Leaked Documents: Ichabod to Apollyon (Letter #17)

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.



My Dear "Badder-than-thou" Uncle Apollyon,

Although I recognize your malevolent intentions in urging me to exploit the "hate the war / support the troops" sentiments, the way some of the people in my territory have been saying this doesn't make it easy to exploit.   They view the war as a necessary evil in a world marred by sin.  They also point out that the soldiers themselves (on both sides) are not responsible for the decisions that put them in harm's way.  And they pray in such a sickenly benevolent way for everybody on both sides that it's hard to get through to plant the kind of anger and hate that (directed at either side) would make irrelevant any determination of which side is right.  It seems to me that I stand a better chance to bring about harm if I concentrate on convincing people that the solutions are simple, and that anybody who doesn't agree with a facile answer to it all (in any direction) is unpatriotic, irreligious, or a macho warmonger.   I am disappointed that there were not more casualties among the Americans, since that is always an opportunity for fomenting bitterness, despondency, and recriminations against God and man; but perhaps I can get some satisfaction out of cultivating callousness to the tens of thousands killed, injured, and unhoused on the other side.

Meanwhile, the local wars go on apace.  It's amazing how well people use psychological "smart bombs" to injure those who are objects of their contempt or envy.  Only last Sunday in Bible class, we were discussing the Christian's responsibility concerning alcohol.  Brother Sausbaum, whom everybody knows to be a recently reformed alcoholic, spoke up and said that those addicted to alcohol need supportive and sensitive friends who can both encourage and confront them.   Brother Upstrait replied that he had been very supportive on one occasion, when he had had to practically carry a tipsy man out of the worship service after he got too loud.  Bam!--a bomb right down the hatch, since everybody knew that the drunkard referred to was Brother Sausbaum; he hasn't been seen in Sunday School since, and  if our side is lucky, he'll soon be back on the bottle and out of church altogether.

Then in the war between the churches, there was Brother Lottenirv's remark, in the midst of a supposed reconciliation meeting, concerning a harsh word spoken by Brother Tenderheart ten years ago, and ever since remembered by the latter with great sorrow and self-recrimination, especially since Brother Lottenirv had continued to hold it against him.  Wham!--another unforgiveness bomb, zapped in through the open channel of a tender conscience.  The meeting broke up with the two sides more hardened against each other than ever before.   It's amazing what consummately effective damage people can do sometimes with nothing but their fallen instincts to guide them!

A group of young leaders in our congregation has gotten together to instigate greater variety and energy in our worship services.  I wormed my way into their confidence, because this movement could pose a severe threat to the spiritual apathy of those who want nothing more than to be soothed and lulled by a thoroughly predictable and lifeless worship service.  Rightly handled, however, this initiative could result in putting the apathetic bunch even more firmly in control, as well as thoroughly discouraging the young activists.  Accordingly, this is the advice I gave them: (1) Make sure that everybody understands the virtue of your progressiveness, and reject any song that is more than ten years old.  (2) Stage your innovations carefully, giving the worship a "show biz" atmosphere that will attract the younger generations.  (3) Don't clutter up your services with awkward silences; people like continual stimulation.  (Of course, I didn’t mention that this is so that they don't have to engage in uncomfortable meditation on the state of their lives before God.)  (4) Make it clear that you have no concern with the old fuddy-duddies who don't appreciate the style of worship you're trying to introduce; don't waste your time trying to explain what you're doing--just do it!  The ones who don't like it can go elsewhere.

Easter is almost here, so I must devote some time to drumming up enthusiasm for the Easter Bunny (we wouldn't want anybody thinking too much about You-Know-Who and his empty grave).  Perhaps I could bolster my political visibility by sponsoring an Easter Bunny Hop for the kids.  I wish I could give them poisoned eggs for prizes, but we must remain subtle, mustn't we?

Yours in hoping for the worst,




Image: "Good Companion Typewriter" by I. Samarajiva. 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.)