Leaked Documents: Ichabod to Apollyon (Letter #8)

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 eighth letter we were given.


The Most Reprobate Apollyon Pitts

Undercover Coordinator

c/o Special Assignments Division

Greetings, my tutor in deceit!

Things here are still going well for our side, and despair is rampant.  "Scooter" Barton's duplicitous activities continue unabated, the families of both the dishonored girl and the tax evader are in ruins, and I am now officially on the Worship Committee.  A delicious malaise permeates the congregation, and Brother Whitesoul speaks with great somberness from the pulpit.  My only misgiving at this point is that somebody may suggest resorting to repentance in sackcloth and ashes (as it were) and letting the Enemy get a fresh hold on them.  I must at all costs keep them from being reminded that their irritatingly patient Lord is always ready to make a fresh beginning, especially when people are at the end of their self-respect.

I've really been getting into this matter of how to make devilish capital out of despair.  At first glance, our design of fomenting rebellion would not seem likely to flourish when people are down on themselves, but I've found that in certain personalities, our plantings grow best in a bed of dark moods.  After all, the object is to make them forget or resent God, and when is that more likely to occur than when they have given up on accomplishing anything significant or satisfying?  Brother Tenebrae is an interesting case in point.  He is a withdrawn and moody person, and although he has at times experienced a sense of purpose in service to the Enemy, the state of the world as we have been able to make it is always food to his pessimistic moods.  In a person of this sort, the secret to destroying him is to cover up his rebellion with the lie that his failure and worthlessness (and that of others) have exceeded both God's concern and God's power.  In this state of mind, even his respect for ideals and his sensitivity to personal relationships contribute to his sense of despair, for they heighten the contrast between expectation and reality.  It is quite vital, however, that I make him oblivious to every memory of the Enemy's care for him and keep him blinder-focused on mankind's failures, especially his own.  Some of these days, when he is in that frame of mind, I shall persuade him that he no longer deserves life--or else that life doesn't deserve him--and he will do away with himself in the conviction that such is the consequence of his taking an unflinchingly "realistic" view of things, and that he is saving God and other people some trouble by choosing his own time to quit the scene.  How marvelously perverse it is to get someone to be rebellious and self-destructive at the same time!

The contrast between Brother Tenebrae's vulnerable spot and that of "Scooter" Barton got me to thinking about those twin poles of sin, the intellectual and the sensual.  People who have a tendency toward one pole or the other find it difficult to understand or sympathize with the vulnerabilities of the other pole.  (I sometimes wonder why the Creator made humans able to sin in so many different ways.  I can't imagine our master, the Adversary, allowing such messy diversity if he could have controlled things in advance.)  The differences between the two temperaments seem to hinge on their attitudes toward pleasure.  The spontaneity of sensual people leads them to assume that the height of pleasure is connected with stimulation and indulgence of the body and the emotions, whereas the reserve and the analytical habits of intellectual people push them toward contempt for spontaneous pleasures and cultivation of the more "cultural" satisfactions.  The sensual set generally characterize themselves as romanticists, the intellectual set, as realists.  At neither extreme do people seem to realize that it takes more than mere avoidance of the opposite extreme to assure virtuousness, and it's the false security of people at both ends of the spectrum that makes them ripe for falling into our traps.  I'm glad these creatures find it difficult to accept the fact that sin lies more in their attitudes than in precisely what they decide to avoid.  Indeed, the toughest nuts for us to crack are those who fall for the Enemy's schmaltzy line that all good things are from Him, and are to be enjoyed by His "children."

You would be proud of my clever hypocrisy on the Worship Committee.  The losers at the moment (whom I am supporting, as you advised) are what might be called the "Gimmick-Mongers," since in the wretched mood of the congregation at present, people are tending toward a sober, meditative style of worship (which is all right, so long as it is pursued as a kind of dreary penance, rather than provoking real self-examination and cries for help).  The Gimmick-Mongers are saying that we need to pull off some neat tricks to push the audience out of the doldrums, such as a handbell and kazoo number during the offering, or having the preacher appear for the sermon in a loud shirt and Bermuda shorts to preach on not forsaking our responsibilities during summer vacation.  Now stuff like that really turns my stomach, but I realize its potential as a distraction, and for the time being I'm swallowing my preference for more tasteful forms of evil to push the Gimmick-Monger party line.  But I'll be saved if I'm going to be one of the kazoo players!

Yours in double-mindedness,


Photo: "You've got mail." Eddy Van. 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.)