If you’re pressed for time, skip down to the emboldened portion. If not, enjoy!
“A moderated religion is as good for us as no religion at all–and more amusing.” Screwtape.
Religion here is read [Christianity]. “Us” are the devils of hell.
The elder devil is working with his protégé on how to benefit while a targeted person is in the troughs of the religious life. Get the person to see that his excitement in the beginning of his spiritual journey was a bit excessive. Moderation in all things is a better motto by which to live.
So you’re reading this and you’ve failed. You’ve faltered.
Go ahead and resort to a passive, tepid, pedestrian version of the religion we call Christianity.
Certainly Jesus didn’t really mean that mess about taking up a cross and following Him.
He didn’t mean that impractical banter about loving enemies and caring for the poor.
What Jesus meant was [please read with heavy sarcasm and righteous indignation], “Be really comfortable in your respective social class–unless you’re lower class, then you must strive for the middle, and if you’re middle–be jealous of the upper! Be sort of nice to your enemies, but loving them is really unnecessary in this day of modern warfare. Care for the poor when your church provides the opportunity to do so, but don’t get crazy. After all, God ONLY wants 10% of what you make to go the church. What a deal! You get to keep 90% of your money and still get into heaven, which is better than the alternative. Love your spouse as long as it’s convenient and doesn’t make life too difficult for you. And don’t forget to vote Republican.”
These are coming from a dark place in my ever-reforming soul. But when I read C.S. Lewis’ devilish advice to direct people towards “a moderated religion,” the above is what comes to mind. And it’s what I see all around.
Granted, I’m in east Tennessee, the land that I love. But it’s a love/hate relationship. The radicality of the gospel and the mission of the church should sound like a muzzle-loader going off next to people’s ears. But it’s silenced by the status quo of culture and religion.
As long as you follow the bold barrage of sarcasm above, you will fit in just fine here.
Even now, I can imagine Jesus walking into our church service and instead of overturning tables he’s flipping pews, people and all. And then he tosses me off the stage and smashes a guitar and says, “I meant what I said.”