Sunday, 3 July 2016

The difficulty of attaining damnation; the necessity for purposive evil to be strategic, elaborate, incremental...

From That Hideous Strength by CS Lewis*:

Wither knew that everything was lost. It is incredible how little this knowledge moved him. It could not, because he had long ceased to believe in knowledge itself. What had been in his far-off youth a merely aesthetic repugnance to realities that were crude or vulgar, had deepened and darkened, year after year, into a fixed refusal of everything that was in any degree other than himself. He had passed from Hegel into Hume, thence through Pragmatism, and thence through Logical Positivism, and out at last into the complete void. The indicative mood now corresponded to no thought that his mind could entertain. He had willed with his whole heart that there should be no reality and no truth, and now even the imminence of his own ruin could not wake him. The last scene of Dr. Faustus where the man raves and implores on the edge of Hell is, perhaps, stage fire. The last moments before damnation are not often so dramatic. Often the man knows with perfect clarity that some still possible action of his own will could yet save him. But he cannot make this knowledge real to himself. Some tiny habitual sensuality, some resentment too trivial to waste on a blue-bottle, the indulgence of some fatal lethargy, seems to him at that moment more important than the choice between total joy and total destruction. With eyes wide open, seeing that the endless terror is just about to begin and yet (for the moment) unable to feel terrified, he watches passively, not moving a finger for his own rescue, while the last links with joy and reason are severed, and drowsily sees the trap close upon his soul...

…Frost went to the garage. The whole place was silent and empty; the snow was thick on the ground by this. He came up with as many petrol tins as he could carry. He piled all the inflammables he could think of together in the Objective Room. Then he locked himself in by locking the outer door of the ante-room. Whatever it was that dictated his actions then compelled him to push the key into the speaking tube which communicated with the passage. When he had pushed it as far in as his fingers could reach, he took a pencil from his pocket and pushed with that. Presently he heard the clink of the key falling on the passage floor outside. That tiresome illusion, his consciousness, was screaming to protest; his body, even had he wished, had no power to attend to those screams. Like the clockwork figure he had chosen to be, his stiff body, now terribly cold, walked back into the Objective Room, poured out the petrol and threw a lighted match into the pile. Not till then did his controllers allow him to suspect that death itself might not after all cure the illusion of being a soul -- nay, might prove the entry into a world where that illusion raged infinite and unchecked. Escape for the soul, if not for the body, was offered him. He became able to know (and simultaneously refused the knowledge) that he had been wrong from the beginning, that souls and personal responsibility existed. He half saw: he wholly hated. The physical torture of the burning was not fiercer than his hatred of that. With one supreme effort he flung himself back into his illusion. In that attitude eternity overtook him as sunrise in old tales overtakes and turns them into unchangeable stone.


It is important to understand that it is difficult for demonic powers to achieve the damnation of a soul.

CS Lewis saw clearly that Men cannot be sleepwalked into damnation, unknowing - God has made sure of that.

We are always given clear sight (strive as we may to avoid it) and a chance to repent.

Every damned Man has been brought to the point of choosing damnation - to the point of believing evil to be Good; and therefore choosing evil. Brought to the point of knowing, for sure, that salvation is ours for the asking, merely for the price of 'repentance' (repentance simply being acknowledgment of the reality of the natural order of creation). And at that point refusing salvation on the grounds that salvation is understood as evil.

Every Man will come to this point always and inevitably with death - but also perhaps before death; and the purpose of evil entities is to make him then choose evil - but this is no easy matter (such are the 'easy terms' which Christ won for us by his life, death and resurrection).

Hence the necessity for the elaborate, strategic, incremental seductions of evil - the necessity for evil to be patient and indirect.

The need for evil to take Good and selectively distort it in a covert and deniable fashion - rather than  openly advocating evil for its own sake.

*Note: That Hideous Strength is CS Lewis's most directly-inspired book - In it he was shooting-from-the hip, aiming to kill all the most dangerous enemies in a single story.

Consequenctly, it is artistically a rag-bag - spiritually it is raw; visceral in its impact; intensely memorable in its analysis and teachings.

Its relevance to here and now in The West is almost painful in intensity.

In particular - the spirit, nature and role of the 'resistance' group is en-couraging in just the necessary way! 

(BTW: If you do wish to read THS - you should know that there are two versions: a condensed version, abbreviated for the mass market by Lewis himself, and running at about 250 pages - and the full version at about 350 pages (or indeed 544p in one most modern and expensive incarnation). The condensed version misses-out a lot of good stuff!)