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It is the business of [Satan’s lowerarchy] to produce in every… - Sally's Journal
December 1st, 2005
01:24 pm

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It is the business of [Satan’s lowerarchy] to produce in every age a general misdirection of what may be called sexual ‘taste.’ This they do by working through the small circle of popular artists, dressmakers, actresses and advertisers who determine the fashionable type. The aim is to guide each sex away from those members of the other with whom spiritually helpful, happy and fertile marriages are most likely. Thus we have now for many centuries triumphed over nature to the extent of making certain secondary characteristics of the male (such as the beard) disagreeable to nearly all the females — and there is more in that than you might suppose.

-- C.S. Lewis, the Screwtape Letters

So, err, fight the devil! Fancy men with beards!

Ergh, beards.

(atreic thanks andrewrilstone for bringing this important theological insight to her attention)

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From:angoel
Date:December 1st, 2005 01:30 pm (UTC)
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Surely "fight the devil by destroying beards where you find them". I believe there's one particularly infernal one which has posessed a certain ex-housemate of yours... ;)
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From:edith_the_hutt
Date:December 1st, 2005 01:30 pm (UTC)
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But only evil people have beards!
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From:miss_next
Date:December 1st, 2005 01:44 pm (UTC)
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Are you calling Mole evil?

...

Well, he is, actually. But in a very cute sort of way. :-)
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From:megamole
Date:December 1st, 2005 03:29 pm (UTC)
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He's also being a bit of a hypocrite... :)
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From:edith_the_hutt
Date:December 1st, 2005 11:46 pm (UTC)
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No I'm not. I just mentioning something I know to be true.
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From:senji
Date:December 1st, 2005 01:59 pm (UTC)
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I resemble that remark.
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From:marnanel
Date:December 7th, 2005 12:24 am (UTC)
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That Father Christmas, now.
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From:randomchris
Date:December 1st, 2005 01:38 pm (UTC)
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I kind of wish I could grow a beard... sadly, after three weeks of not shaving, I still only get left with stubble, which itches like hell.
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From:ashfae
Date:December 1st, 2005 01:56 pm (UTC)
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Sexy stubble, though!
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From:vyvyan
Date:December 1st, 2005 01:41 pm (UTC)
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This reminds me of a bit in The Great Divorce, which my classics teacher lent me at school in a bid to convert me to Christianity. In this, ISTR Lewis complained about young couples who were so similar in appearance (i.e. both having long hair and wearing trousers) that they were virtually indistinguishable. (He must have had very poor eyesight!) I think they were consigned to the "other side" in the great divorce...
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From:passage
Date:December 1st, 2005 11:02 pm (UTC)

I suspect you're mistaken

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I haven't read the great divorce for a year or so, but I don't recall anything like that in it. In each case you had a single person from Hell talking to a single person from Heaven, there were no couples (execpt where the couple were divided in that way, in that case the man returned to Hell and the woman remained in Heaven).

In the Screwtape letters Lewis talks about the fashion of women trying to look like boys, destructive because it's unhealthy and because of age pretty quickly very hard. I don't remember anything about trousers, or guys with long hair.
From:yrieithydd
Date:December 2nd, 2005 11:48 am (UTC)

Re: I suspect you're mistaken

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I've re-read The Great Divorce in the last fortnight or so and can't work out which might you might mean. Yes, C.S. Lewis' views on gender are quite odd and drive me up the wall at times (though I appear to be mellowing) even though I agree with him on lots of stuff. I suppose one gets the clearest picture of them in Perelandra and That Hideous Strength which explains the way in which (AHUI) male and female on earth are reflexions of the Masculine and the Feminine which are two of the 7 genders. In That Hideous Strength, we learn that Malacandra (Mars) is Masculine and Perelandra (Vensu) is Feminine (as we in fact learnt in Perelandra), but that the other Oyerseu: Vitrilipia, Lurga, Glund etc; are representatives of the other Genders.

