Uncle Screwtape on Patriotism, Pacifism and Partisanship

Posted: February 7, 2020 in books, Storytelling, Thoughts on art ministry and life
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In the Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis shares letter written from a demon named Screwtape to his nephew and underling Wormwood, telling him how to corrupt the soul he is tasked with corrupting known as the patient. Given the state of politics in our world, I found this portion “enlightening.” The topic is whether Wormwood should try to make his “patient” a patriot or a pacifist. “Screwtape” writes:

“Whichever he adopts, your main task will be the same. Let him begin by treating the patriotism or pacifism as a part of his religion. Then let him, under influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely part of the ’cause,’ in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce in favor of the British war effort or of pacifism. The attitude which you want to guard against is that in which temporal affairs are treated primarily as material for obedience. Once you have made the world an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing. Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours—and the more religious (on those terms) the more securely ours. I could show you a pretty cage full down here.

Your affectionate uncle, Screwtape”

Lewis as usual nails it. Keep in mind the character Screwtape is a demon wanting to help his underling Wormwood to destroy his patient. It’s fictional, but I have seen the tactic work splendidly by Satan’s standard. This is story telling at it’s finest, and it is used to call attention to a technique virtually as old history itself. Christians need to follow Christ over and above everything else.

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