Saturday, July 23, 2022
HomeQuotes90 The Screwtape Letter Quotes on Philosophies and Beliefs

90 The Screwtape Letter Quotes on Philosophies and Beliefs

See the complete list here.

And don’t forget to check out these and .

1. “The more often he feels without acting, the less he will be able ever to act; and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel.”

2. “Gratitude looks to the past and love to the present—fear, avarice, lust, and ambition look ahead.”

3. “She’s the sort of woman who lives for others. You can tell the others by their hunted expressions.”

4. “For the present is the point at which time touches eternity.”

5. “Whatever their bodies do affects their souls. It is funny how mortals always picture us as putting things into their minds. In reality, our best work is done by keeping things out.”

6. “Tortured fear and stupid confidence are both desirable states of mind.”

7. “Indeed, the safest road to hell is the gradual one—the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.” 

8. “I do not expect old heads on young shoulders.”

9. “The characteristic of pains and pleasures is that they are unmistakably real, and therefore, as far as they go, give the man who feels them a touchstone of reality.”

10. “A chastity, or honesty, or mercy which yields to danger will be chaste or honest or merciful only on conditions.”

11. “Courage is not simply one of the virtues but the form of every virtue at the testing point, which means at the point of highest reality.”

12. “Above all, do not attempt to use science as a defence against Christianity. They will positively encourage him to think about realities he can’t touch and see.”

13. “Suspicion often creates what it suspects.”

14. “Work hard, then, on the disappointment or anticlimax which is certainly coming to the patient during his first few weeks as a churchman, the enemy allows this disappointment to occur on the threshold of every human endeavour.”

Related:

15. “If once they get through this initial dryness successfully, they become much less dependant on emotion and therefore much harder to tempt.”

16. “The future is something which everyone reaches at the rate of 60 minutes an hour, whatever he does, whoever he is.”

17. “We want a whole race perpetually pursuit of the rainbow’s end, never honest nor kind, nor happy now. But always using as mere fuel wherewith to heap the altar of the future every real gift which is offered them in the present.”

18. “A moderated religion is as good for us as no religion at all—and more amusing.”

19. “Prosperity knits a man to the world. He feels that he is finding his place in it, while really it is finding its place in him.”

20. “And how disastrous for us is the continual remembrance of death which war enforces. One of our best weapons, contented worldliness, is rendered useless.”

21. “All extremes, except extreme devotion to the enemy, are to be encouraged.”

22. “Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”

23. “But here, as in everything else, the way must be prepared for your moral assault by darkening his intellect. Men are not angered by mere misfortune but by misfortune conceived as injury.”

24. “There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them. They themselves are equally pleased by both errors and hail a materialist or a magician with the same delight.”

25. ” Now the trouble about trying to make yourself stupider than you really are is that you very often succeed.”

26. “For as things are, your man has now discovered the dangerous truth that these attacks don’t last forever. Consequently, you cannot use again what is. After all, our best weapon—the belief of ignorant humans that there is no hope of getting rid of us except by yielding.”

27. “In wartime, not even a human can believe he is going to live forever.”

28. “Surely you know that if a man can’t be cured of churchgoing, the next best thing is to send him all over the neighbourhood looking for the church that ‘suits’ him until he becomes a taster or connoisseur of churches.”

29. “It does not matter how small the sins are provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the light and out into the nothing. Murder is no better than cards if cards can do the trick.”

30. “The fine flower of unholiness can grow only in the close neighbourhood of the Holy.”

31. “He cannot ‘tempt’ to virtue as we do to vice. He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away his hand. And if only the will to walk is really there, he is pleased even with their stumbles.”

32. “We must picture hell as a state where everyone is perpetually concerned about his own dignity and advancement, where everyone has a grievance, and where everyone lives with the deadly serious passions of envy, self-importance, and resentment.”

33. “And while he thinks that, we do not have to contend with the explicit repentance of a definite, fully recognised sin, but only with his vague, though uneasy, feeling that he hasn’t been doing very well lately. This dim uneasiness needs careful handling.”

