the screwtape letters

this past sunday we went up to jarom’s grandma’s house for dinner. on the way up we started reading the screwtape letters together. I’ve read it before, and wanted jarom to share. last year I read the great divorce to him, and I think this one is maybe a little bit more fun, though they’re both excellent books.

two of my favorite quotes:

“Indeed the safest road to Hell is the gradual one–the gentle slope, soft underfoot, without sudden turnings, without milestones, without signposts.”

“The more often [a man] feels without acting, the less he will ever be able to act, and, in the long run, the less he will be able to feel.”

on an unrelated note (I love those), today in my social problems class we talked more about race and ethnicity. mostly our teacher shared some personal stories with us. his daughter married a tongan man in the late 70s, and they decided for their reception they would just have an informal get-together with extended family on sunday after church. when our teacher arrived at the provo park they decided to meet at, there were about a dozen members of the tongan ward, still in church clothes, setting up tables and carrying casseroles, etc. there were also 3 police cars with lights flashing. mr. teacher went to talk to the officers and see what was up – they were responding to a “threatening situation” of what appeared to be an “ominous gathering.” our teacher was furious. he said you could recreate that situation a thousand times with white people (and yes, our teacher is white) and no one would ever dream of calling it an “ominous gathering” or “threatening situation.” people in church clothes, carrying casseroles on a sunday afternoon? the officers finally agreed to leave, if mr. teacher was sure he could “control these people.”

I thought, initially, that my small contribution to saving the world would be through fighting hunger. and that is a huge issue. but maybe problems with prejudice are just as bad, or greater. it isn’t limited to the u.s., not by any stretch of the imagination. today I read up on my yugoslav war history (I knew relatively nothing about it before this morning) – a lot of the conflict was over who was ethnically serbian and who was not. only a tiny fraction of the 30,000 genes in our genomes have anything to do with skin color. why have we decided that differences in skin color and heritage are so important, when in reality we are all so similar?

I know I need to choose a focus if I am going to save the world. (it’s better than the first advice my sociology teacher gave me when I told him I wanted to save the world – “give up now.”) but there are so many major issues. and bigger than them all, for the moment, is a policy paper I have to write! I guess saving the world will have to wait…

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One thought on “the screwtape letters

  1. 'sposita says:

    screwtape letters: love ’em. i just got Mere Christianity with some spare Christmas money and am looking forward to reading it. Have you seen Shadowlands? If you haven’t you should (but be prepared: have a box of kleenex)

    racism: i was shocked to find some in my extended family (my own and the one i married into). i remember shocking said family by speaking up passionately in defense of a certain “race” at a family reunion.

    saving the world: good goal. but Someone Already Has. and although i think you’re pretty awesome, i don’t think you’ve got His credentials. doesn’t mean you shouldn’t keep beautifying the world you can influence.

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