Monday, September 24, 2012

Dear Screwtape, Part VII

Read Chapter Seven of The Screwtape Letters here.

My Dear Screwtape,

I must complement your shrewd insight that our patients’ interest in psychoanalysis and science might eventually “emotionalise and mythologise” our existence among humanity yet simultaneously preserve their disbelief in God. Your lucid prophecy has been fulfilled before our very eyes. In the minds of many, “Beelzebub has a devil for me” is only a figure of speech for one’s personal problems, whether emotional, circumstantial, psychological, or physical. And the depersonalization of deity through our post-modern propaganda about Eastern Mysticism, Star-Wars Kabalism, and quantum physics fulfills your hope that humans will begin to describe the Enemy as a merely ambiguous “Life Force,” indeed, a useful tool of deception. Moreover, your keen admonition to “make the World an end and Faith a means” has been used effectively to bog down the church in time-consuming, passion-exhausting quagmires such as politics and dynastic eschatalogical fantasies. Just as you have suggested, these sensational substitutes have thus helped to subsume the more ominous spiritual and theological concerns of pure religion into the primarily material. But besides these devilishly effective devices, I find that your Seventh Epistle is fraught with a number of serious miscalculations.

For instance, you debate whether or not I should keep my patient ignorant of my existence. You suggest that this creates a double problem for us, a true dilemma. If humans do not believe in us, you worry that such disbelief will result in a loss of our aptitude to attack our patients through what you call “direct terrorism”; yet, on the other hand, you fear that if humans do believe in us that this will jeopardize our ability to make them materialistic. Really, now Uncle, do you think that changing humans into materialists is what we’re all about, much less haunting them through “direct terrorism”?

Certainly, I understand that the materialization of a god constitutes idolatry, and that humans must worship either God or Mammon, but your suggestion that our ultimate purpose is to turn our patients into materialists betrays your failure to understand either human nature or our mission. You see, we need actually do nothing to make humans materialists; they are such by nature. Perhaps materialism does have some indirect bearing upon our objectives. For instance, the idolatry of Israel at the foot of Sinai violated the Enemy’s First Prohibition that His people should have no other gods before Him; their idolatry also transgressed His Second Prohibition that forbade their attempts to replicate His likeness. But idolatry is nothing but Mammonism sanctified, a shadow cast by the wicked imaginations of the human heart. So I must remind you that the human tendency to materialize the Enemy and other gods is a phenomenon only accidentally and secondarily related to our primary strategies of spiritual seduction, deception, and perversion in order to corrupt humans’ imagination about the Enemy’s true nature.
You also are apparently confused about another key aspect of our mission, what you call “direct terrorism” (45). By “direct terrorism” I presume you mean frightening humans by overt revelation of our existence. Undoubtedly you are in error here. Your description of our mission sounds more like Halloween than Hell. We’ve never really been in the bug-a-boo business, nor have we been particularly interested in divulging our existence and identity to humans. Contrary to what you imply, humans’ disbelief in our existence is only slightly more advantageous to us than their belief in our existence, and under certain conditions humans’ belief in us is actually more beneficial to our strategy than disbelief. For instance, where belief in us exists among humans, we have seized the opportunity to greatly distort our true nature, description, and mission. Half the victory is camouflage and counterfeit. Technology has been especially helpful here as it has enabled some of our more popular media to bombard humans with sensational but distorted auditory and visual images of us. They now think our tongues are forked and not smooth, our countenances hideous and not beautiful. Even some of the Enemy's most popular writers have aided our efforts by following this errant path of distorting our likeness and misrepresenting our true nature and purpose.

As for your contention that the church is its weakest when it is small, the opposite has proven true, at least in this century. Weaving popular culture into religious fabric has created a comfortable coat of many colors that shrouds many would-be worshipers with the delusion that they are in the Enemy's camp. Our Father Below greatly admires this technique, both for its pleasing appearance and its soft texture. Even better, the Enemy calls it “filthy rags.” Indeed, we have broken through what was once a wide and high wall between our wilderness and the Enemy's garden, and sown many tare among the wheat.

So you see, dear Uncle, religion robed in the guises of social morality, political passion, psychoanalysis, science, and a media-hyped belief in us - such factors fit our plans like a glove. So don’t waste your energy endeavoring to make humans into materialists or squander your time trying to frighten them by twisting young girls’ heads off their torsos while spewing green vomit. Hell is all about comfort, you know.

    Your Affectionate nephew,

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