Screwtape's ‘fixated on politics’ quote, is not by C.S. Lewis
You may have seen this quote floating around the internet:
My dear wormwood,
Be sure the patient remains completely fixated on politics. Arguments, political gossip, and obsessing on the faults of people they have never met serves as an excellent distraction from advancing in personal virtue, character, and the things the patient can control. Make sure to keep the patient in a constant state of angst, frustration, and general disdain towards the rest of the human race in order to avoid any kind of charity or inner peace from further developing. Ensure the patient continues to believe that the problem is “out there” in the “broken system” rather than recognizing there is a problem with himself.
Keep up the good work,
“Screwtape Letters” by C.S. Lewis ~1942
Unfortunately this is not by C.S. Lewis. It is written in the style of the Screwtape Letters but it was written by someone else. And even though I agree with the thoughts presented in the quote, we have to be careful.
Another writer pointed out that one of the dangers is, because we like C.S. Lewis, so we like to think that he would have said what we want him to say. If we circulating false quotes, we might be trying to remake him and his ideas into something that agrees with our own.
You can test if this quote is in the Screwtape Letters using Google Books. Go to the Screwtape Letters page and search for ‘fixated on politics’ inside the book. Unfortunately, if you just search Google Books in general for ‘fixated on politics’ the Screwtape Letters is the first result, not because that quote is in the book, but because the algorithm has learned that this is the result everyone is looking for when they search for that phrase. facepalm
Factual C.S. Lewis quotes on Politics
C.S. Lewis did talk about politics in the Screwtape Letters another article rounded up a few of the best quotes. I thought this one was interesting:
“About the general connection between Christianity and politics, our position is more delicate. Certainly we do not want men to allow their Christianity to flow over into their political life, for the establishment of anything like a really just society would be a major disaster. On the other hand we do want, and want very much, to make men treat Christianity as a means; preferably, of course, as a means to their own advancement, but, failing that, as a means to anything — even to social justice.”
Mom lessons are the best lessons
My Mom taught me something around the dinner table, that I value to this day. I would tell some fact or story I had heard at school, and she would always ask me “What is the source?”. If I didn’t know it, she would teach me that I shouldn’t share something as fact, when I don’t know where it came from. ‘What is the source?’ is a question I use daily. Thanks Mom. 😘
And of course, I don’t take this too seriously. My feelings can be expressed with this comic by xkcd.