In my attempt to write letters as C.S. Lewis did in his collection of The Screwtape Letters, it was easier to imagine what I thought demons would say, than how I thought C.S. Lewis would write. My writings are just a brush stroke where Lewis wrote murals. But their purpose is, as C.S. Lewis wrote in the preface of Screwtape, “to throw light from a new angle on the life of men.” I began writing, throwing light from a new angle on my own life, without a “particular spiritual theme” as instructed in the course syllabus, but one quickly emerged: Identity.


My dear Wormwood,

You see now (obviously you don’t and that is part of the problem) what dwelling on frivolous issues can bring? Your patient continues to find her footing and you do not know why. It is no good taking things away, as you tried with the destruction of certain belongings. Even the remorse of broken objects can elude to things more greatly missed by the bipeds. Remember, they are living a broken life removed from what would be – I shuddered to speak it – perfect. Every reminder should be avoided like life itself. Our goal is to hasten the breaking of life, until it becomes death. Your attempts may only bring the haunting reminder that the life lived is a shadow of her real life to come, if the Enemy triumphs and she becomes fully His.

Do not continue with such frivolousness. The more that is removed from the patient’s hands will lessen her need and preoccupation with busyness. It only allows for more freedom of mind and that cannot do us any good. The thing to do is make the object an object of affection, not the affection that ensues once the object is broken and missed, but the affection that directs the patient to want more of the same. Not only one bright idol, but an entire showcase of them to hold the patient’s affection and attention. To the point that if one does become broken, it hardly matters to her at all.

I mentioned freedom of mind. This is a vacuous trap. You see the emptiness as your success, but you have never been closer to utter uselessness. When her mind is silent she has nothing to listen to except “the still small voice” that conquers all. Your assignment is to create a clamor of demands that edge out any opportunity for a willful approach to hear.  Even the Enemy’s silence can be heard if her mind becomes quiet enough.

Now I am letting you know more than you can grasp, for even I cannot say I know the workings of our Enemy to this conclusion. Our Father keeps such mysteries hidden for his own reason. At least we can be sure that His High Command knows the Enemy and His ways enough to ensure this victory – with your continued devotion. Report back to me with the effects of your reversed strategy at once.

Your affectionate uncle

Screwtape

My dear Wormwood,

Your curiosity with the tears of your patient gives credence to your sophomoric understanding which I mentioned previously. Yes, your patient’s tears tell of the sorrow you increased by removing certain belongings. But tears do not replace the clamor that I require of you to repel the silence. Tears impregnate silence, giving it voice. Tears almost always represent some sort of question, one that we cannot attempt to understand let alone try to answer. We want to avoid questions, as much as her inclination to hear answers.

Silence accompanied by tears is almost as critical as “speaking in tongues.” This sort of activity bypasses whatever effort we are making to hijack the human mind. Luckily for our cause, few humans resort to such activity. Distraction is your main objective! Get her to feel silly about the tears, and therefore whatever questions she may have asked and – Our Father forbid – any answers would become silly, too. Compel her to look in the mirror at herself. This vision of human suffering generally brings sudden end to tears. It is as if they see a glimmer of the foolishness of their sorrow, when others previously like themselves suffer true torment at Our Father’s hands.

You are spending too much time reacting. The cart is before the horse. Initiate more and see if you can get your patient to follow. You are exhausting yourself, when you should be exhausting your patient.

Your affectionate uncle

Screwtape

My dear Wormwood,

Yes, you have had some affect by enticing your patient to find amusement with her work counterparts. As we know, association breeds likeness, as our association likens you to me. Hopefully your patient’s likeness will assume more swiftly than your own.

Have you researched just what sort of fellows she is in for? Is there a follower of the Enemy among them? Do not appeal to your first impressions. Followers of the Enemy rarely stand out as peculiar when first associated with. It is their custom to blend in, which is easy to do since a fine line separates them from other humans. Guard your patient from any such association. The fine line is as easy for her to cross as it was for any other. The Enemy has made it so. Any difficulty the Enemy took on himself. Only Our Father seems to relegate his followers to grave responsibility for their actions.

Do not say that I am complaining. Self-responsibility for a place in eternity is one of the stalwart hopes for humans as well as demons. If we could have anything in common at all, this might be it. The difference is, while they would believe their every attempt lands them closer to Heaven, they are only on the road to our Place without the Enemy’s interference.

