Tuesday, November 10, 2015

The new Screwtape letters: letter III


My dear Ticksnar,

So your patient, despite her misgivings about her daughter's lesbian marriage, and having in fact stayed away from the wedding, is now actually residing with the happy couple. What a complex and delightful scenario this presents! You will of course do everything in your power to encourage her to stay as long as possible, thus perpetuating and exacerbating the attendant frictions.

I understand this arrangement was undertaken for reasons of health—an injury to your patient, was it not? Evan as she convalesces, she must on some level be conscious of hypocrisy—of enjoying the fruits of the daughter and wife's marriage, the hospitality of their home, while at the same time denying and denigrating its legitimacy. Needle her with hypocrisy, Ticksnar, but take care not to let her confront it directly, lest she recognise it for what it is. Instead, encourage her in the belief that her ongoing presence may in some way serve as an antidote to their wickedness, or that she may yet influence the daughter on the question of orientation. She may yet harbour a belief that her daughter's orientation (call it a perversion!) is merely a passing phase, and perhaps even a secret hope that the daughter may be prevailed upon to abandon and divorce the wife—of course the patient would not see it this way—and marry a man, as your patient and her late husband had always planned and assumed. To break up a family in the name of "family values"—that would be a coup indeed, and would certainly justify collaboration with the daughter's and the wife's tempters if it ever looks to be a real possibility—but I rather suspect that particular scenario to be a fool's errand. Feed that hope in your patient, however, for even if it never comes to fruition, damning the daughter, harbouring that hope in secret will naturally be corruptive to the soul of your patient.

While nurturing that hope in secret, on a more conscious and open level let your patient congratulate herself on her tolerance and liberality. Once upon a time (and indeed, in some places yet), a parent in her position would kill the child outright, and she will certainly reflect that her own parents would have entirely disowned such a child. Nothing serves to justify and perpetuate unkindness in the self-righteous than the belief (the guilty belief, in fact) that they are going easy on the supposed transgressor.

Keep these lines of thought always active in the mind of your patient, or pluck at other anxieties, giving her as little opportunity as possible to actually observe the daily life of the happy couple. For if they are, in fact, happy and well-suited to one another, her condemnation may well be eroded by the very normalcy and decency of their lives together.

Your patient may, incidentally, be oblivious to the effects of her conduct, may even be convinced that the daughter and the wife bear her no grudge for her disapprobation. (You will have observed already, I'm sure, how these humans like to think that they can eat their cake and have it too.) If she is, as I suspect, deluded on this score, then fine; a corrosive effect is already at work. If they have in fact forgiven her, however, on no account let her fully realise this and its implications—that the supposed sinners are in fact living out the values to which she merely aspires. The more lip service she pays to spiritual matters, the further she may drift from her spiritual moorings. In that event, your task is simply to be ready with fog and choppy waters, and to do your best to effect a drowning.

Your affectionate uncle
Screwtape
 

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