Monday, December 31, 2012

Screwtape


Prompted by my browsing while tracking down the quote for the previous post:  whenever I encounter strong dislike of Lewis by someone who identifies as Christian, I wonder if a fear of self-examination is what is really in play. (Particularly if it’s Screwtape or Great Divorce.  Not everyone likes fantasy and science fiction, after all. And writers from another era often send up things that are a bit jarring and take a moment to absorb. See Lewis On The Reading Of Old Books, his introduction to Athanasius’ On The Incarnation. )

I’m estimating it’s at least 75%. They fall into a few broad categories, a fundamentalist version and a modern social/political version being most prominent. Inability to hear, inability to question one’s premises, inability to evaluate one’s motives – yeah, you could see why Lewis would be the last person you wanted to read, and you’d need to get your rationalisations up and running quickly.

Here’s another quote, related to the last post.
But flippancy is the best of all. In the first place it is very economical. Only a clever human can make a real Joke about virtue, or indeed about anything else; any of them can be trained to talk as if virtue were funny. Among flippant people the Joke is always assumed to have been made. No one actually makes it; but every serious subject is discussed in a manner which implies that they have already found a ridiculous side to it. If prolonged, the habit of Flippancy builds up around a man the finest armour plating against the Enemy that I know, and it is quite free from the dangers inherent in the other sources of laughter. It is a thousand miles away from joy; it deadens, instead of sharpening, the intellect; and it excites no affection between those who practise it. (The Screwtape Letters, 1942)

4 comments:

Earl Wajenberg said...

John Cleese of "Monty Python" and "Fawlty Towers" does a magnificent job reading "The Screwtape Letters" in an audiobook version.

Sam L. said...

There is very little more piercing than the truth, and therefore to be avoided.

MaxedOutMama said...

The Christian doctrine on sin is scarifying to the psyche and therefore most painful to bear in our modern world.

I doubt that most of us are really able to confront the reality of what we are without the aid of grace. So I would think C.S. Lewis is a kind of torture for many modern Christians who haven't been taught to repent.

There is nothing more brutally in contrast to actual Christianity than the modern "unconditional love and acceptance" stuff.

MaxedOutMama said...

PS: I think this is related to those letters discussing the deaths of the young women you posted months back.

In our world and in this country, we are mostly at least have the promise of insulation from the harsh realities of life and death for a good part of our lives. We cling to this as our ancestors could not.

The unavoidable pain of sorrow and loss and uncertainty that our ancestors had woven into the fabric of their daily lives perhaps made them more psychologically courageous?

Of course, this lives all of us living in the illusion very bad at comforting and bearing with all those who have had the illusion ripped away. We no longer know how to sorrow in concert without outrage. We no longer know how to grieve without outrage. Every sorrow is deflected into a cry to conquer the evil, and not all evils can be conquered by human agency.