Sunday, December 16, 2007

The Screwtape Letters

I finished up reading the Screwtape Letters a while back, and thought I'd post a few excerpts. It's written by CS Lewis and is a satirical compilation of letters written by a devil named Screwtape to a field tempter offering advice on how best to tempt humankind. It's a really cool book, and I recommend it to all. Here are the excerpts:

He has balanced the love of change in them with a love of permanence. He has contrived to gratify both tastes together in the very world He has made, by that union of change and permanence which we call Rhythm. He gives them seasons, each season different yet every year the same, so that spring is always felt as a novelty yet always as the recurrence of an immemorial theme.

The game is to have them all running about with fire extinguishers whenever there is a flood, and all crowding to that side of the boat which is already nearly gunwale under...Cruel ages are put on their guard against Sentimentality, feckless and idle ones against Respectability, lecherous ones against Puritanism; and whenever all men are really hastening to be slaves or tyrants we make Liberalism the prime bogey.

The grand problem is that of "Unselfishness." Note, once again, the admirable work of our Philological Arm in substituting the negative unselfishness for the Enemy's positive Charity.

Don't forget to use the "Heads I win, tails you lose" argument. If the thing he prays for doesn't happen, then that is one more proof that petitionary prayers don't work; if it does happen, he will of course, be able to see some of the physical causes which led up to it, and "therefore it would have happened anyway." Thus a granted prayer become just as good a proof as a denied one that prayers are ineffective.

The long, dull, monotonous years of middle aged prosperity or middle aged adversity are excellent campaigning weather. You see, it is so hard for these creatures to persevere. The routine of adversity...provides admirable opportunities of wearing out a soul by attrition. If, on the other hand, the middle years prove prosperous, our position is even stronger. Prosperity knits a man to the world. He feels that he is "finding his place in it," while really it is finding its place in him.

He did not create the humans - He did not become one of them and die among them by torture - in order to produce candidates for Limbo, "failed" humans. He wanted to make Saints; gods; things like Himself.


Bradley Ross said...

Fun quotes. Thanks for sharing. I thought this quote was particularly interesting: "Prosperity knits a man to the world. He feels that he is 'finding his place in it,' while really it is finding its place in him."

Cameron said...

There are so many good quotes in this book. It's really insightful, and deserves a second and third read.