Leaked Documents: Ichabod to Apollyon (Letter #22)

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 twenty-second letter we were given.



Dear Uncle "Polly,"

I'm glad you recognize that I have had to clean up the mess left here by my immediate predecessors.  I acknowledge that they operated among a less materially prosperous flock, and that they were thus deprived of some of the advantages I have had through the fairly well-heeled (and thus more spiritually flabby) group now at Broad Way.  But there is no excuse for their letting so many of the older members of the congregation get into dangerous habits, like regular prayer and Bible reading and sharing their spiritual struggles with each other.  Some of those people, even though they're not particularly prominent in the public operation of the church, are troublesome prayer-warriors; I think their vigilance is one of the reasons that Brother Whitesoul is so hard for us to get to.  I've felt the power of their protective intercession more than once when I wanted to shoot a fiery dart of temptation or discouragement at him.

Otherwise, things are going fairly well for us.  The youth worker I spoke of has resigned from his work in order to prevent more scandal, and I think I detect some bitterness toward the Enemy for letting this happen to him.  Happily for us, not many people have rallied around to help him through his difficulties, either because they think he's guilty and don't want to be contaminated, or because they don't think his problems affect them one way or another.  I look on gleefully when Christians who are quite bold about spreading gossip develop acute timidity when it comes to dealing in any direct way with someone wounded—rightfully or wrongfully—by a bad development in his life.  One good side-effect of this incident is that it reinforces people's natural tendency to rock along in the church comfortably detached from trouble, whether inside or outside the congregation.

And, as I mentioned, the power of Mammon is gaining ground at Broad Way.  It's wonderful how perversely the well-to-do can turn a legitimate concern with having enough themselves into a consuming insecurity and anger about not having as much as somebody else.  The level of material possessions taken for granted here as necessary to happiness is gratifyingly high.  Contentment is a concept rarely talked about, and a state of mind understood by hardly any except those whose material holdings are much less noticeable than their character.  (Indeed, I must admit that the advantages of "contentment" entirely escape me; it's so suppressive of self and so sickeningly submissive to the tyrannical Creator.)  I try to make sure that people are not distracted by heavenly intimations that there is such a thing as sufficiency in this world's goods; any serious consideration of that dangerous doctrine would most surely tempt our clients to simplify their lives (and deny their competitive potential!) by focusing on the Enemy.

My political life is faring well.  The fact that the moral standards of the citizenry are rather low means that they are willing to tolerate shady and dishonest acts by their elected officials that would have meant impeachment or at least defeat in the next election twenty or thirty years ago.  I've already found that a hint of future favors allows a councilman to run up a rather large bill at some establishments, and that even church members are willing to turn a blind eye to the ethical and moral questionability of political actions that might bring advantages to "the Lord's Body."  The church will not oppose a local lottery, for example, so long as it gets a piece of the action.  I sometimes wonder how much hypocrisy I need to exercise as a politician, since many people seem to take it for granted that those in public office have to be a bit careless of conscience if they are going to get anything good done for their constituents.   If that kind of "good" is what is in demand, no need to confuse the fools by tempting them to embrace "evil."


Corruptedly yours,





Image: "Bad weather in Paris" by P. Piccoli. 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.)