Friday, July 30, 2010
So you ‘have great hopes that the patient’s religious phase is dying away’, have you? I always thought the Training College had gone to pieces since they put old Slubgob’at the head of it, and now I am sure. Has no one ever told you about the law of Undulation?
Humans are amphibians—half spirit and half animal. (The Enemy’s determination to produce such a revolting hybrid was one of the things that determined Our Father to withdraw his support from Him.) As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time. This means that while their spirit can be directed to an eternal object, their bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change, for to be in time means to change. Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation—the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks. If you had watched your patient carefully you would have seen this undulation in every department of his life—his interest in his work, his affection for his friends, his physical appetites, all go up and down. As long as he lives on earth periods of emotional and bodily richness and liveliness will alternate with periods of numbness and poverty. The dryness and dullness through which your patient is now going are not, as you fondly suppose, your workmanship; they are merely a natural phenomenon which will do us no good unless you make a good use of it.
To decide what the best use of it is, you must ask what use the Enemy wants to make of it, and then do the opposite....
Your affectionate uncle,
C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (originally 1942; this edition: Harper Collins, 1996) 37-38.
Thursday, July 29, 2010
My dear Wormwood,
I am very pleased by what you tell me about this man’s relations with his mother. But you must press your advantage. The Enemy will be working from the centre outwards, gradually bringing more and more of the patient’s conduct under the new standard, and may reach his behaviour to the old lady at any moment. You want to get in first.... The following methods are useful.
1. Keep his mind on the inner life. He thinks his conversion is something inside him and his attention is therefore chiefly turned at present to the states of his own mind—or rather to that very expurgated version of them which is all you should allow him to see. Encourage this. Keep his mind off the most elementary duties by directing it to the most advanced and spiritual ones. Aggravate that most useful human characteristic, the horror and neglect of the obvious. You must bring him to a condition in which he can practise self-examination for an hour without discovering any of those facts about himself which are perfectly clear to anyone who has ever lived in the same house with him or worked in the same office....
Your affection uncle,
Wednesday, July 28, 2010
I note with grave displeasure that your patient has become a Christian. Do not indulge the hope that you will escape the usual penalties; indeed, in your better moments, I trust you would hardly even wish to do so. In the meantime we must make the best of the situation. There is no need to despair; hundreds of these adult converts have been reclaimed after a brief sojourn in the Enemy’s camp and are now with us. All the habits of the patient, both mental and bodily, are still in our favour.
One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. Do not misunderstand me. I do not mean the Church as we see her spread out through all time and space and rooted in eternity, terrible as an army with banners. That, I confess, is a spectacle which makes our boldest tempters uneasy. But fortunately it is quite invisible to these humans. All your patient sees is the half-finished, sham Gothic erection on the new building estate. When he goes inside, he sees the local grocer with rather an oily expression on his face bustling up to offer him one shiny little book containing a liturgy which neither of them understands, and one shabby little book containing corrupt texts of a number of religious lyrics, mostly bad, and in very small print. When he gets to his pew and looks round him he sees just that selection of his neighbours whom he has hitherto avoided. You want to lean pretty heavily on those neighbours. Make his mind flit to and fro between an expression like ‘the body of Christ’ and the actual faces in the next pew.... ....Work hard, then, on the disappointment or anticlimax which is certainly coming to the patient during his first few weeks as a churchman. The Enemy allows this disappointment to occur on the threshold of every human endeavour. It occurs when the boy who has been enchanted in the nursery by Stories from the Odyssey buckles down to really learning Greek. It occurs when lovers have got married and begin the real task of learning to live together. In every department of life it marks the transition from dreaming aspiration to laborious doing. The Enemy takes this risk because He has a curious fantasy of making all these disgusting little human vermin into what He calls His ‘free’ lovers and servants—’sons’ is the word He uses, with His inveterate love of degrading the whole spiritual world by unnatural liaisons with the two-legged animals. Desiring their freedom, He therefore refuses to carry them, by their mere affections and habits, to any of the goals which He sets before them: He leaves them to ‘do it on their own’. And there lies our opportunity. But also, remember there lies our danger. If once they get through this initial dryness successfully, they become much less dependent on emotion and therefore much harder to tempt....
Your affectionate uncle
C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (originally 1942; this edition: Harper Collins, 1996) 5-8.
