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Devilry

Summary:
The following was given us by a dumpster-diver, who found it among his excavations. The names of the protagonists might lead you to attribute it to C.S. Lewis, but that would be a mistake. His limpid, flowing prose is incompatible with the lumpy language of this opus. We present it as a curiosity. — Screwtape:  Well, dear Wormwood, are you ready for your next step in the preparation for full devilhood? Wormwood: Indeed I am, uncle. I am anxious to trade the hot stuffy classroom for the chance to get into the field. Screwtape:  Your first assignment will be a simple one. We are sending you out to determine your aptitude for detecting CfDs. Wormwood: CfDs? S: It means Candidates for Damnation. All humans are CfDs, of course, but

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The following was given us by a dumpster-diver, who found it among his excavations. The names of the protagonists might lead you to attribute it to C.S. Lewis, but that would be a mistake. His limpid, flowing prose is incompatible with the lumpy language of this opus. We present it as a curiosity.

Screwtape:  Well, dear Wormwood, are you ready for your next step in the preparation for full devilhood?

Wormwood: Indeed I am, uncle. I am anxious to trade the hot stuffy classroom for the chance to get into the field.

Screwtape:  Your first assignment will be a simple one. We are sending you out to determine your aptitude for detecting CfDs.

Wormwood: CfDs?

S: It means Candidates for Damnation. All humans are CfDs, of course, but some more than others. You will encounter those whose attachment to the Enemy is firm, and they will be handled by those of us with greater experience. Fortunately, their number is shrinking.

W: Is that why you are sending us to the American capital, which they admit is D.C.–or Damnably Corrupt? My classmates and I have been studying that place, and believe that we have already found the attributes that render the occupants likely to join us.

S: Really? What attributes?

W: An abundance of verbosity and a shortage of veracity.

S: What a clever imp you are!  A skilled deceiver, of which there are legions in D.C. can embellish his lies with so many words as to render it nearly invisible. Yes, we are sending you to D.C. because, as one of our Master’s crowning glories it will provide you with abundant examples of CfDs. But the attributes you have discovered, while significant, are not those most likely to result in their joining us.

W: What are those, uncle?

S: Principally pride, my lad, which manifests itself in power, which is an awesome force. What if I were to bestow upon you—as I could—the power to play the violin like Paganini?

W: Well, I’d play the violin.

S: Of course. There’s no point in having power if it’s not used. And the power you will observe in D.C. is power over others. One of the Enemy’s allies has called it the lust to dominate-in Latin, of course. I could, easily, make anyone a supreme violinist, but I will not, as the power to produce, and contemplate, beauty is dangerous to our cause.  Fortunately, we have convinced many modern artists that the grotesque, ugly, and merely silly are signs of artistic talent. No, you will seek out those who desire power over others.

W: Did you give CfDs in D.C. power over others , as a sort of bonus for signing?

S: No. Remarkably, they gave it to themselves, always referring to themselves as government, a soothing euphemism for gang of thieves. With their ability to spew forth words, which you have noticed, they produced documents giving themselves power to dominate others. The Master was amazed and delighted. It made his work so much easier.

W: So we should be looking for CfDs who manifest this pride and power?

S: Certainly, lad. Power, as even some humans have noted, corrupts. Not the power to play the violin, or write poetry, of course, but power over people. Such power generates fear, division, hatred, and even war—mankind’s greatest achievement. People are fighting and killing each other all over the world, and have been doing so for many years. We are justifiably proud. Hatred is the virtue we seek to cultivate in CfDs.

W: Then we are winning, uncle, are we not?

S:  Yes, it would certainly seem so. The foolish humans, thank Satan, have abandoned all reason, moral principles, and tradition, and even those claiming affiliation with the Enemy seem impotent to resist us. But we mustn’t give way to overconfidence. We did that with the cross debacle, and mustn’t repeat that mistake.

W: Any final words of advice before I set out, Uncle Screwtape?

S: A few. You will encounter many CfDs in D.C. They congregate there. Should you try to enlist them in our cause, do not use fear. They fear very little—mainly becoming poor, ugly, ignored, or, worse or all, laughed at. They scoff at the idea of damnation, because we’ve been rather good at convincing them we don’t exist. Rather, be charming and generous. Make deals—they like that. They almost always succumb to promises of wealth and more power. They never get enough of those.

W:  I think I shall present myself as a wealthy donor to political causes.

S: Wise lad!

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