TEMPTATION AT WORLD’S END

One of the most interesting ideas I learned from C.S. Lewis was that evil never appears as itself. It isn’t ugly or repulsive. At worst it may be annoying, full of complainers, whiners, and malcontents. They may be wealthy, their riches like a second skin.

The wealthy tempt us, offering us a place in their world if we are willing to agree with them. They wear down our rejection of their values with lies, half-lies, and confusion. After a while, truth fades. Everything becomes vague. We become too tired to reject the original premise. We may not even remember what it was.

Photo: Garry Armstrong

The dismal ugliness of recently passed years wore us down. It made evil mundane. Banal. Although in the real world, a certain amount of wickedness and evil is normal, this wasn’t normal. A year of plague — the quintessential conclusion to the awful years — sapped our energy.

2020 was bad, but it didn’t pop out of nowhere. It was created by other bad years, decades, and centuries that for the most part, we forgot (because history has been lost) or failed to notice.

A quote from C.S. Lewis, the author of many books that never seem to get old or lack veracity even a hundred years after their original publication:


“To nine out of ten of you, the choice which could lead to scoundrelism (Meaning: baseness, dishonesty, double-dealing) will come, when it does come, in no very dramatic color. Obviously bad men, obviously threatening or bribing, will almost certainly not appear.

Over a drink or a cup of coffee, disguised as a triviality and sandwiched between two jokes, from the lips of a man, or woman, whom you have recently been getting to know rather better and whom you hope to know better still – just at the moment when you are most anxious not to appear crude, or naïve or a prig – the hint will come.

It will be the hint of something, which is not quite in accordance with the technical rules of fair play, something that the public, the ignorant, romantic public, would never understand. Something which even the outsiders in your own profession are apt to make a fuss about, but something, says your new friend, which “we”– and at the word “we” you try not to blush for mere pleasure–something “we always do.”

And you will be drawn in, if you are drawn in, not by desire for gain or ease, but simply because at that moment, when the cup was so near your lips, you cannot bear to be thrust back again into the cold outer world.

And then, if you are drawn in, next week it will be something a little further from the rules, and next year something further still, but all in the jolliest, friendliest spirit. It may end in a crash, a scandal, and penal servitude. It may end in millions, a peerage and giving the prizes at your old school.

But you will be a scoundrel.”

C. S. Lewis, The Inner Ring (1944)


Everyone knows the real battles have barely begun, but no one wants to fight forever. We want peace and quiet. A night’s sleep without gnawing worries and fear. We fought a huge battle. Did anyone win?

I’m willing to live with imperfection, but can we afford the waiting? Do we have time to live with the unraveling of our world? You can argue about how long total unraveling will take, but reality is that we can see it, feel it in our bones.

Evil has lost its power. Unfortunately, so has good.

I’m pretty sure a lot of people I know aren’t sure what is good versus evil. When you destroy facts and truth, you’ve eliminated the bedrock of reality. It’s a daunting time to be alive. Yet this beautiful world remains even though it had become something of a patchwork. I wish we would all treasure it as the jewel it is. Maybe we yet will.

We live in hope.



Categories: Blackstone River, corruption, Gallery, good-and-evil, Government, Oppressionn, perspective, Photography, right and wrong

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20 replies

    • Hanging on, but barely. I feel like we have been in total crisis mode forever. it’s only a couple of years, but it feels like forever. I’m just hoping we can get to a point where life is something like normal for a while. I need to just be a regular person and breathe. BREATHE. Ahhh.

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  1. Mother Nature is a shining reminder of what we are all in danger of losing.
    I continue to hope that the politicians in charge of our still beautiful planet can come to their senses, stop talking and actually do something to ensure we can have a future!

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  2. Beautiful, amazing photos, you and Garry have huge talent. I so admire C.S. Lewis, and obviously there’s much of his work I’ve not yet had the privilege to read. How eerie those words were, that one becomes a rogue without even noticing. My faith teaches something similar to the youth in our church – to be alert to such temptations for they are subtle and before one knows it, they’re off the path. That’s a bit religious speak, but the idea is the same as Mr. Lewis’ was I think. Thanks for sharing this. You said something really profound today. Thanks too for sharing the beauty of your woods with me. It always soothes my soul.

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    • It’s a warning he repeated in many of his books, including his novels. I can’t read a lot of this stuff at one time. It’s heavy going (mentally), but over the years, I’ve read maybe a dozen of his books, counting three novel and one novella. Even in his novels, the theologian is alive and well. That IS what he was, after all. He is considered to be very conservative, theologically speaking. I never thought he was conservative, but I’m not sure what a liberal theologian would say. What does that “liberal theologian” even mean?

      I’m not Christian, but his ideas of what is good or evil cross all the lines of dogma, especially his concept of how we get lured into doing wrong. Thank you for understanding what I’m actually talking about 😀

      This could be a clarion call to people who like to call themselves Christian but aren’t anything but wicked. But of course, they aren’t the ones reading it.

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  3. I guess I have a different take on it all. It’s not that I don’t believe there is evil; in fact, there is much of it. It’s simply that I know at my age I don’t have that much time left and I refuse to spend that time in knots of the state of things that are beyond my control anyway. So I turned off the television and radio. I get my news in doses I can handle. And i otherwise spend my time in the world of Nature, except I refer to it as the Goddess or Mother of all. Whatever you call it, it is life, and it moves and adapts and keeps going. I love your photos. I’m not a photographer, but I do savor the beauty of the world around me.

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    • Basically, we do the same thing. Garry as a news guy his whole adult life needs to see at least a sliver of news so he knows what’s going on — and then there is ⚾. It IS beautiful. This world is a gem. Why don’t we love it? Living out here in the woods, I can pretend this IS the world. It makes a huge difference. I don’t think I could bear city living now. All that pavement. Not for us! With all problem inherent in maintaining a home on not nearly enough income, better this wild and woodsy place than any other. Thanks for visiting!

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  4. Hope is one thing that keeps us getting up every day.

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  5. HI Marilyn, we all live in hope, but sadly as more time passes and still nothing is done to make things better, in fact, more bad things happen, it becomes hard to hold on to hope. We hold on to making the most of each day instead and don’t look forward to much.

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    • I think making the most of the days we have IS our version of hope. I see no evidence of anyone doing something meaningful to impact the world. It’s just words without plans or finances. Everyone wants things to get better, but NO one wants to put any of their own money to help it happen. It’s going to get worse and then, we’ll see panic.

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  6. Love your writings and wildlife photographs, thanks for sharing.

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  7. I remain hopeful. It’s difficult to watch the news and it seems that even though the economy is getting better and unemployment is at an all time low, people need to complain about their freedoms and personal rights. They espouse that things aren’t moving fast enough or inflation is too high and gas is too expensive. I’m grateful that things are getting better, families can come together and food, albeit more expensive, is still available. We try to drive less and walk more and save long trips for special occasions. In retirement I’ve learned to appreciate the beauty of nature and the simple things in life. Your photos, Marilyn are beautiful and remind us to appreciate what is right under our noses and before our eyes.

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