Leaked Documents: Ichabod to Apollyon (Letter #25)

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-fifth letter we were given. 




Dear Slickly Seducing Uncle,

Your encouragements for fostering proud humility are noted, and my efforts in that direction are, if I may say so with modesty, bearing fruit.  Ancestry in the church is a good field in which to cultivate such feelings.  Just the other day I overheard Sister Campstone noting with satisfaction that her forebears had been simple New Testament Christians since the middle of the nineteenth century.  She is convinced, of course, that they held to the same narrow version of "the Gospel" as she does, and that her pedigree gives her special authority in defining who the "true" Christians are.  She finds it ridiculously easy to embrace at the same time the hardy, rugged values of her ancestors and her own lavishly comfortable way of life.  Being rich and successful makes it easier to glorify and romanticize poverty and hardship.  There are not many Jobs in this world, whose character must be tested severely before their full strength becomes apparent; with most, a little plush living will reveal their inner "net worth" quite well.  To revise a domestic proverb, "The way to a man's (or woman's) heart is through his pocketbook."

You ask about some of the other members at Broad Way on whom I have reported previously.  "Scooter" Barton has scooted right out of our congregation to greener pastures, I'm sorry to say.  He was indeed an asset to our objectives, but his talents have now been turned to a touchy-feely scam in the community from which he stands to make a handsome profit, based on his capacity for charming hypocrisy.  He claims to have "outgrown" his previous religious conservatism, now that he understands the universality of the divine nature.  No longer hampered by even the appearance of having to worry about sin and redemption, he has now espoused his own profitable brand of New Age philosophy and is peddling it (at a proper price, of course) to the unsuspecting insecure-but-well-heeled citizens of our community.  I understand he has quite a following at his new "Church with Many Doors."   No doubt he has already figured out which door he will leave from when the poor suckers finally see through him.

Brother Silvertone is still engaging in sonorous addresses to the Almighty.  He has not yet had a response from the Almighty, so far as I know, but the members of the congregation are all mighty impressed by his oratory, and that is of course what he's really after.  I make it a point to keep the compliments coming every time he prays in public.  You must admit that he has found an effective defense against God: it's much easier to keep Him at a distance when you talk to Him only in public, and at the same time few people are going to be presumptuous enough to express doubts about the spiritual health of someone who prays so beautifully.

Brother C. Sharp is having trouble with a group of "Rip-Roarers" who insist on interjecting spontaneous praise choruses into our Sunday night services.  Some of them even raise their hands or clap during such songs!  Now C. Sharp has never been known to raise his voice spontaneously or to clap except at sporting events, where excitement and enthusiasm are expected and proper.  He has therefore identified himself firmly with the "Stick-in-the Muds" in condemning unseemly emotional displays in church.  Luckily for us, no one has had the boldness to point out to him that some might find his boisterous laughter in the middle of the music group's rehearsal of a meditative song just as offensive and inappropriate as he finds the peppy songs--and with better reason, at that.

As to Brother Whitesoul, since it appears that we're not going to lead him astray in any significant way, I've been making quiet remarks that perhaps our congregation should be considering a more stylish and charismatic minister.  (Not "charismatic" in any dangerous sense, of course, but just a charmer--maybe a bit like "Scooter" Barton!)  Sister Snugrug has picked up on this line (she's on everybody's line) and is spreading the word, with her own distinctive embellishments.  We'll see what comes of this tactic.

Well, as they say, "Sufficient to the day is the evil thereof."  I hope to have even more hellish things to report next time.

Infernally yours,


Image: "typewriter" by nicoleleec. 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.)