Leaked Documents: Ichabod to Apollyon (Letter #13)

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 thirteenth letter we were given.



The Most Reprobate Apollyon Pitts

Undercover Coordinator

c/o Special Assignments Division

My dear, insidious Uncle Apollyon,

Greetings in the name of the Great Roaring Devourer!  I have been busy preparing souls for ingestion, though I have been keeping my roar quiet, so as not to alarm the prey.  You are right, of course, about the naïveté of these poor sheep.  They are so easily sweet-talked, especially when they think it is in their interest to listen.  Just the other day I put it into the ear of Brother C.  Sharp that he needed to assert his seniority in the singing group by speaking up more often with his opinions (which are ignorant and appalling) and singing louder (often a half-tone flat, in spite of his name).   The leader of the singing group, an earnest, talented, but inexperienced young man, has been put quite at a loss by Brother Sharp's obstinate loud-mouthing, and whatever ministry the group had before has been soured by the rest of the singers' resentment at his uncontrolled boorishness.  One or two of the older members of the group had an inclination that could have ruined the whole game for me; they wanted to take Brother Sharp aside and speak to him lovingly but firmly about the effects of his behavior.  Fortunately, I overheard them talking about it, and I persuaded them that enduring the wayward one's discordant anger was too high a price to pay for the rather slim chance of helping to restore good spiritual order.  Besides, he might bring up some embarrassing items in their own behavior, and they were not ready to deal with that.  You will be happy to know that the special singers are now one of the most disharmonious groups in the congregation.

You asked about the member who has AIDS:  it has now become generally known that Brother Tristan has contracted the disease, and the knowledge has evoked the same kind of delicious and malicious gossip as is produced by an illegitimate pregnancy--who is the other party?  Brother Tristan is a quiet young man whom nobody noticed very much before this.  I daresay that he would be very happy had everybody continued to ignore him within the church, since the notice he has received recently has hardly been of the supportive kind.  Those who used to speak to him casually have for the most part avoided him, casting stares of opprobrium and apprehension to discourage him from approaching them.  I must say that the spontaneous, fearful distancing of most of the congregation from him has made me feel rather superfluous.  However, I am keeping watch on a few who have been nosing around the library trying to find some information on AIDS.  It would be disastrous to our cause for them to find out that in this situation there is infinitely more danger of contamination from their own spiritual insensitivity than from Brother Tristan's physical disease, or even from his sin.  Any Christian understanding shown toward him at this point could undermine the discouragement which we are counting on to damn both him and those who are responsible for it.

I was encouraged the other day, by the way, when I watched a television program which I was afraid might pose a threat to our dominance of the fare coming over the boob-tube.  It was one of a series which is gentler and more sensitive than I am at all comfortable with (some of the stories have, I am afraid, made people think about loving acceptance more than I would like); but this episode finally turned what is at base the Enemy's message of love into such a glorification of human goodness as to eliminate any place for a divine definition of sin.  Tolerance, not the divine standard, was being touted as the absolute virtue.  I was delighted at the minister's words at the end of the program: "God does not require people to believe in Him, or to know about Him; He just wants them to be good [definition left pleasantly vague], and to accept each other's best and sincerest efforts.  The first and only essential commandment is, 'No judging.'"  I couldn't have said it more subtly or seductively myself:  the defining standard is not God, but the much more comfortably low common denominator of human behavior.  Though I am still uncomfortable with it, I believe the program might do sufficient theological and spiritual damage to offset its lack of the more obvious vices.

In the spirit of vagueness,


Image: "Mailboxes" by B. Froberg. CC License.  

Elton Higgs

Dr. Elton Higgs was a faculty member in the English department of the University of Michigan-Dearborn from 1965-2001. Having retired from UM-D as Prof. of English in 2001, he now lives with his wife and adult daughter in Jackson, MI.. He has published scholarly articles on Chaucer, Langland, the Pearl Poet, Shakespeare, and Milton. His self-published Collected Poems is online at Lulu.com. He also published a couple dozen short articles in religious journals. (Ed.: Dr. Higgs was the most important mentor during undergrad for the creator of this website, and his influence was inestimable; it's thrilling to welcome this dear friend onboard.)