Tag Archives: screwtape

Preoccupation with Appetites

Everything in the world, you see–the greedy desire of the flesh, the greedy desire of the eyes, the pride of life–none of this is from the Father. It is from the world. ~1 John 2:16 [NTE]

Last time, when talking about the spread of Eden, we briefly touched upon sin as being an inhibitor of extending Eden all over earth. We mentioned that sin is much deeper than breaking a rule, or simply doing something you’re not suppose to do. Sin, which means missing the mark, is what holds us back from rightfully serving our benevolent Creator and, consequently, from living a fulfilling life. We miss the mark by serving self instead of God, when we are subservient to our desire’s demands rather than our Father’s desire which, in short, is to have a big loving family spreading His love.

My friend Miguel named this condition a “preoccupation with our appetites”, and I found this description poignantly helpful. He also remembered something he read in The Screwtape Letters along the lines of the demons working to get humans so preoccupied with their inordinate desires, their appetites, that they (the demons) could kick back for a while and take a break. This so piqued my interest that I promptly dusted off my copy of C.S. Lewis’s masterfully brilliant classic and start reading it again. It is impossible to overstate how tremendously helpful the insights given in this book are for bringing into the light the many subtle ways in which we are deceived into living for our self and not for God.

Letter 17 gives us some of this insight into what may not be so obvious. A senior demon is sharing that one woman they have been tempting suffers from a gluttony of Delicacy rather than a gluttony of Excess, and this is something the demons have worked hard to achieve in her. Typical gluttony as we may think of it is somewhat easy to spot and, for many, easy to avoid because it is so clearly distasteful, but a gluttony of delicacy is much more under the radar. This is a gluttony of having to have things not in large amounts, but exactly the way you want them every time.

Screwtape writes to his nephew that “her whole life is enslaved to this kind of sensuality, which is quite concealed from her by the fact that the quantities involved are small.” And here is an example he gives which I have to share here because it is so darn insightful:

She is a positive terror to hostesses and servants. She is always turning from what has been offered her to say with a demure little sigh and a smile ‘Oh please, please…all I want is a cup of tea, weak but not too weak, and the teeniest weeniest bit of really crisp toast.’ You see? Because what she wants is smaller and less costly than what has been set before her, she never recognizes as gluttony her determination to get what she wants, however troublesome it may be to others. At the very moment of indulging her appetite she believes that she is practicing temperance.

See how scary this is?? Very appropriate for Halloween. This is one of those books you will throw against the wall several times before finishing.

A preoccupation with my appetites, over time, subtly turns into my default setting in which I not only crave more things than I can count in a day–be it food, drink, activities, experiences–but I also spend a vast amount of my day’s limited energy securing said cravings in exactly the way I have to have them. This is no way to do Kingdom living and Eden spreading. May it not be so in us!