Hardtack Is Initiated

The following is an imagined continuation of the Screwtape Letters by C.S. Lewis:

Wormwood spoke with authority.

“Hardtack, Screwtape moved on. His promotion to Tormentor is under direct supervision by our father, Lucifer. You are now my protégé’ in the art of tempting. I promise to teach you all that Screwtape instilled in me. Tempting humans is a subtle art, a showcase in maligning good intentions. There is much to learn. The human psyche is fertile ground, replete with opportunity. Since you are new in this realm, please listen closely.”

“Wormwood, I promise.”

“Good. Now the first lesson is simple. Always start small and be discreet, never obvious. Small sins can be excused by common logic. Everyone does them, so anyone committing such a small omittance will allow each to pass scrutiny. This prepares the way for a precipitous fall later. Screwtape knew this well as an often overlooked but effective means to separate our man from the Enemy. To get a man to be casual about his own imperfection and belief in the Enemy keeps him from becoming fully devoted to Him.”

“How can I achieve this?”

“The best approach is to lean your victim toward manipulation. He must believe his rationality and intention are without fault and produce good for others. And yet, all the while he knows deep within (without admitting even to himself though he knows it to be true) the good he intends is really self-serving. After a time, he really believes he is doing good and unaware this falsity produces harm. This tact works to our great advantage. When he convinces himself he is right, we are well on our way to success.”

“And then?”

“Then, you have done the pedestrian and important work of laying a foundation. But beware, the Enemy also works in your man’s life by allowing him awareness of his faults. This produces within him a sense of incompleteness, a desire to know more about the Enemy and to spend time in His presence. Not to worry though, we have an army to dissuade and distract him with wants and wishes to fulfill his immediate desire.”

Before Hardtack could speak, Wormwood continued.

“Using good as a temptation is a sly means of producing the higher fault of pride and self-righteousness. Get him to feel good about himself and you are well on your way to understanding the goal. In this way, he begins to see his compatriots as objects, less than himself. Our father, Lucifer, in his failure to tempt the Christ, did not have the aid of social media as we do, a technology best suited to expose this weakness and create less empathy between them. The less empathy, the better for our task, and better still, to have it happen in their churches.”

“One more thing, Hardtack. Get your man to think of himself as an individual. This delays his entry into the community they call Christians—the more delay, the better. Do not allow him conviction about his faults but acceptance. If not, you have lost him. Better he accepts them as normal than to admit them.

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