More bad news
– for Wormwood.
My dear Wormwood,
The real trouble about the set your patient is living in is that it is merely Christian. … Substitute for the faith itself some Fashion with a Christian colouring. Work on their horror of the Same Old Thing.
25.1) “Mere Christianity” is a reference to another C. S. Lewis book. A reading group guide for the book includes the following text:
Regarded as the centerpiece of Lewis’s apologetics, Mere Christianity began as a series of live fifteen-minute radio talks that Lewis gave, under the auspices of the BBC, during WWII. Characterized by careful reasoning, vivid analogies, and Lewis’s gift for making complex religious ideas immediately accessible, the broadcasts were overwhelmingly successful,
Lewis was able to reach such a wide audience in part because he tried to explore the essence of Christian belief, what he felt “all Christians agree on.” After he finished the radio scripts, he sent them to Roman Catholic, Presbyterian, Methodist, and Church of England theologians, all of whom agreed on the main points he had made. Lewis himself says in the preface to Mere Christianity, “So far as I can judge from reviews and from the numerous letters written to me, the book, however faulty in other respects, did at least succeed in presenting an agreed, or common, or central, or ‘mere’ Christianity.”
Compared to “Christianity And” – why is “Mere Christianity” something that Screwtape wants to avoid?
The horror of the Same Old Thing is one of the most valuable passions we have produced in the human heart—an endless source of heresies in religion, folly in counsel, infidelity in marriage, and inconstancy in friendship. … He gives them in His Church a spiritual year; they change from a fast to a feast, but it is the same feast as before.
Now just as we pick out and exaggerate the pleasure of eating to produce gluttony, so we pick out this natural pleasantness of change and twist it into a demand for absolute novelty. … Only by our incessant efforts is the demand for infinite, or unrhythmical, change kept up.
25.2) Change – escape from boredom or a scary experience?
Depending on whether you like change or not – talk about why you would or wouldn’t like the idea of being-
not only contented but transported by the mixed novelty and familiarity of snowdrops this January, sunrise this morning, plum pudding this Christmas.
This demand is valuable in various ways. In the first place it diminishes pleasure while increasing desire. … Finally, the desire for novelty is indispensable if we are to produce Fashions or Vogues.
The use of Fashions in thought is to distract the attention of men from their real dangers. … Cruel ages are put on their guard against Sentimentality, feckless and idle ones against Respectability, lecherous ones against Puritanism; and whenever all men are really hastening to be slaves or tyrants we make Liberalism the prime bogey.
25.3) Screwtape continues to talk about what the devils can do with change.
There’s no mention (explicitly) of God or Christianity in this paragraph. And yet, both are being undermined. How is this happening when we start to do what’s proposed here?
But the greatest triumph of all is to elevate this horror of the Same Old Thing into a philosophy so that nonsense in the intellect may reinforce corruption in the will. … For the descriptive adjective ‘unchanged’ we have substituted the emotional adjective ‘stagnant’. We have trained them to think of the Future as a promised land which favoured heroes attain—not as something which everyone reaches at the rate of sixty minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is
Your affectionate uncle
25.4) As with other things before, Screwtape starts with a little bit of something – change in this case – and takes it to the extreme.
It may be possible to sum up this paragraph in two words – peer pressure. That’s a force that can be hard to fight against. What help are the verses from John’s Gospel?
Jn 8:23 But he continued, “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world.
Jn 8:24 I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am the one I claim to be , you will indeed die in your sins.”
Jn 18:36 Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. If it were, my servants would fight to prevent my arrest by the Jews. But now my kingdom is from another place.”
Children, until we have taught them better, will be perfectly happy with a seasonal round of games in which conkers succeed hopscotch as regularly as autumn follows summer.
Cruel ages are put on their guard against Sentimentality, feckless and idle ones against Respectability, lecherous ones against Puritanism; and whenever all men are really hastening to be slaves or tyrants we make Liberalism the prime bogey.
References [ + ]
|1.||↑||Heritage of great evangelical teaching : Featuring the best of Martin Luther, John Wesley, Dwight L. Moody, C.H. Spurgeon and others. 1997. Nashville: Thomas Nelson.|