Wednesday, February 25, 2015

The Screwtape Letters

It's been years since I've read this book, and so when someone mentioned it the other day, I decided I would read it again. Here are a few of my favorite passages, which I'm recording so I can find them again one day. 

"When He talks of their losing their selves, He only means abandoning the clamour of self-will; once they have done that, He really gives them back all their personality, and he boasts (I am afraid, sincerely) that when they are wholly His they will be more themselves than ever." (Letter 13)

The horror of the Same Old Thing is one of the most valuable passions we have produced in the human heart . . . . The humans live in time, and experience reality successively. To experience much of it, therefore, they must experience many different things; in other words, they must experience change. And since they need change, the Enemy . . . has made change pleasurable to them . . . .  He has balanced the love of change in them by a love of permanence. He has contrived to gratify both tastes together in the very world He has made, by that union of change and permanence we call Rhythm. He gives them the seasons, each season different yet every year the same, so that spring is always felt as a novelty yet always as the recurrence of an immemorial theme." (Letter 25)

"The Enemy does not foresee the humans making their free contributions in a future, but sees them doing so in His unbounded Now. And obviously to watch a man doing something is not to make him do it." (Letter 27)

"The truth is that the Enemy, having oddly destined these mere animals to life in His own eternal world, has guarded them pretty effectively from the danger of feeling at home anywhere else. That is why we must often wish long life to our patients; seventy years is not a day too much for the difficult task of unravelling their souls from Heaven and building up a firm attachment to the earth. . . . How valuable time is to us may be gauged by the fact that the Enemy allows us so little of it. . . . . It is obvious that to Him human birth is important chiefly as the qualification for human death." (Letter 28)

I first read Screwtape Letters after hearing it quoted in general conference. Truth is truth no matter where it's found. And just so you don't have to do the searching, here are links to a few general conference talks where this book was quoted.

"In his book The Screwtape Letters, a senior devil explains how to corrupt Christians and frustrate the work of Jesus Christ. One letter explains how any “extreme devotion” can lead Christians away from the Lord and the practice of Christianity. Lewis gives two examples, extreme patriotism or extreme pacifism, and explains how either “extreme devotion” can corrupt its adherent."
"Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing."
Powerful Ideas, Dallin H. Oaks, October 1995

"You will say that these are very small sins; and doubtless, like all young tempters, you are anxious to be able to report spectacular wickedness. … It does not matter how small the sins are, provided that their cumulative effect is to edge the man away from the Light and out into the Nothing. … Indeed, the safest road to Hell is the gradual one."
"The Great Imitator," James E. Faust, October 1987

“Do what you will, there is going to be some benevolence, as well as some malice, in your patient’s soul. The great thing is to direct the malice to his immediate neighbours whom he meets every day and to thrust his benevolence out to the remote circumference, to people he does not know. The malice thus becomes wholly real and the benevolence largely imaginary.”
Out of Small Things, Michael J. Teh, October 2007

“Your patient has become humble; have you drawn his attention to the fact?” 
"To Walk Humbly with Thy God, Marlin K. Jensen, April 2001

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

January Whispers

It's time to add some new "whispers" to the column on the side, and I figured I should record the story behind them. These are examples of promptings I didn't obey; sometimes those are easier to recognize. At least it was a reminder that when I think something, immediately followed by the thought that that's a dumb idea, maybe I should think again!
One of our light bulbs burned out, and we were out of spares, so I bought a new box. When I got to the store, I realized that I couldn't remember if we got the "blue" kind or the "yellow" kind. I like the color blue better, so that's what I got. Since this was a box of six, and since it's kept on a high shelf, and since I like to know how many are left, I write 1-2-3-4-5-6 on the box, and then cross out the number as they're used. Just before writing the numbers I had the thought that maybe I should make sure we really used the "blue" ones, but I ignored that thought. You've guessed it! Once I installed that light bulb I realized it didn't match, and we really use the "yellow" CFL bulbs. Fortunately, I was able to return the light bulbs and exchange them with the proper type, but I could have avoided the threat of embarrassment if I had just followed the prompting I received.
The other example took place as we pulled out of the driveway to meet the youth for our ward's temple trip. I had the thought to ask Wayne if he had his temple recommend. I didn't ask, though, because his recommend is always in his wallet, and I didn't want to come across as a nag. Once we got to the meeting place, however, he realized that the binder with the recommends for the youth was still in his church bag at home. If I had asked him about his own, it would have reminded him of the binder, and would have saved us a trip home to get it.
Fortunately, our little side trip didn't have any negative effects. We made it to the temple on time and had a wonderful experience. We even took some family names, some of which were found as a result of actually listening to and following the inspiration received.
Later in the month we went back for an evening endowment session. While there, I received some more impressions which were helpful and inspiring, and which I won't share here. Just know that I'm grateful for temples and for the Holy Ghost.