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 fourth letter we were given.
Dear Uncle Apollyon,
You should have seen Elder Striker's face when the twelfth ball (after eleven successive strikes) went into the gutter. Did you get carried away and go further than you intended, or did he just get over-confident? Whatever caused it, he obviously thought the last strike and the perfect game were in the bag. He was wavering between whether to attribute his success to skill or to a divine reward for virtuous living, but the disastrous gutter ball shattered both illusions at once. What did he say? I am delighted to report that he ripped off an expletive which revealed a far from spiritual response to his sudden and embarrassing disappointment. He immediately stalked out of the building, and I understand (from some gossip, which I have already passed on with suitable juicy adornments) that he vented his wrath on his wife in the biggest row they had had in years. She evidently had the temerity to suggest that her husband had allowed his concern with being admired to obscure the only justification for bowling or any other activity in the church--that is, to foster an atmosphere where mutually supportive fellowship is more important than competition. Luckily for us, he wouldn't listen to her.
The "Pray-ers" in the congregation (I'll report on the Pietists and the Protesters in a moment) have decided to meet together weekly during the presidential campaign to put their concern for the outcome before God and to seek His guidance about assessing the candidates. I consider this group the most potentially dangerous of the three groups, because while the Pietists can be truly pious and the Protesters truly crusading and still be a long way from God, the Pray-ers have to be diverted from really praying if we are to prevent any good coming out of their activities. I have observed that Christians who really do pray to the Enemy regularly are soon involved in doing something to help people--charitable deeds, counseling with those who are troubled, volunteering to help in the teaching program or some other outreach. That's because in some mysterious way that I don't understand, real prayer takes people's attention off themselves, so that they come to feel that they are neither too good nor too bad to do God's work. An attitude like that will never do for our cause!
Now the Pietists are usually easier prey, because the more they concentrate on being recognized for observing the right set of "Do's" and "Don't's," the more they tend to define the most important rules as those which they feel most comfortable in observing. That means their own inclinations, rather than the Enemy's Word, become the primary standard, and that confirms them in their self-centeredness. Unless they get carried away with seeking through real prayer to know what God really wants to do with them, they will settle down quite comfortably in the conviction of their own righteousness and a sense of their superiority over others. The Pietists in our congregation right now are caught up in putting certain movies on everybody's proscribed list (and I must admit that some of them could make impressions to our Infernal Father's advantage); but what I don't understand is how they can strain out the movies at the theaters and swallow the television programs they watch every week. Nevertheless, you can rest assured that I will not point out their inconsistency.
I have encouraged some of the Protesters in the congregation to the sorts of extreme actions you advised in your last letter. One group has been picketing a particular movie now playing in town and has managed to be so offensive in confronting the people attending the movie that those who go in are convinced that if a group like these protesters opposes it, it's probably worth seeing. I saw one individual, however, with a sign that said "Free Cup of Coffee, Piece of Pie, and New Testament to Anybody Who Will Sit Down and Talk With Me About the Movie You've Just Seen." He stayed well away from the yelling Protesters, and the last I saw he was having an earnest but quiet chat with several people who had just emerged from the show. You'd better find out what church he's from and get one of our people to work on him.
I'm taking another tack on the preacher, Brother Whitesoul. He is a very compassionate man, and there have been several deaths in the congregation lately, some of the victims being rather young, and all of them being godly people valuable to the work of the congregation. Brother Whitesoul has been greatly troubled and tremendously drained by consoling the families and preaching the funerals. He finds it very difficult to understand why these righteous people should have been taken while some of the reprobates remain around to cause trouble for everybody, or at least to be of no apparent good to anybody. I'm still developing my powers of mental suggestion, but I've been trying to get him to use this discouragement as the jumping-off place for questioning God's goodness and justice, and even His power. Now of course, you and I know that in the normal course of things, death comes whenever the impersonal physical realities of a (I hate this word) "fallen" world converge to bring it about. We are chagrined when the Enemy exercises His right to intervene at times, but I have been glad to observe that on the whole--and I try to exploit this to the full--He lets things run their course, which manifests no regard for whether people are good or bad, old or young. What I am trying to torture the preacher with is the idea that every death--indeed, every "bad" thing that happens on earth--is directly and actively willed by God; that God could make things immediately better, and He just refuses to do so.
I must admit that I myself am puzzled as to why the Enemy has not yet overwhelmed our forces with His superior power, and as to why He allows this wretched and corrupted earth to continue. But all of our side should be thankful that He "endures it in patience" (as I think I read somewhere), for it is the only possible arena for us to do battle with Him. Certainly if our Infernal Father had been in His place, he would not have been so soft as to tolerate the pain and humiliation that we have brought to the Creator and His Son.
I must run now and turn the screws on Brother Whitesoul.
Yours in hellish dedication,
Photo: "Secret Gates" by Artur. CC License.