Tuesday, July 27, 2010
I note what you say about guiding your patient’s reading and taking care that he sees a good deal of his materialist friend. But are you not being a trifle naïve? It sounds as if you supposed that argument was the way to keep him out of the Enemy’s clutches. That might have been so if he had lived a few centuries earlier. At that time the humans still knew pretty well when a thing was proved and when it was not; and if it was proved they really believed it. They still connected thinking with doing and were prepared to alter their way of life as the result of a chain of reasoning. But what with the weekly press and other such weapons we have largely altered that. Your man has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to have a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head. He doesn’t think of doctrines as primarily ‘true’ or ‘false’, but as ‘academic’ or 'practical', ‘outworn’ or ‘contemporary’, ‘conventional’ or ‘ruthless’. Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church. Don’t waste time trying to make him think that materialism is true! Make him think that it is strong, or stark, or courageous—that it is the philosophy of the future. That's the sort of thing he cares about....
Your affectionate uncle
C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (originally 1942; this edition: Harper Collins, 1996) 1-2.
Monday, July 26, 2010
C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (originally 1942; this edition: Harper Collins, 1996) ix.
Sunday, July 25, 2010
“Thou hast made us for thyself,” said St. Augustine, “and our heart has no rest till it comes to Thee.” This, so easy to believe for a brief moment before the altar or, perhaps, half-praying, half-meditating in an April wood, sounds like mockery beside a deathbed. But we shall be far more truly mocked if, casting this way, we pin our comfort on the hope—perhaps even with the aid of séance and necromancy—of some day, this time forever, enjoying the earthly Beloved again, and no more. It is hard not to imagine that such an endless prolongation of earthly happiness would be completely satisfying.
But, if I may trust my own experience, we get at once a sharp warning that there is something wrong. The moment we attempt to use our faith in the other world for this purpose, that faith weakens. The moments in my life when it was really strong have all been moments when God Himself was central in my thoughts. Believing in Him, I could then believe in Heaven as a corollary. But the reverse process—believing first in reunion with the Beloved, and then, for the sake of that reunion, believing in Heaven, and finally, for the sake of Heaven, believing in God—this will not work. One can of course imagine things. But a self-critical person will soon be increasingly aware that the imagination at work is his own; he knows he is only weaving a fantasy. And simpler souls will find the phantoms they try to feed on void of all comfort and nourishment, only to be stimulated into some semblance of reality by pitiful efforts of self-hypnotism, and perhaps by the aid of ignoble pictures and hymns and (what is worse) witches.
We find thus by experience that there is no good applying to Heaven for earthly comfort. Heaven can give heavenly comfort; no other kind. And earth cannot give earthly comfort either. There is no earthly comfort in the long run.
For the dream of finding our end, the thing we were made for, in a Heaven of purely human love could not be true unless our whole Faith were wrong. We were made for God. Only by being in some respect like Him, only by being a manifestation of His beauty, loving- kindness, wisdom or goodness, has any earthly Beloved excited our love. It is not that we have loved them too much, but that we did not quite understand what we were loving. It is not that we shall be asked to turn from them, so dearly familiar, to a Stranger. When we see the face of God we shall know that we have always known it. He has been a party to, has made, sustained and moved moment by moment within, all our earthly experiences of innocent love. All that was true love in them was, even on earth, far more His than ours, and ours only because His. In Heaven there will be no anguish and no duty of turning away from our earthly Beloveds. First, because we shall have turned already; from the portraits to the Original, from the rivulets to the Fountain, from the creatures He made lovable to Love Himself. But secondly, because we shall find them all in Him. By loving Him more than them we shall love them more than we now do.
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (1960; Harcourt Brace: 1991) 137-139.
Friday, July 23, 2010
Mathematics effectively began when a few Greek friends got together to talk about numbers and lines and angles. What is now the Royal Society was originally a few gentlemen meeting in their spare time to discuss things which they (and not many others) had a fancy for. What we now call “the Romantic Movement” once was Mr. Wordsworth and Mr. Coleridge talking incessantly (at least Mr. Coleridge was) about a secret vision of their own. Communism, Tractarianism, Methodism, the movement against slavery, the Reformation, the Renaissance, might perhaps be said, without much exaggeration, to have begun in the same way.
C.S. Lewis, The Four Loves (1960; Harcourt Brace: 1991) 68.
