It is obvious at the beginning of the eighth letter the Screwtape is growing more and more annoyed with Wormwood for being such an amateur. Screwtape makes reference to a remark of Wormwood’s, that he has “great hopes that the Patient’s religious phase is dying away.” Screwtape corrects Wormwood by stating his “Law of Undulation:”
”Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation – the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back.”
Everything humans do alternates between peaks and troughs: interest in friends, efficiency at work, and, inevitably, religion.
Screwtape states that all human activities follow this rule, the Patient will more than likely return to his previous “high” before hitting another “low.” Screwtape then says that the “Enemy” uses these troughs to his advantage. In fact, many of the Enemy’s most devout followers had deeper, longer troughs than any other followers. The reason for this lies in the difference between the “Enemy” and the “Father.” All of the “propaganda” the Enemy spouts about love is not propaganda at all: God has life to spare – he flows over into the Humans that follow him; Satan has none – he sucks it in from those who fall to him. Thus extended troughs cause humans to really appreciate what He has to offer. According to Screwtape, there are two laws God cannot disobey: the Irresistible and the Indisputable. He cannot override a human’s will, which His presence in all but the slightest degree would do: he must woo, not ravish. His desire is millions of sons and daughters who retain their individuality; Satan wants to draw everything into himself – no independent entities. Screwtape tells Wormwood:
“Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys.”
Screwtape closes by telling Wormwood that next week he will explain how the “troughs” can be used to their advantage.
Letter #7 | Letter #9