The trouble about argument is
that it moves the whole struggle on to the
Enemy's own ground.
The Enemy can argue too;
whereas in really practical propaganda of
the category I am suggesting He
has been shown for centuries to be greatly the
inferior of Our Father Below.
the very act of arguing, you awake the patient's
reason; and once it is
awake, who can foresee the
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
Your business is to fix his attention on the
Teach him to call it 'real life' and
don't let him ask what he means by 'real'.
At his present stage he has an
idea of Christians' in his
mind which he supposes to be
spiritual but which, in fact, is largely
mind is full of togas and sandals and
armor and bare legs and the mere fact that the other people in church wear
modern clothes is a real- though of course
an unconscious - difficulty to him.
Never let it come to the surface;
never let him ask what he expected them to
Keep everything hazy in his mind now, and you will have all
eternity wherein to amuse
yourself by producing in him the peculiar
category of clarity which
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 endeavor.
He has not been anything like long enough with the
Enemy to have any real
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
favorable credit balance in the
Enemy's ledger by allowing himself to be converted,
and thinks that he is showing great
humility in going to church with
these 'smug', commonplace neighbors.
mind on the inner life. He
thinks his conversion is something
inside him and his attention is
therefore chiefly turned at present to the states of his own
mind - or rather to that very expurgated
version of them which is all you should allow him to
mind off the most
elementary duties by directing it to the most
advanced and spiritual ones.
Aggravate that most useful
human characteristic - neglect of the obvious.
Take care, in the meantime the
Enemy will not be idle for whenever there is
prayer, there is
of His own immediate action.
The Enemy is
indifferent to the dignity of
His position, and ours, as pure
spirits, and to human
animals on their knees He pours out
self-knowledge in a quite shameless fashion.
Even if the Enemy
defeats your first attempt at misdirection,
we have a subtler weapon.
humans do not start from that direct
perception of the
Enemy which we, unhappily, cannot avoid.
have never known that ghastly
luminosity, that stabbing and searing
glare which makes the background of permanent
pain to our lives.
look into your patient's mind when he is
praying, you will not find that.
If you examine the
object to which he is attending,
you will find that it is a composite object containing many quite
There will be
images derived from
pictures of the Enemy as He appeared during the discreditable episode
known as the Incarnation. There will even be some of his own
reverence (and of bodily sensations
accompanying it) objectified and attributed to the
object revered. I have
known cases where what the patient called
his 'God' was actually located up and to the left at the corner of the bedroom
ceiling, or inside his own head, or in a crucifix on the wall.
But whatever the nature of the composite
object, you must keep him
praying to it - to the thing that he
has made, not to Him who has made him.
You may even encourage him to attach great
importance to the correction and improvement of his composite
object, and to keeping it steadily
before his imagination during the
If all his thoughts and images have been flung aside or, if retained,
retained with a full recognition of their merely subjective
nature, we will have lost him.
There is nothing like suspense and
anxiety for barricading a human's
mind against the Enemy.
The Enemy wants
men to be concerned with what they DO; our business is to keep
them thinking about what will happen to
them. 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.
Unfortunately fear becomes
easier to master when the
patient's mind is diverted from the thing
feared to the
fear itself, considered as a present
and undesirable state of his own mind; and
when he regards the fear as his
appointed cross he will inevitably think of it as a state of
mind and be relieved, so do not let him
determination to produce such a revolting hybrid was one of the things that
determined Our Father Below to withdraw
his support from Him.) As spirits they
belong to eternal
reality, but as animals they inhabit time.
This means that while their
spirit can be directed to an
bodies, passions, and
imaginations are in continual change,
for to be in time means to change.
approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation - the repeated
return to a level from which
they repeatedly fall back, a
series of troughs and peaks.
Now it may surprise you to
learn that in the Enemy's efforts to get permanent
possession of a
soul, He relies on the troughs even more than
on the peaks; some of His special favorites have gone through longer and deeper
troughs than anyone else.
The reason is this: To us a
human is primarily
food; our aim is the absorption of its
will into ours, the increase of our own area of selfhood at its expense; But the
obedience which the
Enemy demands of men is quite a different thing.
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. The attack
has a much better chance of
success when the
human's whole inner
reality is drab and cold and empty.
It is to be noted that the trough sexuality is subtly different in
quality from that of the peak - much less likely to lead to the
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.
It is the same with other
of the flesh.
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 then by encouraging him to use it as a means of merriment
among his friends when he is happy and
Never forget that when we are dealing with any
pleasure in its healthy and normal and satisfying form, we are, in a
sense, on the Enemy's ground. Although we have won many a
soul through pleasure, all the same, it is His
invention, not ours.
The Enemy 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,
ways, or in an excessive
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.
It is more certain; and it's better style.
To get the man's soul
and give him nothing in return is really what gladdens
Our Father Below.
-from the screwtape letters
Of all tyrannies, a
tyranny exercised for the
good of its victims may be the most
those who torment us for
our own good
will torment us without end, for
they do so with the approval of their own
-C. S. Lewis, British author
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