So make sure no one interferes. Look closely at her associates and guard her from influences that would make us prefer her silent tears. “The Enemy speaks through sole silence and an array of asses,” as our guide book states. You cannot afford casual observance now that you have arranged this distraction. I would say well done, but this minor step is not enough to secure its outcome.

Your affectionate uncle

Screwtape

My dear Wormwood,

At last you have shown some ability at success. Your last report indicated you have perhaps understood, finally, what I have meant by distraction. Now, your patient is falling into bed not with eternal questions, but with anxiety about what her cohorts think of her. These are not the questions of “What is my purpose” and “Does God really exist” which invade her silence. In fact, her desire to define herself by the thoughts of others is not a question at all. It is a sentence. She has doomed herself to vacillation. Now, instead of becoming more solid, more truly human in its sacredness, she becomes more fluid and undefined, as water dilutes a luscious myrrh, violating its original aroma. This is a very worthy distraction, an unending supply of quandary. Since the human will live forever one way or the other, her quest for other’s approval could last a lifetime! You have moved on from the destruction of belongings, which have fleeting moments of concern, to the construction of personal image built upon the presupposed critique of others.

This is a double jeopardy for the patient. You see, not only will she be exerting effort and energy to contort herself to the pleasure of others – her critics, who are fluid themselves and fickle, will regularly change their view of her. This course has the propensity to circle around and around creating a cesspool of regurgitated self-preoccupation. Your patient becomes the focus of all her thoughts. What others think of her and what she thinks about others’ thoughts of her becomes the hub.

In the other Spirituality, what they call Christianity after the Great Interferer, our Enemy sits at the Center of his followers’ lives. From there all thoughts are cleansed and brought “into obedience” – meaning the patient begins to think and understand clearly, especially about who she truly is and who the true God is. You have her far from that now. Better she wades through the muck of self-image and men pleasing to her own destruction.

Do you see what vision I have? Try to imitate the path I have devised from your meager beginning. What you thought was a simple evening’s worth of bother for your patient is really a new way of life (or death) if handled properly. Make sure you do so.

Your affectionate uncle

Screwtape

My dear Wormwood,

I shouldn’t have assumed you would grasp the analogy of the human as “solid” or “fluid.” Being neither – and without the slightest bit of imagination – you are confounded. Lest your confusion disarm you in this battle for your patient’s eternal residence I will dare to explain. Our battle is for the Center. This is news to you since you are kept busy in the peripheral skirmishes surrounding your patient. This is your duty – and it is mine to make sure your victories move us toward this final triumphant ownership. Not that we can actually own it, but we can make sure that the Enemy never does.

Currently, and we shall see how successfully, your patient has occupied her Center bothering about herself. Her image, as defined by the assessment of others, is from where her identity radiates. As I wrote in my last letter, this spinning of who she is and how she spends her strength waters her down to a vaporous fluid, almost to the point of steam. You, my dear Wormwood,  must see past the earthiness of her human form (though even that is made in the Enemy’s image) and glimpse the macromolecule of her inner core, if you will, that appends to the human flesh its subterranean spirituality.

I will try another angle, though somewhat perilously. Can you doubt my devotion to your success when I take such hazard upon myself? So, here it is. If the Enemy occupies her Center, and her every thought cleansed and obedient to Him as I mentioned before, she will become more of who she is – this macromolecule giving birth to her immaculate perfection. She will become who she was created to be, more solid – until we can feel her divinity in every breath. If nothing else I have said pricks you into action, this must.

And now I have divulged the seriousness of the game. The mere mention of the Enemy in this sense has cast His shadow, if Light can become a shadow, over our intent. Please go and mind your patient. The Enemy must be active, else the writings in this epistle would not seem so exposed.

Your affectionate uncle

Screwtape

My dear Wormwood,

Let me bring you back to your immediate goal. It is good that you have received my tutorial on the deeper intentions of our purpose, but don’t let them muddle your activity with the doings of your patient. Small victories can lead to final defeat.

Is she still preoccupied with her self-image? Then she should be as concerned with who occupies her Center as I want you to be. Forget about it. There are places no angel – even a low angel – dare to tread, and this business about her inner core is one of them. We could in our haste wake her to her own emptiness once again. It always returns to this. It is as if the Enemy made the humans with a part of themselves missing, so that not only do they need to generate – but the Generator Himself must first be restored to His proper place – a place that aches with more ferocity than our own vicious desire. But this is grandiose  speculation.

