Screwtape’s recommended attacks on the patient take a dramatic turn here.
The previous letter was about trying to change the patient’s attitude about going to church. Apparently that wasn’t working out so well, since he now turns to issues of vice.
My dear Wormwood,
The contemptuous way in which you spoke of gluttony as a means of catching souls, in your last letter, only shows your ignorance. … She would be astonished—one day, I hope, will be—to learn that her whole life is enslaved to this kind of sensuality, which is quite concealed from her by the fact that the quantities involved are small. … If challenged, she would say she was doing this to avoid waste; in reality she does it because the particular shade of delicacy to which we have enslaved her is offended by the sight of more food than she happens to want.
17.1) Gluttony is defined simply as excessive eating and drinking these days. Going back a little in history, it comes from a French word – “gourmand” – which was to indicate a person who is fond of good eating, often indiscriminatingly and to excess.
Temperance is habitual moderation in the indulgence of a natural appetite or passion, while intemperance is a lack of moderation or due restraint, as in action or speech.
Talk about how changing the way we view words over time can affect the way we view our actions – and how trying to avoid doing something (even for a good reason) can cause us to miss that fact that we’re doing something else that we wouldn’t want to be doing if we were aware of it.
The real value of the quiet, unobtrusive work which Glubose has been doing for years on this old woman can be gauged by the way in which her belly now dominates her whole life. The woman is in what may be called the ‘All-I-want’ state of mind. … In fact, of course, her greed has been one of the chief sources of his domestic discomfort for many years.
17.2) Now we see that beyond merely missing the fact that the patient’s mothers attempts at temperance in one area of her life have actually led to intemperance in a different way – there are also unintended consequences which are even worse.
Talk about the untended consequences either to the mother – or in regards to answers to question #1. Also, talk about how Glubose manages to cause the woman to transfer her actual desires for herself to something that she thinks she is doing for her son.
Now your patient is his mother’s son. … But, however you approach it, the great thing is to bring him into the state in which the denial of any one indulgence—it matters not which, champagne or tea, sole col-bert or cigarettes—‘puts him out’, for then his charity, justice, and obedience are all at your mercy.
17.3) This is an interesting list of indulgences – champagne, tea (a staple for the English), a very rich French entrée, and cigarettes.
Where do you think the line is between enjoying God’s gift of food to us (at least as far as the wine and food) and going overboard into gluttony? And, maybe more importantly – how can we avoid falling into Screwtape’s intended trap?
Mere excess in food is much less valuable than delicacy. Its chief use is as a kind of artillery preparation for attacks on chastity. … But this whole business is too large to deal with at the tail-end of a letter,
Your affectionate uncle
17.4) Just when we thought food was a major issue, Screwtape says it’s just something to use in preparation for the “real” attack.
What did he just say? Gluttony is a preparation for an attack on chastity? Maybe this is too large to deal with at the end of a letter.
What do gluttony and chastity have in common as far as self-control? And where does the tactic of false spirituality fit in?
The contemptuous way in which you spoke of gluttony as a means of catching souls, in your last letter, only shows your ignorance.
At the very moment of indulging her appetite she believes that she is practising temperance. In a crowded restaurant she gives a little scream at the plate which some overworked waitress has set before her and says, ‘Oh, that’s far, far too much!
But, however you approach it, the great thing is to bring him into the state in which the denial of any one indulgence—it matters not which, champagne or tea, sole col-bert or cigarettes—‘puts him out’, for then his charity, justice, and obedience are all at your mercy.