by Sarah Arthur
My Dear Snubnose,
I note with great displeasure that the human females are planning to start up their little group again. What can you have been doing during their “holidays”? For many long decades our Department for the Promotion of Frenetic Materialism has slaved away to ensure that the season is more frantic, more anxious, more absurd and depressing than any other time of the human year—anything to distract them from that horrendous mistake called the Incarnation.
(The fact that the Enemy chose to become a poor human vermin, much less a human at all, is one of the reasons why Our Father Below withdrew his support. Such an opportunity lost! So much that could have been exploited! But we have done our best, for the better part of two millennia, to ensure that the Enemy’s birth has become more and more associated with wealth and power, with senseless spending—indeed, with enslaving debt—that we have not only succeeded in creating more impoverished humans than ever, but we have successfully alienated those very people from believing the Enemy takes their side.)
But back to my concern. Have you exhausted these women during the trials of Christmas to the extent that they feel entitled to relax, to rest up, to have a holiday from the holidays? This is a well-tested strategy to ensure that they will avoid commitments for awhile. And if that doesn’t work, have you reminded them of their annual inability to live up to their “new year’s resolutions” (an ingenious invention promoted years ago by my colleague Claptrap)? The guilt and shame accompanying such failure is enough to keep any self-respecting woman from seeking the company and accountability of other so-called believers. But of course many of these women are rather far gone in the Enemy’s service, long familiar with their own weaknesses, and disgustingly persevering.
So if that strategy does not avail, may I suggest the Heroine Syndrome? It is an ancient method aimed at women who are generally capable and who have an earnest desire to be useful in the Enemy’s service. Indeed, it is most effective on those who have been in the Enemy’s service for so long that they have forgotten it is not their work which keeps them close to Him. Remember Martha in the Gospels? That is the goal. In her earnest desire to serve the Enemy, she begins to believe that her work is indispensable to the Enemy’s mission—that, in fact, she herself is the reason anyone else can function at all. She is the glue that keeps her family together; she is the one that provides the practical foundation for their day-to-day survival; without her they would not eat, they would not live, they would not change the world.
See how subtly a woman’s desire to serve the Enemy can be twisted to our advantage? She will take on more and more obligations at work, at home, for the Church, until the very act of prayer will feel like a waste of precious time (and, quite frankly, we agree). She cannot enjoy communal worship or accountability because it requires attentiveness to things that cannot demonstratively be proven to help anyone. Before long she will be so well in hand that she cannot sleep, for fear that the world will grind to a halt without her. At this point your only task is to keep from her mind the simple, obvious fact that the job of Savior has already been taken.
Not only will the world continue quite well without her, but she is not, in fact, needed.
Once she realizes that, you have lost your prey. She will find it no huge trial to read the books her small group is discussing; she will find herself heading out the door to meet with the others without making a mental list of all the other, more important things, she should be doing. Indeed, she may even feel that there is nothing more important than “unproductive” fellowship with other servants of the Enemy. The moment she gets in her car, you’re done for. You might as well brace yourself for an Inquisition with the Lower Council; and you know quite well what that means.
But in the meantime, the group has not yet met in the New Year. Now is the perfect time to make your move—while you still can.
Your affectionate colleague,
PS—Make sure their hostess (that smug little scribbler) spends more time cleaning house in preparation for their arrival than she spends in prayer for their souls.
Sarah Arthur has no intention of explaining how this correspondence fell into her hands, but merely that it materialized at around the time when her small group began reading The Screwtape Letters. She is the author of numerous resources and books, including Walking through the Wardrobe: A Devotional Quest into The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe (Tyndale, 2005) and The God-Hungry Imagination: The Art of Storytelling for Postmodern Youth Ministry (Upper Room Books, 2007). www.saraharthur.com