Thursday, April 10, 2014

A Letter in the Style of Screwtape, I

(This was originally posted on the Table of Contents Blog with a rather lengthy intro. If you'd like to read it, be my guest. I do believe that a blog post on C.S. Lewis' book, The Screwtape Letters, is in order. That is what this piece is fashioned after, and why I loosely call this a fan fiction.)



A Letter in the Style of Screwtape

My dear Legionem,
                I need not inform you of the simplicity of your situation. You, fortunate nephew, have been given of the most practiced tasks available for a devil of your status. The young female mortal with whom you are charged is not unlike a thousand others that have been successfully snatched from the possession of the Enemy and delivered, oozing with sins and self, unto our banquet table. She is, no doubt, ignorant of your presence or the very possibility of a tempter’s presence in her tiny mind. She believes herself to be completely without wrong. This is quite an ideal situation for you, and I hope to our Father Below that you do not let it slip from your grasp. (You are aware of the utter and inevitable failure of your brother, and I would prefer to see you succeed, for the sake your end and of my reputation.)

Now, your professor has informed me that your patient is a devoted church attendee. She calls herself a Christian, and even reads the Enemy’s detestable book and speaks to Him regularly. Do not be daunted by her habits. For that is all that they are- habits disguised as acts of worship. As you were well instructed in the College, this is the result of our own propaganda. Your predecessors have taught the humans to think of “worship” as an act alone. And, as most effective deceptions are, this concept is spun from shrapnel of hideous truth. Worship was created by the Enemy, as were the humans. He, with purpose still unknown to us, fashioned humanity to thrive when immersed in the mental and spiritual act of worship. They are sickeningly filled with superfluous, edifying joys when they worship the Enemy. This is a gateway into His presence, and with it our purposes are virtually lost.

It is quite easy, however, to avoid your patient’s entering to worship (you, I am sure, know that this term applies to the whole of their lives, and not merely to the noisy rituals that they perform before their religious services. They are blissfully unaware of this, and our causes are favored by the outcome of their ignorance). There are two methods: first, to move her object of worship to something more destructive, like her own self or the fickle little things of her cultural surroundings. Humans are naturally going to worship something. Their pitiful little spirits cannot go without living in adoration of something, whether it is the Enemy or themselves. If you are able to trap your patient in a hedge of idols, you will have success. Use this trait of hers to your own advantage, and you won’t need to exhort yourself with tedious deception. All that you have to do is divert her adoration. Most females her age can be diverted from the Enemy for the entirety of their lives by effective work at this most impressionable time.

She is young and stupid and believes that the vast “greatness” of the world will refine her into a greater person. These humorously mislead presumptions are already planted in her mind by her own flesh, and they leave you with the easiest work of your career. Show her the things of the world, and she will no doubt be infatuated with them. You will then, dear nephew, see her in the actual act of worship. She will think of the things of the world, speak of the things of the world, and invest (both her wealth and her own self) in the things of the world, until the thought of leaving it all behind for Eternity terrifies her.

You may call this idolatry “materialism,” as the church calls it to sweeten and hide what the true, ugly sin is. You will hardly hear such a harsh and absolute word as “idolatry” used in context in this age’s churches. Make no mistake: this worship of the world and the things of which it consists is indeed the definition the sin so loathed by the Enemy. It is quite to our advantage, for it requires very little temptation, yet is entirely effective in separating man from his beloved Lord.  Not only does it separate, but it also absorbs a man’s affections and “love” for the Enemy, which causes Him much grief. If you can accomplish this simple task, there is no way for it to not end in your favor.

In summary, you are to insure that her priorities and affections are centered on one of two idols: her own self or the world. Either way, she will be thwarted from the Enemy’s “straight and narrow path” and will seldom be aware of what she is missing. It would also benefit you to convince her that there is nothing desirable about that way in the first place. She is like a moth, whose attention is easily set to whatever is the brightest light. In the style of our Father, you are to disguise the idols as twinkling lights that clutter her view of the Enemy’s penetrating brightness. She is too naive to know the difference.

I am hoping that you will be able to provide me with reason to be confident in your success. My optimism will be hard to obtain. However, this is such a remedial test of your ability that I find myself doubting that you can somehow manage to fail. As your first patient in the art of temptation, do try to begin well. Perhaps you will prove to be worth the schooling that you have so studiously consumed.

Your affectionate uncle,                                                                                                                                          
      Screwtape


________________________________________

I plan on writing more of these, continuing the story of Legionem's first patient, and the patient's rise to holiness or demise to the way of the lost. We'll just have to see where this goes. 


