By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published November 16, 2021
In “The Screwtape Letters,” C.S. Lewis created two unforgettable characters, Screwtape and Wormwood, who were demons working together to win over a man’s soul. In the novel, which was published in 1942, they called Lucifer “Our Father Below” and referred to God as “The Enemy.”
As I sat pondering the headlines one day, I imagined two contemporary demons talking together in the style of Lewis’ satirical work. One I’ve named Hornwobble, a demon in training, and the other Wartface, a senior demon who is his instructor.
“The world is in such lovely chaos,” said Wartface. “Our Father Below will be so very pleased! The anti-mask people and the mask people are at each other’s throats, and the vaxxers and anti-vaxxers are in combat too.” He sighed contentedly. “Really, there’s nothing as satisfying as anger and hatred.”
Hornwobble grinned. “I must say, it was totally awesome when the churches closed down. Throngs of people got out of the habit of attending Mass. This was exactly what we’ve wanted for years, and it was handed to us on a platter.”
Wartface belched in agreement. “Don’t forget that the Democrats and Republicans are battling each other over the virus and the economy. Some people have stopped talking to family members because of political differences. We devils have struck it rich!”
Hornwobble rubbed his scaly hands together in glee. “I do so relish the ordinary chaos and violence that head the news lineup. Vicious Hollywood divorces, rampant sexual crimes, terrorism in the Middle East, famine and misery.”
Wartface shot him a vicious look. “Don’t try to take credit for all this. You’re just a measly weasel-in-training. Try getting the better of me, and you’ll be sorry.”
Hornwobble looked glum. He knew Wartface was capable of canceling his assignment on earth and sending him back into the pit of hell to sharpen pitchforks.
“We don’t want humans leaning on their faith because they’ve hit hard times,” Wartface warned. “We don’t want them discovering ‘peace that surpasses understanding.’ And we certainly don’t want them praying!”
Wartface continued, “Let me reiterate that our main goal is getting humans to despair of the Enemy’s mercy. We want them to see the future as hopeless. After all, we have a lot riding on this.
You know the drill! Every time one of the souls we’re trying to win over attends Mass, reads the Bible, donates money to the poor, prays the rosary or goes to confession, a demon is thrown into a vat of boiling oil. I don’t know about you, but I don’t want to go through that again. It took me six months to grow my tail back!”
Hornwobble cringed as he remembered his own immersion into the vat, which had been engineered by none other than Wartface. Then he brightened up. “Hey, soon it will be time for the war between the ‘Season’s Greetings’ folks and the ‘Merry Christmas’ crowd!”
Wartface couldn’t resist a smile. No matter what was going on, the humans got into battles. Still, he had a final piece of advice for Hornwobble.
“Just don’t get complacent. The confessionals are one of our biggest obstacles. That’s where the humans get grace and mercy, two words that make me sick. Be sure to help them find excuses, like being too busy or not having any sins to confess.”
“Come on,” he said to Hornwobble, “let’s get busy. Black Friday is almost here, and it’s a demon’s dream come true! People fighting in the aisles of department stores as they get ready to celebrate the birth of a baby whose whole message was about peace. The humans never fail to deliver!”
Lorraine’s email address is email@example.com. Artwork is by her late husband, Jef Murray.