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driven to distraction

Detail, Perelandra, painting by Jeremiah Briggs
In Perelandra, the second book in C. S. Lewis's Space Trilogy, the protagonist, Ransom, seeks to protect the innocent woman (the Eve of Venus) from the temptations of the Unman, who would bring about the fall of the planet. 

The dialogue, like that of The Screwtape Letters, illuminates the nature of the conflict between good and evil -- and the resolution takes a surprising turn.  

But at one point the battle of wits between Ransom and the Unman takes this direction, beginning with the Unman's words... 

"Ransom... Ransom..."  

"What is it?" 


“Ransom,” it said again. 

“What is it?” said Ransom sharply. 

“Nothing,” it answered. 

Again there was silence; and again, about a minute later, the horrible mouth said: “Ransom!” 

This time he made no reply. 

Another minute and it uttered his name again; and then, like a minute gun, “Ransom . . . Ransom . . . Ransom,” perhaps a hundred times.

Not every temptation to believe a lie comes blatantly.  There are those, of course.  But a lie may also come in the form of a half-truth, a partial truth, a truth mixed with error, an equivocation, an emotional appeal, or as here, the attack comes as a meaningless distraction, as background noise which blocks out all other hearing and thinking.  Sensibility is lost in senseless babble. We will lose something when we turn our attention from valuable things to empty things.  

When Satan cannot deceive us by lies he will distract us by sheer noise and nonsense.  We may choose to listen, but it will be at the cost of sanity.  Everywhere we turn in our world we are called upon to watch this video, listen to this song, see this, laugh at that, binge on this, buy that.  Even while pumping gas now we have a blaring screen seeking to attract our attention.     

At the end of the parable of the four soils, our Lord Jesus said, 

"Take care then how you hear, for to the one who has, more will be given, and from the one who has not, even what he thinks that he has will be taken away." (Luke 8:18 ESV)

"Take care then how you hear..." 

Several covers of Perelandra from the first edition onward. 


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