The following work of fiction was written by me in the year 2000 and published in the New Oxford Review in their Feb 2001 edition. Astute readers will realize at once that it is an affectionate homage to The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis’ masterpiece that documents correspondence between a senior tempter demon and his apprentice.
As you read this piece don’t forget that the memo was composed by a demon, for whom half-truths, distortions and outright lies are the lingua franca of commerce with the human race.
I found this memo in my e-mail. I could not trace its source or destination. After reading it carefully, I have decided to share its contents with you. For all I know, it could be nothing more than a prank. On the other hand, it may well be genuine. In any event, I have taken its contents to heart and consider myself forewarned.
Subject: Destruction of Christianity — Millennial
Per your request I have compiled this brief outline of our proposed business plan. I have taken the liberty to include previous business strategies, as they prove invaluable in charting our course for the decades ahead.
1. To completely obliterate Christianity and all worship of the Enemy.
2. Enslave human souls in our sector forever.
In order to achieve these objectives, our demons in marketing have, over the past two millennia, devised six principal strategies, each with its own tactical considerations.
Strategy #1 — Persecution
This was our first (and, admittedly, not our best) strategy. The idea was to so savagely persecute the first Christians that the ones who were left alive would quickly abandon their faith.
A. Use governments to go after them.
B. Calumniate them whenever possible.
C. Torture and kill them in the most horrific manner.
D. Try to force them to deny their faith.
Complete failure. Not only did the initial implementation of this strategy backfire worse than we had ever imagined (their numbers grew exponentially in the first five centuries alone) but Tripdribble and his staff re-implemented the same strategy several times thereafter (Islamic incursions, Nazism, Stalinism) with identical results each and every time: These idiotic human beings actually believe in the Enemy more fervently and practice their faith more diligently when they are persecuted for it. Needless to say, I strongly recommend that we suspend all persecution activity, pending the results of Strategy #6 (see below).
Strategy #2 — Schism
This was Pusdrool’s concept and in all fairness I must point out that, at the time, it made perfect sense. By splitting the Christian Church into various factions we implemented our Infernal Master’s simplest yet most effective strategy: divide and conquer.
A. Heresy: Arius (who says hello, by the way) was instrumental in our first major assault. This tactic continues to be a mother lode of profitability for us and I strongly recommend that we (as the American marketing managers like to say) “beat this horse ’till it won’t run no more.” In this vein, the Modernist heresy has proven to be the most effective of all (see Strategy #4 below).
B. East vs. West: One of my personal favorites. This one was a no-brainer since it basically involved the development of cultural differences. In spite of the fact that they both shared the Apostolic Succession and therefore the same sacraments, we nevertheless got them not only to excommunicate each other but to actually hate each other, not for decades, but for an entire millennium. (Kudos to Pusdrool and his hardworking staff.)
C. Various Schismatic Movements: I am especially fond of the Polish National Catholics — particularly since the current pope is Polish.
Mixed success and failure. The heresy option succeeded in that the Church has been plagued for its entire history with heretical movements. However, the East vs. West option failed in that all we ended up with is two Churches with Apostolic Succession and valid sacraments. In light of the success achieved after implementing Strategy #4, we strongly recommend that the schism gambit be shelved indefinitely.
Strategy #3 — Revolution
I particularly enjoy this one for its high profitability in terms of blood and human suffering. It is fiendishly clever. Both the Protestant Revolt and the French Revolution deserve equal credit for whacking a pretty sizable demographic chunk out of the Enemy’s loyal customer base.
A. Anti-Catholicism: Foment rebellion against the Catholic Church — Luther, Huss, Zwingli, Calvin, and Henry VIII (who sends greetings) deserve high marks for their efforts to destroy the Church. I am particularly impressed with Luther’s concept of sola Scriptura. Pure genius. As they say in our copywriting department: “Why listen to the pope when you can be one yourself?”
B. Anti-Religion: Stir up rebellion in general. The French Revolution reflected our marketing department’s finest hour. The French intelligentsia actually bought this cow flop and nursed it to fruition in the course of one of the bloodiest revolutions in history. In doing so, they set the stage for materialism, organized anti-Catholicism, Modernism, and eventually organized atheism. You gotta love it!
