A “top five” C.S. Lewis quotation:
“The use of fashions in thought is to distract men from their real dangers. We direct the fashionable outcry of each generation against those vices of which it is in the least danger, and fix its approval on the virtue that is nearest the vice which we are trying to make endemic. The game is to have them all running around with fire extinguishers whenever there’s a flood; and all crowding to that side of the boat which is already nearly gone under.” – C.S. Lewis, “Screwtape Letters”
You might already know that “The Screwtape Letters” are written as from a demon, a senior tempter instructing a junior.
The fashionable outcry of each generation against those vices of which it is in the least danger – what vices would you place under this category? I’ll start:
- Head knowledge about the Bible that doesn’t affect the heart – Nah, this generation of Christians is marked by its biblical illiteracy.
- Work-aholism – Nah, maybe a few culprits here or there, but our struggle is against sloth.
What about fixing approval on the virtue that is nearest the vice which we are trying to make endemic ? I’ll start:
- Unity – truly something to strive toward, but this virtue is – at least superficially – curiously aligned with the zeitgeist: be unfailingly nice; never criticize because you’ve never experienced what the other has; empathy this, empathy that…