Screwtape Goes to War

July 3, 2012 — 9 Comments

I edit a free online journal for military chaplains. Articles have been contributed by clergy from most of the world’s continents, sharing their experiences and opinions. Much of the material will be of interest to anyone interested in the nature of ministry within the armed forces.

The current issue was “published” at the end of June, and includes one article that may be of particular interest to the readers of Mere Inkling.

On page fifty-seven you’ll find the preface to a series of six letters. They are collected under the same title as this post, “Screwtape Goes to War.” It is available via this link: Curtana: Sword of Mercy.

Those familiar with C.S. Lewis’ masterpiece of diabolical correspondence will require no introduction. Here’s an excerpt from one of the six epistles gathered in this modest collection. Remember, it is from the pen of a senior demon advising a junior Tempter on how to corrupt his “patient” (in this case a chaplain).

While preaching can in theory be used by the Enemy to draw his servants closer to himself, it’s equally possible to use the pulpit to drive a wedge between the Enemy and those ordained to serve him. In fact, there is something uniquely satisfying about using a chaplain’s own preaching to immunize him to the disgusting message of hope and forgiveness.

There are so many tactics to undermining the effectiveness of your chaplain’s sermons . . . where to begin? I have found the following methods to be most useful.

1. Encourage him to subscribe to all sorts of periodicals and keep him as far away from the Enemy’s book as possible. Tell him that by this means he “will remain in touch with the culture” to which he is preaching. We do not want him opening the Scriptures. It’s not too challenging persuading many clergy today that they’ll bore and alienate their audience by citing passages from that archaic text. Let him explore all sorts of publications so he discovers ones he honestly enjoys. That will make the choice easier when he looks on his desk at a tempting contemporary publication lying next to that black book.

Not all journals are created equal, of course. Some actually contribute to the knowledge and comprehension of the Enemy’s book. Avoid these. Secular publications are usually safe, the more so when they celebrate selfishness, man’s favorite religion. The most precious, however, are those published by “religious” presses. You know those to which I refer. The ones penned by our allies who where wear the garb of the Enemy but live with either themselves or some other idol on the throne of their souls. Those who may praise him with their lips but deny him access to their hearts. Mind you, these documents need to be chosen with great care. But if you can find some which appeal to him, it will aid you immeasurably in bringing about his demise. . . .

Curtana discusses both historical matters and contemporary issues. It is interfaith and international in scope. The website includes a “subscription” form for those who wish to be notified whenever a new issue of the journal is published.

Don’t be confused when you see the date on the current issue. Like many minimally-staffed, free publications, we’ve fallen slightly “behind schedule.” Thus, the current issue is dated Fall & Winter 2011. (I promise this is due not merely to procrastination, but also to the editor’s chronic propensity for terribly over-extending himself.) At any rate, Curtana 3.1 is indeed the issue which includes the afore-described article.

9 responses to Screwtape Goes to War

  1. 

    I skimmed tthrough an issue of Curtana and will keep it up for further reading. Interesting!
    I enjoy your blog. It is one of the few that has solid, intellectual truth–not mere platitudes. I recently read one of yours about colleges having to admit ill-prepared students from DC high schools. My guest author wrote a piece along a similar vein. Thought you might appreciate.
    Alexandria http://simplysage.org/2012/07/02/a-tale-of-agony-or-whatever-happened-to-success-thoughts-from-steve/#comments

  2. 

    Thank you or this post Rob. Overextending? That’s a truth in my life.
    I collect Screwtape Copycat letters (http://apilgriminnarnia.com/2012/02/06/screwtape-writes-again-a-note-on-contemporary-screwtape-letters/) and so I’ve captured his issue. Thanks!

    • 

      I spoke too soon. These are intriguing, and were a lot of work. You’ve kept the fictional framework but did what Lewis suggested by taking up “the general diabolical framework”. When I do my next analysis I will include these.

  3. 

    Thanks. I ran an early version of the first two by my writer’s group and the members thought they were from the original book. They were confused by why I brought them there to be critiqued. That was a compliment–well, coming from the several who were actually acquainted with the original work, it was flattering.

  4. 

    Nice work, on this letter. Pithy with a bit of a sting. Is the journal for chaplains or by chaplains?

    • 

      Glad you enjoyed it, Seth. Yes, Curtana is by and for chaplains, although it’s more difficult to get submissions than you might imagine. Of course, it will be of interest to all readers interested in ministry in a military context. And the price is certainly right!

Trackbacks and Pingbacks:

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    […] Many writers have tried their hand at writing angelic letters, with varying degrees of skill and success. After you finish this column, you might want to check out two examples right here at Mere Inkling: Screwtape Letters Anniversary and Screwtape Goes to War. […]

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