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Screwtape slithers again (2)

It was very early in the morning and still dark. Jesus got up and left the house. He went to a place where he could be alone. There he prayed. Simon and his friends went to look for Jesus. When they found him, they called out, “Everyone is looking for you!” Jesus replied, “Let’s go somewhere else. I want to go to the nearby towns. I must preach there also. That is why I have come.” (Mark 1: 35)
The Screwtape letters is the title of a book first published in 1942. It remains in print today. Screwtape’s letters were addressed to his nephew, a junior demon, who required, in Screwtape’s opinion, guidance from himself, a senior demon, on how to keep people away from Jesus Christ. 

Screwtape remains active today. He’s trying to help his nephew to deal with people reading the words of Jesus in Mark’s first-century biography. The ‘clients’ of Screwtape’s nephew have come to the place where Mark recorded the incident in bold above.
Screwtape says. My dear nephew. What you need to do when people read this is to suggest that this Jesus got it totally wrong. Everybody knew that he was able to heal and to cure – even relieve people from their demons within. Don’t deny that at all dearest nephew. 

Just hint to your people that he wasn’t doing the right thing by making preaching and teaching in the villages his main priority. He was a bad man when he tried to lift their eyes beyond their own suffering. Get them to think about retaliation rather than about Jesus’ message. 
‘Readers are advised to remember that the devil is a liar.’ (C S Lewis, Oxford Professor, The Screwtape Letters, 1942)
Screwtape’s nephew then responds. But, Screwtape sir, what about Mark’s next incident when a man with severe skin disease seeks out Jesus? 

Mark wrote. On his knees he begged Jesus. He said, “If you are willing to make me ‘clean,’ you can do it.” Jesus was filled with deep concern. He reached out his hand and touched the man. “I am willing to do it,” he said. “Be ‘clean’!” Right away the disease left him. He was healed. Jesus sent him away at once. He gave the man a strong warning. “Don’t tell this to anyone,” he said. “Go and show yourself to the priest. Offer the sacrifices that Moses commanded. It will be a witness to the priest and the people that you are ‘clean.’”

Screwtape immediately replied. At all costs, dear nephew, don’t let people even start thinking about this clean business. Suggest to them that this was just another illness that Jesus appeared to cure. Don’t remind people that the priest was under a legal duty to make sure this leper was clean inside as well as outside. You’ll risk losing them from our kingdom if they notice that. Tell them that they’re as clean as the next man.

Most important of all, my dear nephew, don’t ever allow them to connect Jesus’ teaching with his keenness to make this man clean. It would be disaster for us if they turned to him to find out from him how he is able to cleanse them. 

You’ve already failed to stop some of them reading Mark’s biography of Jesus. Your successes have been great by-and-large in that objective. Now you can see how important is success in diverting people from reading these books. 

You also must take care, dear nephew, to channel people’s thoughts into the practical realities of their lives. Remind them that this is the twenty-first century. Keep on stressing that no one’s guilty of anything anymore. Help them to think that what they do no longer matters let alone what stupidly say is right or wrong.

Point them to Jersey’s mental health facilities. Those weren’t available in Jesus’ day. Whisper that they can be helped to purge thoughts of uncleanness. Stress that they are only thoughts and not uncleanness itself.  Better that they think they’re mental rather than unclean. 

‘Tortured fear and stupid confidence are both desirable states of mind.’ (“Screwtape" in The Screwtape Letters, 1942)
If that doesn’t work, Screwtape continued, say that Jesus may at-that-time have been willing to make the man clean but he’s not willing now – or he’s no longer powerful enough now that he’s no longer on earth – or that he never existed – or that he wasn’t the Son of the Most High.

And, if the worst comes to the worst, your trump card, my nephew, is to drive then to unclean despair. Despair is good. Your uncle, Screwtape. 

Sinner Syvret

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