The Law of Undulation and the Pursuit of Novelty

As we read the letters written to Wormwood, we find Screwtape amazed at how little his nephew knows about tempting. Particularly shocking is an ignorance of the law of undulation and how best to make use of it when attempting to discourage people and encourage them to sin.

The only constant is change. And change is the principle that lies behind the law of undulation.

[people’s] bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change, for to be in time means to change. Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation – the repeated return to a level from which repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks.

The word undulation describes a wave-like motion. When this idea is applied to people, as it is by Screwtape, it explains the following phenomenon.

to be in time means to chang

If you had watched your patient carefully you would have seen this undulation in every department of his life – his interest in his work, his affection for his friends, his physical appetites, all go up and down. As long as he lives on earth periods of emotional and bodily richness and liveliness will alternate with periods of numbness and poverty.

Wormwood is reminded that people can be as ignorant of this principle as he is, therefore one of his primary goals is to never let his patient “suspect the law of undulation”.

The challenge for the tempters is, working against this natural flow, to lead a person into thinking that permanence is the normal state of things. Once this is accomplished it works to their advantage in many ways. Continue reading

It seems we have been made to suffer…

We have been teaching a class on the Foundations of the Christian Life. We are using C. Michael Patton’s book, Now That I’m a Christian, as a guide (see review here).

This week we tackled several questions related to God and evil – questions like ‘what is evil’ and how do we address the ‘problem of evil’.

While the mindless philosopher C3PO may be right that “we seem to be made to suffer”, the question is how does this fit with the notion of an all-powerful, all-knowing, and good God. Why is it that “bad things” happen to “good” people? Continue reading

C.S. Lewis on the Historical Point of View

As Screwtape passes on his wisdom in how to keep people out of the Enemy’s camp (and thus away from Christianity), we find that one of the main tactics of the demon is ignorance. 

As always, the first step is to keep knowledge out of his mind.

For example, the Enemy (God) wants us to be concerned with eternity (thinking about Himself) and the Present, Wormwood is reminded that his chief task is keeping the patient distracted and focused elsewhere.

Our business is to get them away from the eternal, and from the Present. … [The Past] is of limited value, for they have some real knowledge of the past… It is far better to make them live in the Future. … [as] nearly all vices are rooted in the future.

Continue reading