Leaked Documents: Ichabod to Apollyon (Letter #18)

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 eighteenth letter we were given.



Dear Uncle Polly (Yes, I know how you feel about that nickname),

It's a beautiful Sunday here (according to my taste, anyway): sort of dark and gloomy, with a cutting kind of dampness in the air that weighs on human spirits and makes them depressed.  I went around church this morning bringing up as many terrible, sordid events in the recent news as I could think of and suggesting that it might be a good idea just to go home and find relief in some mindless television program (an absurd movie, or a situation comedy rerun).  Now what better combination than that could be found to suit demonic purposes?  Not only does it foster murmurings against the Almighty for letting the world get into such a mess, but it ushers the individual into a fantasy world where evil doesn't even matter--or if it does, it is reduced to a kind of perversely fascinating magic.  It was a fine day to sabotage any experience at church that might cause people to look beyond the wickedness of the world (and of themselves) for any hope to counteract these splendid "downers" in human emotional experience.  There was not much joy in the worship service this morning, so the faces of the people coming out of the building after the worship were as gloomy as the skies above.  That sent me home whistling a happy little dirge!

Whatever doubts you may have about the dependability of money as a deterrent to holiness, I continue to see its delightfully deleterious effects.  It's wonderful to observe the chain of erosionary stages in turning people's attention from the spiritual to the material--and all the while they think they're being more realistic!  First they voluntarily put in overtime at work, taking time away from both their physical and their spiritual families; then they are preoccupied with the process of buying the goods they are convinced they must have; and finally, when they have acquired their material goods, they have to spend even more time making use of them or taking care of them.  On top of all this, there is the contradictory set of worries about the dangers of losing what they have and the need to add yet more to the collection.  Once we get our clients in this state of mind, Brother Whitesoul can say all he wants about "treasures in Heaven," and it will not get past their earlobes.

Our singing group is getting another presentation ready, and it seems that this exercise will once again prove a good antidote to any spiritual lift that might come from the music.  Brother Cecil Sharp ("C. Sharp" to most of the singers) is leading the complaints again about how disorganized the rehearsals are.  Of course, his being the last to quit joking and carrying on before rehearsals start has nothing to do with the difficulties the director has in getting down to work.  Nor does the fact that he has not the slightest hint of the meaning of what he is singing.  Brother Sharp is blissfully (and disruptively!) unaware of any connection between his attitude and the improbability of constructive results from this kind of special music.  Of course, I keep hinting to him that the director is entirely too serious about the whole thing and should realize that this endeavor is more for fun than for worship, anyway.  My objective is to insure that the singers expend maximum effort depending on themselves, then develop maximum resentment at being expected to work so hard, and finally experience maximum frustration from the overall pressure of being stretched so thin by all their obligations.  If things work out that way, the director (who is really a distressingly earnest, sincere, and talented woman) will vow never to work with a church group again.  We can't afford to let Christians start thinking that music in church can boost anything except egos.

Yours in the spirit of disharmony,



Image: "A Typewriter" by T. Hososhima. 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.)