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Unformatted text preview: fe in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked". The Christians
describe the Enemy as one "without whom Nothing is strong". And Nothing is very strong: strong enough to steal away
a man's best years not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not why, in
the gratification of curiosities so feeble that the man is only half aware of them, in drumming of fingers and kicking of
heels, in whistling tunes that he does not like, or in the long, dim labyrinth of reveries that have not even lust or
ambition to give them a relish, but which, once chance association has started them, the creature is too weak and
fuddled to shake off.
You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report
spectacular wickedness. But do remember, the only thing that matters is the extent to which you separate the man from
the Enemy. It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from
the Light and out into the Nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick. Indeed the safest road to Hell
is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts,
Your affectionate uncle
MY DEAR WORMWOOD,
It seems to me that you take a great many pages to tell a very simple story. The long and the short of it is that you have
let the man slip through your fingers. The situation is very grave, and I really see no reason why I should try to shield
you from the consequences or your inefficiency. A repentance and renewal of what the other side call "grace" on the http://members.fortunecity.com/phantom1/books2/c._s._lewis_-_the_screwtape_letters.htm 2/07/2008 THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS Page 14 of 34 scale which you describe is a defeat of the first order. It amounts to a second conversion—and probably on a deeper
level than the first.
As you ought to have known, the asphyxiating cloud which prevented your attacking the patient on his walk back from
the old mill, is a well-known phenomenon. It is the Enemy's most barbarous weapon, and generally appears when He is
directly present to the patient under certain modes not yet fully classified. Some humans are permanently surrounded by
it and therefore inaccessible to us.
And now for your blunders. On your own showing you first of all allowed the patient to read a book he really enjoyed,
because he enjoyed it and not in order to make clever remarks about it to his new friends. In the second place, you
allowed him to walk down to the old mill and have tea there—a walk through country he really likes, and taken alone.
In other words you allowed him two real positive Pleasures. Were you so ignorant as not to see the danger of this? The
characteristic of Pains and Pleasures is that they are unmistakably real, and therefore, as far as they go, give the man
who feels them a touchst...
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- Spring '07