Thursday, June 10, 2010

The Leerwort Letters (My own attempt at the Screwtape Letter Genre)

Doing versions of the Screwtape Letters is to take an awful risk as a writer.  CS Lewis did have a great insight into the human heart and how the devil hoped to deceive us away from God.  Most of us don't have either that insight or the talent to express that insight in writing, and the result is it reads like an argument made by a Christian with a few cosmetic changes to make it sound like the Screwtape Letters. 

I suspect my own attempt will come much closer to one of the failed attempts to mimic the genre, but I thought it is a topic I thought I should approach: The temptation of the faithful Christian into rebellion without even realizing it.

So, for better or for worse (most likely the latter) here is my own attempt at the genre.

My Dear Casketgnaw,

You seem to have put your foot in it when it came to assignments being passed out today. You managed to complain loudly that your because your patient was a conservative and a faithful Christian therefore you were being set up to fail. It’s bad enough that you embarrassed yourself with such a foolish statement. It’s worse because being my former student at the Tempter’s Academy, you managed to make it look like I’ve taught you nothing.

So it seems I will have to give you an overview of the fundamentals you somehow failed to learn while in Tempters School.

Just because a person is pious doesn’t mean they are untouchable. The only people we have been unable to touch were our Enemy and the creature He used to be His mother. Everyone else, we can crack if we just think about how to exploit their weaknesses. You think Conservative Christians are a tough nut to crack? Just look at the phrase “conservative Christian” and you will see a wedge you can use to separate the patient from the Enemy.  "Christian" is a belief which the Enemy wants to affect all other preferences the patient has.  We want the Patient to judge "Christianity" by "Conservative" just as we want our liberal patients to judge "Christianity" by "Liberalism."

So, my dear former pupil, it matters not whether the patient is Catholic or Buddhist, Conservative or Liberal. Our job is to turn their head to look at things in the way we want them to see and once we get them into the habit of putting their own wants first; to discourage them from thinking they could be wrong.

Like with every other patient we’ve had since Adam and Eve, we want them to think their wants are the only good there is, and where there is a difference, the Church must be wrong. We want them prideful. We want to lead them to think that they can’t be in error, so in any conflict, the one challenging them must be in error.

You’ll have some good resources to help with this of course. Your patient is a Catholic.  According to the case file of your patient, he is young and zealous for the faith and has come to understand that the Church he is in is indeed the Church the enemy has established. These things, if left unattended can indeed lead him into the Enemy’s camp so we can have no grasp on him once he changes from death to life.

However, because he is young and zealous, we can misdirect both to our own ends.  We have had some success in guiding some of our other patients within the Enemy's church to do some foolish things which will scandalize your own patient.  All they need to do is to look at the news accounts of a priest who abuses the Enemy’s Mass; the nun who is a lesbian feminist, the theologian who claims that it is being true to that hated Vatican Council II (We had to work hard to make it ineffectual) to do the opposite of what the Council says.

With these scandals, we then can lead them to think “I’m not that way!” Then we can guide them to the unspoken conclusion that “therefore what I think should be is the true teaching of the Church.”

Remember, the young are not like the old. With the old we encourage them “not to make waves,” or to see so many sides to the story that they lose sight of the Enemy’s side of the story. With the young we want to appeal to their sense of justice and lead them to a view which is very unjust indeed when looking at others.  When he prays, we want his prayers to become like the Pharisee in the Enemy's parable: "O God, I thank you that I am not like the rest of humanity—greedy, dishonest, adulterous—or even like this tax collector."

So don’t waste your time appealing to his baser instincts… that’s not to say it won’t work.  (He does have a girlfriend after all… though she too is trying to be faithful to the enemy, and any unrepented mortal sin works for us).  It's just that you don’t need to make him a hedonist to bring him into our clutches. Rather, use them in a way compatible with his views: lead him to the view that so many people out there are hedonists and seem to suffer no consequences for doing so. Now, unless he has some compulsions to exploit, you won’t make him into a public sinner. But you can exploit his own desires and lead him to think “Something must be done!”

Once you have your patient realizing “something must be done” we can nudge him to notice that his church is not handling it in the way he would prefer, and whisper to him that it shows the church is not doing what the Enemy wants.

It is true that often our best strategies are to hide the fact that we exist. However in this kind of case, it often helps to make it known we do exist and make it seem we are to blame for the church action the patient does not like.

We can exploit this "arguing in a circle" to our benefit, getting our patient to think that what he thinks should be done is the Enemy's will is the first step.  Leading him to think that any difference between his view and the actions of the Church (and you should always suggest that it is the Enemy's Church and not some of the useful idiots within who does the wrong things he is offended by) indicates the Enemy's Church is controlled by our useful idiots and by us should be very successful.

This will have the added benefit that when the patient's political views or personal situation runs afoul of the Church (and at times they will… that's the beauty of Our Father Below's attack on that Adam and Eve… concupiscence makes them want to be selfish), they will judge the Enemy's Church as following our dictates, forgetting the Enemy's promise that we would never prevail against it (we will someday!) and never consider the possibility of their own situation being at odds with the Enemy.

Next time you’re down Below, go swing by and visit where Donatus is roasting away. He was a person who was vigorous in defense of the Church, yet we have him now. You want to know why?

We got him to think his view of what the Enemy's Church should be was The Enemy's view of what the Church should be, and he ended up condemning and defying the Enemy's Church for laxity and heresy. Isn’t that fun? He and his were so worked up about the Pope readmitting those patients back into the Church who they thought should be kept out, that he denied the authority of the Church when it went against them!

Don't get carried away however.  You don't need to make your patient a schismatic. So long as he thinks the difference between himself and the official teaching of the Enemy's Church to be our infiltration of the Enemy's Church, we can deafen him to the Enemy trying to steal him away from us.

But always remember the first fundamental step: Always lead the patient to think that what he wants is right, and when the Church challenges that, the Church must be wrong.  In doing so, you can deceive both the hedonist who hate's the enemy and the Enemy's servant alike.



Your Instructor, Leerwort

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