In The Screwtape Letters: A devil’s diabolical advice for capturing the human heart, C. S. Lewis wrote: “The whole philosophy of Hell rests on recognition of the axiom that one thing is not another thing”. Let us suppose that C.S. Lewis or rather Hell’s Under Secretary Screwtape, is telling the truth (for devils are wont to tell the truth to people who always doubt). It follows that because Heaven is the opposite of Hell, the whole philosophy of Heaven is the negation of that of Hell’s. Hence, we can say that the whole philosophy of Heaven rests on recognition of the axiom that one thing is another thing!
Screwtape expounded in his letter to his nephew, the devil-trainee, Wormwood, that Hell’s philosophy teaches that one’s good is one’s good and that what one gains another loses. Furthermore, one self is not another self. The negation of each of these can be stated thus: one’s good is another’s and that what one gains another gains. One’s self is another self. That’s what the philosophy of Heaven teaches if we negate that of Hell’s.
Which of the following then can be articulations of the philosophy of Hell? of Heaven? Argue based on the axioms.
1. Christ’s good is for all.
2. Self-acceptance and self-denial are both needed in one’s psycho-spiritual growth.
3. If we choose solitude, we cannot be in a community.
4. A man’s 24 hours is for him to decide how he wants it spent.
5. The Holy Trinity: There is one and only one God but in three persons.
6. Jesus is God and man.
7. Poverty is richness.
8. Chastity means to love everyone.
9. Your friend is another you.
10. To obey is to follow your heart.
To make sense of this blog, here’s an excerpt from Screwtape’s first letter to Wormwood:
The trouble about argument is that it moves the whole struggle onto the Enemy’s own ground. He can argue too; whereas in really practical propaganda of the kind I am suggesting, He has been shown for centuries to be greatly the inferior of Our Father Below. By the very act of arguing, you awake the patient’s (man’s) reason; and once it is awake, who can foresee the result? Even if a particular train of thought can be twisted so as to end in our favour, you will find that you have been strengthening in your patient the fatal habit of attending to universal issues and withdrawing his attention from the stream of immediate sense experience. Your business is to fix his attention on the stream. Teach him to call it “real life” and don’t let him ask what he means by “real”.