For the character and lessons of Screwtape I am forever indebted to C.S. Lewis and his remarkable ability to challenge me and creep me out. In his The Screwtape Letters, Lewis recounts the demon Screwtape’s instructions to his nephew and subordinate demon regarding the temptation of a British man during World War II. What would Screwtape write today?
My dear Brimstone,
Do not weep and gnash your teeth in such great protest! It is most demeaning and unfounded. You fear your Patient’s resolve to “change the world around him.” I see a chance to coordinate with several of your fellow tempters. You see victory for The Enemy in the animal’s desire. I see a path to increase for Our Father Below. It is quite difficult yet also unnecessary to directly break such a resolve. I would rather you expend your energy channeling it towards our purposes. If you succeed, may this pitiful creature never stop changing the world!
Since adding oversight of America to my dominion, I have been most impressed by your predecessor’s accomplishments. Even after falling into the clutches of The Enemy, so very many are still led to believe their work for Him is dependent on which animal is chosen to lead their government. If that is lost, so they believe, all is lost. This is to your advantage, and do not dare damage the position so many of us have worked so hard to achieve. Point his thoughts towards the power of government. Let him see hope for The Enemy in the “right” hands and the fear of us in the “wrong” hands (recall The Enemy’s disdain of fear). That is not to say this view is not true; instead, the goal is to narrow his focus too tightly. If you can distract his time, money, and anxiety with the binary choice between two creatures, he is less likely to notice the odious, vile things he and those like him can achieve together for The Enemy. Thus the damage is restricted by simple distraction without the admittedly more formidable task of outright falsehood. The danger cannot be overstated if he sees what else The Enemy has empowered him to do.
But we don’t stop at restricting the damage, do we? Perish the thought, young one. I am quite encouraged by the Patient’s slavish devotion to political causes you described in your last letter. Never forget that The Enemy takes as a personal insult any cause which eclipses Himself in the heart of humans, no matter the original intent. I have always imagined this is partly because, as their designer, even He must admit their flesh brains simply are unable to fully devote themselves to more than one thing at a time. You should constantly work to maintain a cause in the place in your Patient’s soul which The Enemy would claim as His (even better if the cause looks like Him so as to go unnoticed!). I am sure you salivate as I do at the mere thought of such a tasty appetizer. But a feast awaits the demon who presses onward! I have been advised that the animal the Patient supports has been most thoroughly compromised by our side. Grant to the Patient an unwavering eye for the failings and sins of anyone and everyone throughout the world. This seems counterintuitive but is only to set the trap. Just when he is about to notice the sins of his preferred animal, allow him to remember the words of The Enemy, that all humanity has sinned. Out of their fear of Light, too many a young demon has forgotten that the words of The Enemy are an invaluable tool in the hands of a talented tempter. At that precise moment of seeming peril, push fear of the other faction in order to excuse anything and everything in order to prop up his precious cause. In a heartbeat, not only are your previous failings in allowing the Patient to speak out against us erased, but your colleagues assigned to the unconverted will find new power. “If for some cause this man excuses things he has so soundly condemned before,” they will whisper, “what matters more to him: Washington or Heaven?” Imagine the exuberance of your colaborers! Imagine your name resounding in the feast halls of Hell! Press the attack, and do it now.
It will seem quite uncomfortable at first, but remember to disguise yourself as Light. Dress all your designs in the trappings of The Enemy. As I have often said before, nowhere do we tempt so successfully as on the very steps of the altar.
Yours in victory,