Modern Screwtape Letter #3

Wormwood,

So, you say your subject has been reading a lot. Not only is he reading a lot, but he’s also reading a lot of the Enemy’s books. I have had this situation before. It’s not your fault. The enemy puts a nasty void within them so that they seek Him. Will His propaganda ever end? Of course, it is our ultimate hope that they fill this void with materialism, emotionalism, and shallow opinions that they grab one at a time from the hooks provided by our master. You know . . . “Mere Satanaity,” as we like to call it. However, it is an evitable result that at some point they will find that the void is best filled with a knowledge and relationship with that despicable Man that should be dead, but who tricked us that dreadful day.

Do not worry. Many of us have been here. In fact, some of us intentionally get here as we can often gain more power in this predicament. Here’s what you do: allow the vermin to read. Not only should you allow him to read, but you should instigate it every chance you get. Don’t let him ever have a break. Get him to move from one book to the next, one article after another. Make him watch every video there is on any given subject. The moment he sits down his C.S. Lewis, have him pick up Francis Schaeffer. Once he is done with Wallace’s course on Textual Criticism, have him immediately click play on Habermas’ horrible course on the Resurrection. Don’t let him have any breaks. Give him an insatiable drive toward knowledge. Make him think they can learn and understand every subject there is. Make him think that this is an automatic path to spirituality. Whisper into existence a mindset that says the more they know—the more facts they have in their brains—the more spiritual they are. Have others praise and envy them for how many facts they put in their head. Let them take great pride in the number of books they read. I don’t mean to brag, but I had one subject boasting that he read five books a week. Sometimes I would make him read six! Oh boy, what fun it was watching him fall.

Before you think I have lost my mind, hear me out. I have been doing this for a long time. I know it seems as if this methodology would work against us, but listen to this: Yes, I admit, it could work against us. But this is only if, in their learning, they take the time to contemplate what they’ve read. You see, so many of them think that reading, knowledge, and facts produce a spirituality that is guaranteed. But this is not the case. The reading alone does nothing. Facts alone do nothing. These things can just enter their mind and become easily wasted as they hastily move on to the next book. Whatever you do, DO NOT give them time to process what they read. Don’t let them sit down and think. Don’t let them ask Him questions about it. Don’t let them wrestle with what they have learned and begin to form a systematic understanding of our Enemy’s world and His ways. You see, it is like when humans eat. It is not the eating itself that helps them grow and gain strength, it is the digestion of it. That’s why our Enemy has them sleep. The time of sleep is the digestion of all their nutrients and activities, helping their bodies to integrate all they’ve taken in. It gives them time to heal through the systematic integration of all they did the day before. In the same way, when they read and learn, they need the same digestion. This is a digestion of the mind and the spirit. They have to have time to relate this information to their world, their circumstance, their community, and their emotions. This is called critical thought. Our master below hates critical thought. In fact, I have heard him call it “the worst of all circumstances” a time or two. The ability to think critically is something that our Enemy has had from the beginning and he gifted it to all these vermin. Thanks be to him down under, they often don’t know how to use it. They think that if they’re just able to quote verbatim some Christian Reformer they read, some footnote in their Bible commentary, or the latest and greatest theological fad author, this counts toward their love for the Enemy. Indeed, just about all these filth walkers think this. This is why there is envy, jealousy, and pride in the hearts of so many when it comes to reading and knowing facts.

I have to go, but let me say one more thing about this information overload we put them in. It very often creates a great swelling of hubris and pride (which we love more than all else), while knowledge with critical thinking brings about humility (which we hate more than all else). This, in turn, brings about jealousy from others who want to be “intelligent” like them. This is the best of all worlds!

In short, if they take up learning, don’t give them time to breathe. There are many people who will be  playing biblical Jeopardy in Hell.  Ha! I just made that up…”biblical Jeopardy in Hell”! Don’t steal it.
 
Until next time,
 
Your hating Uncle, Screwtape

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