Screwtape Letter #9 – Discussion Guide 2


Letter #9

The “Law of Undulation” – continued.

In the advanced trough lesson,

Screwtape has even better ways to exploit them (us).

 


 

My dear Wormwood,

I hope my last letter has convinced you that the trough of dullness or ‘dryness’ through which your patient is going at present will not, of itself, give you his soul, but needs to be properly exploited. What forms the exploitation should take I will now consider.

In the first place I have always found that the trough periods of the human undulation provide excellent opportunity for all sensual temptations, particularly those of sex. … To get the man’s soul and give him nothing in return—that is what really gladdens Our Father’s heart. And the troughs are the time for beginning the process.

 

9.1) Do you think Screwtape’s statement, To get the man’s soul and give him nothing in return—that is what really gladdens Our Father’s heart is true or false?

Consider Satan’s “gift” to Eve – what did he actually give Adam and Eve?

Nothing good - see Genesis 3

 

Consider Satan’s “gift” to Jesus – what did he actually offer Him?

see Luke 4

 

 

But there is an even better way of exploiting the trough; I mean through the patient’s own thoughts about it. … If you can once get him to the point of thinking that ‘religion is all very well up to a point’, you can feel quite happy about his soul. A moderated religion is as good for us as no religion at all—and more amusing.

9.2a) Screwtape tells Wormwood that, during his patient’s dry spell, You have only got to keep him out of the way of experienced Christians. Why?

Let’s look at three sources for this part of the question.

Kingdom Dynamics
Galatians 6:1-6
Matthew 18:15-20

Something to notice about all of these references – they talk about a sense of community. God Himself has that community – and we are a reflection of Him – made in His image – to also be in community. For us – that also means being able to help each other. Sometimes we are the one helping others. Sometimes others are helping us. All with the goal of staying in community with God. That – this community with members helping each other – is very frightening to Satan. It’s much easier to lie to one person than it is to a group – especially when the goal of the group is to keep the group in the light and with knowledge of the truth.

 

9.2b) What does Screwtape mean when he writes – A moderated religion is as good for us as no religion at all—and more amusing?

 

 

Consider 2 Kings 22:1-13

 

what does 'moderated' really mean, the way Screwtape uses it?

 

Finally – if you’d like to read more on the Book of the law being found – and obviously previously lost – here’s a link to an article titled “I know my rights”, which I originally wrote in May of 2011, with an update from September 2016.

 

Put it all together

In any case – it all comes down to what we saw from question 9.1. Satan has nothing to give – but can only try to twist what God has already said and done. When we get away from what God has for us – whether it be from misinformed good intentions (as when the Book of the Law was lost) or from a “moderate” person trying to change God’s Word – Satan is winning, because God’s Word is being “lost” – one way or another.

 

         

 

Another possibility is that of direct attack on his faith. … You see the idea? Keep his mind off the plain antithesis between True and False. Nice shadowy expressions—‘It was a phase’—‘I’ve been through all that’—and don’t forget the blessed word ‘Adolescent’.

Your affectionate uncle

SCREWTAPE

9.3) Screwtape writes – Another possibility is that of direct attack on his faith. … Of course there is no conceivable way of getting by reason from the proposition ‘I am losing interest in this’ to the proposition ‘This is false’. But, as I said before, it is jargon, not reason, you must rely on.

Given that faith cannot be derived strictly from reason – and one cannot get from “losing interest” to “this is false” – what good is reason? Does it have value – or is it irrelevant?

 
Faith cannot come from reason alone - but ...

 

         

 

Vocabulary:

The health and spirits which you want to use in producing lust can also, alas, be very easily used for work or play or thought or innocuous merriment.

innocuous – having little or no adverse or harmful effect; harmless

 

And it is also to be noted that the trough sexuality is subtly different in quality from that of the peak—much less likely to lead to the milk and water phenomenon which the humans call ‘being in love’, much more easily drawn into perversions, much less contaminated by those generous and imaginative and even spiritual concomitants which often render human sexuality so disappointing.

Concomitant – existing or occurring with something else, often in a lesser way; accompanying; concurrent: an event and its concomitant circumstances.

 

You are much more likely to make your man a sound drunkard by pressing drink on him as an anodyne when he is dull and weary than by encouraging him to use it as a means of merriment among his friends when he is happy and expansive.

Anodyne – a medicine that relieves or allays pain

 

Hence we always try to work away from the natural condition of any pleasure to that in which it is least natural, least redolent of its Maker, and least pleasurable.

Redolent – suggestive; reminiscent (usually followed by of ): verse redolent of Shakespeare.

 

Let him assume that the first ardours of his conversion might have been expected to last, and ought to have lasted, forever, and that his present dryness is an equally permanent condition.

Ardours – intense devotion, eagerness, or enthusiasm; zeal

 

Keep his mind off the plain antithesis between True and False.

Antithesis – the direct opposite

 

 

 

 

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