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 seventh letter we were given.
The Most Reprobate Apollyon Pitts
c/o Special Assignments Division
My dear uncle, mentor, and model of perfidy,
What a lovely, agonizing week it has been at Broad Way--agonizing for the members, that is! To begin with, one of the teenage girls was found to be pregnant (now that you've alerted me to "Scooter" Barton I suspect him as her partner in this development, but of course, no one else is on to that). One of the prominent businessmen of the congregation has been hauled into court for income tax fraud, and a delightfully acrimonious debate broke out in one of the Bible classes about whether the church should give back the indicted gentleman's last generous contribution to the building fund. Luckily for our side, all of the discussion so far has been from a safely self-righteous distance (even by some whose own tax returns would hardly stand a close audit), and no one has taken the bold step of seeing whether the fallen brother would like some supportive prayer and counsel in this hour of his culpability. Even Brother Whiteside seems to have been cast for the time being into ineffective despair by all of this, but I've seen too much of him to count him out too quickly. He is one of those people who often come out of a time of stress and doubt stronger than before. But it seems to me that we have the saints on the run for the moment.
Thank you for your response to my comments on freedom of will. I have enjoyed the appeal to this absolute right of choice in the matters of abortion and the possession of firearms. Does not a woman have the right to choose what happens to her own body?! (thus goes the kind of indignant cry that I cherish). I have to make sure, however, that such people are deaf to the challenge that perhaps an elementary exercise of free will a bit earlier in the game might have forestalled the necessity of having to decide whether to terminate an embryonic life. It's wonderful how humans in American society are able to see moral decisions as a matter of private choice, even those that cheapen human life both physically and spiritually. And often those who are adamant--nay, militant--about preventing abortion show little concern about the carnage made possible by the easy availability of weapons in (and from) this country. It matters little to us, of course, whether life is cheapened by beginning it casually or by ending it casually, nor whether it is ended clinically or with a gun. After all, we have an enviable record of bringing death to this world of God's silly creatures, so we find equally rewarding the proliferation of all abortive procedures, whether they are performed before or after the victim traverses the birth canal. Therefore, let both guns and suction tubes abound!
I am trying to play it cool in regard to the Worship Committee. I am concentrating on saying things that are so neutral they can be construed however one desires, such as, "I think one should feel good after worshiping"; or, "As many people as possible ought to be involved in the worship services." I have found it wonderfully detrimental to any spiritual satisfaction in worship to keep harping on purely human objectives for it. I try to steer any conversations about it away from talk of its being for the purpose of glorifying God--and that's not hard, since most people are uncomfortable with much concentration on God, anyway. Even I know that if one glorifies God, he exposes himself to divine scrutiny, and no self-respecting sinner wants to risk that. So I'll just continue to emphasize worship services as opportunities for people to be seen and for their talents to be displayed and admired, and for those who don't perform to be entertained and made comfortable. I find a great deal of unconscious corroboration for the idea that one should not get too stirred up by a worship service, or that if one is, it should be a superficial "high" that soon wears off. The Devil forbid that people should learn anything, about God or about themselves, from participating in worship!
I shall be alert to making young "Scooter" as advantageously admired as possible. It's amazing how well he has developed the art of duplicity at his young age. Even though he is probably responsible for the embarrassing condition of the young lady I mentioned earlier, he has been in the forefront of those apparently concerned for her spiritual welfare (out of her hearing, of course!). His devotionals for the youth group are devoid of real substance, but they are wonders of style and clever gimmicks. He is always nattily dressed (his folks are well off and indulgent), and that makes him doubly attractive to the girls. How can you beat being both holy and handsome? One of the youth leaders seems to be worried about a certain hollowness he detects in all of this virtue, but his cautionary notes seem to be pious pettiness in the midst of all the adulation Scooter is receiving. Things certainly seem to be ripening for our big kill.
You continue to inspire me to greater depths of hypocrisy.
Photo: "Spy vs Spy" by T. Fischer. CC License.