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To: spirited irish; Alamo-Girl; xzins; HarleyD; kosta50; James C. Bennett; YHAOS; MHGinTN; metmom; ...
... the gate to Hell will be slammed and locked from the inside.

Yep. With multiple locks. Then a series of iron bars. Multiple deadbolts. A couple windings of iron chain. And, just in case, pile up all the family furniture and moveables against the door, lest God's Grace should sneak in, in the dead of night, and violate one's "precious" ME....

I love C. S. Lewis. In him I find one of the greatest "doctors of the soul" who ever lived. Among other things!

Anyhoot, I think Henri Bergson's l'âme close — the closed soul — may be a good description of this bolting of "the gates of Hell from the inside."

So, the next question becomes: Why do people "close" their souls against God? This seems to be a burgeoning phenomenon in our post-modern age. But it marks a stark departure from earlier cultural and religious understandings of man in relation to God and to his world, physical and moral.

"Doctor of the Soul" (JMHO FWIW) Lewis undertakes to shed some light on such questions in an addendum to The Screwtape Letters that first appeared in the 1961 edition. This addendum, identified as a "Preface," is the essay "Screwtape Proposes a Toast".

The essay ostensibly is about "education." But it is ever so much more than that!

Let me just give you a sample, and you be the judge:

(The scene is in Hell at the annual dinner of the Tempters' Training College for young devils. The principal, Dr. Slubgob, has just proposed the health of the guests. Screwtape, a very experienced devil, who is the guest of honor, rises to reply:)

...It is customary on these occasions for the speaker to address himself chiefly to those among you who have just graduated and who will very soon be posted to official Tempterships on Earth. It is a custom I willingly obey. I well remember with what trepidation I awaited my own first appointment. I hope, and believe, that each one of you has the same uneasiness tonight. Your career is before you. Hell expects and demands that it should be — as mine was — one of unbroken success. If it is not, you know what awaits you....

[Hint: Failed Tempters wind up as at least hors d'oeuvres at some future Tempters' Training College banquet — and would probably be found "insipid fare" by the guests there. The main insight here is that evil consumes itself. See below for details.]

Your dreaded Principal has included ... an apology for the banquet which he has set before us. Well, gentledevils, no one blames him. But it would be vain to deny that the human souls on whose anguish we have been feasting tonight were of pretty poor quality. Not all the most skillful cookery of our tormenters could make them better than insipid.

Oh, to get one's teeth again into a Farinata, a Henry VIII, or even a Hitler! There was real crackling there; something to crunch; a rage, an egotism, a cruelty only just less robust than our own. It put up a delicious resistance to being devoured. It warmed your inwards when you'd got it down.

Instead of this, what have we had tonight? There was a municipal authority with Graft sauce. But personally I could not detect in him the flavour of a really passionate and brutal avarice such as delighted one in the great tycoons of the last century. Was he not unmistakably a Little Man ... a grubby little nonentity who had drifted into corruption, only just realizing that he was corrupt, and chiefly because everyone else did it? Then there was the lukewarm Casserole of Adulters. Could you find in it any trace of a fully inflamed, defiant, rebellious, insatiable lust? I couldn't. They all tasted to me like undersexed morons who had blundered or trickled into the wrong beds in automatic response to sexy advertisements, or to make themselves feel modern and emancipated, or to reassure themselves about their virility or their "normalcy," or even because they had nothing else to do. Frankly, to me who have tasted Messalina and Casanova, they were nauseating. The Trade Unionist studded with sedition was perhaps a shade better: He had done some real harm. He had, not quite unknowingly, worked for bloodshed, famine, and the extinction of liberty. Yes, in a way. But what a way! He thought of those ultimate objectives so little. Toeing the party line, self-importance, and above all mere routine, were what really dominated his life....

The sort of souls on whose despair and ruin we have — well, I won't say feasted, but at any rate subsisted — tonight are increasing in numbers and will continue to increase.... The "great" sinners, those in whom vivid and genial passions have been pushed beyond the bounds and in whom an immense concentration of will has been devoted to objects, will not disappear. But they will grow rarer. Our catches will be ever more numerous; but they will consist increasingly of trash — trash which we should once have thrown to Cerberus and the hellhounds as unfit for diabolical consumption.....

...The great (and toothsome) sinners are made out of the very same material as those horrible phenomena the great Saints. The virtual disappearance of such material may mean insipid meals for us. But is it not utter frustration and famine for the Enemy? He did not create the humans — He did not become one of them and die among them by torture — in order to produce candidates for Limbo, "failed" humans. He wanted to make Saints; gods; things like Himself....

