Unformatted text preview: l of the Enemy's party, prepared. How much better for us if all humans died
in costly nursing homes amid doctors who lie, nurses who lie, friends who lie, as we have trained them, promising life
to the dying, encouraging the belief that sickness excuses every indulgence, and even, if our workers know their job,
withholding all suggestion of a priest lest it should betray to the sick man his true condition! And how disastrous for us
is the continual remembrance of death which war enforces. One of our best weapons, contented worldliness, is rendered
useless. In wartime not even a human can believe that he is going to live forever.
I know that Scabtree and others have seen in wars a great opportunity for attacks on faith, but I think that view was
exaggerated. The Enemy's human partisans have all been plainly told by Him that suffering is an essential part of what
He calls Redemption; so that a faith which is destroyed by a war or a pestilence cannot really have been worth the
trouble of destroying. I am speaking now of diffused suffering over a long period such as the war will produce. Of
course, at the precise moment of terror, bereavement, or physical pain, you may catch your man when his reason is http://members.fortunecity.com/phantom1/books2/c._s._lewis_-_the_screwtape_letters.htm 2/07/2008 THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS Page 7 of 34 temporarily suspended. But even then, if he applies to Enemy headquarters, I have found that the post is nearly always
Your affectionate uncle
MY DEAR WORMWOOD,
I am delighted to hear that your patient's age and profession make it possible, but by no means certain, that he will be
called up for military service. 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.
Your patient will, of course, have picked up the notion that he must submit with patience to the Enemy's will. What the
Enemy means by this is primarily that he should accept with patience the tribulation which has actually been dealt out
to him—the present anxiety and suspense. It is about this that he is to say "Thy will be done", and for the daily task of
bearing this that the daily bread will be provided. 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.
Let him regard them as his crosses: let him forget that, since they are incompatible, they cannot all happen to him, and
let him try to practise fortitude and patience to them all in advance. For real resignation, at the same moment, to a dozen
different and hypothetical fates, is almost impossible, and the Enemy does not greatly assist those who are trying to
attain it: resignation to present and actual suffering, even where that suffering consists of fear, is far easier and is
usually helped by this direct action.
An important spiritual law is here involved. I have explained...
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- Spring '07
- C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters