Screwtape, Truth, and a small dose of excitement.

by Samantha Sobarzo

I recently commenced on the endeavor of reading C.S. Lewis’ “The Screwtape Letters.”  Having read other Lewis books, such as “The Chronicles of Narnia” (as a kid) and more recently “The Great Divorce” and “The 4 Loves”, I was prepared for a good read, but was unprepared for the power of the words within it.  

I have to admit, at this time, I have only read three chapters, but already I am captivated by the richness of the material and the unique way Mr. Lewis has of transmitting the message.

See Reality-Based Thinking

Meditation: Reality

So before I move on and forget, I would like to share a few passages from the first chapter and some personal thoughts based on the Catholics for the Common Good Faith and Action Circle reflections we have been working on in our local team.  It is not meant to entice you into reading the book (although it might happen that way), nor to “convince” you of anything (although that may also occur), but rather to just share the beauty of truth and wretched ways the Enemy uses to distract us from it.  

To help you understand the passages, I will first note that The Screwtape Letters is a book written by C.S. Lewis and dedicated to JRR Tolkien (Catholic author of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings).  It is based on letters from a higher-up demon to his novice demon nephew.  The letters detail advice from Uncle Screwtape as to how to best claim a man’s soul for their Father Below (Satan) and the tactics they employ to do so (i.e., spiritual warfare).  Below are the quotes from Screwtape I’d like to share:   

“At that time, the humans still knew pretty well when a thing was proved and when it was not; and if it was proved they really believed it.  They still connected thinking with doing and were prepared to alter their way of life as a result of reasoning.  But what with the weekly press and other such weapons, we have largely altered that.  Your man has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to have a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head.  He doesn’t think of doctrines primarily as “true” or “false”, but as “academic” or “practical”, “outworn” or “contemporary”, “conventional” or “ruthless”.  Jargon, not argument, is your best ally in keeping him from the Church.”

 “Teach him to call it “real life” and don’t let him ask what he means by real.”

 “Above all, do not attempt to use science (I mean, the real sciences) as a defence against Christianity.  They will positively encourage him to think about realities he can’t touch and see.  There have been sad cases among the modern physicists.  If he must dabble in science, keep him on economics and sociology; don’t let him get away from that invaluable “real life.” But the best of all is to let him read no science but to give him a grand general idea that he knows it all and that everything he happens to have picked up in casual talk and reading is “the results of modern investigation.”

 Wow - isn’t there just so much there?

In basic words, relativism – not acknowledging absolute truth - is the devil’s greatest weapon.  Evil rejoices (if there is such a thing) in all of these “media” outlets putting ideas in our heads that conflict with each other.  It rejoices at there being “many truths” or “personal truths” because it distracts us from following THE TRUTH – which is God. 

Screwtape talks about men using the term “real life” but never asking what is “real.”  Doesn’t that just strike you as familiar?  We see “reality” TV shows, without an ounce of what is real.  “News” reports about things that are not news at all, but rather scandal.  The meaning of words themselves has become crucial.  

And what about the section on sciences?  The reference to REAL science which is fueled by reason and ultimately leads to truth and reality is so right on.  How many bogus “scientific” reports are out there claiming to be proof for things that only harm humanity?  When we speak about abortion and murder, how many people in their arguments to support women’s “choice” purposely ignore scientific proof that life begins at conception?  Again, the double speak to confuse us, the word “choice” instead of “murder” or “reproductive rights” instead of destroying life.    

I know I may seem over-excited, but in my recent deeper learning about relativism and the antidote for it, which is reality, it really made sense to read Lewis’ words (written so long ago and yet so relevant today).  I guess that’s the thing about truth – it is timeless and incorruptible.  

I just wanted to share my excitement in the deeper understanding I am gaining about reality.  Not that I discovered it, but to see it still there in the minds of some is a cause for joy. As long as truth lives, and we keep sharing it with others, then true hope lives, and the only real hope is believing God’s promise that one day there will be more than this Earthly life with its misery and sufferings. 

Samantha Sobarzo is a Catholics for the Common Good County Co-Chair from Los Angeles South.

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