Dearest Wormwood

My Dear Wormwood,

Please forgive me for not getting back to you sooner, but the harvest has been bountiful as of late! (You will forgive me for writing down our Lessons, I believe that these Notes will someday come in handy for you as well when the time comes for you to teach a more junior Demon than yourself.) Things are still at a tipping point but even so, the Enemy’s generals are making it far too easy for us. It’s rather like taking candy from children. I’m afraid that the way things are going you won’t need an Old Demon like me to mentor you; why, in fact all you’ll have to do is sit back and let them do your work for you!

Now where was I? Ah, yes! The latest unpleasantness out of Syosset and Chambesy! What merriment for our Master! (Don’t quote me but I anticipate bonuses may be in short order.) Where to begin dear Nephew? Well, as in all things in life, it’s a mixed bag. The Chambesy thing didn’t work out quite to our liking, but the spectacle of the Enemy’s officers acting like drama queens and making a fuss out of seating arrangements did some good for as long as it lasted. Any serious person looking into the Enemy’s Camp was surely put off by such a childish spectacle. I must admit, I didn’t anticipate this nonsense about the “diptycha” –I actually had to look that one up–but these Chiefs without Indians came to the rescue once again! Who said it first: “idle hands are a devil’s workshop”? And what is an “auxiliary metropolitan” but an idle bishop with no flock to tend to? (Note to myself: don’t hesitate to use colloquialisms –Chiefs without Indians, Generals without Armies, all Hat, no Cattle–it all means the same thing for our purposes.)

Of course in their eyes things like seating arrangements are terribly important. How do they say it? I believe they say “it’s necessary for the good order of the Church” or some such nonsense. Imagine! Even though those clever Russians eventually smelled a rat and pulled the plug on the whole affair we succeeded in derailing the lot of them from doing real damage for as long as it lasted. All during this time, not only did they scandalize honest seekers from joining the Ark of Salvation, but they stopped preaching their dangerous Message. We killed two birds with one stone! What’s that Nephew? Things were always that way in the Enemy’s camp? True, you’ve studied their history well enough, but I must tell you that their old warriors were made of sterner stuff. Some of them were actually tortured and maimed by our agents back then. Many actually died but a few of them kept preaching their Lord’s message even while they were on the way to the arena. Some put down their exhortations on paper. The damage these writings did to our Cause was real enough I tell you.

Things are a bit easier for us now. Several from among this new crop of bishops are cut from a different cloth altogether. For one thing, they’re used to staying in luxury accomodations. And what a mockery they make of their office! Imagine, “electing” them to extinct dioceses with only a handful of wild goats living near the ruins of their decaying temples! Think of how much money is wasted on their salaries. Believe me Nephew, I know how terrifying a real bishop dressed in full military regalia and armed with the full authority of an actual brigade can be! But try not to be put off by the spectacle of more bishops, especially when they have no armies to lead. Let us go out of our way to flatter them in their pretensions. The more “Metropolitans of Utopia” there are, the better! After all, it’s better that they waste what little money they have on sinecures rather than on the things that really matter –like hospitals and orphanages. Now things like that do real damage to our Side, Nephew. (What’s that you ask? How do you tell a bishop who is fully armed? That requires a different Lesson, Nephew. Perhaps in our next Lesson.)

Now about this delicious mess in America. We’ve got to be very careful here. True, great turmoil was sown in the Enemy’s camp, but we didn’t get all we wanted. To be sure, a careful trap was laid but that wily Metropolitan walked into it armed with some incriminating information. We must find out who that mole in their headquarters was. What was supposed to be a firing turned into a “leave” and then a “retreat.” Can’t they get their ducks in a row? This in no good Wormwood! Our gay little Cabal has suffered a temporary setback. Let us not be fooled again by his youthful, doughboy looks.

Oh sure, the trap was ingenious as far as it went. The press release that came right out of the box shocked everyone. The Metropolitan was a “tyrant,” he was “inattentive” to the pleadings of the functionaries at Syosset, he wouldn’t listen to the bishops, he alienated this fellow, looked cross-ways at another, and so on. He probably belched when he ate. Whatever. Honestly, no one will ever know if any of this was true, but even if it wasn’t, real damage was done. I know, I know, we’ve got to be careful here; after the initial shock wore off, certain rascals with too much time on their hands pointed out some inaccuracies in the Caballero’s report. The pushback has caught us flat-footed. No matter, the initial “report”, had the ring of truth and hopefully that’s all we’ll need. (After all, what is heresy but a lie leavened with some truth?) We’ll continue to whisper sweet nothings into the Scribe’s ear, exhorting him to continue making as much high-minded noise as possible. He needs to use words like “principles” and “accountability” and “mutual obedience.” Let’s hope nobody catches on that this was never about any real criminality in the first place. I’d rather our Scribe had something concrete but I’m afraid we have to settle for noise and clanging cymbals at this point in order to derail the Opposition.

Regardless Wormwood, we cannot rest on our laurels. I’m afraid that the Scribe overreached. For one thing, he broke the first rule of conspiracies: don’t name the conspirators. Don’t these people know that corporate e-mails are not private property? Anyway, I’m sure these four bishops will not take too kindly at their names being bandied about. I’m sure that some of their memories may be “refreshed” in time. Secondly, our Scribe fancies himself the Apostle of Accountability and Transparency. And, truth be told, he did do good work for the Enemy in the past. Here’s the delicious part Wormwood: he still thinks he is! See how easy it is to get a self-rightous sinner to do our bidding? Their Lord called people like this Scribes and Pharisees. I know some of us worried for awhile, but as I said back then, give him time. Eventually he’ll start believing his press releases. How foolish! Doesn’t he know that if you believe in such quaint concepts as the rule of law that you must abide by them as well? Did he not stop to think that by putting out this information he was incriminating himself and his cohorts? He should have listened to me when I told him to remove himself from their Board of Directors years ago. Even a Junior Demon like you recognizes a conflict of interest!

Bear with me Wormwood, this is important. If the Metropolitan were guilty of negligence or misfeasance and not just bumbling, then what in the Enemy’s name do you think purloining confidential files which you are not supposed to be privy to is? Or how about this: their Holy Synod is supposed to deliberate weighty matters in the strictest confidence –much like their dangerous sacrament of Confession. Indeed, this code of confidentiality has seeped into the larger culture these last few millennia. All sorts of professionals are supposed to abide by it. You know, lawyers, accountants, physicians, and so on. Even corporate officers. Fancy that! You get elected to a board of directors and you are supposed to abide by the same rules as everybody else. Really Wormwood, how will we get anywhere if people act in good faith? Where was I? Oh, yes, so tell me dear Nephew, how did he get ahold of their proceedings? Did he bug their meeting room? Or did one of these bishops “leak” that information? Either way, it’s no good for us.

What’s that you say? “He may have made it up?” I hadn’t thought about that. It’s certainly possible; let me give that a little more thought. Hmmm. Well, for our purposes right now, it really doesn’t matter. After all, the Cabal has succeeded in bamboozling several ordinarily sensible people. Why, a few of them who should know better are running around like scared little girls. (You know, they remind me of several conservatives who were pounding the drums of war not that long ago, but once the bullets started flying, they turned tail and ran. Bullets hurt, Wormwood, don’t ever forget that!) Regardless, we’ve got to do some real damage control now. Hopefully nobody will pick up on this angle but we can’t be too sure. To prevent that, we must keep harping on the innocent mistakes that were made and amplifying them. Hopefully no one will notice that they weren’t criminal or uncanonical.

Time will tell Wormwood, time will tell. In the meantime, back to work!

–Your Dear Uncle, Screwtape