E-Mail from Hell

"There are two equal and opposite errors into which our race can fall about the devils. One is to disbelieve in their existence. The other is to believe, and to feel an excessive and unhealthy interest in them."

—C. S. Lewis, preface to The Screwtape Letters

Demon-to-demon correspondence is not the kind of writing we often gain access to or even imagine exists. Aren’t devils a figment of our superstitious ancestors’ fevered imaginations? A pre-scientific way of explaining madness, illness, wars, plagues, famines, and other misfortunes? A way of blaming invisible beings for all those actions once regarded as sins but now seen, in the clear light of scientific day, as mistakes or misunderstandings?

It’s not a bad age to be a demon. They have a freer hand so long as we regard them as nonexistent. How can something that doesn’t exist do us any harm? Would that they were the nothings we imagine. Unfortunately, not only do they exist, but they are damnably clever. They even write letters. Below is e-mail sent by a demon named Wormwood to an up-and-coming junior devil named Greasebeek. Unfortunately Greasebeek’s half of the exchange wasn’t part of the file I intercepted, though it’s easy enough to guess his side of it.

I freely admit there is no way to prove these messages are what they claim to be. No doubt there are those readers who will be tempted to think I’m descended from the Mad Hatter. I console myself by recalling that C.S. Lewis must have endured similar suspicions when he published his collection The Screwtape Letters more than half a century ago.

TO:Greasebeek
FROM: Wormwood
SUBJECT: The real world

My dearest Greasebeek,

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Sojourners Magazine September 2004
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