Success. Admittedly, it was touch-and-go for a few centuries as it appeared that the breakaway Protestant churches still held fast to a rigid morality and a deep reverence for the Bible. Fortunately, our field operatives had the patience and tenacity to really work this territory in the belief that it could yield a decent profit. They were right — especially when it came to the Episcopal Church in the U.S. Unfortunately, however, our best efforts at revolt never destroyed the Church, but only yielded a plethora of Protestant denominations, some of which have proved to be as challenging for us as the Catholic Church. Moreover, the recent upsurge in evangelical movements is undoing our best efforts to manage decent profit margins in these territories.
Strategy #4 — Infiltration
Another triumph for Pusdrool and his staff. Why waste time attacking the Church from without when you can infiltrate and destroy it from within? If the Greeks could do it to the Trojans with a hollow wooden horse, why couldn’t we do the same to the Mystical Body of the Enemy? Although the concept is not new, its execution did not become feasible until the groundwork was laid by the French Revolution. We have since been able to infiltrate the Church with a legion of wonderfully pernicious and destructive ideas: Modernism, feminism, relativism — the list goes on and on.
Modernism: This has proven to be one of our best and most versatile weapons; it has been so successful that at present it is our only tactic for this strategic approach. The essence of Modernism is of a design so fiendishly clever that it is worthy of our Infernal Master himself: Use the tools of modern scholarship, particularly the so-called historico-critical method, to debunk the Bible and advance the proposition that most of what Christianity believes to have occurred therein is really just mythology. But here’s the best part: The mythology is so obscure and arcane that even the Church itself does not understand it — only the scholars do. We saved a lot of capital on this one; all we had to do was take the Gnostic heresy out of storage, dust it off, make a few modifications — and voila! — Modernism. (Incidentally, Loisy, Tyrrell, and Teilhard de Chardin send their warmest — their hottest! — regards.)
Unqualified success. Although Modernism infiltrated the Church many decades ago, it didn’t bear any of the deliciously rotten fruit we had hoped for until after the close of the Second Vatican Council. Thanks to its effect in academia, the seminaries, and scholarly literature, coupled with my own efforts (see Strategies #5 and #6), in the decades following the close of the Council, the Church suffered a virtual meltdown at the hands of those who used the Council as the vehicle for their own Modernist agenda. True, we sweated it out for a bit when Paul VI issued that atrocious encyclical on birth control but, thanks to the efforts of Snapgut and the sales team, the effects of decades of Modernist influence won the day. More Catholics than ever reject the teaching of the Church on birth control, masturbation, fornication, and especially — oh yes, especially — abortion. I am proud to say that our efforts have succeeded in keeping abortion legal in the U.S. (thanks to the complicity of modernized Catholics), and I am pleased to report that we have exceeded the initial estimate of 25 million slaughtered babies by at least 10 million.
Strategy #5 — Division
This and Strategy #6 are of my own handiwork. I differentiate this strategy from schism and revolt for the simple reason that I desire neither to occur. Schism only multiplies the Enemy’s Churches while revolt — in the case of Protestantism — only creates more work for our sales force. What I have sought to create is a division within the Church itself — one that weakens it to its very core — without incurring schism or revolt.
A. Liberals: Incite liberals to become louder and more vocal with their demands for priestesses, gay marriage, birth control, divorce and remarriage, and abortion. Goad them into attacking Catholics who do not hold their viewpoint as “stupid” and “backward.” Accomplish all of this while keeping liberals within the fold of the Church and convinced that they will be able to effect the change they desire.
B. Reactionaries: Incite reactionaries to attack the teachings of the Second Vatican Council and the Pope, and to question the validity of the new Mass. But try hard not to let them go into schism. The idea is to keep them in the Church where they can do the most damage.
So far, this strategy has worked for the most part. The Modernist gambit, coupled with the confusion created by both liberals and reactionaries has so screwed up the Church that the faithful don’t seem to know what to believe anymore and, frankly, don’t seem to care. The results have exceeded our most optimistic projections. Church attendance is way down; few priestly vocations are being fostered, the confessionals are empty (yet everyone goes to Communion — I do so love the sin of sacrilege!); Catholics are practicing birth control in record numbers, and ignorance of their own faith is so widespread that if Catholicism were declared a crime there would not be enough evidence to convict most of them. Unfortunately, there is a sizable element of the Church that — until now — has defied our best attempts to destroy it: the orthodox Catholics. They reject both liberalism and reaction. They study their faith, practice it, and are intractably loyal to their Church and its teachings. They make me want to puke. Thus, with great pleasure, I announce a new strategy.
