Re: [Slate] American Religious fervor, by the numbers

Dave Long (
Thu, 01 Jul 1999 22:04:52 -0700

> Theologically speaking, one could even make a case that where the church is
> active, Satan is also more active, and the population gets more polarized.

C.S. Lewis makes that case in _The Screwtape Letters_:

'I think I warned you before that if your patient can't be kept out
of the Church, he ought at least to be violently attached to some
party within it. ... The real fun is working up hatred between those
who say "mass" and those who say "holy communion" when neither party
could possibly state the difference between, say, Hooker's doctrine
and Thomas Aquinas', in any form which would hold water for five
minutes. ... We have quite removed from men's minds what that
pestilent fellow Paul used to teach ... Without that [deviltry], the
variety of usage within the Church of England might have become a
positive hotbed of charity and humility.'

'He must be made to feel ... "how different we Christians are"; and
by "we Christians" he must really ... mean "my set" ... If you try
to make him explicity and professedly proud of being a Christian,
you will probably fail; the Enemy's warnings are too well known.
If, on the other hand, you let the idea of "we Christians" drop out
altogether and merely make him complacent about "his set," you will
produce not true spiritual pride but mere social vanity ... What you
want is to keep a sly self-congratulation mixing with all his
thoughts ... the great thing is to make Christianity a mystery
religion in which he feels himself one of the initiates.'

He states it more baldly in "Screwtape Proposes a Toast":

'All said and done, my friends, it will be an ill day for us if what
most humans mean by "religion" ever vanishes from the Earth. It can
still send us the truly delicious sins. The fine flower of
unholiness can grow only in the close neighbourhood of the Holy.
Nowhere do we tempt so successfully as on the very steps of the


What sort of PICS rating does the Old Testament hold?