Brian Melton, The Wrackturn Method.  Columbia, SC: Moral Apologetics Press, 2021. viii + 97 pp.

My dear Wormwood,

I hate to interrupt our retirement from active tempting so soon.  It seems like just yesterday I was proposing my famous Toast at the Annual Dinner of the Tempter’s Training College.  (Having to deal with time and eternity at the same, er, time, is endlessly confusing.)  But I just received a directive from the very lowest levels of the Administration—low enough to suggest the personal interest of Our Father Below.  It seems we have a bit of an emergency on our hands.  Those most pestiferous servants of the Enemy, C. S. Lewis and Francis Schaeffer, are still causing trouble years after their own retirements to the Enemy’s Realm.  Their intolerable influence has come together in one of the most odious disciples either of them has ever had: that thrice annoying historian Brian Melton.  And what has he done now, you ask?

Do you remember the kerfluffle we had to deal with when some still unidentified incompetent allowed a file of our correspondence to fall into the deadly hands of that insufferable prig Lewis?  The one person on all of Thulcandra capable of translating our Old Solar into English! (No, twit boy, I did not just make a mistake.  His philologist friend Elwin Ransom was  off-planet at the time.)   His leaking our discussions to the press has meant extra work for tempters at every level, who after all these years still keep running into patients who have been given a scouting report on all our most useful tactics! (Rumors that this had anything at all to do with our own early retirement from active tempting still keep circulating in the lower levels despite all our efforts to suppress them.) But no bad deed goes unrewarded!  Now it seems that our particular expertise in dealing with that specific type of emergency has become valuable once more. Yes, it has happened again—this time to our esteemed colleagues Wrackturn and Nobshank.

Yes, I am afraid those two idiots were nodding off during the required lecture we give every year now at the Tempter’s Training College on infernal cyber-security.  And, you guessed it:  No less a figure than that wretch Brian Melton, who went to one Christian college and taught at another one and knows that whole branch of the Enemy’s service inside and out, somehow hacked into their system and got ahold of their entire conversation on the best methods of corrupting the Enemy’s colleges, with their administrators, faculty, and students.  Melton! Who learned about us from Lewis and learned about the disgusting Christian worldview and its proper role in education from Schaeffer!  And who has really tried to stay faithful to both of them (not to mention the Enemy Himself) despite all our efforts to compromise him!  Hardly anything worse can be imagined.  It may be the worst blow we have faced since that other oaf got into our dictionary and started blabbing its contents to the world.[1] 

The irony is that Wrackturn was doing a really “good” (I hate having to use the Enemy’s word—let’s say, “competent”) job of analyzing the nature of the Christian College with its economic challenges and psycho-spiritual dynamics.  This, combined with his excellent grasp of human nature (no doubt picked up from our correspondence—we’ve managed to get some evil back from its disastrous release) allowed him to come up with a sure-fire method, not just for extracting the Christian College’s teeth, but getting them to grow fangs in their place that we can actually turn against the Enemy and his sycophants.  And Nobshank, despite being almost as slow as some other Junior Tempter I could mention, was starting to be not wholly incompetent at implementing it.

What were they doing?  They were exploiting the egos and fears people in those positions naturally have to set faculty and administration against each other.  They understood exactly how to use fear of the errors of the past (for example, the Evangelical’s pathological fear of being thought a Fundamentalist) to pitch their patients headlong into the opposite errors.  They had worked just enough truth into their lies to make them really effective.  For example, a Christian College is unavoidably a business, but a business that is trying to be more than a business.  It cannot be less—if it doesn’t pay the bills, that is, if it doesn’t succeed as a business, it can’t do anything else.  But if succeeding as a business becomes its end rather than a means to that end—I can see you salivating drops of molten brimstone at the possibilities even now! Treat students as customers, as consumers being sold their degrees, and suddenly education as even the foolish mortals have traditionally understood it becomes impossible.  The whole enterprise is now based on a lie, and so propagating lies becomes its natural outcome.  Serving us in the Enemy’s name: It doesn’t get any better than that!

And they had their patients and their university turning into a textbook case.  But now it may all be coming undone.  Oh, the damage to Sardis Christian University itself will be hard completely to reverse.  But now Melton has exposed it all.  If his translation gets out, we could be snatching intellectual defeat from the very jaws of academic victory.  (At least they cannot blame you or me for it this time!)

Hence our new assignment: We must at all costs prevent people from reading this book!  I was going to say key people, but when you think about it, even that covers an awfully big slice of the reading public.  Professors, faculty, students, potential students, alumni, constituents (parents and potential parents of students), donors, board members, pastors, youth workers—the damage to our cause that could come from any of these demographics reading and understanding this book does not bear thinking about!

Oh.  One more thing that does not bear thinking about: the, er, “remediation” that Wrackturn and Nobshank have in their future for letting this get out.  We cannot afford to be distracted from our assignment lest contemplation of remediation turn to experience.

Strategy session tomorrow in the Circle of the Hypocrites at zero six hundred hours.  Don’t be late.

Your affectionate uncle,

Screwtape


[1] Donald T. Williams, The Devil’s Dictionary of the Christian Faith (St. Louis: Chalice Press, 2008).

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