by Lizzy Nerr
Recently, a lost letter from Screwtape to his nephew Wormwood was discovered, and it appears that progress continues to be made in recovering the correspondence of the two demons. Another letter has been found, but this piece was not composed by Screwtape but by Wormwood. The full text of the letter is published below.
Dear Uncle Screwtape,
I’m afraid my patient has taken to reading his theology books again. It seems I also cannot prevent him from engaging with his church-going friends in such sickening conversations about the “truth” of Enemy. Fortunately, his emotional state remains mostly unaffected by these. I have done my best to keep him focused on the need to reform others and not himself, and I am keeping in mind your caution to prevent the Enemy from hijacking these efforts for what they call “evangelism.” In fact, I have what I consider a rather brilliant plan. You would be quite pleased with it.
To prevent my patient from actually sharing that dreadful message of the Enemy’s — the one that has caused many great losses for us — I remind him of the prosperous conditions in which he lives. You see, dear Uncle, my patient has many opportunities for success in the eyes of men. Of course, he usually gives credit to the Enemy for this, but I’ve started reminding him of his hard work and the necessity of “taking ownership” of his accomplishments, as I know so well how to do myself. These accomplishments and opportunities I use to lull him into thinking that life should naturally be this way, and interruptions of any sort would be “a waste” (brilliant, wouldn’t you agree, Uncle?). The Enemy’s call to this “evangelism”, as much as he sees it as necessary, is nonetheless uncomfortable and would certainly provide an interruption to his potential successes. I’ve convinced him that losing favor or anything else he could otherwise have from men is indeed too terrible a consequence for sharing that message.
But dear Uncle, my plan does not stop with the promise of ultimately unsatisfying worldly opportunities. I have presented to him that should he be so bold as to defy my orders and speak the Enemy’s message, there is the possibility of his being inept or offensive. He might ruin the relationship with the hearer and thus vitiate any possibility of further evangelism. Don’t you see the brilliance, Uncle? He ceases to evangelize for the sake of evangelism!
To keep his mind off the lovely self-contradiction and cowardice I am working on for him, I have attempted to direct his reforming energies elsewhere. In this I would like your advice, as awfully humbling as it is to say so. I have convinced my patient that it is too dangerous to share the Enemy’s message, but he must still feel as though he is producing moral good in others around him, and I have instructed him to take on the nebulous task of transforming his culture (whatever that may mean). You will see, Uncle, how much of your genius I have stolen from you! He is now busy attacking the territory that even the Enemy has acknowledged belongs to us, and he fears sharing the very truth that would actually pose a serious threat to our dominion. He complains of the need to change laws or media or the behaviors of his neighbors without realizing his own impotence. This will keep him occupied for a while now, I’m sure.
Do save me a seat next to you at the Temptership Reunion this year. I daresay I deserve it.
This piece was originally published at Being Human.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of other authors at Cogent Christianity.