Saturday, April 10, 2010

Saturdays with C. S. Lewis - Screwtape on Wordliness

"Some Saturday C. S. Lewis" was introduced and explained here. The following quote is from the 28th of The Screwtape Letters, which is a fictional set of letters that a senior demon, Screwtape, sends to his nephew, Wormwood, giving advice on how to effectively tempt his human "patient". From the demons' perspective, the "Enemy" is of course God. The picture, by the way, is of Lewis, left, with his older brother Warren.

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. His increasing reputation, his widening circle of acquaintances, his sense of importance, the growing pressure of absorbing and agreeable work, build up in him a sense of being really at home in earth which is just what we want. You will notice that the young are generally less unwilling to die than the middle-aged and the old.

The truth is that the Enemy, having oddly destined these mere animals to life in His own eternal world, has guarded them pretty effectively from the danger of feeling at home anywhere else. That is why we must often wish long life to our patients; seventy years is not a day too much for the difficult task of unraveling their souls from Heaven and building up a firm attachment to the earth. While they are young we find them always shooting off at a tangent. Even if we contrive to keep them ignorant of explicit religion, the incalculable winds of fantasy and music and poetry--the mere face of a girl, the song of a bird, or the sight of a horizon--are always blowing our whole structure away. They will not apply themselves steadily to worldly advancement, prudent connections, and the policy of safety first. So inveterate is their appetite for Heaven that our best method, at this stage, of attaching them to earth is to make them believe that earth can be turned into Heaven at some future date by politics or eugenics of 'science' or psychology, or what not. Real worldliness is a work of time--assisted, or course by pride, for we teach them to describe the creeping death as good sense of Maturity or Experience.

1 comment:

Victor Ware said...

Thanks Faris for posting this. It spoke to me exactly where I am at.