I am a new subscriber to a email newsletter that sends out a daily reading from C.S. Lewis. So far, I've been loving it (no surprise there), and felt particularly led to share today's excerpt. It is taken from the brilliant work (one of my favorites) titled The Screwtape Letters wherein a "head demon" coaches a new rookie in the ways they can effectively lead a soul to Hell.
In this particular passage, the coach (if you will) is describing how the rookie can use the concept of time to corrupt his target. Specifically, he wants him to get humans to not live in the present (or with a mind set on eternity), but rather focus on the future -- which leads to worry, fear, etc.
Clearly, though, he does a much better job, so without further ado, I will let Mr. Lewis take it from here:
[The demon Screwtape writes:] The humans live in time but our Enemy
destines them to eternity. He therefore, I believe, wants them to attend
chiefly to two things, to eternity itself, and to that point of time which they
call the Present. For the Present is the point at which time touches eternity.
Of the present moment, and of it only, humans have an experience analogous to
the experience which our Enemy has of reality as a whole; in it alone freedom
and actuality are offered them. He would therefore have them continually
concerned either with eternity (which means being concerned with Him) or with
the Present—either meditating on their eternal union with, or separation from,
Himself, or else obeying the present voice of conscience, bearing the present
cross, receiving the present grace, giving thanks for the present pleasure.
Our business is to get them away from the eternal, and from the
Present. With this in view, we sometimes tempt a human (say a widow or a
scholar) to live in the Past. But this is of limited value, for they have some
real knowledge of the past and it has a determinate nature and, to that extent,
resembles eternity. It is far better to make them live in the Future.
Biological necessity makes all their passions point in that direction already,
so that thought about the Future inflames hope and fear. Also, it is unknown to
them, so that in making them think about it we make them think of unrealities.
In a word, the Future is, of all things, the thing least like eternity. It is
the most completely temporal part of time—for the Past is frozen and no longer
flows, and the Present is all lit up with eternal rays.