I disagree with the understanding of Gender (and in fact think that seeing God as the ultimate Masculine as he does somewhere (Priestess in the Church?) with all humans Feminine in relation to him fails to understand `In the image of God he created them; Male and Female he created them' properly) but it does at least make sense of his attitude towards women and why he doesn't think women can be priests. It doesn't make sense to me because of my experience of being me, which happens to be female.
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From:vyvyan
Date:December 2nd, 2005 07:23 pm (UTC)

Re: I suspect you're mistaken

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It wasn't a long section - really just a passing comment: the couples weren't main characters at all. It must have been about 15 years ago that I read it, so I may have mangled it slightly, but I'm sure I didn't invent it completely! (It can't be a bit in another Lewis book, since I haven't read any others - except the Narnia ones.) I can't easily check at the moment (it doesn't seem to exist online) but if I'm in town soon I might pop into the UL and try to get hold of a copy.
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From:marnanel
Date:December 7th, 2005 12:26 am (UTC)

Re: I suspect you're mistaken

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They're talking about the couple at the bus-stop on the first page who are both so "giggly and trousered and slender that I could be sure of the gender of neither". (This from memory: my copy's 5000 miles away.)
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From:miss_next
Date:December 1st, 2005 01:43 pm (UTC)
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Actually, I do quite often fancy men with beards (after all, look at my last boyfriend!)... but they have to be the right sort of beards. I strongly dislike goatees for aesthetic reasons, and I don't like them kept so short as to be scratchy.

The beard also has to suit the chin. There are some chins so elegantly shaped that it would be a scandal to cover them up. There are others that frankly look silly without the beard (my ex-husband was a prime example of this; unfortunately he kept his beard for winter plumage only and shaved it off in the summer, and for all I know he still does).

Come to think of it, the last two men I fell for prior to Mole also had beards. So I am probably more pro-beard than anti-beard, taken on balance. :-)
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From:libellum
Date:December 1st, 2005 01:50 pm (UTC)
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Fancy men with beards!

I already do! Go me! I win at life!
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From:gnimmel
Date:December 1st, 2005 01:59 pm (UTC)
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If it's good to like the beard (presumably because that's the natural, untampered-with state of the male chin, at least some of the time) then surely it should also be good to like long-haired men? Because I'm not convinced that C.S. Lewis did....
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From:miss_next
Date:December 1st, 2005 02:08 pm (UTC)
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Heee. This reminds me of a story told to me by Fr Tom, my parish priest about another, much older, very strait-laced priest.

Apparently this other priest once preached a thundering sermon against men wearing their hair long. It was during the 1970s, so of course there was a fair sprinkling of long-haired young men in the church. Fr Tom listened with growing amusement, because he was looking at the magnificent east window behind the thundering priest.

The window depicted Christ and the apostles... and every single one of them had his hair down to his shoulders. :-D
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From:passage
Date:December 1st, 2005 11:16 pm (UTC)

Think you've missed the point here

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The point isn't what you can obtain with least effort (presumably he'd then be encouraging women to pursue smelly men), but that the significant slection critea should not be the asthetic of the decade and the fashions of the month, but the nature of the person and quality of relationship possible with them.

(As an aside Jesus was very unlikely to have had long hair, which goes to show you shouldn't believe everything you see in stained glass windows.)
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From:inner_muppet
Date:December 1st, 2005 02:19 pm (UTC)
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Tee hee.

I do see his point that it is sad that so many women are completely put off by them (beard attraction is something I had to learn myself, although that may have more to do with the sort of people I knew before going to university who had beards). It would be nice if we could all accept ourselves and our partners in our natural states, even if we do then make some alterations.

I wonder what he would have made of the brazilian.
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From:serenasnape
Date:December 1st, 2005 03:02 pm (UTC)
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Oh no, all the men in my family have beards, I don't want a man with a beard - it'd be like kissing my dad or something! Also, Alastair is incapable of growing a proper beard, so it looks silly anyway!
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From:megamole
Date:December 1st, 2005 03:29 pm (UTC)
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:-P
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From:l_ren
Date:December 1st, 2005 03:58 pm (UTC)
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Beards- JUST SAY NO!
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From:mjg59
Date:December 1st, 2005 04:45 pm (UTC)
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ULSTER SAYS NO TO BEARDS
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From:l_ren
Date:December 1st, 2005 04:59 pm (UTC)
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Damn right.
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From:miss_next
Date:December 1st, 2005 04:46 pm (UTC)
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It's a nice beard. :-)

