(CCSLQ-32) – Fixated on Politics

UPDATED (10/8/18) – The Misquotable C.S. Lewis is my book that examines 75 quotations attributed to Lewis that I caution you not to share. Some are falsely attributed to him, others are paraphrases of his words, and a few have context issues. Don’t share a quote attributed to Lewis unless you can confirm he wrote it and the meaning is clear without the context!

The following is a quote I examined that led me to writing The Misquotable C.S. Lewis. I bean calling quotes like this “questionable” because I wanted people to question whether or not Lewis wrote it. This led me to coming up with three main categories, or types of misquotes. You can learn about that in the INTRODUCTION to this series. There is also an “at a glance” page to see what quotations I’ve covered in the online series. Please note that the book has revised entries and provide more details about the expressions examined.  

Fixated on Politics“Be sure that the patient remains completely fixated on politics…”

Many of you are likely aware that around early October, 2016 a lengthy quotation claiming to be from The Screwtape Letters made the rounds of social media. Here’s a screenshot of it:

Fake Screwtape on Politics

There was actually another version of it, where only the ending was different. The last part, after “Keep up the good work” was this: “Uncle Screwtape. — ‘Screwtape Letters’ by C.S. Lewis ~1942.” Trouble is the only accurate elements from the piece are the beginning and the end!

C.S. Lewis did begin each letter with “My dear Wormwood” and the ending for all but one letter is “Your affectionate uncle Screwtape” (with the name being on the next line). One final thing is true, the letters were published in book form in 1942. So, if you are reading this article in 2017 when I posted it, the book is celebration its 75th anniversary (in fact it came out in February, 1942, but the letters were initially released weekly in 1941 in another publication).

bookcover-shutterfly3As some of you know The Screwtape Letters is my favorite book from C.S. Lewis. In fact, I’ve recently begun a short-term podcast called “200 Seconds in Hell with C.S. Lewis” that highlights content from his book. Visit THIS LINK to hear the 3rd episode that also has links to the early ones. Also, last year I release an enhanced study guide entitled C.S. Lewis Goes to Hell. You can click on the link at left to learn more about it.

There are already several other places online that discussed this fake quotation:

WHAT LEWIS SAID THAT’S RELATED (or closest to it):

“Let him begin by treating the Patriotism or the Pacifism as a part of his religion. Then let him, under the influence of partisan spirit, come to regard it as the most important part. Then quietly and gradually nurse him on to the stage at which the religion becomes merely part of the “cause”, in which Christianity is valued chiefly because of the excellent arguments it can produce in favour of the British war-effort or of Pacifism … Once you have made the World an end, and faith a means, you have almost won your man, and it makes very little difference what kind of worldly end he is pursuing. Provided that meetings, pamphlets, policies, movements, causes, and crusades, matter more to him than prayers and sacraments and charity, he is ours – and the more “religious” (on those terms) the more securely ours.”
from The Screwtape Letters (# 7)


“We learn of a growing desire for a Christian ‘party,’ a Christian ‘front,’ or a Christian ‘platform’ in politics….Whatever it calls itself, it will represent, not Christendom, but a part of Christendom. The principle which unites it to its political allies will not be theological….There will be a real and most disastrous novelty. It will be not simply a part of Christendom, but a part claiming to be the whole. By the mere act of calling itself the Christian Party it implicitly accuses all Christians who do not join it of apostasy and betrayal. It will be exposed, in an aggravated degree, to that temptation which the Devil spares none of us at any time−the temptation of claiming for our favourite opinions that kind and degree of certainty and authority which really belongs only to our faith.” 
from Meditation on the Third Commandment (in God in the Dock)


“But do not let us mistake necessary evils for good. The mistake is easily made. Fruit has to be tinned if it is to be transported, and has to lose thereby some of its good qualities. But one meets people who have learned actually to prefer the tinned fruit to the fresh. A sick society must think much about politics, as a sick man must think much about his digestion: to ignore the subject may be fatal cowardice for the one as for the other. But if either comes to regard it as the natural food of the mind–if either forgets that we think of such things only in order to be able to think of something else–then what was undertaken for the sake of health has become itself a new and deadly disease.” 
from Membership (in The Weight of Glory)


“He who converts his neighbour has performed the most practical Christian-political act of all.” 
from Meditation on the Third Commandment (in God in the Dock)


“There are only two kinds of people in the end: those who say to God, ‘Thy will be done,’ and those to whom God says, in the end, ‘Thy will be done.’ All that are in Hell, choose it. Without that self-choice there could be no Hell. No soul that seriously and constantly desires joy will ever miss it. Those who seek find. To those who knock it is opened.” 
from The Great Divorce (Chapter 9)


The next article is:

“Isn’t it funny how day by day nothing changes, but when you look back, everything is different.”

Related Articles:

Surprised By Misquotes (2018 Taylor Talk)

Exploring C.S. Lewis Misquotes and Misconceptions (2017 6-part podcast series)

What Lewis NEVER Wrote  (Podcast)

Not Quite Lewis – Podcast Version

Not Quite Lewis – Questionable Lewisian Quotations (Conf. Paper)

Updated 10/8/2018
Originally posted 2/4/2017


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