The sleep-deprived minds of Deputy Belton Zeigler, Upper South Carolina, and Center Aisle writer John Ohmer got to wondering about “The Screwtape Letters.” If there was an update for General Convention to C.S. Lewis’ famous exchange between two devils, in which the senior devil advises his nephew on how to win over a human soul, how might it read?
My Dear Wormwood:
So your patient is attending what they call their General Convention.
There is no need to despair. This General Convention of theirs is principally an unwieldy and expensive engine for producing bits of paper that the vermin call resolutions. You are correct in saying that irrelevancy is the great virtue of these documents and, in fact, no one outside of a small cadre of institutional insiders pays the slightest attention to the vast majority of what the poor darlings are laboring so diligently to produce.
But you must never allow that thought to enter their heads. We have done all we can to ensure that their schedule supports you in this. But the ready availability of despicable new electronic communications such as Twitter and Facebook means that many of your patients are in alarmingly close touch with the real world of work – local congregations – and, worst of all, family and friends. This has the undesirable effect of pulling their attentions and affections away from the illusory world of convention, which we have so carefully created, and toward a world where their true duties lie. You should attempt to limit the use of those communication devices by calling them “distractions.”
You write with some alarm about their desire to reform this system. You may take some comfort in the fact that their natures are such that their individual interests and agendas will be far more real and comfortable to them than any vision of a different and revitalized church promoted by our Enemy. But yesterday morning, an entire committee became nearly impenetrable to us when its members repeatedly ignored our suggestion that they jealously guard their power, distrust one another and micromanage.
Should calls for reform gain force, all is not lost. Encourage your patients to see every attempt to change Church structure as limits on the Church’s ministries, not on their personal power or agenda. Our patients lack the ability to see the irony in calling for radical changes to the society around them, while resisting so inflexibly the call to reform the one institution that they in fact control.
Your eager uncle,