Though I still think you'd look even better if you had it in the full, flowing, uncompromisingly Russian style.
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From:pseudomonas
Date:December 1st, 2005 04:02 pm (UTC)
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Yay, beards. I have been advised not to grow another one this winter, though.
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From:mjg59
Date:December 1st, 2005 04:45 pm (UTC)
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That is entirely not where I posted that comment, you horrid, horrid thing.
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From:gerald_duck
Date:December 1st, 2005 05:15 pm (UTC)
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So, statistically speaking, I'm currently 11% non-satanic. Things could be worse. (-8
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From:zebbiejohnson
Date:December 1st, 2005 05:38 pm (UTC)
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um..doesn't the Devil have a goatee himself?
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From:mewo2
Date:December 1st, 2005 09:23 pm (UTC)
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But goatees are even more unnatural than being clean-shaven. As I see it, you have a choice between clean-shaven, which requires maintenance, or bearded, which gets food stuck in it. Goatees look like they require really *careful* maintenance, yet still end up with crumbs. And don't even get me started on moustaches.
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From:edith_the_hutt
Date:December 1st, 2005 11:48 pm (UTC)
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Nah, goatees are shaving with all the awkard bits (chin, lips, etc) skipped.
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From:passage
Date:December 1st, 2005 11:06 pm (UTC)
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At another point in The Screwtape Letters Screwtape, Screwtape remarks on the value of the medival ridiclous image of Satan, which you then fool your patient by, when they think of the devil, making think of a horned man in red tights, and since they can't believe in that, convince them that they can't believe in the devil. Apparently it's a text book way of confusing us (I would quote exactly, but my copy is away on loan at the moment).
From:nlj21
Date:December 1st, 2005 11:50 pm (UTC)
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I do not think you will hve much difficulty in keeping the patient in the dark. That fact that 'devils' are predominantly comic figures in the modern imagination will help you. If any faint suspicion of your existence begins to arise in his mind, suggest to him a picture of something in red tights, and persuade him that since he cannot believe in that (it is an old textbook method of confusing them) he therefore cannot believe in you.
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From:arnhem
Date:December 1st, 2005 06:29 pm (UTC)
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You've presumably seen this?

8-)
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From:atreic
Date:December 1st, 2005 06:36 pm (UTC)
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Ye Gods.

< fx > Runs screaming to join the side of the Devil < \fx >
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From:arnhem
Date:December 1st, 2005 06:41 pm (UTC)
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The gallery is particularly impressive ...
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From:atreic
Date:December 1st, 2005 07:03 pm (UTC)
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There arn't many things that leave me speachless, but...
From:nlj21
Date:December 1st, 2005 07:10 pm (UTC)
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So, err, fight the devil! Fancy men with beards!

I don't think that's what he is saying. I think what he is trying to say in the letter this comes from is:

"Fight the devil! Look for a partner with godly character rather than just attractive looks".
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From:serenasnape
Date:December 1st, 2005 07:52 pm (UTC)
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I think it was tongue in cheek (whether bearded or cleanshaven) ... :)
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From:pw201
Date:December 1st, 2005 08:09 pm (UTC)
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Well, there is that too, but he does genuinely seem to think that there's something significant about beards. Rilstone points out that sometimes Lewis says stuff which is so off the wall that he can't imagine what Lewis means.
From:nlj21
Date:December 1st, 2005 08:33 pm (UTC)
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Hummmm. Pictures of C.S.Lewis suggest to me he doesn't think there is that much significance in having a beard.
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From:pw201
Date:December 3rd, 2005 03:15 am (UTC)
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I'm not suggesting he thought that all men should have beards, but rather that he objected to the contemporary fashion which meant that those men who did have beards were seen as unattractive. One of the commenters on Rilstone's blog points out what was probably going on: like St Paul (at least according to some interpretations of the "God Hates Hair" passage), Lewis didn't like it when men looked like women and vice versa.
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