To my shame, I have only recently returned to reading C.S. Lewis after nearly two decades away. Reading not long ago in his Screwtape Letters, I came across a passage in a letter from the demon Screwtape to his nephew and protege, Wormwood. It speaks poignantly to our tendency toward fear of man and the love of mutual adoration:
Any small coterie, bound together by some interest which other men dislike or ignore, tends to develop inside itself a hothouse mutual admiration, and towards the outer world, a great deal of pride and hatred which is entertained without shame because the 'Cause' is its sponsor and it is thought to be impersonal. Even when the little group exists originally for the Enemy's own purposes, this remains true. We want the Church to be small not only that fewer men may know the Enemy but also that those who do may acquire the uneasy intensity and the defensive self-righteousness of a secret society or a clique.
C.S. Lewis, Screwtape Letters, Number 7