Christmas - Viewed from the other side

Almost five years ago now, I was a frequent poster on a forum about the movie, The Passion of the Christ. I decided to try and emulate C. S. Lewis' magnificent Screwtape Letters. (I am sure I shall probably have to apologize to him profusely when we do meet someday.) Below is what I posted then.

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Posted: Fri Dec 24, 2004 11:28 am
Post subject: To my dear nephew, Wormwood...

[Disclaimer: This is NOT an attack on anyone on these boards, it is an attempt to put this into perspective, using the characters Screwtape and Wormwood. These are drawn from CS Lewis' book, The Screwtape Letters, written from the perspective of a head demon below (Screwtape) to a tempter in training (Wormwood). Please keep this in mind, OK?]

Dear Wormwood,

Good to see you know where to turn to for sound advice, my boy. Quoting from your missive to me:

"I am appealing to your vast experience, and my inexperience, on a matter which concerns me greatly. What do I do with my client when he has decided to go to some of these Christmas plays and cantatas?"

First, allow me to most humbly say that you may have overstated my abilities, although it is true I have won many awards for my skills, but I need not brag to you, as I know you have seen them in my offices here Below. I am not a vain creature, you know.

But to your question...

We cannot interfere too directly in these humans lives as they can be quite mulish about wanting their own way. Of course, they are only mulish because they listened to Our Father Below, eh? But I digress. What you must do in situations such as this is try and have them seated next to an obnoxious individual who will colour their entire perception of the evening. Ideally, the obnoxious person should be one of Our Enemy Above's people... how truly sweet it is when they are the cause of someone being turned off to Our Enemy Above!

Failing that, as people are, unfortunately, more inclined to be in a "good" or "cheerful" or "forgiving" mood at this detestable time of the year, have your client focus on the externals to such an event. Is the lighting done well, if he thinks it is, point out to him how the lighting would be better if they moved this light over there, or had it brighter or softer... thus he focuses on the lighting, and not the Light which came into the world.

If he is a music lover, make sure he critiques not only the choice of the music, but the way it is rendered in song and instrument. "They really should have a larger choral/smaller choral group. The soloist is singing too nasally, is off pitch... why, I could sing better than that" and so on. This way he is focused on the performance, not what the performance celebrates.

I recall once keeping a young woman so preoccupied with "the poor costuming, the inadequate makeup, the flat quality of the rendition of the music, etc.", that she never once heard any of what was being so clearly communicated! She is now safely with us, well, not safely for her, you know, but she is permanently with us.

You also faced a dilemma we all face as tempters during this season, the giving of gifts. Your wrote in part:

"... and he is looking to find really good gifts for his friends and family. How do I discourage this?"

Actually, you do not discourage it but encourage it! Before you think I have lost all reason, think it through with me, Wormwood.

If, as they are so fond of saying, "it is better to give than receive", you must make them feel stingy if they do not give and give extravagantly. By extravagantly, I mean make sure they give beyond what they can afford so that they will regard the giving as a burden, not a joy. This is very important. Why? The added bonus is that if they give an extravagant gift to someone and that person gives only what they can afford to give in return, you can foster animosity over how "cheap" the other person is and how they "must not like me very much". IOW, make them feel they deserve more. Always bring it back to what they get, but do not let him even begin to think on the most extravagant Gift of all. If you do, Wormwood, you will have Hell to pay.

This is the part of your letter, and yours is hardly the only one, which concerns me most greatly:

His father and many others in his father's church are actively praying for him, and he seems
especially open to it during this season. He is even going to go to their Christmas Eve and
Sunday services with them.


Unless your client should become ill, or thinks he is becoming ill, you will simply have to go with them to these services and try and distract him. You will find it incredibly unpleasant, Wormwood, as there will be those there who are truly mature in their faith and, even though they may appear frail outwardly, in the only world which ultimately matters, the spiritual, they are anything but frail. They will sense your presence and will pray - and I mean as in real prayer, not merely words - against you and the other tempters.

Unfortunately, Our Enemy Above has in the young man's father one of those fairly mature believers, and he will pray that you will be bound. If he does this, you will find yourself with remarkably few options... alas, we have all had this unfortunate experience, thank evilness it isn't very often, are we should become discouraged.

What you must do is to continuously try and distract your client from what is being said. However, if they are truly diligent and vigilant in prayer, you will be unable to do much more than whimper. And that you must not do, for if he should sense this, then he will realize the might and the power of Our Enemy and your weakness before Him.

One closing thought, Wormwood, once Christmas is over, most of these humans see it precisely that way, over. Encourage this. Also, have you found a good, well, good for our purposes, New Year's Eve party for him to attend? While Christmas may be Spirit filled we make sure that most parties on New Years Eve are spirit filled. Not only our presence there, but an abundance of liquor, drugs, etc.

The number of people who we are able to entice into seduction and sexual immorality is at its peak on this day... only one week after they celebrate his birth! Work with your fellow tempters and see about getting him to the "right" party where we will see to it he meets the "right" young woman or two. He will find them most willing to assist him in his fall!

Your affectionate uncle,

Screwtape

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Comment by sesport on December 8, 2010 at 5:19pm
Ah, David, here we are yet again, almost an entire year later, and still Screwtape encourages Wormwood as if a mosquito buzzing in folks' ears. Odd, no one else cares to comment here in all this time? Let the light of truth, and those who shine that light, prevail.

Once again, have a wonderful holiday & blessed Christmas with all those you hold dear. 80)
Comment by sesport on December 23, 2009 at 12:51pm
David - Thank you for writing your own extension & adaptation of Dicken's work, certainly thought provoking. And perhaps much needed in these times. Best read with a "one finger pointing forward, 3 fingers pointing back" POV. Best taken with a healthy dose of self reflection.

Have a wonderful Christmas. 80)

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