Unformatted text preview: ent his doing anything. As long as he
does not convert it into action, it does not matter how much he thinks about this new repentance. Let the little brute
wallow in it. Let him, if he has any bent that way, write a book about it; that is often an excellent way of sterilising the
seeds which the Enemy plants in a human soul. Let him do anything but act. No amount of piety in his imagination and
affections will harm us if we can keep it out of his will. As one of the humans has said, active habits are strengthened
by repetition but passive ones are weakened. The more often he feels without acting, the less he will be able ever to act,
and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel,
Your affectionate uncle
MY DEAR WORMWOOD,
The most alarming thing in your last account of the patient is that he is making none of those confident resolutions http://members.fortunecity.com/phantom1/books2/c._s._lewis_-_the_screwtape_letters.htm 2/07/2008 THE SCREWTAPE LETTERS Page 15 of 34 which marked his original conversion. No more lavish promises of perpetual virtue, I gather; not even the expectation
of an endowment of "grace" for life, but only a hope for the daily and hourly pittance to meet the daily and hourly
temptation! This is very bad.
I see only one thing to do at the moment. Your patient has become humble; have you drawn his attention to the fact?
All virtues are less formidable to us once the man is aware that he has them, but this is specially true of humility. Catch
him at the moment when he is really poor in spirit and smuggle into his mind the gratifying reflection, "By jove! I'm
being humble", and almost immediately pride—pride at his own humility—will appear. If he awakes to the danger and
tries to smother this new form of pride, make him proud of his attempt—and so on, through as many stages as you
please. But don't try this too long, for fear you awake his sense of humour and proportion, in which case he will merely
laugh at you and go to bed.
But there are other profitable ways of fixing his attention on the virtue of Humility. By this virtue, as by all the others,
our Enemy wants to turn the man's attention away from self to Him, and to the man's neighbours. All the abjection and
self-hatred are designed, in the long run, solely for this end; unless they attain this end they do us little harm; and they
may even do us good if they keep the man concerned with himself, and, above all, if self-contempt can be made the
starting-point for contempt of other selves, and thus for gloom, cynicism, and cruelty.
You must therefore conceal from the patient the true end of Humility. Let him think of it not as self-forgetfulness but as
a certain kind of opinion (namely, a low opinion) of his own talents and character. Some talents, I gather, he really has.
Fix in his mind the idea that humility consists in trying to believe those talents to be less valuable than he believes them
to be. No doubt they are in fact less valuable than he believes, but that is not the point. The great thing is to make him
value an opinion for s...
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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 Arizona.
- Spring '07