“Gluttony of Delicacy” – Not “Gluttony of Excess”

                                                                                           “MY DEAR WORMWOOD,
The contemptuous way in which you spoke of gluttony as a means of catching souls, in your last letter, only shows your ignorance. One of the great achievements of the last hundred years has been to deaden the human conscience on that subject, so that by now you will hardly find a sermon preached or a conscience troubled about it in the whole length and breadth of Europe. This has largely been effected by concentrating all our efforts on gluttony of Delicacy, not gluttony of Excess. Your patient’s mother, as I learn from the dossier and you might have learned from Glubose, is a good example. She would be astonished—one day, I hope, will be—to learn 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. But what do quantities matter, provided we can use a human belly and palate to produce querulousness, impatience, uncharitableness, and self-concern? Glubose has this old woman well in hand. 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 sign 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? (a video of such a lady,haha!)  Because what she wants is smaller and less costly than what has been set before her, she never recognises 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 practising temperance. In a crowded restaurant she gives a little scream at the plate which some overworked waitress has set before her and says, “Oh, that’s far, far too much! Take it away and bring me about a quarter of it”. If challenged, she would say she was doing this to avoid waste; in reality she does it because the particular shade of delicacy to which we have enslaved her is offended by the sight of more food than she happens to want.  The real value of the quiet, unobtrusive work which Glubose has been doing for years on this old woman can be gauged by the way in which her belly now dominates her whole life. The woman is in what may be called the “All-I-want” state of mind. All she wants is a cup of tea properly made, or an egg properly boiled, or a slice of bread properly toasted. But she never finds any servant or any friend who can do these simple things “properly”—because her “properly” conceals an insatiable demand for the exact, and almost impossible, palatal pleasures which she imagines she remembers from the past; a past described by her as “the days when you could get good servants” but known to us as the days when her senses were more easily pleased and she had pleasures of other kinds which made her less dependent on those of the table. Meanwhile, the daily disappointment produces daily ill temper: cooks give notice and friendships are cooled. If ever the Enemy introduces into her mind a faint suspicion that she is too interested in food, Glubose counters it by suggesting to her that she doesn’t mind what she eats herself but “does like to have things nice for her boy”. In fact, of course, her greed has been one of the chief sources of his domestic discomfort for many years.
Now your patient is his mother’s son. While working your hardest, quite rightly, on other fronts, you must not neglect a little quiet infiltration in respect of  gluttony.
       Being a male, he is not so likely to be caught by the “All I want”
camouflage. Males are best turned into gluttons with the help of their vanity.  They ought to be made to think themselves very knowing about food, to pique themselves on having found the only restaurant in the town where steaks are really “properly” cooked. What begins as vanity can then be gradually turned into habit. But, however you approach it, the great thing is to bring him into the state in which the denial of any one indulgence—it matters not which, champagne or tea, sole colbert or cigarettes—”puts him out”, for then his charity, justice, and obedience are all at your mercy.  Mere excess in food is much less valuable than delicacy
…”  (From “Screwtape Letters” by CS Lewis)  In this book (the audio book is wonderful to listen to!), a chief demon instructs a subordinate demon (who is also his nephew) on how to properly tempt men and keep them in the dark.                                                                                                                                         On a total unrelated topic, my hats off to the waiters and waitresses around Muscat who put up with snotty customers on a daily basis (many expats in the 5-star hotels..) who “simply want a proper cup of tea”!                                                     “And put a knife to thy throat, if thou be a man given to appetite.  Do not crave his delicacies for that food is deceptive…Do not eat the food of a stingy man, do not crave his delicacies; for he is the kind of man who is always thinking about the cost.  “Eat and drink,” he says to you, but his heart is not with you.  You will vomit up the little you have eaten and will have wasted your compliments… Do not join with those who drink too much wine or gorge themselves on meat.” (Proverbs 23:2-3,6-8, 20)


2 responses to ““Gluttony of Delicacy” – Not “Gluttony of Excess”

  1. To Whom It May Concern:
    My name is Sam and I work for PMI Entertainment and I was wondering if we could possibly use the picture displayed in this article (the old lady with the cup of tea) for one of our promotions that we are doing. If you could please let me know ASAP that would be wonderful.

  2. Sam,
    The old lady with the cup of tea pic (like the other pics in this blogpost) are not mine. I simply googled “google images” and took them from other sites. Therefore, you would have to find the original owner of that pic (and I do not remember which website I took it from…) and ask them.
    Sorry I couldn’t be of more help.
    Wishing you all the best with your promotion!

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