34. “Devils are depicted with bats’ wings and good angels with birds’ wings, not because anyone holds that moral deterioration would be likely to turn feathers into membrane, but because most men like birds better than bats.”

35. “When He talks of their losing themselves, He means only abandoning the clamour of self-will, once they have done that.”

36. “He’s a hedonist at heart. All those fasts and vigils and stakes and crosses are only a facade.”

37. “The future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is the most temporal part of time—for the past is frozen and no longer flows, and the present is all lit up with eternal rays.”

38. “Humans are amphibians, half spirit and half animal—as spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time. This means that while their spirit can be directed to an eternal object, their bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change, for to be in time, means to change.”

39. “Provided that any of those neighbours sing out of tune or have boots that squeak, or double chins, or odd clothes, the patient will quite easily believe that their religion must therefore be somehow ridiculous.”

40. “If you can once get him to the point of thinking that ‘religion is all very well up to a point,’ you can feel quite happy about his soul.”

41. “Readers are advised to remember that the Devil is a liar.” 

42. “An important spiritual law is here involved. I have explained that you can weaken his prayers by diverting his attention from the enemy himself to his own states of mind about the enemy.”

43. “What does He stand to make out of them? That is the insoluble question.”

44. “I have great hopes that we shall learn in due time how to emotionalise and mythologise their science to such an extent that what is, in effect, a belief in us though not under that name will creep in while the human mind remains closed to belief in the enemy.”

45. “There is nothing like suspense and anxiety for barricading a human’s mind against the enemy. He wants men to be concerned with what they do. Our business is to keep them thinking about what will happen to them.”

46. “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 the future to help them make.”

47. “The humans do not start from that direct perception of Him which we, unhappily, cannot avoid. They have never known that ghastly luminosity, that stabbing and searing glare which makes the background of permanent pain to our lives.”

48. “The enemy wants him, in the end, to be so free of any bias in his own favour that he can rejoice in his own talents as frankly and gratefully as in his neighbour’s talent.”

49. “The game is to have them all running about with fire extinguishers when there is a flood, and all crowding to that side of the boat which is already nearly gunwale under.”

50. “Hatred is best combined with fear. Cowardice, alone of all the vices, is purely painful—horrible to anticipate.”

51. “You must therefore zealously guard in his mind the curious assumption, ‘My time is my own.’ Let him have the feeling that he starts each day as the lawful possessor of 24 hours. The man can neither make, nor retain, one moment of time. It all comes to him by pure gift, he might as well regard the sun and moon as his chattels.”

52. “Pilate was merciful till it became risky.”

53. “Courtship is the time for sowing those seeds which grow up 10 years later into domestic hatred.”

54. “Never forget that when we are dealing with any pleasure in its healthy and normal and satisfying form, we are, in a sense, on the enemy’s ground. I know we have won many a soul through pleasure.”

55. “When they have really learnt to love their neighbours as themselves, they will be allowed to love themselves as their neighbours.”

56. “Music—a meaningless acceleration in the rhythm of celestial experience.”

57. “In heaven, all that is not music is silence.”

58. “You see, it is so hard for these creatures to persevere. The routine of adversity, the gradual decay of youthful loves and youthful hopes, the quiet despair ‘hardly felt as pain’ of ever overcoming the chronic temptations with which we have again and again defeated them, the drabness which we create in their lives and the inarticulate resentment with which we teach them to respond to it—all this provides admirable opportunities of wearing out a soul by attrition.”

59. “Teach them to estimate the value of each prayer by their success in producing the desired feeling and never let them suspect how much success or failure of that kind depends on whether they are well or ill, fresh or tired at the moment.”

60. “As long as he doesn’t convert it into action, it does not matter how much a man thinks about his repentance.”

61. “Make full use of the fact that up to a certain point, fatigue makes women talk more and men talk less. Much secret resentment, even between lovers, can be raised from this.”

62. “And since we cannot deceive the whole human race all the time, it is most important thus to cut every generation off from all others—for where learning makes a free commerce between the ages there is always the danger that the characteristic errors of one may be corrected by the characteristic truths of another.”

63. “He has filled his world full of pleasure. There are things for humans to do all day long without His minding in the least—sleeping, washing, eating, drinking, making love, playing, praying and working. Everything has to be twisted before it’s of any use to us. We fight under cruel disadvantage. Nothing is naturally on our side.”

64. “A woman means by unselfishness chiefly taking trouble for others. A man means not giving trouble to others thus, while the woman thinks of doing good offices and the man of respecting other people’s rights, each sex, without any obvious unreason, can and does regard the other as radically selfish.”

65. “When two humans have lived together for many years it usually happens that each has tones of voice and expressions of face which are almost unendurably irritating to the other. Work on that. Bring fully into the consciousness of your patient that particular lift of his mother’s eyebrows which he learnt to dislike in the nursery, and let him think how much he dislikes it.”

66. “No man who says, ‘I’m as good as you,’ believes it. He would not say it if he did.”

67. “And nothing is very strong—strong enough to steal away a man’s best years, not in sweet sins but in a dreary flickering of the mind over it knows not what and knows not.”

68. “The enemy wants to bring the man to a state of mind in which he could design the best cathedral in the world, and know it to be the best, and rejoice in the fact, without being any more ‘or less’ or otherwise glad at having done it than he would be if it had been done by another.”

69. “By this method, thousands of humans have been brought to think that humility means pretty women trying to believe they are ugly and clever men trying to believe they are fools.”

70. “All mortals tend to turn into the thing they are pretending to be. This is elementary.”

71. “The man who truly and disinterestedly enjoys any one thing in the world, for its own sake, and without caring two-pence what other people say about it, is by that very fact forewarned against some of our subtlest modes of attack.”

72. “Man has been accustomed, ever since he was a boy, to having a dozen incompatible philosophies dancing about together inside his head. He doesn’t think of doctrines as primarily ‘true’ or ‘false,’ but as ‘academic’ or ‘practical,’ ‘outworn’ or ‘contemporary,’ ‘conventional’ or ‘ruthless.’”

73. “The humans live in time but our enemy God destined them for eternity.”

74. “We laugh at honour, and are shocked to find traitors in our midst.”

75. “The claim to equality, outside of the strictly political field, is made only by those who feel themselves to be in some way inferior.”

76. “I have looked up this girl’s dossier and am horrified at what I find. Not only a Christian but such a Christian—a vile, sneaking, simpering, demure, monosyllabic, mouse-like, watery, insignificant, virginal, bread-and-butter miss. The little brute. She makes me vomit. She stinks and scalds through the very pages of the dossier. It drives me mad, the way the world has worsened.”

77. “You die and you die, and then you are beyond death.”

78. “A spoilt saint, a Pharisee, an inquisitor, or a magician, makes better sport in hell than a mere common tyrant or debauchee.”

79. “On the other hand we do want, and want very much, to make men treat Christianity as a means—preferably, of course, as a means to their own advancement, but, failing that, as a means to anything-even to social justice.”

80. “It is in some ways more troublesome to track and swat an evasive wasp than to shoot, at close range, a wild elephant. But the elephant is more troublesome if you miss.”

81. “I sometimes wonder whether you think you have been sent into the world for your own amusement.”

82. “It is always the novice who exaggerates.”

83. “He has been very frightened and thinks himself a great coward and therefore feels no pride, but he has done everything his duty demanded and perhaps a bit more.”

84. “Remember, he is not like you, a pure spirit.”

85. “When this, or any other distraction, crosses his mind you ought to encourage him to thrust it away by sheer willpower and to try to continue the normal prayer as if nothing had happened. Once he accepts the distraction as his present problem and lays that before the enemy and makes it the main theme of his prayers and his endeavours, then, so far from doing good, you have done harm.”

86. “I now see that I spent most of my life in doing neither what I ought nor what I liked.” 

87. “Humour is the all-consoling and the all-excusing grace of life.”

88. “All these, as I find from the record office, are thoroughly reliable people—steady, consistent scoffers and worldlings who without any spectacular crimes are progressing quietly and comfortably towards our father’s house.”

89. “He cannot ravish. He can only woo.”

RELATED ARTICLES

LEAVE A REPLY

Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

Most Popular

Recent Comments