Giles Fraser: Wormwood with the Primates

by
14 February 2007


My dear Wormwood

I must write to congratulate you on your sterling contribution to the work of our International Department (Anglican Affairs). I know all the travelling has been exhausting, but it’s obvious that it has been worth it. Let’s hope things go well in Tanzania. Between you and me, the boss is even thinking of paying a visit, so please be doubly prepared.

If they think the presence of so many purple shirts will protect them against the boss, they are more foolish than we reckoned. Remember: those who think they are holy are the easiest to turn into double agents. And a number of them might have been already turned a little by some of that unsung work that goes on down the corridor in the sycophancy department. None the less, keep alert. Some of them understand our tactics; so remember your training.

Especially keep in mind the first principle of effective warfare: take their strength, and turn it into a weakness. Make them feel they are fighting for the truth of the gospel. Make them feel that everything hangs on it; that it’s all down to them. That way, they will be able to justify any behaviour — cruelty, bullying, division — and eventually the whole thing will collapse in bitterness and recrimination. Allow them to do our work for us. The fact that they won’t take communion together is a cracking start.

I know it’s obvious, but work on the fact that many members of this boys’ club resent the fact that they have had to admit a woman. If they could be persuaded to make her life miserable, that would spice things up nicely. Now we must press home the advantage.

Don’t be too worried by the enemy tactic of formulating a new covenant or set of rules for their Church. They believe it might provide a safe framework, and a way to resist the acrimony that our agents have been spreading behind enemy lines. In fact, we have centuries of training in rules, and can always make them work for us. As far as we are concerned, the more rules the better. And if we can get them to make up rules designed to push people out, then we will have hit the jackpot.

Good luck. Enjoy the sunshine.

Your uncle,
Screwtape.

With apologies to the Late Professor C. S. Lewis.

The Revd Dr Giles Fraser is Team Rector of Putney, and lecturer in philosophy at Wadham College, Oxford.

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