther, and that they regularly gossip under the guise of gathering prayer requests. While I’m not arguing that there aren’t some Christians for whom that description is accurate, I am arguing that it’s not as pervasive as some might think.

Going back to my mom, she’s one of the wittiest, most imaginative, curious, artistic, and vivacious women I’ve ever met. She rightly enjoys the pleasures of God’s creation and the gifts He’s instilled in her, rather than writing off any sort of non-theological fun as “worldly” and “wasteful.” (Lewis even mentions, through his nefarious narrator, that God created countless things – napping, eating, love making, etc. – purely so we could enjoy them.)

One mustn’t let my mother’s prim, proper, put-together exterior fool them. She’s also, without exaggeration, the hardest-working woman I know. From helping saddle and care for huge horses almost every day during the 15 years I competed in horse shows, to building entire sets – by herself – for school plays and church pageants, she’s a virtual Jill of all trades (I could spend pages enumerating her dozens of other projects!). And as a former radiation therapist who’s seen her fair share of human anatomy, there isn’t much that can turn her stomach. To put it simply, she’s tough as nails. Like the young woman whom Screwtape so vociferously loathes, she would be the first to smile if you pitched her to the lions at the Coliseum.

My mom often reminds me of a comic book superhero. Just as Superman has his geeky, bespectacled and strait-laced alter ego, Clark Kent, she has her “demure,” elegant persona named Barbara. As a superhero, however, she’s really Super Barb, ready at the first sign of trouble to intervene, whether physically or spiritually, for those in need of assistance, prayer, or an encouraging word (my husband even painted the ceramic superhero below in her honor, lol!). She’s not two different people, but a wonderfully complex, multifaceted child of God who understands and appreciates the beauty of femininity while simultaneously embracing her identity as “warrior,” “soldier,” and “athlete,” all biblical metaphors for followers of Christ.[1]


Mother's Day and C.S. Lewis


Each of us has been given unique personalities, interests, and talents, and we are to let them be used by God for His purposes in leading others to Christ while bringing glory to Him. Whether you’re a girly girl who’s into shopping and experimenting with makeup, or a tomboyish nerd like me who’s into lifting heavy weights and reading heavy books, you are a child of the living God, bought with the precious blood of His Only Son, and nothing and no one – not even conniving demons like Screwtape – can separate us from His love.[2] As long as we remember that, all the forces and masterminds of hell will never succeed in stealing our joy, our peace, and our confidence in Christ. And when they try, we can throw back our heads…and laugh.


Blog by Diana Anderson-Tyler on The Screwtape Letters


Happy belated Mother’s Day, mom! Thank you for being the best example of strength, integrity, hard work, grace, generosity, faith, hope, and love I could ask for!!!


Keep Shining, (1)


P.S. My new fitness book, a couples workout guide and devotional, will be available on Amazon in ebook and print formats on Friday!  You can pre-order it now by clicking here!

Perfect Fit Couples Edition by Diana Anderson-Tyler




“I am sending you out like sheep among wolves. Therefore be as shrewd as snakes and as innocent as doves.” –Matthew 10:16, NIV


[1] 1 John 5:4; 2 Corinthians 4:7-12;  2 Timothy 2:4-7

[2] Romans 8:31-39

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