Screwtape Letters for College Students #1 – Distraction

I’m almost finished listening through C. S. Lewis’ classic, The Screwtape Letters, on audiobook, and as I have been listening through it, I keep asking this question: what strategies is Satan using most effectively to deceive and destroy college students? The Bible clearly teaches that demonic forces are active and cunning in this world and that we should not be naïve “in order that Satan might not outwit us. For we are not unaware of his schemes” (2 Corinthians 2:11). So for my next several blogs, I want to draw from some of C. S. Lewis’ original ideas, add a few of my own from ministry experience and then apply them to today’s college students using Lewis’ format of one demon writing to another.

For the sake of not infringing on any copyright laws, I will change the name of the supervising demon to “Lure” and the demon on assignment to “Catch.” I choose these names purposefully because these names show the essential strategy of demons (to entice and deceive using something good and attractive) as well as their goal (to capture and enslave). Here goes …


Do as I say and this could be the turning point. The beginning of the college school year marks a watershed opportunity for you as you strive for the destruction of your target. Benjamin … I hate even writing his name because of the meaning behind it. Why the Creator would want to draw this vermin up into his divine life and call him the “son of my right hand” is beyond me. His delight in him is ever repulsive to me.  Our designs for him are much more delicious.

He has now entered into a phase of life full of new opportunities and freedom and yet he is not as ready for these as he thinks. They always overestimate their maturity and this is to our advantage. What you need to do now is give him the sense that if he were to say no to too many of these opportunities, he would be missing out on his college experience. By filling his schedule up with activity upon activity, commitment overlapping commitment (not to mention the pile of school work that he isn’t even accounting for yet), you will effectively crowd out the essential with the tertiary.

Speaking of schoolwork, this is the time where you want to begin planting the idea that “if I’m going to be somebody, I’ve got to give my schoolwork top priority.” This is one of our most masterful tactics: by hijacking some good things of the Creator’s, namely learning and work, and putting a life-consuming spin on them, we make our target feel as if he would get behind the crowd, handicap his resume’, and endanger his future if he were to put anything else above that.

But of course, no one can study all the time, and so you must work within his Creator-given needs in this case. This is where activities and involvement is your tool. If you can keep him so enamored with what is right in front of him, he will not only feel that fleeting sense of significance which we love to addict them with, but he will feel no openness in his life to that which he needs most: the Creator’s presence through His book and people. This is what you must keep him away from no matter what. Even a taste of it can remind him of what he was made for.

But be careful not to move too fast. Because he grew up going to church, subtlety is key. You will need to keep him somehow nominally involved for a little while in order to not awake him to his danger. I have found much success in keeping them inoculated through a semi-consistent dragging into a church service on Sunday mornings (after a late night, of course) where they can quiet their conscience with a formal religious observance in this way. As long as you can keep impressing the sense that real life is somewhere else and religion is peripheral, you will take him in due time. I expect a good report soon.

Your Overlord,


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6 Responses to Screwtape Letters for College Students #1 – Distraction

  1. Jessica says:

    This is so frightening, I’m really scared. Do you think that because I’m trying to bring people to Veritas and other things like going to church, I’m being targeted by demons and evil spirits?

    • kermitsummerall says:

      I’m so sorry that it has taken me so long to respond. I just posted a reply to your comment. I hope it helps. Feel free to let me know if you have more questions.

  2. Those aren’t bad things, Jessica. They’re good, in fact. The point is that God is suppose to be primary, and those activities and studies are tertiary. Our significance comes primarily from God, not the things we do. The blog warns us against our tendency to make activities and study (the college life) the primary things in our lives that give us ultimate significance rather than God. The world and Satan want us to put these things above God, when God should be above them in our lives. They are still good things that greatly strengthen our faith though. So keep doing what you’re doing. Your involvement with Veritas and church is likely evidence of God’s love and grace to you rather than the influence of demons.

  3. kermitsummerall says:

    I’m so sorry that it has taken me so long to respond. I’m thankful for Kyle’s helpful response in the meantime. I don’t mean for these posts to be frightening to you. On the one hand, there is a healthy alertness that we should all have of demonic schemes against us (1 Peter 5:8). Raising this alertness is my goal in these posts. If left to ourselves, we would surely be deceived and defeated by Satan. But we should not be frightened by or live in fear of demonic powers if we trust in Jesus as our Savior and King. Let me explain what I mean. As our Savior, Jesus has died for us and purchased us with His precious blood to rescue us from the power of Satan. Because Jesus purchased us once for all, Satan can no longer have a final hold on us (Romans 8:38, John 10:27-29, Acts 20:28b). As our King, Jesus will defend us from Satan’s destructive schemes in this life and then crush him and banish him once and for all when He returns to make all things right (Hebrews 2:14-15, Revelation 20:10). On a practical level, yes, it upsets Satan that you are participating in church and ministry. But the reason it upsets him so much is because he knows that the grace and truth you receive at church and at ministries like Veritas is the very truth that defeats his lies and spoils his schemes. So when you go to church or participate in ministry, don’t be afraid of Satan’s attacks, instead know that you are putting Satan on the run as you are being more and more equipped with the Sword of His Spirit, which is the truth of the Bible (Ephesians 6:11, 17). If you are still struggling with feeling afraid after you read this, please go back and read through the scripture I have listed here. Let these promises remind you of the incomparably great power of Jesus over Satan in your life. I hope this helps.

  4. Robyn says:

    Kermit, this is so right! We have a wonderful college ministry in our tiny church plant that is made up of about 35 students from the local university. They are really struggling this year with balancing intense course loads and involvement in ministry…both of which are good things, but can also distract them from the main thing…a thriving relationship with God. I am sharing this on our college group’s page on facebook. Thank you for this series!

    • Kermit says:

      Thanks Robyn. I hope your students find it helpful. The second one will be posted in the next 3-5 days. Please feel free to use this blog from our college ministry as a resource for yours.

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