The brilliant Oxford scholar C.S. Lewis wrote a famous religious satire, “The Screwtape Letters,” in 1942.
Now, by today’s standards, the term “religious satire” likely connotes works that mock religion or people of faith – common fare for Hollywood.
But Lewis was anything but in tune with the thinking of present-day Hollywood.
A devout Anglican, he wrote several works of Christian apologetics (defense of the faith) as well as fiction, such as “Chronicles of Narnia” and “The Screwtape Letters.”
In “Screwtape,” Lewis portrays the devil at work. Screwtape is a demon, writing a series of letters to his young nephew, Wormwood, whom he is mentoring in the art of capturing human souls for Hell.
He counsels Wormwood on how to work with the “Patient” — an unnamed young Englishman — to wrest him away from the “Enemy” (God).
It got me thinking how a 21st Century American version of the letters might go. So, with apologies to the late C.S. Lewis, I offer:
To say I am disappointed with your work would be an understatement. You have done nothing to bring the Patient to our side – he donates his time and money to help the poor, he treats everyone kindly, he is honest and truthful, he is faithful to his wife.
He’s a leader in his community and his church. He reads the Bible.
Nothing you’ve done to tempt him has worked. He’s retired now and 72 years old. Hurry up. We haven’t got all millennium.
Your latest report distresses me. Still no progress? Did I ever tell you how I got John Wilkes Booth to come over to our side? Oh, yes, I suppose I have. Well, try that. Promise him lasting fame.
You will never earn your horns as a full-fledged demon if you can’t convert this patient. We haven’t been losing too many lately and certainly not many high-profile cases.
I remember how mad Old Scratch was when we lost George Bailey to the enemy. Right at the last minute, some bumbling angel named Clarence snatched him away from us, and they made a movie out of it starring Jimmy Stewart.
We made a movie out of it down here, too. Called it “It’s a Horrible Life.”
I really don’t understand you. All these terrific temptations available to you in American society today — drugs, sex, pornography, hording of riches, crime with little or no consequence — and you’re wasting your time in getting a 72-year-old man into this newfangled social media.
That’s not how we did it in my day.
I hate to do this because you are my nephew, but Old Scratch thinks this pillar of the community will be a tremendous public relations boost for our side, and he really wants to secure him. He’s taking it out on me because you are making no progress.
So, either you wrest him away from the Enemy in the next year, or I will step in and show you how it’s done. You’ll be finished as a demon.
My dearest wonderful Wormwood,
I am amazed. Your patient got involved in social media when you told him it was a good way to stay in touch with old friends and see pictures of his grandchildren.
Then you got him to glance at political posts. I like how you described how he just shook his head and scrolled past at first. Then he started commenting on posts he disagreed with.
I was amazed at how quickly he became hooked, wasting time and scrolling incessantly during the time he used to spend conversing with his family and friends, studying the Bible, volunteering at the food bank.
And then this mild-mannered fellow was getting in online fights and name-calling with strangers! All heat, no light. Well done, Wormwood.
The Patient has ended long friendships, he is alienated from his own daughter and two of his grandchildren – all over social media political fights.
Yes, division is key!
You’ve got him on our side, Wormwood. Congratulations. He’s a full-fledged hater.