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Devil's Advocate

Note: I wrote this for my 12th grade, elective C. S. Lewis class. In this class we read many of Lewis's works and analyzed them with respect to both theological and secular ideas. As the final project after reading The Screwtape Letters, our assignment was to write a letter from Screwtape to a junior demon, in the voice and style of Lewis's characterization of Screwtape. What follows is the advice of Screwtape to Grimebite, a junior demon who is responsible for getting a human girl "safely" into Hell by tempting her away from God, the "Enemy." As always, this is here for reading only; please do NOT quote me, cite me, plagiarize me or do anything stupid like that.

My dear Grimebite,

Well, well. Your new patient is a Christian, is she? One of those modern children “raised in a Christian home,” as they say. This one should be easy. As you well know, the fact that her parents are Christians does not place her automatically into the same category. If you never allow her to realise that, she will not latch onto it for herself. Our legions have nearly ruined this edition of the slimy spawn. Most of them abandon the so-called religion of their parents during high school or college. Follow my instructions and you will make quick work of her.

It may be difficult, of course, to deter her from listening to her parents. They are quite fully in the service of the Enemy, but if the girl sees any sort of hypocrisy from them, she will have less trouble disbelieving what they try to teach her. You must have a chat with Clapperclaw and Prycleek, who are still determined to get a foothold in the parents’ relationship. Once they succeed in sowing discord, using the methods set forth in the teachings of the Training College, the girl will more willingly reject Christianity later in her life, remembering what little good it did for her parents.

Since she is only a child, there is not much you can do to her now. When they are young, the vermin innocently accept what they are taught, and they see joy in everything—one of the Enemy’s ploys for showing the older ones how they ought to become to “enter the kingdom of Heaven.” Just wait; in a few years your onslaught will put the girl on the path to consumption,

Your fond overseer
     SCREWTAPE

My dear Grimebite,

Now that the girl is past childhood, she is beginning to feel resentment and jealousy towards her older brother and sister. Encourage that. Plant seeds of arguments between them. Make her think the parents favour the older siblings and lavish them with more, so that your patient will feel spite towards them both.

In your previous letter you noted concern over the parents’ prayers with their children every night. They pray aloud, you say, taking turns as they gather in one of the bedrooms. But the prayers need not turn your patient over to the Enemy. I know, you cannot get past the blinding blaze and reeking aroma of the Presence, but you can attend to the patient’s thoughts.

As long as she listens to the words her family is saying but does not focus on the motivation or intent behind them, she will not see any spirituality. Her mind will wander and she will begin to begrudge her parents for taking so long to pray. Let her think, also, that praying like this with her family is good enough for her daily “quota,” and that there is no need to pray when she is by herself. Soon she will think she knows the Enemy well enough simply through attending church. There should be no suspicion in her mind that praying brings her closer to the Enemy,

Your fond overseer
     SCREWTAPE

My dear Grimebite,

You are far too overjoyed that the patient has almost entirely fallen away from prayer. This is a nearly insignificant development; do not be so self-congratulatory as to think that you have already secured the little pest for your snacking pleasure.

However, the idea that this preteen girl has conjured up is worth exploiting. Praying with her parents is childish, she now thinks, and she is old enough and self-disciplined enough to complete the rite of prayer by herself. What she does not realise, you have noted, is her tendency to only pray when there is something to pray for. But in her comfortable life, very little goes wrong. No one she is close to is ill; there have been no accidents or deaths recently; she is so used to the normalcy of her everyday life that she is quite content with not praying at all. And whenever something minor does go wrong, you should let her think unconsciously that she has it under control and that the Enemy would not be able to contribute anything to her own efforts.

This is where a very useful concept comes in. In the modern American culture, they toss around the phrase “comfort zone.” Your patient has lived a very comfortable life so far; this is partially the Enemy’s doing, but you have the capacity to distort these truly unusual blessings into something they call “normal.” Americans believe that they are entitled to comfort, that they somehow deserve it. They can feel sorry for the children in poverty that they see on a television commercial, and the next minute forget the starving faces and demand their food exactly how they want it, complaining when something is a bit off. You and I see this as the result of the efforts of the lower demons of Our Father’s house, but they never notice the irony. Keep her away from the outside world. Let her live entirely in the mindset of her own best interests. If she never gets out of her comfort zone, she will not realise that there is a comfort zone to get out of,

Your fond overseer
     SCREWTAPE

My dear Grimebite,

The American public high school system has worked very much to our favour in recent decades. This is the time to introduce your patient to some minor temptations. The media and entertainment have been significantly improved with references to violence, sexuality, alcohol, and any number of other beneficial vices. Teenagers of this age crave entertainment such as music, movies, and internet videos. It has been given to them; indeed, it is at their fingertips at any given moment. And we have sown the seeds of sin throughout.

Of course, the family still attends church. Clapperclaw and Prycleek have displayed poor performance in their conquest of the parents’ souls. But if compared with her entertainment, the patient’s church can be made to impress her as simply boring and useless. Distracting images and thoughts fight for a place in her mind, and if you influence her in the right ways, church will lose out. Singing worship songs will become dreary, and the droning voice of the minister can easily become sleep-inducing. If she were passionate about her Christianity, it would not be so. If she were excited about praising the Enemy and hearing His words, she would latch on with eagerness to the same songs and sermon. But because of your efforts, luckily, the girl is far removed from excitement. Your patient has no desire to read her Bible, because to her, it is boring and hard to understand. She has no desire to sing praise, because to her, the rest of the music out there is so much better.

It has not been all your doing, though, so do not puff up quite yet. As I mentioned earlier, the American culture has improved. Teenagers shun self-discipline; instead, they wish for freedom and independence. Give that to your patient. She will soon be able to make her own choices: let her choose the path that leads her closer to Our Father’s house. In a couple of years she will be safely away, living on an unrestricted college campus, struggling for passing grades while she pursues meaningless pleasures, never realising that the pleasure she truly desires was given to her at an early age,

Your fond overseer
     SCREWTAPE

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