Strategy #6 — Dissolution
All that remains now is the moist, chewy center of the Catholic candy bar — the orthodox. This strategy involves hitting them with everything we’ve got. I already have Gagsnot and Toadbarf in our research and development department hard at work. For the most part, we will be using tried-and-true tactics, but some have new twists.
A. Distraction: Get them so caught up in bills, work, and day-to-day living that they find less and less time to pray. Prayer to the Enemy is the worst thing we can allow. It only strengthens them and whenever they do it, our tempter demons seem unable to approach them without the greatest of difficulty.
B. Seduction: Even the most fervent orthodox Catholics enjoy sex. Barrage them with images of sex and sexuality on television, in motion pictures, and on the Internet. Satan Almighty, how I love the Internet! It was the best thing to happen to our beloved porn industry since the VCR. Tickle their curiosity and goad them to surf the Net for dirty pics. And if we can actually get them to masturbate, fornicate, or commit adultery, so much the better!
C. False Apparitions: One of my favorites, particularly for those not into soft or hardcore porn! What is so diabolically clever about this tactic is that it is targeted precisely at the firmly devout and morally upstanding orthodox Catholics. Conditioned as they are by the real appearances of That Woman in Guadalupe, Fatima, Lourdes, and more recently in Akita, they unhesitatingly flock to the latest site of an alleged apparition, which is usually bogus. Then we can really screw with their heads!
D. Paranoia: Whether we get them paranoid about One-World Government or some imminent Moslem invasion or even the end of the world, this is still a useful and amusing tactic. It makes them do and say such patently stupid things. Even when they are correct in what they are saying, they will incur the reproval of fellow orthodox Catholics. It will tend to alienate them from those who would otherwise be their friends.
E. Complacency: Orthodox Catholics believe strongly in the Church hierarchy. This can be used to our advantage. We whisper into their ears that they shouldn’t be disturbed by the dissent, heresy, and liturgical high-jinks in their parishes because, “after all, the bishop is in charge and he allows all that.” When this doesn’t work, we tell them, “The Pope permits all that too. Are you more Catholic than the Pope?” You see, orthodox Catholics can be very naïve, very credulous — thinking that the bishop and the pope are all-knowing and all-powerful. The idea is to persuade orthodox Catholics that if the problems they perceive were anything to be concerned about, those in authority would do something about them. Invite the orthodox to just relax — that way we’ve neutralized them and deprived the hierarchy of allies in the field.
F. Compromise: Orthodox Catholics usually like to be goody-goody Christians, and we can turn this to our advantage too. The Church is delightfully divided. This grieves orthodox Catholics, and many would like to think it’s just some big misunderstanding and that if the liberals and the orthodox would just have a genteel dialogue over tea one afternoon, everything could be worked out. So we keep them focused on soothing and beguiling words such as “reconciliation,” “healing,” “common ground,” “tolerance.” There’s magic in those words! While we love acrimony and fratricide in the Church, an illusory peace can be just as useful to us. But if E and F don’t quite do it, we should reverse our tactics and concentrate heavily on the wave of the future, which is G.
G. The Internet: I have taken a personal interest in many of the so-called “message boards” and the activity that goes on therein (you will get my full report, with sample posts and IMs next week). If some of those message boards are any indication, this will be a slam-dunk. Behold the spectacle of wanton personal attacks and verbal carnage: Catholics who once were arm-in-arm are now ripping and tearing each other apart — and most of them are orthodox! It is simply delicious and I drool just watching the venom and the hatred ooze from every word of many of the posts I have read. The Internet is my favorite medium now, especially because there are no editors to check factual assertions or wild accusations. The message boards are made-to-order for fanatics and egotists. Oh, the mayhem is so delicious! By the way, I will be sure to give your regards to Judas Iscariot when I see him. I can understand a guy who stabs someone in the back for 30 pieces of silver. But these idiots do it just for the ego boost.
Unless the remaining orthodox Catholics get their act together, the market will belong to us! We have everything to gain by marshaling our resources into the implementation of Strategy #6 while reinforcing our efforts in Strategy #5.
I am sending this to you through unsecured channels. I realize that this is a breach of security protocol, but who are we kidding? Even if those orthodox fools get hold of this memo, they wouldn’t know what to do with it, and would probably start arguing among themselves about it, and resume the bloodletting on the message boards, which is all to our benefit.
cc: Pusdrool; Dimblood; Snapgut; Gagsnot; Toadbarf; His Satanic Majesty Lucifer