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Screwtape in San Francisco

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My dear Persclaw--

Spare me your twaddle. Your patient is an atheistic, adulterous, fornicating sapphist, is she? I hope that you aren’t proud of yourself.

For some time the policy of Our Father Below has been heresy, atheism and ignorance. Our successes have been greatest among the religious, most of whom believe God is a sort of bearded therapist who wants His creatures to be happy and nice to each other and to work on their low self-esteem. There is no consciousness of guilt or sin or the need for redemption. Heresy runs rampant. Many are genuinely ignorant that their gluttony and sloth could be considered sins!

The kinder and more honest humans (not that any human is ever really honest) recognize this as the claptrap it is. Some find true religion and are lost to us, but many are wooed away by Dawkins or Hitchens or someone of that sort. There is a victory in this. The human is kept safe from the sacraments, which give such a repulsive strength and fortitude to the human soul. There is no need to fear the company of mature Christians, who may spur the human to a quite undesirable level of self-examination.

But you see the problem. The Enemy, with his despicable “justice,” has found a way to have it both one way and the other. Fornication, adultery, and atheism are grave sins, but damnation requires more than gravity: the sin must be performed with full knowledge and consent of the will. Many times a young tempter has thought his patient well in hand, cultivated her habits of blasphemy and pornography while ignoring the pernicious charity growing up in her heart, only to find her, with a single moment of grace, swept away by the Enemy.

And we cannot even get the patient to read books that would convince her fornication is a sin, for fear she would repent and convert!

The Enemy is as promiscuous with grace as your patient is with spreading her legs. He shows no discretion, no fastidiousness; he grants forgiveness at every half-hearted repentance, endurance and strength at every mumbled plea to I-know-there’s-nothing-out-there-but. He accepts as praise the wonder in the atheist’s soul at a sunset or a poem or a baby’s smile.

One of the wiser humans said that they know where the church is, but they do not know where it is not. The Enemy conceals His plans from us as much as from the humans, but with the benefit of our spiritual sight we may see how spread out the church militant truly is and how surprising are some of His greatest warriors. You would think the humans would realize, given His comments on the publicans and the tax collectors, and His explicit statement that the saved would be surprised that they had fed and clothed Jesus himself. Fortunately, even if humans read their holy book, they only rarely comprehend it.

The AIDS crisis was simply a tragedy. Homosexual after homosexual, patients we thought we had safely damned through the sins of the flesh, discovering self-sacrifice and charity, fidelity and resignation. (Don’t believe that lie the propaganda department tells the humans, that avoidance of adultery is the sum and total of fidelity in a relationship.) Why, a patient of mine, one damned through his anger far more than his lust, suddenly discovered righteous anger and started chaining himself to buildings and chanting about the CDC. Worst of all, it taught them that they could not rely on their own strength, and many turned instead to rely on the Enemy. Tragedy opened cracks in thousands of souls through which the Enemy could shine. It enrages me! I was barely comforted by the delightful crop of Christian hypocrites and Pharisees we had that year.

So do not assume too quickly that because the patient is an atheist and a lesbian that matters are under control--

Your uncle,