~Heather Rose

Monday, March 17, 2014

On "Because He Lives"

I don't know how familiar you are with hymns. I'm as familiar as one can get after spending five years hearing them every morning in one's video class, plus what one is exposed to in the contemporary world of Jesus music. It is not at all uncommon for artists to cover a hymn or two, and one of my favorite examples of this is the last track on the last album from the David Crowder* Band. (Honestly, I enjoy any hymn/chorus that David Crowder does, and he seems to be quite fond of them himself.)

Because He Lives (written by William Gaither):

Today, this hymn was sung in my Bible class video. They speed up the tempo too fast for my taste, but it's still one of my favorites. If you're going to listen to a hymn, you have to read the words. Hymns and choruses are bursting with truth and poetry and the subtle beauty of a heart's cry, and you can't always see that if you don't take time to read the words.

However, an infamous part of hymn-singing is the often ignored second verse. I don't know why the middle lines are always neglected when they were obviously put there for a purpose, but they are almost always skipped.

As I read through the lines while the video kids sang, I noticed the poor middle verse. And you know what? I have absolutely NO idea why it is skipped. It speaks something that my mind has been trying to put into words, but just couldn't.



Here it is:


How sweet to hold
a newborn baby,
and feel the pride
and joy he gives;
but greater still
the calm assurance,
This child can face
uncertain days
because He lives.

This simple truth is so sweetly stated. Salvation gives us such insurmountable hope, and that hope is freely open and available for every new life that joins Earth's ranks. 

I spend a lot of time babysitting. Seriously, a lot of time. It's not always fun and joyful, either. Toddlers throw tantrums, babies cry, five-year-olds think they know everything- and sometimes it's too much and I just want to be done. 

But there is nothing sweeter than the joys of spending time with a young life. When a toddler gives you unhindered affection and love. When an infant falls asleep in your arms while gripping your hand, or when a baby first discovers their appendages. When a five-year-old enters a world entirely made by their own imagination, and invites you to join them in conquering dragons or exploring vast palaces. New life is a beautiful thing. 

How much more beautiful it is when you know that there is something that makes it worth living! The greatest reward for sowing your time and energy into young lives is seeing where the Lord has taken them, and catching those tiny glimpses of what He has in store. It's not just because they are the future leaders. It's not just because at some point they will be the ones taking care of us. It's because they are new, young lives, and the Lord loves them passionately. Show them the way to His arms, and you've given them the opportunity to spend that life in the way it was purposed to be. 

They have a hope for the future, just like us. Babies are not born into a world awaiting a Savior; He has come. He has died. Now, He lives. 

And that makes life worth the living. 

~Heather Rose

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Passion > Apathy

This has been tugging on my brain since last night, and then morning came and it was still there. It's a rather simple statement, but there is a lot said behind it:

Passion > Apathy

Let me quickly expand on this...

I see a lot of apathetic attitudes. Attitudes that boast "I'm too cool to care",
while silently saying "I want something, but treasure my pride more. I have things that I want to see happen, but I am not an initiator. Someone else has to say the first word. Someone else has to put them self our there. Someone else has to start this, but as soon as that happens I will, with all the apathetic indifference within me, join in with the crowd. I'm afraid of what will happen if I did venture to show my desires and dreams, only to be ridiculed by people. Those scoffing voices are what I fear."

Do you see the root? I do, and it is eerily un-proportional to the epidemic of apathy that I see around me. I see this in me, too. It's a staple of our culture. Young people are notorious for indifference, and I am not okay with that. I don't want to be known for not caring. I want to be known for caring, loving, and doing. That is, however uncommon, what is actually worth something: Being a difference maker. It's what we are called to. One of its greatest enemies? Apathy. The root behind apathy?

Fear of man.

Wait, we know better than that...

Fear of man will prove to be a snare,
    but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.
                                            Proverbs 29:25

If God gave you a desire, chase it. If God has called you to it, pursue it. If God has ignited a fire in your heart, let it drive you to action. 

Passion is so much more sincere than apathy. People can be threatened by passion, however, and that is what brings the scorn. If someone who is too far entangled in their masquerade of apathy sees your passion, they know that they are missing something. They know that you are going somewhere, and they are not, and even if they wanted to they couldn't, because they are too trapped in apathy. They hang too tightly to their mask, and it gets them nowhere. 

Passion is what fuels a great leader. Passion is what fuels a dedicated worker. Passion is what fuels diligence

And I'm just going to say this: Passion is so much more attractive than apathy. No one wants to spend their life with someone who just rides along and never pursues anything. 

Find what God has called you to, pray for a desire to pursue it, and let that passion to please Him and obey His call fuel everything you do. It will get you somewhere, I promise. 

~Heather Rose