Synod Insider

Gerry O'Brien on a curious correspondence

My dear Wormwood,

Obviously you are making excellent progress. My only fear is that you are overdoing it a bit and that if you push the patient too far you will awaken him to the real nature of the current position.

For you and I, who see that position as it really is, must never forget how totally different it ought to appear to him. We know that we have introduced a change of direction in his course which is already carrying him out of his orbit around the Enemy; but he must be made to imagine that all the choices that have effected this change of course are trivial and revocable. He must not be allowed to suspect that he is now, however slowly, heading right away from the Sun on a line which will carry him into the cold and dark of utmost space.

It is good that you have allowed him to take a keen interest in the freedom of speech. You did well to arrange that he had the time to watch that wonderful opera on TV, but now you need to encourage him to think that any offence was merely in the minds of a handful of hardline bigots. Make sure that he reads the Bishop of Worcester’s comments where he says, ‘Some of the reactions have been, frankly, over the top.’ Ensure that he agrees with the Bishop’s sentiments and reassure him that these are the views of the vast majority.

It was also particularly helpful that one of the Archbishop’s advisers told a parliamentary committee that there is a ‘very strong, compassionate case for mercy killing.’ Let those words turn over in his mind and try to keep him away from his old-fashioned friends at church who are not yet in tune with our spirit of the age. You must cultivate his mind-set so that he sees it as inevitable that the Church must modernise its teaching if it is to be relevant to contemporary society.

Now when he goes to Synod next month, there are three major issues he will have to consider. I cannot stress enough the importance of making sure that he doesn’t think too deeply about any of them.

There is that Windsor Report. When we reviewed it recently we were very happy with its gentle tone. The fact that people can be sorry that pain and division has been caused but remain unrepentant about being the prime movers who caused that pain and division is a most satisfactory outcome. Remind your patient that God is love and help him to discover that he can love not only the sinner but the sin as well. Distract him if someone tries to argue that boundaries have been crossed. Make sure he gets a couple of glasses of wine at lunchtime and dull his sensibilities so that he will not want to be strident and confrontational. Rather encourage him to live and let live. That way we can continue our task of dismembering the Church, even though it is far from dead as I write. You will be surprised how much can be achieved whilst the organisation is sedated.

I hope you will not find it too difficult to get your patient to make approving noises about the Rochester Report though it is, to say the least, unfortunate that this report on women bishops is coming to the same Synod as the report on homosexual bishops. As you know, your colleague Toadpipe has spent the last fifteen years trying to ensure that both these issues are kept completely separate in the minds of the disgusting little human vermin. Our Father Below has already expressed his intense displeasure to Toadpipe for this failure in organisation. Not only are these two issues coming up in the same quinquennium, they are on consecutive days of the same Group of Sessions!

However all is not lost. Toadpipe’s idea of arguing that because the Enemy’s obnoxious manifesto does not explicitly forbid an innovation like women priests, such an innovation is actually required, worked remarkably well twelve years ago. Then he managed to put about the idea that the prohibitions on sexual aberrations did not apply to the particular practices in which the humans currently indulge. His efforts have been well rewarded and indeed many of the humans now think that these ideas actually emanate from the Enemy.

You will need to direct your patient’s attentions to the secular arguments which he will probably find quite persuasive. Remind him that he was approving of a woman prime minister twenty years ago and help him to think of a woman bishop as no more than a logical development from that. Encourage him to think that the clergy must be representative of the laity and that since an increasing proportion of the laity are women, it is important that there are women clergy and bishops too.

It is important though that you do not let him stumble on Our Father’s grand design. Christian families represent a serious threat to our plans to wean the humans away from dependence on the Enemy. Anything we can do to ensure that the ratio of women to men in the church increases, will be invaluable in reducing the number of these wretched Christian marriages. If increasing numbers of the Enemy’s female servants cannot find partners within the Church, they will be easily persuaded to form liaisons with men outside the Church, whom we can control. These men will be invaluable in keeping their children from falling into the clutches of the Enemy and will probably draw their wives away too.

Above all, you must spare no efforts to ensure that your patient does not acquire the notion that the ordination of women and homosexuals is linked in any way at all. There are some good books available which will help him to see that he need not follow all the strictures in the Enemy’s manifesto. Make sure that he regards it a mark of maturity to pick and choose which ones he follows and which ones are outdated and irrelevant.

Finally, there is a very dangerous Trojan Horse in a private member’s motion about the appointment of dignitaries. This vicious little motion will no doubt be presented as an innocuous piece of tidying up, but if it is passed it will strike at the heart of our long term strategy. The present system has worked very satisfactorily for years and we have seen many of our servants appointed to senior positions in the Church. We have been able to ensure that they are the ones from whom the most senior appointments are made. Make sure you use all your resources to sink this unwelcome motion without trace.

Appeal to your patient’s dignity and reputation. The fact that everyone speaks well of him will not keep him from our Father’s house: indeed it will make him more amusing when he gets there.

Your affectionate uncle

Screwtape

 

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