It was from the imagination of C.S. Lewis that we were first exposed to a devil’s diabolical advice for the capturing of the human heart through the correspondence between a senior devil, Screwtape, to his nephew, Wormwood.
Below is a fresh correspondence, just intercepted, from Screwtape to Wormwood.
James Emery White
My dear Wormwood,
It is that dreadful time of year again when even those most firmly in our clutches find themselves maddeningly open to venturing into Enemy territory and attending a service celebrating that event-which-must-not-be-named.
Granted, we have been effective at neutralizing much of the threat this time of year poses to patients such as yours by ensuring the stupid humans go on vacation. Making the time surrounding that event-that-must-not-be- named prime time for vacations and school breaks was one of the more brilliant suggestions from our tactical division.
I am, however, concerned that this year you report your patient is staying home. This makes him vulnerable. If he goes at all, make sure it is to one of those sappy affairs that is all butterflies and sunrises, eggs and bunnies – all new beginnings and positive thoughts. Sappiness we can deal with.
But it is best if he doesn’t go at all. And certainly not to anything that would actually introduce him to that event-that-must-not-be named! That noxious moment when He refused to admit defeat at the hands of Our Father Below and resorted to trickery and deceit – and called it a victory! We were cheated!
(I must calm down…I feel myself turning into a newt!)
This means you must be on guard against the Enemy’s more annoyingly earnest followers who would invite him to one of their pathetic celebrations. Particularly the ones where someone might actually try and explain things from the Enemy’s point of view!
We can’t afford a repeat of what happened with your former patient. Need I remind you how you let her slip through your fingers? Yes, I think I will. First, you let her begin that friendship with that most awful of creatures, an actual follower of the Enemy. Not one of the overbearing, obnoxious, self-righteous, legalistic types I actually recommend you bring into her orbit, but the most revolting kind of all; the likable, normal, authentic kind. Oh, how I hate them!
It wasn’t long before they began hearing of grace (I can barely bring myself to write such a contemptible word!), the most powerful of the Enemy’s weapons and the one thing we try most to protect humans from believing.
Indeed, if you recall, it was precisely at this time of the year that she accepted an invitation from the aforementioned type of nauseating creature to precisely the kind of service I am warning you about. And it was the worst possible kind – one where the event-that-must-not-be-named was not only celebrated, but the disgusting human who spoke even gave reasons to appeal to her mind! Her mind! The one area we pride ourselves on owning, and have convinced the world one must abandon to even consider the Enemy!
This must not happen again.
Don’t rely on any of our departments brewing bad weather this weekend – even we can’t bring rain everywhere at the same time. And the Enemy has a way of bypassing those effort s and luring them anyway (we aren’t really quite sure what happens when those idiots pray – it’s an area we have yet to be able to invade).
And don’t settle for mischief with the service itself (bad microphones and the like). Have your fun with such things, but remember that you are not a junior tempter anymore! Be a true warrior of the Father Below and rise to the occasion of preventing the Enemy of gaining any ground by keeping him away from any of those sniveling Enemy-lovers who would take it upon themselves to invite him to one of their revolting services.
Every day we lure more of their pathetic lives into our own ravenous desire that, in the end, consumes their very soul. This is the satisfying route. Yet the Enemy would have them as sons and daughters! It makes me want to vomit.
So whatever you do, keep your patient safe. The event-which-must-not-be-named must be neutralized!
All to say, it is a dangerous time of year.
Your affectionate uncle
With debt to C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters.
James Emery White is the founding and senior pastor of Mecklenburg Community Church in Charlotte, N.C., and the ranked adjunctive professor of theology and culture at Gordon-Conwell Theological Seminary, which he also served as their fourth president. His latest book is What They Didn’t Teach You in Seminary (Baker). To enjoy a free subscription to the Church and Culture blog, log on to www.churchandculture.org, where you can post your comments on this blog, view past blogs in our archive and read the latest church and culture news from around the world. Follow Dr. White on Twitter @JamesEmeryWhite.