Screwtape, famous in the demon community, is a senior manager at a consulting firm, a prolific writer, speaker and counselor. He is the author of the much celebrated book “The Screwtape Letters.” In this recent letter to a first-year demon analyst, Wormwood, he is addressing his concerns regarding a young Christian woman (called “the patient”) from a women’s college in North America.
My dear Wormwood,
I have received detailed reports about your work concerning our patient and must say that I am dissatisfied with your work in recent years. I can understand that we are in the difficult business of keeping our patient as far away as possible from the Enemy, but in this age of technology, entertainment and connectivity, you have led a young woman gone astray. This is unacceptable, and I hope that this letter will give you sufficient advice so that you can fix the issue at hand and reestablish the domination of our values.
Given that we are dealing with an ambitious college student, the first responsible thing to do is to lure her with academic work; make her believe that better exams, longer essays and more ambitious project are what she should be caring for. You need to instill in her a deep desire to go to graduate school, develop a kind of shallow and bogus passion for the subject, reinforced through praise from professors, friends and family. With your hard work, I believe that up to a certain point, she won’t be able to discern her true desires and talents anymore. If she gets into graduate school, make sure that she is so deeply absorbed in work that she cannot longer do time-consuming “reflection” and “devotion.” If she doesn’t get into graduate school, she will feel utterly exhausted and disillusioned with her beliefs. She will fight back and try to get up again, so you have to be careful, Wormwood. Revise our company’s safety standards before you leave for work.
Wormwood, you noticed that talking to other people, especially those of her sorts, keeps her faith alive. Well, I have noticed that her very long conversations tend to be superficial, filled with repetition of things she has learned about the Enemy. You ought to make her realize this pattern, and deem her experience-sharing lame and worthless. She needs to revere critical thinking and creativity. Why accept everything from that little brown book? Why not take bits and pieces from this and that? Our patient has a good habit of criticizing Hobbes, Locke and hmm… Rousseau. I am positive that she is not far from declaring that her faith is just an illusion, a non-reality, a theory, too. Right! A theory, that thing one can change or reject!
The reports show that this patient talks a lot about happiness. That awful feeling that we cannot image! But from my years of experience, I know that this, too, is a deception. Make her question, and doubt, make her think that happiness is an end-goal in itself, so that the more she strives for it, the more elusive it becomes! One good practical advice I can give you is to make her complain, and a lot more than she does now. The food in the dining hall, the fact that she lives next to the laundry room, her busy friends, her parent’s rigid rules — whatever tiny problem there is. You need to catch the opportunity, and cultivate in her a habit of anger, frustration, disappointment and grievance. It takes a lot of effort, but we will triumph in the long run.
And finally, I need to advise you on this crucial aspect as well –romantic love! The method I have developed over time works 95% fine. She is deeply burdened with a broken relationship? Let her crave it more, let her think that she won’t be satisfied unless she gets that person back, that her whole life depends on that. Our patient may be good at discerning facts, but emotions are her weakness.
My dear Wormwood, the patient’s surroundings provide favorable opportunities for our business, but it has built a strong resistance mechanism in her as well. I need that you are clever and focused in your work. Leverage what is lacking in her life and distract our patient, so that the little and big problems in her life will continuously drain her energy, make her exhausted and lifeless.
For success comes from darkness,