FROM: Screwdisk, Executive Vice-Demon for Sales, HellCorp North America
TO: Regional Field Agent Scumbucket, Tempter Second Class
RE: “If I Were the Devil,” by Paul Harvey
My dearest nephew –
I received your last message with interest, especially the essay “If I Were the Devil,” by the mortal radio personality Paul Harvey. Quite intriguing. Apparently, though, the version you forwarded to me was not entirely authentic. Not surprising – the original was penned more that fifty years ago, after all. Mr. Harvey himself wrote a couple of versions. And the humans’ “folk process” seems to have had its way with the text. (If you’d care to study the history of the piece, you can find the “rest of the story” at www.snopes.com/politics/soapbox/devil.asp)
Let me first assuage your concerns – this document does not mean there was any “security breach” or “leak.” Mr. Harvey made some astute guesses, true, but any human who knows anything about us could do the same with a bit of thought. (That is one reason we strive so mightily to prevent them from engaging in the practice for any extended length of time.) You may recall that a mortal author named C.S. Lewis attempted a similar feat, publishing some purported correspondence which he ascribed to our esteemed ancestor Screwtape.
I should love to correct Mr. Lewis, but he does not seem to be here.
But back to Mr. Harvey. Mr. Harvey seems to think we care about the spiritual state of “nations” as such. We deal in individual souls; we don’t worry about how we could “take over the United States.” We may concern ourselves with influencing leaders, we may engender social trends to further our cause, true enough, but work towards damning entire, specific countries en masse? Not necessary. Our Enemy does not confer salvation based on citizenship or political affiliation; our eternal battle is conducted one soul at a time. (Though we do concern ourselves with volume – and speaking of which, we must soon discuss your progress against your monthly quota. But I digress.)
That does not mean that we cannot use certain national characteristics to our advantage, though. Mr. Harvey thinks we are trying to turn all Americans into atheists. He does not seem to understand – or perhaps does not believe in – the raw historical inertia that faith exerts in his society, It would be quite difficult to turn all Americans completely away from spiritual matters.
But we can take that faith and, in a significant number of individuals, twist it to suit out ends.
Consider those wonderful words, “American exceptionalism.” One of the best products from our Semantics Branch, I must say. Rather than try to convince Americans that their blessings have nothing to do with Divine benevolence, we push the opposite. Rather than allow those blessings to engender feelings of gratitude, humility, or responsibility, we instead encourage their pride, hubris, and arrogance. We tell them – and they love to hear this – that since they clearly enjoy such special favor in the Creator’s sight, that they can do just about anything they want – invade, loot, plunder… Let them assume that they are always doing good – and this will make it easier to bring them to commit evil.
Let me see here, so many errors… No, Mr. Harvey, I would not “deify science.” I would much rather undermine rationality at every turn; logic is one of our greatest enemies, and irrational people are ever so much easier to lead astray. And “kill the incentive of the ambitious”? Never! Hell forbid! It is one of our most productive and advantageous avenues into the hearts of men!
Your Mr. Harvey may catch us red-handed in some of our more blatant manifestations, dear nephew, but he misses the finer levels of our machinations. You may remove the knot from your tail.
Affectionately, as ever, your devoted uncle,