the screwtape letters

"no man who says 'i'm as good as you' believes it. he would not say it if he did. the st. bernard never says it to the toy dog, nor the scholar to the dunce, nor the employable to the bum, nor the pretty woman to the plain. the claim to equality, outside the strictly political field, is made only by those who feel themselves to be in some way inferior. what it expresses is precisely the itching, smarting, writhing awareness of an inferiority which the patient refuses to accept.

and therefore resents. yes, and therefore resents every kind of superiority in others; denigrates it; wishes its annihilation. presently he suspects every mere difference of being a claim to superiority.... 'here's a fellow who says he doesn't like hot dogs - thinks himself too good for them, no doubt.... if they were honest-to-God all-right joes they'd be like me. they've no business to be different. it's undemocratic.'"

"in the long run either our father or the Enemy will say 'mine' of each thing that exists, and specially of each man."

"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 ever to act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel."

"do not be decieved, wormwood. 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."

"provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusade, matter more to him than the prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours - and the more 'religious' (on those terms) the more securely ours. i could show you a pretty cageful down here."

"don't forget to use the 'heads i win, tails you lose' argument. if the thing he prays for doesn't happen, then that is one more proof that petitionary prayers don't work; if it does happen, he will, of course, be able to see some of the physical causes which led up to it, and 'therefore it would have happened anyway', and thus a granted prayer becomes just as good a proof as a denied one that prayers are ineffective."

"you must therefore conceal from the patient the true end of humility. let him think of it not as self-forgetfulness but as a certain kind of opinion (namely, a low opinion) of his own talents and character. some talents, i gather, he really has. fix in his mind the idea that humility consists in trying to believe those talents to be less valuable than he believes them to be."

"but we want a man hag-ridden by the future - haunted by visions of an imminent heaven or hell upon earth....

we want a whole race perpetually in 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."

"he made the pleasures: all our research so far has not enabed us to produce one. all we can do is to encourage the humans to take the pleasures which our Enemy has produced, at times, or in ways, or in degrees, which He has forbidden. hence we always try to work away from the natural condition of any pleasure to that in which it is least natural, least redolent of its Maker, and least pleasurable. an ever increasing craving for an ever diminishing pleasure is the formula."

"he saw not only them; he saw Him. this animal, this thing begotten in a bed, could look on Him. what is blinding, suffocating fire to you, is now cool light to him, is clarity itself, and wears the form of a man."

"the general rule which we now have pretty well established among them is that in all experiences which can make them happier or better only the physical facts are 'real' while the spiritual elements are 'subjective'.... your patient, properly handled, will have no difficulty in regarding his emotion at the sight of human entrails as a revelation of reality and his emotion at the sight of happy children or fair weather as mere sentiment."

"the value we have given to that word ['puritanism'] is one of the really solid triumphs of the last hundred years? by it we rescue annually thousands of humans from temperance, chastity, and sobriety of life."

"nowhere do we tempt so successfully as on the very steps of the altar."