Beliefnet
The Screwtape Letters are a correspondence between an experienced devil, Screwtape, and his nephew Wormwood, who's new to the tempting scene. Wormwood has been sent to 1940s England and assigned the task of bringing a young Christian man to perdition. Writing from the depths of a very bureaucratic Hell, Screwtape instructs Wormwood to ignore more obvious temptations and
More on Lewis

If Screwtape had watched CNN
Amy Schwartz's winning essay

Defending Narnia
By Gregg Easterbrook

C.S. Lewis and the Inklings

C.S. Lewis Links

Discussions

  • The Screwtape Letters
  • Lewis on Theocracy
  • Lewis's Christian Symbols
  • instead manipulate his charge's pride, lust, and religiosity in subtler ways.

    My dear Wormwood,
    I note what you say about guiding your patient's reading and taking care that he sees a good deal of his materialist friend. But are you not being a trifle naïve? It sounds as if you supposed that argument was the way to keep him out of the Enemy's clutches. That might have been so if he had lived a few centuries earlier. At that time the humans still knew pretty well when a thing was proved and when it was not; and if it was proved they really believed it. They still connected thinking with doing and were prepared to alter their way of life as the result of a chain of reasoning.

    But what with the weekly press and other such weapons we have largely altered that. Your man has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to have a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head. He doesn't think of doctrines as primarily "true" or "false," but as "academic" or "practical," "outworn" or "contemporary," "conventional" or "ruthless." Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church. Don't waste time trying to make him think that materialism is true! Make him think it is strong, or stark, or courageous--that it is the philosophy of the future. That's the sort of thing he cares about.

    The trouble about argument is that it moves the whole struggle on to the Enemy's own ground. He can argue too; whereas in really practical propaganda of the kind I am suggesting He has been shown for centuries to be greatly the inferior of Our Father Below. By the very act of arguing, you awake the patient's reason; and once it is awake, who can foresee the result?

    More on Lewis

    If Screwtape had watched CNN
    Amy Schwartz's winning essay

    Defending Narnia
    By Gregg Easterbrook

    C.S. Lewis and the Inklings

    C.S. Lewis Links

    Discussions

  • The Screwtape Letters
  • Lewis on Theocracy
  • Lewis's Christian Symbols
  • Even if a particular train of thought can be twisted so as to end in our favor, you will find that you have been strengthening in your patient the fatal habit of attending to universal issues and withdrawing his attention from the stream of immediate sense experiences. Your business is to fix his attention on the stream. Teach him to call it "real life" and don't let him ask what he means by "real."

    Join the Discussion
    comments powered by Disqus