My Dear Wormwood,
I spoke in my last letter about your patient’s wider, non-Christian circle. I am pleased to hear that some of his dearest childhood friends are reactively, emotionally, and uncritically anti-Christian. This is very good for us. You must ensure that every opportunity to spend time with them is encouraged, and you must create in your patient a sense that he is “really himself,” around them. At the same time, magnify in his mind the various incongruous elements of his life in the local church—the out-of-date music, the aging congregation, and their neglect for whatever “issues” of the day seem important to him. Keep him from reading his Bible, and make the local news seem far more relevant. In this, and other ways, ensure that his focus on eternity is lost through distraction with the present.
What his angry friends don’t realize, but which Slimtrumpet and others have been labouring for years to create in both of them, is a sense of prejudice against the church. Prejudice does immense work on our behalf, for by it the case against the ‘church’ has been decided well in advance by many humans. We have accomplished this by highlighting through our Media Arm all the failures of the present church. (And I should acknowledge the excellent tempting work of that department which has orchestrated many of these media events.) The more images of the church as a failure that can be brought to their minds, the less likely they will be to give any real consideration to the church’s actual claims. This is a marvellous work of distraction. They, of course, are prevented from seeing the church in its eternal aspect, but more importantly they must not be allowed to think about the fact that a church which is full of humans will contain all the failures and foibles of humans. Importantly, they must not be allowed to think about the actual consequences of the Enemy’s claims about salvation. If once they do this, their prejudices may begin to crack, and we will be in danger of losing valuable souls.
Now, as regards your patient, prejudice is useful because it can be used to create shame in his sense of membership with the local church. Rather than attending to the real people and real spirituality of the community—as well as his part of obedience within and prayer for that community—you can bring to mind these scandalous evidences. Here’s an idea: see if there is an opportunity where one of the other churchgoers might commit some minor offence against your patient. Then slip into his head the thought, “I guess the church is just like I expected it.” Now thinking has stopped, and prejudice has begun, and we are on a winning track.
Additionally, prejudice can be made to further cripple the patient’s willingness to speak about his faith with outsiders. Enmeshed in our media-driven story about the nature of the church, you can keep him perpetually tongue-tied, so that at the first mention of an abuse or a reported wrong in the church, he loses all confidence. Keep his attention on that embarrassment, and he won’t have a chance to remember that the church claims to be a place of forgiveness, that he himself fails, and that the life he claims to have found is something he truly wants to share with his friends.
Your affectionate uncle,
Letter 1 (The Spirituality of Covid)
Letter 2 (The Allure of Acceptance)
I like the latest edition.
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Good morning Jeremy, when I am prompted to supply my email to sign into my Mustard Seed, I provide it and then it says I am not a member. So I tried my other email account and it says I am not a member at which point I think that is strange. Why am I getting notifications of your new Screwtape letters and yet am not a member? So then I look for other ways to provide a comment.
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