Friday, February 8, 2019

Social Justice & Screwtape III


My Dear Wormwood.

You complained in your last letter that I have oversimplified the process by which your man can be made to create a counterfeit Jesus. Your training at the academy must have been deficient if you believe that. Lowerarchs than you and I have already laid the ground work, all we must do is finish what they have started.

Understand that the Enemy loves platitudes. Of a proposed course of action He wants men, so far as I can see, to ask very simple questions: “Is it righteous? Is it prudent? Is it possible?” Now if we can instead keep men asking, "Is it in accordance with the general movement of our time? Is it progressive? Is this the way that History is going?" then they will quickly neglect the Enemy’s plan for themselves. And the questions they do ask are, of course, unanswerable; for they do not know the future, and what the future will be depends very largely on just those choices which they now invoke. This will throw them into chaos, and while their minds are buzzing with fear we can produce behavior in our favor. In your case, stridency, anger, and snark are the best course of action while online.

Later, when his conscience awakens (and it will awaken Wormwood, the Enemy will see to it) you must work hard to soothe it. Assure your patient that he has done what is right, and that you are pleased with Him for his faithfulness. Because he does not believe in us he will instead believe that voice belongs to the Enemy, and thus the behavior will be repeated. And that’s it Wormwood, that’s all you must do to win your man. Do this and you will strengthen the cultural Jesus he already believes in, reducing the actual one to irrelevancy. The weeds have already been sown Wormwood, your job is to provide them the space for to grow by validating him.

And now I trust you see the genius in our work. In the last generation we broadly promoted the construction of a liberal and humanitarian Jesus to the exclusion of His wrath; today your man has been preconditioned to believe in a cultural Jesus who approves of strict judgment, powerful exclusivity, and pure holiness for true believers. The advantages of these constructions, which we change every thirty years or so, are manifold.
In the first place they all tend to direct men's devotion to something which does not exist, for each cultural Jesus is absurdly unhistorical. The Scriptures say what they say and cannot be added to; therefore each new cultural Jesus has to be gotten by suppressing His characteristics at one point and exaggerating at another.
In the second place, all such constructions place the importance of their cultural Jesus in some peculiar theory He is supposed to have promulgated. He has to be a "great man" in the modern sense of the word—one standing at the terminus of some centrifugal and unbalanced line of thought (such as racial reconciliation)—and without their realization he becomes a crank vending a panacea. We thus distract men's minds from Who He is, and what He did.
Our third aim is, by these constructions, to destroy the devotional life. For the real presence of the Enemy, otherwise experienced by men in prayer and sacrament, we substitute a merely probable, remote, shadowy, and uncouth figure, one who spoke a strange language and died a long time ago. Such an object cannot in fact be worshipped, and instead produces the best kind of idolatry. Instead of the Creator adored by its creature, you soon have merely a leader acclaimed by a partisan, and finally a distinguished character approved by a judicious historian.
And lastly, we make men reduce the Enemy as a means; preferably, of course, as a means to their own advancement, but, failing that, as a means to anything. In your case, as a means to a better society. The thing to do is to get your man at first to value Social Justice as a thing which the Enemy demands, and then work him on to the stage at which he values Christianity because it may produce a desirable result, never realizing the Enemy he adores is a figment of his own imagination.

Reduce the Enemy as a means to and end and you’ve earned your man, and I assure you it is quite easy to coax humans round this little corner. You see the little rift? "Believe this, not because it is true, but for some other reason." That's the game.

Your Affectionate Uncle,

Screwtape

Next: Part IV



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