Classic books last because they teach us about ourselves, and therefore, about human kind.
This morning I listened for a while to Gail King on the Good Morning show interview Jennifer Lopez, who is apparently in a relationship with a male who is eleven years younger than she. Apparenlty she is in the process of divorcing. She has three children who miss their daddy, and ask when he is coming home. Her parents have doubts about what she is doing. The modern attitude seems to be "forget the kids, forget your parents, do what turns you on in this moment." I changed channels when Gail expounded that Jennifer should do whatever makes her happy---whatever that is. (Gail King is not married and has no children to consider.)
C. S. Lewis wrote Screwtape Letters in 1941, but it is as fresh today as it was at the time of WWII. It is an allegory that personifies Satan as Screwtape. In this wise and amusing book, Screwtape is advising his nephew, Wormword, on how to corrupt humans through their own weaknesses. Temptations always appear desirable, otherwise they would not be tempting. It was the great British poet, John Milton, who penned, “Satan is a fair appearing fellow.” Even our constitution promises us the 'right' to seek happiness. But what is it?
Temptations are eternal---remember Eve and the apple? The Seven Deadly Sins: Pride, Greed, Sloth, Envy, Gluttony, Anger, and Lust, take many forms. We humans want what we want: food and drink; attention and admiration; money and possessions; “love” or desire and romance (the kind that possesses and consumes, not brotherly or sacrificial, not spiritual love) and sexual gratification; “fun” and idleness. And when we don’t get what we WANT, we have tantrums ranging from verbal abuse, to rages, to killing those who thwart us or impede us. Some folks lapse into self-pity or depression, driving their anger inward when they do not get what they want or think they deserve.
All of these sins are outgrowths of The Big I, the narcissistic EGO--- the Sin of Pride. Does gratifying our ego bring happiness?
In the preface, Lewis says, “We must picture Hell as a state where everyone is perpetually concerned about his own dignity and advancement, where everyone has a grievance, and where everyone lives the deadly serious passions of envy, self-Importance, and resentment.”
Humans are fickle. We think we know what we want, but often when we get it, we find we are still dissatisfied. Whether is be a an object, and activity, or a person, we feel entitiled to indulge ourselves, but how often do we regret succumbing to temptation? Socrates advised "Know thyself."
Would we like what we saw, if we were honest with ourselves?
Whatever became of sacrifice, of postponing gratification, of living up to our vows of fidelity? Is there not virtue in duty, work, and honor? It may be that the greatest happiness is doing what is RIGHT, listening to conscience, not to Screwtape telling us "if it feels good, do it."