The One Feared is the One Revered

hand-mushroom-cloud-blast-explosionI don’t want to be worshipped– I want to terrify. My rival covets worship, but I’ve never been so inclined. You could say between the two of us, I’m the humble one. And between the two of us, I’m the one providing a service: I scare you, don’t I? Scare you into looking before you cross the street, frighten you into taking the boring, bill-paying job, terrify you into aborting those inconsequential cells growing inside you because no way can you handle what’s coming down the pike, my dear. No way. Be reasonable.

What does my rival do for you? …What? He hung the celestial bodies, slapped them spinning… and what’s bedecked His resume since then? Ask the burned-up, disheveled Syrian boy. Ask the refugees. Or the republicans. Ask the four-footed critters or winged creatures whose orb is fracked and fractured and asphalted, whose space is raped. Ask, what has He done for you lately?

I never asked to be worshipped.

But to petrify, that is my game. Humanity thrives on terror. I submit The Exorcist, all things Stephen King, the Autobahn on a rainy day, and Donald Trump any day. Who delivers this exquisite fright? Yours truly. And I never ask for applause. All I ask is you not applaud my rival, not send upward looks and wide-open arms and prayers for deliverance. No one’s coming.

I want to terrify because the one feared is the one revered. The one feared– his fat, itchy finger perches awkwardly on the launch button. Did I mention North Korea in my exhibit list? Terror fuels the world, make no mistake. What scurrying when the alarm sounds, what an economic boon is war! Didn’t your mother tell you she beat you for your own good? I gave her that phrase.

[Submitted to Cracked Flash Fiction contest. As I wrote this entry, I realized my default is not to story, but to essay. The Screwtape Letters is branded deep into my subconscious, and I shift into first person essays without meaning to. What to do about that? Recently I posted about changing my novel to 1st person. I figure I should do what comes naturally while I’m floundering about. Babies don’t run the 4 by 400. When I force myself into a format, the writing screams, “I’m stilted!” Then I hate it. Then I delete it. I’ve collected quite a few rejections from CFF, perhaps because my writing is more aptly described as Cracked Flash Essay. Ha! Well, the wounded warrior pets herself and finds excuses as to why she didn’t get the gold, doesn’t she? Whatever mind games we have to play to get back out there and get rejected again.]

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What the Devil? Screwtape Talks Politics

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After spending six weeks studying C.S. Lewis’ The Screwtape Letters with my 5000 Words class, I feel like I know just what he would say…

My Dear Wormwood,

I am pleased to see you dabbling in politics. As even the most immature tempter knows, the passions that bubble up from the froth of political dissimilarity will produce the most delightful clashes, the deepest schisms in friends and family, the most hell-like states possible on earth. This is a promising field, this political arena. In fact, the entire machine of antithetical visions scrapping incessantly in a purposely created and carefully maintained tug-of-war in order to accomplish the business of governing is so exquisitely ridiculous I wish I had thought of it myself. And don’t worry about your patient seeing the preposterous nature of the status quo. If that happens, we can use even that revelation for our purposes. Consider the highly educated, morally upright (nearly extinct), disgruntled patriot who sees the futility of two choices, neither one perfect, of course. The patient can be made to see the stagnation and brokenness as an evil in itself and can be herded, quite in spite of the fact that he is a thinking man, out of the realm of actual tangible impact and into a harmless philosophical decision. By harmless I mean, to us. Some patients simply can’t be fooled into working for us… they can only be deftly ushered into not working against us. Malaise is the name of the game in hell: get the righteous to step aside or be “above all that” so that—our creeping tide of evil will pass right over the doorstep while the patient doggedly maintains his deeply held conviction about “how things ought to be.”

Your affectionate uncle,

Screwtape

Giving Grief. A Guide

Hell Show

Hell Show (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Don’t think my loyalties are incongruous with previous directives because I urged you to be generous in your giving.  Gifts have been a part of our modus operandi since our Father’s first victory.     Here’s how it’s done, my fiend.  Give him innumerable little “benign” gadgets with which to fiddle, so he’ll be too busy playing and tuning and typing that awareness of his own mind or body as an apparatus for experiencing life is turned “off.”  If you’re doing your job right, you’ll feel like bloody Santa in no time.    And the hook, the point of all this benevolence, is the removal of your man from the game.   Give him lots of controllers; just don’t ever give him control.  Just because the Enemy came up with gifts in the first place doesn’t mean they can’t be exploited for our purposes.  And I’m not flattering Him with imitation.  His gifts are intangible.  Our gifts are real, and they really cost.  Just think of the destruction we can wreak on a man and his family by furnishing him with a winning lottery ticket.  It gives me goose bumps to think of the scrabbling, the scheming, the treachery a little money can procure.   And that’s where we come in.   We give these “gifts,”  these “windfalls.”  The Enemy’s gifts are “not of this world, ” so He says.    He makes presents of oxymorons  like contentment in poverty or peace in tribulation.   Has anyone ever seen these gifts?