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 third letter we were given.
The Most Reprobate Apollyon Pitts
c/o Special Assignments Division
Dear Uncle Apollyon,
Thanks for your advice and commendations. I think I'm getting the feel of my assignment. One kind of pattern seems to be developing: people will finally respond to the most preposterous and dangerous of our suggestions if they can be brought along bit by bit through a series of seemingly harmless but progressively more perilous steps of compromise. It is especially satisfying to hear someone use the "Well, I've come this far . . ." justification; as in "Well, I've already spent $25,000 on this car; I might as well go ahead and get the imported leather seat covers and the power back-scratcher." Or how about this one: "I've already spoiled my perfect daily Bible reading record; another day won't hurt." Strangely enough, these humans seem to be more ready to add to their sin if they're already in the hole, instead of being more cautious and dependent on the Enemy when they realize how weak and frail they are; and they don't seem to realize that this attitude is the first step on the path to despair, at which point they will conclude that their case has gone beyond their Master's ability to remedy. Casual guilt breeds carelessness, and that in turn can lead to the delicious obsession with guilt that serves to justify complete surrender to our suggestions and their own desires.
I'm sorry my high visibility in bowling no longer serves your purposes. I was beginning to enjoy the supernatural advantage. I even bowled a few frames with my eyes closed to see what would happen. Those weekly trips to the bowling alley will be less exciting now. Still, I see the necessity of setting up Elder Striker for his temptation. However, I don't relish the gloating he'll do over my diminished performance. He was rather unhappy about a newcomer's getting so much attention, after he'd been a steady member of the team for twenty years.
The current political campaign has raised some issues in the church that I'm trying to exploit. It seems that some of the members feel very strongly that the church is not politically active enough, and that we should identify ourselves with candidates who have the right position on certain limited but very visible issues, like allowing prayers in school. On the other hand, some members believe that all political activity is a part of the corrupt world and should be shunned by Christians altogether. Yet a third group believes that helping to get the right social policies adopted in government is the supreme Christian responsibility, and these people seem to be so absorbed in pursuing the righteousness of their "cause" that they are oblivious to the part that sin plays in the problems they're combating. It's comical to see how these groups castigate each other as misguided, or even heretical. I certainly want to keep the carping alive, or else they might discover that the Enemy wishes to use all of them, in different ways, to attack the divorce we've been so successful in implementing between "social" problems and "spiritual" solutions. Once let them get to exploring how they can harmoniously combine prayer, piety, and protest, and we're in trouble!
I thought I was getting somewhere with Brother Whitesoul, the minister, when, after one of his occasional bland sermons, I encouraged Brother Smoothtongue to tell him about an opening in one of the small churches in a town close by. Brother Whitesoul seemed very downcast and subdued for about a week after that, but then I heard that he got together with some of his support group for a prayer session, and that they helped him put it all back in perspective. They, too, advised him to go away, but only for a few days to be "recharged" by a relaxed and meditative change of pace. His next Sunday's sermon was a sickeningly effective blend of real humility with confidence that the Enemy was using him even (perhaps especially--it's unfair!) in his times of weakness. Boy, did that gambit turn sour on me!
The weather here has been as hot as . . . , well, I can't bring myself to use that word as lightly as most humans seem to. I have enjoyed seeing how unpleasantness in the elements can bring out varied types of the worst in people. Some get perverse pleasure out of blaming the drought on certain kinds of wickedness (like political corruption) that they feel completely separated from. They think, of course, that such an accusation highlights their own righteousness and puts the spotlight of God's judgment on others. Here again it's greatly to our advantage that they don't have the slightest understanding of the Wrath they're so blithely invoking, nor do they realize that they're sacrificing some of their protection from it by wishing it on others. People hurt directly by the drought (farmers and yard-tenders, for example) fall easily into grumbling about God's mistreatment of them, an attitude which can be deepened into rebellion and unbelief if they don't get distracted from hugging their self-pity. People who somehow profit from the drought will of course tend to assume that they are reaping the rewards of their own virtue or cleverness and will therefore have little compunction for those who are hurt by the same weather conditions. They will forget that if it rains on both the just and the unjust, it can with the same impartiality fail to rain.
Must close and find some water to cool the tip of my tongue.
Yours in the hope of gaining souls,
Brother Smoothtongue 2
Brother Whitesoul 2
political campaign 1
Photo: "Industrial Spies" by Lionel Martinez. CC Licence.