This week, my literature class started The Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis. If you haven’t heard of it, it’s a satirical series of fictional letters from Screwtape, a senior tempter (demon), to Wormwood, a junior tempter, explaining how to best lead humans away from God. I’m amazed at Lewis’s insight into temptations and the sinful nature. A Christian himself, Lewis managed to understand how the Devil and his gang of demons view mankind. Our assignment this week was to write our own Screwtape-esque letter, on whatever topic we chose. This morning, my youth pastor communicated a great message on the monster of jealousy that grows inside everyone, and it was so applicable, I decided to write my letter on the subject. A part of our assignment was to come up with our own demon names, so instead of Screwtape and Wormwood, you’ll read a letter from Scratchthorn to his cousin Stinkstench. 🙂
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To my dearest cousin Stinkstench —
I was so pleased to hear of your early promotion to junior tempter. Your brilliant thesis on how the mortal conscience is persuaded must have really attracted your professors’ attention.
My supervisor told me about your first assignment. The human you are haunting seems to have been “Christianized” shortly before you began working on him. Don’t worry, he’ll easily be won over. The faith of those newly joined with our enemy may seem strong, but that is actually when their faith is the weakest. Their knowing nothing, but believing anyway, is our greatest advantage.
One of the easiest ways to drive a wedge between the Enemy and his so-called servants is jealousy. Yes, Stinkstench, the task is as simple as that. When jealousy creeps in, a man unknowingly resents the Enemy for allowing others joy and good things, ignoring the goodness He supposedly brings them. Thankfully, jealously is one of the easiest tasks, usually assigned to junior tempters such as yourself. All it takes is one small whisper, and they’re yours. Granted, some mortals are more susceptible than others, so who knows how long yours will take to see the light?
My favorite way to provoke jealous feelings is to insult body image. Humans are so obsessed with how they look. They are extremely vain creatures, not at all like us. We are obviously superior. The females of this pathetic race are especially vain. They fret and fret about what shoes go with what top, and what necklace goes with a certain hat and cardigan. They will go on and on and on and on and on about how they are unhappy with their appearance. All it takes is a single thought, perhaps “you aren’t thin enough” or “no one wants to be friends with someone who dresses like YOU.” The options are endless. Sadly, I know your assigned mortal is a man, not a woman, so this won’t be of help to you until the future.
In my experience, the easiest way to anger a man and infuse him with the monster of jealousy is to whisper doubts about his relationships. What is man without woman, eh? Thankfully, this induces such jealousy that you might not need to do anything else. If you begin to run out of ideas though, consult this simple yet masterful list, written by the Father Below himself. Anything in these five categories is sure to make a mortal jealous: physical, relational, stages of life, talents, and possessions. Remember, the Enemy practically leaves his followers to fend for themselves, so even his precious followers can be swayed by our silver tongues. That reminds me, Stinkstench; I must tell you what Uncle Bulbous did to a simply righteous man the other day. Completely turned the man’s life around. One day a so-called follower of light, the next an atheist. It was quite the dramatic victory for Our Father Below. However, now is not the time to tell you the story — back to your assignment.
My supervisor tells me your mortal is not the richest man, has no girlfriend, is in-between jobs, and the talent he is most proud of is playing the accordion, which is not, in my opinion, a talent but a torture. Even I, a senior tempter, shudder to think of the sin-filled souls that are sentenced to an eternity of polka music…. But I digress. All this man seems to have is his brand-new faith. Easily fixed. Persuade your man that his skills are inadequate, that he is extremely ordinary and boring. Point out his friends have higher incomes, better lives, and more interesting talents. Point this out especially among his church friends so he may grow to resent them. You may drive a deeper stake between him and the Enemy this way. Persuade him that his body isn’t as muscular as another’s. Let him burn with the fact that he doesn’t have a happy relationship like his neighbor. Whisper that his things are old and shabby, not new and wonderful like his friends’ possessions. Let him harbor a grudge against the fact that he was unjustly fired while his coworker received a promotion.
When these small details build up, he will start to resent our Enemy, to whom he has supposedly devoted his life. Once that happens, Stinkstench, he’ll be in your clutches, a mess of chaotic anger and jealousy. This will isolate him from others and make it much easier to lead him to Our Father Below. Lead him gradually; otherwise, he will catch on and realize what we’ve been doing. Just take care to keep him away from his sister. My supervisor assigned her to me two months ago, and I’ve barely made any progress on the stubborn radical.
Good luck with your first mortal. I hope to hear more of your progress at the Hellfire Picnic next Tuesday.
Always your hateful cousin,
(image credit to All About C.S. Lewis)