Series: The Screwtape Letters (3 of 6)


In honor of The Screwtape Letters, with apologies to C.S. Lewis:

Dear Nubbins,

Now that we’ve discussed old vs. new believers, it’s time to talk tactics. Remember Rules 2 & 4 —  you must be relentless in your quest and invisible in form. Do not make the mistake of Slimfang, who let himself be glimpsed by his charge alone in his bedroom at night. Fool! The man was scared straight into church, and attended “religiously” for two years. Humans must not think there is anything amiss,  that there is no spirit world and that they alone are the masters of their fate.

Our fathers were trained on a steady diet of immorality, theft, substance abuse, violence and greed. Many of these are still popular, depending on the human – immorality certainly hasn’t gone out of fashion. But the new millennium lends itself to newer, better schemes.

Why use sin when leisure is so much easier? And you will find that distraction brings all the benefits of depravity, and with half the effort – or detection on the human’s behalf.

Busyness and accomplishment are two of my favored tools – it has never been so easy to exhaust a charge as in the modern day. And exhaustion leads to frustration, and frustration to despair. With any luck you can leave your human completely unaware of the transition between the three. At the least, you can render him or her tired and distractedly useless at their post in our Rival’s infantry.

Use technology to cram in so much stimulation that his mind is numb at the end of the day. Keep them completely occupied with anything other than thoughts of our Rival. Keep them over scheduled and miserable, so that they are like a frayed rope. With little inducement, they will snap at those they love and lash out at those who slightly irritate them, falling asleep desolate and dejected at the end of the day – hating themselves for it, but unable to control it – far before thoughts of prayer enters their mind. Teach them to skip church in the name of “me time,” to schedule themselves so thin there is no time to contemplate their fellow man – let alone acknowledge him, to run like – what’s the phrase? – mice in a wheel, never realizing that the only way out is to actually stop running. Like a pile of dominos, you can sit back and watch even the most extraordinary humans fall apart.

When it comes to causing dissolution, why use negatives when you can use positives? Our Rival delights in sending humans blessings – let us corrupt them for our cause. Let him place trust in those – his family, friends, offspring, lifestyle – so that he never sees it coming when tragedy strikes or circumstances collapse. Does he have a pleasing job? Let him wrap his identity in it. Does she have kids? Let her worship them until her life revolves around their happiness and health. If she is too smart for this, let it at least occupy all his or her time – job, family, vacations, hobbies – so there is little margin for thoughts of our Rival and no margin for error.

When deciding how best to ruin a human charge, you will find the best approach in deciding which card to play is generally not to show our cards at all.