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between an expression like "the body of Christ" and the actual faces in the next pew. It matters very little, of course,
what kind of people that next pew really contains. You may know one of them to be a great warrior on the Enemy's
side. No matter. Your patient, thanks to Our Father below, is a fool. Provided that any of those neighbours sing out of
tune, or have boots that squeak, or double chins, or odd clothes, the patient will quite easily believe that their religion
must therefore be somehow ridiculous. At his present stage, you see, he has an idea of "Christians" in his mind which
he supposes to be spiritual but which, in fact, is largely pictorial. His mind is full of togas and sandals and armour and
bare legs and the mere fact that the other people in church wear modern clothes is a real—though of course an
unconscious—difficulty to him. Never let it come to the surface; never let him ask what he expected them to look like.
Keep everything hazy in his mind now, and you will have all eternity wherein to amuse yourself by producing in him
the peculiar kind of clarity which Hell affords.
Work hard, then, on the disappointment or anticlimax which is certainly coming to the patient during his first few
weeks as a churchman. The Enemy allows this disappointment to occur on the threshold of every human endeavour. It
occurs when the boy who has been enchanted in the nursery by Stories from the Odyssey buckles down to really
learning Greek. It occurs when lovers have got married and begin the real task of learning to live together. In every
department of life it marks the transition from dreaming aspiration to laborious doing. The Enemy takes this risk
because He has a curious fantasy of making all these disgusting little human vermin into what He calls His "free" lovers
and servants—"sons" is the word He uses, with His inveterate love of degrading the whole spiritual world by unnatural
liaisons with the two-legged animals. Desiring their freedom, He therefore refuses to carry them, by their mere
affections and habits, to any of the goals which He sets before them: He leaves them to "do it on their own". And there
lies our opportunity. But also, remember, there lies our danger. If once they get through this initial dryness successfully,
they become much less dependent on emotion and therefore much harder to tempt.
I have been writing hitherto on the assumption that the people in the next pew afford no rational ground for
disappointment. Of course if they do—if the patient knows that the woman with the absurd hat is a fanatical bridgeplayer or the man with squeaky boots a miser and an extortioner—then your task is so much the easier. All you then http://members.fortunecity.com/phantom1/books2/c._s._lewis_-_the_screwtape_letters.htm 2/07/2008 THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS Page 4 of 34 have to do is to keep out of his mind the question "If I, being what I am, can consider that I am in some sen...
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- Spring '07
- C. S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters