Screwtape Letter #11

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February 11, 2016 by Joseph Krohn

Satan & Joking

  • In this letter, Screwtape is talking about the subject’s new friends and how their view of w

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    hat’s “funny” can have a dangerous impact.

  • “I divide the causes of human laughter into: 1) Joy; 2) Fun; 3) The Joke Proper; and 4) Flippancy” (p. 53)
  • The REASON behind this is that C.S. Lewis doesn’t want us to think that there is anything wrong with fun and being happy. We can be happy and have fun God’s way.

KEY VERSE: “A merry heart maketh a cheerful countenance: but by sorrow of the heart the spirit is broken.   15 All the days of the afflicted are evil: but he that is of a merry heart hath a continual feast.” (Proverbs 15:13, 15)

“My friend, the Constitution only guarantees the American people the right to pursue happiness; you have to catch it yourself.” – Benjamin Franklin

Proverbs 17:22 “A merry heart doeth good like medicine: but a broken spirit drieth the bones.”

 Joy and Fun

 “Fun is closely related to joy – a sort of emotional froth arising from the lay instinct. It is very little use to us… at best it sometimes can be used to divert the humans from something else which the Enemy would like them to be doing or feeling.” (p.54)

  •  What do I have to be happy about?

 What are somethings you can be happy about? i.e. sunny days, friends, babies, etc.

  1.  He has blessed you beyond your imagination à Deuteronomy 12:7 And there ye shall eat before the LORD your God, and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, wherein the LORD thy Snowmen for saleGod hath blessed thee.
  2. He is my Protector à Psalm 5:11 But let all those that put their trust in thee rejoice: let them ever shout for joy, because thou defendest them: let them also that love thy name be joyful in thee.
  3. Because of Who He is à Psalm 9:2 I will be glad and rejoice in thee: I will sing praise to thy name, O thou most High.
  4. How He loves Me à Psalm 31:7 I will be glad and rejoice in thy mercy: for thou hast considered my trouble; thou hast known my soul in adversities
  5. He has changed my heart à Psalm 32:11 Be glad in the LORD, and rejoice, ye righteous: and shout for joy, all ye that are upright in heart.
  • What do the beatitudes teach us about life and happiness? (Blessed – lit. happy) – basically – for every difficulty; painful memory; challenge; God declares that He will make it good: “Happy are those that mourn, for they shall be comforted [by Me].”

The Joke Proper (Guidelines for Joking):

Uncle Buddy “I fell of a 12 foot ladder today”
Father Tim: “Are you ok?”
Uncle Buddy: “Well to tell you the truth, I only fell off the bottom rung.”
(From Jan Karon’s At Home in Mitford Series)

“There are two WRONG classes: 1) No Passion (No mind of their own; lets others dictate to them what is funny – Programmable; i.e. Let’s the media or TV shows of today dictate to them what is the “new” funny); 2) Bawdy/Rude humour” (p. 54)

  1. Deception is not joking: Proverbs 26:18-19 “As a mad man who casteth firebrands, arrows, and death, so is the man that deceiveth his neighbour and saith, am not I in sport?
    1. Shading the truth to make a joke is not right.
    2. Saying something in a way that could hurt someone else is not funny.
    3. “I’m just joking” – often used as a cover up to hurt someone else – it shifts the blame on to the offended party because “they can’t take a joke.”
  2. Lying is not joking: Ephesians 4:25 “Wherefore putting away lying, speak every man the truth with his neighbour, for we are members one of another.”
    1. Any shade of lying is sin – lying has become a popular avenue for jokes – i.e. “So and so did this… just joking.”
    2. Declaring something that is completely false as a joke is wrong – could hurt the person being spoken about or those that are hearing it.
  3. Making fun of God; His Word; His Plan, etc. is not joking.
    1. James 1:13-16 – suggesting that God causes sin, when He doesn’t
    2. Matthew 12:31 “Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit, shall not be forgiven unto men.” – attributing the work of the Holy Spirit as a work of the devil.
    3. 2 Kings 2:23-25 – mocking God’s people is not joking.
  4. Making light of Sin is not joking.
    1. Proverbs 14:9 “Fools make a mock at sin; but among the righteous there is favour” (Revelation 21:8)
    2. Ephesians 5:3-7 “…foolish talking, nor jesting [course joking], which are not convenient [not suitable; out of place]
  5. Making fun of others is not joking
    1. Proverbs 17:22 “A Merry heart doeth good like a medicine: but a broken [crushed] spirit drieth the bones.
    2. What about Elijah? (1 Kings 18:27) – “Cry a little louder, Baal, might be sleeping, or on a trip…” – is there a difference of making fun of people or politely mocking error?
  6. Always concentrating on foolishness isn’t good: Proverbs 15:14 “The heart of him that hath understanding seeketh knowledge: but the mouth of fools feedeth on foolishness.

“A thousand bawdy, or even blasphemous jokes do not help towards a man’s damnation so much as his discovery that almost anything he wants to do can be done, not only without the disapproval but with the admiration of his fellows, if only it can get itself treated as a Joke.” (p. 55-56)


  • What is flippancy? [Sarcasm towards God or sacred things; a lack of respect or seriousness towards in this case religious or sacred things; being frivolous with God’s name, etc.]

“Flippancy is the best of all. In the first place it is very economical.” (p. 56)

“If prolonged, the habit of Flippancy builds up around a man the finest armour-plating against the Enemy (God) that I know, and it is quite free from the dangers inherent in the other sources of laughter. It is a thousand miles away from joy: it deadens, instead of sharpening, the intellect; and it excites no affection between those who practice it.” (p. 56)




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