C.S. Lewis is pretty widely recognized for his allegorical Narnia series, which has been adapted many times throughout the years and most recently into a number of Hollywood films. What is less well-known is that Lewis also dabbled in scifi, and a large number of his works were theological.
I haven’t read all of his writings, but over the years Lewis has become my favorite Christian apologist. At the risk of sounding like a bit of a dullard, I just find him to be so much more accessible than the more popular theologians. The likes of Thomas Aquinas and St. Augustine are chock-full of important theological insights and stand among the giants of Christian thought. Lewis, though, uses very simple, even conversational language. In some cases this is most likely because his writings were presented initially as broadcasts. He also (much like another great Teacher once did) makes frequent use of stories and comparisons to get his points across.
Back in college I was introduced to Lewis’ the Screwtape Letters, a satirical novel written in the form of a series of letters from a demon named Screwtape to his nephew, Wormwood. The junior demon is assigned to a nameless human being who he must lead down the road to hell. Impetuous and eager, Wormwood seems to prefer large temptations and grand sins, whereas Screwtape advises him to be subtle and insidious. It’s a great read and I highly recommended it. For now, though, I’d like to share a paper I wrote way back then – a kind of fanfic in which I attempted to approximate what a “lost letter” from Screwtape would look like.
My dear Wormwood,
In your last letter, you requested that I elaborate on the idea of love and advise
you as to how you might further push your patient to adopt the philosophy of Hell. My
dear boy — ‘love,’ as I have already told you, is a hoax – a tool of the Enemy, which we
have concluded is a mere façade, and nothing more. However, in light of your
inexperience, I will indulge your curiosity, in an effort to put it to rest — but I must also
insist that hereafter you put an end to this foolish fascination with love, lest you
should inadvertently cause the patient’s thoughts to turn towards it, as well.
Some time ago, I had an encounter with one of the Enemy’s agents. Apparently
he was of the impression that if he could get me to understand this idea of ‘love,’ that I
would be converted to his side, and that soon the war would be over. Rather ambitious
of him – I saw more chance of him turning to our side than me to his. Anyway, he
asked me what it was, exactly, that I didn’t understand about love. In reply, I asked him,
“What, exactly, is love?” He thought for a moment, and then referred me to a passage
from the Enemy’s book – one written by one of His closest followers, a man named
John. I would recommend you read His book thoroughly, as its words can often be
turned to our own advantage.
This particular passage, from the third book of John and the 16th line, implies that
the Enemy so loved the human creatures, that He gave His only son so that they might
live forever in His domain. As you can see, it makes no sense whatsoever. In the first
place, the Enemy’s ‘son,’ which is just the same in being as the Enemy Himself, did not
have to die, but rather chose it. Then after He was killed, He descended to our Father’s
realm and stole a sickeningly large number of souls from our keeping. We’ve been
struggling to make up for that loss ever since. But anyway, what any of that has to do
with love, I fail to see. To further strengthen our side, the humans don’t seem to have
any idea what this man John was going on about, either. I don’t know if your patient is
the type who attends large gatherings of other humans, or their sporting events, but if
he has, you may have noticed that some of the creatures sometimes bring signs or
clothing bearing the words, “John 3:16,” which really have no context, at all. I related all
this to my adversary, and he retorted, “Ah, to the contrary! Humans do understand love
and self-sacrifice. Do you not see how they protect one another? The fireman, the
doctor, and the nurse; the soldier and the lawyer. May I remind you of a woman known
to the humans as Mother Teresa?” Self-sacrifice? Ha! Another absurdity. The idea of
giving up one’s own good for the good of others! There is always a hidden motive, my
dear nephew. Take all of the examples given me – the doctor and the lawyer, unless I
am mistaken, are two of the most highly paid examples of the human professions.
Love? The soldier? He defends himself, because it is he who is in immediate danger.
As far as the fireman and the nurse…let me tell you, Wormwood – humans have a
curious need to feel ‘good’ about themselves. When they help others, it is not out of
‘love,’ but rather out their own necessity. They give up their seat to an old woman, or
put some coins in a donation jar, and they feel they’re ‘good’ people. They also have a
strong desire to be remembered. After they’re gone, only their actions will stand out in
the minds of those they leave behind, and so they must make sure their actions stand
out favorably. This, I suspect, is the case with this Mother Teresa. She will be
remembered and admired by many humans for generations to come. Love? I think not.
Once I had said all this to the agent of the Enemy, he simply shook his head and
departed, defeated and disappointed. And so this ‘love’ remains an impossibility.
As far as steering your patient towards the philosophy of Hell, I would advise this
— suggest to him that in his pursuit of ‘truth’ (whatever that may be), it would behoove
him to read some of the most famous human philosophers – these men often make our
job that much easier. Make sure he begins with a man called Hobbes. His assertions
embody the philosophy of Hell in all its fullness. The sooner he becomes entangled by
this Hobbes, the easier it will be to turn him to logic and survival, and away from the
Your affectionate uncle