Lost Screwtape Letters – Small Groups

stone gargoyle

My dear Wormwood,

How many times must I remind you to remain cool when your patient takes a turn for the worse? Time is our ally here, as always: other opportunities will appear down the road.

I have read your latest report closely – and I cannot see any reason for undue concern.

Your patient has started attending a mid-week bible-study. So – what of it? Your last report contained so much hyperbole that the facts were obscured: how can your patient possibly be falling into the hands of another “like apostle Paul”? Balderdash! An enemy servant of the apostle Paul’s caliber (a tragic failure, that one – a much higher-ranked tempter should have been assigned him) arises but once in a generation, thankfully. If you persist in writing such fictions I will get you transferred to Propaganda.

To return to the point: all bible-study groups (at least, those to which I was ever assigned) are easily diverted to serve our own purposes most admirably. We spend much effort in ensuring that plenty of pagans attend such groups – which is most useful to us: particularly when they lead the group.

Pull yourself together and follow any of the following suggestions – but add to them whatever else your own ingenuity suggests:

  • Preach – not practice. Let them read the bible as much as they wish. Encourage endless discussion about what it means. Avoid definite conclusions about anything: encourage them to doubt whether the true meaning can ever be known. Such reading need cause no harm: do not we ourselves know one of their Scriptures by heart? Just so long as they never put what they read into practice, what can possibly come of it?

  • Disarm prayer. If prayer cannot be altogether avoided, disrupt it and make it ineffectual. Do not – I abjure you! – under any circumstances let them come to full-minded agreement when they pray. Even novice prayers cause us endless mischief when made in earnest. (It is most unfair how the Enemy stacks the field against us!) Therefore, use means to prevent two agreeing on anything – insert into their minds thoughts like: the (fallacious) need to finish on time, worry about (any cause will do), embarrassment over praying aloud (surprisingly effective), and so on.

  • Criticise! Disrupting unity to prevent fellowship is easy when attendees criticise each other. Focus on their differences, no matter how small or non-existent, in: speech, dress, income, age, background, or whatever. A well-placed criticism by one will spark quick defensiveness in the rest – shattering all incipient feelings of community. With a little good management you can easily provoke others to join in the criticism – and then expand the scope to encompass anyone not present. Few things prove more enjoyable than directing matters to this end.

  • Gossip / Slander. When a spirit of criticism is being established, adding gossip and slander to the mix is simplicity itself. Use some insinuations to get a foothold. As soon as slander and gossip start to operate – they quickly displace all other discussions and take on an infernal life of their own: as you well know. As easy as setting gasoline on fire!

  • Persecute. To vary the flavour, take time out pick on one member for special attention. You will need to foster a decent group-mentality in the rest to conduct a good bout of group-criticism: but this is usually child’s play with such weak-willed humans. Do your work properly and the persecutors will grow an delectable sense of self-righteous bigotry, while you gently cultivate overwhelming despair – or angry revenge, it matters little – in the persecuted. The fruit of such labours is its own reward.

  • Rejection. Used hand in hand with any of the above: rejection has always been our strongest tool. Use rejection to negate all possibility of unity: inculcate a wholesome ‘fear of man’ inside each remaining group member to ensure their continued conformity to our practices and objectives.

It matters nothing whether your patient is on the giving or the receiving end: we win gloriously either way. By giving your patient every attention – letting no opportunity pass – your success is assured.

I look forward to hearing from you again soon.

Yours affectionately,

Screwtape.

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