My dear Wormwood,

I write to warn you of a most strange turn of events. It seems that there is an impostor out there claiming to be me who has recently written to you through the iPad of one Louie Crew Clay (“Plumbing Protocols of Anglican Hospitality”). He goes on and on about the Anglicans and how some of the actions taken at their recent Primates’ Meeting delight him. He even has the gall to identify the Episcopal Church’s struggle for sexual liberation with that wretched Paul’s struggle so long ago against the circumcision party in Jerusalem, as if Paul would ever be a help to Our Father Below.

As you well know, Paul’s words about sex — that most disgusting of gifts that the Enemy has given to humanity — have long flummoxed Our Father, for Paul says simultaneously that sex is one of the greatest goods of the human experience and that it has specific purposes that align it with the love of the Enemy and therefore restrict its usage. I remind you that our goal is to make our patients believe one or the other: either that sex is a casual, fun activity with no purposes outside of the ones that an individual couple assign to it, in which case they drown themselves in it, or we make them believe that sex is bad by its very nature, in which case their marriages become stagnant and less fruitful, subverting the Enemy’s so-called “purposes in creation.” Either result suits Our Father Below, but we must tread carefully around these pleasures the Enemy has given to humans.

Of course, perhaps I ought to be thanking this impostor, since he certainly seems interested in promoting some of our aims. I recall, nephew, that in your last letter you mentioned that your patient has been spending far too much time of late contemplating his own sins, expressing sorrow for them, and meditating on the so-called victory that the Enemy achieved on the Cross. This is very bad indeed. If he spends too much time with the Cross in his sight, he will be lost to us for sure. But the beauty of this new type of Christianity in the Episcopal Church and other small American sects is that it has all the trappings of the Christian faith without any of the substance. As their own former presiding bishop said a few years ago, some Episcopalians even welcome devils like you and me and celebrate us for our “spiritual gifts.” We have finally achieved the goal for which we have striven for so many years, as I wrote to you before our successes in the humans’ “Second World War,” when you were but a Junior Tempter: the humans acknowledge our presence and celebrate it. Our work is nearly complete.

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But listen to the impostor’s words and note his clever use of what the humans call sarcasm, a dastardly form of double-speak in which one says the opposite of what one means for comedic effect (a device that is by nature a perfect tool for us, though the Enemy does have a way of sometimes turning it upside down and using it to his own advantage). The impostor says,

We can expect the bishops to give far less time to the Enemy’s protocols of feeding the hungry, caring for the sick, rescuing refugees and distributing the Enemy’s bounty justly! Ha ha!

Through this double-speak, the impostor suggests that since the Anglican primates care so much about what the Bible says about sex, clearly they must not be at all concerned about what the Bible says about caring for those in need. You hear the delicious fallacy in that, don’t you? The assumption is that if they care about one part of their Scripture, they must not care about another. There can only be one. Either a Christian can care about the poor or care about his own holiness. You see how marvelous this is?

From there, it is just a hop, skip, and a jump to getting one to forget about the Cross entirely. I urge you to make your patient one of these Episcopalians: this is especially the beauty of the new sub-religion in the Episcopal Church that is being called the “Jesus Movement.” Admittedly, some of the devotees of this new Movement are lost to us: they are so cravenly devoted to the Enemy and his Son to be of no use to us. I cannot bear to tell you of Slubgob’s failures to subvert the new Presiding Bishop, despite attacking his health and corrupting some of his associates. (You’d expect more from the former head of the Tempters’ Training College, but I have told you often of his uselessness to our Cause.)

On the other hand, some practitioners of the new sub-religion are pained even to say the name of the Enemy’s Son: almost as pained as you and me. We must do everything in our power to support this faction. For them, the “Jesus Movement” does not actually have much to do with the Enemy. It is concerned with what he taught about helping those in need or loving others, so long as that act of loving others does not involve restricting their freedom to develop their own unique “spiritual journey.” But it is not concerned at all with what he spent most of his time talking about, his own person and his death for the forgiveness of sins.

Therefore, if your patient must be a Christian, encourage him to go to the sort of church where this “Jesus Movement” is promoted day and night but almost nothing is ever taught about “Christianity.” The more your patient thinks he is doing what the Enemy commands him to do, the less he will worry about what the Enemy has done for him and is willing to give him for free. For this reason, you must also keep him at all costs from the preaching of the Episcopalians’ new leader: he will hear about the Enemy and his Son and about forgiveness so often that he might become curious. I shudder to think of the effect upon our armies.

Similarly, there is a danger in allowing your patient to read the impostor’s letter because of the favorable if confused reference to that wretched Apostle Paul. If your patient takes away from this that it would be a good idea actually to read what Paul says (rather than relying on the highly educated and important people we have placed in the academy and on the Rolodex of television documentarians to tell him what Paul means), that would be a disaster. Worse still would be if he followed the thread back even further and read the things that the Enemy’s Son actually said about life, death, and resurrection, not to mention what he says about sex and the body. If that happens, your patient may escape entirely from our grasp.

On second thought: probably best to keep him away from any church if you can, Wormwood, for you know what will happen to you if you fail.

Your Affectionate Uncle,

Screwtape

 


 

Featured image via P.W. Hatcher. 

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