Help Believers to Stay Faithful in a Changing Culture


Dear Snavely,

Receiving your letter brought back such memories. It seems like only yesterday that I was in your position, in the field, on the front lines, writing to my uncle Screwtape for advice. How quickly the years pass . . . but enough of that. Your situation is urgent, our Enemy is always on the move, and we have no time for reminiscing.

You say your patient has gotten involved with something called “The Gospel Coalition.” Ugh. Even the name reeks of the Enemy. I have done some research, and I agree with you completely—you must act now. Your Patient is dallying with deadly stuff, and much harm can be done. But all is not yet lost.

It seems to me you have one option. Do your best to shift his allegiance from the Enemy to this “Coalition.” If you’re sharp about it, he won’t even know it is happening. What you’re after is this: keep him excited about the Coalition while keeping him from actually doing any of the things the Enemy likes to see in his servants.

It seems the Coalition produces pages and pages of that filth the Enemy calls “truth.” Dangerous stuff. But see if you can use that to keep him from the Enemy’s book. Nothing his servants produce is so deadly to our cause as the Book. Far better for your patient to read 10 pieces on how to read the Book than to actually pick up the Book itself. (A practical note: perhaps you can work in one of those new devices, the ones that beep all the time, the ones the humans love so much—I can never remember their name, but how I wish we’d had them in my day!—to distract him from the Book. Keep him constantly checking for the latest update from the Coalition. Don’t underestimate the power of the New and Urgent—it’s one of our most powerful numbing agents.)

A little advice on handling the Enemy’s foul truth, whether it be from the Book or the Coalition. Like any poison, it is most dangerous when ingested. But you may be able to convince your subject that all the Enemy wants is for him to collect these poison pills. If he can be kept from actually ingesting them, their influence is greatly weakened. What you’re after is having your patient hoard these globules of truth without actually acting on them. As far as we’re concerned, he can have mounds of the rot as long as they remain in storage. How will you know if he’s gone beyond the collecting to actually ingesting them? The symptoms are easy to spot. His daily routine will change: the way he relates to his wife and their little brats, how much time he gives to his fellow servants in the Enemy’s cause, how much he talks to our slaves about the Enemy. Any of these is a dangerous sign, and you should notify me immediately.

Which leads me to another item of concern. Treat the influence of this Coalition on your patient as a deadly epidemic—by all means do not let it spread from him to others. Quarantine him immediately. The most damage will be done if he starts taking such foul ideas and using them to strengthen that hideous gathering the Enemy calls the church. I presume that he does not personally know any of the Enemy’s servants involved in writing this propaganda. Use that to your advantage. Convince him he only needs the Coalition, that those people the Enemy has placed closest to him are most unnecessary. It may take time, but it can be done. Try to get him to see his fellow church members as less informed, less zealous, less useful than himself because of what he “knows” from reading the Coalition. Above all, isolate him from his pastor. Perhaps you can get him to believe he would be so much better off if one of the writers of the Coalition were his pastor. Discontent with their specific marching orders is very useful to us—many of the Enemy’s soldiers are kept out of the battle because of it.

Well, that’s all I have time for now. Keep me informed, and pay close attention to the dispatches. Remember, the Enemy is always at work. But if you can win this battle against the Coalition, we’ve achieved at least a small victory. Write up your findings, and if they’re successful we’ll send them to the rest of our agents. You may even earn a promotion. Perhaps we can ruin this “Gospel Coalition” yet.