At the 50th anniversary of the death of C.S. Lewis, the legacy of one of his infamous characters, Screwtape, lives on in Operation Screwtape: The Art of Spiritual War (Baker Books). Written by minister and author Andrew Farley, the idea behind the work is that Farley has unearthed thousands of archived files revealing a worldwide spiritual conspiracy. The largest of these files, Operation Screwtape, details the intelligent scheme to annihilate Christianity.
Farley, who read Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters as a teen, worked hard to create continuity between the original classic and this modern take. “[The Screwtape Letters] details correspondence between two demons conspiring against humanity,” Farley says. “It’s fiction, but in Lewis’ mind, there’s an underlying message he believed in. In Operation Screwtape, what I’m doing is introducing all-new themes and content in a modern-day rendition.”
The style of the book — correspondence between demons — disarms readers as they see issues from the enemy’s perspective as a third-party eavesdropper. “That’s what really makes things interesting for the reader,” Farley says. “When a person of traditional Christian beliefs thinks of the enemy, they conceive of him as a horned devil who wants to tempt them to do evil looking things. In Operation Screwtape, I’m saying let’s go back to the Garden of Eden and look at the original temptation. The serpent says to Eve to eat the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in order to be like God. It’s a very good-looking temptation. He says she will look like, think like and be like God. It’s a very interesting form of distraction or temptation because the bait was not something that looked overtly evil. It looked very good.”