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That brilliant Oxford don

Once upon a time, C.S. Lewis sparked a revolution in my mind. I sat late at night in a small, sixteenth story communist-era apartment in Kiev, Ukraine, and poured through the pages of The Screwtape Letters by a naked bulb hanging from the ceiling. I had to go across the world to read this work that has sat near me for who knows how long. But in its pages I gained a whole new insight on my nature and the nature of the spiritual world around me. Every now and then I pull my old copy of the shelf and read a couple of the letters, always finding new things underneath the notes and highlights I have already scribbled over every page. Sometimes I am reminded of life-changing ideas that have become faded over the years.
"As regards his more general attitude to the war, you must not rely too much on those feeling of hatred which the humans are so fond of discussing in Christian, or anti-Christian, periodicals. In his anguish, the patient can, of course, be encouraged to revenge himself by some vindictive feelings directed towards the German leaders, and that is good so far as it goes. But it is usually a sort of melodramatic or mythical hatred directed against imaginary scapegoats. He has never met these figures in real life--they are lay figures modelled on what he gets from newspapers...
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. There is no good at all in inflaming his hatred of Germans if, at the same time, a pernicious habit of charity is growing up between him and his mother, his employer, and the man he meets in the train. Think of your man as a series of concentric circles, his will being the innermost, his intellect coming next, and finally his fantasy. You can hardly hope, at once, to exclude from all the circles everything that smells of the Enemy: but you must keep on shoving all the virtues outward till they are finally located in the circle of fantasy, and all the desirable qualities inward into the Will."


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