The Screwtape Letters
C. S. Lewis
Here is another book I finished a long time ago, and if I do not write something about it, I shall forget everything. Yesterday I took a twenty-five-question quiz on what I remember, and I received an F (40% correct). So let's get going.
This little book is Christian satire, written in an epistolary style from Screwtape, Administrative Demon, to his nephew Wormwood, devil-in-training. Wormwood has been given charge over a new Christian, and all of Screwtape's letters are aimed to teach Wormwood the typical temptations and weaknesses of faith and human nature. Screwtape seeks to help Wormwood recognize these prime opportunities to trip up and cause the new believer to fall, in hopes of pulling him away from his faith forever and before it is too late.
Here are only a few suggestions from Screwtape to Wormwood about Mankind and human nature:
- Truth no longer matters to man.
- Keep men busy thinking about what will happen to him, not what he [must] do.
- A moderated (watered down) religion is as good for [demons] as no religion at all.
- Send [the new Christian] church shopping until he finds one that 'suits' him.
- [Demons] can use a human belly and palate to produce querulousness, impatience, uncharitableness, and self-concern.
- Cause [man] to believe that humans cannot practice abstinence or monogamy, and therefore may be easily sexually tempted.
- Make them think love is the ONLY respectable grounds for marriage. (See Mere Christianity.)
- The whole philosophy of Hell rests on recognition of the axiom that one thing is not another thing, and . . . My good is my good and your good is yours.
- [Demons] are directing the desires of men to something which does not exist -- making the role of the eye in sexuality more important and at the same time making its demands more impossible.
- The sense of ownership -- own time, own money, own body, etc. -- is always to be encouraged (because it is the completely untrue).
- If you cannot remove spirituality from the new Christian's life, corrupt it: distract his mind, and do not allow his Christianity to influence his politics. What devil wants a just society?
- Cause the new Christian to become horrified of the Same Old Thing in religion. Fill their heads with new philosophies and psychologies.
I cannot tell you what happens to the new Christian in the end.
"Screwtape Proposes a Toast"
This is a final section where Screwtape lectured the graduating tempters on the quality of souls they are receiving in Hell, and why.
Screwtape explained that so long as man desires to conform to his social environment, to be like everyone else, and forgets history, he is easily fooled. He recapped world history: the Revolutionary period ushered in an end to slavery, and tended toward religious tolerance, liberty and equality.
But "hidden in the heart of this striving for Liberty there was also a deep hatred of personal freedom." Enter Rousseau . . .
That invaluable man Rousseau first revealed it. In his perfect democracy (UTOPIA), you remember, only the state religion is permitted, slavery is restored, and the individual is told that he has really willed whatever the Government tells him to do. From that starting point, via Hegel, we wearily contrived both the Nazi and the Communist state.This is [Satan]'s counter-attack, and the little graduate tempters are instructed to use DEMOCRACY to lead mankind into their hands. How? By twisting language and changing the meaning of words. Never mind what it really means; indoctrinate men to think it means EQUALITY.
No one must be different from himself in voice, clothes, manners, recreations, choice of food.
[No man] has business to be different. It's undemocratic.People are easily tempted to reject free Grace because it would make them separate from the World.
To accept might make them Different, might offend again, the Way of Life, take them out of Togetherness, impair their Integration with the Group. They might become individuals.The World no longer needs Dictatorships to do Hell's job because man is (under the guise of Democracy) volunteering himself to "discredit and eliminate every kind of human excellence - moral, cultural, social, or intellectual."
Then Lewis digs at the education system. Basically worthless people (idlers and ignoramuses) must not be made to look inferior to those who work hard. Again, that is undemocratic. To do this, exams are altered for high marks, and it is made easier for most citizens to enter the universities, whether they care to be there or not. In fact, make the work simple and useless and call it something worthwhile. "Whatever nonsense they are engaged in must have 'parity of esteem.'
DOES THIS SOUND FAMILIAR????
(Yes, I am shouting.)
The goal is to eliminate incentives to learn and penalties for not learning. And the best way to do this is through state education, in which the government taxes its Middle Class citizens to death in the name of Equality. After all, (as quoted by an English politician), 'A democracy does not want great men.'
For 'democracy' leads to a nation without great men, a nation mainly of subliterates, morally flaccid from lack of discipline in youth, full of the cocksureness which flattery breeds on ignorance, and soft from lifelong pampering. And that is what Hell wishes every democratic people to be.As Lewis reminds his readers: "the overthrow of free peoples and the multiplication of slave-states are for [devils] a means; but the real end is the destruction of individuals. For only individuals can be saved or damned."
Side bar: I am reading Revelation these days, and according to my study, the seven churches that are listed in chapters 1-3 embody the different churches of the last 2000 years. The final church, the Lukewarm Church of Laodicea, represents the modern, liberal church of today. It is the Big Box Church that is rich in members and buildings, success and wealth, but they are poor in God's presence and His blessings. This church focuses entirely on the democratic process, not God. Incidentally, Laodicea means "rights of the people." When this church arrives on earth, it will be the end of the Church Age.
In his toast, Screwtape does not leave out "Christians" because it is the lukewarm bodies, the watered down so-called Christians, the HYPOCRITES that take up space within the Church that Satan counts on. They will turn people away from the Truth; and the more who do not have Christ, the more there will be for Satan.