Tuesday, February 5, 2013

"Falling in Love" - Dear Screwtape, XXII

Dear Reader, you can read Chapter XXII of The Screwtape Letters here.

My Dear Screwtape,
    You daunt me with hostile threats because my Patient has fallen in love; I must confess my own self-hatred in the matter, but I am helpless. The “deadly odour” you detect is indeed that “impenetrable mystery” of “disinterested love” which nestles in every corner of his beloved’s home. Alas, Love is stronger than Death, and Death is stronger than Hell; not even we can triumph over that. Rail if you will, but Love cannot fail. It’s just a problem we have to be livid with. So what can I do but shudder in the shadow of Love? If our counterfeits fail to seduce the patient into substituting emotional compatibility, mutual interests, and brutish sexual chemistry for the real thing, then we must exult in other victories. But the real thing is irresistible, unconquerable.
    I know the young lady’s portfolio nauseates you. You seem especially repulsed by her virginity, but take heart - the case is rare. Our Department of Linguistic Prevarication has made real headway here; they have duped the public at large into separating the term “virgin” from its true synonyms “innocence” and “chastity” and equating it with “naive,” “prudish,” “self-righteous,” and “unsophisticated.” As all Hell knows, virginity parallels the most significant attribute humans share with the Enemy - purity. But what a thorough job we have done in aiding the Enemy (I hate it when He uses us like that) in turning the public over to a reprobate mind; our success has been so sweeping that no longer does the church or public at large attach any stigma to promiscuity, much less any shame or sorrow; “sexually active” is today’s “social norm.” There are no scarlet letters in modern society, or scarlet sins.  Actually the young have little hope for chastity because of our success in the divorce courts; like begets like, and human parents with shattered pasts procreate children who live similarly splintered and corrupted lifestyles; the promiscuity of Yippies (after your heyday) has come back to haunt Yuppies, whose descendants now fornicate with a regularity that flabbergasts even their once openly hedonistic but now conservative ancestors. But parents should not be surprised; past moral patterns always become present social norms. And the religious community has been our faithful ally in this seduction.
    The delusion that promiscuity bears real no consequences (other than physical; something called AIDS is interfering here) derives specifically from the religious community’s surrender of its formerly formidable and forbidding theology of Fear: fear of the Enemy, fear of sin’s aftermath, and fear of excommunication. How I rejoice at this! Many religious professors now believe our lie that forgiveness requires only confession minus repentance. Also, the post-modern church fails to discipline its members who commit sexual sin, even some of its popular preachers (I love popular preachers; they’re so compatible, so receptive, so loving, so wimpy, so sickeningly sweet). So you see, this matter of cheap grace and deceitful, grand-fatherly images of the Enemy reenforce our efforts toward moral prostitution through spiritual perversion.
    But you do speak with acuminous insight about silence; it is certainly one of our deadlier foes. It opens the mind up to all kinds of dangerous influences, such as peace and healthy introspection. But we continue to thwart this danger in most cases by making the atmosphere noisier and noisier, especially through the aid of unsuspected, undetected ambient noise like air conditioners, computers, traffic, sand the general “buzz” of the average workplace. But you could not be more mistaken than in your contention that Music has no place in our plans. In fact, nothing in modern history has been more effective in brain-pollution than the Music which we have not only orchestrated but in many cases even composed. Our musical influence now permeates almost every traveler in every automobile or airplane throughout the world; we sing our anthems through countless call-waiting systems, invade the vast majority of teenagers’ bedrooms, and infiltrate both the casual moments and active work time of every unthinking adult. From red necks to head bangers, skid-row bums to corporate executives, our siren-voices fill the airwaves with songs to the self. Our cacophony is a most effective propaganda devices to enhance moral corruption, emotional imbalance, and intellectual vacuosity.
    In conclusion, I find particularly repulsive your most recent threat that I “will pay for” what you call my “blunders.” How dare you humiliate me with the suggestion that I should read “a little booklet, just issued, on the new House of Correction for Incompetent Tempters.” I especially resent your suggestion that I could be imprisoned for incompetence, particularly since my own observations about you uncover a despicably low degree of expertise in matters pertaining to Hell’s devices and Heaven’s ways.
    Your affectionate nephew,

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