In late March 2020, an image supposedly showing an excerpt from author C. S. Lewis’ “The Screw Tape Letters” started to circulate on social media among users who claimed that the passage was especially pertinent when so many people find themselves homebound due to the COVID-19 coronavirus disease pandemic:
The excerpt involves an exchange between Satan and Jesus that presumably occurred in the aftermath of a similar pandemic. Satan says that his purpose was to cause “anxiety” and to shut down businesses and places of worship, while Jesus says that he will use this trying time to restore the family unit:
The full exchange reads:
Satan: I will cause anxiety, fear and panic. I will shut down business, schools, places of worship, and sports events. I will cause economic turmoil.
Jesus: I will bring together neighbours, restore the family unit, I will bring dinner back to the kitchen table. I will help people slow down their lives and appreciate what really matters. I will teach my children to rely on me and not the world. I will teach my children to trust me and not their money and material resources.
This passage was not written by Lewis and it does not appear in “The Screwtape Letters.” We searched a digital version of this material available via Google Books and could not find the above-displayed passage. Likewise, a copy of this book from Project Gutenberg did not contain this quote.
This passage is not a piece of prescient writing originally published in the 1940s. This text actually has modern day origins. It was written by a Facebook user named Heidi May and first appeared on Facebook on March 12, 2020: