Editor’s Note: Administering a website like this occasionally makes editors privy to some exotic and intriguing correspondence. In light of the particularly dark nature of some letters we have stumbled upon—we can’t reveal exactly how—we thought it our duty to share this series of missives. We appear to be in possession of only one side of the exchange of letters—from a nephew to his uncle. The nephew’s name is Ichabod and his uncle’s name Apollyon, who seems to be in an advisory position of some sort. It’s not our intent to demonize anyone by divulging what we have seen, but we feel we are performing an important service by bringing this devilishly cunning correspondence to light. Here is the eleventh letter we were given. You can find the others here.
The Most Reprobate Apollyon Pitts
c/o Special Assignments Division
My dear, esteemed, unscrupulous Uncle,
I have little to report on my connivings in the Worship and Fellowship Committees, except to say that I have been successful in keeping both committees from seeing any need for them to work together. That is to say, the Worship Committee has very little concern with fellowship, and the Fellowship Committee gives very little attention to worship; in fact, if they think of each other at all, it is as a source of competition. People in Worship Committee meetings often say things like, "We could get more people out to worship if we didn't have so many social gatherings competing for their time"; and "That Fellowship Committee bunch think their activities are the only ones that matter in this church; they took ten minutes of the worship service to announce the next pot-luck-- and did you see how many of them got up and left early last Sunday morning to get to the park for the picnic?"
Fellowship Committee people, on the other hand, usually see worship as something to be endured so that we can get down to the real business of the church, which is to have a good social time together. I am happy to say that very few persons on either committee realize that true worship is a fellowship of believers and true Christian fellowship is bonded by genuine worship together. The few who do have such ideas are quickly shouted down by the majority, who resent any implication that their particular set of programs and plans is not the most vital thrust of the church. (By the way, one advantage of my being on both committees is that each sees me as its spy on the other one.)
Your mention of covetousness got me to thinking about why it continues to be so effective as one of our "Seven Deadly Sins." As I write this, we are about to begin the end-of-the-year holiday season, and I assume that we shall once again have marvelous opportunities for promoting both open and concealed covetousness. Although I rejoice in open covetousness, which causes people to hate those who have more than they do, and to justify all sorts of wrongdoing in the process of getting more material things for themselves, I get the most exquisite satisfaction out of seeing someone who assumes he can't be covetous, because he merely wants to hold on to what he has. Most of the people in our congregation are fairly comfortable, and a good number never deprive themselves of anything they have cash or credit to buy. I do my best continually to assure the comfortable that they deserve what they have and that God expects them to enjoy it to the hilt--else why did He give it to them? Most of the time they don't need my reassurance and are quite happy to coast along living with more possessions and income than three-quarters of the rest of the world. The holiday season, however, presents many emotional appeals to help the needy, and I have to be on my toes to prevent people's response from being any more than a temporary sop to their consciences. Fortunately for us, even those who contribute somewhat generously in November and December give little thought to sharing their wealth with others during the rest of the year. I believe that attitude qualifies as covetousness, don't you? After all, it enables one to enjoy a disproportionate share of the world's goods without giving a thought to whole groups of people whose poverty unwillingly underwrites the prosperity of others. It is especially gratifying and ironic to see this blithe insensitivity in a season that begins by emphasizing thanksgiving and ends by celebrating the coming of One who (foolishly, of course, in our view)"made Himself poor" for the sake of these deliciously ungrateful vermin. How we anticipate the anguish of many at the end when they realize where their casual riches have gotten them!
Some strict Christian people, I understand, object to Christmas as a religious holiday. Well, it is true that over the years we have worked a good deal of paganism into it, even if some of that effort was lost when a few of the pagan symbols (like the evergreen tree--life in the dead of winter) became "baptized," so to speak and got partially absorbed into the larger Christian picture. On the other hand, we've had eminent success in turning an originally Christian figure, "Saint" Nicholas, into a legend thoroughly detached from Christ and surrounded with its own entirely secular mythology. On the whole, I think I rather like Christmas; it is for so many the season to be greedy, frustrated, and debauched that we may well gain more from it than the Christians do.
Photo: "Mailbox" by Tanakawho. CC License.