Thursday, August 5, 2010

The Screwtape Letters: A snippet from Letter #13

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 of your inefficiency. A repentance and renewal of what the other side call ‘grace’ on the 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.... homer-pythagoras

.... It remains to consider how we can retrieve this disaster. The great thing is to prevent 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,

C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (originally 1942; this edition: Harper Collins, 1996) 63, 66-67.

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