May 25, 1983

My dear Wormwood,

Judging from your most recent letter I have to wonder exactly what they have been teaching young fiends at the tempters’ training college since old Slubgob took the place over. In your excitement at your patient’s decision to confront his father over this problem and that, you rhapsodize at the “bold” opportunities this transient event presents for turning the patient over to “our” side.

May I remind you that no human, however deluded, is ever truly on our side? Like all things bounded within time and space, even the greatest of the human vermin was created by the Enemy. Man remains a disgusting hybrid: in one sense he is a luminous being such as we are, and yet he remains fashioned of crude matter, at least until death. Therefore his interests can never truly align with our own, any more than those of a bull leading the herd to the slaughterhouse align with those of the chef who will ultimately make use of him. As tempters, we struggle at best to deceive the cattle into our maws. So let me read no more such claptrap please.

As for the present problem, I agree it presents a useful avenue. If the patient’s father is, as you say, a brutal man who tortures the son with unwanted revelations and even physical abuse, he seems to be quite in Our Father’s hand, more likely to lead the patient into darkness than into the light. And yet there remains a danger that could cause us to lose both the patient and the father.

Even the greatest of sinners is never fully in our grasp until he passes within Hell’s gates. I could tell you stories of the most wicked men who were suddenly pried from our talons by seemingly random events. One moment everything is going our way; the next, the creature pauses by a waterfall, or looks into a mirror, and everything is suddenly turned upside down. The sinner experiences what the Enemy calls a “change of heart,” and all our work is ruined. Note that the Enemy really means this. The man who really looks at himself honestly and consciously decides to turn from the dark path experiences a rebirth. He is, as the Enemy puts it, born again.

And this is why the patient’s meeting with the father requires caution on your part. Heretofore your patient has been a fairly bland sort of creature, the ordinary fare which makes up the staple of diabolic foodstuffs. From dull beginnings, he was driven from the loving aunt and uncle who raised him by ingratitude for that which they had provided. Not content with the station allotted him by the Enemy, all his life has he looked away: to the future, to the horizon. It is exactly this sort of attitude that we wish to encourage, keeping the patient’s mind on the excitement and adventure (he promises himself) sure to come, rather than the humdrum tedium of receiving this day’s bread with gratitude and hoping for no more.

Fleeing the family home, your patient has fallen in with exactly the sort of crowd we like: a confidence man; a woman he swoons over but can never have due to their difference in stations; and even a few ridiculous pagans. He is proceeding, slowly but surely, to Our Father’s House.

That is why we must be careful of the present opportunity, for it is also a chance for the Enemy. It is true that the last encounter with the father went quite well. The patient’s faith was utterly shaken, and he nearly made the conscious decision to devote himself to sin. One more hard push, you may think, and he is ours.  But consider, while we enjoy the destruction and misery caused by a good convulsion, we cannot control its power. An earthquake may topple many edifices, and not all of them to our liking. In general our interests are better served by slow and steady decay. To put it more plainly, the risk of another violent confrontation with the father is that we not only lose the patient, but the father as well. Remember that out of revolution we have made a great many sinners, but the Enemy also makes his greatest saints.

Mind my words carefully. I wish you every success in the upcoming encounter. You know what awaits you should you fail.

Your affectionate uncle,


darth vader gargoyle

Last 5 posts by Patrick Non-White


  1. EFG says

    "Fleeing the family home, your patient has fallen in with exactly the sort of crowd we like: a confidence man; a woman he swoons over but can never have due to their difference in stations; and even a few ridiculous pagans. "

    The woman is obviously Princess Leia, but who is the confidence man and who are the ridiculous pagans?


  2. Nicholas Kronos says

    Since the pagans are "ridiculous" I'm guessing the Ewoks. Recall that they momentarily worship CP-30.

  3. Jarrod says

    At first I thought it was brilliant. Then it occurred to me that though I know why you said it, Lewis wouldn't have subscribed to that Gnostic attitude about "crude matter" and all. Then it occurred to me that the demons very likely would, so it's back to being brilliant.

  4. Peter Sutton says

    I was just reading Screwtape two days ago, so I knew that this wasn't one of the original Screwtape Letters, and was surely a parody. But your imitation of the style and substance was good enough that I was keeping open the possibility that you had discovered a "lost letter" penned by Lewis.

    Then I got to the picture and, well, got the picture. Well-played.