How the Devil Detests Silence and Fills our World with Noise

In C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters, the “senior demon” Screwtape reveals one very interesting plan of the devil. In order to drive us away from God Satan chooses to distract us with “Noise.” He knows that if we are overrun by countless distractions that we will be unable to hear the voice of God in silence.

Here is how Screwtape frames his devious plan:

[The house] bears a sickening resemblance to the description one human writer made of Heaven: ‘the regions where there is only life and therefore all that is not music is silence.’

Music and silence–how I detest them both!….[Hell] has been occupied by Noise–Noise, the grand dynamism, the audible expression of all that is exultant, ruthless, and virile–Noise which alone defends us from silly qualms, despairing scruples and impossible desires. We will make the whole universe a noise in the end….The melodies and silences of Heaven will be shouted down in the end. (The Screwtape Letters, 119-120, emphasis added)

We have already talked about how the devil hates Sacred Music in particular, but it is important to note how often God works in silence and how Satan strives to fill that silence with many distractions and noise.

One of the most well-known passages in Scripture, when it comes to the volume of God’s voice, is the encounter of the prophet Elijah with God.

And [God] said, “Go forth, and stand upon the mount before the Lord.” And behold, theLord passed by, and a great and strong wind rent the mountains, and broke in pieces the rocks before the Lord, but the Lord was not in the wind; and after the wind an earthquake, but the Lord was not in the earthquake; and after the earthquake a fire, but the Lord was not in the fire; and after the fire a still small voice.  And when Eli′jah heard it, he wrapped his face in his mantle and went out and stood at the entrance of the cave. (1 Kings 19:11-13 RSVCE, emphasis added)

Elijah knew that God was not in the boisterous and loud noises outside, but was in the small quite whisper. Some translations call the “still small voice,” “a whistling of a gentle air” (Douay-Rheims).

In the book of Ecclesiastes, the author writes,

The words of the wise are heard in silence, more than the cry of a prince among fools (Ecclesiastes 9:17, Douay-Rheims, emphasis added).

Silence is a key way to hear God’s voice and unfortunately our world has been saturated by “Noise.” The “Noise” that we encounter today is not always audible, but it has also taken the shape of constant advertising, and numerous images and media vying for our attention.

The Internet is full of “Noise” that can distract us as well. That is not to say that the Internet is somehow tainted, evil and the spawn of Satan. The Internet is a great tool, one which I (and many others) use to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ. However, at the same time we must monitor our Internet use and discern if we are being distracted from hearing God’s voice.

The introduction of the “smart phone” has also led to many more distractions. Again, this is not to say that anyone who owns a smart phone is from the devil. We must monitor our use of smart phones as well and ask ourselves if we are looking down more than we are looking up. It is a great tool, but one that comes with great responsibility.

That is also why it is so important to turn off our cell phones and computers when we are on retreat. Satan can use these various tools (which can do a lot of good in this world) to distract us from hearing God’s voice.

So let us examine our lives and discern how much is filled with “Noise” and how much is filled with silence. In all things we must form our conscience well and discern what God wants to do in our life.

***If you would like to read along in the The Screwtape Letters, I suggest to getting a copy of C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape LettersIf you don’t like reading, I highly suggest acquiring the dramatization of the letters by Focus on the Family, called The Screwtape Letters: First Ever Full-cast Dramatization of the Diabolical Classic (Radio Theatre). It features Andy Serkis, who played Gollum in The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit and is well produced.

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