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 sixteenth letter we were given.
Sorry for the delay. Our drop by our agent this week was complicated by his being followed by somebody in the Adversary's Secret Police.
My Dear Mephistolic Master,
Thank you for your latest marvelously malicious advice. The political gambit is still bearing fruit, especially in view of the recent resurgence of hostilities in the Middle East. (How delightful to use righteous indignation as an avenue to unrepentant hatred!) Loose tongues and tender egos continue to further our cause at Broad Way. But there is another development that both puzzles and gratifies me: two congregations in a town close by, one of which split off from the other years ago, have opened fire on each other again, competing for the allegiance of a young couple who have been visiting the "stricter-than-thou's" instead of the "mainstreamers."
What I find puzzling is that, after years of not speaking to--and hardly thinking of--each other, these two groups can with such alacrity and zest reopen the wounds of the original split, which was over some issue like whether it's permissible to have a kitchen in the church building or whether the church can render benevolent aid to those who are not "members of the church"! But who am I to question a situation that so excellently furthers our cause?
The young couple for several months tried the "mainstreamers" (a term which I use merely to convey the fact that their particular brand of narrowness is in the majority in the denomination), and they found them to be so dead that they wondered if they had stumbled into some bizarre morgue with piped-in sermons and songs. The couple decided then to visit the other congregation (the "stricter-than-thou's"), hoping at least to find some warm fellowship. They were, indeed, treated cordially and were invited to dinner with some of the members. Now here's another source of my puzzlement: these people in the break-away congregation have great affection for each other, being a close-knit minority among their brethren; but (luckily for us) their hard times have not generated any great love for people with whom they disagree.
Well, the "mainstreamer" elders got wind of the young couple's having "strayed" to the other congregation and mounted an all-out campaign to inform them of the great peril of fellowshipping those church-splitters on the other side of town. I hope that by now the couple are either thoroughly confused and uncomfortable at both congregations, or that they are moved to decide that if this is an example of religious zeal, they can do without the church altogether. You'd better instruct our agents to keep an eye on that "stricter-than-thou" church, though. If they ever figure out that their love for each other and their warmer worship atmosphere are incompatible with their narrow self-righteousness toward “erring” brothers and sisters, they might be vulnerable to being taken over by the Enemy's Spirit.
Back to the lovely war we've stirred up over in the Middle East. I don't like the increased amount of praying nor the enlarged concern about life and death that these troubles have brought about. There is some hope, however, of turning the differences of opinion about the war into conflict within the fellowship. Not only are there "hawks" and "doves," but some of the self-appointed eschatological sages among the saints are having a grand time helping God to clarify the obscurest passages of prophecy in His Word. Some people seem to think that Armageddon is going to be a kind of Super Bowl, even better than the Second Coming, and that their role is to advertise, and maybe even sell tickets for it! Some of them had better hope it's put off a lot longer than they think. I know I don't have any hankering to see it come; I prefer the kind of war where the results are open-ended, but equally destructive to both sides.
Your partner in unholy war (foreign and domestic),
Image: "Mailboxes" by M. Zappa. CC License.