Unformatted text preview: ng him to use it as a means of merriment among his friends when
he is happy and expansive. 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. I know we have won many a soul through pleasure. All the
same, it is His invention, not ours. He 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, at times, or in ways, or in
degrees, which He has forbidden. 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. An ever increasing craving for an ever
diminishing pleasure is the formula. It is more certain; and it's better style. To get the man's soul and give him nothing
in return—that is what really gladdens our Father's heart. And the troughs are the time for beginning the process.
But there is an even better way of exploiting the Trough; I mean through the patient's own thoughts about it. As always,
the first step is to keep knowledge out of his mind. Do not let him suspect the law of undulation. Let him assume that
the first ardours of his conversion might have been expected to last, and ought to have lasted, forever, and that his
present dryness is an equally permanent condition. Having once got this misconception well fixed in his head, you may
then proceed in various ways. It all depends on whether your man is of the desponding type who can be tempted to
despair, or of the wishful-thinking type who can be assured that all is well. The former type is getting rare among the
humans. If your patient should happen to belong to it, everything is easy. You have only got to keep him out of the way
of experienced Christians (an easy task now-a-days), to direct his attention to the appropriate passages in scripture, and
then to set him to work on the desperate design of recovering his old feelings by sheer will-power, and the game is ours.
If he is of the more hopeful type, your job is to make him acquiesce in the present low temperature of his spirit and
gradually become content with it, persuading himself that it is not so low after all. In a week or two you will be making
him doubt whether the first days of his Christianity were not, perhaps, a little excessive. Talk to him about "moderation
in all things". If you can once get him to the point of thinking that "religion is all very well up to a point", you can feel
quite happy about his soul. A moderated religion is as good for us as no religion at all—and more amusing.
Another possibility is that of direct attack on his faith. When you have caused him to assume that the trough is
permanent, can you not persuade him that "his religious phase" is just going to die away like all his previous phases? Of
course there is no conceivable way of getting by reason from...
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- Spring '07
- C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters