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Unformatted text preview: oling and (mark this) the all-excusing, grace of life. Hence it is invaluable as a
means of destroying shame. If a man simply lets others pay for him, he is "mean"; if he boasts of it in a jocular manner
and twits his fellows with having been scored off, he is no longer "mean" but a comical fellow. Mere cowardice is
shameful; cowardice boasted of with humorous exaggerations and grotesque gestures can passed off as funny. Cruelty
is shameful—unless the cruel man can represent it as a practical joke. A thousand bawdy, or even blasphemous, jokes
do not help towards a man's damnation so much as his discovery that almost anything he wants to do can be done, not
only without the disapproval but with the admiration of his fellows, if only it can get itself treated as a Joke. And this
temptation can be almost entirely hidden from your patient by that English seriousness about Humour. Any suggestion
that there might be too much of it can be represented to him as "Puritanical" or as betraying a "lack of humour".
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 practice it,
Your affectionate uncle
MY DEAR WORMWOOD,
Obviously you are making excellent progress. My only fear is lest in attempting to hurry the patient you awaken him to
a sense of his real position. For you and I, who see that position as it really is, must never forget how totally different it http://members.fortunecity.com/phantom1/books2/c._s._lewis_-_the_screwtape_letters.htm 2/07/2008 THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS Page 13 of 34 ought to appear to him. We know that we have introduced a change of direction in his course which is already carrying
him out of his orbit around he Enemy; but he must be made to imagine that all the choices which have effected this
change of course are trivial and revocable. He must not be allowed to suspect that he is now, however slowly, heading
right away from the sun on a line which will carry him into the cold and dark of utmost space.
For this reason I am almost glad to hear that he is still a churchgoer and a communicant. I know there are dangers in
this; but anything is better than that he should realise the break it has made with the first months of his Christian life. As
long as he retains externally the habits of a Chri...
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This note was uploaded on 02/07/2014 for the course MIS 304 taught by Professor Mejias during the Spring '07 term at University of Arizona- Tucson.
- Spring '07