Wednesday, June 23, 2010

(Screwtape Letters- from Nica Blog)

I've been reading through C.S. Lewis' The Screwtape Letters, which is a book of letters that a demon writes to his nephew. The uncle (Screwtape) is giving his nephew (Wormwood) tips on how to tempt a human and explaining to him why some forms of temptation are better and helping him with situations that come up with his "hairless biped." It's been interesting to see temptation from a different point of view- instead of always on the defensive side and just knowing we need to resist it, it shows how the mind of a demon (might) work and the possible reasoning behind the temptation.
In chapter 13, a situation arises that causes Screwtape to give Wormwood this advice-"It remains to be seen how we can retrieve this disaster. The great thing is to prevent his [meaning the human] doing anything. As long as he does not convert it into any action, it does not matter how much he thinks about this new repentance...(more of the quote to be added here) AS one of the humans has said, active habits are strengthened by repetition but passive ones are weakened. The more often he feels without acting, the less he will be able to ever act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel."(pg61)
It's interesting that he would not tell his nephew to simply distract the man from thinking about this feeling. Rather, he tells him to let him think about it (a lot) and if the man so desires to even write a book. All he says is to not let the man actually act on that feeling- and in the end he will simply stop feeling.
The reality is that this is brilliant. It's simple logic and is easy to do. {EXAMPLE TIME}It's like in working out- you can think about it all the time, even talk to people about your desire to do it or the positive aspects of it. But unless you get up off your bum and actually go out and do it... what good does it do? Just talking about something or even thinking about it and how great it is doesn't do diddly squat to actually doing something about it. (This example came to mind pretty easily cause it's one that occurs in my life) And the reality is that the longer we just think about it and don't do anything, we'll start telling ourselves that there's no point in starting because "we won't follow thru" or "that's just how I am."
Also, Screwtape states the fact that "active habits are strengthened... but passive ones are weakened." When I first read this, I thought it meant that the more you do a habit the stronger that habit and vice versa (the less you do a habit the weaker it is). But the more I look at it, I see that it doesn't make a difference depending on repetition or a lack of repetition. It says, as an active habit is repeated, it is strengthened; yet, as a passive habit is repeated, it is weakened. I would see active and passive habits as just that- a habit that you actively do and a habit that you passively do. It's easy to figure out what an active habit would be- like running or writing or reading or smoking. You have to actively participate in the habit and over time it will become a stronger habit. Now the passive one is where it gets a little fuzzy (at least for me). So bear with me as I try to make a bridge-
One of the things that comes to mind is being passive aggressive (which is what I happen to be). It's not one of my better traits. Take the example of my parents telling me to pick up my room. They would tell me time and time again to pick up my room and it's not that I would put up a huge fight about it; I would just calmly NOT do it. Or in a fight, I would sit there quietly, not really saying a lot and then at one point put in a slight jab (very calmly) and know that the fight would start up again. With being passive, until someone points it out in you, you don't even realize it is an aspect of your personality. (There are other ways you can interpret active and passive actions- if you have any ideas please let me know :-)
I'm gonna wrap this blog up since it's getting pretty long. These are just my thoughts and I'm sure more will come from this book (I suggest everybody reads it).
(written 1/15/2009)

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