I should have said this in the Scalia post — the devil made me not do it — but one of the interesting things about The Screwtape Letters is the insight that a devil is simply an angel with free will.Pay money to get me to blog about something? That's been done... to get me to eat an egg salad sandwich. I'd written a post — back in 2005 — listing "10 things I've never done," and #2 was "Eaten egg salad, devilled eggs, or cold hard-boiled eggs" — hmm, interesting second appearance of the Devil in this post! — and somehow that led to my saying you'd have to pay me $200 to eat an egg salad sandwich, and some commenters got together and collected $200 and PayPal'd it to me, and I blogged — vlogged! — The Eating of the Egg Salad Sandwich.
Thus if you believe in an afterlife — and an overwhelming number of people believe in an afterlife — you should acknowledge devils. They are simply angels who are in rebellion with God. Which God allows, because God believes in free will for humanity.
What a fantastic book The Screwtape Letters is.
I would pay money for Althouse to blog that book!
But I didn't want to eat an egg salad sandwich. Reading the "Screwtape Letters" is something I would like to do. I read it years ago — and I'm old so that "years ago" in the history of Althouse is almost half a century ago — but I'd like to read it again, especially with the ability to blog it and the context of Scalia's recent remarks about it.
So I added it to my Kindle. You can add it too: here. And if you use that link, you'll be sending me a little money (without paying more). If you like this blog, you can funnel money to me by entering Amazon through the Althouse portal and buying something, anything, at some point before clicking away. But to get me to blog on specific topics, you could attempt the Egg Salad Method. That might work for some things — bloggable, vloggable things, for the right price. You could also just ask, as Saint Croix did, and it might work, if I'm interested enough. This blog is all and only about what interests me.
So I bought "The Screwtape Letters" and read a few pages last night. Here's the first thing I highlighted, and I'll put it here out of context, because you know that I like isolating sentences from their context — so sue me — for the purposes of discussion. That's what we did last winter with The Gatsby Project, which actually has one post that got the "egg salad" tag. It was the post with the "salads of harlequin designs." Remember?
I'm not saying these "Screwtape Letters" posts will only be isolated sentences in the manner of The Gatsby Project. But I am getting us started with this sentence, as the devil Screwtape advises his nephew devil on how to screw with some human being, referred to as "the patient":
"By the very act of arguing, you awake the patient’s reason; and once it is awake, who can foresee the result?"ADDED: I've got to put that sentence in the context of its paragraph, because as it stands, out of context, it creates the impression that the God-oriented position is the avoidance of reason and the acceptance of authority. That isn't so:
The trouble about argument is that it moves the whole struggle on to the Enemy’s own ground."The Enemy" = God. This is the Devil's perspective.
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.So there's a distinction between "argument" and "really practical propaganda." Something rates as argument — and it works better for aligning with God — and something else is the Devil's territory. That is called "really practical propaganda." When are we to think that's argument, and God has a fighting chance, and when are we to think that's just practical propaganda, and we ought to be wary?
By the very act of arguing, you awake the patient’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 experiences. 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’.A connection is made between propaganda (which is not true argument) and living in the moment, paying attention to the stream of immediate sense experiences. And true argument is connected to turning away from daily, worldly life, and attending to universal issues.
This reminds me that blogging — I said it just above — is really paying attention the stream of immediate experiences, though this form of following the stream (and creating a stream) is abstracted from one's own bodily senses, other than the vision of text and pictures on the screen and the touch of touch-typing.
I've got to admit — I've been saying it for years — that I think living in the real world and paying attention to it is exactly what one ought to do, and I am very skeptical of the kind of people who move too quickly to abstract ideals. That puts me in the position of C.S. Lewis's devils, and it's C.S. Lewis I mistrust.