The Devil’s Love

From James Finley’s Merton’s Palace of Nowhere, Finley quotes Thomas Merton:

It is…a blindness to prayer that exposes us to the pitfalls of becoming ourselves like those,

…for whom a tree has no reality until they think of cutting it down, for whom an animal has no value until it enters a slaughterhouse, men who never look at anything until they decide to abuse it and who never even notice what they do not want to destroy.

This is the lowest kind of love, the love which destroys its object as the love is fulfilled. This is the love of the false self that can appreciate and acknowledge only that which it devours to feed and to foster its own frail shadow existence.

This is what the devil calls “love”, to use the object of its desire, to consume it.

In the preface to the 1961 edition of The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis describes one of the motives of devils as “a kind of hunger”.

I feign that devils can, in a spiritual sense, eat one another; and us. Even in human life we have seen the passion to dominate, almost to digest, one’s fellow; make his whole intellectual and emotional life merely an extension of one’s own—to hate one’s hatreds and resent one’s grievances and indulge one’s egoism through him as well as through oneself. His own little store of passion must of course be suppressed to make room for ours. If he resists this suppression he is being very selfish.

On Earth this desire is often called “love.” In Hell I feign that they recognise it as hunger. But there the hunger is more ravenous, and a fuller satisfaction is possible. There, I suggest, the stronger spirit—there are perhaps no bodies to impede the operation—can really and irrevocably suck the weaker into itself and permanently gorge its own being on the weaker’s outraged individuality.