Wednesday, May 31, 2017

070. The Snare of Religious Dogmatism

Below is the conclusion of an essay published by CS Lewis on December 19, 1959 entitled Screwtape Proposes a Toast, which was a follow-up to his very popular book Screwtape Letters. Many believe it to be among the most creative pieces of writing of the last century. Here, Screwtape, a demon who continually schemes to bring more souls into Hell, offers a toast to his fellow devils-in-training. The "Enemy" is, of course, the Lord.
"But now for the pleasantest part of my duty. It falls to my lot to propose on behalf of the guests the health of Principal Slubgob and the Tempters’ Training College. Fill your glasses. 
What is this I see? What is this delicious bouquet I inhale? Can it be? 
Mr. Principal, I unsay all my hard words about the dinner. I see, and smell, that even under wartime conditions the College cellar still has a few dozen of sound old vintage Pharisee.
Well, well, well. This is like old times.
Hold it beneath your nostrils for a moment, gentledevils.
Hold it up to the light.
Look at those fiery streaks that writhe and tangle in its dark heart, as if they were contending.
And so they are.
You know how this wine is blended? Different types of Pharisee have been harvested, trodden, and fermented together to produce its subtle flavour. Types that were most antagonistic to one another on Earth. Some were all rules and relics and rosaries; others were all drab clothes, long faces, and petty traditional abstinences from wine or cards or the theatre. Both had in common their self-righteousness and an almost infinite distance between their actual outlook and anything the Enemy really is or commands. The wickedness of other religions was the really live doctrine in the religion of each; slander was its gospel and denigration its litany. How they hated each other up where the sun shone! How much more they hate each other now that they are forever conjoined but not reconciled. Their astonishment, their resentment, at the combination, the festering of their eternally impenitent spite, passing into our spiritual digestion, will work like fire. Dark fire. 
All said and done, my friends, it will be an ill day for us if what most humans mean by “religion” ever vanishes from the Earth. It can still send us the truly delicious sins. The fine flower of unholiness can grow only in the close neighborhood of the Holy. Nowhere do we tempt so successfully as on the very steps of the altar."

Thursday, May 11, 2017

069. Obedience & Godlight

"A conscious being is either obeying God or disobeying Him."

"You do not fail in obedience through lack of love, 
but have lost love because you never attempted obedience.

"This is the courtesy of Deep Heaven: that when you mean well, 
He always takes you to have meant better than you knew
It will not be enough for always. He is very jealous. 
He will have you for no one but Himself in the end. 
But for tonight, it is enough"

~C.S. Lewis, That Hideous Strength

"Any patch of sunlight in a wood will show you something about the sun 
which you could never get from reading books on astronomy. 
These pure and spontaneous pleasures are 'patches of Godlight' 
in the woods of our experience."

~C.S. Lewis, Letters to Malcolm