either our esteemed training establishment has gone downhill badly, and you have no idea of the disaster you’re facing, or you have learnt your lessons in Stealth and Subterfuge all too well. What do you mean she’s joined a church group?? Did you think I wouldn’t notice that sentence thrown innocuously into the middle of a whole three pages of twaddle and nonsense? And if you’re drawing on those lessons from Professor Hellgang in Deception 101to hide things from me, can I just point out that those lessons weren’t designed to help you deceive your mentor. How can I help you when you are being intentionally deceptive? What can be achieved by such behaviour? If – Hell preserve us – your patient eventually enters that Place Which Shall Not Named, and you fall into the pit of everlasting destruction, do you think, as you fall, you will be thinking “well, at least I pulled the wool over old Screwtape’s eyes??” Do you??? Straighten up, Blankweed. You’re playing a fool’s game.
Let me remind you here that we are not playing for laughs. This is no role play. You aren’t out in the playground now, Blankweed. A whole soul is in your hands. And so is your destiny. I hate to deal in clichés, and I hate repetition, but this is no game. And my job, as an experienced tempter, is to guide you, to protect you, to save you for further work in the perpetuation of our Glorious and Infernal Kingdom. The True Prince of this world is relying on us – you and me, Blankweed – to do His work on earth. There is no greater glory than the capture of a soul for Hell. But what is the point of appealing to your sense of honour, or your sense of gratitude for all your careful years of training, when you have none? Let me appeal, then, to your sense of ambition and desire: trust me, there is no greater, no more exquisite pleasure than the success of claiming a soul for Hell.
So – no more of this nonsense. I hope you have seen the error of your ways. Let’s to business. She’s joined a group at church. Could you be more precise? Has she joined the flower arranging guild? The choir or music group? Not a bible study? And most of all, please tell me she hasn’t joined a course? There are some terrible courses available in some churches. There is one – I forget its name, Alfalfa or some such thing – which has done terrible damage to our cause. It’s not that? I sincerely hope not. Please provide me with full information so that we can plan our strategic defence.
Of course it may not be a disaster. But it’s hard to tell until we know the detail. How did she come to join this group? Was she invited or was this an initiative of her own? If she was invited: by whom? If she was invited by someone she admires and respects, then we are facing a real problem. If it was her own initiative, then what was the basis of it? If she joined the choir or the flower guild because she thinks they’re ineffectual and could use her help, we’re (almost certainly) sitting pretty. If she joined because she wants to get in with some influential people, we have nothing to worry about. But if she joined because she wants to engage more deeply in the church, or she heard a sermon about service and felt a call, then…..
But no, let’s not panic yet. Tell me more. And remember that, whatever the situation, there are bound to elements we can draw on to our own advantage.
Let’s start with functional groups. In any group that has an actual function in the church (leadership team, music group, altar guild), there is always a mixture of people, motivated by various impulses. There will probably be some saints, alas. There may be some members who simply bring a talent to bear on the task – you know, choristers who simply love to sing, people who care for the linen because they love ironing, or sound system operators who love technology. Such individuals may have no real commitment to the Enemy but you should always distrust anyone who does anything just because they enjoy it. Enjoyment (unless it is related to an actual sin) is the stuff of h------, and the Enemy will often find a way to use it to his advantage.
But there will also(probably) be those who have no commitment to the Enemy at all, and who are motivated by a desire for power and prestige. This is why you find in churches organists who make the pastor or vicar’s life a misery, vestry or leadership team members who terrorise the clergy, and florists and cleaners who make members of the congregation afraid to walk into their own church.
a promising power base.....
Groups who are comprised of power-mongers form cliques. They’re usually very careful about who is able to join their group, and they carefully indoctrinate new members on how things must be done. If your patient has joined a group like this, we have a very promising situation on our hands.
Then there are the groups that meet to study the bible or share their life experiences, or pray together. Such groups are utterly disgusting – the very thought of them brings the taste of bile to my mouth. They make churches very dangerous places indeed. Because if the Enemy can only bring people into a large building for one hour per week, you’re really not facing any danger. But if he can bring them together regularly for whole evenings in smaller groups, where they must connect at a personal level, to engage in discussion about the Enemy, and things can start to go very wrong.
this is precisely what we don't want....
Be that as it may, such groups can develop their own destructive tendencies if we work carefully. If they are a cohesive group, we can work on their exclusivity, making them feel as if they’re special, and as if they alone within their church are engaging in ‘true spirituality’ or ‘true worship’. If they have any issues with the church leadership, then we can fan that flame. The aim is to make them work against rather within the church they belong to. Let them sit together in church and roll their collective eyes when a particular person gets up to preach or pray.
No, no, no.....
But it’s far more likely that they will be an incohesive group. And, let’s face it, humans do not like difference. There’s bound to be an odd person in the group – someone who doesn’t quite fit in. Group members may come from different social groups, or different theologies. Or they may have a dominant member who plays for power. Yet these people have been brought together and made a commitment to one another, so they can’t easily leave. The Enemy likes this because it gives group members opportunities to exercise charity and perseverance, and to eventually accept, even admire and value, difference. But we are at an advantage, because all their instincts are in our favour. With just a little work on our part, such groups can become hot beds of dissatisfaction and distrust.
And then we come to courses. Well, they’re a mixed bag. Some courses are simply humanistic life courses in disguise: you know, how to be more assertive, how to get more out of life, how to manage your divorce/children, how to have a more positive attitude. They may have a churchified clothing, but that’s what they come down to. No worries at all if she’s joined a course like this. But if she’s joined a course which aims to lead her to a deeper understanding of and commitment to the Enemy we will need to bring in reinforcements. This would be a very, very dangerous situation. Again, it may not be a disaster – I’ve known leaders of such groups who are actually well in our care, motivated by hatred, or a desire for power and control. But – well, it’s best to be forewarned.
So stop writing me insignificant rubbish and let’s plan our attack. I need a complete dossier on the group and its members. Tomorrow.
Your affectionate guide