--- title: The Screwtape Letters full title: The Screwtape Letters author: C. S. Lewis date: 2022-01-23 format: books sub-format: manual --- # The Screwtape Letters **Metadata:** - **Author:** [[C. S. Lewis]] - **Tags:** #Source_Note #To_Annotate - **Format:** #books → #manual ## Highlights imported from Roam - There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight. (Page 0) - Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church. (Page 1) - But the best of all is to let him read no science but to give him a grand general idea that he knows it all and that everything he happens to have picked up in casual talk and reading is 'the results of modern investigation'. Do remember you are there to fuddle him. (Page 4) - hundreds of these adult converts have been reclaimed after a brief sojourn in the Enemy's camp and are now with us. All the habits of the patient, both mental and bodily, are still in our favour. One of our great allies at present is the Church itself. (Page 5) - Work hard, then, on the disappointment or anticlimax which is certainly coming to the patient during his first few weeks as a churchman. The Enemy allows this disappointment to occur on the threshold of every human endeavour., It occurs when the boy who has been enchanted in the nursery by Stories from the Odyssey buckles down to really learning Greek. It occurs when lovers have got married and begin the real task of learning to live together. In every department of life it marks the transition from dreaming aspiration to laborious doing. (Page 7) - What he says, even on his knees, about his own sinfulness is all parrot talk. At bottom, he still believes he has run up a very favourable credit-balance in the Enemy's ledger by allowing himself to be converted, and thinks that he is showing great humility and condescension in going to church with these 'smug', commonplace neighbours at all. Keep him in that state of mind as long as you can. (Page 8) - The Enemy will be working from the centre outwards, gradually bringing more and more of the patient's conduct under the new standard (Page 11) - build up between you in that house a good settled habit of mutual annoyance; daily pinpricks. (Page 11) - You must bring him to a condition in which he can practise self-examination for an hour without discovering any of those facts about himself which are perfectly clear to anyone who has ever lived in the same house with him or worked in the same office. (Page 12) - It is, no doubt, impossible to prevent his praying for his mother, but we have means of rendering the prayers innocuous. Make sure that they are always very 'spiritual, that he is always concerned with the state of her soul and never with her rheumatism. (Page 12) - When two humans have lived together for many years it usually happens that each has tones of voice and expressions of face which are almost unendurably irritating to the other... Let him assume that she knows how annoying it is and does it to annoy... never let him suspect that he has tones and looks which similarly annoy her. (Page 13) - In civilised life domestic hatred usually expresses itself by saying things which would appear quite harmless on paper (the words are not offensive) but in such a voice, or at such a moment, that they are not far short of a blow in the face... Your patient must demand that all his own utterances are to be taken at their face value and judged simply on the actual words, while at the same time judging all his mother's utterances with the fullest and most over-sensitive interpretation of the tone and the context and the suspected intention. (Page 14) - Whenever they are attending to the Enemy Himself we are defeated, but there are ways of preventing them from doing so. The simplest is to turn their gaze away from Him towards themselves. (Page 16) - Teach them to estimate the value of each prayer by their success in producing the desired feeling (Page 17) - Once all his thoughts and images have been flung aside or, if retained, retained with a full recognition of their merely subjective nature, and the man trusts himself to the completely real, external, invisible Presence, there with him in the room and never knowable by him as he is known by it-why, then it is that the incalculable may occur. (Page 18) - We want him to be in the maximum uncertainty, so that his mind will be filled with contradictory pictures of the future, every one of which arouses hope or fear. There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human's mind against the Enemy. He wants men to be concerned with what they do; our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them. (Page 25) - It is your business to see that the patient never thinks of the present fear as his appointed cross, but only of the things he is afraid of... fear becomes easier to master when the patient's mind is diverted from the thing feared to the fear itself (Page 25) - you must not rely too much on those feelings of hatred... it is usually a sort of melodramatic or mythical hatred directed against imaginary scapegoats. He has never met these people in real life-they are lay figures modelled on newspapers... They are creatures of that miserable sort who loudly proclaim that torture is too good for their enemies and then give tea and cigarettes to the rst wounded German pilot who turns up at the back door. (Page 27) - The great thing is to direct the malice to his immediate neighbours whom he meets every day and to thrust his benevolence out to the remote circumference, to people he does not know. The malice thus becomes wholly real and the benevolence largely imaginary. (Page 28) - Our policy, for the moment, is to conceal ourselves. Of course this has not always been so. We are really faced with a cruel dilemma. When the humans disbelieve in our existence we lose all the pleasing results of direct terrorism and we make no magicians. On the other hand, when they believe in us, we cannot make them materialists and sceptics. (Page 31) - All extremes, except extreme devotion to the Enemy, are to be encouraged... Some ages are lukewarm and complacent, and then it is our business to soothe them yet faster asleep. Other ages, of which the present is one, are unbalanced and prone to faction, and it is our business to inflame them. (Page 32) - We want the Church to be small not only that fewer men may know the Enemy but also that those who do may acquire the uneasy intensity and the defensive self-righteousness of a secret society or a clique. (Page 33) - Let him begin by treating the Patriotism or the Pacifism as a part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely part of the 'cause', in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce (Page 34) - Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing. Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours-and the more 'religious' (on those terms) the more securely ours. (Page 34) - He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself-creatures whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because He has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His. We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons. (Page 39) - He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles. (Page 40) - He made the pleasures: all our research so far has not enabled us to produce one. All we can do is to encourage the humans to take the pleasures which our Enemy has produced, at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which He has forbidden. (Page 44) - You have only got to keep him out of the way of experienced Christians (an easy task now-adays), to direct his attention to the appropriate passages in scripture, and then to set him to work on the desperate design of recovering his old feelings by sheer will-power, and the game is ours. (Page 45) - Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one-the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts, (Page 61) - He really gives them back all their personality, and boasts (I am afraid, sincerely) that when they are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever. Hence, while He is delighted to see them sacrificing even their innocent wills to His, He hates to see them drifting away from their own nature for any other reason. (Page 65) - The man who truly and disinterestedly enjoys any one thing in the world, for its own sake, and without caring two-pence what other people say about it, is by that very fact forearmed against some of our subtlest modes of attack. (Page 66) - Let him do anything but act. No amount of piety in his imagination and affections will harm us if we can keep it out of his will... The more often he feels without acting, the less he will be able ever to act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel (Page 67) - All virtues are less formidable to us once the man is aware that he has them, but this is specially true of humility. Catch him at the moment when he is really poor in spirit and smuggle into his mind the gratifying reflection, By jove! I'm being humble', and almost immediately pride—pride at his own humility—will appear. If he awakes to the danger and tries to smother this new form of pride, make him proud of his attempt—and so on, through as many stages as you please. (Page 69) - The Enemy wants to bring the man to a re of mind in which he could design the best cathedral state fact, without being any more (or less) or otherwise glad at having done it than he would be if it had been done by another... He wants each man, in the long run, to be able to recognise all creatures (even himself) as glorious and excellent things. He wants to kill their animal self-love as soon as possible; but it is His long-term policy, I fear, to restore to them a new kind of self-love-a charity and gratitude for all selves, including their own; when they have really learned to love their neighbours as themselves, they will be allowed to love themselves as their neighbours. (Page 71) - His whole effort, therefore, will be to get the man's mind off the subject of his own value altogether. (Page 72) - Even of his sins the Enemy does not want him to think too much: once they are repented, the sooner the man turns his attention outward, the better the Enemy is pleased (Page 73) - In a word, the Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most completely temporal part of time-for the Past is frozen and no longer flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays... Hence nearly all vices are rooted in the future. Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present; fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead. (Page 76) - His ideal is a man who, having worked all day for the good of posterity (if that is his vocation), washes his mind of the whole subject, commits the issue to Heaven, and returns at once to the patience or gratitude demanded by the moment that is passing over him. But we want a man hag-ridden by the Future-haunted by visions of an imminent heaven or hell upon earthready to break the Enemy's commands in the present if by so doing we make him think he can attain the one or avert the other... We want a whole race perpetually in pursuit of the rainbow's end, never honest, nor kind, nor happy now, but always using as mere fuel wherewith to heap the altar of the future every real gift which is offered to them in the Present. (Page 78) - Surely you know that if a man can't be cured of churchgoing, the next best thing is to send him all over the neighbourhood looking for the church that suits' him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches. (Page 81) - The congregational principle, on the other hand, makes each church into a kind of club, and finally, if all well, into a coterie or faction. In the second place, the search for a 'suitable' church makes the man a critic where the Enemy wants him to be a pupil. (Page 81) - if your patient can't be kept out of the Church, he