Thursday, July 22, 2010
[Do you remember Ezekiel Bulver? C.S. Lewis never got around to writing his full biography, but what he does tell us is very insightful. Ezekiel Bulver assures us that "refutation is no necessary part of argument. Assume that your opponent is wrong, and then explain his error, and the world will be at your feet." I just discovered one further snippit that I should've given when we went over the readings on Bulver -- kind of a fitting conclusion. So if you don't remember, here's what we previously read:
Why Ezekiel Bulver assumes "You're wrong" (Part 1)
The problem with Ezekiel Bulver's discovery that "You're wrong" (Part 2)
Why Ezekiel Bulver must be proven wrong (Part 3)
And now the final piece.]
But our thoughts can only be accepted as a genuine insight under certain conditions. All beliefs have causes but a distinction must be drawn between (1) ordinary causes and (2) a special kind of cause called 'a reason.' Causes are mindless events which can produce other results than belief. Bulverism tries to show that the other man has causes and not reasons and that we have reasons and not causes. A belief which can be accounted for entirely in terms of causes is worthless.
C.S. Lewis, "'Bulverism,'" in God in the Dock (Eerdmans: 1970) 275.
Wednesday, July 21, 2010
C.S. Lewis, "The Sermon and The Lunch" (1945) included in God in the Dock (Eerdmans, 1970) 285-286.
Tuesday, July 20, 2010
Whether I wasted them or not is for you to judge. I certainly did not hear any more of the sermon. I was thinking; and the starting-point of my thought was the question, ‘How can he? How can he of all people?’ For I knew the preacher’s own home pretty well. In fact, I had been lunching there that very day, making a fifth to the Vicar and the Vicar’s wife and the son (Royal Air Force) and the daughter (Auxiliary Territorial Service), who happened both to be on leave. I could have avoided it, but the girl had whispered to me, ‘For God’s sake stay to lunch if they ask you. It’s always a little less frightful when there’s a visitor.’ [Sorry, you'll have to read the essay for the sordid details of lunch at the vicar's!]
.... The memory of that lunch worries me during the last few minutes of the sermon. I am not worried by the fact that the Vicar’s practice differs from his precept. That is, no doubt, regrettable, but it is nothing to the purpose. As Dr Johnson said, precept may be very sincere (and, let us add, very profitable) where practice is very imperfect, and no one but a fool would discount a doctor’s warnings about alcoholic poisoning because the doctor himself drank too much. What worries me is the fact that the Vicar is not telling us at all that home life is difficult and has, like every form of life, its own proper temptations and corruptions. He keeps on talking as if ‘home’ were a panacea, a magical charm which of itself was bound to produce happiness and virtue. The trouble is not that he is insincere but that he is a fool. He is not talking from his own experience of family life at all: he is automatically reproducing a sentimental tradition — and it happens to be a false tradition. That is why the congregation have stopped listening to him.
C.S. Lewis, "The Sermon and The Lunch" (1945) included in God in the Dock (Eerdmans, 1970) 283-284.
Monday, July 19, 2010
[This essay by CS Lewis was published in the Church of England Newspaper in 1945. It's quite a surprisingly insightful look at preaching from the lay people's side of the pulpit!]
‘And so’, said the preacher, ‘the home must be the foundation of our national life. It is there, all said and done, that character is formed. It is there that we appear as we really are. It is there we can fling aside the weary disguises of the outer world and be ourselves. It is there that we retreat from the noise and stress and temptation and dissipation of daily life to seek the sources of fresh strength and renewed purity . . .‘ And as he spoke I noticed that all confidence in him had departed from every member of that congregation who was under thirty. They had been listening well up to this point. Now the shufflings and coughings began. Pews creaked; muscles relaxed. The sermon, for all practical purposes, was over; the five minutes for which the preacher continued talking were a total waste of time — at least for most of us.
C.S. Lewis, "The Sermon and The Lunch" (1945) included in God in the Dock (Eerdmans, 1970) 282.
Sunday, July 18, 2010
C.S. Lewis, "Christian Apologetics" (1945) included in God in the Dock (Eerdmans, 1970) 101.