But do you realize how we have succeeded in reducing so many of the human race to the level of ciphers? This has not come about by accident. It has been our answer — and a magnificent answer it is — to one of the most serious challenges we ever had to face....

That invaluable man Rousseau first revealed it. In his perfect democracy, you remember, only the state religion is permitted, slavery is restored, and the individual is told that he has really willed (though he didn't know it) whatever the Government tells him to do. From that starting point, via Hegel (another indispensable propagandist on our side), we easily contrived both the Nazi and the Communist state. Even in England we were pretty successful. I heard the other day that in that country a man could not, without a permit, cut down his own tree with his own axe, make it into planks with his own saw, and use the planks to build a toolshed in his own garden....

... [Big snip to conclusion]

But now for the pleasantest part of my duty. It falls to my lot to propose on behalf of the guests the health of Principal Slubgob and the Tempters' Training College. Fill your glasses. What is this I see? What is this delicious bouquet I inhale? Can it be? Mr. Principal, I unsay all my hard words about the dinner. I see, and smell, that even under wartime conditions the College cellar still has a few dozen of sound old vintage Pharisee. Well, well, well. This is like old times. Hold it beneath your nostrils for a moment, gentledevils. Hold it up to the light. Look at those fiery streaks that writhe and tangle in its dark heart, as if they were contending. And so they are. You know how this wine is blended? Different types of Pharisee have been harvested, trodden, and fermented together to produce its subtle flavor. Types that were most antagonistic to one another on Earth. Some were all rules and relics and rosaries; others were all drab clothes, long faces, and petty traditional abstinences from wine or cards or the theatre. Both had in common their self-righteousness and the almost infinite distance between their actual outlook and anything the Enemy really is or commands. The wickedness of other religions was the really live doctrine in the religion of each; slander was its gospel and denigration its litany. How they hated each other up there where the sun shone! How much more they hate each other now that they are forever conjoined but not reconciled. Their astonishment, their resentment, at the combination, the festering of their eternally impenitent spite, passing into our spiritual digestion, will work like fire. Dark fire. 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 holiness can grow only in the close neighborhood of the Holy. Nowhere do we tempt so successfully as on the very steps of the alter.

I hope folks will read the full riveting text of "Screwtape Proposes a Toast" at the link — which I was so very glad to find and share with you all.
2,324 posted on 01/31/2011 1:46:29 PM PST by betty boop (Seek truth and beauty together; you will never find them apart. — F. M. Cornford)
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To: betty boop

I LOVE *Screwtape Proposes a Toast*.

Thanks for posting that.

2,325 posted on 01/31/2011 1:51:17 PM PST by metmom (Welfare was never meant to be a career choice.)
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To: betty boop

Well put.

Thx for the ping.

2,326 posted on 01/31/2011 2:00:34 PM PST by Quix (Times are a changin' INSURE you have believed in your heart & confessed Jesus as Lord Come NtheFlesh)
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To: betty boop
What a perfectly applicable and outstanding essay, dearest sister in Christ! Thank you so much for sharing it!

I particularly loved this line:

Nowhere do we tempt so successfully as on the very steps of the alter.

2,374 posted on 01/31/2011 8:23:37 PM PST by Alamo-Girl
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To: betty boop; spirited irish; Alamo-Girl; xzins; HarleyD; James C. Bennett; YHAOS; MHGinTN; metmom
So, the next question becomes: Why do people "close" their souls against God?

They don't. The Pharaoh had no choice. It's like dying; your Bible says it's predestined, and Paul says it God's will, not yours:

Now, you may wish to believe otherwise, but your Bible says it's not your will or choice.

2,382 posted on 01/31/2011 8:56:36 PM PST by kosta50 ("Spirit of Spirit....give me over to immortal birth so that I may be born again" -- pagan prayer)
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To: betty boop

Thanks. I loved the Screwtape Letters, but do not remember this part. It was quite some time ago. I “Favorites” it and will definitely read it in its entirety.

2,393 posted on 01/31/2011 10:16:11 PM PST by boatbums (God is ready to assume full responsibility for the life wholly yielded to him.)
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To: betty boop; spirited irish; Alamo-Girl; xzins; HarleyD
There are a number of additional themes running in the Screwtape letters like
  1. After the dedication, Lewis has two quotes, both mocking the devil: one by Martin Luther and the other by Thomas More. The great hero of the Protestant Reformation Luther, alongside St. Thomas More, a Catholic heroes of the Counter-Reformation. And BOTH have the same theme of mocking the devil
  2. The entire book elaborates free will.
  3. Of course the key theme is that we can fall into two extremes that are error-prone: denying demons exist or getting obsessed with them

2,429 posted on 02/01/2011 1:37:53 AM PST by Cronos
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