The Drifters

Posted: September 1, 2006 in Theo/Philo

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Some of the most dangerous traps are the ones that are known.The ache in the knee that is persistent and becomes something we ‘put up with’ and do nothing about, the background noise of life that isn’t heard. As a kid I lived near a railway line and never really heard the trains going by.

We select naturally and unconsciously what to focus on; otherwise we would get overloaded with information and choices.Unlike background noise or a familiar ache, the opinions and attitudes we take on are not without the option to question.Where there is no self criticism, that’s where we are in danger.G.K.Chesterton said “A dead thing can go with the stream, but only a living thing can go against it.” – Everlasting Man, 1925.

Francis Schaeffer has spoken about Christians being in the world (The dominant culture) and not letting the opinions of the world mould us. He likens this pressure as ‘being in the mud and trying not to get dirty’.To not realise how casually attitudes are picked up, and to remain passive against this osmosis is something Socrates commented on when he said’ An unexamined life is not worth living’.

Recently I was reading ‘The Screwtape Letters’ a book by C.S. Lewis’s, concerning the correspondence between a senior demon called Screwtape and a junior demon called Wormwood.Each demon has a patient that they influence in order to remove the possibility of the patient becoming a Christian, or to reduce the influence of Christ on a person’s inner and so outer life.Regarding church life for Wormwood’s patient, Screwtape writes:‘I have been writing hitherto on the assumption that the people in the next pew afford no rational ground for disappointment. Of course if they do-if the patient knows that the woman with the absurd hat is a fanatical bridge player or the man with the squeaky boots a miser and an extortioner-then your task is so much the easier. All you then have to do is to keep out of his mind the question ‘If I, being what I am, can consider that I am in some sense a Christian, why should the different voices of those people in the next pew prove that their religion is mere hypocrisy and convention?’ You may ask whether it is possible to keep such an obvious thought from occurring even to a human mind. It is, Wormwood, it is!’The truth of something is not dependant on how it is presented or experienced, yet we all act as if it is, what a mistake!

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