Screwtape Letter #24 – Questions


Letter #24

Uh Oh!

– is pride rearing its head?/h4>


My dear Wormwood,

I have been in correspondence with Slumtrimpet who is in charge of your patient’s young woman, and begin to see the chink in her armour. … Now the element of ignorance and naïvety in all this is so large, and the element of spiritual pride so small, that it gives us little hope of the girl herself. But have you thought of how it can be made to influence your own patient.

24.1) What might the Apostle Paul have to say about this situation and how to deal with it?

1Co 4:6 Now, brothers, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, “Do not go beyond what is written.” Then you will not take pride in one man over against another.”

 

 

 

 

It is always the novice who exaggerates. … Can you get him to imitate this defect in his mistress and to exaggerate it until what was venial in her becomes in him the strongest and most beautiful of the vices—Spiritual Pride?

The conditions seem ideally favourable. The new circle in which he finds himself is one of which he is tempted to be proud for many reasons other than its Christianity. … He is like a dog which should imagine it understood fire-arms because its hunting instinct and love for its master enable it to enjoy a day’s shooting.

24.2) Screwtape’s logic now begins to reveal much about us

We talked about pride in the previous question. Screwtape wants Wormwood to take advantage of a “minor” flaw in the girl and turn it into a major case of Spiritual Pride in his patient. At the end of the paragraph, Screwtape makes an analogy between the patient and a hunting dog.

He is like a dog which should imagine it understood fire-arms because its hunting instinct and love for its master enable it to enjoy a day’s shooting.

Being someone who likes dogs, I actually do believe that a dog would enjoy a day’s shooting with his master – not because the dog likes (or knows how to) shoot, but because he enjoys being with his master.

First – compare my point of view to Screwtape’s as far as the analogy between the two.

Then – take it further to show how it’s not at all a forgone conclusion that the patient will pick up Spiritual Pride at all.

 

 

 

 

Here is your chance. … he must mean not ‘The people who, in their charity and humility, have accepted me’, but ‘The people with whom I associate by right’.

Success here depends on confusing him. … It is no affair of yours whether those theories are true or false; the great thing is to make Christianity a mystery religion in which he feels himself one of the initiates.

24.3) Now that he’s talking about us again, Screwtape is back on solid ground and beginning to get on a roll.

There are 3 thoughts in here – confusion – not putting thoughts into words – and making Christianity into some kind of mystery religion. How do these three work together – and what would a good Christian community do to them?

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pray do not fill your letters with rubbish about this European War. Its final issue is, no doubt, important, but that is a matter for the High Command. I am not in the least interested in knowing how many people in England have been killed by bombs. In what state of mind they died, I can learn from the office at this end. That they were going to die sometime, I knew already. Please keep your mind on your work,

Your affectionate uncle

SCREWTAPE

 

24.4) Screwtape all of a sudden ends that line of thought and goes back to chastising Wormwood.

Back in Letter #5, Screwtape also talked about war – as in this excerpt –

I know that Scabtree and others have seen in wars a great opportunity for attacks on faith, but I think that view was exaggerated. The Enemy’s human partisans have all been plainly told by Him that suffering is an essential part of what He calls Redemption; so that a faith which is destroyed by a war or a pestilence cannot really have been worth the trouble of destroying.

Earlier in this letter, Screwtape said the patient was a novice. He seems to be saying here that maybe the patient is beyond just the novice stage. What do you think?

 

 

 

 

 

Vocabulary:

It is always the novice who exaggerates. The man who has risen in society is over-refined, the young scholar is pedantic.

Pedantic – overly concerned with minute details or formalisms, especially in teaching. 
 

Can you get him to imitate this defect in his mistress and to exaggerate it until what was venial in her becomes in him the strongest and most beautiful of the vices—Spiritual Pride?

Venial – excusable; trifling; minor. 
 

He thinks that he likes their talk and way of life because of some congruity between their spiritual state and his, when in fact they are so far beyond him that if he were not in love he would be merely puzzled and repelled by much which he now accepts.

Congruity – a point of agreement. 
 

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