ought at least to be violently attached to some party within it. (Page 84) - Men are not angered by mere misfortune but by misfortune conceived as injury. And the sense of injury depends on the feeling that a legitimate claim has been denied. The more claims on life, therefore, that your patient can be induced to make, the more often he will feel injured and, as a result, ill-tempered. (Page 111) - You must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption 'My time is my own'. Let him have the feeling that he starts each day as the lawful possessor of twenty-four hours... The sense of ownership in general is always to be encouraged. The humans are always putting up claims to ownership which sound equally funny in Heaven and in Hell and we must keep them doing so. (Page 112) - We produce this sense of ownership not only by pride but by confusion. We teach them not to notice the different senses of the possessive pronoun-the finely graded differences that run from 'my boots' through 'my dog', 'my servant', 'my wife', 'my father', 'my master' and 'my country', to 'my God'. They can be taught to reduce all these senses to that of 'my boots', the 'my' of ownership. (Page 114) - Certainly we do not want men to allow their Christianity to flow over into their political life, for the establishment of anything like a really just society would be a major disaster. On the other hand we do want, and want very much, to make men treat Christianity as a means; preferably, of course, as a means to their own advancement, but, failing that, as a means to anything—even to social justice. The thing to do is to get a man at first to value social justice as a thing which the Enemy demands, and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce social justice. (Page 126) - If they must be Christians let them at least be Christians with a difference. Substitute for the faith itself some Fashion with a Chrisdan colouring. Work on their horror of the Same Old Thing. (Page 135) - The use of Fashions in thought is to distract the attention of men from their real dangers. We direct the fashionable outcry of each generation against those vices of which it is least in danger and fix its approval on the virtue nearest to that vice which we are trying to make endemic. The game is to have them all running about with fire extinguishers whenever there is a flood, and all crowding to that side of the boat which is already nearly gunwale under. (Page 137) - He wants men, so far as I can see, to ask very simple questions; is it righteous? is it prudent? is it possible? Now if we can keep men asking 'Is it in accordance with the general movement of our time? Is it progressive or reactionary? Is this the way that History is going?' they will neglect the relevant questions. (Page 139) - Prosperity knits a man to the World. He feels that he is 'finding his place in it', while really it is finding its place in him. (Page 155) - So inveterate is their appetite for Heaven that our best method, at this stage, of attaching them to earth is to make them believe that earth can be turned into Heaven at some future date by politics or eugenics or 'science' or psychology, or what not. (Page 156) - It is not fatigue simply as such that produces the anger, but unexpected demands on a man already tired... To produce the best results from the patient's fatigue, therefore, you must feed him with false hopes... Exaggerate the weariness by making him think it will soon be over; for men usually feel that a strain could have been endured no longer at the very moment when it is ending, or when they think it is ending... let his inner resolution be not to bear whatever comes to him, but to bear it 'for a reasonable period'-and let the reasonable period be shorter than the trial is likely to last. (Page 166) - The general rule which we have now pretty well established among them is that in all experiences which can make them happier or better only the physical facts are 'real' while the spiritual elements are 'subjective'; in all experiences which can discourage or corrupt them the spiritual elements are the main reality and to ignore them is to be an escapist. Thus in birth the blood and pain are 'real', the rejoicing a mere subjective point of view; in death, the ter or and ugliness reveal what death 'really means'... Wars and poverty are 'really' horrible; peace and plenty are mere physical facts about which men happen to have certain sentiments. (Page 168) - There may come a time when we shall have no need to bother about individual temptation at all, except for the few. Catch the bell-wether and his whole flock comes after him. (Page 193) - Democracy is the word with which you must lead them by the nose... they should never be allowed to give this word a clear and definable meaning... Nor, of course, must they ever be allowed to raise Aristotle's question: whether 'democratic behaviour' means the behaviour that democracies like or the behaviour that will preserve a democracy. (Page 197) - We, in Hell, would welcome the disappearance of Democracy in the strict sense of that word; the political government it arrangement so called. Like all forms of often works to our advantage; but on the whole less often than other forms. And what we must realise is that 'democracy' in the diabolical sense (I'm as good as you, Being like Folks, Togetherness) is the finest instrument we could possibly have for extirpating political Democracies from the face of the earth. (Page 206) - It is our function to encourage the behaviour, the manthe whole attitude of mind, which democracies natners, urally like and enjoy, because these are the very things which, if unchecked, will destroy democracy. (Page 207) - it will be an ill day for us if what most humans mean by 'religion' ever vanishes from the Earth... The fine flower of unholiness can grow only in the close neighbourhood of the Holy. Nowhere do we tempt so successfully as on the very steps of the altar. (Page 209)