Saturday, July 17, 2010
good. And in the discussion they will at every moment try escape from the issue ‘True or False’ into stuff about
good society, or morals, or the incomes of Bishops, or the Spanish Inquisition, or France, or Poland — or anything whatever. You have to keep forcing them back, and again back, the real point. Only thus will you be able to undermine
(a) Their belief that a certain amount of ‘religion’ is desirable but one mustn’t carry it too far. One must keep on pointing out that Christianity is a statement which, if false, is of no importance, and, if true, of infinite importance. The one thing it cannot be is moderately important. (b) Their firm disbelief of Article XVIII (Of obtaining eternal Salvation only by the Name of Christ).* Of course it should be pointed out that, though all salvation is through Jesus, we need not conclude that He cannot save those who have not explicitly accepted Him in this life. And it should (at least in my judgement) be made clear that we are not pronouncing all other religions to be totally false, but rather saying that in Christ whatever is true in all religions is consummated and perfected. But, on the other hand, I think we must attack wherever we meet it the nonsensical idea that mutually exclusive propositions
about God can both be true.
*Article XVIII in the Prayer Book: Of obtaining eternal Salvation only by the Name of Christ, which says 'They also are to be had accursed that presume to say, That every man shall be saved by the Law or Sect which he professeth, so that he be diligent to frame his life according to that Law, and the light of Nature. For holy Scripture doth set out unto us only the Name of Jesus Christ, whereby men must be saved.’
C.S. Lewis, "Christian Apologetics" (1945) included in God in the Dock (Eerdmans, 1970) 101-102.
Friday, July 16, 2010
do this in ways which I could not. My own line was to
say that I was a professional literary critic and I thought I did know the difference between legend and historical writing:
that the Gospels were certainly not legends (in one sense they're not good enough) : and that if they are not history then they are realistic prose fiction of a kind which actually never existed before the eighteenth century. Little episodes such as Jesus writing in the dust when they brought Him the woman taken in adultery [John 8:3-8] (which have no doctrinal significance at all) are the mark.
C.S. Lewis, "Christian Apologetics" (1945) included in God in the Dock (Eerdmans, 1970) 101.
Thursday, July 15, 2010
C.S. Lewis, "Christian Apologetics" (1945) included in God in the Dock (Eerdmans, 1970) 100.
Wednesday, July 14, 2010
Do not attempt to water Christianity down. There must be no pretence that you can have it with the Supernatural left
out. So far as I can see Christianity is precisely the one religion from which the miraculous cannot be separated. You must frankly argue for supernaturalism from the very outset.
C.S. Lewis, "Christian Apologetics" (1945) included in God in the Dock (Eerdmans, 1970) 99..
Saturday, July 10, 2010
C.S. Lewis, "Christian Apologetics" (1945) included in God in the Dock (Eerdmans, 1970) 94.
Friday, July 9, 2010
yesterday, today, and tomorrow [Hebrews 13:8]) in the particular language of our own age. The bad preacher does exactly the opposite: he takes the ideas of our own age and tricks them out in the traditional language of Christianity. Thus, for example, he may think about the Beveridge Report [on the social security system in Britain] and talk about the coming of the Kingdom. The core of his thought is merely contemporary; only the superficies is traditional. But your teaching must be timeless at its heart and wear a modern dress.
C.S. Lewis, "Christian Apologetics" (1945) included in God in the Dock (Eerdmans, 1970) 93-94.
Thursday, July 8, 2010
C.S. Lewis, "Christian Apologetics" (1945) included in God in the Dock (Eerdmans, 1970) 93.
Wednesday, July 7, 2010
Tuesday, July 6, 2010
C.S. Lewis, "Christian Apologetics" (1945) included in God in the Dock (Eerdmans, 1970) 90.
Technorati Tags: C.S. Lewis, apologetics
Monday, July 5, 2010
C.S. Lewis, "Christian Apologetics" (1945) included in God in the Dock (Eerdmans, 1970) 89.
Technorati Tags: C.S. Lewis, apologetics, Apostles Creed
Thursday, July 1, 2010
Nature never taught me that there exists a God of glory and of infinite majesty. I had to learn that in other ways. But nature gave the word glory a meaning for me. I still do not know where else I could have found one.
That seemed like a fitting quote from Lewis. It is a beautiful world we live in, and often we are blessed to see the glory of it. But sometimes we see the awful tragic consequences that sin has on our world. Today's jolt from Lewis is late because I've been busy writing a posting for another blog concerning the Gulf oil spill crisis and a Christian response to it. It's a matter for urgent prayer, especially now with the added dimension of Hurricane Alex. Please feel free to check out my posting (link below) and leave any comments. I wish a mere Christian response were possible to this crisis, but instead it would seem some Christians are more eager to promote other agendas.
Oil Spill Disaster in the Gulf: How we can know that it is not God's judgment on the US