November was a really busy month for Stephanie and me. I led a lock-in the first weekend while Stephanie traveled to Paris for work. During the second weekend, we both had extended music rehearsals, handbells for Stephanie, choir for me. We both had the opportunity to go to Sopron, Hungary for a missionary gathering on the third weekend. I mostly just enjoyed the conversations about ministry and evangelism, but Stephanie had a number of presentations to give about photography, newsletters, and web sites such as the Eurasia Blog. And with the fourth weekend came Thanksgiving celebrations and the beginning of Advent, a busy time at church.
Oh yeah, and I wrote a novel.
I can’t rightly call it finished yet, but this is the third time in four years that I’ve participated in National Novel Writing Month (known to many as NaNoWriMo). Each November, thousands of people set out on the quest that is novel writing. The rules are simple: write 50,000 words in 30 days. And that’s just what I did.
In 2008 and 2009, I participated in NaNoWriMo writing stories that were completely fictional with little inspiration from other works. I simply had an idea and started writing. The editing of those two novels has been slow and that was part of the reason I didn’t participate in 2010.
This year, my story was inspired by C.S. Lewis’s Screwtape Letters, a story told from the perspective of an experienced demon (Screwtape) writing words of advice to a less experienced demon (his nephew Wormwood) through a series of letters. Lewis puts forth some very thought-provoking material on how demons tempt us, what they focus on, and how they succeed.
What I found when I read Screwtape Letters was that it seemed to me to be less of a story and more of a commentary on general society. Not to take anything away from Lewis, who I find to be extremely brilliant, but the man being tempted in the story could have been anybody. He was not really unique in any way.
I also have always wanted to hear Wormwood’s side of the story. Was he whiny and ungrateful? Was he humble or arrogant? What were his thoughts on tempting?
And so, in my story I wrote a modernized version of Screwtape Letters that seeks to tell more of the story of a specific man and includes both letters from the experienced demon and the inexperienced demon.
Oh, and the demons have upgraded to email.
I crossed the 50,000 word mark yesterday, which just happens to be C.S Lewis’s birthday, which I think is pretty interesting.
Here is a selection of what I’ve been working on. In this letter Argasid (the more experienced demon) teaches Culex (the less experienced demon) about warping and twisting the words of the Bible into lies, much like Satan does when he tempts Jesus in Matthew 4. Enjoy and feel free to let me know your thoughts.
Of course the Enemy Incarnate resisted our great Father because he understood the whole of the Enemy’s book. Every normal human will not have such knowledge. With them, you can twist the Enemy’s words from something that was meant to comfort into something that condemns. It all merely depends on the focus. This can be done with every verse, even the most popular.
For example, the most beloved quote of followers of the Enemy is as follows:
For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
At first glance, dreadfully full of what the Enemy calls “grace”, but when warped and twisted, it can become a condemnation.
One must focus on this reality: if humans had not sinned, the Enemy would not have needed to send the Enemy Incarnate into the world to die and rise again.
This verse, though filled with abominable grace, can still coax guilt out of humans. Whisper to them the following helpful reminders:
I am a sinner.
If I were not a sinner, Jesus wouldn’t have come into the world.
If I were not a sinner, Jesus would not have had to die.
I’m so terrible that God had to be parted from His only Son because of me.
I should perish.
I don’t deserve to live eternally.
I don’t deserve to live now.
All you have done is caused them to ignore the first words of the verse: “For God so loved the world…” Without them, the verse deteriorates into guilt. Without them, one can be convinced that the Enemy sent the Enemy Incarnate out of duty and need rather than out of love. One can even be convinced that the Enemy did not want to send the enemy incarnate and is angry at the world for making him do so.
Remove love from the equation and humans are left to see life as an obligatory chore, not only for themselves but for the Enemy and the Enemy’s wretched son. Such an existence leads many to despair and to rethink the very existence of the Enemy.
So, you must study the Enemy’s book, since you obviously either shirked that homework while you were learning or you had incompetent teachers who didn’t set you with such a necessary study.
If I were your teacher, I’d suggest starting with Matthew, the tax collector gone wrong, but you do not have such time to study in an unfocused manner. You must sneak away again when you can and discover what readings from the Enemy’s book will be used for the worship the boy will be attending each day. Read over that passage and bend a few words to change the tone from love to fear and you should begin to see your man slumping his shoulders in no time.
Send me a few of the selections and your ideas on them. Remember, removing love and focusing on guilt is always helpful.
Your affectionate Uncle,