Volume 15, No. 8 (August 2020)
Once again with apologies to C.S. Lewis and his Screwtape Letters, here is one more letter from Screwtape’s relative Tapescrew, writing to his own nephew Woodworm and speaking to issues facing worship in our churches today.
My dear Woodworm,
It is delightful to see what havoc we have caused around the world by perverting, of all things, the worship of the Enemy. In insisting that all honor and praise be directed to Himself He is certainly setting the creatures up for failure—just because so much of their existence is wrapped up in themselves and their individual wants and desires.
So stay the course! We are seeing marvelous results. Above all, promote the idea that the purpose of worship is each individual’s enjoyment, satisfaction, and sense of well-being. This will result in a delightful clash of personalities and temperaments, since of course no two people will agree on what will bring the desired results. The more you can get people to focus on their own needs and preferences (which, after all, should not be too difficult, people being the selfish beings that they are!), the further they will stray from their apostle’s admonition to “consider one another more important than yourselves” and to “prefer one another in love.” Delightfully, it never even occurs to them that the Enemy might want them to apply these principles to their practice of worship! How successful we have been to keep such dangerous ideas out of their minds! Most of them haven’t any clue that worship is for anything other than their personal fulfillment. This is wonderful, because with such a self-focused attitude (which has been easy to exploit, from the Garden until now) they will never realize that worship was intended by the Enemy to focus on Himself and to bring Him glory (horrors!) and satisfaction. As long as we can keep the Christians looking to themselves and their own personal agendas, rather than to Him and His priorities, they will continue to be pathetic, narcissistic beings with little impact in the world.
Needless to say, our efforts to put a wedge between their generations (which has always been relatively easy) has succeeded more wildly than ever in the arena of worship. Each side is utterly convinced that their way is right, that they presume to know exactly what is and what is not acceptable to the Enemy, and that there is nothing at all to learn from the other side. And all the while they hide behind a smokescreen of supposed “biblical warrant” or “cultural necessity,” when in reality all their studies of the subject inevitably end up where they started, with their foregone conclusions firmly and immovably in place. What they like always turns out to be identical with want they think is appropriate and correct! This is now so widespread that it is seldom questioned, and our work is that much easier for it.
And how delicious it is that music, like so many of the Enemy’s supposedly “good” gifts, we have been able to twist to our purposes. Music now separates rather than unites the Enemy’s people. They can indeed be a powerful and unified force when they sing together, but we have managed to shift their focus so that even if corporate singing does happen, half of the people are stewing over the song selection, the absence of their favorites, the volume, the types of instruments used, etc. etc. And the other half seem to just be reveling in their preferences being as least temporarily satisfied. Hardly anyone focuses on the Enemy as the subject and object of the songs! If separate services are begun for young and old, they can all successfully hunker down in their respective corners, enjoy what makes them feel comfortable, and forget about the others. We owe all of this to our incredibly fruitful efforts to promote radical individualism as the prevailing philosophy of the day. Such chilling concepts as “the good of the whole” and the “health of the body” fortunately never occur to them as they go about their selfish ways.
Our “divide and conquer” strategy seems to be progressing on schedule!
your uncle Tapescrew