Screwtape Letters 10 and 11 (SOTP)


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A slideshow accompanying a presentation given by Amanda at the School of the Prophets on November 14, 2013. Link to the website:

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Screwtape Letters 10 and 11 (SOTP)

  2. 2. DESIRABLE NEW ACQUAINTANCES o I gather that the middle-aged married couple who called at his office are just the sort of people we want him to know—rich, smart, superficially intellectual, and brightly sceptical about everything in the world. I gather they are even vaguely pacifist, not on moral grounds but from an ingrained habit of belittling anything that concerns the great mass of their fellow men and from a dash of purely fashionable and literary communism o He will be silent when he ought to speak and laugh when he ought to be silent. He will assume, at first only by his manner, but presently by his words, all sorts of cynical and sceptical attitudes which are not really his… the first thing is to delay as long as possible the moment at which he realizes this new pleasure as a temptation
  3. 3. DESIRABLE NEW ACQUAINTANCES o Sooner or later, however, the real nature of his new friends must become clear to him.. If he is a big enough fool you can get him to realise the character of the friends only while they are absent; their presence can be made to sweep away all criticism. If this succeeds, he can be induced to live, as I have known many humans to live, for quite long periods, two parallel lives; he will not only appear to be, but actually be a different man in each of the circles he frequents. o Failing this, there is a subtler and more entertaining method. He can be made to take a positive pleasure in the perception that the two sides of his life are inconsistent. He can be taught to enjoy kneeling beside the grocer on Sunday just because he remembers that the grocer could not possible understand the urbane and mocking world which he inhabited on Saturday evening; and contrariwise, to enjoy the bawdy and blasphemy over the coffee with these admirable friends all the more because he is aware of a ‘deeper’, ‘spiritual’ world within him which they cannot understand… He is the complete, balanced, complex man who sees round them all
  4. 4. GREAT LAUGHERS • Joy, Fun, the Joke Proper, Flippancy • Joy: “You will see the first among friends and lovers reunited on the eve of a holiday. Among adults some pretext in the way of Jokes is usually provided, but the facility with which the smallest witticisms producec laughter at such a time shows that they are not the real cause. What the real cause is we do not know. • Fun: “a sort of emotional froth arising from the play instinct.. It can sometimes be used, of course, to divert humans from something else which the Enemy would like them to be feeling or doing: but in itself it has wholly undesirable tendencies; it promotes charity, courage, contentment, and many other evils
  5. 5. GREAT LAUGHERS • The Joke Proper: turns on sudden perception of incongruity. Humour is for them the all-consoling and the all-excusing grace of life. Hence it is invaluable as a means of destroying shame… A thousand bawdy, or even blasphemous jokes do not help twards 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 • Flippancy: “the best of all”. “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 ahvae already found a ridiculous side to it… it deadens, instead of sharpening the intellect; and it excites no affection between those who practise it”