Political Advice From C.S. Lewis

From the Screwtape Letters (where the demon Screwtape explains how to misdirect a Christian with a “cause”).

I had not forgotten my promise to consider whether we should make the patient an extreme patriot or an extreme pacifist.  All extremes, except extreme devotion to the Enemy, are to be encouraged.  Not always, of course, but at this period.  Some ages are lukewarm and complacent, and then it is our business to soothe them yet faster asleep.  Other ages, of which the present is one, are unbalanced and prone to faction, and it is our business to inflame them. Any small coterie, bound together by some interest which other men dislike or ignore, tends to develop inside itself a hothouse mutual admiration, and towards the outer world, a great deal of pride and hatred which is entertained without shame because the “Cause” is its sponsor and it is thought to be impersonal. Even when the little group exists originally for the Enemy’s own purposes, this remains true….

…Whichever he adopts, your main task will be the same.  Let him begin by treating the Patriotism or the Pacifism as a part of his religion.  Then let him, under the 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 cageful down here.

Your affectionate uncle,
SCREWTAPE

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2 Comments

Filed under C.S. Lewis, politics

2 responses to “Political Advice From C.S. Lewis

  1. Kevin Bullock

    Good stuff, thanks for posting.

  2. Pingback: Society of Evangelical Arminians | Advice from C.S. Lewis that Can Be Applied to the Upcoming Election

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