Wormwood Replies - Letter 2
My Dear Uncle Screwtape,
I’m not so naïve that I would overlook some of the notes you had schooled me with before. I do appreciate your insights. Please be reassured, I don’t let the humans dwell too much on one thing that would lead to them being too self-reflective. This notion of sin, as you pointed out, is one such example. I am aware that if given enough time for examination, they will realize our narrative of all sin being equal is actually a farce. I stifle my laughter when I see them regurgitate the lie the moment one of their beloved leaders is caught in a scandal. We have successfully hidden the truth: some sins are more heinous than others. If we let them examine the assumption that a great sin is as offensive as a small sin, they may realize it is quite paradoxical. Are they to assume, then, that a small sin is as terrible as the great? Of course not.
In any case, your response to my last letter was very insightful. Simply put, when “battling” pornography and addiction the air gets sucked out of the room. All their attention shifts toward this one topic. Their conferences, prayer groups, books, and discussions are all directed toward transgressions of this kind, while my own work, to which I referred in my last letter, remains unnoticed. They’re unwitting enslavement to social media lies nested, camouflaged somewhere between their greatest concerns and their beloved vices. The same could be said for my own department, too. If they finally wise up and become aware of our attacks and influence, we are prepared to shift our direction and focus. Think of gluttony, for example. Not only is it an iniquity listed by the enemy, it is one that is celebrated by these humans, particularly in America and throughout the west. Their abundance of food and excess leads them to ignore gluttony, sometimes even praise it! This is a safe inversion of reality which will remain untouched for decades, I imagine. You once wrote to me about this, if you recall.
I did intend to tell you, uncle, about one facet of my work I left unmentioned. It is remarkable the speed at which we can now operate. In previous years, indeed, previous centuries, our tempters had to be consistent and unyielding in their attacks, particularly between members of the church. One might write a treatise expounding upon the goodness or greatness of the enemy and it would take months for another to respond. As far as I am aware, we offered no resistance to their theology which was already skewed. Why attack what’s already working in our favor? It was the inter-church disagreements which were harder to entice. If one member was at odds with another for something primary, essential to their dogma, we would attack ferociously. But kindling the fire over the course of months is much harder to do. It was slow, then. One would receive the tract, treatise, book or whatever and read it. He could not respond right away, even if he wanted to. The most prolific of their writers would still take time for their rivals’ words to saturate. In so doing, they very seldom wrote primarily out of anger in their rebuttals and rejoinders. Others would look over what they prepared in response while their arguments were teased out, sharpened, brought to fruition and then, finally, after months, maybe a few weeks at the earliest, it would be sent off. If we knew the damage that might be done by them sharpening their theology we could still hope for the delivery to not take place. Illness brought by disease and unsanitary conditions was on our side in yesteryear, though it now is less dependable. The times are shifting back into our favor, though. Allow me to share how.
Consider now, this. Where one correspondence and theological discussion took months, it now happens instantaneously. Why, the access one has in Europe is the same in North America, Africa, and elsewhere. With a few short strokes and the click of a button, it’s out there, never to be undone, retrieved, or retracted. Take, for example, the pastor I mentioned in my previous letter. Upon the news of his scandal, another pastor, no doubt jealous of the others’ previous success, seized this opportunity to deliver a fatal blow to his reputation. While others were reeling in shock, another one across the country, was scheming and constructing a pointed criticism. No doubt, the hope for that pastor’s restoration is bleak. The absence of thoughtfulness of one resulted in a deficiency of charity for another. When the filtering of thoughts has been removed, so has the quality control of their communication. Anyone can say anything, and they do! Our efforts are devoted toward those with a guise of accountability. These “discernment” ministries which operate under one of local churches are notorious for picking easy fights; thus, we rarely need to deal with them. But those church members and pastors who have at least a semblance of a reputation for being slow to respond are the high value targets. Their coalitions can be more difficult to infiltrate, particularly when they emplace statements of faith, editors, and oversight. But we can count on one thing: speed.
Everyone wants to be the first to respond. For them it is regrettable, for us it is necessary, that such a scandal warrants a response with speed. Even their best alliances of regulation are at risk to get things wrong. We keep feeding their appetites to feast on more news, more scandals, more corruption, and its harvest is even better than the despair you write about, Uncle. It is a crop of cynicism. They expect scandals of their so-called “pure” church. It is our duty and privilege to soil her reputation in the face of the enemy. When these humans expect the church to be hypocritical long enough, their previous notions are traded for skepticism and apathy. This is the ripe attitude and posture of their hearts, and I am pleased in the most. This era of technology has exponentially multiplied the speed and lack of control they once had over their words. Their actions now betray that which they are supposed to be held captive to, the Word.
Your most malevolent nephew,
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