By WCS Headmaster Dr. Roger Erdvig
In the 1940s, C. S. Lewis wrote his famous "Screwtape Letters" as a clever means to equip Christians to guard against the wiles of the evil one. In the spirit and style of Lewis' imagined correspondence between a senior demon (Screwtape), and his young tempter-protege (Wormwood), I wrote a new entry on how high school graduates can spot and defend against attacks from the evil one. In this "newly discovered" Screwtape Letter, I imagine how an experienced demon would advise an apprentice on how to trip up a recent Christian school graduate.
Note: I have no intention of telling you how I came upon this secret correspondence between what seems to be a more senior demon and his junior apprentice. The text of the letter leads me to believe that the senior demon is responsible for instructing the younger on the art of temptation and how to win an individual over to the evil one. You must keep in mind that when the writer is referring to “our enemy,” he is referring to God, and when referring to “our father below,” he is talking about Satan himself.
My Dear Wormwood,
Congratulations on your assignment to your new patient. I trust you will be much more vigilant in following my directives on this one than you were with the last, who I must remind you again, escaped your grasp and is now firmly in the hands of the enemy. Frankly, I am amazed that your punishment was not more significant than it was… but that’s a subject for another day. On to the business at hand.
Your new patient is ideal for a young, inexperienced tempter as yourself. Actually, I can’t think of a better one on whom you can practice, and perhaps renew your standing with me. She is what the filthy two-legged animals call a “high school graduate,” and they are pathetically easy to confound and confuse. Yes, I am aware that she attended a Christian school, but that can actually play to our advantage. I have often seen where humans who attended Christian schools develop a very desirable habit, at least for our purposes: they tend to skip along blindly, relying on their parents' or their teachers’ connection to the enemy, instead of knowing him for themselves, all the while not even realizing they are living in our clutches. In this way, they practically do all of the work for us. But, don’t get too lazy. You still must exert much effort to win her over to our father’s side.
In the immediate future, it is imperative that you remind your patient that she is now an adult, and can finally make all of her own decisions, a state of being that she has been longing for, for most of her life. From choosing between oatmeal or Lucky Charms to choosing their friends to demanding to go out when and where they want, all adolescent humans lust for complete independence. Therefore, at all costs, you must continually engineer her circumstances to promote the feeling that she is now in control of her own life and that she should relish the normal accompanying sense of “rights and prerogatives” that supposedly come automatically with adulthood.
You see, just a few days ago your patient couldn’t do anything without her mother’s or father’s permission, and now that she is a graduate, she is technically an adult, and is therefore, at least in her mind, free of such childish constraints. Make her feel wiser than she actually is. And above all, do not let her seek the counsel of those who are older than her. This season is a glorious window of opportunity, where you can induce her to make all kinds of poor decisions, if only you can manage to keep her making them on her own.
You mentioned in your preliminary report that your patient was planning to attend one of our colleges. That’s good, but do not bank on that being a fail-safe plan to keep her out of the enemy’s camp. Certainly, highly esteemed demons lower than you and I in our father’s lower-archy have done much to control human universities, and have in the last century finally succeeded in virtually casting out the enemy from the classroom. Many of the very institutions founded to promote knowledge of the enemy have now made that knowledge unacceptable. Infantile. Unfashionable. And my favorite, intolerant. For this monumental accomplishment, they are to be celebrated. I am continually amazed at their success in getting a simple little work of fiction about the origins of human life to be so influential. But, I digress…
Here I must warn you that our universities have, despite our general control, for some inexplicable reason, become seed-beds for tiny strongholds of the enemy—those detestable small groups of disciples who seek to encourage and facilitate spiritual growth (of the sort the enemy prizes) in the students. By all means, keep her away from all such groups, and keep her attention on her classes, and impressing her professors, and in building her reputation as a smart, witty, urbane young lady, even though she possesses nothing of true intellect or understanding.
Speaking of which, you seem to have learned nothing from your deplorable experience with your last patient. Do you not remember how dangerous it is when the humans think? You mistakenly assumed that all so-called deep thinking could be used in our service, and you, therefore, allowed him to think to such an extent that he began to actually consider the “real meaning of life.” (Of course, what would I expect from such a novice as you?)
Get this point very clearly impressed on your immature mind: all true thinking and human reasoning are to be discouraged. It is common enough knowledge that deep thoughts are fertile ground in which the enemy can plant some of his most subversive ideas in our patients’ minds. Keep your patient on the surface of things. Lead her to follow her “heart” instead of well-reasoned arguments. Shallow is better, I say! Yes, I know that some have followed the path of deep thinking straight into hell, but the small gains we’ve seen from the tactic of genuine thinking are hardly worth the risk of losing even one more to the enemy through the same route. Any time your patient begins to think deeply about anything, distract her. Cause her to become addicted to noise and Netflix or boys or video games or music or trite discussions or smallish activity or anything but true contemplation.
If you heed my counsel, I’m sure your first follow-up report to me will be of the sort I like to see, and that your patient will be quite well along the road towards our father’s house.
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