You really should read the whole thing. It is very short. But it is huge.
Here is my synopsis:
Screwtape is a very senior devil. He isn’t Satan himself, but very high up there, perhaps the Prime Minister of Hell.
The business of devils is to corrupt the souls of men. The devils feast on the souls of men and so lust after them as their principal means of sustenance. (c.f., http://tinyurl.com/yazvwx8o)
So Screwtape is quite accomplished in the means of corrupting the souls of men, and subsequently feasting on them.
Wormwood is his nephew. A young fellow, just getting into the family business of corrupting the souls of men. Eager, passionate, but ultimately incompetent.
So he writes his uncle Screwtape a series of letters about his plight, and Screwtape replies in kind.
Again, read them all, but basically they go like this:
“Dear Uncle Screwtape. I have done my best to corrupt the souls of men, but I am failing: every time I try to corrupt the soul of a man his soul is saved instead and he goes to heaven, not hell. What am I doing wrong?”
Screwtape, smacking his forehead in disgust:
” Oh My Satan! HOW could you DO such a thing!!!
“HERE is how you corrupt the souls of men…”
He proceeds to toss a few marbles in the path of the “Patient”. The “Patient” slips on the marbles, falls and hits his head on the floor. In a rage he kicks the dog, who bites the cat, who scratches the wife, and they all collapse in a huddled mass of misery.
Screwtape then emerges tall and in glory with his arms crossed:
“I didn’t do anything. All I did was toss out a few marbles. You chose to react as you did. Now, I shall have a feast.”
I have internalized this. I see the conflict between good and evil every day. So when things start going south, I raise a finger:
“Wait! Stop! This is a Screwtape Moment!”
He wants us to fail. He wants us to be miserable.
Don’t let him do that to you.
God wants you to be happy. If you are miserable then you are doing something wrong. Look around for the marbles…