I read from your account the list of activities with which your patient is consuming herself. Is activity number five describing a charitable excursion – a type of community service with her cohorts? Generally we avoid any attempt by the patient at charity, but this can be good if it leads to self-focus once again. For often humans will “do for others” not for others but for the sake of the doing – again hoping it brings them one more step toward Heaven but can actually lead to our Place. Take every caution to pattern this self-sacrifice after her Self –  as if any good she could do really affects the human plight. I should be able to arrange with Pulpsip, who princes over these lower dregs, an encounter that will disgust her. I will have Pulpsip choose a human creature that will repulse her senses with its haggard form of putrescence. Every attempt she makes to serve will be engulfed in haughty pride. Even serving some lumpy potatoes that have stood too long in the pot will seem like the greatest of favors. Nothing better than other humans to help create a facsimile of godliness. Keep her thinking how much better off she is than these poor scum. Have her wonder what they may have done to deserve such a fate. A brief overview of her own life will detect no such magnitude of sin. Let her consider how wide the gulf is between herself and the ingrate, when the fact is, this consideration alone coats her own soul in garbage – garbage we may be soon able to collect.

I will contact Pulpsip at once.

Your affectionate uncle

Screwtape

My dear Wormwood,

I have forgotten my own advice. By commanding Pulpsip to enjoin the haggard creature with your patient I perhaps assumed too much. My admission is of no consequence – since if the Enemy prevails my secret will be kept. The fact that the haggard creature somehow was one with her Creator threw the advantage to the Enemy. See, I told you not to rely on first impressions! We must discount her testimony. Even though she spoke of things which echo in the core of your patient, we can counteract. Her appearance once again is our platform of rejection. If we can get your patient to reject the haggard creature because of how she looks, the Message will be rejected as well. “I am not as needy as her. She needs a crutch to lift her up. It is reasonable for a creature like her to be extreme about God, because she is in extreme need – but I am not.” This is what we are looking for now.

But I am bothered. We have spent a great deal of time concerning your patient with her image and the judgments of others. That she is now being haunted by the memory of one so unattractive in every way imaginable, yet who offered her some hope is by no accident. The Enemy is indeed at work. Do not make light of this possibility. Only when the patient is nearing conversion do I express myself so boldly. We like to assume the advantage until to do so jeopardizes our victory. Extreme tactics must be used to abort any extreme thoughts on the part of your patient about the Enemy.

We could go in another direction. Find a way to unite your patient’s self-image with her memory of the haggard creature. I would enlist you to maim her, but that tactic may not get by enemy territory when His blockades are up as they must be now. Still, you must try.

It may be time to destroy not just one of her belongings, but all of them. A fire which destroys property and possessions can reek havoc on a human’s identity. Picture her in borrowed mismatched clothes in a tattered cold hotel room, mourning for stuff and nonsense which can make self-righteousness bloom from the ashes. If she can identify with the hag’s outward appearance, there may be no reason for her to investigate the matters churning within her spiritually. This distraction may – Our Father help us – throw her out into darkness – but it may just as well throw her into the Light.

We are in a risky business. I usually keep the measure of its volatility from you, but it is at great cost that you continue. Someone must die. Let’s hope it is your patient while her residency at our Place still awaits.

Your affectionate uncle

Screwtape

My dear Wormwood,

You are right to be so transfixed, holding yourself motionless in terror. “For the devils also believe and tremble,” (the last point in our guide book has overcome us). You are obliged to offer in your defense, though it is no defense at all, that your patient is gone. This is no victory, she has not vaporized into nothingness – quite the opposite – she is on solid footing and her identity is in Him. There is no use reminding you about the Center, we are past that now.

Remember someone must die? Pointing to the sacrifice of the Great Interferer will only bring down terror with more vengeance. That is not only death you see in His interfering relinquishment, it is the transformation of death into Life. He fulfills the requirement of the Enemy for any patient who comes to cross the fine line – and once across, He releases them to be fully human and eternally changed. This mystery leaves all angels, high or low, stooped in wonder.

So now, let your terror mixed with wonder lead you to me. It is time for your identity to assume more swiftly into mine than we had at first imagined. Your desire to pursue frivolity has taken its course. I will explain more when we are joined together. Report to me at once. This correspondence is complete – yet I remain,

Your affectionate uncle

Screwtape

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